Kingdom Economics

John D. Rockefeller was the first person in the U.S. to reach the status of billionaire.

He was a man who knew how to set goals and follow through. At the age of 23, he had become a millionaire, and by the age of 50 a billionaire. Every decision, attitude, and relationship was designed to create his personal power and wealth.

But three years later at the age of 53 he became ill. His entire body became racked with pain and he lost all the hair on his head. In complete agony, the world’s only billionaire could buy anything he wanted, but he could only digest milk and crackers. An associate wrote, "He could not sleep, would not smile and nothing in life meant anything to him." His personal, highly skilled physicians predicted he would die within a year.

As he approached death, he awoke one morning with the vague remembrances of a dream. He could barely recall the dream but knew it had something to do with not being able to take any of his success and wealth with him into the next world. The man who could control the business world suddenly realized he was not in control of his own life. So, he called his lawyers, his accountants, and his managers and announced to them that he wanted to channel his assets to hospitals, research, and mission work. On that day John D. Rockefeller established his foundation.

This new direction eventually led to the discovery of penicillin, cures for strains of malaria, tuberculosis and diphtheria. The list of discoveries resulting from his choice is enormous. But perhaps the most amazing part of Rockefeller’s story is that the moment he began to give back a portion of all that he had earned, his body’s chemistry was altered so significantly that he got better. It looked as if he would die at 53 but he lived to be 98. Rockefeller learned gratitude and gave back from his wealth.

Today we are beginning a new series I’m calling, Kingdom Economics” and for the next few weeks, we will be looking at what the bible teaches about money, possessions, and our attitude towards building wealth and acquiring stuff.

What I love about the Rockefeller story is that, first of all, it’s a true story about a real person. The second thing that I loved about the story is that John D. Rockefeller, who was a very successful and an obviously brilliant businessman had learned, at the end of his life, an important biblical truth about money and possessions and that is this:

Ecclesiastes 5 (NLT)

15 We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us.

By the way, that verse was written by King Solomon, another billionaire.

Point 1

The fact that we cannot take anything with us when we leave this life goes to illustrate my first point in this teaching and that is this: Everything belongs to God

Take a look at what the Psalmist said in…

Psalm 24 (NLT) 1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. 2 For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.

So, the very first thing that we need to know in order to understand kingdom economics is that Everything belongs to God. We do not own anything.

“What a minute pastor”, you might be thinking. “Do you mean that everything I have, my house, my car, even my clothes belong to God?”

That’s right! If you can’t take it with you, then it doesn’t belong to you.

That reminds me of an article that I read about a man who during his entire life would take out 20 dollars from his paycheck and hide it under his mattress. He did that for many years until one day he got really sick. The doctor only gave him a few days to live. Knowing that he was soon going to die, he made his wife promise him something. He said to his wife, “when I’m dead, I want you to take all that money that I have been saving under the mattress and I want you to bury me with it, every single penny. Well a couple of days later the man indeed died and his wife took all that money from underneath that mattress and kept her promise. She deposited the money into the bank and buried him with a check for the exact amount down to the penny.

We can’t take it with us folks.

Now, let’s take a look at the reason why the Psalmist believes that everything belongs to God.

Psalm 24 (NLT) 1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. 2 For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.

The reason why it all belongs to God is because He created it.

“He laid the earth’s foundation on the seas refers to the creation story in Genesis chapter 1.

Genesis 1 (NLT)

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

The earth was a formless, dark body of water that God transformed into what we have today, a beautiful planet filled with life. We live in it, we enjoy it but none of it is ours.

It’s the same thing with those of us who have children still living at home. Our kids live with us in the home that we are paying for. They eat the food that we buy, use the furniture they we’ve purchased and even wear the clothes that we got them. And we are ok with that because we love them and want them to have a good life. But they don’t have any authority to start giving away the furniture. It’s not theirs to give.

Point 2

The second thing to understand about Kingdom Economics is also found in…

Psalm 24 NLT) 1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.

Not only does the earth belong to God but also the people.

For the same reason why, God can claim ownership of the earth, God can also claim ownership of its inhabitants. He created them.

Genesis 1:27 (NLT)

27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God, he created them; male and female he created them.

God created us which means that our lives are not our own. They are a gift from God to us and the way that we choose to live our lives is our gift back to Him.

You see, the bible teaches us that we were created in his image. That means that we were created to represent and reflect his character to all of creation. But if we are not able to do that, then we are like broken mirrors that no longer reflect an image correctly. We are not able to do the things for which we were designed to do.

This is why on the Day of the Lord; every soul will stand before God. We will all be inspected by the creator to see if remain broken.

Ezekiel 18:4 (NLT)

4 For all people are mine to judge—both parents and children alike. And this is my rule: The person who sins is the one who will die.

Sin by definition literally means to miss the mark. In other words, to not accomplish the purpose for which we were created. Again, we are all like broken mirrors that do not reflect correctly the image of God.

The Good news is found in …

Colossians 1:15 (NLT)

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.

Hebrews 1:3 (NLT)

3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God,

When we live our lives in close relationship with Christ, we become more and more like him. And when it becomes our turn to stand before God on that day, Jesus will also be stand right there beside us as our guarantee that we have been healed and restored.

So, what does this all mean for us today?

Well, that brings me to my third and last point.

Point 3

If God owns everything, including us then that means that everything we have also belongs to him. Which in turn means that We are God’s steward.

What is a Steward?

A steward is a person who manages and oversees the property of another.

Luke 16:10-12 (NLT)

10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. 11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? 12 And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?

God has given every person the freedom to choose their worldview which results in how they will live their lives.

If people, see this life as all that there is and that there isn’t a God who they will have to give an account to one day, then they will choose to live their lives anyway they want. Which usually results in making this life as fun, as exciting and as comfortable as possible, no matter who they hurt in the process or how their desires are accomplished because after all this life is all they get.

In comparison, people with a biblical worldview see this life, not as all there is, but as just the beginning, the prelude to the greater story. We also want to live a fun, exciting and comfortable life but that is not our end goal. Our end goal is to live a life that honors our Creator and accomplishes the desires of his heart and that is to see people come to know him as their Savior and Lord. We understand that the way we live our lives has an impact on others for Christ. We understand that we are his representatives on this earth called to demonstrate to the world what God is like. And so, we are aware that the way that we live this life, the way we spend money, and our attitude towards possessions will either push people away from God or attract them to Him. We are God’s stewards in this life; like little children still living in our parent’s house. It all belongs to Him, but we benefit from being His children. But in the next life, we will receive our full inheritance because not only are we God’s children but we are also co-heirs with Jesus.

Romans 8:17 (NIV)

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

You see, ultimately this life is a test.

Will you live this life your way or God’s way?

Will you spend your time and resources building your own kingdom, accumulating wealth that you cannot take with you or will you spend your resources building his kingdom, which by the way, you will inherit when you die.

The choice is up to you.

I close with this: I once heard a pastor say that for non-believers who live this life their own way; this life is as good as it gets for them. But for those of us, who choose to live this life God’s way; this life is as bad as it gets.

Think about it, no more tears, no more death, no more mourning or crying or pain because the former things will pass away and God will make everything new.

This is just the beginning.

God Bless!

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