Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - The Secret to Great Wealth

If you go to any book store or watch late night infomercials, you will always find a slew of books on how to achieve great wealth. Each book or program has its own scheme on how to make it big. Some will tell you that you can do it through real estate. Others will provide you with secrets about investment so that you can enjoy the “high life” and have all that you want and even more. Others will show you the way to wealth by using small, classified ads in newspapers to sell informational booklets to others. In all cases, each book or program showcases the outcome if you follow their steps to success. Books will describe a life of luxury. Infomercials will show you pictures of expensive homes, cars and yachts. All promise a life of wealth and happiness.

But, what happens if the schemes do not work? Will you be poor and unhappy? If you didn’t invest your entire savings into the program or book, you are just out that money. You still have your current life where your needs for food, shelter and clothing are being met. In short, you are no worse than before you started the scheme outlined by the books or programs. The real question that you should be asking yourself is, “Am I happy?”

If your basic needs are being met and you have your health, you should be content with that. You may think that having a lot of money to do whatever you want and buy whatever you want is the key to happiness. If you think that, you cannot be further from the truth. Having more of anything including money does not bring happiness. It just brings more and different problems. 

For example, if you have more money, you will soon discover that you will pay more and more in taxes. Buying more things only leads to a desire to buy more things. It almost seems an addiction. When that occurs, you then need to make more money so that you can afford more things. In some cases, it does become an addiction and a vicious cycle. You begin to sacrifice more and more to make more and more. In the end, you may find yourself bankrupt not only financially but also morally and physically. You have given up everything to achieve what you thought would bring you ultimate happiness only to find that you were truly happy long before you even began this journey of self-destruction and sacrifice.

So, what is the secret to great wealth? Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, explains it quite clearly in chapter 6, “6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. 8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. 9 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

Even back then, people did the same things that we do today. They craved and desired more than they needed. They all wanted the “high life” and wanted to live on “easy street”. But, as they soon discovered, this desire to be rich only leads to ruin and destruction. This desire only for money leads people to temptation and all kinds of evil. They crave nothing but money and begin to wander away from their faith, their family and soon find themselves deeper in debt and with even more sorrows than before.

Many years ago, I saw a movie called “The Boost” with James Woods and Sean Young. Woods played a salesman who wanted to give his wife, played by Sean Young, the “high life”. After only finding disappointment in other sales jobs, he got involved in a real estate scheme that was guaranteed to provide them with more wealth and happiness without any chance of risk or failure. At first, he was making more money than he had ever made in his entire life. He began to buy expensive toys for both himself and his wife. Cars, homes, airplanes and more were all toys for them to enjoy and buy. They adorned themselves with expensive clothing and jewelry. The both of them had it all and more. Soon, they discovered cocaine and began to spend money on that expensive habit. In time, the real estate scheme ran out of steam and the source of their wealth dried up. They could no longer afford all of their expensive toys, clothes or jewelry. They were bankrupt, but they now had something that they could not shake or walk away from even through bankruptcy. They were both addicted to cocaine and that master needed to be fed hourly. 

They lost everything including each other. At the end of the movie, you see both of them now separated and unhappy. The movie came out during the 1980s. That decade has been called by some historians as the “Decade of Excess”. The economy was on fire and everyone was enjoying the fruits of their labor. There seemed to be no end in sight. The stock market was booming and everyone was getting rich. Many soon found themselves in the same position as the couple from the movie. Buying more only to find that they wanted more. The “Decade of Excess” soon turned into the decade of disappointment, sadness and sorrow. There was an uptick in the number of cases of bankruptcies, depression, alcoholism, drug addiction and suicides.

During each period of financial boom, this story repeats itself. People make more and spend more only to find themselves destitute and unhappy. They all realize, in the end, that they were truly happy when they did not have all of the expensive toys, clothing and jewelry. Excess did not mean happiness for most. It became a curse that soon took its toll on their lives.

Several Sundays ago I presented the message entitled “Two Masters”. In that message, I discussed the insidiousness of having two masters in your life, God and money. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6, “24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

True wealth comes from being godly and content with what you have. God provides for your daily needs of food, clothing and shelter. Having more of any one of those items does not make you happier. Having a bigger, more expensive house does not shelter you more. It does the same as a smaller one. It provides a roof over your head and protection from the elements. That is all a shelter does.

In Exodus 16, we see God providing food for the Israelites with one very important provision, “gather enough for that day”. God provided them with manna, heavenly bread, to eat, but some decided to gather more than they needed. They became disobedient and soon discovered that the manna spoiled and was full of maggots. Their greed to have more than they needed separated them from God.

When you allow greed and the craving for money to take over your life, you will soon find yourself on the path to ruin and destruction. By the time many find that they are on that path, it is too late. Some lose everything including themselves. Their relationship with the Lord is shattered and they wander aimlessly through life wondering what happened. Although it may be too late to salvage their financial lives, it is never too late to realize the error of their ways and return to the Father. Like the prodigal son realizing that he made a big mistake in taking his inheritance early from his father, you can always return to the Father and He will welcome you back with open arms and celebrate your return.

If you find yourself on this path to ruin and destruction or just starting down that path, there is still time to change and live a life filled with contentment with what you have and build a strong relationship with God through His son, Christ Jesus. Once you turn your life around, I can assure you that you will enjoy a wealth greater than anything this world can offer and be able to stand firm in His grace.

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

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