Hope, Help, and Holding Fast: Storing Up Future Treasure with Present Riches (1 Timothy 6:17–21)


Hope, Help, and Holding Fast: Storing Up Future Treasure with Present Riches (1 Timothy 6:17–21)

On Sunday we finished the book of 1 Timothy. Since February, we have enjoyed learning about what it means to be a church made alive by Christ and directed by his Spirit. As we finished the series, we reminded ourselves what this whole letter was about and why Paul finished his words with one last word to the rich (6:17–19) and one final admonition to Timothy (6:20–21).

Whether you consider yourself rich or not, and whether you are in ministry or not, these final words of 1 Timothy give great wisdom on how to store up your treasure in heaven and guard the gospel of Jesus Christ.

You can listen to the sermon online. Response questions can be found below, as well as a list of all the sermons preached in this series.

Soli Deo Gloria, ds Continue reading

Two Ways to Crave: Quarreling for More vs. Contentment in Christ (1 Timothy 6:2b–10)

livingchurchTwo Ways to Crave: Quarreling for More vs. Contentment in Christ (1 Timothy 6:2b–10)

A. W. Tozer once said that what you think about when you think about God is the most important thing about you.

In his statement, this Chicago pastor captured the way our thinking drives our living. If we could only order our thinking about God and everything else rightly, we would be headed in a good direction. The problem is that we are not just “thinking-things,” we are “loving-things.” And often our thoughts are not driven by external facts but by internal longings. As Paul says in Ephesians 4:18, ignorance comes from the hardness of our hearts, not the absence of information.

Addressing this internal desire again in 1 Timothy 6, Paul unveils two motivations for seeking Christ—one that leads to contentment and life, one that leads to endless craving and death. How shocking (and scary): it is possible to seek Christ in a deadly way.

On Sunday, we considered Paul’s words and what they say to us about our inner longings. From 1 Timothy 6:2b–10, we saw Paul contrast two ways of godliness, and how this spurs us on to find contentment in Christ and not in the material gains that we might seek from Christ.

You can listen to the sermon online. Response questions can be found below. Continue reading

Gospel-Motivated Giving

om-prakash-sethia-301978-unsplashThis summer our church looked at Jesus’s words concerning giving. In Sunday School, we studied Randy Alcorn’s helpful little book called The Treasure PrincipleYou can listen to the series here. And in our series on the Sermon on the Mount, we have looked at Jesus words about giving in Matthew 6:1–4, treasure in Matthew 6:19–24, and trusting God with our material needs in Matthew 6:25–34. You can listen to those sermons here:

Still, giving is not just something that Jesus talked about. It is something that goes back to the beginning of corporate worship. For in Exodus, when God redeemed his people from Egypt, he led them to contribute to the construction of the tabernacle. With the gifts God provided for Israel through the “plundering of the Egyptians,” God’s people gladly gave to the construction of God’s dwelling place.

Today, as the church has become the temple of the Holy Spirit, God’s people continue to give to its upbuilding, as the Lord moves our hearts. Jesus’s words about storing up treasure in heaven, and not on earth may even refer directly to this temple-directed giving (see Nicholas Perrin, Jesus the Temple), However, throughout the Bible there is a theme of God’s people giving to the upbuilding of God’s dwelling place because of the work of grace in their lives.

This is first seen in Exodus and continues until today. Accordingly, we can learn much by seeing the relationship between grace and giving, and how gospel-motivated giving is both similar and different from all other forms of philanthropy. Continue reading

The Truth about Treasure (Matthew 6:19–24)

sermon05The Truth about Treasure (Matthew 6:19–24)

What hath Athens to do with Jerusalem?

This is Tertullian’s famous question contrasting the difference between divine truth and man-made philosophy. And it highlights the challenge of living in this world with our eyes fixed upon another.

In a similar fashion, we might ask the same question about our rewards: What hath dollars to do with eternal destinies?

Indeed, in a world where money motivates, secures, comforts, and corrupts, we are painfully aware of the problems that money (and its lack) bring. Yet, as Jesus instructs us in Matthew 6:19–24, our earthly riches also provide an important avenue for discipleship and increasing our eternal joy. The question is how!

With that in mind, Sunday’s sermon considered Jesus’s teaching about earthly and heavenly reward. You can listen to that sermon online. Discussion questions and additional resources can be found below.

Continue reading

God’s Currency Exchange: How God Funds His Gospel Mission

pina-messina-465025-unsplashOver the summer, our church considered many of the things Jesus said about money. In a Sunday School series following Randy Alcorn’s The Treasure Principle, we learned much about how to invest our lives in things eternal. This Sunday, in our Sermon on the Mount series, we will again look at Jesus’s words about storing up treasure in heaven and not on earth.

Reflecting on this passage, I am reminded of an article I read more than 15 years ago on the subject of money and how it can be and should be “converted.” “Transmuted,” not converted, is actually the word R.A. Torrey used in his article, “Our Lord’s Teaching about Money,” but converting earthly riches into heavenly gain is the idea.

This article is actually more than 100-years old now, included in the historic 12-volume set The Fundamentals, but the truths contained therein are just as relevant today as they were in 1909. Indeed, God’s truth is eternal and his principles about all of life, including money, are evergreen. Yet, the point about converting currency into earthly treasure is one I haven’t heard often, thus I share Torrey’s point here.

Currency Conversion: How God Funds His Gospel Mission

In Torrey’s article on money, he lists nine “laws” Jesus taught about money. Each are worth considering, but it’s his final point about converting money into eternal rewards that has always stuck with me. And so I share it here: Continue reading

Noonday Light: Christians and Poverty

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
– Colossians 3:2 –

New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam

Last week,   asked the question: Are Churches Are Making America Poor?  She reported in Newsweek that a group of atheists in Washington D. C. want to crack down on churches with ‘crooked’ books.  Troubling as this report may be, it is worth considering how churches might relate to the poor. Here a few articles on the matter.

What the Poor Need Most. Joe Carter gives a personal testimony to the riches of his poverty and Christians’ responsibility to care for the poor. (Acton Blog)

The Poverty of the Nations. Greg Forster reviews Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus’s new book economics and policy-making that brings about human flourishing. (The Gospel Coalition)

Economics 101: Productivity Starts at Home. Here’s a more constructive piece by Greg Forster. (The Gospel Coalition)

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Why Business Matters To God

Occupy Wall Street.  Obamacare.  Socialism.  Capitalism.  Social Justice.

All of these terms have gotten a lot of air time recently.  And one thing that is clear is that self-described evangelicals are divided on what God says about business, money, and the use of wealth.

Today I ran across a very helpful message on this subject that takes the biblical framework of Creation-Fall-Redemption-New Creation and applies to the area of business. It answer some questions about the place of business in God’s world, and serves as one resource for thinking through this complex issue.

At the Gospel & Culture Conference, Jeff Van Duzer’s message on “Why Business Matters To God,” is a great biblical theological resource to think more biblically about business.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

The Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Better Investment Than Gold

[Preparing for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, I wrote an article for our church’s monthly newsletter on a gospel-motivated vision for giving to the work of Jesus Christ in spreading his fame throughout the earth.  Needless to say, giving to the kingdom of God is an investment worth more than the weight of gold, but one that is only empowered by the work of God in our hearts].

But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly?
For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you
(1 Chron 29:14).

Before Carnegie, Rockefeller, Gates, and Buffet stood a philanthropist whose greatest desire was to build a temple for God (2 Samuel 7).  Speaking of his desire, King David says in Psalm 27, “One thing have I asked of the Lord that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.” Truly, David was a man after God’s own heart, and it is evident in the way he dedicated himself to the Lord’s work.

Though God denied David’s desire to be the temple’s foreman, he ordained David to be the developer who raised the financial capital needed to build God’s house. 1 Chronicles recounts how David collected supplies for the house. 1 Chronicles 22 even lists the amounts: 4,000 tons of gold equaling 53 billion dollars today; 36,000 tons of silver, equaling 8.9 billion dollars today, plus bronze and iron ‘beyond weighing’ (22:14).  Needless to say, compared to King David, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Gates, and Buffet together would find themselves on the light side of the scale.  In addition to the amount King David collected, he also contributed his own personal wealth–Over 110 tons of gold and more than 260 tons of silver (1 Chron 29:3-4).

Yet, notice what David thought about his giving.  His motivation was not that of a debtor paying off his pledge, nor that of a duty-bound king.  It was not even the tax-incentivized contribution of the modern American.  Rather, David gave as a beloved son (2 Sam 7:14).  Overwhelmed by the grace of God, he marveled at the fact that God would allow him to bring such an offering.  His rich contribution humbled him because he recognized the real Giver of the gift (cf. 1 Cor 4:7).  In short, David gave a only a fraction of all that God had given him, yet he gave willingly because he reckoned all that he owned as God’s.  Hear his words in Psalm 24:1-2, “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.”

The apostle Paul had the same sentiment.  Speaking of the Macedonian’s generosity, he wrote, “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor 9:11).  Paul’s point is that for Christians, we ought to be motivated by God’s superabundant supply and to give accordingly—always for the praise of God’s great name (see 2 Cor 9:6-15).

The point is not that large gifts merit God’s favor (see Luke 21:1-4), but rather that meditation on God’s favor, moves us to give largely.  God’s goal in giving is our eternal joy and freedom from the empty promises that money makes: You can gain the whole world and forfeit your soul: Material possession doesn’t equate to happiness or eternal security.  Thus, God always works in the hearts of his people to make freewill offerings, motivated by the largeness of his love (see Exodus 35:29).  David is such an example.

So was Lottie Moon.  Compelled by the love of God, Lottie gave the ultimate gift—her own life—to the Chinese people whom see loved.  From an aristocratic family in Virginia, she died of starvation in Asia.  She invested her life and beckoned others to give their to the only cause that lasts forever–the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Why?  Because like David, she knew the faithfulness and love of God in Jesus Christ.  Thus her service was delightful, not dutiful.  She gladly sacrificed so that others might know the glorious God of grace.  This December as we take up an offering for Lottie Moon missions, might we like David and Lottie, be motivated by the joy-producing gospel to give to the work of the Great Commission.

May God increase our joy and liberate our hearts as we give unto him, “a cheerful gift!”
Pastor David

Bulls, Birds, and Bugs: Financial Aid from the Forest and the Field

When not going to school, reading, studying, preaching, or blogging, I am helping students with financial aid at Southern Seminary.  This is my full time work, Supervisor of Student Resources, and today I had the pleasure of addressing more than 100 prospective students and their families about financing seminary.  Sharing financial aid nuts and bolts, I tried to frame the presentation with four biblical truths about financial aid.  Considering the current economic uncertainty in the world, I sought to encourage those called to ministry to lift their eyes to heavens from which their help comes from (Ps. 127:1).  You can call it, “Financial aid during a time of financial uncertainty,” or “Bulls, Birds, and Bugs: Financial Aid from the Forest and the Field.”  Let me share them with you briefly.

First, God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  Psalm 50:10-11 reads, “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.”  The underlining truth that grounds our confidence as Christians, is that God is sovereign.  In terms of financial provision, we can trust that all the earth is his and the fullness thereof (cf. Ps. 24:1).  At any time, our Sovereign God can appropriate, reallocate, or liquidate his “stock.”  Regardless of how the Nasdaq or the Dow fare, God’s economy is always good, and he will care for his own.  So as you consider your financial need at this time, be reminded that God owns it all and will provide exactly what you need when you need it.

Second, the birds of the air doing just fine. In Matthew 6:24-26, Jesus confronts anxiety caused by the question of means, when he says, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing.  Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not more valuable than they?” 

God’s word teaches us that God cares about the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees, and if he does, Jesus says, we need not worry about our provision.  He cares significantly more about those who bear his image, than the bird who fly today and fall tomorrow.  Jesus goes on, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).  For those who are called to ministry, it is imperative that we learn to trust God for his provision.  God affords us this learning tank as we prepare for seminary.  Therefore, in a time of financial uncertainty, God gives us the opportunity to learn contentment (cf. Phil. 4:11-13, 19) and to trust him for provision as we train theologically. 

Since we know the end of the story, a new heavens and a new earth with fields aplenty, we can gladly walk through the unsettled middle. 

Third, God’s timing is perfect, so don’t be a horse or a mule.  In Psalm 32:8-9, God says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you wit my eye upon you.  Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.” 

In the Christian life and in ministry, it is essential to learn that while God is Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides, he does so in ways and in days that we may not expect–or want (cf. Isa. 55:8-9).  I did not anticipate that my seminary career would take four and a half years to complete, but in God’s timing he made perfect provision for me over the course of 9 semesters. For those going into ministry, this waiting on the Lord, is as important to the pastor, missionary, or church planter as learning Greek or Hebrew.  God’s timing is perfect, but we must learn to trust his timing.  Be comforted by Psalm 32:8-9 and remember Isaiah 64:6, “God works on behalf of those who wait for him.”   Guard yourself from being a horse who moves too quickly or a mule who moves too slowly by trusting in the Lord’s timing.  God’s good designs for your life may include seminary and a bounty of undeserved provision, but they may include another path of provision and blessing.

Fourth, consider the ant and plan wisely.  Solomon writes in Proverbs 6:6-8, “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler; she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.”  Waiting for the Lord and trusting in his provision does not mean passive inactivity.  I often encounter zealous young men and women called to ministry, who have spent little time thinking about how they might afford the education.  They go out to sea without a paddle, a sail, a radio, or a life raft, assuming that the currents of the waves will lead them in the right direction.  They call this walking by faith, but in fact it is a kind of foolishness that that disregards God’s call to walk wisely, exercising dependent dominion. 

Walking by faith is based on hearing God’s promises and acting in belief (cf. Rom. 10:17; James 2).  Blindly presupposing that God will bless an untimely decision to go to seminary that imperils family, that jeopardizes current ministry, or that hinders the ability to suitably provide for your family–I am speaking to men here–is not the same thing as “risk-taking” faith.  The latter is steeled by God’s promises revealed in Scripture, the former is assumed based on an uncounseled decision (Prov. 11:25).  The sovereignty of God promotes human responsibility; it does not facilitate sloth or idle living.  God’s cosmic reign encourages honest work, coupled with ant-like planning.  Along the way God often smiles on us, providing gracious and unexpected supplies and resources, but this never frees us from the responsibility to plan and to plan well (cf. Prov. 16:1-9).

In short, all creation reflects the glory and wisdom of God that help us to better walk in wisdom (cf. Ps. 19:1; Isa. 28:23ff) .  In the five animals considered here, we see principles of wisdom that spur us on as laborers and aspiring shepherds, for we ourselves must learn to live like sheep even as we train to shepherd.  God is our Great Shepherd and the One who will provide all that we need, and for those who are called to ministry they are also called to wisely pursue biblical equipping, according to the provision and the timing God supplies.  This kind of equipping may come from a seminary, or it may not, but regardless we are called to labor faithfully in the vineyard in the God places us until the master returns to receive his own.

(If you would like more information about Southern Seminary, come to a Seminary Preview Conference.  The next one is scheduled for April 2009.  More information about financing seminary can be found at Goingtoseminary.com. ).

Sola Deo Gloria, dss

God and Money

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says this about God and money:

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money.  Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about you body what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  … But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:24-25, 33).

Addressing the subject of God and money in his blog today, Southern Seminary President, Dr. Albert Mohler reflects on “A Christian View of the Economic Crisis” .  His sweeping conversation about economic theory, materialism, and the Kingdom of Christ is a helpful reminder in a time of economic unrest that the God who clothes the field and feeds the sparrow will take care of his children.  I encourage you to read Dr. Mohler’s article for insight and to contemplate the field and watch the sparrow to remember the provision of our Lord.

Sola Deo Gloria, dss