DashHouse.com

The Blog of Darryl Dash

This blog is about how Jesus changes everything. He changes:

Our relationship with God

Our relationship with others

Our vocations - how we live and work in this world

Our ministries

This blog exists to explore some of the ways that Jesus changes everything. It provides resources and articles that will help you think about the ways that Jesus can change every part of your life.

The Lord himself invites you to a conference concerning your immediate and endless happiness, and He would not have done this if He did not mean well toward you. Do not refuse the Lord Jesus who knocks at your door; for He knocks with a hand which was nailed to the tree for such as you are. Since His only and sole object is your good, incline your ear and come to Him. Hearken diligently, and let the good word sink into your soul. (C.H. Spurgeon, All of Grace)

Eternal Perspectives

  • please open your Bibles to Hebrews 11 this morning
  • when I attended school, I lived with three different families
  • there was one family in particular with whom I was tempted to make permanent residence
  • during the year and a half that I lived there, some of the best meals were fashioned and cooked for me
  • during my stay, I think I cooked about two meals for myself
  • and went near the dishwasher about once
  • cleaning was certainly not a problem
  • this automatically became clean with no effort on my part
  • I remember one time I got out a milk jug, turned around to get a cup out, and by the time I placed the cup on the counter the milk had been packed away already
  • friends, it was amazing how fast this house cleaned itself
  • with a little help, but not from me
  • I had the biggest bedroom in this house
  • I had the biggest bathroom all to myself
  • even though there were three children, they would go into their parent's room and use the ensuite bathroom instead of mine
  • the family I lived with even offered to do my laundry
  • now I thought I was paying them a small fortune
  • until I had to start paying my own expenses
  • and then I found out that this family was not investing in the mutual fund market with any of the money I was paying them
  • about the same time, someone leant me their car for four months
  • now, I knew that cars ran on gas
  • and I knew someone had to pay for that gas
  • but until then, I had never really assumed that there was any cost to running an automobile
  • I thought you could just get in the car, turn the key, drive, park it in the driveway, and that was the end of it
  • but life was still good
  • every once in a while I would take it to the friend who loaned me the car, tell him the oil needed changing, and ask him if he could have it back to me by dinner
  • life was pretty good
  • well, you have to understand that I'm exaggerating just a little bit
  • but my wedding to Charlene was coming up
  • and one day I mentioned what a great married life Charlene and I were going to have living with them
  • I said, most couples have to cook meals and pay a mortgage and do dishes
  • what a great life we're going to have living here with you
  • to my surprise, the situation in that house was temporary
  • I found out that family entertained no illusions about catering to my needs after the children had grown up and left, or even once I got married
  • my sojourn in that house was always a temporary one, and as much as I enjoyed it, I was simply on the way to a better place
  • and by the way, if anyone hears of a better place, please let me know
  • read a few verses from Hebrews 11 with me
  • 8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
  • 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.
  • 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
  • did you notice in verse 9? He lived in tents, for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God
  • 1 Peter 2:11 says that we are aliens and strangers in the world
  • I know some people who have become pretty comfortable in this world
  • they make the same mistake that I did
  • they mistake a temporary residence for their permanent one
  • this morning friends, you and I are just passing through on the way to a better place
  • we're living in tents
  • at any time we could move on and leave this temporary residence on the way to something better
  • one day we will enter the glory of our permanent residence, the saint's everlasting rest
  • (Hebrews 4:9) There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;
  • (Hebrews 4:10) for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.
  • this past week a member of our church has entered into this rest
  • we don't know who is going to be next
  • which is why the writer to the Hebrews continues
  • (Hebrews 4:11) Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
  • one of the problems with our view of heaven is that we picture it to be a place with clouds and harps and angels
  • somebody could say, "I'd rather spend a weekend in a bear trap rather than in heaven"
  • Jesus made heaven sound like a real place
  • the Bible teaches that those who have trusted Christ will live eternally with God in a new heavens and new earth
  • Jesus said in Matthew 6:20
  • But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
  • let me ask you some questions
  • what are you doing with your one and only life?
  • it's soon coming to an end
  • what are you doing with it?
  • when it ends, what regrets will you have?
  • how are you investing in other people?
  • when life draws to a close, you realize it's people who are important
  • Jesus tried to help his disciples try to understand the nature of time
  • sometimes he would be walking along and find a field flower that just came into bloom
  • he'd say, "How long does this field flower stay in bloom?"
  • "2 weeks!" "18 days" "10 days"
  • a short time!
  • actuarially, you will live 70 years
  • 2 weeks is a short time compared to 70 years
  • now compare your 70 years to eternity - very short!
  • but the decisions you make in that short period of time have important effects on that eternity
  • so Jesus would say, make choices in light of eternity, no matter how hard!
  • you'll enjoy the payoff forever
  • see this principle?
  • so against this backdrop of time, Jesus urges us not just to come to him in faith and repentance, he also tells us to build up for ourselves treasures in heaven as opposed to orienting our lives around earthly treasures, which depreciate and deteriorate
  • how do we do it?
  • how do we make sure we're only strangers and sojourners in this land
  • how do we store up for ourselves treasures in heaven?
  • how do we make a deposit on our heavenly account?
  • 5 ways
  • ONE: EVERY ACT OF PRIVATE AND CORPORATE WORSHIP IS A DEPOSIT IN THE HEAVENLY BANK ACCOUNT
  • a good example of heavenly treasure building is found in Luke 7
  • a man so eager to spar with Jesus that he was rude, didn't wash his feet or show any of the courtesies that you pay to a guest
  • a sinful woman came in worship, took her hair and some costly ointment to wash Jesus feet
  • the Pharisees were complaining that
    • a. she is a woman
    • b. she's a sinner
    • c. she's wasting her time
  • well, I've forgiven her sin, and worship isn't a wasteful opportunity
  • and he told a parable to say if you knew the extent of your sin, you would probably worship a little more
  • in the Lord's prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, "Hallowed be your name"
  • and Jesus said, Mat 6:6 Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
  • one of the rewards is a deposit to your heavenly bank account
  • one of the most bullish investments you can make is to pause a bit more to acknowledge and worship God
  • it is recorded in the ledger sheets of heaven
  • and it moves and delights the heart of God
  • some of us get a little achievement oriented
  • but there's a poem

I wasted an hour one morning before a mountain stream
I seized a cloud from the sky above and fashioned myself a dream
In the hush of early twilight far from the haunts of man
I wasted a summer evening and fashioned my dream again
Wasted? Perhaps, folks say so who have never walked with God
When lanes are purple with lilacs or yellow with goldenrod
But I have found strength for my labors in that short evening hour
I have found joy and contentment, I have found peace and I have found power
My dreaming has left me a treasure, a hope that is strong and true
In these wasted hours I have built my life
And I've found my faith anew

  • worship is not a wasteful activity
  • it pleases God and reminds us what treasure really is

  • TWO: EVERY ATTEMPT TO STRENGTHEN YOUR CHARACTER IS A DEPOSIT IN YOUR HEAVENLY BANK ACCOUNT
  • every attempt to be Christlike
  • 1 Pet 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
  • 1 Pet 3:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
  • it's a hard thing to live out Christlike character
  • you ever get ripped off by somebody?
  • I can be a real jerk
  • but losing $10 is not enough to justify losing my character
  • we pass up beautiful opportunities to show Christlike character
  • they're face to face with Christ followers and we have opportunities to make deposits to our heavenly bank account
  • the big question: how would Christ act in this situation if He were in my shoes?
  • every time we choose love over hate, forgiveness over grudge bearing, wisdom over foolishness, faith over fear, generosity over stinginess, we delight the heart of God and make deposits to our bank account
  • THREE: EVERY EXPRESSION OF COMPASSION TO THE NEEDY IS A DEPOSIT IN YOUR HEAVENLY BANK ACCOUNT
  • Mat 10:42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."
  • here's someone who's thirsty
  • Jesus didn't say, the person who solves the world water problem or brings about earthly peace
  • he doesn't set the bar that high
  • he wants us to go around with a little canteen of compassion and an awareness that Jesus might have us cross paths with those who need a swig of grace
  • it would change life on the planet if believers like this
  • but if you're like me, we see needy situations and we feel helpless
  • but we don't have to solve a nation's problems, we have to just help one person at a time
  • a storm in Florida brought in tens of thousands of starfish
  • a little boy went along throwing them back in the water, one by one
  • an old man came by and said, "Kid, even if you stayed here all day, you wouldn't even make a difference, there are so many"
  • the boy threw another one in and said, "I think I just made a difference for that one"
  • you don't have to change the world, just have that canteen available
  • we can buy chocolate bars from little kids raising money for their school
  • we can give to the benevolent fund to help somebody whose mother is dying half a world away
  • when Christ followers let the love of Christ fill their canteens, and we hand it out or pour it into a bottle at church, it accrues into our bank account in heaven

  • FOUR: EVERY SACRIFICE WE MAKE FOR THE CAUSE OF KINGDOM ADVANCEMENT IS A DEPOSIT IN YOUR HEAVENLY BANK ACCOUNT
  • 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
  • every time you get involved in a ministry or church that's fulfilling Christ's command, in time or money, there are dividends accruing in your heavenly account
  • a pastor flying to another city to speak at a church
  • the person sitting beside him seemed to want to talk
  • the pastor made a deal with God that he would talk to this person if God helped him with the message later
  • so he talked to this person who, it turned out, has leukemia
  • his wife has cancer
  • his daughter has diabetes
  • but through the church this man pastors, they had come to know God

  • FIVE: IF YOU STAY TRUE TO CHRIST TO THE GRAVE, THAT WILL RESULT IN A GREAT DEPOSIT IN YOUR HEAVENLY BANK ACCOUNT
  • 2 Tim 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
  • 2 Tim 4:8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
  • the odds are stacked against us, in many ways
  • there are distractions of pleasure seeking, there are valleys of discouragement
  • it's going to take two things: the power of the Holy Spirit, and a resounding commitment of your will and mine
  • "I am a disciple of Christ. I won't look back, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, by present makes sense, my future is secure. I am finished with low living, sight walking, small thinking, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talk, chincy giving and dwarfed goals. I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. My face is set, my goal is heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough. But my Guide is reliable and my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, associate at the table of the enemy, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, let up, or shut up till I've preached up, paid up, stored up and staid up for the cause of Christ. I'm a disciple of Christ. I must go until He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know and work till he stops. And when He comes to claim His own, He will have no problem recognizing me, because my colors are clear."
  • how clear are your colors?
  • when last did you make a resounding commitment that from here to the grave, you're going to be true to Christ, and build up treasures of heaven

Get a Grip on Your Devotions

  • there has been a mystery that has puzzled me for many years
  • this mystery is one that has confronted thousands through the Christians
  • and it is this:
  • you take two people sitting on the same pew
  • you take them to the same church to hear the same sermon week after week
  • you even make sure they use the same Bible version and have the proper soil and lighting conditions
  • and one grows to be a spiritual giant, and the other one turns out to be a spiritual dwarf
  • have you ever wondered why?
  • this has been especially troubling to me as a pastor, because I have come to realize that my sermons are unlikely to make anyone a holier person
  • that's a humbling thing for a pastor to realize
  • if it were enough to listen to great preaching, with the number of great preachers on the radio and all the preaching available to us, we would have been holy long ago
  • attendance at church doesn't do it
  • I think it's necessary, but there are many people who have attended church for many years who haven't grown an inch spiritually
  • I've put some thought into this over the years and I've reached somewhat of a conclusion
  • I think I've discovered what is missing in many people's lives
  • it's the difference between those who grow and those who don't
  • to illustrate what this missing ingredient is, let me illustrate
  • a young person has a desire to be an excellent baseball player
  • they decide one way to do this is to watch what excellent baseball players do
  • there are no excellent baseball players around, so eventually he settles for the Blue Jays
  • and so he goes to the SkyDome and watches what these professional players do
  • they hold the bat a certain way, they slide into bases
  • and he observes all the traits of these professional baseball players and says, "I'm going to be just like them"
  • the next day, he goes on the baseball field
  • he's bought the same shoes these athletes wear
  • he holds the bat the same way that the professionals do
  • he wears the batting helmet the same way
  • he even slides into first base the same way the pros do
  • but he's a flop
  • why?
  • why does he not succeed in performing like a baseball star?
  • here's the answer:
  • because if all he does is to try to be like a professional during the game, the won't succeed no matter how talented he is
  • you see, the professional athlete didn't achieve his excellence by trying to behave a certain way during the game
  • instead, he has chosen an overall life of preparation of the mind and body, pouring all his energies into total preparation, to provide a foundation for the body's automatic responses and strength for his conscious efforts during the game
  • in other words, it's what the athlete did privately before entering the field on a regular basis that made the difference
  • it's the daily regimen of specified disciplines of body and mind that prepare him to be a great athlete
  • similarly, many Christians leave the pew on Sundays thinking, "This week I'm going to be a Christian all-star"
  • but they don't realize that a spiritually mature Christian just doesn't go out and obey God's commandments automatically
  • there has been a daily regimen of spiritual disciplines in private, that nobody else has seen, that allows them to lead victorious and Spirit-filled Christian lives
  • this morning I want to talk about these disciplines
  • to help you get a grip on your devotional life
  • they're the missing ingredient that turn spiritual midgets into spiritual giants
  • but one word of warning
  • many people try quick fixes
  • they reflect on the burning bush experience of Moses, Isaiah's vision in the Temple, or the confrontation that Paul had on the road to Damascus
  • they say, "If I could only have had an experience like any of those, I'd be spiritually fixed for life"
  • the fact is that the average person - like you and me - is not going to have a great biblical confrontation
  • and even if we did, it would be like feasting at an all-you-can-eat buffet, and thinking "I'll never go hungry again"
  • there are no short-cuts or quick fixes
  • there is nothing short of the regular, consistent practice of spiritual disciplines that will make a difference in your life
  • Dallas Willard has written an excellent book called the Spirit of the Disciplines that lists about 15 spiritual disciplines that are essential for a growing believer
  • now I was going to cover all 15 this morning until I realized that some of you might have other things planned for today
  • but I want to cover some key ones
  • Bible study, prayer, and solitude
  • there are others I could cover such as fasting, service, fellowship, and confession
  • if you want to study more on all 15, I recommend that you pick up a copy of Willard's book or some other excellent ones I have
  • let me re-emphasize that these are not quick fixes or techniques
  • they are absolutely necessary for your growth as a believer
  • let's highlight a few very quickly, and then spend a bit more time on one that we don't hear a lot about
  • THE FIRST DISCIPLINE I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS MORNING IS BIBLE STUDY
  • imagine for a moment that someone you love is no longer with you
  • perhaps they have moved away, or passed on, but there is no way that you can contact them any longer
  • one day, you're flipping through some papers and you find a letter that had been delivered to you years ago, but had never been opened
  • imagine the joy as you for the first time, unseal that letter, and read the expressions of love from a long-lost friend.
  • in my hand I have a document far more priceless than a letter
  • everything we know about Christianity has been revealed to us by God
  • containing 66 books and written over a period of thousands of years by various authors, we call this the very Word of God, God's message written directly for us
  • a daily study of the Word of God using an accurate and readable translation is absolutely essential
  • "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness," (2 Tim 3:16 NIV)
  • "so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim 3:17 NIV)
  • when Jesus was tempted by Satan at the beginning of the ministry, to every temptation Jesus was able to say, "It is written"
  • The Bible is the Word of life, the bread, the meat we need to live the Christian life
  • "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation," (1 Pet 2:2 NIV)
  • "now that you have tasted that the Lord is good." (1 Pet 2:3 NIV)
  • but we are admonished in another Scripture:
  • "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food. Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." (Heb 5:12-14 NIV)
  • "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." (2 Tim 2:15 NIV)
  • many people come home on Sundays, put the book aside, and only pick it up the next Sunday when they return to church
  • but we are to crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation
  • return to this taproot of truth
  • lean on it
  • start today
  • it will hold you up and keep you strong
  • when it comes to a final authority in life, the Bible measures up
  • many Christians have no Biblical source books like a good commentary on their shelves
  • they don't realize that an investment of $50 or $100 for a good reference set of Biblical tools will serve them well over their entire lifetime
  • David Watson was a prominent Christian in Britain
  • he came down with a case of terminal cancer that eventually took his life
  • a few days before doctors operated on this cancer, this is what he wrote:
    • As I spent time chewing over the endless assurances and promises to be found in the Bible, so my faith in the living God grew stronger and held me safe in his hands. God's word to us, especially his word spoken by his Spirit through the Bible, is the very ingredient that feeds our faith. If we feed our souls regularly on God's word, several times each day, we should become robust spiritually just as we feed on ordinary food several times each day, and become robust physically. Nothing is more important than hearing and obeying the word of God.
  • THE SECOND DISCIPLINE WE'LL COVER TODAY IS PRAYER
  • prayer is conversing, communicating with God
  • when we pray, we talk to God, aloud or within our thoughts
  • prayer often goes along with other disciplines such as study, meditation, worship, and often solitude and fasting as well
  • communication is key to any relationship
  • and our relationship with God is no different
  • you could preach for years about prayer, but let me simplify prayer by calling it a visit with God
  • what do you do when you visit with someone?
  • you communicate, you casually open your life to them
  • when we visit with God, we do the same, along with praising Him and adoring Him
  • not long ago, I had failed to communicate enough with Charlene
  • and it was taking its toll on our relationship
  • we had a date scheduled, and let me tell you, it was hard to go out on that date
  • we hadn't entered into soul intimacy in such a long time it was a bit intimidating
  • but as we spent time on that date, conversation and thoughts flowed naturally, there was openness and communication
  • it was great!
  • and I left thinking, what was to fear about this?
  • why didn't we do this long ago?
  • it's the same with prayer
  • in seminary they used to have days of prayer twice a year
  • the first time I said, "Who can spend a whole day in prayer?"
  • but I quickly found out what a profitable time it was, and I said, "Why didn't I do this sooner? Why don't I do it more often?"
  • now for those of us who don't have enough time for prayer
  • the great reformer Martin Luther said, "I have so much to do today, I'll need to spend another hour on my knees"
  • Bill Hybels has written a book with a great title: "Too busy not to pray"
  • prayer is essential to living an effective, spirit-filled life
  • many have found the practice of journaling helpful in slowing down their minds enough to pray
  • as they write their prayers, they write nothing profound or that anyone else would want to read, but the process of writing slows down their mind from 6000 RPM to 1000 or 2000
  • and then they're quiet enough to commune with God
  • others suggest ACTS as an acronym for how to pray
  • the A stands for Adoration, C for Confession, T for thanksgiving, and S for supplication or asking God
  • however you do it, just jump in and pray!
  • it's better to pray poorly than not to pray at all
  • it's essential for your life
  • AND I WANT TO CLOSE WITH THE DISCIPLINE OF SOLITUDE
  • by solitude I mean time alone with God
  • in our current age, there is seldom a time in which we experience silence and solitude
  • and yet these are essential to our spiritual lives
  • when we're in the car, the radio is on
  • when we're at home, the television is on
  • when people are away, many of us feel lonely and empty
  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote:
  • "Unfortunately the world today does not seem to understand, in either man or woman, the need to be alone. Anything else will be accepted as a better excuse. If one sets time aside for a shopping expedition, that time is accepted as inviolable; but if one says, "I cannot come because that is my hour to be alone," one is considered rude, egotistical, or strange"
  • a Christian man had a bad case of insomnia
  • every night at 2 a.m. he would be wide awake
  • after some time, he decided he would go to a therapist, who happened to be Jewish
  • and he told the therapist that he had some trouble, because he couldn't sleep, do you have any suggestions?
  • the Jewish therapist said, "Don't you read your Bible?"
  • the man replied, "Of course I do"
  • the therapist responded, "Don't you remember the story of Eli and Samuel in the Old Testament?"
  • that story, of course, is found in 1 Samuel 3
  • in the middle of the night, the little boy Samuel heard his name called
  • he thought it way Eli the priest, but it turned out on the fourth time that God was calling out to Samuel
  • and so the therapist said, "Maybe God is waking you up to speak to you. Next time at when you wake up at 2, get up, and go sit in a quiet place, and listen to God speaking"
  • and so he did
  • that very night, at 2 o'clock, he was wide awake
  • he went out to his living room and sat and listened to God
  • at first he didn't hear anything
  • but at about four o'clock he began to hear God speaking to his soul
  • near the end, he was ready to go back to sleep, and he said, "God, can't you speak to me during the day?"
  • and what he heard back in his soul from God is, "During the day, you're much to busy to listen to me"
  • still to this day, he gets up every night at 2 and spends 2 hours with God before he goes back to sleep, and wakes up refreshed the next morning
  • Jesus, of all people, needed solitude, and he created this solitude for himself
  • Mark 1:35 - After a late evening of healing people, Jesus got up early to pray, even when everyone was looking for him.
  • Luke 6:12-13 - Jesus, a master of discerning the hearts of people, spent the whole night in prayer before choosing his disciples.
  • Matthew 14:13, 23-25 - After Jesus heard that John the Baptist was killed, he prayed until 3:00 a.m.. This after a day that included the sad news about John, a trip across the lake, ministry to the sick and needy in a massive crowd, and the feeding of the five thousand.
  • also: Beginning of Jesus' ministry (40 days in desert), night of his arrest, Paul's three years in Arabia (Galatians 1:16-18)
  • if Jesus needed solitude, surely we do!
  • there are places in Toronto that will give you a quiet room to meditate for a day, to get in touch with God
  • an man named Arthur Gordon tells of a time in his life when he began to feel that everything was stale and flat
  • finally, he decided to get help from his medical doctor
  • there was nothing wrong physically, but his doctor asked him if he would be able to follow his instructions for one day
  • Gordon replied that he would
  • listen to what the doctor said
  • the doctor told him to spend the following day in a place where we was happiest as a child
  • he could take food, but he was not allowed to talk to anyone or to read or write or listen to the radio
  • he then wrote out four prescriptions and told him to open one at nine, twelve, three, and six o'clock
  • "Are you serious?" Gordon asked him
  • "You won't think I'm joking when you get my bill!" was the reply
  • the next morning, Gordon went to the beach
  • as he opened the first prescription, he read, "Listen carefully"
  • he though the doctor was insane
  • how could he listen for three hours?
  • but he had agreed to follow the doctor's orders, so he listened
  • he heard the usual sounds of the sea and the birds
  • after a while, he began to hear other sounds that weren't so obvious at first
  • as he listened, he began to think of lessons the sea had taught him as a child - patience, respect
  • he began to listen to the sounds - and the silence - and to feel a growing peace
  • well, noon came, so he opened the second slip of paper and read, "Try reaching back"
  • "Reach back to what?" he asked
  • perhaps to childhood, perhaps to memories of happy times
  • he thought about his past, about the many moments of joy
  • he tried to remember them with exactness
  • and in remembering, he found a growing warmth inside
  • at three o'clock, he opened the third piece of paper
  • up until now, the prescriptions had been easy to take
  • but this one was different: it said, "Examine your motives"
  • at first he was defensive, thinking that the doctor was maligning him
  • he thought about what he wanted - success, recognition, and security, and he justified them all in his mind
  • but then the thought occurred to him that these motives weren't good enough, and perhaps therein was the answer to his stagnant situation
  • he considered his motives deeply
  • he thought about past happiness
  • and at last, the answer came to him
  • "In a flash of certainty," he wrote, "I saw that if one's motives are wrong, nothing can be right. It makes no difference whether you are a mailman, a hairdresser, an insurance salesman, a housewife - whatever. As long as you feel you are serving others, you do the job well. When you are concerned only with helping yourself, you do it less well - a law as inexorable as gravity"
  • six o'clock finally came, and the last prescription didn't take long to fill
  • it said, "Write your worries on the sand"
  • he knelt and wrote several words with a piece of broken shell; then he turned and walked away
  • he didn't look back; he knew the tide would come in
  • one man writes, "The greatest battles of life are fought out daily in the silent chambers of the soul"
  • (Proverbs 4:23) Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Get a Grip on Your Relationships

  • relationships are the graduate school of Christianity
  • you can have all sorts of good knowledge of theology and the Bible, but if you have lousy relationships, you are nothing
  • relationships are where the rubber hits the road
  • look at the priority that Jesus puts on relationships
  • turn with me to Mark 12
  • 28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
  • 29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
  • 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'
  • 31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
  • 32 "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him.
  • 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
  • 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
  • in other words, the command to love others as we love ourselves is central to the Gospel message
  • and yet many of us fudge on this matter
  • to illustrate this, I heard a story about a man who went to a pet store to buy some dog food
  • on the way in, he heard the parrot say, "Mister!"
  • when he turned around, the parrot said, "You're the ugliest man I've ever seen!"
  • the man was flabbergasted, but went anyway and paid for the dog food
  • on the way out of the store, he heard the parrot again cry, "Mister! You're the ugliest man I've ever seen!"
  • this time the man was getting really angry
  • so he asked to speak to the manager and he complained
  • the manager said, "Don't worry. I'll take care of it and it will never happen again"
  • he heard the manager take the parrot into the back, and he heard feathers flying and the bird getting slapped around
  • the manager brought the parrot back and placed it on the perch
  • as the man was leaving the store, the parrot yelled "Mister!"
  • really annoyed, the man turned around and looked at the parrot
  • and the parrot said, "You know"
  • many of us go around with plastic smiles treating people with a veneer of respect, but underneath that veneer, we're saying, "You know"
  • we've learned not to say certain things and to treat other people with respect, but our underlying attitude is saying, "You know"
  • the phrase "one another" occurs 58 times in the New Testament
  • commands like "love one another", "pray for one another," and my personal favorite, "greet one another with a holy kiss"
  • what I want you to do is to think of the two most important relationships you have, and write them down
  • now think of the two most challenging or frustrating or broken down relationships you have, and write them down
  • now if the same people are on both lists, you have problems
  • and I want to look at a few points as we think of these four key relationships
  • POINT ONE: YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THESE PEOPLE DIRECTLY AFFECTS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
  • it's impossible to relate well to God when we have poor relationships with those in our lives
  • we lose the ability to have an unencumbered relationship with God when there's a breakdown in love
  • we like to think that we can have a breakdown in a human relationship and go on and relate to God like nothing happened
  • the Bible says you can't do that
  • (James 3:9-10) With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
  • (1 John 4:20) If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
  • our relationship with each other and our relationship with God have this linkage
  • it's a little like a family system
  • picture a dad who's going to go fishing with his two sons
  • but the sons have had a fight, they're really angry with each other, but they want to go fishing with dad
  • so they're out in the boat, but you can smell a little something in the boat
  • even though they think they can relate to their father okay, every conversation is measured
  • every action in the boat is carefully calculated
  • the father tries to engage the two boys, but he has a hard time
  • the odor of hostility in the boat is worse than the smell of the worms and the fish
  • by 9 a.m. they pack it in and head to shore
  • the family system is breaking down
  • imagine another boat, where the dad's in the middle seat and the boys are getting along with each other
  • the atmosphere in that boat is free and happy, there is energy and humor, the conversations flow unedited, there is no eggshelling going on, actions are spontaneous, the fishing is enjoyable
  • what keeps the boat on the lake until sunset is the quality of the family system
  • the richness of the community in all of its various dynamics
  • the aroma is very sweet
  • Jesus taught that in his kingdom, we need to think of Christianity as kind of a family system
  • with a father in the center of the boat, and his various children in different parts of the boat
  • the father's desire is that the children relate to him warmly and to each other with hearts of love and grace
  • because if they do, what happens in the boat is wonderful
  • there's a life-giving atmosphere
  • the aroma is so sweet that people crowd down by the beach, wishing they could spend time on that boat because there's love on that boat
  • but some of us know all too well that love is a terrible place to be if love breaks down
  • it's a confined space, and soon you can smell it in the air, and you can hear whispers and rumors, and accusations are flying, and sides are being taken, and voices are becoming shrill and hostile
  • and you know where it really turns ugly? if in the middle of that boat somebody suggests they all hold hands and sing a worship song
  • I've actually heard of that happen one time
  • I've sat in a board meeting where hostilities have erupted
  • I've read of a board meeting in a church that degenerated into name calling and yelling and even the slip of a profanity or two
  • but the meeting had to be cut short because they had to go over to the evening service
  • the guy who was leading the evening service was the guy who chaired the meeting
  • all the board members sat in the same row, and the leader got up and said, "Let's sing They Will Know We are Christians by Our Love"
  • it's really hard to worship God properly when all you can see on the screen of your imagination is the mugshot of somebody you're really mad at
  • try to fix that relationship before it breaks down your relationship with the Father, before it affects the family system
  • Jesus told a story that we know as the Good Samaritan
  • in this story, a man is mugged and left on the highway
  • you know the first two people that come along and step past the man without giving him any help?
  • a priest and a Levite
  • how well do you think that priest and Levite worshipped God that morning?
  • some of you are wondering why your relationship with God isn't doing that well
  • think of the two on the list that are the most challenging
  • that could be the reason why
  • POINT TWO: HOW YOU HANDLE DIFFICULT RELATIONSHIPS DETERMINES YOUR EMOTIONAL AND ULTIMATELY YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH
  • I know a man who is carrying the same grudges that he did 20 years ago
  • and to hear him speak, he's as full of venom now over events that happened decades ago as he ever was
  • and it's killing him
  • the bitterness not only has affected his emotional health, but it takes its toll on the body
  • if you rupture your Achilles' tendon, you can go several days or even weeks before you have surgery
  • nothings bleeding, the complications aren't severe
  • contrast that to a ruptured appendix
  • if you rupture your appendix, you better get to a hospital fast
  • forget what other things you have to do
  • toxins are going to spread through your body, and it could be lights out permanently if you don't deal with it immediately
  • a ruptured relationship is like a ruptured appendix
  • once the rupture occurs, poisons are released immediately, and before you know it resentment sets in
  • we can be in a great relationship one day, and less than 24 hours later be worked up to a point where we can say, "I hate that guy! He can never be trusted! She can never be trusted! I'll never talk to them again"
  • that thirty minutes you wait could be too long
  • Jesus says in Matthew 5
  • 23 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,
  • 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
  • 25 "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.
  • 26 I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
  • Jesus even uses a legal matter
  • he says if somebody sues you, you're better off settling it out of court, it'll be much cheaper and better
  • speed is of the essence; don't let it go
  • Ephesians 4:26 Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
  • Ephesians 4:27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
  • don't let the toxins take effect
  • if you let a grudge settle overnight, the Scripture says you're in danger of giving Satan a foothold
  • a little room to maneuver in your soul
  • and your witness to the world could be destroyed, your relationship to God endangered, and your health compromised
  • the kiss of death in our relationships is what the Scriptures call hardness of heart
  • he says, try to reconcile the relationship
  • he doesn't say, go out and vomit all your hurt on somebody, or point a finger of shame on somebody
  • he doesn't say push all the issues under the carpet and smile a false spiritual smile
  • he says go and try to reconcile that relationship
  • Paul says in Romans 12:18, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
  • unfortunately, I have some people that have been offended by me
  • but Paul says "as far as it depends on you"
  • do everything you can, make one more attempt to reconcile the relationship
  • but unfortunately,
  • you can't be healthy as long as bitterness is in your soul
  • a man named Stephen Covey has written at least three books
  • executives pay thousands of dollars to hear him speak
  • but Stephen Covey says you automatically fulfill all his teaching when you do one simple thing: fix a broken relationship
  • POINT THREE: IT'S NOT HOW WE TREAT THE 99, IT'S HOW WE TREAT THE ONE
  • of course I'm referring to the story Jesus told about the shepherd and the 99 sheep
  • one of the points I would make is, it's very important how the shepherd reacts to the one sheep, because each of the 99 sheep could have been that sheep
  • you can be a great success in 99 of your relationships, but what about that number 100?
  • we all know people that are just plain hard to love
  • a man named Adolphus attended a Chicago inner city church
  • Adolphus was a young black man with a wild, angry look in his eye
  • if Adolphus took his medication on Sunday, he was manageable
  • otherwise, well, church could be even more exciting than usual
  • one week he might start at the back and high-hurdle his way over the pews down to the altar
  • he might raise his hands in the air during a hymn and make obscene gestures
  • or he might wear headphones and bebop instead of listening to the sermon
  • as part of this church's worship service, they had a time called "Prayers of the People"
  • everyone would stand and spontaneously different people would call out a prayer - prayers for peace, for healing, for justice
  • and after every spoken request, everyone would join in, "Lord, hear our prayer"
  • well, Adolphus joined right in
  • "Lord, thank you for creating Whitney Houston and her magnificent body!" he prayed one morning
  • after a short pause, a few chimed in weakly, "Lord, hear our prayer"
  • "Lord, thank you for the big recording contract I signed last week, and for all the good things happening to my band!"
  • well, he was making it up, but everyone joined in, "Lord, hear our prayer"
  • once Adolphus prayed that "the white honky pastors of this church would see their houses burn down this week"
  • nobody seconded that prayer
  • Adolphus had already been kicked out of three churches
  • a group of people in the church, including a doctor and a psychiatrist, took on Adolphus as a special project
  • every time he had an outburst, they would pull him aside and talk it through, using the word "inappropriate" a lot
  • they learned that Adolphus sometimes walked the five miles to church on Sunday
  • some of us might move the church farther away to make it harder for Adolphus to attend, but they began to offer him rides
  • one day he asked to play in the music group that sang during Communion services
  • they reached a compromise
  • they told him that he could stand with the others and sing, but only if his electric guitar remained unplugged
  • so he would stand up and play his guitar which nobody could hear, except on the weeks when he didn't take his medication
  • then he would do a gyrating Joe Cocker imitation across the platform
  • the day came when Adolphus asked to join the church
  • elders quizzed him on his beliefs, found little by way of encouragement, and decided to put him on a kind of probation
  • he could join when he demonstrated that he understood what it meant to be a Christian, and when he learned to act appropriately around others in the church
  • against all odds, his story has a happy ending
  • Adolphus calmed down and started calling people in the church when he felt the craziness coming on
  • he even got married
  • and on the third try, Adolphus was finally accepted for church membership
  • what this story teaches me is about grace
  • it's not what we do with the 99 that is the test, it's what we do with the people like Adolphus
  • Jesus said in Matthew 25
  • 34 "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.
  • 35 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,
  • 36 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.'
  • 37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
  • 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
  • 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
  • 40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
  • what we do to the least, we're actually doing to God
  • when we refuse the least, we're really refusing Jesus
  • I asked you at the beginning of the message to think of two people that are the most important to you
  • and two people who are the most challenging to you
  • your relationships with them are so important that they will determine your obedience to the second greatest command in the Bible
  • and the quality of these relationships will determine the quality of your relationship with the Father, and your emotional and ultimately your physical health
  • and how you treat the most unlovable people, the 1 out of the hundred, is how you treat our Savior
  • the way we treat Adolphus is the way we're treating our Savior

Get a Grip on Your Finances

  • this morning we're going to talk about Christianity's greatest competition
  • many people think that God's greatest competition is another religion, say Buddha or Mohammed
  • but I would venture to say that in North America, Christianity's greatest competition is materialism
  • and this morning we're going to talk about how to get a grip on your finances
  • because money is one of those things that if you don't get a grip on it, it will get a grip on you
  • Martin Luther once said, "There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, mind, and purse. Of these three, the conversion of the purse is the most difficult."
  • let's begin by recognizing that most people are financial failures
  • that sounds shocking, doesn't it?
  • most people do not succeed financially
  • we live in one of the world's most affluent societies, and yet very few of us ever achieve a position of being able to live off the resources we've accumulated
  • only 2% of people who reach age 65 are financially independent
  • 85 out of 100 people have less than $250 when they reach age 65
  • fewer men are worth $100 at age 68 than they were at age 18 - after 50 years of work
  • in other words, they have worked for 50 years, and have not been able to save at lest $2.00 a year
  • let's also realize that money is a spiritual topic
  • (Matthew 6:21) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
  • in other words, if you want to find out where a person's priorities lie, look at their credit card statement
  • look at their checkbook
  • if your treasure is on earth, it will be revealed in your checkbook
  • if your treasure is in heaven, that will be revealed as well
  • did you know that 16 out of 38 of Christ's parables deal with money
  • that more is said in the New Testament about money than is said about heaven and hell combined
  • five times more is said about money than prayer
  • and while there are 500 plus verses on both prayer and faith, there are over 2,000 verses dealing with money and possessions
  • obviously the Bible has much to say about money management
  • what I want to do this morning is talk about different levels of financial management
  • all of us are in different places
  • and by figuring out where we are - whether we're in financial infancy, childhood, youth, or maturity - hopefully, we'll be able to take the next step in our development
  • this will be a self-diagnostic, and we'll all be able to figure out where we are both financially and spiritually
  • by the way, you could end up at different levels in different aspects of your financial management
  • for instance, you could be an excellent financial manager but a poor giver
  • but you evaluate yourself
  • FIRST IS THE LEVEL OF FINANCIAL INFANCY
  • what is an infant like?
  • have you ever seen a generous infant?
  • babies are in the business of getting, and they give very little back in return
  • now, we love infants, but only because we know they're going to grow up
  • there's a lot that's cute about a little baby who's a few months old
  • but someone who acts like an infant when they're 18 or 44 is a different story, isn't it?
  • there's another thing about infants
  • they get awfully attached to the bottle or their mother's breast
  • there's nothing wrong with that, that's the way God created them
  • that's where they derive their security
  • but once again, they're supposed to outgrow that behavior
  • can I show you what a financial infant looks like?
  • (overhead)
  • I define financial infancy as a dependence and love for money
  • it's being controlled by money, rather than you controlling the money
  • this level of financial management is described by a well-known story in the New Testament
  • (Matthew 19:16) Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"
  • (Matthew 19:17) "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."
  • (Matthew 19:18) "Which ones?" the man inquired. Jesus replied, "'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony,
  • (Matthew 19:19) honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'"
  • (Matthew 19:20) "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?"
  • (Matthew 19:21) Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
  • (Matthew 19:22) When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
  • (Matthew 19:23) Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
  • (Matthew 19:24) Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
  • what happened in the story?
  • the rich young man was so attached to his money that there was no room left to attach to God
  • in effect, Jesus was saying to him, "Give me your pacifier," or in the words a baby would understand, "Give me your sucky"
  • and that's how the financial infant is
  • in America the coins say, "In God we trust," but a spiritual infant loves money too much to trust in God
  • (1 Timothy 6:10) For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
  • I once spoke on this verse to a fairly affluent group, and you know what they said?
  • "Oh well, that's an exaggeration. You really can serve both God and money"
  • Jesus was explaining why some people receive the Gospel and some people don't, and he told a story about seed falling onto good ground and bad ground
  • (Matthew 13:22) The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.
  • a wealth Florida coastal town attracted upscale retirees from everywhere in the country
  • it seemed like the perfect place for the "I've Found It" Campaign
  • the 1976 program, you may recall, saturated communities with "I've Found It" bumper stickers everywhere
  • people who asked what had been found learned the answer: "New life in Jesus Christ"
  • they found a correlation between interest in the Gospel message and the distance people lived from the ocean
  • in other words, the closer people lived to the water, the less interested
  • the farther from the water they went, the greater the interest
  • why do you think that was?
  • the wealthy people in the condominiums lived closest to the water, while the service help, who worked in the hotels along the coast live in the mobile home parks farthest from the water
  • Ron Pierce from Bibles International spoke to our men last year, and he said that the hardest places to reach with the Gospel are the most affluent places
  • Jesus said so much about money because it is the most insidious, beguiling, persuasive temptation
  • money crowds out God, even though it's incapable of saving us from sin or satisfying the deep hunger of our souls for true peace, meaning, and purpose
  • (Ecclesiastes 5:10) Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.
  • Bill Hybels calls it the Money Master, and if you follow him you're violating the first commandment, "You shall have no other gods before me," and the tenth commandment against covetousness
  • how much does a financial infant give to God? Nothing
  • even worse, financial infants sometimes expect to get things back from God or they try to use him for profit, such as in the health, wealth, and prosperity movement
  • now let me warn you: it's easy to dismiss all of this as alarmist
  • but the Bible time and time again warns against covetousness and materialism, even though we domesticate these sins as house pets
  • so that's financial infancy
  • FINANCIAL CHILDHOOD CAN BE DESCRIBED BY ONE WORD: IMPULSIVENESS
  • this level of financial management is characterized by my behavior as a youth
  • I had a paper job, and once every month I would collect money from those who subscribed to the Brampton Guardian
  • soon after I would collect the money, it would be gone, and I would say, "Where did it go?"
  • I knew I had money, I knew I had spent it, but I didn't have a clue where it had all gone
  • financial childhood is characterized by those who take $40 or $60 dollars out of the bank machine and have no idea where it goes
  • or who open their credit card bills and are surprised by the amount
  • or by those who receive a windfall and rush to the store to spend it
  • another word for financial childhood is consumption
  • those who are financial children are consumers, and they frequently consume more than they earn
  • they violate the number one financial rule: spend less than you make
  • somebody has wisely said, "If your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall"
  • those who are financial children have no plan for how to spend money
  • or if they have a plan, they don't follow it well
  • they end up in debt
  • (Proverbs 22:7) The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
  • (Romans 13:8) Let no debt remain outstanding
  • when they make a purchase, they calculate not whether they can afford to pay for the entire purchase, but if they can pay the monthly minimum on the credit card
  • they rent-to-own and always have debt from a consumptive lifestyle
  • as far as giving, financial children may give extravagantly, but only when there is a strong emotional appeal
  • financial children otherwise might drop whatever they find in their pocket, a couple of bucks here and there, to the offering plate
  • financial children are those who end up at retirement with nothing
  • the Scriptures warn against the dangers of debt
  • interestingly, those who are most likely to be impulsive are those who make extensive use of credit and those who watch a lot of television
  • (Proverbs 21:20) Wise people's houses are full of the best foods and olive oil, but fools waste everything they have.
  • (Psalms 37:21) The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously;
  • the majority of people in North America fall into these first two categories
  • THE NEXT LEVEL IS FINANCIAL YOUTH
  • this level is characterized by a quantum improvement over the previous two levels
  • in financial youth, there is control
  • there is avoidance of debt
  • there is a desire to save for the future and to be financially responsible
  • they've listened to Proverbs 6, which says:
  • 6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!
  • 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler,
  • 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
  • the financial youth gives to God, albeit at a rather mindless or legalistic level
  • they perhaps have heard about tithing and decide to aim to give God a certain percentage, such as 10% of their income
  • let me say that financial youth are many times more wise than financial babes or children
  • they seem physically fit, they've risen above the realms of those who manage money poorly to those who manage money with, what shall I say, mediocrity
  • the weakness is that they think their money is theirs
  • but there's still one more level
  • AND THAT'S THE LEVEL OF FINANCIAL MATURITY
  • someone who is financially mature discovers that they are not an owner but simply a manager of another's property
  • this teaching is clear in the Old Testament, but even clearer in the New Testament
  • please open your Bibles to Luke 16
  • Jesus tells a story about a shrewd manager of his master's possessions
  • and his point is that all of us are basically managing God's possessions
  • because everything we have is His
  • we won't look at this passage in depth, except to look at five things that a financially mature person realizes:
  • number one: the amount isn't important
  • 10 "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
  • in other words, you can be success with your finances if you have a lot of money, or if you have only a little money
  • the amount isn't important
  • financially immature people think that they'll be better managers of money when they get more money
  • a financially mature person realizes that the amount isn't important
  • number two: financially mature people realize that some things are more important than money
  • 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?
  • Jesus says that worldly wealth is not true riches
  • it's like Monopoly money
  • it's good when you're playing the game, but when the game is over, what good is it?
  • only a fool would live to accumulate the counterfeit, play money of this world when he could invest it in true riches at the end of his journey
  • (Matthew 6:20) But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
  • third, financially mature people realize that they are not owners of money, but merely managers
  • they realize that God owns it all
  • 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?
  • you see, immature financial managers think that 10% or less of their money is God's
  • mature financial managers realize that everything is God's, and we are merely managing it for his glory
  • fourth, financially mature people love God instead of money
  • 13 "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."
  • but here is the immature person in verse 14
  • 14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.
  • some people sneer and say, you don't have to choose between God and love of money
  • but the financially mature person knows you can't be devoted to both
  • you have to choose
  • which are you serving? God or money?
  • fifth, the financially mature person is generous
  • (2 Corinthians 9:7) Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
  • the Scripture does not say that God loves a successful getter or a careful keeper, but we do read that he loves a cheerful giver
  • some financial first aid this morning
  • first, break with your allegiance to money
  • you can't do anything until your allegiance changes from money to Jesus Christ
  • stop trusting in money
  • second, develop a financial plan
  • this financial plan will have three parts:
  • first, pay God
  • how do you know if you're giving enough?
  • Corinthians teaches us that are giving is to be regular, sacrificial, and cheerful
  • if you give regularly, and it's a sacrifice for you, and you can do it cheerfully, you're giving successfully
  • if you give under compulsion, or if it's not much of a sacrifice for you, you're giving the wrong amount
  • second, pay yourself
  • in other words, save
  • many financial experts tell us to take 10% off the top of our paychecks and save it before you even touch it
  • and they say that out of the hundreds of people who have done this, not one has missed the money
  • Bill Hybels suggests the following rule: "Live on eighty"
  • "Giving God ten percent and saving ten percent leaves eighty percent to live on - eighty percent to pay the bills"
  • pay the bills
  • live within your means
  • avoid credit and debt
  • if you follow these three rules, you can't help but be a financial success