September 3, 2019
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Everyone seems to be watching, waiting, predicting, preparing, evacuating, etc. for Hurricane Dorian. Once again, a major storm is heading for the East Coast and everyone in its path is watching. We are blessed to live in a time when we can watch the path of a hurricane before it arrives. The advanced warning gives people the chance to protect themselves, their families and their belongings. At the same time, when these advanced warnings are ignored, and some do not take advantage of ways to protect themselves, they only have themselves to blame when the storm tears away their treasures or even takes their lives. In our gospel reading from Luke 12, Jesus gave advanced warning of his coming so that you would protect your heavenly treasure with watchfulness.
This week, we transition from talking about earthly treasures, to heavenly treasures. Last week, our reading from Ecclesiastes reminded us that we can live life with joy in God, even though Ecclesiastes 1:2 “Everything is meaningless.” In the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon saw that everything we work for and the work we do is meaningless if done without faith in God. Without God, a person’s life is meaningless because, when they die, they give everything they have worked for to someone else and are left with nothing. Yet, a believer can enjoy their work and possessions because they recognize it is from God and serves his eternal purposes. This week, our focus is on the treasure we will not leave behind, but the treasure we are looking forward to in heaven, Luke 12:33 where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. Our heavenly treasure is something that we wait for, not something we work for. Therefore, Jesus said that we need to watch for it.
Jesus told the disciples that the kingdom of heaven was theirs when their hearts were set on watching out for their earthly needs. Just before our reading today from Luke 12, Jesus told his disciples, 29 “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.” The disciples fell into a trap that affects all of us. We all worry about what keeps us alive on earth and we all fall into living the lie that denies God will provide us with what we need. As the disciples were struggling with worry, Jesus said, 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Worry is an enemy of faith. Therefore, the remedy for worry is watchfulness; watching our heavenly treasure, which the Father was pleased to give us, the gift of Jesus.
Paying attention to what the world values keeps us from spending our time watching for Jesus. There are many things we blame for taking our eyes off of Jesus, but if we really want to understand why we all fall into the trap of paying attention to the world, rather than watching for Jesus, there is one thing we must understand. We have to understand that advertising is not inherently evil. Our lives are filled with commercials on screens, billboards, paper, buildings, clothing, etc. but we don’t have to be obsessed over them or worry that we don’t have all those things. The possessions of others seen on social media or in person are not inherently evil. We can see what someone else has and still be content with what we have. Capitalism is not inherently evil. Capitalism gives people the chance to give a portion of their money to whatever they want. Therefore, what we must understand is that whether we are surrounded by advertising and other people’s possessions in a capitalistic society or completely alone with just enough food and water to keep us alive, we would still fall into the temptation of finding treasure in the world because of our sinful nature. Our sinful nature fights against our faith to focus us on the lie that we need treasures stored up here in this world to be satisfied.
As believers we protect ourselves from our sinful nature’s lies with the treasure that lasts. In our reading from Revelation 3, Jesus described the heavenly treasure he has given us, he said, 5 “The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.” Jesus is the one who is victorious. He stands in heaven victorious over his enemy and ours, the devil, whose greatest weapon is death. Jesus bought us back from death with something that is truly priceless. In 1 Peter 1:18-19, Peter wrote, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” Jesus saved us from our sinful nature passed down from generation to generation, from a life held captive by empty treasures like gold and silver and from death with the sacrifice of his life and his resurrection. His blood was shed so that the eternal treasures of heaven would be ours.
These heavenly treasures that last will become ours at a time unknown to us. In our reading from Luke 12, Jesus said, 39 “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” We are certain that Jesus has saved us and certain that we will go to live with him in heaven, we just don’t know when. This means that we must always be watching for Jesus’ return.
Jesus told us to be ready for his return because it will be good for those who are ready for him. We all set aside time for God in worship, Bible Study, prayer and devotions, and we set aside time for other things like work, school, relaxing, sleeping, eating, dating, vacations, etc. Our lives are separated into blocks of time in our schedules and that scheduling is good, but we cannot forget that we remain believers at all times. Jesus said, 38 “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.” We may not worship at 2:00 am on a Wednesday, but Jesus wants us to be ready for his return, even if it is at 2:00 am on a Wednesday.
As we watch for the heavenly treasure that lasts, it shapes how we live our lives. In our reading from Haggai 1, the Israelites were not focused on the heavenly treasure that lasts and it showed. Haggai was a prophet to the Israelites after they had been released from captivity in Babylon and returned to their homeland. The Israelites were happy to be called God’s people and free to return to Jerusalem, but they were not living as God’s people. The people returned to Jerusalem and spent their time rebuilding their own homes, rather than rebuilding the Lord’s Temple. The Israelites were listening to the lie of their sinful nature that they needed to build up their homes, rather than build up the place where they were reminded of their heavenly treasures. God’s message through Haggai was, Haggai 1:5 “Give careful thought to your ways.” The message stopped the people from their inward focus and lack of watchfulness, and 14 They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God. The Word of God changed how Israel was living and they focused on the heavenly kingdom that lasts. The same Word of God shapes how we live our lives as well.
Consistent time in the Word of God keeps us from losing focus on our heavenly treasure. Watching for Jesus return to take us to heaven means protecting our time in God’s Word. Jesus said, 34 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We protect our hearts by hearing what God has done for us. When his Word is in our hearts, we remain watchful even when worries threaten our faith. When believing friends and family are taken from us suddenly or without explanation, Jesus said, Revelation 3:5 “I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.” When we are not sure what our future holds, what decision to make about a job, spouse, children or finances, God said in Haggai 1:13, “I am with you.” When we worry that we will lose sight of heaven or worry about friends and family that appear to have lost sight of heaven, Jesus said, 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Whether you need peace, strength, contentment, comfort or support to get through today and the rest of your life, God has given you heavenly treasures that will last.
Everyone seems to be watching, waiting, predicting, preparing, evacuating, etc. for Hurricane Dorian. The advanced warning gives people the chance to protect themselves, their families and their belongings. In our gospel reading from Luke 12, Jesus gave advanced warning of his coming. He told us to watch because the world lies to us, filling us with worry. Jesus has the answer to those lies and worries, 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Jesus won the kingdom of heaven for us through his life, death and resurrection. He is coming soon, be ready and protect your heavenly treasure with watchfulness. Amen.