AUDIO [33 min]
Pastor Dan (transcription)
Here at Kirkmont we’re in Week #4 of a 5-week series called, “Kirkmont Cares”… and essentially what we’re doing is taking the opportunity to look at the Bible and ask ourselves, “What does God care about? … and is out church in the business of caring about the things that God cares about?”
And you know, it came to me that any church in America that decides to take the time to talk about caring for people in need, they ought to also take the time to look at things from a global perspective as well.
Because when we talk in America about the idea of CARING FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEEDS, we have such a skewed understanding of what it means to be “in need“.
I mean we’ve all heard stories and seen examples that have sort of hardened our hearts to the whole idea of caring for people in need.
We’ve heard about people who are on assistance who also have Flat Screen TV’s, and we think something’s wrong with that. We’ve heard about people who are on assistance who have name brand tennis shoes and we think to ourself, “there’s something wrong about that”.
You’ve heard about people who have had people care for them who have some sort of luxury that you just don’t think they should have if they’re accepting care, and need, and assistance from other people.
When we start talking about caring for people in need here in America, it becomes so political, so quick, that often people just shut down.
And so I thought it would be great for us to just stop and think GLOBALLY; let’s just look at a global issue which might allow God, to give Him an avenue to soften our heart on this whole subject of caring for people in need.
So I started thinking about what topic could we address, and I decided to just spend a few minutes this morning addressing the topic of the Global Crisis when it comes to having access to SAFE DRINKING WATER.
And you know why I did that… I thought “Let’s get down to the grass roots of life” …the basic ingredient of LIFE.
I mean it’s essential for everyone; and I thought, “Ya know, it would be pretty hard to be critical and hardhearted towards people who simply lack SAFE DRINKING WATER. So we decided, “Let’s start there”.
Before we go any further I want to share with you a quote from a book that’s found in the back of this Sanctuary. It’s written by Richard Stern; it’s called “The Hole in our Gospel” and here’s a quote…
He has a whole section on the Global Crisis when it comes to safe drinking water and here’s what he says; he’s studied the crisis… now this is a man who’s traveled all around the world; and if you talk to anyone who travels around the world with their heart and mind set towards those people who are in need, they will tell you about the lack of clean water globally. And so he starts reflecting on that topic in his own personal life… and he says this,
“Where I live (that’s Colorado), we’re fortunate to have a wonderful lake just about 2 miles away. So if I knew I was going to be without water, I could begin to plan ahead to organize some water fetching.
On foot, it would take about 2 hours round trip to go fetch water to use for drinking and some bathing. But 30 gallons of water weighs about 250 pounds. I checked my water bill and I learned that my family uses about 300 gallons a day. That would weigh more than a ton and would require 50 round trips to the lake each day.
So my family might have to reduce our water consumption a bit.
Reducing to 30 gallons would be a 90% reduction. But carrying 30 gallons of water 2 miles would still take about five or six trips a day, carrying 50 pounds each time… consuming about 10 hours of hard labor.
If you think it’s inconvenient to go to the gym to work out every morning, try lugging 50 pounds of water back to your house so you can brush your teeth and have a sponge bath. Then try making that trip five times.
Now if you had to work this routine into your schedule every day and still get everyone off to work or school on time, you would have to begin your treks in the wee hours of the morning. Washing your clothes and dishes, let alone your own body, would become an overwhelming task.”
And then he goes on…
“Imagine that the water you fetched from the lake was teaming with deadly bacteria, parasites, and water-born diseases that were literally killing you.
This is the grim reality for about 1.2 BILLION people in the world today.”
In a moment we’re going to play a video for you by Living Water International, and before we play this video I want to share with you just a few numbers to be thinking about as the video is played.
The first one was just referenced here, and that is there is an estimated 800 million and 1.2 BILLION people who lack access to safe drinking water.
Now I know what you’re thinking when you hear that, “Come on.. really… a BILLION people pastor who lack access to safe drinking water… I mean like a billion? If there were actually a billion people who lacked access to safe drinking water people would be dying like ALL THE TIME because of it”.
YEP… that’s exactly what’s happening.
Five million people dying every year because of water related illness.
Now let’s just do the math there… so 15 goes into one minute four times; and we’re going to be here for approximately 60 minutes, so that’s 240 children, or approximately the total number of people who will be at both of our services this morning.
240 children who will pass away doing our one service this morning because of a lack of safe drinking water.
ONE-HALF of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients with water born diseases.
Now as we play this video… I know some of you are thinking, “Come on.. here we go, another social justice issue… I mean we want to tell people about Jesus, and doesn’t this social justice stuff just sort of distract from telling people about Jesus?”
I hope this video helps to sort of clear up that whole question;
So with that topic and video as a backdrop I want to invite you to our passage together this morning. We are going to be walking through a text of Scripture which is found in the New Testament, in the Book of 1 Timothy 6:17-19.
I love as a pastor to hear the sound of your Bibles opening up and turning to the page, either yours or ones that are in the pews. If that’s not you, that’s OK; we have the Scripture on the screen behind us as always.
Here’s what the Scripture says, 1 Timothy 6 starting in verse 17,
“Command those who are rich in this present world …
Let’s pause there.
So we have some instruction, and the instruction is coming from a man named Paul, who’s an early church leader, an early church planter; and he is writing to a young pastor named Timothy and he’s telling him, “This is what I want you to tell your congregations”.
And the instructions he’s given is for a specific group of people… “those who are rich in this present world“.
Ya know, every time I hear that verse in the Bible I think it’s kind of interesting. Because “those who are rich in this present world”… at that time meant “Bible Times”; and more specifically “Bible places”. It’s not exactly a scene that I equate with wealth necessarily; but apparently, at least by their standards, there were wealthy people.
And apparently, many of those people had found their way into the church, since Paul is now instructing Timothy to give them this instruction.
But I think that when we hear this passage, “those who are rich in this present world” I would go as far as suggesting that perhaps around 90 maybe even 99% of the people who hear those words in American churches immediately dismiss themselves because we don’t think of ourselves as being rich in this present world.
“Oh this is one of those verses where God is talking to someone else besides me”.
And of course the reason we don’t think we’re rich is because our economic scale in America is so vast, so broad, the ceiling is so high that who in this room can’t think of someone else who has more money than them… someone else who you think, “that’s who the passage is talking about.. not me”.
But I want to ask you church, “Since when does the American economy dictate God’s scale for deciding who’s rich in this world or not?”
I want to invite you to consider the possibility that when the passage says, “I command those who are rich in this present world” that maybe it’s talking about you… and myself.
I remember I used to dismiss the whole idea that I was rich… ya know I graduated seminary after seven years of private schooling to become an EPC pastor and my first job I leave seminary and I’m making $30,000 less than I make here.
And we started a family on that amount of money, and we had some difficult times as a result of it.
I remember there was one window, maybe it was just a few days, maybe it was a week, but the grocery money had run out and we were at the dinner table and there was no lemonade, or no chocolate milk, it was WATER… that’s what we’re having for dinner.
We were having water, night 1, night 2, night 3… and you know each time the kids were asking, “May we have lemonade?” “May we have chocolate milk?”… or whatever it might be. And I hated saying “No, we’re having water”.
I remember having this moment at the table where I thought to myself, “Man, this really stinks…” I even felt sorry for myself, that I couldn’t give my kids lemonade or chocolate milk….
And then you come along and study a topic like this and you think, “REALLY?… that’s your biggest crisis, that your kids can only drink water?”
That’s my biggest crisis? … I have to give my kids this chilled and filtered water?”
And so I want to invite us to consider, when the Scripture says, “Those who are rich in this present world, it’s talking about you and I, and therefore we continue to listen to the passage under that reality.
And the first instruction we then receive is…
“not to be arrogant…” (v. 17)
You see, that’s one of the temptations of having money here in America, is this sense of arrogance because our mindset is, “the reason why we’re successful and can take care of our own needs is because we’ve worked harder, we’re smarter, or we’ve made better decisions in life.
And our mindset towards those people who don’t have as much, who can’t take care of themselves, who need someone else’s assistance, is simply because they have probably not worked as hard, they probably haven’t made as many good life decisions.
But the Bible says,”listen, you gotta be careful about that, because that’s an arrogant mindset“.
We can’t even begin to imagine a world where there are people out there who work harder; harder than anyone in this room maybe has ever worked, and their result is, they can barely afford access to clean drinking water.
We cannot even imagine that.
Ya know, I thought we had some pretty tough, hard-working moms here in Beavercreek; because some of you know we have a preschool that meets 160 kids that come all week long; and I see oftentimes all these moms and what they have to do to get their kids into the preschool; and it’s a pretty impressive feat.
Has anyone ever watch this feat? Or you go to the mall and see what a mom is capable of doing?
I mean they will carry a baby in some type of baby carrier; pick up the next oldest child in their arms, with a diaper bag wrapped around their neck and shoulder and the preschooler has been instructed to put their hand on the mom’s leg, and they will all walk across the parking lot wobbling together (LAUGHTER).
And I think now this is an impressive scene… we’ve got some tough women around here.
And we can’t even imagine that that actually pales in comparison to what moms are doing globally just to provide for their family a few gallons of water.
“… nor to put our hope in wealth…,”
Of course the temptation of building up a savings; the temptation of being successful financially, is that would be where our HOPE or our IDENTITY is found.
I have never in all the topics that I’ve addressed in preaching, faced more resistance than when I start talking about God’s people being generous and caring for those people who are in need.
I want to challenge you.. and invite you to consider the possibility, that if the topic of being GENEROUS threatens you, that it’s a possibility that your hope, that your identity is wrapped up in your wealth.
And the Bible says, as it goes on,
“… that is_so_uncertain…,
Instead it says we are,
Some of you might remember this passage in Matthew 19:21-22… there’s this rich, young man and he’s successful, and he comes up to Jesus and he’s talking about he’s going to follow Jesus with great dedication. And they have this conversation… and we’ll jump in the middle of the conversation… and this is what happens, Jesus answers the rich young man’s question saying,
“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Now listen to what the response is…
“When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”
You see, this was a person who was unwilling to transfer their hope from their own personal wealth, to God… and the Bible says, that’s sad, that’s exactly what we’re supposed to do… we’re supposed to transfer our hope from our wealth to God.
Because having hope in our wealth is such an uncertain thing.
Now Jesus commands this guy to go and to sell all that he has. That always scares people when I use that verse, because they think, “Well is that what He asks of all people who are followers of Christ?”
Well, “NO” it doesn’t say that; but we do have that one example where that’s exactly what Jesus did.
So it does raise the question, “What might Jesus ask you to give up if you want to follow Him and pursue a relationship with Him?” What could Jesus ask you to give up that would cause you to turn away and walk away sad, and say, “Ya know what, you’ve gone too far“.
It’s a very personal thing.
I would certainly never imply that Jesus expects every follower to sell all of their possessions. No, He may cause some of you to be perpetually wealthy because you are perpetually generous.
He might invite some of you who make less money to build a larger savings than some of you who make more.
I don’t know the answer to that–it’s a personal thing; but I can ask you as your pastor, “Have you ever had that conversation with God?” And what is it that He might ask you to give up that would cause you to walk away sad?
If there is something, it’s possible that you’ve not transferred your hope from your wealth_to_God.
And then He goes on to say,
“…he who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”
Now when we hear that word in our Western culture here in America, we confuse the word “enjoyment” with entertainment… “He richly will provide us with everything we need for our entertainment.”
I want to be clear Church, this is not God promising you that you will have wonderful nights out on the town. This is not God promising you that you’re gonna have front row tickets to the theater. This is not God promising you that you’re gonna have a High Definition Television and a wonderful Surround Sound… and that’s just so hard for me to say out loud (LAUGHTER).
This is not God promising you that you’re going to have a fancy enough car that you’re going to have all the gadgets in the world to entertain you… it is not ENTERTAINMENT… this is a God who richly blesses us with, and provides for us with all the things that we need for our ENJOYMENT.
Do you hear the root word, the core of that? “JOY”… Joy is a foundational thing which can be provided through a relationship with God and Jesus Christ, beyond any of our Life Circumstances.
That’s what God is promising us. He’s inviting us to transfer our TRUST–our HOPE from our wealth to Him because He’s the One who can give us the enjoyment we so long for and desire.
How many of us have been robbed from experiencing the TRUE ENJOYMENT that God has in-store for us because we are still trying to provide it FOR OURSELVES through the things that this world has to offer.
In verse 18, moving on…
“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds…,”
Now if you’re like me, you love that expression; we love this part of the verse because it’s like an ‘OUT’. “Ahhh… before you were talking to me about my money, but now it sounds like I can satisfy the Spirit of the Scripture by just being the kind of person who volunteers for a lot of things.
“Be rich in good deeds…”
…that’s the kind of personality I am… “I would wayyy rather give you a few hours on Saturday morning helping you move or do something like that than to give you my money.”
Sooo… for those of you who have that kind of personality, “THAT’S what we’ll do, we’ll be the kind of people who will volunteer for everything, but then we can continue to build up our wealth and keep our money to ourselves.”
Well friends, unfortunately, the verse doesn’t stop there. We are called to be “rich in good deeds”, and,
“and to be generous and willing to share.”
“To be generous and willing to share”. You know, when it comes to generosity, God kind of set the bar pretty high didn’t He?
Ya know, the Scripture says, “He gave His One and Only Son… that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life”... that Jesus our Lord and Savior took ALL of the punishment for our sin, so that we wouldn’t experience ANY of it…. that Jesus experienced separation from His Father in Heaven so that we would never experience that.
That Jesus experienced three days in the tomb so that we wouldn’t experience a single moment in the tomb.
When it comes to generosity, God has really set the bar quite high.
And I discovered, there’s a lot of pastors who like talking about God’s generosity; the problem is, they give the impression that God’s generosity stops with you and I… that the “buck stops with us”. And that’s an attractive message:
“God is generous… and all of His generosity ends with you… you shall be the recipient of all of God’s generosity”.
They fail to realize that whenever we see an attribute or moral character of God, we His people are supposed to reflect it.
So if God is KIND we are called to be kind; if God is FORGIVING, we are called to be forgiving; if God is LOVING, we are called to be loving; if God is GENEROUS, we are called to be generous.
They fail to communicate to the Church that we are called to reflect His character, even in the area of generosity… to ASK the question, “Why has God blessed me so richly, so abundantly if not that I might be a blessing to others”.
Verse 19, moving on…
“In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age…,”
Now the Scripture tells us in Matthew 13:44… one verse that Jesus teaches on the subject of treasure, and here’s what He says,
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.
So there’s a field and there’s a treasure there…
When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his “JOY” went and sold all he had… (and bought that field.”)
What would cause someone, in their joy, to sell all of the things that they had? “… so that he can go back and buy that field” and own and have access to that treasure?
You see what happens, Jesus is telling us a story about someone who had all the things of the world and they discover in the Kingdom of God something far more valuable than they ever had possessed before. They get rid of it all… they trade all of the things that they thought were important and significant in life, maybe some of them material possessions as well… they sell all of those things; they get rid of that because IN GOD, they have discovered something far_more_valuable.
…the exchange of letting go of what the world has put into our hands, or what we have put into our hands from the world–letting go of it that we might take ahold of the things of the Kingdom of God.
It is a great exchange; it sounds like a horrible message to many of us, but this passage of Scripture is reminding us that what God is inviting us to take hold of is far more valuable than what He’s inviting us to let go of.
It is a great exchange.
And it’s my duty to ask you, “Have you ever participated in that exchange?” Have you ever honestly come before God and said, “What do you want me to let go of, that I might take hold of the things of the Kingdom of God… to store up treasures for yourself for a FIRM FOUNDATION for the coming age.
“…. so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.””
Ya know, we have this expression; it’s goes something like, “Now_this_is_living“… anybody ever said that or heard it, or thought it at least? “Now this is living”.
Let me just ask you… what circumstances would have to fall into place for you to say, “Now this is living”?
When you hear that expression, what scene do you imagine?
For me, I picture myself in the back yard at a beautiful suburban home with a wonderful concrete patio, grilling steaks…, actually, I’m in a hot tub next to a grill with steaks on it (LAUGHTER); my kids are getting along in the yard; my wife is complementing me about how I look in the hot tub… I don’t know (LOUD LAUGHTER).
That wasn’t in my… stick to the script (LAUGHTER)… anyway, the PG-13 service is next week (LAUGHTER).
“This is living”… ya know, in a living room with a leather recliner and big ultra 4K TV with a Surround Sound…
What is it, that causes you to say, “This is Living“?
And the passage of Scripture is telling us, “NO_IT’S_NOT” !!!
Until you’ve participated in the Great Exchange and given up the things of the world and taken hold of the Kingdom of God you don’t know what true life is.
To experience “TRULY LIFE”, the way that God intended it to be… for both now…
” …and the coming age”… he says
Church, this is not one of those messages, as is true with this whole series… where we have some immediate response for you. We don’t have kids who we need to sponsor, we don’t have a well out there that we want you to put money in… we don’t have this concrete thing… yet.
We are doing things as a church already. And one of the things we’re doing is praying… our missions committee is praying, “Where is God leading Kirkmont?”
What does He want us to do that will unify and rally this congregation? …that will excite us, that will motivate us to say, “I WANT TO BE A PART OF THE GREAT EXCHANGE because that’s a worthy cause”.
We’re praying about that… and we hope in the next year well be able to be more specific and direct about that.
But for now, here’s my task for you; here’s my takeaway that I ask you to leave with this week: today, and every day this week, will you simply ask God one question… so it’s going to take you 10 seconds each day…
“GOD… HOW GENEROUS DO YOU WANT ME TO BE?”
God, how generous do you want me to be? Just begin having that conversation with God. Friends I know that question threatens us; but surely you understand, that as your pastor, it’s fair and right for me to be able to ask you to ask that question.
If you claim to be a follower of Christ, ask Him, “How generous do you want me to be?” … and let’s see where He leads.
Let’s pray together,
“Father God, we thank you this morning for the Truth of Your Word, and for this passage of Scripture. I want to provide an opportunity now for those who have maybe felt like your Spirit is speaking to them in our time together this morning… to go ahead and get this first day out of the way, if you will… to come before you now and join me in saying “GOD, how generous do you want us to be?”
And Father we confess to you, the reality that we have taken hold of the things of this world and we ask that you might give us the faith to SEE the “Great Exchange” and to act upon it… to be fully convinced that what it is that you have to offer is greater than what the world has to offer.
We are continuing to ask that you would break our hearts for those both locally, nationally, and globally who you are calling us as a church and as a group of individuals to care for.
In the precious and the powerful Name of Jesus we pray these things.
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