September 25, 2016


               Did you know that even kids can start an IRA account?  Just listen to this pitch on Market Watch by Bill Bischoff...

          "Hey kids! Want a neat-o idea for how to use your summer job money? How about opening an Individual Retirement Account? I know you might be more interested in having a little spending cash for the weekends or saving for a car. But saving for retirement can be cool, too. Right? Right? Um..."

          OK, I admit that convincing your kids to use their summer earnings to invest in an IRA is a pretty tough sell. But in all seriousness, it's an excellent idea and one that might not be too outlandish if you encourage your child simply to allocate a portion of his or her earnings to the cause. (You could even sweeten the pot a little by offering a 'match' in the form of a little extra spending money.) Not only will modest contributions add up to significant savings come retirement, but it's also a way to teach your child an invaluable lesson that is unlikely to be learned in school.

          Opening an IRA account also provides a chance to teach your kids about stocks, mutual funds and the basics of investing. Trust me, the lesson will be a whole lot more interesting when it's their hard-earned dollars on the line.

          And even relatively small contributions can add up big over the long haul. Say your teenage child pays $1,000 into an IRA each year for three years, starting this year. After 45 years, the account would be worth $39,005 assuming a 6% annual return. Bump that up to $1,500 for each of the three years and the IRA would be worth $58,508 in 45 years. Not bad for mowing a few lawns.

          Yes, not bad at all.  Starting young, $3000 can earn you over $36,000 in interest rewards.  But, believe it or not, there is an even better IRA that we should be encouraging our children to start working on - and one that we as adults should definitely have well under way.   But even if you are in your 50s, 60s, or even older, it is never too late to start this IRA.  And this IRA, unlike a traditional IRA, 401K, or Roth IRA, will build up a treasure that will not only last 10 years or even 20 years - but forever!  Ready to hear more?

          In our last Scripture reading (Matthew 25:14-29), you heard how the first two servants doubled the gold that was entrusted to them.  And in fact, the first more than doubled it, because the third servant's gold was given to him as well.  Of course the gold in this parable represents more than just money.  If you continue reading in Matthew 25, Jesus went on to explain how when we do good unto others, we are actually doing good unto Him.  In verses 31-45 we read, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me'.''  The sheep are like the first two servants, and the goats like the last.

So giving of our money is not the only way to store up treasure in heaven.   Giving of our time and talent, in ways that show love to others  - and to God - will bring eternal rewards as well. 

But now, lest you misinterpret today's message, let me stress that we must first BE one of the sheep before we can start collecting eternal rewards.  Goats, or those who do not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, cannot do works that glorify Christ, neither can they enter heaven, which is where eternal rewards are given.   The human heart is selfish by nature, and those who do not have a new nature by being born again through repentance and faith in the atoning death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, may appear to do good works, but it is only to satisfy their own desires in the long run.  They are not done out of a pure love that only exists by having the nature of Christ.  Good works of themselves do not save us from eternal damnation.  Remember the words of Ephesians 2:8-10: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith; and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do

          So, faith must come first, and then works.  But then the question arises, what if we sin, after we have been saved?  Is it like making a withdrawal on your heavenly savings?  Will your IRA now be subject to a heavy penalty?  Will you lose some of the treasure you have already stored up in heaven?  There are several verses in the Bible that indicate that when we put our faith in Christ, he not only forgives our sins, but literally blots them out and remembers them no more. (Hebrews 8:12, Isaiah 43:25).  It is as if they never happened.  Jesus paid all of our debts.  We have no more spiritual bills to pay, and our heavenly treasures are safeguarded not by the federal government, but by the Holy Spirit.  The apostle Paul put it this way, "He has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything He has promised us."  (2 Corinthians 1:22).  Of course, if we are living with unconfessed sin, we obviously are not adding anything to our eternal IRA either.  Our hearts must be right with God, for He looks not at the act itself, but rather on the motive of the heart.  As the Bible says, "The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."  (1 Samuel 16:7). You can give thousands of dollars to the church, care for the sick, and pray from morning 'til night, but if your motives are wrong, you have deposited nothing into your account.  Remember what Jesus said about the Pharisees?  "Everything they do is done for people to see.  (Matthew 23:5) And He told us, "When you fast, don't make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get."  Yes, if you do good works so others will admire you, or so they will do something for you in return, that is the only reward you will get.

          But if you do a good work because you love God, and because you care about God's people, you are not only helping others and glorifying God, you are storing up treasure in heaven that will be yours for all eternity.  Jesus promised, "If you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded" (Matthew 10:42) 

          So if you haven't started an eternal IRA as yet, today is a good day to start.  And if you have, today is a good day to add to it.  Amen.


          After asking the children if they had a piggy bank at home (they all did), I asked them why they money in it (to save for something).  Then I told them about saving up treasure in heaven; after which I gave each two quarters.  I then told them they had 3 choices...  they could put both in their piggy banks at home, take one home and put one in the jug for the MVK Food Pantry, or put both in the jug (saving for treasure in heaven by helping others here).  I was so proud when they went running back to put their quarters in the jug!