Chasing Fake Rabbits (6/12/16)

Posted by on Jun 16, 2016 in Sermons | 0 comments

What are you chasing in this life?  What’s important to you?  And if you catch what you’re looking for… will it be worth it?  Pastor Jim provided some insight into these questions by looking at the story of “Farmer Bigger-Barns” from Luke 12.

The following recording is from the 11:00 service.  Click on the play button, then scroll down to follow along…

 

Our scripture reading was from Luke 12:16-21  Open the below drop down box to follow along.  The New Living Translation is shown…

Luke 12:16-21

16 Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops.

17 He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’

18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods.

19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”‘

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’

21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

 

Happy Life!?!

Imagine that God handed you a piece of paper and said, “Write down whatever you think will make our life happy and I will give it to you.”

What would you choose?  Wealth?  Power?  Fame?  A Long Life?  A wonderful Career???

Here’s what some famous people chose and what they thought about it…
Alexander the Great, at the age of 32, had conquered the known world, yet he wept because there were no more worlds to conquer.  His tremendous accomplishments did not satisfy.
John D. Rockefeller, American industrialist and philanthropist and co-founder of the Standard Oil Company said, “I have many millions, but they brought me no happiness.
W. H. Vanderbilt, the American railroad magnate and philanthropist said, “The care of 200 Million dollars is enough to kill anyone.  There is no pleasure in it.
John Jacob Astor, the successful businessman who died on the Titanic has said that despite all of his wealth and business success, “I am the most miserable man on earth.
Henry Ford, American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company and the sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production once said, “I was happier when doing a mechanic’s job.
Andrew Carnagie, a Scottish-American industrialist who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century is quoted as saying, “Millionaires seldom smile.
Ralph Barton, one of the top cartoonists of the nations, left this note pinned to his pillow before taking his own life at the age of 39, in 1932: “I have had few difficulties, many friends, great successes.  I have gone from wife to wife, from house to house, visited great countries of the world, but I am fed up with inventing devices to fill up 24 hours of the day.” (source:  www.NewYorker.com)

The Bible tells of a young man who was once given this opportunity.  His name was Solomon, king of Israel.  He had just begun his reign when God came to him in 1 Kings 3:5-14.  Here’s how that conversation went…

GOD:

Ask for whatever you want me to give you. (1 Kings 3:5, NIV)

SOLOMON:

…Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. (1 Kings 3:9, NIV)

GOD:

So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice,  I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.

Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for — both riches and honor — so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.  And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” (1 Kings 3:11-14, NIV)

All of this sounds very similar to what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33…

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Some people put other things first.  They get it backwards:  “Once I ___, THEN I can seek the kingdom of God.”  There’s nothing wrong with seeking a good job, having nice things in life, seeking to better oneself.  But when that becomes the obsession of an individual, then God is usually pushed out of that person’s life.

Greyhounds ‘n Rabbits

dog-859394_960_720 400x300Of all the animals that are in this world, greyhounds are animals that are to be pitied the most.  I say that because of the races they have.  They chase something that they can never catch.  Unlike most other dogs, when they chase a cat or a rabbit, they have a good chance of catching it.

But the greyhound never catches what he is chasing.  I don’t know what the “rabbit” they chase is made of, but it’s not real.  It doesn’t have legs like a real rabbit, but scoots around the track on a rail.  If by some chance the greyhound did catch up with that “rabbit,” he would be sadly disappointed… it’s only fake!

People do the same thing!  We chase our own “rabbits” of Money, Fame, and Pleasure… “eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we shall die…

Education, Money, and health can all go in a flash.

Many people are dissatisfied, discontent, ungrateful, always chasing something that we think will be bigger and better and provide the supreme happiness everyone is seeking.  In actual fact, this is all a “fake rabbit.”

 

“Look at What I Did!”

Only Jesus truly satisfies!

This is the point of the story He told in this morning’s passage (Luke 12:16-21).  It’s about a farmer that we’ll call “Bigger Barns.”  Bigger Barns was chasing fake rabbits: bunny-46935__180 100x200

Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns
and build bigger ones.
Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat
and other goods.

Bigger Barns is saying “Look at all that I have done!  I’ve been so production that I’ve run out of space to store the fruits of my hard earned labor.”  This sounds a lot like what Isaiah records Satan as saying in Isaiah 14:13…

You said in your heart,
I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.

 

I…   I…    I !  It’s all about him!  That’s what Farmer Bigger Barns is doing.

Notice that he doesn’t just build extra barns to add to his existing ones; he tears down his old barns and builds new ones.  He has no intention of sharing this gift of a bountiful harvest.  Old barns don’t look good; they don’t tell of his success.

Bigger Barns didn’t head the words of James 1:27…

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  NIV

God blessed him so that he could “look after orphans”… so that he could share what he had.  Instead, Bigger Barns chased the fake rabbit of promoting himself.  And it was a fake rabbit because it had no lasting value…

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night.
Then who will get everything you worked for?’
  (Luke 14:20)

God is saying, “That’s not why I blessed you- so you could keep it all to yourself.”  God blesses us so we can give it away and help Him build His kingdom. But Bigger Barns forgot all about God.  He was focused on the Rabbit instead.

 

Then what???

There’s a sobering and very pointed story about a conversation between a young man and an older man which gives us something to bounce off this passage of scripture.  It forces us to think of our priorities of life…

OLDER MAN:

“What will you do with your life?”

YOUNGER MAN:

… “I will learn a trade.”

OLDER MAN:

“And then?”

YOUNGER MAN:

… “I will set up a business.”

OLDER MAN:

“And then?”

YOUNGER MAN:

… “I will make my fortune.”

OLDER MAN:

“And then?”

YOUNGER MAN:

… “I will retire and live off my money.”

OLDER MAN:

“And then?”

YOUNGER MAN:

… “I suppose one day I’ll die.”

OLDER MAN:

“And then?”

How would YOU respond???  This parable speaks to us in our modern times.  Just substitute the word “Crops” with things like Career, Favors, Money, Reputation, and Entertainment and you’ll see that we are also tempted to build Bigger Barns instead of using our gifts to honor God.

 

Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 1:7-8…

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.   So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God…

Who cares what the world thinks of you?  Who cares if people get mad at you?  We run into a big problem when we elevate the importance of other people’s opinion above God’s will.  Anything that comes before God is Sin.

 

 

Knowing  or Knowing About???

This parable creates tension.  We want to gloss over it because it forces us to ask ourselves if we’re really doing our best for God, or are we building bigger barns to build up ourselves.  Are we putting God first?

Jesus confronts us and forces us to look within ourselves at the values and beliefs with which we operate. He wants us to realize that we are chasing “fake rabbits.”

One of the fake rabbits that we chase is religion.  We think that if we follow certain traditions and rules that all will be well.  But Jesus didn’t come to build a religion; He came to create a relationship.

To be “rich toward God” as Jesus said in Luke 12:21 is to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord.  Notice I said Personal relationship…

I can tell you a lot of things ABOUT Ryan Howard: Ryan Howard _100_0499

  • He plays for the Philadelphia Phillies
  • Has a shaved head
  • Is 6’4″ tall
  • Is 36 years old
  • Is originally from St. Louis Missouri
  • Married his wife Krystal in 2012

I can tell you all ABOUT Ryan Howard as a baseball celebrity, but in no way can I say that I have a personal relationship with him.  I have (and continue) to cheer for him,  and I appreciate his talent as a professional athlete.  But I in no way have a personal relationship with him.

In the same way, there are many who know who Jesus is.  They know something about His life.  They know a few things that have happened to Him.  They might even be able to recall a few things He did in His life, but they do not have a personal relationship with Him.

 

Rabbits?  Really???

We have a Divine Savior who somehow became a human and lived on this sin filled earth. We have a Savior who died a terrible death on a cross for the crimes that WE committed.  We have a Savior who rose from the dead and sent His Spirit to help us know Him in our lives.

How could you not want to enter into a relationship with the God who gave us that Savior?

Ecclesiastes 12:1 offers good advice…

 Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
“I find no pleasure in them”—

When we think about the things of our life, what is it that we “remember”?  What are we “finding pleasure in” right now?

When we consider all the things that make up our life, we quickly see that we have riches beyond measure every day of our life.  We can have the finest car, the best house on the street, the best retirement plan, the best health, but the greatest asset that we can have is Jesus Christ and the Gospel of salvation.

Are you following the sure guarantee of Jesus?  Or are you chasing the “False Rabbits” of this life?

 


Quiz Time!

As you reflect on what you’ve just heard/read, give this quiz a try.  If you don’t understand an answer (or if you disagree with the “correct” answer, post a comment)…

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