MEC Online Service 13/9/2020 – 'How to be Rich' (Luke 12:13-21)

Good morning everyone it’s great to be able to welcome you to another online service from Maddiston Evangelical Church. Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself you are very welcome In today’s service, we’re going to be thinking about how we can be “well off” not financially, but spiritually. Being

rich towards God. In this service, we’ll be praising God together in some worship songs as well as prayers, a bible reading and a children’s video The bible message will be given by David Campbell and after the service the youth bible group will meet online at 12 noon to catch up with each other and to chat about today’s bible passage Over the past six months, we have seen how the pandemic has hugely impacted jobs and finances and it’s made us consider the importance of our possessions when compared to health and even life itself. Many people have been furloughed while others are now financially much less secure, some finding themselves in debt As we announced before the lockdown our church has joined the multi-church partnership of christians against poverty or CAP for short in the fourth valley area CAP provides award-winning free debt advice and relief Here’s what money-saving expert Martin Lewis has said We’re now going to watch a video. In it, Fiona Welsh, the cap fourth valley date center manager, explains the service they provide Hi everyone my name is Fiona Welsh and I’m the manager of the Christians against poverty debt counseling service in forth valley The service was set up in April 2019 to help those who are struggling with unmanageable debt It’s run in partnership with seven churches in the area The service is completely free and open to everyone living in postcodes FK1 to FK20 and EH51. If you or someone that you know are struggling with debt, why not give us a call on 0800 328 0006 Thank you In the first phase of our partnership with CAP, we’re going to be posting this leaflet “Weighed down by debt” to every home in Maddiston soon We will be sharing more information about this in the days ahead but you don’t need to wait for the leaflet to come through your letterbox if you need help with debt now please don’t wait please get in touch using mechchurch1@ gmail.com or the contact form on the church website to request a leaflet or phone the CAP free helpline on 0800 328 0006 The words of our next song remind us that real treasure is to be found in God. We have a permanent inheritance in him. Let’s sing together “Be thou my vision” Heavenly Father, we come into your holy presence this morning

through the precious name of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, who died at Calvary for our sins and rose again in triumph over sin and death Because of his great love and sacrifice we come before you with praise and thanksgiving We acknowledge that you are God, you made us, you know all about us, there is nothing hidden from you and that you are always ready to hear us when we pray We thank you that we can join in worship again today and listen to the words of Jesus. So many of the parables, he taught reflect the circumstances of our lives and remind us of what is important in life We pray that we will learn to apply these lessons in our own situations. Every country in the world has been affected by this virus and while we pray for them asking that an effective vaccine will be found soon for all, we specifically bring the needs of our community as we face these challenging times We pray for all who are concerned about their employment and are unsure of the future as we realize that this can affect family life. We pray for the young people who have left school and further education and are seeking employment that they may find guidance and direction for their future We thank you that the children have been able to return to school and pray that they and their teachers will be kept safe and well. We thank you for the continued work of the Falkirk food bank and for all who have contributed to the supply of food as this has been

of great benefit and comfort to many families. We give thanks for the churches and agencies who continue to care for others We thank you for the organization christians against poverty who are giving free advice and helping with debt problems and is now available in our area We pray that those who need this help will take the opportunity to make use of this service During this pandemic, many are feeling anxious sad and vulnerable but we have a great God who can meet and supply our every need We remember the words of Jesus who said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened , and I will give you rest”. Words spoken two thousand years ago but words that still apply to our circumstances today. We praise and thank you for your compassion and your care and ask that you will bless all who join with us today in this service We ask these things in Jesus name, Amen Stories of the bible “The parable of the wealthy man” This is Jesus who is the son of God and the savior of the world While Jesus was on earth he taught everyone about God’s love he healed many people from their sickness, performed many miracles like calming storms and even raised people from the dead One day a crowd gathered around Jesus to hear him talk The crowd was so big that people were stepping on each other Jesus was talking to his disciples when someone called out from the crowd “Teacher tell my brother to divide with me the property our father left us” Jesus said “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that Be careful and guard against all kinds of greed A man’s life is not measured by the many things he owns” Then he told them a story a rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops he said to himself “what should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops” Then he said “I know. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones then i’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods and i’ll sit back and say to myself my friend you have enough stored away for years to come Now take it easy eat, drink, and be merry” But God said to him “You fool, you will die this very night” “Then who will get everything you worked for?” “A person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God” Good Morning! You’ve probably heard the phrase – “money is the root of all evil!” Maybe you didn’t know that this is a

misquote from the Bible. Here’s the real version: “the love of money – is a root of all kinds of evil.” It’s interesting that the Bible never condemns money or wealth – in and of itself. Whether we have a little or a lot – our money and possessions are a gracious gift from God – to be used wisely, in a way that honours Him – and blesses others However, the Bible has a lot to say about having a right attitude to wealth and possessions. In fact, money or possessions was Jesus second-most talked about subject – after the kingdom of God

In our Bible reading today, we heard about one such occasion. In verse 1 of Luke chapter 12, thousands had gathered to hear Jesus teach. Yet Jesus’ words had no impact on one man in the crowd that day. He pushes to the front and blurts out: “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” This man’s dad had probably died. And sadly, a family argument had erupted over how much land and possessions each brother was due In such family disputes sometimes, a Jewish rabbi would help to arbitrate The man didn’t want arbitration though. He wanted Jesus to tell his brother to give him what he thought was his. Jesus wasn’t getting involved as a judge You see, Jesus’ mission is not to bring property to men – but to bring people to God – who is our greatest treasure Jesus saw into the man’s heart – and greed was keeping him from knowing God’s blessing and riches. So concerned is Christ about the impact of greed on our spiritual health – that today he warns us: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life doesn’t consist in the abundance of possessions.” You know Of all the 10 commandments in the Bible, we probably break the 10th most often. It says: do not covet. Covetousness, or greed is basically the desire to get more Jesus warns us all to be on our guard against “all kinds of greed.” This is because we can be greedy for more than money. I can also be greedy for possessions, attention, compliments, gifts, another person’s time, fame, food, and much more The modern mantra for life: “the one with the most toys wins.” is to Jesus – a poor and empty life True riches – the life that really matters to Jesus – is coming to know and follow him To help people understand the dangers of greed, Jesus tells the crowd a parable about a rich, foolish man. Through it, he explains how we can be rich – towards God. He says there are two dangers with greed which will keep us from being rich in God’s eyes. Firstly greed makes us self-centered In Jesus’ story: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. God graciously blessed this man’s work – he made the soil fertile – and gave him a bumper crop Notice Jesus doesn’t condemn wealth or possessions The Bible teaches in 1 Timothy 4:4: “Everything created by God is good – and nothing is to be rejected – if it is received with thanksgiving.” So, did the rich man hold a harvest service to thank God, and celebrate with his friends? No Did he joyfully share the extra proceeds with the poor? No. Greed had made him self-centered We see his self-centredness from his thoughts in verses 17 and 18: “I know what I will do. I will pull down my barns. I will build larger barns. I will store my stuff in my new barns. I will relax. I will eat. I will drink. I will be merry..” His worth was in what he owned. His possessions and his plans had become his god. The Lord God who had richly blessed him with crops was of no value to him You see, being rich isn’t about how much God gives us – it’s what we do with it. When we get a pay-rise at work, or an unexpected gift, or an increase in our benefits, what do we think? “It’s mine.”? or “I’ve earned it – so why shouldn’t I enjoy it?” Or do we praise God for his kindness, and use it to bless others? Giving is God’s way of stopping us building bigger barns to store all our stuff I once attended a Christian conference where one of the speakers was Jonathan Aitken – the former cabinet minister – and a potential future Prime Minister. Jonathan shared how he had enjoyed a wealthy and privileged upbringing. As a young, ambitious politician – he followed the advice of Alexander Pope: “by any means get wealth and place.” While in court defending his reputation, Jonathan lied under oath. Realizing the magnitude of his sin, he pled guilty

and was sentenced to 18 months in Belmarsh Prison. During the court proceedings, Jonathan was invited to an Alpha course. There he discovered God loved him – and despite his failings, Jesus died for him – and rose again to give him a new life He confessed: “Having lost all the place and wealth, I was guided to the path of God’s grace.” While in prison his faith grew as he served others. He wrote letters for, and gave spiritual help to, other prisoners. He soon started a prayer group. And the ex-Government minister found himself crying out to God – alongside an armed robber, a murderer, and his new best friend – Paddy the burglar! Jonathan humbly said: “I hope I’ve moved from a self-centered life – to a God-centred one.” You know, greed, and even the gifts God has blessed us with – can blind us to the riches of God’s grace, and being a channel of blessing to others So, let’s beware of self-centered greed Secondly, Jesus says greed can make us self-secure: In Middle Eastern farming communities, the whole village celebrated a farmer’s gathered harvest. The farmer would then make a celebration speech. But in Jesus’ story there’s no-one there to listen to him. Verse 19 is tragic: “I’ll say to myself – ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry’.” He’s left – a lonely figure – talking to himself. “I’ve arrived – I’m minted.” “I’ve got my nest egg – to draw on when I need it.” “I can relax now – and take life easy.” He thought his whole life – his body and soul – was the grain surplus in his barn. He expected to live for many years. Greed made him think he was secure but What a shock he got! Suddenly, we hear God’s voice now: “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” The word “fool” means a person without sense or understanding. The self-made farmer foolishly thought he was set up for a long, comfortable retirement. God says, “Tonight your life here will end.” The rich man’s greed had stopped him thinking about God – about his own mortality – and where he would spend eternity. When he died – he left everything behind That phrase ‘demanded from’ is really important. It means – ‘to return a loan’. God had loaned the farmer his life for his time here on earth. And now God, the owner, was demanding it back again We may think our life is what we possess. Jesus says, our life – our soul, is God’s. And God can claim it at any minute Howard Hughes was in his day, the wealthiest man on the planet. But he became a recluse – because he ouldn’t trust anyone. He eventually died of malnutrition – fearing someone might poison him for his money Every penny Hughes didn’t want to lose, he left behind. His greed made him think he was safe, yet he was wracked with insecurity. The pandemic has turned 2020 upside-down, hasn’t it? It was totally unexpected. One lesson we can learn is this: We need to be careful about planning years ahead – and relying on our money, possessions, even our holidays, and being able to take things easy. Only God knows what tomorrow will bring So we’ve seen this morning to be truly rich – to ensure we have treasure in heaven, we need to guard against greed – because it makes us self-centered and self-secure In verse 34 of this chapter Jesus says: “where your treasure is, there will you heart be also.” Let me ask you this question: “Where is your treasure today?” In this world, or in heaven? What is my treasure?

My possessions or Jesus Christ? Being rich towards God means our security, and our hope for the future, is in Jesus Christ. When we come to him in faith he gives us this wonderful promise: “I give you eternal life, and you shall never perish – no one will snatch you out of my hand.” Our final song today is based on the words of the apostle Paul in the Bible. Let’s sing: ‘All I once held dear.’ Let’s pray together as we close our service

Lord Jesus – our Treasure, Thank you for the honesty of your words today – they come as a timely warning Teach us Lord, what life is all about. Help us to learn it’s not about possessions – no matter how many we have, or how attractive they are Thank you for all the good gifts you give us. May we use them for your glory, the building up of your kingdom, and the blessing of others Help us not to selfishly accumulate things so that we become attached to them and rely on them for our eternal security Forgive us for any foolish greed that resides in our hearts Thank you, Lord, that you left the riches of heaven and became poor in this world – so that through your poverty and death on the cross, we inherit the riches of your love and grace and full salvation Out of our deep gratitude for how much you have given us, may we have generous hearts – and open hands – to give to those in need. We ask all this in your name, Amen Thank you once again for joining our online service today we hope that you can take some encouragement from what you have seen and heard into the coming week. For today’s shot we’re flying over the most distinctive landmark on the Stirling skyline Wallace’s monument commemorates the Scottish patriot who triumphed over king Edward’s army at the battle of Stirling bridge in 1297 We hope to see you again next week take