Sermon Recording – Generous Living (Luke 19.1-10)

zacchaeus

Soichi Watanabe’s Jesus And Zacchaeus

Message: Generous Living
Scriptures: Luke 19:1-10
Message 4 of 4 to accompany the study Earn, Save, Give by Rev. James A. Harnish. Offered 2/4/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Jericho

  • The turning point between Galilee and Jerusalem. Located in the Jordan River Valley near the Dead Sea
  • A fragrant and fertile place. Dates, palm-honey, myrrh, and balsam. Used to make fragrances, medicine, makeup.
  • Major trade center. Valued by Rome as a center of taxation. Rich, powerful tax collectors make sure the taxes are rendered unto Caesar, plus some extra for themselves.

Zacchaeus

  • Chief tax collector. Rich. Short.
  • What happens to short people, especially short men? They are teased. Many feel they must prove themselves.

Quote from Moments with the Savior by Ken Gire
Somewhere along the way to adulthood, Zacchaeus learned to compensate—first, to laugh at the jokes, and later, to fight back. And so, as he climbed the professional ladder, he stepped on anyone who stood in his way, anyone on the next rung up. He would show them, show them all. Someday they’d look up to him.

At last, he made it to the top—  a chief tax collector. King of the hill, controlling commerce. King of the hill, greasing his greedy little palms with the sweat of his neighbor’s brow. King of the hill, looking down over Jericho.

But the hill Zacchaeus rules is a dunghill, at least in the eyes of the people. For tax gatherers are despised as little more than ruthless bill collectors for a corrupt government. Even the Talmud looks down on them, allowing a Jew permission to lie to a murderer, to a thief, and . . . to a tax collector.

True, Zacchaeus has power. And he has wealth. But the stature he sought among others has eluded him.

What else eludes Zacchaeus? Friendship, belonging, salvation, meaning, love, healing, peace

Have you ever started down a path, only to find what you were looking for eludes you, too?

Now there’s hope
Zacchaeus has heard stories about this Jesus who was a friend of tax collectors and sinners.

  • Who ate and drank with them and stayed in their homes
  • Who changed the life of Levi/Matthew, the tax collector at Capernaum. Levi left a lucrative career, left everything to follow Jesus. This Jesus must be some man.
  • There’s even talk of him being the Messiah. Not just a rabbi, a healer, but a Messiah who’s a friend of tax collectors.
  • Zacchaeus is willing to look the fool for even a glimpse of Jesus. He runs. He climbs a tree. Zacchaeus literally goes out on a limb to get to Jesus.

Imagine all that Zacchaeus is feeling. His chest is pounding from the run and the climb. Jesus and his disciples are coming. Closer. Closer. Then Jesus stops right in front of him.
Their eyes meet. Jesus calls Zacchaeus by name. In front of all those people, Jesus asks if he can come to Zacchaeus’ home. Later, Zacchaeus makes Jesus his home.

Zacchaeus

  • Experiences a complete transformation. Not just part of his life, but the whole.
  • Zacchaeus chooses both repentance and reparation. He turns from walking in his own strength and plan to follow Jesus. (Repentance, Justification) He doesn’t stop there. He wants to make things right, live a new way. (Reparation, Sanctification)
  • Zacchaeus goes out on a limb to see Jesus and out on a limb to follow Jesus fully. He liquidates his war chest to care for the poor and compensate those he defrauded.

This is what our salvation should look like as well: complete transformation, not just part of our lives, not just enough to get into heaven. We turn. We follow. We live a new life. 

earn save give cover

John Wesley, in his sermon entitled The Use of Money, wrote, “Having, first, gained all you can, and, secondly saved all you can, then give all you can.”

  • Gain = Earn. As followers of Jesus, we embrace hard, honest work. Zacchaeus will be looking for a new job or doing his current job in a very different way.
  • Save = Stewardship.  Zacchaeus realizes we are and have belongs to God. We are caretakers. My money, my possessions, my talents, my body, are not my own. As followers of Jesus, we embrace careful, farsighted, faithful management of everything God’s entrusted to us. Zacchaeus’s management will include caring for the poor and making right his old, evil ways.
  • Give = Generous Living

Earn all you can + Save all you can = the ultimate goal of generous living. We can trust and follow and give because Christ has already given everything for us.

Generosity by Steve Garnaas Holmes
True poverty and riches are in our hearts,
not our pockets.

Fear is the only prison that prevents us
from loving deeply,
from giving freely,
from living richly.

Generosity is the power that sets us free.
It melts the prison bars.
It fills the coffers of our hearts.

In generosity, regardless of circumstances,
even the penniless are not poor,
even the destitute are not alone,
even the flat broke are not afraid.

Give everything you have,
and you will be free
and unafraid

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9am Sundays, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording – Money Management (Luke 12.13-21)

Message: Money Management
Scriptures: Luke 12:13-21
Message 3 of 4 to accompany the study Earn, Save, Give by Rev. James A. Harnish. Offered 1/28/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

oseola mccartyOseola McCarty was born in Hattiesburg Mississippi in 1908, the child of rape. She was raised by her grandmother and aunt who were washerwomen. She joined them in the family business at age 8, learning to wash clothes by hand over an open fire. Oseola left school in the 6th grade to care for her beloved aunt and work full time. She never went back to school and served her neighbors as a washerwoman for 74 years. She never married, never had a child, and never owned a car. When it became possible for her to use a washing machine, she tried it and went back to handwashing clothes. The machine didn’t do as good of a job as she could.

As a child, she began putting some of her small earnings into savings. First, in her doll carriage and later in a savings account she opened herself. In time, she decided to establish a scholarship at the University of Southern Mississippi with $150,000 she’d saved.  She did this at a school that would not have admitted her in the days of segregation.

When asked why, Oseola said, “I’m too old to get an education but they can. I can’t do everything but I can do something to help somebody. And what I can do I will do. I wish I could do more.”

When asked how she accumulated that much money, she said, “It wasn’t hard. I didn’t buy things I didn’t need. The Lord helped me, and he’ll help you, too.”

“I start each day on my knees, saying the Lord’s Prayer. Then I get busy about my work,” McCarty told one interviewer. “You have to accept God the best way you know how and then He’ll show Himself to you. And the more you serve Him, the more able you are to serve Him.”

Look how powerful it can be for a follower of Jesus to be in right relationship with money. Think of the legacy she’s leaving, for future students and as a witness to faithful living. Oseola valued:
1. Hard, honest work
2. The meaningful connection between work, money, and faith
3. That work and managing money wisely are both a blessing, are good for us, are good for the community we live in, and good for the Kingdom of God

Now, look at our scripture for today, Luke 12:13-21. It is a cautionary tale, an example not to follow. The Rich Farmer/Fool’s relationship with money is a twisted trap, the opposite of Oseola’s relationship.

What do you see? Someone who is self-centered

  • Notice the repetition of the words I/my: 10 times in 3 verses
  • Doesn’t think about the common good
  • Literally has a conversation with himself with no regard for discussing plans with his family, business partners, a wise friend, or God
  • Doesn’t attribute his success to anyone else, including his employees or God

There are times when what our society values blends easily with the ways of Jesus. There are times when they bump against one another.

instant gratification cartoonOur society values instant gratification

  • I can have everything I want and I can have it now
  • More, More, More      Mine, Mine Mine
  • $$, Stuff, Consuming = happiness
  • This leads to spending as: a means of entertainment, a pick me up for a bad day, a way of self-medicating and denying hard realities, a way to look successful or “normal”
  • This leads to overspending, living beyond our means
  • Instead of using healthy debt as a tool, we feel crushed by debt, enslaved to debt
  • We experience the burden of too much stuff: how do I store it, care for it, protect it
  • Many live in constant stress because they are one paycheck away, one unexpected expense away from financial disaster.  Many are setting aside little to nothing for emergencies, their future, or the work of God. God gets tips, rather than a tithe.

earn save give cover

Oseola models a different way of living, a better way. John Wesley and the Bible’s thoughts on Money
John Wesley, in his sermon entitled The Use of Money, wrote, “Having, first, gained all you can, and, secondly saved all you can, then give all you can.”

To put it another way, Hard Honest Work partners with Stewardship, the careful, farsighted management of money. The word for that is prudent, like Prudential Insurance.

1. Stewardship
As followers of Jesus, we believe none of it belongs to us. We are caretakers for God’s belongings to use as God would choose.

Jim Harnish puts it this way, “… everything we are and have is a gift from God. That is, the stuff I have—my money, my possessions, my talents, my body—are not my own. They belong to God, the giver of “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17 KJV). They are given to me by the God who trusts me to use everything I am and have in ways that are consistent with the will and way of God.”

2. Careful, Farsighted Money Management (Prudent)
Prudent is not prudish, cheap, stingy, or miserly. It wasn’t wise money management for rich Ebenezer Scrooge to only live in one room of his large house eating gruel every night just as much as it isn’t wise money management to be careless and wasteful like the Prodigal Son.

spending budget percentage dave ramseyPractical Application

  • Be wise and face the facts of your financial situation. Take an honest inventory of what you earn and what you spend.
  • Chose to be a steward. Manage what God’s entrusted to you. Paying attention to it and direct it’s use making wise choices.
  • Embrace the good gifts of simplicity and thrift.
  • Eliminate unhealthy debt
  • Use the guide to establish a healthy, faithful budget

For followers of Christ, the tithe is an essential practice of faithful stewardship. We acknowledge it all already belongs to God. The tithe is to money what Sabbath is to work. In their practice, our words and actions and beliefs align. God, I trust you to provide. I trust you know what is best for me.

We remember Oseola’s testimony like we remember the widow at the treasure, the little boy giving Jesus his lunch, the woman with the costly jar of perfume anointing Jesus. They saved and used those savings as a lasting legacy. Think how we could be telling your story of faithfulness years from now.

monopolyJim Harnish relates the following: I remember the first time I heard John Ortberg tell a story that later became the title of one of his best-selling books. It’s the story of the day he beat his grandmother in Monopoly. He said it happened at Marvin Gardens, where he wiped her off the board. His grandmother had taught him to play the game, and now he had outplayed her. As he relished his victory, she taught him a far more important lesson with these words: When the game is over, it all goes back in the box.18 All the money, properties, houses, and hotels he had acquired weren’t really his. They had been in the box before he played, and they would be there after he stopped. At the end of the day, it all goes back in the box.

Be a wise, faithful steward. Leave a testimony and a legacy.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9am Sundays, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording – Hard Honest Work (Proverbs 31)

Message: Hard Honest Work
Scriptures: Proverbs 31:10-31
Message 2 of 4 to accompany the study Earn, Save, Give by Rev. James A. Harnish. Offered 1/21/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

earn save give cover
Mason Wartman
quit his job on Wall Street to open Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia. The menu includes a $1 slice of cheese pizza, which makes for a nice meal for the neighborhood’s low income and homeless folks.

A customer had the idea to “pay it forward” by purchasing an extra slice of pizza for the next person who couldn’t pay for theirs. Mason grabbed a post-it note,  marked the gift, and put it up on the wall for someone to use. The idea exploded and now Rosa’s walls are covered with post-it notes of smiley faces, prayers, encouragement along with a slice of pizza.

Rosa’s serves 50-100 persons daily who pay by post-it note. The practice transformed the neighborhood, building goodwill and community, breaking down barriers of loneliness and classism. One person wrote a thank you note on a paper plate, which also went up on the wall,

“God bless you. Because of you, I ate off this plate. It is the only thing I ate all day. I am a homeless veteran and get treated rudely. When I ask for help, Rosa’s treats me with respect. Truly a blessing. Thank you. Rob H. Do unto others as others do unto you.”

John Wesley, in his sermon entitled The Use of Money, wrote

Having, first, gained all you can, and, secondly saved all you can, then give all you can.

For Wesley, gain means to earn, to work. I suspect Mason’s shop brings a smile to Wesley’s face, and Jesus’.

Mason is modeling what we believe as followers of Jesus Christ about work:

  1. Money itself is neither good nor evil and is used for both good and evil. Money is  a powerful tool and gift of God
  2. Wisdom is more valuable than money
  3. A wise person is in right relationship with money
  4. There is a meaningful connection between work, money, and faith
  5. Work is good for us and the community we live in

If you’re retired, this applies to you as well. You’re just in a new season of work. Followers of Jesus never retire from Kingdom work.

Hard Honest Work
What makes a great employee or employer, the type of person you want to do business with? That person is diligent, attentive, responsible, put’s forth their best effort, strives for excellence and consistent improvement, is servant-hearted, passionate, self-motivated, a team player, teachable…

Wesley puts it this way

Never leave anything till tomorrow, which you can do today. And do it as well as possible. Do not sleep or yawn over it: Put your whole strength to the work. Spare no pains. Let nothing be done by halves, or in a slight and careless manner.  

Where do we find this kind of integrity and work ethic today? It should be with the people of God. True followers of Jesus should be the folk’s people want to hire and the folk’s people want to work for and the folks people want to do business with. When we fail to live and value hard work, we fail in our Christian witness.

The Shadow-side of Hard Work: Underwork and Overwork (Lazy and Work-a-holic)
Proverbs 14:23
There is profit in hard work, but mere talk leads to poverty.

Proverbs 13:4
The lazy have strong desires but receive nothing; the appetite of the diligent is satisfied.

Proverbs 23:4
Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich; be smart enough to stop.

Imagine a continuum with healthy, hard work in the middle. On one end, laziness, and the other, work-a-holic. Strength and focus from the Holy Spirit save us from laziness. Sabbath saves us from destroying our bodies, minds, and relationships with overwork. In practicing Sabbath, we show we trust God’s strength and provision more than our own.

Hard Honest Work
Proverbs 1:19
These are the ways of all who seek unjust gain; it costs them their lives.

Proverbs 10:16
The wages of the righteous lead to life; the earnings of the wicked lead to sin.

It doesn’t matter how hard you work if you don’t also practice Sabbath. It doesn’t matter how hard you work if it isn’t honest work. Some jobs are out of bounds for us as followers of Christ.

The litmus test for honest work: Does it bring glory to God and does it bless and build up the community? Honest work is rooted in loving our neighbor. This value prevents us from work which does injury to our neighbor. Wesley reminds us that as followers of Christ we refrain from work that unfairly affects another’s economic stability, that injures our neighbor’s health, or that contributes to another person’s sin.

Hard Honest Work is your calling from God
If you are a follower of Jesus, you have a calling from God. Your calling is just as sacred and important as that of a pastor or missionary. Reframe your idea of work as fulfilling your part in God’s greater purpose, God’s best purpose for your life. Focus your talents, skills, opportunities, and experience for God’s greater good. This is our “why” of work. This is worth getting out of bed in the morning and worthy of our best efforts. This is why we don’t bury our talents, nor hide them under a bushel. This is why we don’t sell out to something unworthy of our calling and God.

Jim Harnish puts it this way

Seeing our work as a calling from God puts the challenge to “earn all you can” in the context of the larger purpose for our work. Wesley’s instruction is not merely to earn money for its own sake but to earn it for the higher purpose of fulfilling God’s intention for our lives. 

Contemplate the example of hard, honest work in Proverbs 31:10-31.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9am Sundays, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording – We Need Wisdom (Psalm 19)


Message: We Need Wisdom
Scriptures: Psalm 19
Message 1 of 4 to accompany the study Earn, Save, Give by Rev. James A. Harnish. Offered 1/14/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

earn save give cover
1. How we relate to our money goes to the heart of our relationship with God

There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, the conversion of the mind, and the conversion of the purse. – Martin Luther

2. If you look for money to do what only God can do, money will fail you
Money cannot forgive your sins, bring you wholeness, nor save you
Money is not a Rock and a Refuge from the pain and trouble of this world
Money does not define you, nor make you valuable

3. Is money is good or evil?
Neither! Both!
Money is a powerful tool and gift of God. Like any gift, it can be twisted into something it was never meant to be: greed, envy, exploitation, materialism, hoarding… Like any gift, it can be received, nurtured, blessed, and multiplied for the greater good.

In the hands of [God’s] children, [money] is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked. . . . By it we may supply the place of a husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless; we may be a defense for the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain. It may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death! – John Wesley, The Use of Money

So it’s not about money. It’s about being in right relationship with money.
It is about using God-given spiritual practices to manage God’s powerful gift of money faithfully. There is no reason to fear or avoid speaking about money.

4. Where do we start? Wisdom is more valuable than money
Think of the consequence of money without wisdom

What is Wisdom? Accumulating knowledge is being smart, educated, informed. It is good to seek the help of experts and best practices, but it is not enough. Wisdom goes beyond accumulating knowledge to the use of knowledge. Wisdom takes into account experience, best practices, but goes beyond to seek and apply timeless Biblical truth and Divine Insight. Wisdom reveals what to do with what you have and why you do it.

Psalm 19:1-6, gaining God’s wisdom via nature
God reaches out to everyone, speaking to us. God wants to be in relationship with us through Jesus Christ, to lead us and guide us and give us wisdom. Yes, we consult experts. Yes, we use our God-given brains. Yes, we seek God’s will and wisdom.

Psalm 19:7-11, gaining God’s wisdom through God’s Word

God’s wisdom is

  • perfect
  • sure and reliable
  • right and correct
  • clear and clarifying
  • pure
  • true and sound
  • more to be desired than gold
  • sweeter than honey

The wisdom that God’s Word provides

  • revives the soul
  • makes us wise if we have an open mind and a teachable spirit
  • causes our hearts to rejoice and be satisfied
  • enlightens, opens our understanding and perspective
  • brings answers, perspective, clarity
  • results in a healthy fear, awe, and holy reverence for God
  • results in appropriate humility before God
  • sustains and endures
  • warns, correcting us that we may live a rewarding life

In short, God’s wisdom puts us in right relationship with God, with others, with ourselves, with the earth, and with money. It’s why we can trust it, seek it, and surrender to it.

5. Ask God for Wisdom, that you may be in right relationship with money.
Do you pray and thank God for “daily bread,” trusting God as the source of your provision and asking God to provide? Do you seek God’s will when making a purchase or an investment or making an offering or for the courage to tithe?

Consider Solomon, a young man about to follow his father David in becoming king. God comes to him in a dream. “Ask what I should give you.” What would you ask for? Long life, love, wealth, power, peace, revenge, victory over your enemies…

Solomon asks for this
Give your servant, therefore, an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people? (1 Kings 3:9)

Notice Solomon’s love and respect for God. He was a king yet humble. He refers to himself as God’s servant. Notice Solomon’s love of others. He understands his call as a leader is beyond his strength, skill, intelligence, and resources. He understands his responsibilities to the greater good.

God answers his prayer and God will answer you. Ask God for Wisdom, that you may be in right relationship with money.

Prayer
Mighty God, grant me wisdom
Let the words of my mouth be acceptable to you
Let my every desire be acceptable to you
Let the resting place of my heart be acceptable to you
Open me to growth and guidance
Purify my reverence and awe for you
Sustain me and satisfy me
May the revival and sanctifying of my soul bring you delight and glory
I trust your Holy Word and Holy Wisdom to put me in right relationship with all things
With money, myself, my motivations, with others, with you
You alone are my Rock and my Redeemer

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9am Sundays, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording: Camels, Needles and Who Shall be Saved (Mark 10:17-27; 1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Needle Gate, Camel Pose, Needle and Thread

Needle Gate, Camel Pose, Needle and Thread

Message: Camels, Needles and Who Shall Be Saved
Scriptures: Mark 10:17-27; 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Offered 4/19/15 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

I’m indebted to my friend Martha Mackey for sharing with me how the camel pose in yoga opened this passage of Scripture for her.
camel pose 1-4

Mark 10:17-27 NRSV
17 As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments:’You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

1 Timothy 6:17-19
17 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19 thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

Dear God, I am so afraid to open my clenched fists! Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to? Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands? Please help me to gradually open my hands and to discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me. And what you want to give me is love, unconditional, everlasting love. Amen. – Henri Nouwen

Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put met to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by you or laid aside for you,
Exalted for you or brought low for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
You are mine, and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

© 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Mark Day 10: Rich Young Ruler

If you know the name of this work and/or the artist, please let me know so I can give the person credit.

Gospel of Mark Reading Plan
Day 10 Reading: Mark 10

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
– Mark 10:23 (NIV)

Dear God,
I am so afraid to open my clenched fists! Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to? Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands? Please help me to gradually open my hands and to discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me. And what you want to give me is love, unconditional, everlasting love. Amen. – Henri Nouwen

Observation
Mark 10:17-31 A godly man approaches Jesus, asking him what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus, moved by the man’s humility and sincerity, looks deeply into his heart. Only one thing stands between him and a saving faith, the man’s dedication to his wealth. Jesus instructs him how to free himself of this idol: 1) sell everything, 2) give it away to the poor, and 3) follow him. The man leaves for home with a heavy heart. He chooses his wealth over God. Jesus reminds the disciples how difficult it will be for the wealthy to know their need of God and to trust God more than their money and possessions.

Application
The timing of this story seems especially profound, given the state of the economy and the start of annual retail circus leading up to Christmas. Will those who are no longer financially secure now seek God differently? Will we express our love to family and friends differently this year? Could the stripping away of false financial security be used of God to save us?

It’s not addition that makes one holy, but subtraction: stripping the illusions, letting go of the pretense, exposing the false self, breaking open the heart and the understanding, not taking my private self too seriously. Conversion is more about unlearning than learning. – Richard Rohr

Saving faith places God first, before all other things. What am I placing first in my life?
My family? My work? My comfort? My agenda? My…

1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NIV)
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

There are three conversions necessary:
the conversion of the heart, mind, and the purse.
-Martin Luther

Prayer
Jesus, you love us enough to tell us the truth. We cannot serve two masters. Only one will have our ultimate trust and loyalty. We are far more affluent than we care to admit, especially when we consider global economies. We place our trust in checking accounts, investments, and insurance far more easily than we place our trust in you. The wealth of this world will come and go. You alone are steadfast. We work hard to be prepared, to be secure, yet you alone can save us in the end. Forgive us our shortsightedness and our idolatry. Help us to place our trust and loyalty completely in you. Amen.

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Steve Garnaas-Holmes provides two terrific blog posts on this passage. Click Here for The One Thing (Mark 10:22) and click here for Who Can Be Saved (Mark 10:17-27).

For a wonderful blog post by Liz Curtis Higgs on this same scripture, click here

For a devotion containing comments on the problems surrounding the Gospel of Health and Wealth, click here

For more quotes on money and its use, click here or click here

For more information on the Gospel of Mark Reading Plan, click here

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Quotes: Having Enough

Proverbs 23:1-5 (NRSV)
When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you have a big appetite. Do not desire the ruler’s delicacies, for they are deceptive food. Do not wear yourself out to get rich; be wise enough to desist. When your eyes light upon it, it is gone; for suddenly it takes wings to itself, flying like an eagle toward heaven.

Chesterton wrote, “There are two ways to get enough; one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” How does this translate into our worship life as Christians? If thoughts of material things command the greater part of our attention and energy, can we really be serving and worshipping the Master as we should? I find that as I ascribe worth and honor to our loving and sovereign God, he allows me to desire less of the distractions, less of the other gods. But the struggle for the throne continues. -Chip Stam

Seek not great things for yourselves in this world, for if your garments be too long, they will make you stumble; and one staff helps a man in his journey, when many in his hands at once hinders him. – William Bridge

You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.
– Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Matthew 6:24 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Many Christians and Christian leaders have been neutralized by the love of money and materialism. The homage paid to affluence becomes a burden that saps our energy as well as our love for God and other people. Though repentance and the cleansing of forgiveness, we can rid ourselves of this burden and begin to let God transform our value system. Like Jesus and Paul, we can learn to be content with what we have, living modestly in order that we may give liberally to the work of the kingdom and to meet the needs of others. -John Wimber

Theirs is an endless road, a hopeless maze,
who seek for goods before they seek for God. – Bernard of Clairvaux

I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give.
I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.
– C.S. Lewis

Luke 15:11-12 NRSV
There was a man who had two sons.
The younger of them said to his father,
“Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.”
So he divided his property between them.

How brazen the lad, we say. How selfish. He doesn’t love his father; he just wants his stuff. And the older son is no better. When the wayward son returns, the older son complains, “You haven’t even given me so much as a goat.” He doesn’t care for his father either. He just wants stuff. Both the sons distance themselves from the father, the older son by his bitterness as much as the younger by his leaving town. Neither one of them expresses love for the father. How like us they are. I wonder if God’s deepest sadness is that God’s beloved children don’t seem to want God; we just want God’s stuff. How many of our prayers to God are for stuff—fix this disease, thanks for that sunset, protect my child, find me a job. What if instead our deepest prayer were simply “Hold me close?” – Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Prodigal Son

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For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.