Pastors, Bible Study Leaders, Educators:
Would you give me a few minutes of your reading time?
Briefly explore a sample lesson of a new Christ-centered, Bible study, The Life of Christ. This 54 week study will enrich the spiritual life of your congregation. It offers a wide variety of great resources and visual aids from the Internet. Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration.
Blessings to you this day.
Ed Markquart, Author of this website.
View sample lessons
Treasure, Treasure, Toil and Treasure
Grace to you and peace from God our Father,
And our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
The title of the sermon for today is a paraphrase from Shakespeare.
“Treasure, Treasure, Toil and Treasure.” Write that title down,
Today we're going to talk about money.
Material things, wealth, possessions, treasures.
When Jesus took his disciples up on the mountain he taught
them about many things. He
taught them about practical matters -- matters of every-day life.
Jesus taught them about anger, lust, revenge, giving alms,
prayer. So is it any
wonder he would also teach them about money?
Jesus wasn't about to leave that
one out. Money
was an important issue for the disciples just like it is for us
If money is important to you, would you raise your hand? Let’s be
honest. For those of you for whom money is not
important, would you also raise your hand so we can see how many
liars we have here today. Jesus says, “Money is important to
us.” We all know it. We don’t pretend otherwise.
collect preacher’s stories, including those stories about money.
What are some preacher stories we have about money?
John, in the last sermon, I had a story about a miser. But you also
have a miser story. Why don’t you tell your “miser” story?
There was once a miser who got tired of everyone telling him that he
couldn't take it with him. He
had heard that so many times he was sick of it.
"Well, you can't take it with you, you know."
He thought if he heard that remark one more time he was going
to die. The miser was going to show everyone that he could indeed
take it with him. So he
went to the pastor with strict instructions that upon the miser's
death, the pastor would make sure that all the miser's money, in
cash, would be buried with him.
The pastor was to take the cash put it in the coffin and make
sure it was buried right along with him.
Well the miser finally died and the pastor did as he was
instructed. He got all
the miser's cash assets from the bank but decided it would be too
much work to put all the cash in the coffin, so the pastor wrote out
a check, placed it in the coffin and put the cash in the church
treasury. I like that story. That pastor was a smart pastor.
The story I like about money is the story of the Montana cowboy and
his brother, the Seattle stockbroker. One time, the Montana cowboy
came to see his brother, the Seattle stockbroker,
here in downtown Seattle. The two of them were right down
town, on 5th and Pike. Taxis were going by; thousands of
cars were going by; the buses were going by; thousands of people
were going by. It was incredibly noisy. The Montana cowboy was
walking along with his brother, the Seattle stockbroker, and the
Montana cowboy said, “Did you hear that?” The Seattle
stockbroker said, “Hear what?” The two brothers walked a little
farther on that downtown busy street, and the Montana cowboy asked
again, “Did you hear that? Did you hear that?” “No, what are
you talking about?” They walked a little farther and he again
asked, “Did you hear that? Did you hear that?” The Seattle
stockbroker said, “What are you talking about?” The Montana
cowboy said, “You see those weeds there in the cracks of the
sidewalk and those weeds beside the buildings? Listen real
carefully. There is a cricket down there. Listen carefully.” Sure
enough, there was a cricket down there in the weeds in the crack in
the sidewalk. Then the Montana cowboy reached into his pocket and
pulled out a silver dollar and said, “Listen to this brother.”
He flipped the silver dollar up into the air and it hit the sidewalk
and it went “clank.” Everybody stopped. Everybody stopped and
looked around and saw that silver dollar roll over the curb and into
the gutter. The Montana cowboy said, “The peoples’ ears are
attuned to the sound of money but none of them hear the sounds of
We as pastors are also concerned about money. We are concerned about
our salaries and about meeting the church budget. Have you heard the
one about the three pastors who were discussing how they determined
their salaries from the church offerings?
The first one said, "Well, I draw a straight line, and
them I take all the offerings for the week and throw them in the
air. Whatever comes
down on that side of the line belongs to God and whatever falls on
this side of the line is mine." The next pastor said, "I
draw a circle on the ground. Then
I throw the offerings into the air.
Whatever falls inside of the circle belongs to God and
whatever falls outside the circle is mine." "You guys got
it all wrong," said the third pastor. He was a Lutheran.
"I take each weeks offerings and throw them into the
air. Whatever stays up
belongs to God and whatever comes back down is mine." That’s
another smart pastor.
There are not only good preacher stories about money. There
are some great one-liners about money such as…
"Let us all be happy and live within our means, even if we have
to borrow money to do it."
"Money is a good servant but a poor master."
"Maybe we were better off when charity was a virtue instead of
dies with the most toys, wins.” We know these lines. We hear them
again and again. John,
let’s move in a new direction. What are some things we have
noticed about money and human nature?
Well, the first thing we notice is that along with money comes
status. That is just true. That is the way our society works today.
People respond differently to someone who has money.
If you are rich, there is the feeling that what you have to
say is more important. Your
words are more significant. If
you have the right car, the right house, the right power clothes,
then you are seen as more important in our society.
We see this in our own parish. Sometimes people in our parish go
over to peoples’ homes to visit and perhaps have dinner. The other
homes are nicer, the décor is nicer; the neighborhood is nicer.
Some people in our parish feel like they are “the poor country
cousins.” We have all gotten into those status games when we have
visited another person’s home and felt that they were really rich
and we weren’t.
there is the illusion that money can buy happiness. "If I just had a little more, then I would be
illusion that more money brings more happiness.
Ed, you had some statistics about that.
I have shared these statistics with you before, but they are worth
hearing again. In the studies that have been done, all groups in
society wanted 25% more money. The poor, the middle class, the rich.
They all wanted about 25% more to be happy. If they had 25% more,
that would be enough. The poor person didn’t want to be rich; they
wanted 25% more and then they would be happy. The middle class
didn’t want to be rich; they wanted to have 25% more and then they
would be happy. The
rich people weren’t satisfied either. The rich people also wanted
25% more and then that would be enough. There is that illusion deep
within us that we if we have a little bit more, that will be enough
and we will then be happy and content. But what happens when you get
25% more? You want 25% more!!! And the cycle starts all over again.
Another thing we know is that people tend to be very private and
secretive about their financial affairs.
People just don't volunteer information about how much they
make, their salaries, how much they have in savings, how much
they're in debt, or anything about their budget.
It's a "mind your own business" kind of thing.
Did you know that the motto on the first coin minted by the
United States wasn't "In God We Trust."
Do you know what it was? Believe it or not, "Mind Your
Business." True story.
And so what is often our attitude? “Mind your own business. We
don’t want to have any sermons about money. Don’t you tell us
what God wants us to hear. You just mind your own business, because
our money is a private affair.” Not with Jesus. Nothing was a
private affair with Jesus. Sex, marriage, anger. There is nothing
which was private with him. So Jesus, knowing that we human beings
are really concerned about material possessions, and about money and
what it can buy, Jesus said, “Don’t put so much time and energy
into accumulating material possessions which are going to rust and
wear out. Money is not the source of happiness. Instead, lay up for
yourselves treasures in heaven. Lay up for yourselves spiritual
treasures which will last forever.”
also said, “You cannot serve two masters. You will love the one
and hate the other. You cannot serve both God and money. It is
either or. Either your energy is spent in the pursuit of money or
your energy is spent in the pursuit of God and goodness and love. It
is either or. You cannot serve both God and money.
Jesus went on to tell a parable about a man who built barns and
bigger barns. He wanted to build houses and bigger houses and still
bigger houses. One time in the middle of the night, this man died of
a heart attack. And Jesus said, “You fool. You fool who spend so
much time building up your wealth. You fool. Instead, be rich
towards God. Lay up for yourselves spiritual treasures.”
does all these Bible verses mean, Ed?
We all know that there are many things in life that are far more
valuable than money. I
don't know if there is any material thing that is truly priceless
and yet there are many, many non-material items that we could never
put a price on.
For example, Ed, how much would you sell your eyesight for?
It's not for sale. It
How about your mind, your mental capacity?
What would you sell that for?
It's not for sale. It is invaluable.
How about your children and grandchildren?
How much money would you take for one of your children?
Not for sale. They are priceless.
That makes me think about a story about the Louvre Museum. One of
the security guards at the Louvre, the world's largest and most
famous art museum, was once asked the question, "If the Louvre
were to catch on fire and you could go back into the burning
building to save one painting, which one would you save?
Would it be a da Vinci, a Rembrandt, a Van Gogh?"
Which one would you save if the building was on fire?
With very little thought the security guard responded,
"The one closest to the door."
His life was more valuable than all the so-called priceless
art work in the Louvre.
If your house was on fire and all the family and pets were safe what
would you go back in to save? Tell
me, what valuable possession would you risk your life for? To go
into a blazing inferno of fire in your house and risk your life?
What possession? Nothing.
What Jesus is saying, is that the heart is the treasury for heavenly
possessions. Not your
wallet. It is not the bank. It is not your safe-deposit box, but the
heart! Jesus says,
"Store up for yourself spiritual treasures and the heart is the
treasure chest for these kinds of treasures.
So John and I were asking the question of each other, “How do you
go about storing up spiritual treasures in your heart? Not the
treasures in your wallet, your bank, your safety deposit box. How
does one go about storing up spiritual treasures in spiritual
treasure chests? That is what Jesus wants. How do you go about doing
that in a real, everyday life? How is that done in the family?
I think of Grandma Simpson when she died. The children,
grandchildren, great grandchildren were here to celebrate
Grandma’s Simpson’s life and resurrection. All the people had
great memories of Grandma Simpson. She truly was a wealthy lady, one
of the richest people in our church, but she lived in a very modest
apartment. She had almost no material possessions. Who cares?
Grandma Simpson was enormously rich. She had stored up treasures in
heaven. That is what Jesus was talking about.
How about in the work place? How
do we store up heavenly treasures at work.
I like the story about one of our youth advisors when he was
interviewing for a new job. He
told his boss that he went to Mexico with the youth from his church
and needed the last two weeks in June off but he still wanted his
regular vacation time in addition to that.
The boss thought it over and told him he could have the weeks
off and that the company would pay him for one of them.
I thought that was great!
Whether that person knew it or not, I believe he was storing
up some heavenly treasures.
We are to lay up for ourselves spiritual treasures in our hearts. It
is not only with family and not only with work that we lay up for
ourselves spiritual treasures, but it is also through the avenue of
friends. I am thinking of an elderly person in our parish by the
name of Maxine Johnson who cannot come to church. For many years
now, Kathy ??? has been bringing her to worship faithfully, and now
Phyllis Herman is also taking Maxine to church. All these people are
laying up for themselves treasures in heaven.
Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven by giving yourself
to those who are have special needs and that may be your mother,
father, child, grandparent, or whomever you give yourself to.
Ed, it is important that we also talk about money today. Let’s go
in a different direction. What is some of the practical advice that
you and I think that a Christian congregation needs to hear about
First of all we need to be financially responsible in our own
personal lives. We need
to live within our means and make due with what we have.
Be careful about the dangers of credit.
Don't get too over-extended and fall victim to the great
credit trap. We just
need to be responsible in regard to our material wealth.
Another thing that we think is really important is the sheer joy of
giving money away. To the Compass Center. To the homeless. To
Lutheran World Relief. To the congregation. To whatever is the
charity of your choice.
thing we have discovered through the years is that the more mature a
Christian is, the more they want to give away to charity. If a
person is a new Christian or a Christian who has been a Christian
for a long time but never matured, as a person grows more mature in
Christ, you want to give more money away to people in need. The more
you give away, the better you feel in doing that.
Be very careful of the status game.
We all deal with this, but especially you young people. Now, I know that you want to have the right clothes, the
right cars, the right stereo and all the right CD's but be careful
you don't treat people better just because they have all those
"right" things or expect others to treat you better
because you have all the "right" things. Be careful that
your identity and your status is not wrapped up in material things
that rust and fade away.
One time, Jesus gathered his disciples together and they walked up
into a mountain side. Jesus was talking to his disciples about the
gnitty gritty issues of life. They were talking about anger and
revenge, sex and love, prayer and phoniness. They were talking about
those real issues of life. Jesus asked his disciples, “How many of
you are concerned about money?” All of their hands were raised.
They were all concerned about money. Therefore, knowing how
concerned everybody was about money, Jesus said:
Be careful. Material possessions are only temporary in nature. Store
up for yourselves heavenly treasures, treasures of the heart.