The Rich Fool

Scripture: Luke 12:13-21

13 Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?”
15 Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”
16 Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops.
17 He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’
18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods.
19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’
21“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

INTRODUCTION

God labeled this man a fool. Why did God call him a fool?

I. BECAUSE HE THINKS LIKE A FOOL

  1. HE THINKS ONLY OF HIMSELF: This is an amazing story. The man Jesus describes is an egomaniac, he thinks only of him self. He has not the first thought for God who is the source of all blessings. This fool does not acknowledge God; he does not thank God for his bountiful provision. This is amazing to me: how could the fool not give God a thought. But neither does he think of anyone else. He never mentions family, wife or children. He never thinks of anyone other than himself.
  2. HE THINKS ONLY ABOUT THINGS: ‘Crops,’ ‘Barns’, etc. He never thinks about people.
  3. HE THINKS LIFE IS IN HIS POSSESSIONS: He believes the more he keeps to himself, the more he has. He believes success is measured by how much a person owns.
  4. HE THINKS ABOUT SAVING BUT NEVER ABOUT GIVING: There is a simple solution to his problem. Instead of spending all that money on tearing down old barns and building new and bigger barns–the wise thing to do would be to fill the old barns and give the excess away. This would save him thousands of dollars. How is it, that this fool never thought about giving? Because he was obsessed with his greed. Greed had totally consumed him and greed never sees giving as an option.
  5. HE THINKS HAPPINESS IS IN HAVING THINGS: This fool was not riding a white horse and shooting silver bullets, most Americans believe that happiness is bound up in things. If I can get this car…I will be happy. If I can just own my own home… I will be happy. If I can get this piece of property…I will be happy. Yet the more we get, the more we want.

STORY

I know what it’s like to want. I bought my first car when I was 19 years old. I bought if from a Baptist deacon. He told me what he wanted for the car but when I got there to pick it up, he upped the price $100 which was a lot of money in 1968. My daddy warned me, not about dealing with a deacon but about buying a foreign car: it was an Austin Healey Sprite. Daddy told me, “Son that car is wore out which is why he wants to sell it. You will spend more money on the car than it is worth. Don’t get the car.” Did I listen to my daddy? No! I bought the car and my daddy was right. The car became a headache, a nightmare to be honest. Things will not make you happy. Elvis had things, any thing he wanted but he died from abusing drugs which means he was not happy.

II. BECAUSE HE LIVED LIKE A FOOL.

This man was a practical atheist: He lives as though God did not exist. Not only does he refuse to show gratitude to God, he ignores his accountability to God. The man is a horrible steward. He lived like there is no judgment. Unfortunately, there are people today who think a lot like this man. Many of them do acknowledge God but they make the same mistakes with the resources God has entrusted to them that this man made. He was so intent on saving and hoarding that he lost everything. You would be shocked at the number of people who live without regard for others when it comes to sharing resources. GREED is a huge problem in the Baptist Church.

I met a man just last week who is being cared for by one of his daughters who is doing it with his money but her sister is upset that she is spending their inheritance taking care of their father. Our church is in partnership with Guatemala where we build houses for $400. It is actually a shed, something we would used to store tools in here in America. I know a man who not only has wealth in banks, he has old cars, barns filled with old cars, washers, dryers, refrigeration. This scrap metal that is rusting is worth thousands but he will not part with it. It isn’t helping him, nor is it helping anyone else. He could build 4-6 houses in Guatemala by just getting rid of scrap but he will not allow you to touch it. This is horrible stewardship. No one is getting any use of these wasted resources. Like the unfaithful Steward, he has buried God’s resources so that no one can benefit from them. All misers are miserable: there are no happy misers.

 

What would you call a person who built a house on a camping spot? It would not be intelligent or wise. If you drove into a State Park and saw camper after camper and then some dude building a house on one of the camp sites, you would laugh and say, “What a fool?” You can’t build a permanent home on a campsite. You don’t have a deed to the land. Sooner or later, the park ranger is going to show up and your little mansion is coming down. You may not like my analogy but this world is a “camp ground” not our home. We are here for only a short time. Abraham understood this principle and that is why he lived in a tent; even then he didn’t drive his tent stakes too deep. He never settled in this world and neither should you.


III. BECAUSE HE DIED LIKE A FOOL. 

This man was a fool because he prepared to live but made no preparations to die. As John Newton said, “We live in the land of the dying.” Earth is a dying planet and the evidence is everywhere. Grave yards and funeral homes dot the landscape. I personally don’t know how a person can miss it but greed has a blinding effect on our minds and we fail to see the inevitable.

This man was an absolute fool because he made no preparations for eternity. Have you made preparations for eternity? Are you laying up a treasure in heaven? Do you love money more than Jesus? Do you understand that money has no future? They use gold to pave streets in the next world. In the world to come, things that are of value here will not be worth anything. Are you spending your times hording manna that will canker and rot?
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Celebrate Jesus

Philippians 1:20-27

20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. 25 Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. 26 And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me.

INTRODUCTION

Philippians is sometimes referred to as the Epistle of Joy, the word joy and rejoice is used 12 times in this rather brief letter. I am not shocked that it is usually the first book I finish when I read through the bible. Ironically, Paul wrote this letter while he was under house arrest in Rome. As Dr. Eugene Peterson points out in his introduction to Philippians, none of Paul’s circumstances could contribute to his abounding joy. [1] He was in chains; bound wrist to wrist to a Roman Guard. [2] His person and work were under attack by critics who celebrated his incarceration. [3] Paul was not a young man and his travels and the persecution he had endured had taken a toll on him physically. Paul was tired and welcomed some relief.

When I study Paul declaration of faith in this passage, I think about the little girls who ask her daddy…”Daddy is Jesus bigger than you?” [Dad] “Sure honey, Jesus is much bigger than your dad.” [Girl] “Daddy, does Jesus live in you? [Dad] “Sure darling, Jesus lives in me.” [Girl] “Daddy, if Jesus lives in you and he is bigger than you, then He will stick out somewhere, want He?

I get my title for this message in verse 26…The Voice…”When I return to you, we will celebrate Jesus the Anointed ever more.” The word translated ‘Celebrate’ is perisseuō and it means to overflow, to abound, to exceed the limits. It is a word stronger than rejoice, it is a CELEBRATION, an outbreak of wondrous praise and joy. It is joy overflowing.

We have organized our thought around for headings…

I. FIRST, THERE IS PAUL’S PRAYER [His earnest expectation]

To express himself here, Paul uses a word that he may very well have coined, it is three Greek words in one which means “an anxious [excited] look ahead”. So we are sure that Paul was looking at the future and although he is confident in his faith, he is a bit anxious about what is going to happen. His first appeal went well but his main hearing is yet to come and it could be before Nero who was insane and sadistic. He was also a pervert. I don’t see how Paul could have been anything other than anxious, do you?

I think most of us in these circumstances would be focused on survival but this is not Paul’s main concern: Paul’s hope, his prayer is threefold: [1] He does not want to be ashamed of Christ or the gospel. To this point Paul has never been ashamed and he doesn’t anticipate that he will be but he doesn’t want to make the same mistake as Peter, so he make it an issue of prayer. Paul said, I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed but remember, the Greek word translated expect involves an anxious waiting. None of us want to be ashamed of Christ but practically all of us have acted ashamed on more than one occasion.  [2] Secondly, Paul said, “I want to continue to be bold as I have been in the past.” Paul’s boldness makes me feel timid. I’m probably more of a John Mark type than a Paul but I do admire him for his boldness and I long deeply to be bold as well. [3] Paul’s third prayer desire was that his life would honor Christ. So Paul does not want to be ashamed of Jesus; he wants to proclaim Jesus boldly and he wants to honor Christ with his life. My purpose is life is to honor Christ by being obedient to His word. No human can block this life goal. If my life goal was to Pastor DBC, lots of people could block that goal but I am the only person who can keep me from living a life of obedience that honors Christ.

II. PAUL’S PASSION AND PURPOSE

Paul say in verse 21, “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. The NASB reads, For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” The Greek word for gain is kerdos and it is used only three times in N.T. Twice in Philippians 1:21, 3:7 and Titus 1:11 where it is preceded by an adjective and means sordid gain, or dirty money. The word simply means gain or advantage. I have always translated it promotion. “For to me to live is Christ and to die is a promotion.” For the Christian, dying is far better than living. One thing we can count on, heaven will not be anti-climatic. It will be far better, infinitely better. But the real issue here is not Paul’s promotion but his passion, he said, “For me,” personally, “to live is Christ”. In other words, Christ was Paul’s life. Paul did not say, for me to live is sports…for me to live is my children. You’ve heard people say, “He lives for sports” hadn’t you. That man lives for Alabama football. He lives for hunting. Christ was Paul’s greatest passion so for him to live was Christ. What do you put where Paul put Christ? For you to live is ____________. What goes in the blank? What is your greatest passion? What do you think about most? Where do you invest your money? For some folks, for me to live is my garden, yard, house on the lake. Some people live for their job. Paul lived for Christ. His passion was Christ. If Christ goes in the first blank [For me to live is _________] then gain, something better, promotion goes in the second. But if something other than Christ goes in the first blank, something other than gain will go in the second. For me to live is money and to die is to lose it all. For me to live is popularity and to die is to be forgotten.

III. THIRD THERE IS PAUL’S PROBLEM

The AV translated 23-24 like this…For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. The NASB reads…But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. The New Living simplifies it…I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.

So Paul is feeling some inter conflict. He is having a struggle because he has contrary desires. A part of him longs for heaven and rest but another part wants to live and labor. I think most Christians suffer from this conflict. Sometimes we get tired, our burdens get heavy and we long to be at rest and peace. We long to say goodbye to this sin cursed world that neither appreciates us or our Savior. Paul knows what is best for him but he doesn’t know what is best for the Philippians.

When Paul said “I long to go and be with Christ,” [v.23] the word is epithymia and it denotes the strongest possible desire. It is even used in connection with lust. Paul longed to be with Christ like a lover longs to be with the one they love. Nero is a bad dude and beheading is not the dream of most but Paul longing was so strong that death had an appeal to him. He knew that the moment the ax severed his head from his body, that he would be with Jesus. So he wanted to be with Christ but he knew the Philippians needed him more.

IV. PAUL’S PERSUASION

After thinking this thing through, Paul was persuaded that he would be staying on. This meant, he would be delivered from the present danger. Was Paul deceived in his thinking or did he get released? Those who have done a through study of Paul’s Epistles believe that it was likely that he did get released the first time. What is unclear is how he got there the second time. It seems evident that the apostle Paul was imprisoned twice at Rome and that 1 Timothy and Titus were written during the period between the two imprisonments and 2 Timothy during the second imprisonment. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon were written during Paul’s first imprisonment. Paul is convinced that he is going to be delivered and many folks believe that this happened because the statue of limitations or so to speak ran out before formal charges were brought. So Paul would have been in Rome under house arrest for two years.

It all makes sense: Paul makes it clear in II Timothy that no man stood with him in his defense. This suggest a second imprisonment because we know that he was never alone in the first. Nero’s persecutions began in 64, Paul was probably released one year prior. There is strong historical evidence that he visited the Southern part of Spain and returned to Asia Minor, Syria and even Palestine. We believe he was martyred in 66 by Nero. He probably returned to Rome and was arrested for being a Christian. His presence there would be cause enough for the arrest since Nero had started the persecution. It is believe that Peter got there some time after Paul’s death because it is inconceivable that Paul would not mention him in II Timothy if he had been there.

So here in Philippians, Paul is confident that he will remain alive and be reunited with the Philippians and we they come together, there will be a huge celebration. A celebration so big that joy would not be adequate to describe it. It was greater than joy, it was the overflowing of joy. It was joy to the tenth power. Perhaps joy divine.

Prayer and Joy

Text

   Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
 

Introduction

Have you considered the connection between joy, peace and prayer. As you study the text above, you can see that the three are connected. Many people falsely assume that Jesus was a wet blanket when in fact Jesus was a happy person, filled with joy and peace. Yes, He was a man of sorrow, acquainted with grief. He did not laugh about sin or the cross that sin produced but He possessed a deep inter joy that was complete. Dante summed it up when he said, “In His will is our peace.” Jesus remained in the Father’s will. He never, one time, got outside His Father’s will. He lived a life of perfect obedience and herein lies the JOY. Jesus referred to this in John 15 as abiding…“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

What happens when we abide in His will?

1. Abiding in Christ Gives Us A Sense of Security Or An Absence of Fear

When we abide in Christ, we do not fear getting lost. We have a peace and a sense of security that we could not have a part from our relationship with Christ. Freedom is one thing but security is another. Dr. Charles Allen tells the story of a friend who offered to fly him home after a meeting in his little two-seater cub. The plane had no instruments and you navigated by visual landmarks, highways, rivers, etc. Somehow they managed to get off course and although they could see land, they didn’t see anything they recognized and there was no place to land. Suddenly, both men realized their were lost and running low of fuel. They did not have a radio so there was no way they could even signal for help. Dr. Allen does not finish the story but we know he survived. I hate if when a preacher does not finish a story; I want to know what happened.

A few months later Dr. Allen was flying in a commercial liner and the pilot allowed him to come into the cockpit. This was back in the 60’s, there is no way this would happen today. They were flying in the clouds and visibility was about 30 feet. Dr. Allen ask him how they stayed on course since they could no see any landmarks. The pilot assured him that landmarks were not necessary and then he put his headset on Dr. Allen…”Do you hear that noise?” said the pilot, “That is a radio beam and it will guide us to our destination.” I suppose it a kin to the lasers that Engineers, surveyors, and builders use today. When you get the grade exact, the beep become one solid sound.

When you look at the natural world, it is absolutely amazing how God guides the birds who migrate thousands of miles. Can you imagine setting sail from San Francisco and headed for the Hawaiian Islands. Let me tell you, in relationship to the Pacific Ocean, those islands are tiny. The Pacific Golden Plover, a migratory bird that is born in Alaska and Siberia, makes a two thousand mile flight over the Pacific and in spite of wind and other factors, they fly straight to the Hawaiian Islands.

When it comes to you and I following Jesus, we have a radio beam: He is called the Holy Spirit and when we get off course, the sounds we hear in our spirit are not in harmony. We are don’t get a clear signal because we are off course. Obviously God gave the birds and the animals instincts that He did not give us but He has given us His word as a compass and His Spirit as a guide. As Dante said, If we stay on course, stay in his will, there is going to be that one clear sound and herein lies our joy and peace. No one who chooses to live outside the will of God will have peace. No one who lives in rebellion of God’s will can experience joy. They may display a fake happiness but they do not possess joy.

If you will study your fears, you will discover that you are not worried about the past even though in my class, it is littered with mistakes. Neither are you terribly worried about the present. What we tend to worry about is the future. We do exactly what Jesus told us not to do, “We worry about tomorrow.” Paul said in the text above, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.” The rule I try to follow is: if something creates anxiety, it’s time to pray. Prayer is the great stress reliever. When we by faith put ourselves into the hand of Christ acknowledging that He is responsible for us as long as we are in His care, it brings peace to our minds. A troubled mind is hard to live with. Living by faith does not mean we see the near or distant future, it means that we walk daily in the light that He gives us. When you travel at night by car, you don’t see your destination as soon as you pull out of the driveway, you see a hundred yards or so depending on the lights of your car and your eyesight. To reach your destination, you travel mile by mile following the light that you have and eventually the light will illuminate your final destination.

There is one thing that all believers in Christ need to keep in mind, we don’t need to make any final judgments until we have seen the final destination. I admit, things look bad now. There is more hatred for Christ in this world than I ever imagined. Church after church is struggling. We are baptizing very few people. The churches that are growing are growing off of other churches. We desperately need a spiritual awakening. We have a hundred and forty million people in America who are dependent on Government instead of God and that is not good. As a nation, our future is very uncertain but as believers our future is secure.

2. Abiding In Christ Will Banish The Conflict

Do you remember the headache commercial that use to run on TV that pictured tension as a rope stretched to the point that it was breaking a strand at a time. That is what the word tension means, to be stretched to tight, strained to the point of breaking. We often refer to a tense person as being “Up tight”. One of the things that causes anxiety, worry, and tension is to be pulled in many different directions. Paul knew the secret, he said, “This one thing I do.” I don’t have a choice, I do not think I could function any other way. I do one thing at a time. When Teddy called about the REVIVAL, my focus was on the revival. The five days I was in Mobile, I was focused on one thing. I did not worry one second about the BLOCK PARTY. As soon as we got home Thursday, I started worrying about the block party. Then for the next three days, it was all BLOCK PARTY. We did have a promotion in the church family but other than that, it was Block Party. I got home late Saturday night and I turned my attention to Sunday a.m. message. Did I have some anxiety over all three? Yes, but I did take them one at a time: it is the only way I can function at age 64.

When we filled pulled in two direction, it creates tension and conflict. Where there is tension and conflict, there is no peace; It is that simple. I will not lie, for years I had my own agenda. I don’t think that I was aware of it but my will and God’s will were not the same. The results is a lack of peace. A few years ago I sensed a work of grace in my life as I began to feel my will abating and my desire to do God’s will growing. I would not go back for any amount of money. There is no substitute for the PEACE of God, it passes all understanding. Huck Finn said, “Conscience takes up more room than all the rest of the fellow’s insides.” Huck had a point, there is not better feeling than the approval of a good conscience.

3. Abiding In Christ Will Produce The Fruit of JOY

I think every child wants to please their father. I think it is inherent; it is something that is in us, something we cannot explain but neither deny. I grew up on a 40 acre cocklebur farm in Limestone County. From day one, I loved tractors. I could not wait for daddy to let me drive the tractor and I remember the first time he left me alone in the field on the tractor [C-Allis Chamber]. I was breaking land and was in hog heaven. It was in the fall when the days are warm but the nights are cool and I was wearing a shirt but that is another story. I never made that mistake a again. I had a good daddy but there are two things I never heard: one was “I love you son” and the other was “good job son, I am proud of you.” When we become a child of God, there is something in us that longs to please our heavenly Father. Like an earthly father, the heavenly Father loves respect and obedience.

Several years ago, I learned a critical lesson in life, one that I regret not learning earlier. We had a FAITH team that got inside a house and was presenting the gospel. The presenter that night was a trainee named Nancy. She was a tiny and sweet girl. She may have been 5’4″ but she didn’t weight a 100 pounds. She had a beautiful smile and a sweet disposition. Nancy was sharing with a man who was seated on the couch and right in the middle of her presentation, his wife [whom they did not know was around] burst out of the bedroom and drove the entire team out of the house. When this team got back to the campus for the report hour, I was worried that Nancy would be discouraged but she had the spirit of Peter and John in Acts 5 where they had been beaten by order of the Sanhedrin; the bible said they left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. Nancy was not the least bit discouraged. After she shared her story, the entire group erupted in praise. Nancy did not lead the man to Christ, so why the joy and celebration. It did happen, I was there and I was a part of the celebration. It was real and generated by the Holy Spirit. This put me to thinking, “Why did we have joy when we had no success?” Then the answer came from heaven like a bolt of lightening…it’s our obedience, not our success that brings joy.

Every time you met an unhappy Christian, you have met a person living in disobedience. Years ago I was preaching a revival meeting and one night a man came to me after the service weeping. I asked him what was wrong and he could not get enough composure to respond so I waited…finally he said, “You are doing what I am supposed to be doing.” I said, “You mean preaching. Has God called you to preach?” He then shared his story and I urged him to surrender but he walked away saying, “It’s too late.” Folks, it’s not too late to repent and to obey and there is no peace when the flesh is on the throne of your life. Remember the story of Jehu riding toward Jezreel and Jehoram sends out a rider to see if Jehu is coming in peace. The rider goes out to met Jehu and says, “Is your mission peace?” I love Jehu’s response, “How can there be peace with Jezebel on the throne?”