October is Thanksgiving month at Eastside Baptist Church. Last week I gave you an explanation of this tradition among us and I trust that I have helped you to see that giving and thanksgiving are a thoroughly biblical practice found in the entire Bible. This practice is a true act of worship. We saw that the supreme motive for our thanksgiving is not only determined by what the holy law of God commands us to do. We saw that our supreme motive is what our thankful hearts command us to do when we think of Christ’s sacrificial love for us.
When we remember that Christ has perfectly kept the law of God for us who broke the law of God, and when we remember that He gave us His righteousness in place of our unrighteousness; when we remember that Christ took away the wrath of God towards us sinners and when we remember that Christ made us His brothers, and children of God and heirs of heaven for ever and ever, then the joy of having this treasure exceeds all our earthly riches .
This is what our text says: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “ (Matthew 13:44)
Picture the scene! A man walks across a field, and he trips over an object sticking slightly out of the soil . He looks to see what it is that nearly made him fall and he discovers that this is a box buried in the ground. He digs and he finds a treasure chest filled with great wealth. The problem is that the treasure chest is found on a piece of land which he does not own. And so , in order to get that great treasure he sells all that he has and he buys that land. Do you feel sorry for the man who has found the treasure because he had to give up everything that he had in order to buy that field ? This discovery, after all cost him everything! No, you don’t feel sorry for him. His sacrifice is nothing compared with the treasure he’s gained! The man who found the great treasure made a short term sacrifice in order to obtain a long term reward. It might have cost him everything he owned initially – yes, but in the end it gained him everything that mattered .
When he saw what he had found in the field he made every effort to get that field in order to claim that treasure. Jesus says, “in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field”. He knew what he was getting , and it filled him with joy- so much joy that he was willing to give up everything else that he had!
Now remember the purpose of this parable . Jesus told this story parable to illustrate the priceless value of the ”kingdom of heaven”, when compared with our earthly possessions – our houses, belongings, money, investments , etc. . The great discovery of the gospel, which is the key to the obtaining of the kingdom of heaven, makes everything else fade into insignificance. When we know what a great treasure and inheritance the gospel obtains for us , all other treasures become insignificant .
All this raises an important question. Is the kingdom of God this valuable to you? If it is, listen to important investment advice which the Lord Jesus gives us 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.
The investment advice which Jesus gives us is this – “Don’t store up treasure on earth – it will become worthless. Invest in heaven , and you’ll never lose .” This does not mean that earthly money is unnecessary or useless . It’s ok , as far as it goes. You need it to live, and you need enough to keep you going. Let it buy you your present bread , clothes , an education – whatever you need for now , but Jesus doesn’t want you to get very anxious about your future (Matt. 6: 25-34). He knows what you need (Matt 6:32), and He is committed to look after you . He looks after the birds and He clothes the lilies and the grass of the field, and He says “you are of more value than they!” Do you trust the Lord Jesus with His words?
So , if you are a gifted and a talented person and able to make a lot of money with your skills , what should you do with your surplus ? Jesus says, “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. Let your money work for heaven’s sake! Let your joy work for heaven’s sake ! How do you do that ? Invest wisely in sound gospel work. The best work to invest in is your local church - the gospel work in which you are hopefully directly involved here on earth, and where you receive direct accountability and where you can ensure that kingdom work is being done.
In Luke 16:9 Jesus has this to say : “ And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.” Jesus counsels us here to make this temporary money ( which will fail) work for the sake of the gospel.
Remember also that you will take nothing with you when you die. Psalm 49:16, 17 gives great perspective: “ Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him. You take nothing with you when you die , but you can use your money presently to invest in the growth of the kingdom of God . Randy Alcorn says: “ You can’t take it with you - but you can send it on ahead." 
Why then are we so reluctant to hear the words of Jesus about investing heavily in the kingdom of heaven? Here’s the problem. It is a matter of trust! Investing treasures in heaven sounds so intangible. We prefer savings account or unit trusts. Monthly or quarterly statements will tell us that our investments are growing. We tend to put a lot of trust in banks, and yet , if the truth be told, banks ( history is our witness) are just not worth our trust. But here is the Lord Jesus . He advises you not to invest heavily on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves steal. If the truth be told , we seem to have great difficulty to trust the Lord Jesus with His words . Heaven and eternity seem to be so far away! But it actually isn’t. How long will it be for you? 30, 40 ,50 years? James says that it’s a mere mist appearing for a little time and then vanishes (Jas. 4:14)
What makes this so difficult is that we live in an age of instant gratification. We want to see results - NOW (!) , but Jesus teaches us that we need to think of deferred gratification. Even financial planners tell us that when it comes to investing your money you should not think in terms of three months or three years , but rather of 30 years . You need a ‘ long term view’ . More importantly you need to trust Jesus in this. You need to know that , that which you give up now for the sake of buying the field with the hidden treasure will only become yours in the fullest sense in heaven . By the way , Jesus promises that those who sacrifice now for the sake of the kingdom “will receive a hundredfold AND will inherit eternal life.” (Matt 19:29). Heaven is our real treasure.
What are you living for ?
BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES OF STEWARDSHIP
1. God does not need your money. He already owns everything. As Creator and Owner, God doesn’t need anything. He is self-sufficient and self-existent.
· Psalm 24:1-2 “The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof, The world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
· Psalm 50:7-12  “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me. I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.
2. We own nothing ultimately . We are God’s stewards, managing His resources for His glory ! Stewards are caretakers and not owners. They simply manage it on behalf of the owner. God made this clear to Adam and Eve on the day He created them.
· Genesis 1:28-29 : “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.”
· Genesis 2:15 : “Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
· Matthew 25:14-30 : The parable of the owner and the servants.
3. God will supply every need of those who trust and obey Him. Just as God provided for Adam and Eve’s needs, He also provides for us. He sometimes chastises us for our poor stewardship.
· Psalm 37:25: “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.”
· Matthew 6:25-34 : “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on….
· Philippians 4:12-19 - the Apostle Paul recognized that God took care of him, and that as a result, in all circumstances, he could be content.
4. God wants your offerings to Him to reflect your faith in Him. Since God doesn’t need anything to accomplish His will, our offerings to Him accomplish a different purpose: to build our faith. It takes faith to trust that God will meet our needs when we give thank offerings to Him.
· 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 – learning to give cheerfully
· Proverbs 3:9 “ Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce".
5. Material things will eventually vanish, but they can be invested to reap eternal dividends.
Material things are not inherently evil; they have a place. But that place is temporary and limited. In fact, the harder we attempt to hang onto material things, the quicker they disappear. God often reminds us of these realities in His Word.
· Proverbs 23:4-5 : “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.
· Luke 12:15-21 – the parable of the rich fool