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Sunday, August 20, 2017

posted Aug 20, 2017, 6:24 PM by Site Administrator

 

BUT SEEK HIS KINGDOM

 

Luke 12:13-34

Key Verse 12:31

 

But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

 

First, "The parable of the rich fool" (13-21). Look at verse 13. Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." It seemed that his brother took all the inheritance. Of course, it was unfair. It would be really good if his brother divided the inheritance with him. This man expected that Jesus, a servant of God, would help him get justice. But, unexpectedly, Jesus said to him, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" Jesus refused to get involved in this matter. His answer was, "No." Jesus said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." The main reason of such conflict is greed. Because of greed, his brother took all the inheritance. Because of greed, in the name of justice, this man was fighting against his brother. Why should then, Jesus get involved in this kind of mud fight? 

 

There are many kinds of injustice practiced in our society. The rich become richer, and the poor become poorer – it is great injustice. Many people protest against this social injustice. But if we try to correct this injustice, there is no end – one time the rich take advantage of the poor, and the poor, through demonstration, once they prevail, try to take advantage of the rich. Jesus simply refused to get involved in this kind of endless argument and strife; instead of fighting for social justice, Jesus focused on doing God's work. Social injustice has been there in human history all the time - absolute monarchy system is social injustice, but God did not try to reform it; instead, He continued his salvation plan through the monarchy system, giving instruction to people how to serve kings, and telling kings thatthey should not overload. Slavery was social injustice; it was there even in Israel, but God did not stir up people to fight against it; instead, He continued his redemption work through it. 

 

Humans develop imperfect systems that cause social injustice continually - monarchy, slavery, democracy, communism, terrible laws that favor on rich people, or on poor people, one party gets advantage while others are oppressed,... - that's what humans do. While human history fluctuates with all kinds of social injustice, God continues his redemption work, because the real solution for all this social injustice is God's kingdom; when Jesus' kingdom comes, all people will get justice, and no one will be left out. This is what God has been doing for the past several thousand years while human history fluctuates with all kinds of social injustice; God's redemption work flows on continually like the deep current of the ocean and we must serve this work of God

 

Look at verses 16 through 21. Here, Jesus gives us a famous parable – the parable of the rich fool. There was a rich man. He worked hard in the field, then, one day, so luckily, his ground produced a lot of crops, so much that he had no place to store them. How happy he must have been! He thought to himself, "What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops."Then he said, "This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."This man is a successful case. It is not easy to be successful in building career and making a lot of money in the society. It is all peoples dream to be successful like him so that they can retire early, and enjoy life freely without having any burden or responsibility. For this, they deny themselves and pursue their career sincerely, studying hard on hard chairs; they work hard. A lot of them actually fail in the world, and only small number of people become successful. Now Jesus talks about a successful case. Let's say that some people are very successful in building their career and securing their life with a lot of money. How are they? After securing their life, they come to have this question, "What shall I do now?" This is the dilemma so many successful people suffer from. When they did not have that much money, they pursued it with all their hearts and strength, thinking that, once they had a lot of money, their life would be different. But once they have a lot of money, really enough for them to spend freely during all their life, they do not know what to do next. Then, the only conclusion they draw is this: "Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." So what do they do? They travel a lot -Alaska cruise, CancunBahamas, India, China, Hawaii, eating all kinds of delicious food, having parties. They want to enjoy the rest of their life freely, without having any burden or responsibilities. This kind of life is what all people's on earth are pursuing, and this is what all the parents hope for their children. They are considered as "successful people" in the society, and from time to time, they donate a good amount of money for a good cause and people praise them. 

 

But how does God consider them? In verse 20, Jesus says, 20"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'" Such people are fools! Why? It is because when they pursue that kind of life, success in the world, pouring out their time and energy for their own career dreams, simply, in God's eyes, their life carries no value that He takes it away any moment. Suddenly, they are found with terrible diseases; or a certain disaster attacks them. They are the fools who spend all they have on what is not truly valuable.

 

Look at verse 21. Let's read this verse together:

 

"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

 

The rich fool's lifestyle is the dream for all peoples on earth - build a career successfully, make a lot of money, then, retire early and enjoy life. People pour out everything they have - time and talent and youth - for this goal; and it is all parents' wish for their children. But Jesus describes all such people, "fools," andsays that God will deal with all these people in the same way He dealt with the rich fool in the passage - taking their life any time, because in his eyes, their life carries no value at all. Do you want to live this kind of life? No way! Jesus’ message is clear: He does not want us to pursue a career dream or so that our life may carry real value in God's eyes.  

 

Jesus describes the rich fool as one who is rich for himself but not rich toward God. The fools are so rich toward themselves that for themselves, they pour out their time and energy freely as if they have unlimited amount of energy and resources. They spend 16 hours in studying and working for money and their own future dream. But they are so stingy toward God that they are reluctant to set aside even one hour for Bible study, saying, "I am busy." They lazily surf on the web for 20 hours a week, but they are not willing to spend two hours for Worship service, saying, "I am busy." Many nights they fall asleep while watching the TV shows. They are so free to spend their money for fancy computers, cell phones, movies, delicious foods, clothes, cars, but they only give God pennies. They are willing to pay $200,000.00 for a car but they are not willing to bring one tenth offering to God; so, they just put some coins into the offering box; even beggars are upset when people give them coins. Such people are fools. In God's eyes, such life does not carry any value that He takes away their life any time. 

 

Unlike these fools, there are people who are rich toward God, but stingy toward themselves. Some people drive two hours to attend one hour worship service, and then, drive back home spending two more hours on the street - that person is rich toward God pouring out his time for God freely. Our shepherds and shepherdesses pour out their time, every day several hours, to find new sheep, and teach them the word of God, still managing their school work, and a part time job. They pour their time for God as if  they have 48 hours a day. But they are so reluctant to spend time for their family movies or trip. They are free to spend gas money for one to one Bible study, but sohesitant to spend money for their food - when lunch menu is $6.99, they think for 10 minutes standing there in the restaurant, whether they should just buy it, or go for $1.69 hamburger at Carl's Jr. Let's be rich toward God!

 

Second, "But seek his kingdom" (22-34). Look at verses 22 and 23. Let’s read these verses together: 

 

22Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 

 

This is Jesus’ message for his disciples. This is the instruction for all believers. We must not live the life of rich fools. Then, what kind of life should we live? Jesus says, "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear." The rich fools' life struggle all starts from worrying about their future security - worrying about what to eat, how to pay the bills, how to support the family. They are so concerned about it and thereby, try hard to secure their future with a career by pouring out all their strength and energy; thus, they live as bread seekers; at best, they become rich fools. So, Jesus said to his disciples, "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear." 

 

Jesus says, "Life is more than food," meaning life is more than securing it with a career or money or success; securing your life with a career or money does not mean that your life is really successful or meaningful. We have heard about how many successful people live their lives - they have secured their food; they have so much money that they have no worry about their future. So are they happy? No. They produce gossips and scandals continually; they marry and divorce repeatedly. No one is too surprised when any star couple divorces - simply, expected. This is how all peoples on earth live their life. Jesus says, "Life is more than food." Instead of worrying about how to secure our life with a career, we must worry about how we must live our life so that it may carry real value and real meaning, how to live a truly meaningful and fulfilling life - this is the concern of Jesus' disciples, all believers.

 

In verses 24 through 28, Jesus mentions how God takes care of the ravens and the lilies in the field. The ravens do not worry about food; they do not work to produce food; they do not build storeroom or barn. Instead, according to God’s creation purpose, they just enjoy their life freely, performing all kinds of air shows, sometimes soaring up, sometimes, flying upside down, sometimes, zigzag flying. They are really enjoying their God-given life as birds - they really fly! When they are hungry, they simply look down, then, as usual, there are some foods on the ground prepared for them by God – sometimes, crumbs of the bread children threw, sometimes, wild cherries or plums, sometimes, a great feast of carcasses – well balanced diet – snack, fruits, vegetables, and meat. God feeds them faithfully, and they never worry about food but enjoy their life. I read a report from Japan that states that Tokyo has been conquered by the ravens. Have you ever tried to take care of the ravens? No, never! But God took care of them and they are flourishing. I also heard about the city of Gotham conquered by bats. If God takes care of the ravens this much, how much more will God take care of us when we strive to serve his purpose? So, we must not worry about food or security or career. Also, even though we worry about it, nothing changes. So it is of no use to worry about our future. So, don't worry! Instead, today, we live for God today, putting our trust in God’s provision. 

 

Lilies do not labor or spin. But God clothes them so beautifully. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe us? 

 

Look at verses 29 through 31. Let’s read these verses together:

 

29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

 

"Setting your heart on what you will eat or drink" is what all pagans do. Their whole desire is about securing their future with a career so that they can eat better food, drive better cars, and live in a bigger house. By saying, "the pagan world," Jesus sums up all unbelieving people's life struggles. They seem to do so many things - jobs, music, arts, business and entertainment - but eventually, in Jesus' eyes, all of them run after food and clothes. Then, at best, some of them become rich fools, and while the rest of them become miserable failures. This is how Jesus sees the pagan world - all unbelieving people. 

 

Should we, Jesus' disciples, live our life in the same way? No way! Instead, we must live for God. Then, what about our career? How can we pay the bills? How can we support our family? Jesus says, "Your Father knows that you need them," meaning that God is going to help us with such things. Do you believe that He will help you with your career matter? Then, don't worry about it. Then, instead of setting our hearts on such things, as Christians, as Jesus' disciples, what should we do? Jesus says, "But seek his kingdom, and all these things will be given to you as well." "Seek His kingdom." While all unbelieving people seek their career and success, all believers seek God's kingdom. This is what Christian life is about. This is what distinguishes believers from the people in the world. 

 

Then, what about careers? What about supporting our families? Jesus says, "and all these things will be given to you as well." As we seek God's kingdom by faith in God, these things come to us at the right time, and thereby, eventually, we come to have wonderful careers, even far better than the careers unbelievers have - Lilies are more beautiful than Solomon in all his splendor. Notice here that Jesus does not say that we should forget about such things; Jesus does not say that we don't need them; he does not say that we will not have careers as his disciples. Instead, he says that these things will be given to us, meaning that we will have our own career jobs.

 

Throughout the whole passage, Jesus encourages his disciples not to worry about the security or career matter; he encourages us not to be afraid of our career matter; he keeps encouraging us repeatedly to put our trust in God who knows our needs and who is willing to help us. This shows us that Jesusfully understands the challenge we have as his disciples in the world - he understands how serious and important our career matter is. At the same time, we can see how important it is for us to have faith in God in this matter, in the career matter: those who believe that God will help them with their career matter seek God's kingdom by faith; but those who do not have faith in God in this matter, out of worry and fear, end up running after such things just like all unbelieving people, thus, at best, becoming fools, living a worthless life. Do you believe that God knows that you need a career? Do you believe that God will help you with your career matter? Then, you can live a real Christian life by seeking his kingdom by faith in God's provision. Seek His kingdom! This is Christians' way of life.

 

Seeking God's kingdom is different from doing God's work once in a while such as distributing million dollar bills, saying, "Believe in Jesus." Rather, this word suggests our life's direction and purpose - what we really pursue, what we really desire. With this instruction, Jesus shows us what his disciples must pursue in their life - what they should live for. Many people say, "I don't know what God wants me to do." I tell you, this is what Jesus wants you to do - seek his kingdom; pursue this purpose, live for it and die for it; pour out all you have - time and energy, talent and your life for this purpose. While the unbelieving people seek career, luxury, convenience and pleasures in this world, we, disciples of Jesus, seek God’s kingdom. And, at the right time, God gives us what we need - a career, a house, and a family and we are happy with him. This is the Christian life. 

 

Look at verse 32. Jesus says"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom." This is God’s heart for us – he is pleased to give us even the kingdom, then, what about giving you a career job? No problem. So don’t worry, little flock. Look at verses 33 and 34. Let’s read these verses together:

 

33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor." All people on earth struggle to gather and accumulate their possessions – promising career, licenses, wealth. But Jesus tells us to sell them and give them to the poor, meaning we would pour out our time, energy and strength in taking care of poor people who are in need. Instead of struggling to collect things such as security or success only because of fear, he wants us to use our time and energy to take care of God’s flock. Sell your possessions and give to the poor! What possession do you have? A good license? Sell it and give it to the poor! A promising future? Sell it and give it to the poor! Youth? Sell it and give it to the poor! Time or a great talent in music or great communication skill? Sell it and give it to the poor! That’s the meaning of seeking God’s kingdom, and that’s the meaning of storing up our treasures in the kingdom of God. As we invest our life on the kingdom of God by pouring out our time, youth, talent, and everything in serving God’s flock, we are storing up our treasures in heavenWhen you live your life this way for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, you will store up so many treasures in heaven that your heart will be there all the time, thinking about them, dreaming about them, talking about them, ever wanting to go there even ASAP. Thus, your whole perspectives and your value system will be completely shaped up, and your hope and desires will be completely set on the kingdom of God. That way, you will leave this earth and enter the kingdom of God, and you will be glad. What you have worked for will remain eternally.

 

Jesus also says, "Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out." A purse is a bag in which you carry important things. If your purse wears out, then all valuable things you put in will fall out, and later, you find that it is empty. People in the world struggle hard to secure their life and enjoy it by building their career and earning a lot of money and marrying a dream husband or wife - they collect a lot in the world, but later, when they check out their purse, they find that it has worn out that all the things they have collected and put in it have fallen out - they are empty and miserable; their life is not fulfilling at all - this is the rich fool's life - this is the end result of all those who live for themselves in the world. Don't be deceived by their glamorous looking life; don't be deceived by their fancy cars or great fame - they are spiritually bankrupt, and their life carries no value in God's eyes at all; their purses have worn out. 

 

We must provide purses for ourselves that will not wear out, and thereby, will keep all the things we have worked for securely. How? By seeking his kingdom! By selling all your possessions and giving them to the poor! By living for God's flock, and living for his kingdom! By pouring out all we have for God's kingdom purpose - only Jesus' disciples who live for God's kingdom can provide purses for themselves that will not wear out - only Jesus' disciples can live a truly fulfilling and successful life.

 

Sell your possessions and give to the poor! Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out! Then, you are storing up treasures in heaven. This is the life of Jesus’ disciples. This is how all believers must live their lives.

 

One Word:Sell Your Possessions And Give To The Poor!

 

 

 

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