You Can’t Take It With You

Making Life Work
Read: Psalm 49
Focus: Psalm 49:16-17

Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him.

“You can’t take it with you!” We ought to somehow tattoo that bit of wisdom into our minds and think about it every morning as we head off into the day, and then reflect on it every night as we lay our head down on the pillow. In our culture, as I suspect has been the case in every culture, it is so easy to get caught up in the race to get rich, to have things, to look good, to gain power, to become admired, and to keep up with the proverbial Joneses.

But at the end of the day, this truth remains intact: You can’t take it with you.

There was once a very rich man who knew he was going to die, so he had all his assets converted into gold bars, put the gold in a big bag on his bed, draped his body over the bag, and then he died! When he woke up, he was in heaven at the pearly gates. Saint Peter met him, and with a concerned look on his face said, “Well, I see you actually managed to get here with something from earth! That doesn’t happen too often. But unfortunately, you can’t bring that in.”

The man pleaded, “Oh please, I must have it. It means everything to me. It’s my life!”

Saint Peter wasn’t impressed: “Sorry, my friend, if you want to keep that bag, then I’m afraid you’ll have to go to ‘the other place.’ You don’t want to go there, believe me.”

But the man was unchanged, and he said, “Well, I won’t part with this bag.”

Peter said, “Have it your way. But before you go, would you mind if I looked in the bag to see what it is that you’re willing to trade eternal life for?”

The man said, “Sure, go ahead. Then you’ll see why I could never part with this.”

Saint Peter looked in the bag, saw the gold bars, and with a puzzled look on his face, said to the man, “You mean you’re willing to go to hell for what we pave our streets with?”

The writers of this psalm said, “This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings… Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them… But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.” (Psalm 49:13-15)

At the end of the day, this truth remains intact: You can’t take it with you. Since that’s true, don’t miss God’s mission for your life today: not to spend your efforts to gain earthly riches but to spend them to enrich eternity! Make sure to keep that perspective; it will save your life. And do your investing in the only One who will make your efforts count beyond this life for all eternity.

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“There is nothing like a calm look into the eternal world to teach us the emptiness of human praise.” (Robert Murray McCheyne)

 

Making Life Work: Make sure you are investing in the only One who will make your efforts count beyond this life for all eternity. So look at the way you are spending your money, analyze the desires that control your heart, check out the stuff that fills your garage…is it eternity worthy?

Your Stuff

5×5×5 Bible Plan

Read: Luke 21
Meditation:
Luke 21:5-6

“As some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, Jesus said, “These things which you see—the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.”

Shift Your Focus… Just a quick reminder to help you keep a good perspective on life:  What you see is temporary.

I didn’t say it is unimportant. That may or may not be the case.  But, for sure, it is temporary. It will all, even the really expensive stuff, sooner or later, return to the dust from which it came.

The disciples were pretty infatuated with the beauty and magnificence of Herod’s Temple, and rightly so, from a human perspective.  It was a wonder to behold.  But Jesus gave them a dose of reality by reminding them that every square inch of it would soon return to the dust from which it had been created.

Jesus didn’t say that the temple was unimportant.  In fact, he had driven out the moneychangers who were corrupting that very place.  He was upset that they had turned what should have been a house of prayer into a den of thieves.  Jesus wasn’t down on this marvelous place of worship.  He just knew that in the larger scheme of things, it was only temporary.

So also are all the things that give you comfort and security:  Your home, car, clothes, jewelry, and all the other stuff that you spend your hard earned money on just to one day put in a garage sale. Not necessarily unimportant, mind you—just temporary.

Spiritually wise people will fight to keep that perspective regarding the stuff of life. They will remember, as Jesus said, that not only earth, but even the heavens as we know them will one day pass away.  The only things that will remain are the things that he has proclaimed. (Luke 21:33)

That’s why Jesus warned us not to get too caught up in the things of life: “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing” …the pursuit of happiness … “drunkenness” …the pursuit of pleasure …and cares of this life” … the pursuit of comfort. (Luke 21:34)

The temporary stuff of this life will prove to be “a snare” (verse 35) if we don’t ruthlessly maintain an eternal perspective:  “Watch therefore, and pray…” (verse 36).

Just remember that as you go about your day.  Your stuff is temporary; only what is of faith is eternal.

“Let your prayer for temporal blessings be strictly limited to things absolutely necessary.”  ~Bernard, Archbishop of Vienne

Prayer… Father, keep me focused on the things of your eternal kingdom today, and not on the pursuit of the temporary stuff that vies for my attention.

You Can’t Take It With You

5×5×5 Bible Plan

Read: Luke 12
Meditation:
Luke 12-15

“And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

Shift Your Focus… We don’t use words like covetousness or greed a whole lot these days, but we should. We Americans are a pretty greedy lot—me included. Our whole economic system is predicated on the hopes that you and I will grow dissatisfied with what we’ve got and go buy something newer, better, and bigger.

For instance, since Jesus told the story in Luke 12:16-20 about a man who thought his property was too small, let’s just take a look at our insatiable thirst for bigger homes. Did you know, according to the National Association of Home Builders, that the average home size in the United States was 1,400 square feet in 1970. In 2004, however, the average size had grown to 2,330 square feet. I have a feeling that it is even bigger than that now. My wife and I lived for a season of time in the Bay Area of California, where it was no big deal for homes to be 3,500 to 4,000—and larger.

It was a whole different picture when I was growing up. My mom, dad, three other siblings and a couple of family pets all lived comfortably in a home that was 1,200 square feet, if that. We shared bedrooms, bathrooms, clothes, didn’t have a garage to park our car in, and only one TV—with no remote control! We actually had to get up and walk across the room to change the channel, if you can imagine that.

And we didn’t think any thing of it. We didn’t feel poor or cheated or even realize what we didn’t have. We were content! We spent a whole lot more time together as a family. We ate together. We all drove together in the same car, even when we were teenagers—a family of six crammed into an AMC Gremlin! We were as happy as a clan of clams—we didn’t know what we didn’t know.

G.K Chesterton once said, “True contentment is a real, even active virtue—not only affirmative but creative. It is the power of getting out of any situation all there is in it.” I believe we had discovered that. We were content!

As a society, we Americans would do well to read Luke 12. It is a tough one, but what Jesus had to say about the deceitfulness of wealth, the debilitating worry over stuff, and our ultimate accountability before God for the stewardship of what we possess is much needed medicine for the greed that ails our society these days.

One day, sooner than you think, you will stand before God. None of the things you have collected during your earthly journey are going with you. As a pastor, I have performed more funerals than I can remember, and I have yet to see a U-Haul behind the hearse traveling to the cemetery. The only thing that will go with you into the next life that will do you any good is what you have done for God.

Jesus said of the rich man in the parable, “’Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

As the poet said, ‘Tis one life, will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

“If you cannot get what you like, why not try to like what you get?”

Prayer… Father, teach me to number my days aright that I may gain a heart of wisdom. Teach me to the discipline of contentment and gratitude.  Free me from the slavery of stuff. Fill me with the joy of just knowing you—which is more than enough for an eternity’s worth of happiness.

You Can’t Take It With You

Read Psalm 49

Featured Verse: Psalm 49:16-17

“Do not be overawed when a man grows rich,  when the splendor of his house increases;  for he will take nothing with him when he dies,  his splendor will not descend with him.”

“You can’t take it with you!” We ought to somehow tattoo that bit of wisdom into our minds and think about it every morning as we head off into the day, and then reflect on it every night as we lay our head down on the pillow. In our culture, as I suspect has been the case in every culture, it is so easy to get caught up in the race to get rich, to have things, to look good, to gain power, to become admired, and to keep up with the proverbial Joneses.

But at the end of the day, this truth remains intact: You can’t take it with you.

There was once a very rich man who knew he was going to die, so he had all his assets converted into gold bars, put the gold in a big bag on his bed, draped his body over the bag, and then he died! When he woke up, he was in heaven at the pearly gates. Saint Peter met him, and with a concerned look on his face said, “Well, I see you actually managed to get here with something from earth! That doesn’t happen too often. But unfortunately, you can’t bring that in.”

The man pleaded, “Oh please, I must have it. It means everything to me. It’s my life!”

Saint Peter wasn’t impressed: “Sorry, my friend, if you want to keep that bag, then I’m afraid you’ll have to go to ‘the other place.’ You don’t want to go there, believe me.”

But the man was unchanged, and he said, “Well, I won’t part with this bag.”

Peter said, “Have it your way. But before you go, would you mind if I looked in the bag to see what it is that you’re willing to trade eternal life for?”

The man said, “Sure, go ahead. Then you’ll see why I could never part with this.”

Saint Peter looked in the bag, saw the gold bars, and with a puzzled look on his face, said to the man, “You mean you’re willing to go to hell for what we pave our streets with?”

The writers of this psalm said, “This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings… Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them… But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.” (Psalm 49:13-15)

Make sure to keep that perspective; it will save your life. And do your investing in the only One who will make your efforts count beyond this life for all eternity.  He has promised you something that will never spoil, fade or perish!

There is nothing like a calm look into the eternal world to teach us the emptiness of human praise.”
—Robert Murray McCheyne

Prepare To Die!

Read: Proverbs 11

“Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.” (Proverbs 11:4)

I’ve done a lot of funeral services in my time as a pastor, and I’ve never seen a grave with an attached storage unit.  The fact is, was and always will be, you can’t take your stuff with you when you die.  That’s what Proverbs 11:4 is saying.

The only thing that will serve you well at the moment you breathe your last is righteousness. Your money won’t do any good, the car you drive will go to somebody else, your clothes will be taken to Good Will, your family will move on, and your friends will go back to your house after the funeral and eat chicken.  Sorry to put it so bluntly, but “them’s the berries”.

Years ago I came across a great little parable that reminds us of this sobering reality. There was a very rich man who, knowing he would die soon, had all his assets converted into gold bars. He then put them in a big bag on his bed, draped his body over the bag of gold, and breathed his last. When he woke up, he was at the gate of heaven.  Saint Peter met him at the gate and with a concerned look on his face said, “Well, I see you actually managed to get here with something from earth! But unfortunately, you can’t bring that in.”

“Oh please, sir,” said the man. “I must have it. It means everything to me.”

“Sorry, my friend,” said Saint Peter. “If you want to keep that bag, then I’m afraid you’ll have to go to, you know, the other place. You don’t want to go there, believe me.”

“Well, I won’t part with this bag.”

“Have it your way,” returned Peter. “But before you go, would you mind if I looked in the bag to see what it is that you’re willing to trade eternal life for?”

“Sure,” said the man. “You’ll see. I could never part with this.”

Saint Peter looked in the bag and with a puzzled look on his face said to the man, “You’re willing to go to hell for…pavement?”

It’s all just stuff, friends, worthless in heaven. Only the righteousness you have by grace through Christ will help you on the day of your death. (Luke 12:13-23) Try focusing on what righteousness calls you to do—and prepare to die!  Death won’t be so bad when it finally shows up.

“When it comes time to die, make sure that all you have to do is die.” ~Jim Elliot

Winning At Life:

Write out the eulogy you would want someone to deliver at your funeral.  Now, go live that way!

Your Final Breath!

I have done a lot of funerals in my time as a pastor, and I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul.  The fact is, and always will be, you can’t take it with you.  That’s what Proverbs 11:4 is saying.

Read: Proverbs 11:4

“Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”

The only thing that will serve you well at the moment you breathe your last is righteousness. Your money won’t do any good, the car you drive will go to somebody else, your clothes will be taken to Good Will, your family will move on, and your friends will go back to your house after the funeral and eat chicken.  Sorry to put it so bluntly, but “them’s the berries”.

Years ago I came across a great little parable that reminds us of this sobering reality. There was a very rich man who, knowing he would die soon, had all his assets converted into gold bars. He then put them in a big bag on his bed, draped his body over the bag of gold, and breathed his last. When he woke up, he was at the gate of heaven.

Saint Peter met him at the gate and with a concerned look on his face said, “Well, I see you actually managed to get here with something from earth! But unfortunately, you can’t bring that in.”

“Oh please, sir,” said the man. “I must have it. It means everything to me.”

“Sorry, my friend,” said Saint Peter. “If you want to keep that bag, then I’m afraid you’ll have to go to, you know, the other place. You don’t want to go there, believe me.”

“Well, I won’t part with this bag.”

“Have it your way,” returned Peter. “But before you go, would you mind if I looked in the bag to see what it is that you’re willing to trade eternal life for?”

“Sure,” said the man. “You’ll see. I could never part with this.”

Saint Peter looked in the bag and with a puzzled look on his face said to the man, “You’re willing to go to hell for…pavement?”

It’s all just stuff, friends, worthless in heaven. Only the righteousness you have by grace through Christ will help you on the day of your death. (Luke 12:13-23) Try focusing on what righteousness calls you to do.  It will serve you well!

“Live as if the judgment takes place today!”

Your Assignment, Should You Choose To Accept It:

Write out the eulogy you would want someone to deliver at your funeral.  Now, go live that way!

Psalm 49: You Can’t Take It With You

Read Psalm 49:1-20

You Can’t Take It With You

Do not be overawed when a man grows rich,
when the splendor of his house increases;
for he will take nothing with him when he dies,
his splendor will not descend with him.
(Psalm 49:16-17)

“You can’t take it with you!” We ought to somehow tattoo that bit of wisdom into our minds and think about it every morning as we head off into the day, and then reflect on it every night as we lay our head down on the pillow. In our culture, as I suspect has been the case in every culture, it is so easy to get caught up in the race to get rich, to have things, to look good, to gain power, to become admired, and to keep up with the proverbial Joneses.

But at the end of the day, this truth remains intact: You can’t take it with you.

There was once a very rich man who knew he was going to die, so he had all his assets converted into gold bars, put the gold in a big bag on his bed, draped his body over the bag, and then he died! When he woke up, he was in heaven at the pearly gates. Saint Peter met him, and with a concerned look on his face said, “Well, I see you actually managed to get here with something from earth! That doesn’t happen too often. But unfortunately, you can’t bring that in.”

The man pleaded, “Oh please, I must have it. It means everything to me. It’s my life!”

Saint Peter wasn’t impressed: “Sorry, my friend, if you want to keep that bag, then I’m afraid you’ll have to go to ‘the other place.’ You don’t want to go there, believe me.”

But the man was unchanged, and he said, “Well, I won’t part with this bag.”

Peter said, “Have it your way. But before you go, would you mind if I looked in the bag to see what it is that you’re willing to trade eternal life for?”

The man said, “Sure, go ahead. Then you’ll see why I could never part with this.”

Saint Peter looked in the bag, saw the gold bars, and with a puzzled look on his face, said to the man, “You mean you’re willing to go to hell for what we pave our streets with?”

The writers of this psalm said, “This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings… Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them… But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.” (Psalm 49:13-15)

Make sure to keep that perspective; it will save your life. And do your investing in the only One who will make your efforts count beyond this life for all eternity.

There is nothing like a calm look into the eternal world
to teach us the emptiness of human praise.”

—Robert Murray McCheyne