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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
Title:Money, Contentment, and God's Abiding Presence
Text:Hebrews 13:4-6 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Running the race

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Pastor Ted Gray
11/06/2016 – p.m.
(Men of A-Chord evening)
Money, Contentment and God’s Abiding Presence”
Hebrews 13:4-6; text: 5,6
Each one of you is invited back next week when we look at verse 4. It is a verse that is especially crucial to remember, and to put into action in our lives. It is especially crucial because we live in a culture that demeans marriage and seeks to redefine it. Even the highest court in our land redefined marriage last summer, when it legislated – even though Congress is the one who has power to legislate – when it legislated and made the decree that same-sex marriage must be accepted in every state of the United States of America.
Verse 4 is an extremely relevant verse. Next Sunday, the Lord willing, we will look at the three phrases in that verse: “Marriage should be honored by all.” “The marriage bed kept pure.” “God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”  And we will see that there is forgiveness for all those who have not kept the marriage bed pure, if they turn from their sin with a true godly sorrow and trust with saving faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 assures us that no matter how perverse our sin is, God’s grace for his people is greater.  
But you see, I’m faced with a dilemma this evening. In just the three verses that we read there are at least four sermons. The sermon on marriage. The sermon on money. The sermon on contentment. And a sermon on God’s abiding presence. I thought about addressing all four in one sermon – after all it’s just three verses – right? But then I thought maybe you Men of A-Chord would like a little more time to sing, so I want to look at just verse 5 and 6 this evening. Those two verses teach three great truths, and then also tell us what our response should be to those truths.
The first truth is to keep our lives free from the love of money. It has often been pointed out that next to salvation the Bible speaks more about money than any other subject. And there is good reason for that. By our nature we are prone to rely on our finances. Money, for those who have it, gives an illusion of security. But the Bible points out time and again that it is a false security. Consider 1 Timothy 6:18 where Paul writes, “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.”
Or consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Or reflect on the famous statement of Job, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised.”
An aide to John D. Rockefeller who was extremely rich – the Bill Gates of his day, so to speak – was fascinated by Rockefeller’s wealth. But he never knew the actual net value of his boss. After Rockefeller died, this aide was still trying to find out the net worth, and he breathlessly asked the most trusted and highest level accountant: “How much did he leave behind?”  The man replied, “All of it.”
There are numerous examples, both in Scripture as well as in the everyday lives of the so-called “rich and famous”, which remind us that money gives a sense of false security. And you cannot take it with you when you die.
However, when verse 5 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have” it doesn’t mean that it is wrong to increase the material wealth which God has given us. Jesus commended the servants who doubled the value of the talents given to them. And he told the man who buried his talent that he should have put that money in the bank so that it would earn interest. (Matt. 25:27) The same was true of the wise woman of Proverbs 31 who was commended in that “She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard” (Proverbs 31:16).
1 Timothy 6, which is directed toward wealthy Christians, never tells us that wealth is wrong, but teaches that there is a right and a wrong way to handle wealth. You see, it’s not money, and making money, that is wrong. It’s the love of money. Paul explained that to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
The love of money tempts us to make money into our God. It is so easy to idolize material wealth. That is why Jesus warned, “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.” (Matt 6:24) And it is that biblical truth that the author of Hebrews is driving home to us in the first part of verse 5, as he warns us, “Keep your lives free from the love of money.”
But then he goes on to say, “and be content with what you have.” Many people believe that money and contentment go hand-in-hand. Many people believe that if they had a larger bank account, or a larger 401(k) plan, that they could be content and secure.
However, money and contentment don’t go hand-in-hand unless we see that our material blessings are from the hand of our faithful God. Solomon, by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, drove that point home when he wrote in Ecclesiastes 5:10, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.” There is no contentment for the person who loves money.
We see that truth, not only in the Biblical record, but also in the secular world. When John D. Rockefeller was asked how much money was enough, he answered by saying, “Just a little bit more.”  What he was getting at is that if you love money, you will never be content with the amount of money that you have. Instead, you will have an insatiable craving for more money and more wealth. If your focus is just on money and material gain, you will never be satisfied and content.
The truth that money does not bring contentment is certainly seen in the life of the Apostle Paul.  His physical condition was not conducive to contentment. He was not in good health; he had that thorn in the flesh. He apparently had poor vision and often had an amanuensis (secretary) write for him. When he did write, it was with large letters. He concludes his letter to the Galatians with these words: “See what large letters I use when I write to you with my own hand!” (Gal. 6:11)
He also had a weak voice. The Corinthians put him down because he didn’t have the big, booming voice of Peter or Apollos. Nor did he have the size. He was short, he was small. Yet even so, he found the secret to true contentment.
It may be surprising that he found true contentment, especially when you see how often he was frustrated in meeting his goals. When he tried to go to Bithynia the door was closed by the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:7). When he tried to get to Rome he was involved in a shipwreck. When he tried to start churches, he was often run out of town.
Here was a man who had no worldly wealth, no physical stature, a man with health and vision problems, a man who was often frustrated in meeting his goals in life. And what does he write?
1 Timothy 6:6-8 – “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”
Philippians 4:11-13 – “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
The apostle Paul is pointing out that contentment does not come from material wealth. You will never find contentment by looking at your savings account, whether it is large and lucrative, or whether it is virtually nonexistent. The only way that we find true contentment is by trusting in the Lord.
And that is exactly what the author of Hebrews is teaching in this passage. He not only tells us in verse 5 to keep our lives free from the love of money and to be content with what we have, but he also tells how these two things – not loving money and being content in life – can become realities in our life. He does so in the last part of verse 5, where he writes, “because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”
That quote is attributed to Deuteronomy 31:6 in the NIV footnote. But that same promise of God to never leave us nor forsake us is found in numerous Old Testament texts. Deuteronomy 31:6 records that promise given to Moses. Moses was in the desert with more than a million complaining, rebellious people. And the Lord said to him, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Joshua 1:5 records that same promise given to Joshua. He was ready to cross the Jordan River, into a foreign land. He knew what ten spies had said concerning the powerful people of the land, that Israel would never be able to overcome them. The first city they would have to conquer was surrounded by walls that seemed insurmountable. And God said to Joshua, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Isaiah 41:9-10 repeats that promise in a little different way to each and every person who has put their trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. In that verse the Lord Himself declares: “I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Scripture repeatedly reminds us that the Lord will never leave us; he will never forsake us. Because of that truth, he must always be the focus of our faith. He is the source of our security. The source of our security and contentment is not our finances. Nor do we find confidence and contentment in whatever political powers are brought into office. We only find confidence and contentment through faith in Jesus Christ, for “through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, so your faith and hope are in God.”  (1 Peter 1:21)
We are assured of our security through faith in Christ throughout Scripture. Consider the famous rhetorical question of Romans 8:31-32: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
Jesus told us not to worry because our Father in heaven knows what we need and has promised to meet our every need according to his will. (Matt. 6:25-34) He has promised to provide our daily bread. He may withhold the ribeye and the T-bone, for our own good. But he promises to provide for us. Admittedly he also gives us the means. He tells us to work and he provides the opportunities for employment. But it is the eternal God who will never leave us nor forsake us. And it is he who is our provider and our helper, our only source of security and contentment.
Confidence in Christ
Verse 6 gives the proper response for those who truly know that the Lord is abiding with them and truly trust him to be their helper. The author of Hebrews concludes by saying in verse 6, “So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”
The question of verse 6, “What can man do to me?” was answered eloquently by John Chrysostom in the year 404. He was an influential minister in the early church. He proclaimed the power of Almighty God and believed it to be greater than that of the emperor. Because of that, the Roman emperor threatened him with banishment if he remained a Christian.
 Chrysostom responded, “You cannot banish me, for this world is my Father’s house.”
“But I will kill you,” said the emperor.
“No, you cannot, for my life is hid with Christ in God,” said Chrysostom
“I will take away your treasures.”
“No, you cannot, for my treasure is in heaven and my heart is there.”
“But I will drive you away from your friends and you will have no one left.”
“No, you cannot, for I have a friend in heaven from whom you cannot separate me. I defy you, for there is nothing you can do to harm me.”
Through his response to the emperor, he was saying in effect what verse 6 says: “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
If you are looking to your material resources – to money as the source of your strength and security this evening – you won’t be able to make that statement. If you are trying to find your contentment and security in political power, or anywhere else outside of Christ this evening, you won’t be able to make that statement either, for our souls are restless until they rest in Christ.
But when we truly know that the Lord is our helper and that he will never leave us nor forsake us, then we will know true contentment. Then we will have a treasure far greater than all the material wealth in the world.  And you can have great confidence when you trust in Christ alone. He is true and eternal God, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He is forever faithful, for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
And if that knowledge is, by God’s grace and Spirit’s power, a reality not only in our head but in our heart, then we can go out into the world which is so cruel, and so hostile, so quick to persecute and ridicule Christians like ourselves – and yet we can go into such a world, saying with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Amen.
Sermon Outline:
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with
what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5
      “Money, Contentment, and God’s Abiding Presence”
                                       Hebrews 13:5-6
I. Our text gives us two warnings and also a great encouragement:
     1) Keep your lives free from the love of money (5a)
     2) Be content with what you have (5b)
     3) Be assured that the Lord will never leave you nor forsake you (5c)
II. Our response: Confidence that because the Lord abides with us and is
     our helper, we need not be afraid (6)



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2016, Rev. Ted Gray

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