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January 8, 2020

Matthew 6:19-34
We live in a disposable society.  We expect things to break, wear out or become useless.  I have many things which were purchased for my enjoyment and that now provide none of the benefit for which I purchased them.  For instance, I have a stack of LP albums which altogether cost several hundred dollars.  The problem now is, there is nothing on which to play them.  During the years since I purchased them, eight track systems, cassette players, and now CD’s have become the standard for music recording.  There are many other possessions in my barn and storage shed which no longer seems as necessary to my happiness as they once were.  I am a different man than I was 20 or 30 or 40 years ago.  My wants and needs are very different than in the past.  Things I felt I could not do without I now find I have no time for or interest in.  Some years ago President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines was deposed.  There were several reports of the graft and corruption of his government.  It was reported that his wife, Emelda Marcos had several hundred pairs of shoes.  They did her little good in jail.
In this section of His sermon Jesus warns of just circumstances as described above.  Everything in this world will one day become obsolete, out of fashion, decayed or otherwise useless to its owner.  He tells us very simply that if we think happiness is found in the things we possess, we are doomed to disappointment.  In another encounter Jesus told a man that happiness did not come with a great number of possessions. (Luke 12:15)  Solomon preached in his day the same message. (Ecclesiastes 5:10-12)  Solomon has said what many learn too late: Our possessions require more of our time than we want to admit.  They can determine our schedule.  Animals must be fed, flowers must be cultivated, houses must be kept in repair and businesses must be managed.  It is easy to become so involved in life’s activities, that we miss what is truly important.  While none of these activities are sinful, they can and do interfere with our duties toward God.  In this way they are sinful.
We often refer to our material wealth as blessings for God.  This is the message preached from many pulpits.  Paul wrote to Timothy that such a message came from corrupt minds.  He preached that when a man is in right relationship with God, he will be happy. (I Timothy 6:5-6)  It is true that God does provide us more than we can imagine. (I Corinthians 2:9)  He wants us to be well cared for, but this might not mean great wealth.  Paul said he was content with little or much.  His state of blessedness did not come from his possessions. (Philippians 4:11-13)  Wealth and possessions can be a blessing if used properly.  If wealth comes between us and God, He will take them away. (Haggai 1:4-10)
Jesus gave three examples of men who worshipped wealth. A prosperous farmer dies without getting any benefit from his bountiful harvest. (Luke 12:16-21)  A wealthy man too selfish to share with the needy discovered his wealth was of no benefit after he died. (Luke 16:19-25) A rich young man chose his wealth rather than trust Jesus. (Luke 18:18-23) Every one of these men made the wrong choice and all are lost for eternity.
We must keep our focus on the giver and not the gifts.  Our attitude toward our possessions will determine our attitude toward God.  How we look at things is most important.  We can look with gratitude or with envy.  This is the message of verses 22-23.  If a person counts his blessings and thanks God for them, he will be a rich man, regardless of what he has.  If that same man, with the same possessions, thinks he has been denied his rightful share, then he will be miserable and never enjoy what he does possess.
Whenever we let our possessions interfere with our service to God, we are serving mammon.  We must be ready and willing to give up all that we own to gain the rewards promised to the faithful.  This is a promise made to us by Jesus. (Matthew 19:27-29)   “A man is no fool to give up what he can’t keep to gain what he can’t lose.”  Is an often quoted expression that makes this truth easy to understand.  
Since it is true that we cannot control our future, there is no way we can provide for it.  I have no idea what I will need when the sun rises tomorrow.  If I did know, I probably could not get it.  This being true, I must look to some other source for my supply.  Jesus gives us the example of the rest of His creation.  Birds are fed, and flowers bloom with the glory of God without man’s input.  This being so, why should we sorry?  Jesus died for our salvation, He will provide for our needs.
If we will submit ourselves to God, and live our lives in harmony with His will, He will thrill our hearts with the good things of life.  This is His promise. (Psalms 145:14-16)  This is a promise repeated to us by Jesus, himself.  Worry about tomorrow will prevent our enjoyment of the blessings of today.  We have enough trouble with today.  Let God worry about tomorrow. 
Eldridge Cloessner
Pleasant Grove Baptist Church