A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on August 15, 2010 by Pastor Dale Raether Now is the Time to Save Up for True Treasures Luke 12:32-40Do you enjoy watching your retirement savings grow? Yeah, right. There’s so much uncertainty these days. If your retirement is 10 or 20 years away, will your savings still be worth anything, or will the companies firms you invested in even be around? These fears are causing some to have a why bother attitude. And so given a choice between a buying a $1000 TV or putting $1000 into their IRA, they’ll take the TV. Still others might say, “Who has an extra $1000?” Yet given a choice between saving toward that $1000 or going out to eat, they’ll go out to eat. What’s going to happen when they do have to actually retire, move in with the kids? Unfortunately, this attitude of just living for the moment and not planning for the future is also spilling over to spiritual things. Deep down we all know there’s a God, and someday we’ll have to answer to Him. Yet what are many doing? They’re continuing in whatever sins are tempting them and then dealing with God’s anger at sin the same way they deal with their lack of saving – later, later, later. In our text this morning Jesus urges us that there be no more “laters”. Now is the time to save up for true treasures. 1. Our true treasures are in heaven (v32-34). 2. Always be ready for Jesus’ return (v35-40). We read, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys – Luke 12:32-33.” It’s hard not to be afraid, when we hear that there were 484,000 new unemployment claims last week, or last month bank foreclosures were the second highest ever. So, maybe now isn’t a good time to be trying to do more for God’s kingdom. Maybe now we should be pulling back and just concentrate on surviving. Actually things were even more frightening for the people in Jesus’ day. The Romans had an iron grip on them, and if anyone tried to get free, people would die. Also, they had zero economic clout and zero opportunities to better themselves. Nevertheless the treasures they needed most were spiritual.It’s the same for us. We too are a little flock in this world– the rich and famous aren’t going to be calling us. But we are also a little flock spiritually. For example how strong are we against the wolves of guilt? The devil tempts; perhaps we foolishly give in. We go to the Lord in prayer and ask for forgiveness, but then that heaviness for the things we’ve done keeps coming back. Or, how strong are we against the wolves of hypocrisy. If someone confronts us, can we honestly face our sins, or do we get defensive and angry? And finally how strong are we against the wolves of discouragement? Do we keep letting our light shine no matter what, or are there times when we just kind of give up? However, even though we are a little flock, we need not be afraid, because look again at what the Father is pleased to give us – the kingdom! The Greek word for pleased was also used at Jesus’ baptism. As He came out of the water, the Father said, “This is my Son whom I love. With Him I am well pleased.” This is huge for us! We are by nature sinners, and as we look back, there might be a lot of things we wish we could do-over. But Jesus is our do-over. He became a man and lived a perfect life for us. Then He offered His perfect life to pay for all those times we gave into temptation, or covered up our sin, or were just plain less than what God made us to be. And now because the Father was well-pleased with our Savior, He is also well pleased to give us His Kingdom. However this giving has already started. Through Word and Sacrament, He gives us faith to believe we’re forgiven, even if we don’t always feel forgiven, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Another way we’re beginning to experience God’s Kingdom, is His love for us is teaching us to say “no” to our sinful desires and “yes” to glorifying Him with all our heart and soul and mind. We’re not completely there yet, but if this is the kind of eternal retirement is appealing to you, now is the time to start saving for it. Here’s how. Each day invest in God’s Word, not only by hearing and reading it, but doing what it says. Then should we fall down hearing, reading or doing, don’t give up, but re-invest in the Word by believing your forgiveness through Jesus’ blood. And finally as your faith compounds within you, through words and actions share Jesus with those around you. But don’t be afraid of any sacrifices that saving up for true treasures might take. If God is pleased to give you the Kingdom of His Son, He’s certainly also pleased to give you all you need each day. But this doesn’t mean our faith won’t be tested, or that the devil won’t try to sidetrack us. We read in our text, “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night.” In those days wedding customs were a bit different than today. Couples would get engaged by going with the parents to city hall and taking care of the legalities. Then each would go home with their parents and get everything ready the ceremony and where they’d be living afterwards. Anyway on the night of the ceremony, the groom and his attendants would go the bride’s parents where the bride and her attendants were waiting. Then all of them together would parade through town to the groom’s parent’s house, and that’s where the banquet would be. In this little parable, maybe the master was one of the groomsmen and there was no guessing when he might get back. So, what do you suppose this man’s servants did while they were waiting? Maybe finishing up a few things, or maybe they sang a few songs. But if they valued their job and respected their master, they wouldn’t be hitting their master’s wine cellar. This parable is like what we’re doing. We’re waiting for the wedding banquet between the Lamb and all believers. However, while we wait, let’s not think, “We got plenty of time.” We don’t need to be investing in God’s Word now. We don’t to be living according just yet. And don’t need to make sharing His word a priority, because whatever happens to others is their problem.” If anyone has this attitude, does he even have faith? Maybe a small spark. But if our faith is heading in that direction, let’s remind ourselves that the treasures here are not lasting. Either someone takes them, they wear out, or they rot. On the other hand the Father is pleased to give us the Kingdom. And also when Jesus comes again, something we wouldn’t expect is going to happen. Going back to those days of masters and servants, as soon as the master returned home, his servants would wait on Him. In heaven it’ll be the other way around. Jesus will serve us. The Bible doesn’t tell us what exactly that means but let’s do the math. We invest in the word and we get back a stronger faith, and guidance and strength for our daily life, and joy as Jesus uses us to be His hands and His mouth to help others. And then after all that, Jesus will give us a return on our return by waiting on us in heaven. So, if you’re not in the regular habit of saving up for spiritual treasures, when will you start or when will you get serious about it? We read on in our text. “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." Just as retirement savings compound the longer we save, so will the blessings of the Word the longer we’re in the Word. But the problem is who knows how long we have? Our time here can end very suddenly and un-expectantly. When it does, the door to being able to do some very important things will close. And so, if there’s someone you need to forgive, if there’s someone you’ve been wanting to encourage, if there’s someone you’ve been thinking about helping or inviting, the Word equips us for all those things, but no more “laters”! Let’s invest in those opportunities today! Unfortunately, this is hard to follow through on. We may have the desire, but our lives are often going in so many different directions, who has time or money to invest in spiritual treasures the way we want? Yet the reason we’re often short on time and money is our lives are going in so many different directions. How do we get off that merry-go-round? Pray about it. Talk to a friend or family member about changes that might help. Something else that can help is come to Heart in Focus on Wednesday nights in September. Heart in Focus is a course on Christian family finances that can give us more guidance, more joy, and more confidence as we manage our lives. So, please don’t look at this as just one more thing to do. The only way to have enough savings when we retire is to save. The only way to have the blessings of the Word, when we need them, is to be in the Word. But we can do this, we want to do this, because true treasures are eternal, and because Jesus is coming again to give us His Kingdom. Amen.

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