Live for God
Reading: Luke 12:13-21
Additional reading: Philippians 2: 5-11, Colossians 3:1-11, 1 Timothy 6
Hymns: 302, 376, 316
In our text today, we read about someone who recognized that Jesus was a good teacher.
I guess that this man loved to listen to Jesus.
But today, this man could not focus on Jesus’ teaching, because at this time, his older brother took all the inheritances for himself.
His older brother’s greed made this man upset and tired.
So, he could not focus on Jesus’ teaching, even though Jesus was right in front of him.
Then this man stopped Jesus’ teaching and asked:
"Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."
Jesus said something like this:
"I am not a judge between you and your brother.”
It seemed Jesus was saying:
“That is not my job as God’s Messiah.
I didn’t come to solve that kind of problem.
I came to serve God.”
Then as God’s Messiah, Jesus said something like this:
“Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.
Protect your heart from this kind of greed.
Be free from all kinds of greed.
Don’t fight greed with greed.
But first remove your own greed from your heart.
Then arm with generosity.
Then attack your brother with your generosity.
Then you might free him from his greed.”
Maybe Jesus is saying because of his brother’s greed, this man is also becoming greedy, as well.
Ao he was reacting to it because he also wanted to have some of what his brother wanted to have.
Then they might get mad at each other because of each other’s greed.
Then Jesus might have said something like this to him:
“Your happiness does not depend on having a lot of possessions.
So let it go.
Fill your mind with my faith.
Then your life will be filled with God’s riches.
Because God provides.”
Jesus is guiding him to see what God stores for him.
With God, he could live a better and freer life.
Jesus guides this man to live with God’s unconditional love and generosity.
If he understands God, he may live very thankfully.
He would be satisfied as he sees things through the eyes of faith.
Then he lives generously with God.
Then people around him may also change and share their wealth and blessing that they receive from God.
In order to help this man serve God like that, Jesus told this story:
There was a rich man.
He got really wealthy because his investment created a great result.
His land produced a great wealth.
But he didn’t know how to use this wealth.
So he thought to himself:
“Hey, my barn is not big enough.
Then, I tear down my old barn and build big one!
Then I store all my grains.
Then I'll have enough to retire.
I am just going to eat, drink and enjoy living with my stuff."
He thoughts as if his life purpose was to eat, drink and enjoy living.
His life is more than that.
But at this time, he had no thought about God.
He was not interested in serving God or knowing God’s greater purpose for his life.
If you think about it, since he was wealthy now, he could have more time to serve God.
Since he didn’t worry about money anymore, he could serve God and live for God.
He could study and learn more about God.
He could go and listen to Jesus.
He could grow as a person.
He could work for his society.
Then he could be truly happy.
Now he had time to dream and think for God and for neighbors.
He could use some of his wealth for God and for others.
He could help many people.
But he thought about only his belly.
He only thought about eating, drinking and enjoying his life.
Then he felt God speaking to him, saying:
You shouldn’t be thinking like that.
Otherwise, you will die.
And your wealth will be taken away from you and will be given to someone who knows how to handle this wealth for God.”
Then Jesus concluded the story:
“This is the result of anyone who only stores up things for himself or herself but not for God."
Why is Jesus telling in this story?
Jesus was trying to help people like him to think about managing God’s wealth.
God has given him.
So now he needed to manage God’s wealth and money for God while he had God’s money and wealth to serve God’s good purpose.
He need to manage God’s wealth for God.
When he does, he will be truly happy and live well, because God will continually bless him.
In the story that Jesus told, we may notice one more thing:
This man was just thinking about using all for his belly.
But then God was offended by his thought and spoke his verdict.
It turned out that his thought came to God as a prayer:
Then his bad prayer brought bad consequences.
The way he thinks create its own results.
His bad thought makes God realize that God needs to find someone else who could manage this wealth for God.
Have you learned that our thoughts are prayer?
So when we shift our thought, God may shift our world.
Some say our life is a result of our thought.
Our life is a result of what we think about all the time.
So Jesus guides us to think good thoughts for God.
The Bible also encourages us to think some good thoughts.
It says: (Phil 4:8)
“Think about what is true, what is honorable, what is right, what is pure, what is lovely, what is wonderful.
Think about what is excellent or praiseworthy.
Think about these things.”
Why does the Bible ask us to think about these?
I guess, because thinking about these is prayer.
When we choose to think these good thought of faith, we are praying to transform our life and our world.
If we think about it, our thought not only influences God’s decision but also influences other people.
You know that, right?
Some may think:
“Nobody knows what I am thinking.
How could they know my thoughts?”
Well, sometimes, they know.
Somehow people sense it.
It seems that it is not difficult to know or sense it.
Here are some of evidences:
Does it ever happen to you?
You feel someone is looking at you.
You turn around.
Someone is indeed looking at you.
You think about someone or think about calling someone.
Then you meet that person.
Or you receive a phone call from him or her.
As you go out for a gathering, suddenly you feel:
“Oh, it is going to be great!
It is going to be a great day.”
Then you really had a great time with them.
Somehow you know.
You could feel it.
People also feel it and know.
How much more God may sense our thoughts?
So, Jesus guides us to think good thoughts for God.
Jesus guides us how to offer some good, and beautiful thoughts for God.
Jesus guides us to send some good thoughts, wishes, prayers and forgiving hearts to God.
In order to think these thoughts, we may ask God:
God, what do you want to do?
Then we may be able to think about God’s purpose for our life.
We may be able to think about God’s dream for us.
We may be able to think about good thoughts.
We may think about living for God.
We may think about how to manage our wealth, ability, talent and gift for God.
This is a great work of God's churches.
That is a prayer of God's churches.
Then by the grace of God, we may know how to live for God.
Then as the Holy Spirit is going to help us, we may even be able to do what Jesus wants us to do.
The Holy Spirit may lead us and help us learn to live in the Spirit.
Then we may know how to live according to God’s will.
Jesus fed 5000 people with 5 pieces of bread and 2 fishes.
This story tells us that God does not ask us whether we have enough resource and money.
It is not about how much we have.
Even if we don’t have enough, if we use what we have for God, God can do a great miracle with it.
If we want to serve God, God can multiply what we have now and do a great miracle according to God’s abundance and riches.
Now let’s think about the life of Jesus again.
Jesus reduced his possession to minimum to live a life of faith.
Jesus asks his students to leave everything and follow him.
So his students also left their home to follow their traveling Messiah.
They also carried the minimum.
Jesus and his students were carpenters, fishermen and tax collector and so on.
But they had to leave home and their jobs to follow God’s calling.
Then they were able to see the life of Jesus who lived traveling.
His life was full of miracles.
They saw Jesus trusted that God provide.
Trusting God, Jesus continually served people.
Then they saw and experienced that God provided.
So then when new students want to follow Jesus, they need to ask themselves, as well, looking through what they have:
“Do I really need these?
Will I be overburdened with my stuff so that I could not follow Jesus well?”
Then in order to follow Jesus, they may need to get rid of things, giving away or selling things.
Then they choose the things that only help them follow Jesus so that they may focus on Jesus as he teaches God’s wisdom.
Then they saw Jesus lived for God.
They saw Jesus has faith to live for God
They saw people wanted to use their wealth to support his ministry to the poor.
Even though Jesus was not working as a carpenter any more, Jesus never worried about money.
So we know Jesus has a great faith in God.
In fact, Jesus said:
“Don’t worry about money.
Don’t worry about that kind of stuff.
God will provide.
So learn the lesson that I am teaching.
I am teaching you how God works.
I am teaching you about the Gospel.
I am teaching you about forgiveness and love.
Learn what the Holy Spirit is teaching.
And share God's knowledge in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
But some couldn't follow Jesus, because they had so much wealth.
You can imagine that some people’s life was too complex, they could not follow Jesus.
They need faith to simplify their life to follow Jesus.
They need faith to have less to follow Jesus.
When we plan our life, we may also think about this:
Do we need to simplify our life so that we may follow Jesus and get to know him more?
Do we need to simplify our life, so that when Jesus asks us to move with him, we could move with him right away?
Jesus may be asking:
Can you reduce your stuff, so that you may follow me?
Do you want to simplify your life so that you may learn enough to explain how God thinks?
Can you simplify your life so that when God asks you, you may come with God’s leading?
Because sometimes, if we want to live the life of Jesus, we may need to own less and choose what we really need to follow Jesus.
We may know what we have to have in order to follow Jesus.
When we could not let go of something, we may need to pray about it.
When we realize that our faith is not that strong enough yet, then we may need to have that thing to follow Jesus.
If we could not get rid of something, because our faith is weak, then we may need to work around it.
For example, let’s say you are saying like this:
“If I don’t have a house to live, I could not focus on Jesus and follow him.
I might always think about how to get a house.
I may not able to stop thinking about getting a house.”
Then you may need to have a house.
Then you may need to recognize your weakness before God.
This honest awareness may help us to be more generous to others.
Then we may also recognize that other people may have their weakness.
So as we discover who we are in God, we may be more generous to others.
You know what I mean?
That means, we don’t try to do something that we don’t have faith for yet.
If we do, we may not be able to carry on very long.
So we wait until we have faith.
We try to pray and grow in faith.
So likewise, if you need to have enough money so that you could focus on Jesus and follow him, you may need to learn to save enough so that you may focus on learning of God and listening to God.
If you know what you need to have, you may organize your life accordingly so that you may follow Jesus without worrying about those things.
Maybe that is why Jesus asked his disciples:
“Ask, it will be given to you.
Seek, you will find.
Knock, the door will be opened to you.”
I guess Jesus was saying:
“You may have your own need to follow me.
So ask God so that you may follow me and live my life.”
There are many churches in this world.
Then as we pray for those churches, we may also pray that their church life is simple so that they may focus on serving God according to what God truly desires.
If our church activities or our social activities do not serve its purpose, we try to organize our church involvement and our social commitment as much as we can so that you may focus on Jesus.
We may ask ourselves:
Do I need to simplify my church life so that I may get to know God more?
Do I need to simplify my social life so that I may be able to obey God more?
Each person needs to think about this so that each person may organize his or her life enough to follow Jesus.
Prayerfully, we may try to organize our own life so that we may give God more time and energy.
Then we may have more peace to follow Jesus.
Jesus, thank you for guiding us to live a wonderful life.
Help us to know how to live for God.
Help us to manage wealth and power for God.
Help us to manage money well for God.
Help us to live for God, trusting that you provide better than any other.
In Jesus name we pray.