Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller

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What Possesses You?

Luke 12:15

Luke 12:15 "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist of the abundance of his possessions."\r
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"Abundance" means to be in excess \r
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"Covetousness" means "to hold more"\r
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"Take heed" (take care): to stare at\r
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"Beware" (be on your guard): to watch, be on guard, avoid\r
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A man had a lot of money. He told his wife "when I die I want you to put all the money in my casket because I want to take it with me to the after life." When her husband died, she did just that. She took his money, went down to the bank and created an account for herself with the money. Her friends wondered how she fulfilled her husband's dieing wish. "Simple," she said. "I wrote him a check and put it in the casket. If he can cash it, he can get the money." \r
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This runs counter to almost everything our culture teaches. Our culture teaches us that "he who dies with the most toys wins." In reality "he who has the most toys dies" is more like it. \r
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1 Timothy 6:6-8 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. ESV\r
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That doesn't seem to stop us from loving things. But have you ever notice that things don't return the affection? It's the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics - things go from order to disorder and we have to put in increasing amounts of energy to keep that law from destroying all our stuff.\r
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It's not the condition of stuff you have that matters but the condition of your heart. You can be a generous person and not have a penny to your name. You can also be broke and be ruled by stuff. Likewise you can be as rich as Bill Gates and be super generous or pinch pennies as if you had no money at all. \r
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It's not just about money either - you can be covetous with your time and your talents too. \r
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The Dangers of Covetousness \r
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1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. ESV\r
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Loving possessions will possess you, and lead you around like a dog on a leash. \r
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The key to understanding whether or not a thing possesses you is imagine that it is gone in a fire or explosion. Will you be able to go on without it? \r
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Money or possessions have caused so many to do so much evil and has wasted the lives of so many people, turning their focus away from God.\r
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At its root, covetousness is idolatry-serving the self above serving God. It doesn't mean we take a vow of poverty and run around in sackcloth begging for food.\r
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2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. \r
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13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. ESV\r
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That's a clue for later. So it's good to work, earn money, buy clothes, food, and shelter. Having things is not bad, its when things have you that it becomes a problem. So use things and love people, not the other way around: use people and love things. \r
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Jeremiah 9:23-24 Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD." ESV\r
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God doesn't say "don't be rich" he just says "don't boast in it" Boast that you know God. God owns all the stuff anyway. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50) and "all the earth is mine" (Exodus 19:5). \r
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We are simply "stewards" of things God gives us to use temporarily. \r
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1 Peter 4:10-11 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: ESV\r
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So the word is: Be aware (stare at) your life and be on guard to keep yourself from slipping into covetousness. \r
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So if our lives don't exist in the abundance of our possessions, what does our life consist of?\r
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The Three Antidotes to Covetousness\r
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1. Be Content\r
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Hebrews 13:5-6 Keep your life free from love of money , and be content with what you have, for he has said," I will never leave you nor forsake you." ESV\r
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See it is having God as our possession that is the thing of primary importance.\r
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Philippians 4:10-13 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. ESV\r
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1 Timothy 6:6-8 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. ESV\r
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2. Put your treasure in God\r
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Luke 12:32-34 "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. ESV\r
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If we put our treasure in treasure then we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. If we put our treasure in God's kingdom by having His Spirit exude from inside us and letting Him work out from within us, then we build up treasure in heaven which will last.\r
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Be Rich Toward God\r
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Jesus said "Luke 12:20-21 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God." ESV\r
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So how do we become rich toward God?\r
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1. Love God extravagantly\r
2. Remain steadfast in trials\r
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James 1:12-13 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. ESV\r
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3. Seek to do His will whenever you can\r
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3. Be Generous\r
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Generosity does not stem from how much you give but how much you have left after you give. This week someone shared a story with me. A nonprofit organization was trying to figure out the membership of an overseeing group for a particular activity. A very wealthy woman was in the discussion. One of the other members suggested including an elderly woman who regularly contributed income from her stocks, about $5,000 per year - a pittance from the wealthy woman's standpoint. The wealthy woman said: "no no no. What would this woman contribute, knitting lessons?" It's a modern day example of the widow's mite from Mark 12:\r
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Mark 12:41-44 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on." ESV\r
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1 Tim 6:17-19 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. ESV\r
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