“The Peril Of Materialism”
November 15, 2011
All of our summer flowers have succumbed to the season.
But this Dahlia, at our friend Wilma’s house, continues to bloom in spite of the frosty nights.
Listen to this message on your audio player.
“A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15b). “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).
Today we complete a series began last Monday on Satan’s schemes. We will examine the peril of materialism, certainly one of the schemes of Satan, intended to distract us from living for God.
Among our responsibilities in our ministry role is regularly visiting people in nursing homes and senior living centers. We’re also chaplains at a local assisted living center and occasionally visit the elderly parents of the employees we serve in our business chaplaincy.
I was asked to visit an elderly lady who had been dealing with cancer and lives in one of the many senior housing complexes here in Lancaster County. In the course of seeking to encourage I also received a dose of perspective, which is so often the case in ministry!
I located her room in the large facility, introduced myself as a chaplain, and she warmly welcomed me into her small, but tastefully appointed room. I immediately noted the large, well-worn Bible on the table beside her chair. We visited for a few minutes before I shared a Scripture reading and prayed with her. Like so many of the elderly, she expressed how much she missed her own home.
As I was preparing to leave she added this after thought that turned out to be a great statement of faith: “This is fine for now… after all, it’s not my permanent home.” I knew just what she meant. She wasn’t anticipating returning to her own home or even moving into a bigger apartment. Clearly by her “permanent home” she meant her eternal home in heaven. What a healthy spiritual outlook and example of a contented spirit!
Thanksgiving Day here in America will be celebrated in just over a week. Our mailboxes, newspapers, and email communications are filled with loads of enticing ads. We hear the blaring commercials on television that plead with us to buy more stuff. This amplifies all through the holiday season and especially prior to the Friday after Thanksgiving when the retail industry is banking on people who will come off their Thanksgiving celebration with a shopping binge for Christmas. And over the last decade a number of retail stores have chosen to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day.
If living better is defined by having more stuff we certainly live better than ever before, even in these economic times. Many items for sale were not even available twenty years ago. In fact, as I look through a sales flier, most of the stuff is new in my lifetime. Pity our poor ancestors who lived before this stuff was even available. They didn’t get opportunities like us to “live better” by maxing out their charge cards like many Americans where consumer debt is at an all time high!
Actually most of us reading this message are living pretty good as far as stuff. The ever increasing bar of desire, then expectation, then need, and finally entitlement just keeps rising. I can drive through the “poorest” sections of Lancaster City and see row after row of satellite dishes on the public housing units, hardly a necessity.
Most of us don’t live in a mansion as currently defined, but relative to the masses in many parts of the world, we’re living very well off. Just look at photos from places like Bangladesh. We live in a long period of peace and prosperity and yet this is one of the most dangerous times for spiritual health.
Jesus said, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” We are so conditioned to equate the essence of the better life with more stuff or our “abundance of possessions.” Possessions can be an aspect of God’s blessing but we all know they generally provide a hollow, short-lived satisfaction. We keep needing more and more to maintain satisfaction. Frankly possessions can be similar to a drug fix.
Satisfaction, contentment, and thanksgiving are cousins in their word associations in the English language. Robert Flatt puts it like this, “Thanksgiving like contentment is a learned attribute. The person who hasn’t learned to be content will not be thankful, for he lives with the delusion that he deserves more or something better.”
The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Charles Spurgeon also addressed the need for contentment: “You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.”
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, I know that godliness with contentment is of great benefit. It gives me a state of mind that is calm and satisfied; free from murmuring and complaining. I’m reminded that it takes little of this world’s goods to satisfy one whose citizenship is of another country. Help me to hold loosely to that which does not last beyond this life, and to clasp tightly that which has eternal significance. May the character of my soul and the fruit of my actions be of much greater importance than the perishable items that are alluring to me. I look to You for proper balance in the things You have blessed me with and the attitude in which I receive these good things from Your hands.
Brooksyne’s note: Mrs. Jones, a legally blind 92-year old woman moved to a nursing home after her husband of seventy years had passed away. She waited patiently in the lobby, and when her room was ready she maneuvered her walker to the elevator. As she did so the nurse’s aid accompanied her and gave her a visual description of her tiny room. “I love it,” she commented with enthusiasm.
“But Mrs. Jones, you can’t even see the room.”
She replied, “That doesn’t have anything to do with it. Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged, it’s how I arrange my mind. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.”
Today’s message completes our mini series on Satan’s schemes based upon a text from 2 Corinthians 2:11, “For we are not ignorant of his (Satan’s) schemes.” Here are the previous messages:
“Knowing Satan’s Schemes” (Intro message)
“Hath God Said?”
“The Wisdom Of This World”
“The Rejection Of God’s Standards Of Morality”
“The Peril of Materialism” (Today’s message)
We always appreciate feedback and the following two are a sampling of what we received in the course of this series:
Bob: Your message (the Authority of Scripture) is especially pertinent to my recent life history. I was a member of [a particular denomination] for many years and watched them slowly slide from a Bible believing and preaching church to one that condones immorality, and does not hold that the Bible is authoritative as it once did. It saddens me to see my former denomination slide into obscurity. I truly believe that God has removed the lampstand from this Church and it would not surprise me if in twenty years it would be hard to find this kind of congregation in many of our towns. They seem to be withering away because they decided to preach something that appealed to men rather than what God required of them. (Slightly edited to obscure the denomination identity.)
Lisa: Our daughter is studying in Europe for a semester, and she was growing a bit discouraged. She was being mocked a little for her stance on remaining pure until marriage and she asked me for Scriptural references. Your November 11th message was exactly what she needed! She thanked me for sending the link to your website. God Bless you all!
How about an assortment of Racoons and other critters!
“Godliness With Contentment” Audio Written and sung by our friend Mike Book and recorded in our home “studio”.
“Take My Life And Let It Be” Video Christ For The Nations worship team.
“Your Grace Is Enough” Video Chris Tomlin
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Ministry Update (Revised 10/21/11)