Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Building Bigger Barns

Luke 12:13-21 was where my sermon came from on Sunday and it was entitled Building Bigger Barns.  The area that I preach in is primarily rural and a farming area.  I have members who farm, members who have cattle, members who raise chickens.  What amazes me is how free they are with what they raise.  They all plant huge gardens and share with everyone.  I have had an abundance of green beans, cantaloupe, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.  I love fresh vegetables.  Before reading the scripture I sang, "Consider the Lilies" acapella, read the scriptures, and began my sermon.  In the scriptures I drew from Jesus was teaching His disciples when He was interrupted by someone who wanted him to resolve a family dispute over inheritance immediately. He was not really asking for advice. He wanted Jesus to stand on his side and "tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." (v.13). He wanted Jesus to get the money for him, but Jesus saw the true problem in his heart - greed.  And just like Jesus always does, He used the opportunity to warn the people of the danger of greed and placing one’s confidence in earthly possessions. This is very relevant to us today, because for most people our main priority in life is to get wealth and have a good life. So, Let us look a little closer at the story.  I am sure many of us can identify with this farmer. He is a happy man - a rich man, and had a good harvest. This is the essence of life for many people today - to be successful and to be rich. This farmer enjoyed that.  And he is looking forward to more of this - 12:19 "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.""….oh and Now - BUILD BIGGER BARNS. Not because he does not have any - he needs bigger ones. So he will tear down the old, and build newer and bigger ones.  Everything was fine and good. In fact, this is the typical lifestyle of many people in many cultures. We want to improve our lifestyle, increase our wealth, find more ways to enjoy ourselves. We want to store up our wealth and possessions so that we can enjoy them when we are old. We are always planning for the future, making good investments in stock, insurance, unit trusts, and properties.  Everything was fine and good. Nothing wrong with that... that is until we read verse 20. God enters the picture. When God enters, everything changes. Luke 12:20 "But God said to him, ’You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you…’"  All  our farmer was caring about was BUILDING BIGGER BARNS, but God brought in a new perspective. The farmer won’t live to see them. In fact, he won’t live to even BUILD THE BIGGER BARNS. He made plans only for this life but not what comes after. God was not in his life. He did not consider God at all.  Luke 12:20-21 "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?’ 21"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
Jesus wants us to see things in the right perspective. He told the young man who came to Him: "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (12:15)
I asked my congregation to think on Luke 12:24 "Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them."  Then I asked them to read with me Luke 12:27 "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labour or spin…" and look how God clothes them.  The farmer was diligent but Jesus points out that he was not the one who produced the crop. True, he planted and tended and harvested. But he did not make the rain to fall, or the sun to shine. He did not make the seed to crack open, sprout and multiply. He could not even explain the process. If he were honest with himself he would acknowledge God as the provider.
Today if we view our possessions or successes in life as the result of our own talent and effort, we will think of ourselves as owner of these things. But in reality, we are all stewards of what God has provided. Whether we are into farming or into manufacturing or into business, it is God who provides. He gives us the ability to do whatever we are doing. He gives us the ability to think, to calculate numbers, to make plans… even to speak and to breathe. All of us earn our wealth with borrowed abilities.  In v.20 "This very night your life will be demanded from you." The Greek verb apiteo is literally "to demand back; required back" - conveys the idea of life as a loan that must be repaid to God upon demand. Acts 17:28 ’For in him we live and move and have our being.’..."
When God enters, this farmer realized that there was ONE THING he did not prepare. He made good plan to store his crop, made good plan to save up for the future, he made plan to enjoy himself. In fact, he has done many things good but he did not prepare for his own soul. Death was not in his planning book.  People….our security in life does not lie with barns, but with God. Luke 12:29-31 "And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well."  Put our trust in God, not in barns. Be mindful of the work of God’s kingdom, and not just in building bigger barns. In the eyes of man, this farmer was successful and wise (good plan), but in the eyes of God, he was a fool and failure. He had the things that money could buy (possessions) but he lost the things that money cannot buy (his life). If someone ask at his funeral, "And how much did he leave behind?" The answer will be "Everything!"  My father used to tell me that you could not take it with you….and that you have never seen a hearse with a u-haul trailing it.  Sounds funny huh?  But let me tell you….God means business.  Jesus reminded us of the need to remember God - the Source of all our blessings. God wants us to invest in things that has eternal value. We must invest our life - time, talent, knowledge - in the work of His Kingdom. Lay up "treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." (cf.12:33). Live life in the light of eternity and we shall be greatly blessed.  All that the farmer has - will not go to him, and will not go with him. Life without God is meaningless. Man finds true fulfilment in this world - we want to have "plenty of good things laid up for many years" and then we can "take life easy; eat, drink and be merry" (v.19) but Jesus says true fulfilment can only come through a relationship with our God.
He gives us eternal riches, not just physical riches. Only God can fill the void in our hearts. In one of his books Leo Tolstoy tells the story of a young Russian who inherits his father’s small farm. He immediately starts dreaming of how to expand his property when one morning a well-dressed stranger visits him and makes him an offer that is too good to be true - he could have free of charge all the property he could walk around in one day. The only condition was that he returns to the same spot from which he started, the grave of his father, before the sun went down. Seeing the rich fields in the distance, he sets out without taking any provisions or saying goodbye to his family. He figured he could cover six square miles in a day. After a short while he decided to make it nine, then twelve and finally fifteen square miles. By noon he makes it to the halfway point. Though hungry with his legs aching he continues. He was near the point of exhaustion but the obsession to own the land drives him on. With only a few minutes left before the sun went down, he gathers all his strength, stumbles across the line, the new owner of fifteen square miles of land, and then collapses on the ground, dead. The stranger smiles and said, "I offered him all the land he could cover. Now you see what that is, six feet long by two feet wide, and I thought he would like to have the land close to his father’s grave, rather than to have it anywhere else." Having said that, the stranger whose name is Death vanishes, saying "I have kept my pledge." Each one of us will come face-to-face with the same stranger and must begin to ask ourselves, "What does a man get for his toil?" God wants us to enjoy life, but not without a relationship with Him. We are to "set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." (Col 3:2). Everything we have comes from Him. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…" (James 1:17)
Put your trust in Jesus. He has come as your Saviour, saving us from sin. He died on the cross, rose again to life on the third day, giving us the promise of eternal life. Amen and Amen.




Debby@Just Breathe said...

Excellent sermon! Sounds like your loving your new position and I am sure your congregation is inspired.
Love all the goodies they have been sharing with you.

The Bug said...

That was our gospel lesson on Sunday too! It sure strikes at the heart of our society. Good job!