Monday, September 19, 2011

Talking Tombstones

Pre-introduction: Prayer and greetings
Biographies of great Christians
Newton, Luther, Bunyan, Wesley, Hudson Taylor.
Expired parking meter with the date of expiration
I did it my way! (1000’s)
Mel Blanc, famous as the voice of thousands of characters, including Porky Pig; "That's all Folks."
Appearing all over the world, in at least two different languages is the famous epitaph "I told you I was sick."
NEW ORLEANS -- Shortly before he died, convicted murderer Richard Liggett was asked to make two of the simple plywood coffins he meticulously crafted for fellow prisoners. Except the caskets would be for Billy and Ruth Graham.

Burl Cain, warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary said, "He told me, of everything that ever happened in his life, the most profound thing was to build this coffin for Billy Graham and his family."
The prison has a Bible college and chapel near death row funded largely by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse.

Franklin Graham noticed some coffins being produced by the inmates on a visit to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, Louisiana, in 2005. Upon inquiry, he learned this was a project inmates began several years ago when warden Burl Cain discovered that many of the poorer inmates were being buried in cardboard boxes.
Ruth Graham was buried in a private ceremony at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C. She died at age 87 after a lengthy illness.

The coffins are made of birch plywood and lined with a foam mattress pad covered with fabric. Brass handles are on the sides, while a cross adorns the top. The price: $215 each.

But Liggett won't be among them: He died of cancer in March, nearly 31 years into his sentence. He was buried in one of the last coffins he built, Cain said.
Our passage today (Read Matthew 6:19-21) is almost always taught in the context of money and I have never been completely satisfied with that teaching. Teaching on wealth, riches and money using this passage just doesn’t seem to arrive at the deep meaning of this passage.
This passage is about what true eternal treasure is.
Our Lord Jesus Christ never uses the word money except in this context except for very last word in verse 24(mammon). This word, Mammon is a name given to an idol worshipped as the god of riches. They used the word to denote wealth.
Another way to define Mammon; Its wealth/money personified into an object of worship, a god or idol.
1 Timothy 6:7-10 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
History is replete with examples of people (Rich and Poor) collecting treasures just for themselves.

Biblical Examples: Acts 5 Ananias and his wife Sapphira
Demas who forsook Paul for the world

Esau who traded his birthright for a bowl of soup

Judas betrayed the Lord for 30 pieces of silver

Right above our text Matthew 6:16 “If you want your reward on earth you got it.”

As we transition into this new material for today, understand this. Jesus is still talking about what true righteousness looks like.
So up to the Sermon on the Mount we go. Jesus is preaching to His disciples, crowds gather around. Luke tells us that there were Pharisees and Scribes in the crowd.
Then perhaps He looks at His disciples and points to the Pharisees.
I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20)
And like the rich young ruler they say “I have kept the Law”.
Did they keep the Law? What is the Law? (Exodus 20 and on, 600+ laws) The Pharisee religion was of works (Luke 11:39).
The equation O=B/D=C
Luke 16:14-15
14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and scoffing at Him. 15 And He told them: "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts.
The Pharisees lived to keep the Law in order that they may maintain God’s blessing in material things. They wanted to live perfectly to show God and everyone else that they were His righteous people.
Examples of their vain external attempts
For instance, how far could a person walk on the Sabbath without it being work? The interpreters decided that the distance about 2/3 of a mile. This was known as a Sabbath’s day journey. (Still today)
The humbling Pharisee always kept his head down to appear humble.
The bleeding Pharisee who to keep from looking at a woman walked with his eyes closed and often was wounded.
The Pharisees worship an idol, money or mammon, and themselves.
The one person that a Pharisee wanted to be sure that got to Heaven was himself. “Thank you that I am not a woman” “Thank you that I am not like that Tax Collector” (Luke 18:10-12) and they had to have wealth to confirm their righteousness.
The thrust of this passage, the point the Lord Jesus is making in this passage is summed up in verse 24
Matthew 6:24 "No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.
Where your treasure is, is where your allegiance lies. God or money, earth or heaven?
Treasures on Earth
Matthew 6:19 "Don't (Don’t do, stop doing!)Collect for yourselves treasures (valuables) on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.
Earthly things are not evil; God has given us resources to use. In His providence He provides us with the means to take care of our family, to save, to have a home, clothes, and food. (Matthew 6:26 His eye is on even the sparrow).He wants us to work and save for the future. If we are content with our possessions and money I don’t think He cares if we buy nice things, have a nice home, or take a vacation, go enjoy with thanksgiving the things that He has given to us.
And it is okay to be rich. Paul gives instructions to the rich in 1 Timothy 6
Instructions to the Rich
17 Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. 18 [Instruct them] to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share.
But as Abraham Kuyper said: “There is not one square inch of the entire creation that Jesus Christ does not cry out “This is mine, this belongs to Me.” He is Lord of all we have; all we possess is really His.
The Jesus commands that we are not to “Collect” for “Ourselves” treasures on earth.
If desires are our treasure, if we collect things just for our time on earth (just for ourselves), Then we are slaves to our desires, eyes, bellies, and our jobs? We are bigger than this world, give us everything and we are still empty. Man’s desires are never met.

It’s really a waste of time and energy to collect things for ourselves a wasted effort. Job 1:21: Naked I came and naked I leave. The Lord gives and He takes away.

What’s the problem? It’s our view, our perspective is wrong we lack an Eternal Perspective and Eternal vision. Want Jesus commands is that we are not to live for this world (just in it); we are citizens of another Kingdom. These earthly treasures are so powerful that they grip the entire personality. They grip a man's heart, his mind and his will; they tend to affect his spirit, his soul and his whole being. Whatever realm of life we may be looking at, or thinking about, we shall find these things are there. Everyone is affected by them; they are a terrible danger.

Job 31:24-25, 28
24 If I placed my confidence in gold or called fine gold my trust,
25 if I have rejoiced because my wealth is great or because my own hand has acquired [so] much,
28 this would also be a crime deserving punishment, for I would have denied God above.

James 5 an Warning to the Rich who collect treasure on earth
2 Your wealth is ruined: your clothes are moth-eaten; 3 your silver and gold are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You stored up treasure in the last days!

John Wesley: “The real value of a thing is the price it will bring in eternity.”

Set your heart on nobler things, treasures in Heaven.

1 John 2: John tells us… Treasures on earth are forbidden

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
What are these “Treasures in Heaven”?
Matthew 6:20 But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don't break in and steal.
In Heaven
Colossians 3:1-2
1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
Man is more than body he is spirit. He is more than time he is eternal.
Revelation 21:23
We are citizens of the city that has no need of the sun, nor of the moon, to shine in it. We will have no need of clothes; our white robes never wear out. We will need no medicine to heal diseases and need no sleep to. Death will exist no longer (the thief cannot break in and steal); grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer.
What can we lay up in Heaven?
Our business on earth should be to spread that Kingdom. It should be the lifework of each man to bring others to the Gospel. Using whatever opportunities we may possess. Your stations in life, your education, your wealth—give all you can for the Kingdom.
The treasures are people that were exposed to the Gospel by our lives and giving. And by the Holy Spirit’s work they were saved sealed for heaven by believing that the Lord Jesus Christ died in their place for their sins and that He is their Lord and Savior.
(Some proof texts)
Philippians 4
1 So then, in this way, my dearly loved brothers, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord, dear friends
2 Corinthians 4:7 and 14
7 Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.14 knowing that the One who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and present us with you.
Hebrews 11:39-40
And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
We are treasures the fruit of Abraham, Moses, Rahab, David, Ruth, and Hosea
Would you or I like to have it—“Saved alone”? May we be able to say, “Here am I, and the treasure that You have given me.”
1 Thessalonians 2:13, 19–20
13 Also, this is why we constantly thank God, because when you received the message about God that you heard from us, you welcomed it not as a human message, but as it truly is, the message of God, which also works effectively in you believers.
19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy.
People we have never met will be in heaven to great us.
Where is your heart?
Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Luke 10 The parable of the Good Samaritan
Where is the Samaritan’s heart, who is his treasure? What did he use to secure his treasure? (Money and possessions help secure treasure)
The parable of the unjust steward: Luke 16:1-13
Who are unjust stewards? (Us)
What does he use to win friends? (Someone else’s money)
What are we called to do? (Be as shrewd with money for building the Kingdom as the world is shrewd with collecting money for themselves).

Luke 16:9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of the unrighteous money so that when it fails (or when you fail or pass away), they may welcome you into eternal dwellings.
Trusting us to be faithful to the call; Luke 16:13
Jim Elliot-That great missionary to Ecuador and then to the mysterious Auca Indian tribe "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep/ to gain that which he cannot lose."
Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Do we have an eternal vision with our goal being to get as much treasure up to heaven as we can?
We will see God; we will be welcomed by those who we laid up treasure for and by those who laid up treasure for us. We will perhaps see returns on our eternal investments for generations after we have died.

Your job is a tool, not a treasure.
Your home is a tool, not a treasure.
Christian parents are God’s tool to lead their children to the Gospel.
Work in the mission field. (The Bixler’s and The Yoder’s and others)
Give to and serve in Gospel centered ministries. Haven of rest, Bible League, Missions, Gideon’s, teaching ministries, Rosedale, our church, invest time and money in people (like the Byler family)
Closing: Let’s look at some Tombstones and determine where the treasure lies
I did it my way! (Like the Rich Fool his life was demanded of him)
Livingstone was one of the first medical missionaries, the first in central Africa, and he was often the first European to meet local tribes. He won their trust as a healer and medicine man
The body of David Livingstone was buried in England where he was born, but his heart was buried in the Africa he loved. Britain wanted the body to give it a proper ceremony, but the tribe would not give his body to them. Finally they relented, but cut the heart out and put a note on the body that said, "You can have his body, but his heart belongs in Africa!" Livingstone's heart was buried under a tree near the spot where he died.
If your heart were to be buried in the place you loved most during life, where would it be? Where is your heart?
This is what was on the closing of a paper that was passed out at Ken Stoltzfus’ calling hours explaining about his fight against brain cancer..............................
A few months ago Ken went to a local Amish friend and told him what kind of casket to make for him. It symbolizes his focus in life; that he would live simply and use the resources God had entrusted to him, to make HIS love known to the ends of the earth. It is true that "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants." Psalm 116:15

Ken served on the boards of Kingsway Christian School (Orrville, OH), and Steve Wingfield Evangelistic Association (Harrisonburg, VA), and as Treasurer and Elder at his home church, MCA, in Fredericksburg, OH. He was also deeply vested in JAARS, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Focus on the Family, Crown Financial Ministries, and several prison ministries.
There is no doubt Ken had treasure in heaven waiting for him and treasure yet to come.
Job’s tombstone: Job 19:23-27
23 I wish that my words were written down,
that they were recorded on a scroll
24 or were inscribed in stone forever
by an iron stylus and lead!
25 But I know my living Redeemer,
and He will stand on the dust at last.
26 Even after my skin has been destroyed,
yet I will see God in my flesh.
27 I will see Him myself;
my eyes will look at [Him], and not as a stranger. [f]
My heart longs within me.
Your treasure is where your heart is; ask yourselves if they buried my heart with my treasured things where would it be?
Closing prayer: Ephesians 3:20