Monday, August 5, 2013

Being Rich Toward God

”Then he 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.” (Luke 12:15)

  My wife, Karen and I went on vacation during July in Elmira, NY. Elmira is near Watkins Glen, NY where the Watkins Glen International Race Track is located. I have mentioned in prior posts I am a fan of NASCAR. Karen has been to the track many years ago, since she grew up in this area of New York. I have never been to the track and I wanted to visit and wondered if a visitor could actually get to see the track.

Start/Finish Line - Watkins Glen International looking toward turn one

The start/finish line at Watkins Glen International.  Click any photo to enlarge.

  I discovered you can visit one section of the track and watch cars practice on the track most days for free. Watkins Glen is a road course track 3.4 miles long. I also discovered I did not have to settle for just watching other cars, but I could have the opportunity to drive three laps around the track myself (though not free). After the second lap you get to stop and take photos at the start/finish line. (photo included)

  I decided I could not pass up this chance. After I had finished driving my three laps around the track, Karen mentioned that doing this was probably on my bucket list. I am not sure I really have a bucket list, yes, there are a few things I hope I might do someday, but if they don't happen I won't be disappointed. As I thought about it, it occurred to me most bucket lists contain earthly items, but how about heavenly items.

  Some people do in fact develop their own bucket lists, those things they want to do before they kick the bucket. They believe they need to achieve everything on their list in order to feel fulfilled in life. Fact is we probably will “kick the bucket” before we complete the list, depending upon what we have on our list.

Rev. McDermott standing at the Start/Finish Line - Watkins Glen International

I am standing at the start/finish line at Watkins Glen International.

  Do you have a bucket list, if not, what would you have on your list? A place you hope to travel, a challenge you would like to achieve or a project or skill you would like to accomplish. Does your list include relational and spiritual goals? Do you want to strengthen your relationship with God or your neighbor.

  In my message this past Sunday I used the scripture from Luke 12:13-21. Jesus is approached by a man who wants Jesus to settle a dispute with his brother over an inheritance, but Jesus refocuses the request to asking the man to consider his relationship to his possessions and his relationship to God. He tells the parable of the Rich Fool who builds bigger barns to hold his harvest, when God calls him a fool because his life would be demanded of him the next day.

  Jesus is asking us what is on our bucket list? What are our priorities in our lives? Are we more concerned with the accumulation of worldly possessions as our main goal, even when we can take nothing with us at our life's end, as God says, “Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (v. 20) Do we only care about our earthy riches, but spend little of our effort in being “rich toward God?” (v. 21)

  A few verses, later in this same chapter, Jesus says, “Have no fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  You are a child of God – a son, a daughter of God! And it is God’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. That’s all the inheritance you need.”

  I always liked this phrase, “it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  God desires to give us the kingdom which is far more valuable than any worldly inheritance or earthly possessions, but we mistakenly see value in the things which truly don't bring us life as God intended. This life is not just about us, but about our relationships with God, our neighbor, family and friends.

  Jesus doesn’t say that it’s wrong to have wealth. He doesn’t say that you can’t be his disciple if you have wealth. Jesus says, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”  Jesus warns us that if we become obsessed with wealth and what we can accumulate only for ourselves, we are separating ourselves from God and we fail to “be rich toward God” which is really our true inheritance and our gift to the world.

  So, what might you add to your bucket list, so you might become “rich toward God.”

  • Learn how to forgive yourself and others and let go of those things heavy on your heart.
  • Develop the discipline of regular, daily prayer
  • Plan to go on a mission trip with the people from your church.
  • Learn to discipline yourself to give more than you receive.
  • Reconcile yourself to someone whom you have been estranged.
  • Attend a weekly Bible Study to learn more about gaining the riches of God.
  • Volunteer to serve some important role within your church.

What items do you need to add to your list?

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