Good morning to everybody, and I also want to welcome those who watch via the mobile app and internet. And I also want to thank Becky and Juno who are in the Philippines, our missionaries. Let’s give them a big round of applause, because they watch on a regular basis.
And I also want to tell you something funny, and you’re going to watch this, Warren, and you’ll laugh. Dr. Gage was my doctoral advisor when I did my doctorate at Knox, and he watches all the messages. And he called me up and he said, “Hey, that bookshelf with all those books falling off. One of those was my books, and that’s a sacrilege.” It was just great. So, I hope you like that, Warren, as you watch this.
Anyway, I want to bring everybody back up to speed, because maybe it’s your first week here. Maybe you’ve missed a couple of weeks, or whatever. But we’re in a five-week series called “Shaken,” and this is week number four. And I don’t want anybody to feel like that they don’t know what’s going on, or they’re not up to speed. So, let me tell you what we’re doing in this series, and then we’ll get down to business and share today.
Here’s what we’re doing. Most of us have had a moment in our life, I would say all of us, but let’s use most, and if you’re not in the most category you know somebody who has their world just rocked. It’s been shaken. Maybe it’s a death of a loved one, or a bad health report, or a relationship issue, or just something in life that just absolutely rocks our world. What we’re trying to do in this series is go, “Well, how can we get equipped to better handle those situations in our lives?” Because they do happen, and often times, if we’re honest, and I think most of us are, when we look across the board, Christians, as a general rule, don’t fair any better when they’re shaken than people who are not Christians. And that shouldn’t be the case.
I mean, Jesus doesn’t say in Matthew 5:16, it doesn’t say, “Let your light so shine before the world only when you’re doing well, but when you’re in a bad mood don’t worry about it.” It doesn’t say that. It says that we should always be people who have a light that shine. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have hurt. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have emotion. It doesn’t mean that we’re not real, but the fact of the matter is we should be equipped to handle things. Because Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3 that we should be people, even when everybody else is having fear, and doubt, and questions, we should be people that have hope no matter what we’re going through.
And so, this whole series is really about equipping us so that we can handle the things in our lives that happen when we get shaken.
Last week we talked about hopes and dreams. When that happens it’s tough. What do we do when our hopes and dreams are shaken? We talked before that about what happens when we start doubting God. God where did You go? And we talked about that.
Well, today we’re going to talk about something that might very well be, other than a loss of a loved one, probably is the most debilitating area in Christians lives when they get shaken, but we don’t like to talk about it very much because this is a difficult subject. But we need to talk about it. So, before I do that, because I know this is going to be a difficult subject, I want to ask you a question. Is a little discomfort in your life right now worth it if it leads you ultimately to a better and more fulfilled life?
I think most of us would say yeah. Like if you’ve had an injury to your leg, and they said, “Listen, we could do some operations. It’s not going to be fun. It’s going to hurt. You’re going to have some rehabilitation, but at the end of the day you’re going to be able to walk better than you walk now.” Most of us would say okay.
Or if we said, “Hey, this is really bad tasting medicine, but it’s going to cure your sickness.” We go, okay, I’ll do it. So, a little discomfort right now is probably okay for you and me if it’s going to lead to a better and more fulfilled life. What we’re going to talk about today is probably going to be a little discomforting for some of you all. Especially if you’re new. You’re going to go, “That guy hit the jackpot, man. The day I showed up this is what they’re talking about.” But this is an area that we get shaken in, and we need to get some help so that we know what to do when it happens in our lives. And here’s what we’re going to talk about. Big drumroll. We’re going to talk about what happens when we get shaken in our finances. Like I told you, you’re all going, “Aw, man.”
Here’s what I would tell you to do. You ask anybody who’s come to grace over the many years that we’ve been together here, not super many but the years that we have been together. I don’t talk about this very often, but this is something that we have to talk about. I think you’ll agree with me. Hopefully those of you watching via the internet haven’t shut the computer at this point.
But, here’s the deal. You will agree with me; this is an area that when it hits it’s tough. And if we don’t talk about it, if we just sort of push it under the rug, we’re not going to get any better at it. So, we need to talk about it.
Let me tell you why it’s hard to talk about this in the church. And I’m just going to be honest here. First, talking about money in church is difficult because most Christians don’t run their finances biblically. So, I automatically, as a pastor, when I start talking about finances, most people go, “Gulp,” because most people are not doing their finances biblically. So, it’s really tough. It creates sort of an antagonism.
Listen to these stats, and I just want you to hear this, because these are important to hear. Christians in America, listen, Christians in America gave 2.3% of their income to church. 2.3. That’s what they gave. Christian families making less than 20,000 per year, 8% of them gave at least 10%, but families making over 75,000, it drops to 1%. That means the more you make the less that you want to give, because, here’s what happens, you make a lot of money and you go, “Well, I don’t want to give all that money, because what are they going to do with it?” We’re saying to give them 100 bucks, like a tipper. You know what I’m talking about?
It’s like the kid that came to church with his dad, and they came into a church like Grace. They came in, and the kid came in, and the dad came in. They got coffee. The cinnamon twists and the cookies, and all that stuff. And they were eating it. Like nine cookies down and three cups of coffee later they come in and say hi to everybody. They sit down and hear a message. They leave. They get in the car. Dad goes, “That was a terrible service, wasn’t it?”
The kid’s like, “Well, I don’t know about that.”
They dad goes, “It was terrible. Coffee was bad. The cookies tasted like they came from Publix, and were a day old. The sermon was terrible. That guy was short, and he was ugly. It was just terrible. Don’t you agree?”
And the kid’s like, “Well dad, I don’t know.” He goes, “You know, when the offering plate came around you put a dollar in the offering plate. It wasn’t really bad for a buck.”
So, you know, don’t tip.
Anyway, listen to this one here. Thirty-seven percent of people who attend church every week and identify themselves as evangelicals don’t give anything to church. Forty percent. Wow.
Listen to this one. This is huge. Lean in and listen to this. People who tithe regularly typically have less debt than any other demographic in the United States. Eight out of ten, listen to this, this is incredible. Eight out of ten have zero credit card debt, and 30% of them are completely debt free, including their mortgage. Think about that for a second. Those are some serious stats. But the bottom line is is when you talk about this it’s tough. I realize this. Many people are going man, let’s don’t talk about this today, because this is a tough deal. I get it. It’s tough to talk about.
It’s also tough to talk about, being real, because many people have seen churches abuse it. You’ve been there. I mean, I grew up in a tradition. They’d take like eight offerings. You know, it was like, seriously? Here it goes again. And the pastor would come down and look at the buckets and go, “That’s not enough,” and they’d get passed again. We were like going, “Come on. This can’t be about this.”
And listen, it’s not about that. I don’t think that we abuse here, but I also, I got to be real. You’ve seen it. And so, it’s tough to talk about.
It’s also tough to talk about because Jesus knew that it would be tough to talk about. Whether you’re new here today, maybe you haven’t been to church in a long time, or whatever. Most of us, no matter what type of experience we’ve had in church, most of us know the Sermon on the Mount. Or at least we’ve heard about it. You know, “Turn the other cheek, and do good, and love God.” And all those things and, “Be careful of the foundation that you build. Build on the rock, not on the sand.” Jesus is waxing eloquent in the Sermon on the Mount in chapter 6, and He’s talking about, “Hey, in your eyes there can be darkness or there can be light.”
And you’re like going, “Yeah man, that’s right. Kingdom of God. Kingdom of Darkness.”
And right after He says that light and darkness thing He says, “Because listen, no one can serve two masters.”
And you’re like going, “That’s right, man. We gotta serve God, or you serve the Devil, or you serve the world, or whatever.”
He says, “No one can serve two masters, because you’ll one and love the other. Or you’ll be devoted to the one and despise the other.”
And then, He says this, and it’s almost like, “What?”
He says, “You can’t serve God and money.”
You’re like, “Whoa, hold on for a minute. I was expecting the Devil, or like, you know, something really bad, or darkness, and You’re going to say money?”
Because see, Jesus knew something about you and me. He knew that where our stuff was, that’s where our heart would be. We like our stuff, and it’s tough.
Everybody remember when the iPhones first came out? Come on. Don’t act like y’all don’t remember that. You all remember that. Whether you hate them or not. Some of y’all are like, “I use Android…” That’s fine. That was before they even came out. Don’t give me that arrogant snobbery. Whatever. I don’t care. And I don’t care what phone you use. I don’t care. Some of you are like, “I use Windows phone.” That’s fine. I don’t know how you use that thing, but anyway it’s good. And we have a mobile app for that, too.
But the deal is this, the iPhone came out, and I don’t know if you were like me but I’m a techno geek. I love technology. And I turn on the phone. I’d been using a Blackberry. You remember Blackberry? They’re not even around anymore. So, I got the iPhone, and I thought it was interesting, maybe you didn’t think it was interesting but you’re going to remember this when I tell you this, on the main screen you had text message, and email, and all that good stuff. There was an icon for the stock market. Remember that? The stock market. I remember pressing that and going, “What is that?” Well, now that you had it on your phone I think I took like 20 bucks and bought some stock so that I could have my stock and say, “Look here! On my phone right here.” Like ten bucks of something, you know? Like I was a big roller or something.
You know what’s funny though is even that little bit of money that I put in that stock, I didn’t know what those three letters meant. I didn’t know what the stock was. I just had money. Every day I’d check it and when it was green it was like, yeah. And when it was red it was like, ooo.
See, Jesus knew that where our stuff went that’s where our heart would go. And He says, “Listen, you can’t serve both.”
Listen, the Proverbs writer really nails it. Here’s Solomon. Here’s what he says, “The rich rule over the poor, but the borrower is slave of the lender.” Man, see, let’s get real here for a moment. We’re supposed to be servants of the Lord, right? Solomon says, “Hey, when you got a lender that’s a task master.”
You know many of us got on our phone, “Hey, you gotta pay the rent right now, or the mortgage, or the car payment, or whatever.” You ever notice how that stuff comes up every month? Wouldn’t you like to kick it into next one every once in a while. It’s like every single month that thing comes around. And Jesus knew this. Jesus knew this was going to be tough for you and me, because our stuff really gets ahold of you and me. So, talking about this in church is tough, because you’re talking at the most difficult level of all.
It’s even more so, listen to this. So many Christians love God. They’re going to go to Heaven. It’s not a matter of Heaven. But they love God. They’ll go to Bible studies. They’ll go to small group. They’ll even go help feed people. But they won’t give. And, listen to me, hear my heart here. You can’t really follow Jesus with everything in your heart if He doesn’t have your checkbook. And it’s the last thing we want to give. And what happens is then we get shaken, and many of us have been shaken. And we don’t know what to do.
So, what I want to do is I want to go back 2,500 years ago to a place called Jerusalem where the Children of Israel had been taken into captivity by the Babylonians. They had totally destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple, taken them into captivity, and Cyrus had come along and defeated the Babylonians. He told the Jewish people they could go back to Jerusalem. And the prophets told them that’s great. Go back to Jerusalem, and I want you to build the Temple again.
Well, they got there and they laid the foundation, but then there were some skirmishes. There were some political things going on, and some rulers doing some stuff, and a little bit of outbreaks of some war and military conflict. They figured, you know what, maybe we just chill out a little bit here on the Temple thing. So, they got to doing their thing. They got to building their houses, their cities, and doing the things that they were doing. And why wouldn’t they? I mean, why would you want your kids to sleep on the ground? Let’s build them a house so that we can protect them from the weather, or from the animals, or from whatever else.
And 18 years went by, and finally this guy named Haggai rolls into Jerusalem. And here’s what he says. He says this to people that are going through some financial difficulties. This is what he says to them. I think it will apply to you and me today. He says, “Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.”
He says, let’s just bring it in here for a second. You know, I always talk about like, “Lean in.” He says, “Let’s just all lean in here for a second. Let’s take a moment and just lean in, and let’s think about how life’s going.” So, I’m going to ask you all to do the same thing. Let’s do what Haggai asked his audience to do. Those who watch in the mobile app and the internet, same thing. Lean in for a minute and let’s take an inventory.
He says, let’s talk about life for a minute. Let’s see how things are going. You guys are doing your thing. It’s time to harvest. We know that because if you read the first part of Haggai he gives you the most specific dating of any book in the Bible. And so we know exactly the day, the season, everything that this books happens. And it’s during the harvest time. And he says, so let’s talk for a minute. Let’s have a talk here. I want you to consider your ways.
He says, “You’ve sown much, but you’ve harvested little.” You guys got out there. I mean, you threw the stuff out there. You did the thing. You did all the stuff that you were supposed to do. You worked hard. You did all that stuff, but the fact of the matter is the harvest is pretty ugly right now. Is there a reason? Is anything tied to this, or is that just what it is? Just the way it is? Let’s talk about for a moment here. Let’s consider our ways.
We’ve sown much. We’ve harvested little. He says, “You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill.” He says, let’s just talk about it for a moment here, because this is what’s going on in your life. This is the way it is. He’s like, you’re working and stuff, but you just don’t seem to ever have enough. He says, “You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.”
Some of you are like, “Amen, that’s me right there. Put that check in my pocket and I don’t know where it goes during the month, man. It’s gone somewhere.” Everybody’s like going, “That’s right, man. I feel that. I feel you here. This is true. I do. It’s like my bags got a hole in it, because I don’t know where my money goes. I’m always short.”
Haggai says, “Hey, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to consider your ways. Just stop for a moment. Take an inventory here. You’re doing all this stuff. You’re struggling all the time. You don’t have enough. But you’re working. I mean, you’re doing the things you’re supposed to be doing, but you don’t have enough.”
Maybe we ought to take it in for a moment. Maybe we ought to consider our ways. Maybe we ought to ask, maybe do we have some misplaced priorities. Are we doing something wrong? He says, “Consider your ways.” That’s twice he’s said that now. Twice he’s said, “Let’s lean in.”
And then he says this, “Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house…” – Oh, that’s right. Eighteen years ago we were supposed to be doing what God told us to do. Oh yeah. Eighteen years has gone by. – “...that I may take pleasure in it, and that I may be glorified, says the Lord.”
Hey, you guys, you’re supposed to be doing something, and you’re not doing it. “You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home I blew it away.” Man, God that’s tough, man. You blew away my finances? I thought You loved me. Chip told me that you were like a grace filled God, and that You loved me, and that You cared about me. You’re going to blow away that stuff. What are you doing?
I’m glad it doesn’t end here, because if it ended here we’d just be left with like, “What?” Okay, but God, because He’s smart, He addresses it. He says, “Why? declares the Lord of hosts.” You want to know why? You to know why I did what I did? You want to know why I got your attention? You want to know why you’re shaken in your finances. You want to know why things aren’t working out for you. He says, here’s the deal, “Because of My house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.”
That’s tough isn’t it? That’s why they killed prophets. They’re like, “Get them out of here.” See, get some liquid paper in here. Velcro Bible. Get that out of here. You know, whatever. He says, listen, he says, the bottom line is you’re doing your thing, but you’re not doing God’s thing. God’s not first, and so you’re shaken right now. And what are we doing to learn from this?
So, here’s what we’re going to do. If you have a sheet of paper, or if you have whatever. This is called the “What.” What we’ve done normally here is we call this the take-home, and we write down these things. I want you to get out a sheet of paper. Get your bulletin out. Your phone, or whatever. Write these things down, because what we’re going to do here is we’re going to talk about what am I suppose to learn when my finances are shaken? What am I supposed to learn? This is the take-home. This is the “What.” Put this down.
First of all, we need to learn that God is the source of our provision. See, we live in a world, and let’s just be honest, we’re told that if you get up and work hard, if you do the things that you’re supposed to do, if you go to work, then you’ll have what you need. But of course, we all can conceptually go, “Yeah, but what about coal miners in West Virginia that worked 80 hours a week and lived in a trailer and died of lung cancer? It didn’t work for them.”
So, as much as we conceptually like that, especially if we have money. We like to convince ourselves that if everybody else would do what I do, they would have what they need. That’s conceptually not true. The reality is there’s people that have worked hard and have had nothing. Go back to the children of Israel. They worked very hard for Pharaoh. They had nothing.
So, we have to understand something. You and I are not the source of our provision. God is the source of our provision, and when we’re shaken, and when our finances are in disarray, what God is trying to teach you and me is that He’s the one that provides what we have need of.
Now, listen to me, this is so important. Listen to this. We will trust God with our eternity, but we won’t trust Him with our finances. That’s like eloquent preaching right there. I know it’s not fun, but, listen to me. Think about this for a second. We don’t, because at the end of the day it’s our stuff. And we want our stuff. And we do everything that we can to protect our stuff, because we want our stuff. And Jesus says, “You can’t do that. You gotta make a decision at some point in your life that God’s the source of our provision.”
And often times when we’re shaken and we are absolutely gut-punched in our finances. And we don’t know where to go and where to turn. God is screaming at you and me, “Listen, you need to learn to trust Me. I’m the one that provides.”
It doesn’t me that you don’t go out and work. It doesn’t mean your lazy. It doesn’t mean any of that stuff. But ultimately God is the one who provides what we have need of, and He provides our provisions.
Secondly, our stuff isn’t our stuff. We learn that really quickly. Oh yeah, but I want my stuff. It’s not your stuff. It’s Gods stuff. You go, “What do you mean by that?” I’m going to tell you what I mean by that. My kids, I got like 80 of them, at least it feels that way. They gang up on us when me and Mindy get up out of bed every morning. We’re like, “If we can just make it through the day…”
Anyway, we just probably need to repent. We bought iPads for them. And I’m convinced. You know, demons used to live in the pigs. When they cast out demons they go in the pigs. I think they live in iPads. My kids got these iPads, and they know which ones theirs because we bought them this little thing that’s got a handle on it. It’s like Styrofoam or something. It’s like, I don’t know, it’s like polyurethane. I don’t know what it is. It protects the iPad. Which it doesn’t really protect it because they throw those things.
Anyway, they got their different colors. The deal is all my kids are pagans because they all want everybody else’s iPad. They’re not happy with theirs. It’s like, what do you mean? You got a nice iPad. They don’t know that one’s 32 megabits, or 64. What they know is they know who’s got the right app.
And see, we selectively give the older ones a little bit different app than some of the young ones. We give them a bit more privilege, but the younger ones are smart, and they’re possessed. And they know how to go get those iPads. And so, my little boy Luke, he’ll go get three of them and get in his room like he’s got his monitors out doing his stock stuff. He’s got all this out. He’s watching Disney, and this, and that, and the other. And all the other kids are like, “Where’s my iPad?” And they know.
So, they go in there, and it’s got a handle on it. So you can sit there and watch them. They’re pulling on it. “It’s mine. It’s mine. It’s mine. It’s not his.” It really is theirs, but they’re pulling on it. So, finally daddy comes in and goes, “It’s my iPad. I bought this iPad. It’s not either one of you all’s iPad, and I’m taking it.”
And they’re like, “Yeah, daddy’s some preacher. He’s going to Hell.”
But you realize that their stuff isn’t really their stuff. Here’s three words we need to learn right here. Stewardship not ownership. What we have is Gods. And listen, can you imagine what it’d be like if your house that you own, if your car that you own, if your shoes that you own, if you started going, “Hey, you know what, those are Gods, and you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to use them for His glory. I’m going to use my house for His glory. I’m going to use my car for His glory. It’s His stuff.”
Maybe instead of looking at all the stuff we got, maybe we ought to start looking at how we use our stuff for Him. And God wants us to see that when we’re shaken. It’s not our stuff. He can take it, because it’s His. And we don’t like it anymore than my kids like when I take their iPads. They’re like, “No. That’s wrong. It’s wrong.”
God’s like, “No. It’s my stuff, and I want you to learn how to be a steward and not an owner.”
Third, and this is huge, money doesn’t make us as happy as our culture tells us it does. You know when you’ve lost everything, and I’ve had that happen in my life. You may say, I didn’t know that. Yeah, I’ve slept on a floor before. You know, and I grew up in an upper-middle class family. My dad was a dentist and did well. Me and my brother always joke. We’re like, “Dad owns his life. We rent ours.” You’ll get that in a minute.
I had time in my life where I basically lost everything. But I got up the next morning and I realized that as much as I was sulking and whatever else, I was still able to have fun and get with friends and watch a football game, or a basketball game. Since it’s basketball season let’s talk about some University of Kentucky Wildcats while we’re here. Shameless plug. My wife’s like, “The idol has come out. This guy needs to get saved.”
Anyway, the deal is what I realized was that, “You know what, all that stuff that I thought was bringing me all the happiness really wasn’t. I’m okay without it.” And often times these are the things that God wants to teach you and me when we’re shaken.
Now, I realize we live in Lakewood Ranch. So, I realize many of you are going, “I got plenty of money. I’m okay. I own my house. I own my car. I got all the stuff. That’s great.” I would just highly suggest that for you, because as I’m speaking to you as well, just think through what I talked about here. You know, the idea. Look at what you do give, and look at whether or not you truly trust God with all of your finances, or if you end up tipping. But many people in here, I know this is true because I look at the stats, many of you are not in that situation. Many of you all are struggling financially. And rather than just talk about “Shaken” and give you the “What,” I thought I would really address something because it’s on my heart and I want to be a good pastor to all of you. I don’t want anything from you. I really want to give you something today, because some of you are thinking this, “This is all great, but I need some real practical help three weeks ago, Chip. I’m in a tough situation in my life.”
So, here’s what I want to do. I want to spend the next few minutes with you and I want to give you the best practical financial advice that I can give you if you were struggling. This is also great financial advice if you’re not struggling right now, but maybe in the future when you do struggle these are the things that you can do that will be a game changer for your life. And as your pastor, we pray for people to get healed. We pray for marriage to get restored. We do all that stuff. I want you also to live in the abundance that God has for you. I’m not the guy on T.V. I’m not going to tell you that if you put money in the plate, spin around three times, and pour some water from the waffle house bathroom on you, or whatever else, that all of a sudden God’s going to show up as a genie and give you whatever you want. That’s not what I mean.
What I’m telling you is this. In your life, if you are a giver, and you look over your life for 10 or 20 years as you’ve given, you will realize that God does do the things that He says. Sometimes it won’t look like that, but over a longer period of time, doing the things that God has called you and me to do are the best things that we can do. And so many Christians are shaken, and kept from doing the things that God has called them to do because of their finances.
So, here’s the deal, if you’re in a tough situation, or if not, you’ll want to write these down. Write these down. This is as practical and as real as I can get.
First, God first from here on out. If you’re struggling, God first from here on out. You say, “Well, what does that mean?” What that means is that God’s first from here on out. I’m not going to sit here and prescribe to you what you need to do. I’m going to tell you find yourself a percentage, find yourself something that you can go, “I’m going to put this first to God. I’m going to trust Him first. I trust Him with my eternity. I’m going to trust Him with my finances. I’m going to trust Him with this. I’m putting God first from now on, because I’m tired of this. I’m tired of living the way I’m living. I’m going to put God first.”
Now, listen to me, that doesn’t mean today when you go, “I’m going to put God first,” that when you go home that everything is taken care of. It’s not going to be. I don’t want anybody to mishear me. But over a long period of time, if you’ll do the things that I’m asking you to do here, you will look back and you’ll go, “Man, this made a difference in my life. This was a game changer.” First, God first from here on out.
Second, find Godly financial help within the Body.
Listen, there are men and women in this church that understand finances. There are men and women in this church that get budgets. There’s men and women in this church that know what they’re doing, and often times we’re just too proud to say, “I need help.”
Listen to me here. You got to want it. You got to say, “I’m tired of doing this stuff. I’m tired of living this way. I am tired of this thing eating my lunch on a regular basis. And I’m going to make a change in my life.” Listen, I shared this with everybody, and I’m going to share it with the next service as well. I don’t like sharing this stuff anymore than you all like sharing this stuff, but I got out of ministry when I was in my mid-twenties, and I was broke. Like a joke, broke. I mean, I was trying to give and do stuff, but my finances were in disarray.
So, I went to my dad, because my dad knows how to do money. I said, “Dad, dude, I’m tired of living this way.”
And he’s like, “You want some help?”
I’m like, “That’s why I came here.”
He’s like, “Alright.” He goes, “You’re not going to like my answer though.”
And I’m like, “Okay.”
He says, “I want you to sign over all your accounts to me. I’m going to take all of them on, and I’m going to give you weekly money to live on. And I’m going to get yourself situated. And then when I get it situated, me and you are going to sit down and we’re going to learn how to get this thing straight.”
You know what, that changed my financial life, because I was willing to say, “I’m broken here, and I need help.” If you sit here today and you walk out of here and you go, “Yeah, that’s a great message and it was practical or whatever,” but you don’t do anything about it you’re going to continue to get the same thing in your life. And hear me as your pastor. I love you. I don’t want you to live in financial bondage. I don’t.
So, it’s got to start God first. And then it’s gotta be, let’s get some help.
Third, we got to prioritize our bills. One of the things we’re bad at as Christians is we don’t know what’s important. Like a car is important, because you got to have a car, usually, to get a job. Some of you are like, “Well, I use a skateboard.” God bless you then. Use a skateboard. But you know what, the bottom line is we got to learn to prioritize the bills.
Here’s what we do. People start calling and it’s like a 20-dollar bill, and we pay that rather than paying the things that are important. I heard a judge one time say to a guy, he said, “Let me tell you something. When you don’t pay your bills they take your stuff, but when you don’t pay your child support they throw you in jail.”
I was like, “That’s a good prioritization list right there, because jail doesn’t sound very good, right?” Do you agree with me? So, we have to learn to prioritize our bills. We got to learn how to put things in order. What are important?
Sometimes, maybe things that don’t need to get don’t get paid. Maybe we just need to let some stuff go, but we gotta figure out how to get out bills in priority so that we can start to live again.
Fourth, negotiate with your creditors, or have someone help you negotiate. I can’t tell you that everybody that you call is going to negotiate, but I can tell you this. Some of them will. And if you will take that, because here’s what we do as Christians, this is good preaching right here, what I’m getting ready to say. Most of us as Christians do this. The phone rings and we run like it’s going to go away. Like Discover Card is gonna just go, “Oh you know what, he’s gonna give me the $5,000 back. He seemed like a good guy. Just erase it.” They’re not going to do that. They’re going to keep calling. They’re going to keep coming.
Maybe you need to get on the phone and negotiate, and maybe if you can’t do that find somebody that can help you negotiate. But you’d be surprised. You might get some help here.
Fifth, control spending. Now, listen to me here, I love you all, but listen to me. Ain’t no coffee worth five bucks. It’s amazing. I can’t get y’all to “Amen” something when I’m preaching the Bible, but I mention coffee and y’all are like, “Yeah!” I need to go into a different line of work. Get some “Amens” on coffee.
But that’s the truth. If you would look, if I would look at the things that we spend money on during the month. We just blow all kinds of money. Just blow it. Control it. Control it. Learn to look at it and go, “I’m not going to do this.”
Listen, you can give to God. You can put Him first, but then you could go running around and have no financial integrity in your life and try to blame that on God. That’s on you. God didn’t say give it to Me and then I’ll just sort of bless you no matter how bad you spend your finances. He wants to have some stewards. And we got to control our spending. We really need to do that.
Sixth, how about generate some extra income. And this is for free, because some of you may go, “How would I do that?” This is not exhaustive, but this is just some ideas. Generate some extra income. A garage sale, or an interest auction. We all got stuff laying around our house that we don’t need. I mean, seriously, I feel bad saying this. I feel like I need to go repent. I got a staircase that goes up to our loft at our house, and it’s really cool the way the builder did it. He put a closet underneath the staircase. You know what I’m talking about? Like a closet. That thing is filled to the top with old toys that my kids don’t want anymore. They just want their iPads, and fight about those things. There’s all those toys in there. I mean like seriously, we’ll be like three days looking for one of our kids, and they’re in the closet back there with the toys. Praise God there was some Cheetos and a Mountain Dew back there.
Anyway, the deal is that we got a lot of stuff. You’ve probably got a lot of stuff that you could get rid of. What about offering services that you could do to neighbors and friends. Some of you all have electrical equipment and talents. Some of you have computer talent. Some of you have other stuff. Some of you can sow. There’s all kinds of stuff that you can do. And I’ll tell you what, you tell your neighbors, “I’m trying to get out of debt. I’m going to do everything I can. I’m tired of living in debt. I’m tired of living this thing. I’m tired of doing that.” You’d be surprised at how many of your neighbors would go, “You know what, yeah if you want to come do that, that’d be great.” Because people, as a general rule, want to help people. They genuinely don’t want to see people struggling.
Or what about a part-time job. Maybe that’s what you need to do. Get a part-time job for a little while to pay down some stuff. But generate some extra income.
Now, your pastor is a human being, and I can’t count, because dummy put six again rather than seven. So, this is number seven. It’s taken me three services to realize that. I’m just dumb. Anyway, yeah, y’all are going, “About time he understood that.” So, what we want to do is, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to learn to pray the word of God around your house.
Listen to this. Some of you need to hear this. Psalm 34:10 “Those who seek the Lord…” – Now, notice there, it didn’t say those who stumble around and bumble. Those who are seeking the Lord – “…lack no good thing.”
Philippians 4:19. Paul says, “My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches and glory.” Notice that. According to His riches, not yours. His. And you know why it writes that. You got to look at the context. He writes that because the Philippians have given to Him. Paul says, “I know that God’s going to supply your needs, because you’re givers.”
What about Deuteronomy 29:5? “I’ve led you 40 years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your foot.” Think about that, man. God can give you supernatural provision.
My mom could do that, too. She could take leftovers that were three months old in the freezer, and all of a sudden there they were again. And it tasted like a sandal.
Anyway, Luke 12:24. “Consider the ravens. They neither sow nor reap. They don’t have storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds. Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”
Ephesians 3:20. “Now, to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we could ask or think.”
I want to pray for two people here today. Two people. One, I want to pray for those that are in financial bondage right now, and you’re like going, “Man, this is speaking to me.” Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to make your chair right now your alter. And I want you to say I am tired of living this way, and I’m going to make a change in my life today. God, I’m putting You first. I’m going to do it Your way. I’ve trusted You with my eternity. I should be able to trust You with my finances, and I’m leaving here today until I make a commitment to put this thing in order. Because I believe, wholeheartedly, if you will do that today it may not be tomorrow, it may not be a week, but you’ll look back over several years and you will realize that God is as faithful as I’m telling you that He is. Because He is.
And secondly, I want to pray for those of you all who maybe aren’t struggling financially. Maybe you aren’t in that position, but I want to ask you not to be a tipper. Seriously. You know, the Church needs help. We don’t need help financially. We’re in the best we’ve ever been financially. But what I’m saying is that we want to grow, and we want to do other things, and we want to do stuff. It’s like the old preacher said, and this is the truth, he’s like, “All the money needed the Church has there, but unfortunately it’s in people’s wallets. And sometimes they just don’t want to give.” They just go, I don’t want to give that much money because of whatever.
So, I’m going to end you here, before we pray, with a cute little story. A little boy comes to church, he’s a skater boy. He’s got tattoos all over his arms, and got earrings and all that good stuff. He comes into church, and after church the pastor goes, “Hey, it was strange that that boy showed up to church. He wasn’t a typical church guy.” He runs out in the yard, and says, “Hey, how’d you like church?”
The boy’s like, “Man, it was the best church service ever, man. It was awesome.” He’s like trying to fist bump the pastor, but the pastor doesn’t live on the front bumper of pop culture so he doesn’t know what a fist bump is. He thought he was going to punch him or something.
He’s like, “So, you really enjoyed it?”
He’s like, “Pastor, this is the best place I’ve ever been to, man. I’ve never been to a place like this. This is awesome.”
He goes, “Man, that’s awesome.”
He goes, “I’m going to be quicker next weekend.”
He’s like, “Quicker?”
“Yeah, I’m going to be quicker?”
He’s like, “Quicker?”
He goes, “Dude, you got to know how it is, man. It was awesome. This big old bucket of money comes buy, and I’m pulling out, and the usher wants it, and I gave it to him. I’m going to be quicker next week, man. This place is awesome.”
Listen, don’t be someone who’s trying to grab everything you can from God. Let’s learn to be people who give so that we don’t have to go through all the shakiness of our finances. Amen?
Let’s pray. Dear Heavenly Father, in Your name, for Your glory, in the mighty name of Jesus, first people I pray for are those who are in financial bondage even here in this church, and those who are going to watch via the mobile app and the internet. I pray right now in the name of Jesus, Lord, that that financial garbage would be broken in Jesus name, and there would be some faith in belief that rises up in Your people today, Lord, to say, “I’m tired of living this way. It’s time for me to trust God.”
And then, Lord, I pray for the second group that are financially okay. Like to hold on a little bit. Get their life the way they want it before they do. Lord, let them see that we need to trust You, too. We need to believe, Lord, in the principals of giving.
So, Lord, we just thank You today for Your goodness, Your mercy, and Your kindness. And Lord, we just ask that as we leave here today that You would truly let us leave differently than when we came in. In Jesus name. And everybody said Amen. Can you give the Lord a big hand clap? Give Him a big hand clap. Tell Him you love Him.