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Sunday, 24 June 2018

'PUTTING YOUR TREASURES IN HEAVEN'


By Rev. Brian Wilkie                    
Rev. Brian Wilkie

Pastor of St. Andrew's Christian Community
Rockland, Ontario

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PODCAST LINK to CFRA broadcast 
Sunday, June 24th, 2018:
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Broadcast Title:

Putting Your Treasures In Heaven
 
Reference passage: Matthew 6:19-27 (NIV)

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Good News in the Morning is sponsored by Good News Christian Ministries and has been broadcast weekly since 1999. Do visit our web site gncm.ca. Here you will find podcasts of the programs, and introductions to the Ottawa pastors who deliver the Good News to growing numbers of listeners worldwide, and need your regular prayers. Our heartfelt thanks go to all those who support us financially. And now, here is today’s presentation.

Good Morning!  I'm your host today, Brian Wilkie of St. Andrew's Christian Church in Rockland.  As we begin today, my prayer is that The Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ would encourage and strengthen you today!

Treasures in Heaven
Good morning I'm your host today Reverend Brian Wilkie of Saint Andrew's Christian Church in Rockland. As we begin my prayer is that the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ would encourage and strengthen you today.

As we look at the scriptures today I want to share with you a scripture from Matthew chapter 6 in which Jesus talks about putting your Treasures in Heaven, living so that your life is aimed at pleasing God and waiting upon him for his good reward. So let's listen to Matthew chapter 6 verse 19 to 27.

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Mt 6:19–27). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

- The Words of Jesus in The Gospel of Matthew.  Therein Jesus is clearly pointing to a way of living that is aimed heavenward, aimed towards the kingdom of God and concerned about serving and pleasing God as the central feature of their life.

We’ll get to look at that in a few moments, but first I would like you to hear this song of sung by Jonathan McReynolds, a young man who was a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. That's where I first encountered his music as he led worship and performed there during a conference. In this song he focuses on his desire to have God in the simply expressed ‘Gotta Have You’

What’s your Goal in life? What is it you are looking for? The standard goal that many people will put forward is happiness, which isn't a bad goal at all - for God has made us to desire happiness - but with all the kinds of happiness that exist as possibilities, what is the happiness that God has set on our hearts? What is the joy that he would have us pursue? There's a huge difference between pursuing worldly happiness and pursuing the joy that is eternal that comes from God. Jesus points to that difference in this scripture where he speaks about storing up Treasures in Heaven.

The kinds of treasures you can store in heaven are different than the kinds of treasures you can store on earth, and the outcome of those Treasures is very different, too. Treasures on Earth are all temporal. Treasures on Earth decay, they are destroyed by moth and rust, thieves break in and steal treasures set on Earth, but those Treasures that are stored in heaven can never be taken away for they are in the presence of God and they’re of a different nature than those perishable things of Earth. So Jesus tells us that we need to pursue a different goal.

As I approach this question I'm going to use a term that I learned from one of my co-hosts on this radio show, George Sinclair, who told me about the idea of Therapeutic Moral Deism. Now he's probably already spoken about this on previous shows, and you have probably heard him talk about it, but let me just reiterate what therapeutic deism is in my understanding of it.
First let's say that it's a form of religion that too often replaces Christianity both in the church and in our culture. Therapeutic moral deism is a form of religion that replaces Christianity: in that sense it's a heresy, it's a misunderstanding of Christianity.  In other cases is it simply a completely different way of looking at the world by that is held by some non Christians. Here is what it kind of means for us.

The title describes the mindset, if you break it down. The word therapeutic refers to the goal of this world view, of this religious perspective. The goal of therapeutic deism is healing and health and making your present life better, but the goal is simply a worldly goal of making your life better. The possible ways that life might be better might be in terms of wealth, might be in terms of Health or might be in terms of popularity, Fame or importance. All these things which the Bible in some translation describes as Mammon is much more than just the pursuit of money. Mammon is the idea of all the worldly Goods, all the worldly attributes, and goals that we might pursue. In therapeutic moral deism, the goal of life is for God to make us better.

God's job, it seems, is to wait on us hand and foot, is to provide for us the things we need to achieve our goals and make us happy. That's how therapeutic moral deism looks at the goal of life. The term moral refers to the method of achieving the goal: obeying rules and principles of action. That's how you get to the happiness that you desire for yourself. In therapeutic moral deism, in this mindset, the idea is that the right principles the right actions will always result in happiness, they will always result in in your good.

The third term ‘deism’ in therapeutic moral deism says that the goal of Happiness which is going to be achieved by moral action has a place for God in it. Deism is a theological term which describes the expected action of God in this process. Deism does not refer to the God of the Bible, who acts in history and works moment-by-moment sustaining all things and blessing and injecting his presence and Grace into the world. Instead deism refers to the god of some philosophers who imagine a great power that set the Universe on its course and then abandoned it, ceasing from all further activity. In therapeutic more the idea is that the world is set up by God in such a way that if you live right everything will work out in your favor. God doesn't actually have to do anything because he set up the world properly in the first place.

Now you can see that these terms describe the universe in which God has set a moral order which causes things to work out for a happy life as long as people follow the rules. This goal has nothing to do with God, the means to achieve it has nothing to do with God, and there is no help to be had from God, for God has nothing further to do with the world.

That's the idea of therapeutic moral deism. With such high sounding words it may sound like a rare, esoteric kind of philosophy but it's actually, practically how many people live their lives. They pursue their own goals, they try to do what's right and follow whatever set of Commandments seems right to them. They hope that by following the right rules they'll manage to get by without actually needing God to intervene or play a part in their life.

As you can see this false viewpoint of therapeutic moral deism is utterly opposed to Christianity, for in Christianity the goal of life is to serve and love God at any cost and the means of achieving this goal is grace operating through faith. The god who calls us into this life is constantly with us to help us, direct us, and restore us when we fall short.

Well I'm going to take a deeper look at that how the Treasures in Heaven that Jesus speaks about repudiates the idea of therapeutic moral deism and calls us to an entirely different set of goals, an entirely  different means of achieving those goals and a walk with God in which God is active and living in our lives.

Before we do that, I do want to have you listen to a song in which George Beverly Shea speaks about life as a railway to Heaven. The goal of life is that goal in the Eternal kingdom of God and this is from George Beverly Shea’s Album ‘I'd Rather Have Jesus’ won't you listen to it with me?
Now when our Goal in life is the kingdom of God, and we’re ready to learn from God that working toward that goal means postponing some of our happiness until God establishes his kingdom here on Earth. The lives of the saints the life of Jesus and of the prophets and even of all of Israel shows the example that following God is not a bed of roses, or a bowl of Cherries.  Following God can meet can mean trouble. God is calling us to these Treasures in Heaven and he points to something beyond present-day prosperity, to Eternal rewards and eternal goals which are often incompatible with Earthly well-being.

Remember the example of Jesus, not just in going to the Cross, which he did, not that for his comfort, but to bless us - he suffered there on the cross for us - but he also demonstrates that the life of following God is a life of making daily sacrifices. As he told his disciples, “Take up your cross daily and follow me.” For when Jesus was teaching and healing and ministering he faced opposition which is uncomfortable, and he faced really, really serious demands on his time and his effort - so much so that there were often times when he needed to withdraw and get apart because the press of the crowd was so demanding on him.

We find one scene in the scriptures where he's asleep and in the midst of a great storm. We can presume that part of the reason he was able to sleep through that storm was because he was trusting in his heavenly Father to protect him, but we can also understand that he was a man, a human being, with the limitations of God has rightly put into the human frame, and he was tired after ministering and also as he grieved, at that time in his life, grieved the death of John the Baptist.

Jesus made sacrifices to serve the people of God as he lived on this earth and we shouldn't expect that our life should be different than that.

Now I want to point out that this idea of people pursuing earthly rewards and ignoring the kingdom of God, ignoring the treasures in heaven that they are to store up, these are not only people who live outside the church. Therapeutic moral deism is not only found among unchurched people.  Sure enough the gluttonous pursuit of money food, sex and power is rampant and ungodly in the world but Jesus, in Matthew's account of the Sermon on the Mount, describes religious Hedonism as well. The passage that we read today about storing up Treasures in Heaven follows right after Jesus talks about people who use generosity, in the church, and prayer, in the church, and fasting, in the church, only to aggrandize themselves and to seek the approval of people. So to the person who announces his gift with trumpets and great Fanfare, Jesus says that person has received their reward in full. They've gotten what they wanted, which was not the approval of God but the applause of other people.

The person who prays and praises only to be seen as holy, who's trying to show off how religious he is. Or the person who fast and studies only to boast, these people are also merely following the rules of religion to achieve selfish goals, using the name of God as the disguise for their avarice. As Jesus says they have received their reward in full and should expect no pat on the back from their Father in Heaven. But let us confess we, too, come to God seeking our own happiness. We to pray for health, food and money. Now in itself it's not wrong to ask your Heavenly Father for good things, for he delights to provide for the needs of his children but the Apostle James says it rightly in scripture when he writes that too often we ask for these things only so that we can spend them on our own pleasures, instead of using our health and strength and earthly treasure to be effective ambassadors of the kingdom of God. Don’t we often pray for our own comfort simply to enable us to have our hedonistic desires, our selfish desires, here on Earth. Jesus instead tells us to trust our Heavenly Father for God knows what we need. God is not passive, like the god of therapeutic moral deism - he actively works in your life and circumstances - but not as a domestic servant granting your plans but as a Sovereign Lord equipping his servants for his purposes!

He will provide what we need to accomplish his goals. The question, then, is, “are your eyes set on the kingdom of God or are your eyes set on the darkness of your own selfish desires?” Jesus says, “if your eyes are good then your whole body will be filled with light but if your eyes are in the wrong place your whole soul will be filled with Darkness.

Doesn't this remind us that in the teaching of Jesus there is no guarantee of an untroubled life? That's one of the hard truths, that Jesus does not promise an untroubled life. Mind you, there is no escape from trouble for those who do not believe! There's no escape from trouble for those who pursue selfish gain! Everybody experiences trouble - but to be clear Jesus promises that in this world we will have trouble!  Those who receive Jesus can turn to him to help us through the dark maze of this world and lead us into the Eternal Light of his Everlasting Kingdom.

We do not worship a God who is insensitive to our needs, yet he calls us to a higher goal. Nor do we worship a God who leads us to accomplish this goal on our own but he comes and walks with us and strengthens us for his purposes

Let's turn to this God in Prayer, let us pray:

Almighty God thank you that you are alive and living in this world that you are with us powerful to work for your goals in our lives. May we, Almighty God, set our goals on your kingdom, disdaining the Troubles of this world, willing to face anything in order to glorify your name. May you make us a blessing to those who are lost in this world through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Now as we conclude the program you're going to hear a rather different piece of music from Group 1 Crew which speaks the gospel in a kind of Rap sort of way as they present the message “Keys to the Kingdom” from Group 1 Crew.

Thank you for tuning in. If you have been blessed and encouraged, do tell your friends about this program. Feel free to send in questions and comments via the web site, and be sure to share your good news if you have come to faith through listening. But the program on its own is not enough. Don’t forget to join other Christians in worship in a church where the Gospel is soundly proclaimed, and where it is lived out with compassion, integrity and resolve. We so appreciate the donations on which we depend to keep us on the air week by week. We invite individuals and companies, to donate any amount, any time, or, to sponsor our programs on an annual basis. Please donate via our web site, or make a cheque out to Good News Christian Ministries and send it to 96 Pheasant Run Drive, Ottawa Ontario K2J 2R5, Canada. Be part of the movement that is affecting lives worldwide!

May you come to know Jesus Christ personally and profoundly. May the Holy Spirit reside deeply within your heart, and may you feel our heavenly Father surrounding you with his constant, abiding and accompanying love. Good News In The Morning is produced in the Studios of News Talk Radio 580 CFRA.

Rev. Brian Wilkie
St. Andrew's Christian Community, Rockland, Ontario

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