Good morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
This is a special Sunday for us. We have Child and Parent dedications this morning!
I’m going to ask the parents and their children to come forward at this time and join me on stage
These families are coming up here today to dedicate their children to God, which is an awesome thing.
They are here today to make a special commitment, a public commitment that they will best raise their children to the best of their abilities so that they follow Christ
That’s why we call it a child AND parent dedication …because it’s a commitment, really, more for the parents, at this stage
ON the one hand, it’s a ceremony to entrust our children to God’s love and care, but on the other hand, it’s a ceremony for these parents to dedicate themselves to Godly parenting as well
We believe that there’s something special about a public commitment. It raises the bar for us.
This is a time for these families to commit in front of their families, to commit in front of their church family, and also to commit in front of God
And we just want to pray for these children today… please be praying for these kids
Be praying that as they grow, that they would learn who Jesus is, that they would come to a point that they would give their lives to Christ, get baptized, and that they would follow and give their hearts to God
I’m going to step down for a moment and have each of these families introduce themselves and their children to you.
(Have families introduce themselves)
Ok. At this point, I am going to read a statement of dedication for these parents (something they’ve already had a chance to really contemplate and think about), we will put it on the screen for you all.
Parents, and at the end of ALL the statements, then you can respond with: “This is indeed our hope and prayer.
God, we stand before you today recognizing our children as a true gift from you.
We see your love, beauty, and creativity in their lives, thoughts, emotions, and personalities.
More than anything else, we want these children to love and serve you with all their minds, souls, and strength.
With your help and grace, we as parents will actively and continually teach and model faith in Jesus Christ for them through our words, actions, and attitudes.
We entrust these children to your love and care, asking you to work mightily through each of their lives.
Parents, if these statements reflect your desire for your child, please say, “This is indeed our hope and prayer.”
We do something a little different and unique when it comes to parent and child dedications. Because this is an important time in the lives of these children.
So what we’re going to do is, in just a moment, I’m going to ask each of the different families to come down off the stage, and spread out around the room, and if you are a family member or a close friend…I actually want you to come up here in a moment.
Often times in the Bible, we have special occasions, when believers would rally around each other and lay hands on each other and pray
So we want just a group of people to surround each of these families and to pray for these kids and these parents at this critical juncture of their lives.
I want to ask a few of you to just pray out, pray out loud for these kids in your circle, feel free to just jump right in
Or maybe you don’t know these families, and that’s okay, and I just ask that as you are in your seat and as we get back to worship that you would just pray as well from where you are, even if you don’t know these kids, that God would use them to do great things.
Ok, let’s get started. Feel free to come up…and start praying!!
Well, good morning again.
Let me ask you a question? If I gave you $10,000 a year, how many of you would object to receiving it?
What if I gave you $20,000 a year…for the rest of your life?
Where am I getting this money you ask?
Don’t ruin my example with an obvious question like that…just play along?
What if I gave you $100,000 a year?
For most of us, we’re so enticed by money that we can’t foresee that having more money…or even the desire to have more money…could POTENTIALLY…not necessarily, but could POTENTIALLY be problematic for us? Not even an option
We’re like, “Object?!? Why in the world would I object to more money in my life?!? Bring it on!”
But what if…in some sense…mo money…could equal mo problems…as 3 poets named: puff daddy, mase, and the notorious B.I.G. once so eloquently pondered
By the way, we planned this message a while ago now, but I actually heard that song on the radio this week…….while I was listening to KTIS…..and I took it as a sign from God that I was speaking on the right thing this week. J
But seriously? Could more money (or at minimum a constant desire for it) actually ever lead to more problems for you? Make your life even worse? Make your SPIRITUAL life even worse?
Some Christians would say…sure..
Others, however, would go as far as saying, “God not only WANTS to bless you with mo money, he wants YOU to have the FAITH that he will bless you with more money for being a faithful follower & giver!”
If you’re not familiar with this idea in Christian circles, it’s called “The Prosperity Gospel.” Others call it the “Health and Wealth Gospel..” Or “Name it Claim It”
The basic crux of the Prosperity Gospel is that if you are faithful, if you give, if you ask for it, God does indeed not only want to give you good things, but make you prosperous and wealthy for being his follower!
But what does the Bible have to say about such an idea? Good question. Let’s look.
As we continue our FIRST-EVER series on finances, we are going to be studying a passage in 1 Timothy 6. If you want to follow along in your Bible, or on your phone, or under your chair…
Paul warning about False Teachers
(1 Timothy 6:4-5) – NIV
4 they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
Keep a finger here, cuz we’re going to be coming back to it
Look at that last part. Part of the mark of those who teach false doctrine, false truths about God, is they see “Godliness as a means to financial gain.”
And that’s exactly what the Prosperity Gospel is.
If I’m really, really Godly, THEN what do I get…not only LIFE in CHRIST…but Money in the Bank.
But a lot of people wielding the Prosperity Gospel, which is unfortunately all too prevalent in this country, especially in the Southern United States, would say: “Yeah, but there are verses that God wants to bless you and prosper you!”
There are indeed…SOME…when the context is properly and examined
And sometimes…God does bless people financially.
But just because He blesses someone financially, also doesn’t automatically imply that it’s for their benefit.
Which is what we tend to always assume.
Maybe he’s blessing you so you can help people. Help the kingdom.
So yeah, God sometimes blesses his faithful people financially, but sometimes he doesn’t.
It only takes a quick glance at the Bible to see that.
Yes, there are stories of blessing for people like Abraham and Joseph (who are richly blessed), but let’s not also forget that these same great men of faith went through more than you and I would want to go through in a lifetime.
Abraham had to wait decades and decades for a child. DECADES.
And then when he got one, he was tested to sacrifice Him…thankfully God came through.
Joseph was blessed abundantly…but let’s not forget, the guy was thrown in a pit, sold in slavery, wrongly accused, and thrown in prison!
If he was such a great man of faith, shouldn’t God have blessed him the whole time!
IN reality, the Bible tends to tell more of a story of pain and suffering for the follower’s of God.
From Jeremiah, to Hosea, to Daniel, to Job.
What about JOB?!?
The guy did nothing wrong. In fact, God said, and I quote, “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil”
And he lost everything! Including his 10 children who died when a house collapsed during a feast.
What about the 12 disciples? Pretty good people right? Would you say they had FAITH? Obedience?
Should be living in luxury in some mansion on the Mount of Olives until they retire, right?
11 out of the 12 of them were killed for their faith.
What about the Apostle Paul who wrote much of the NT?
Paul, sometimes was so poor that he was without the basic necessities. He had to make tents on the side, just to keep his ministry going sometimes.
What, the apostle Paul didn’t have enough faith, but some random guy in America has enough faith that God would bless him with a new boat?
See, in the Prosperity Gospel, things get backwards.
In the Prosperity Gospel, it’s like God is there to serve us.
But in reality, we’re here to serve God.
In the Prosperity Gospel, the believer is to use the Holy Spirit to get what they will.
But the BIBLE, teaches us that the Holy Spirit is who enables us to do GOD’s WILL!
The Prosperity Gospel functions on the “Law of Compensation,” which is essentially that Christians need to give generously to others…especially pastors and churches…because when they do, God gives back more in return (you’re “compensated”)
This in turn leads to a cycle of ever-increasing prosperity for you!
But listen, the Bible does indeed call us to give back to God…(more on that next week), but we don’t give because it could lead to more prosperity for us…so God would bless us with more.
He might. Sometimes he does. But I don’t know that and you don’t know that.
His will might be to make you poor to teach you something for all I know.
But we give…not for ourselves…we give because he tells us to.
Because He gave Himself for us.
Because what we’ve been blessed with can expand his kingdom.
But our motivations for giving to God should never be just so we can get more
This is not the heavenly stock market here.
But you may be thinking…wait…how is this “false theology,” so prevalent today?
Because it is EVERYWHERE in this country.
It started way back in the 40’s, took off in the 80’s with some notorious televangelists who funded their jets and mansions from manipulation through selling false hope, fake holy water, and counterfeit holy rags.
And it is alive and well today…
I would say it’s in more churches today than it was 20 years ago. Although often in a little bit more subtle form
You may feel like this is a heresy that is contained to just the rich in America, and although its roots unfortunately started here, it has now taken its greatest roots up amongst the poor…and is now being exported overseas…at an alarming rate…to some of the poorest countries.
And sadly it’s a gospel that’s not just preached to the rich to soothe their listening ears, but more so a gospel that is being preached to the poor as a way out…
And I’m sorry, but that’s garbage. It’s something that we oughta have a little righteous anger about.
What happens now to the new convert in the Congo, in Rwanda, in Haiti…when they accept Christ based on the fact that they are gonna receive monetary blessings and great health…
But then their son gets sick and dies…
What do you think they do with Jesus?
I’ll tell you what they do…they say, “WHAT? You betrayed me. You didn’t’ “WORK” for me. I’m done with you.
But Jesus was never meant to “WORK” for us.
We were meant to WORK for Him!
And people everywhere are falling for the prosperity gospel…and a part of the reason why is the DOUBLE TRAP.
Which is what this series is all about:
We talked in great detail about how we’re double trapped in our personal finances last week, and you can watch the video online if you missed it
But trap one is: Most of us have money problems
Trap two: We don’t talk about money in our culture.
And the Prosperity Gospel has blatantly taken advantage of the Double Trap
We get lured in by it…because well, we don’t have money…this could help!!!
And we get double trapped by it because, well, we don’t talk to anyone about our money…so we’re not going to tell them about how we’re giving it…and on and on.
And thus…The Prosperity Gospel Flourishes.
GODLINESS W/ CONTENTMENT
Let’s look back to our passage in 1 Timothy
(1 Timothy 6:6-8) – NIV
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
THIS, is Biblical Christianity now.
But these are tough words for our American appetite. Contentment might as well be out of some alien culture.
We want more…more…more…more!
Better house, bigger house, nicer car, faster car, bigger tv, flatter TV, better phone, nicer grill, a grill to begin with, a garage, a BIGGER garage, a boat, a kitchen we could actually cook in, double ovens, triple ovens, and…it…just…doesn’t…stop.
“For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it But if we have food and clothing…we will be content with that”
What about being content with just Jesus?
Did you ever think that maybe the reason you never just feel content is the fact that you keep trying to fill your discontent with “things” instead of God?
Perhaps, for most of us, it is: Mo Money, Mo Problems.
Maybe the Prosperity Gospel had it wrong… Maybe a lot of these things aren’t blessings, but just distractions.
(Hebrews 13:5) – NIV
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
There is just SO Much WISDOM in God’s Word today on this topic:
(Ecclesiastes 5:10-12) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION
10 Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! 11 The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers! 12 People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep.
Or, if you like, I saw the modern take on this at Jimmy John’s this week:
(Show Jimmy John’s picture)
It doesn’t close. Stop chasing it…
Start Chasing Jesus.
Going back to last week, this is not to say that we don’t want people to stop drowning in debt, and start saving, and find sanity again.
But, when you get back up to ground level again, don’t then fall into chasing money all over again!
THE MONEY TRAP
But let’s go back to our 1 Timothy passage, because it’s just gonna show us that without contentment, we do just inevitably fall down the path of magnetically drifting towards the money trap
(1 Timothy 6:9-10) – NIV
9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 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.
Real quickly…notice the wording here…this is maybe the most common wrongfully quoted verse in the Bible.
People say, “Money is the root of all evil”
That’s not what it says: It says, the LOVE of money is the root of all KINDS of evil.
Money doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In the hands of the right people…it can be an INCREDIBLE THING!
It’s kind of like this. A few weeks ago, Lindsey and I got away for a few days in the middle of the week and went to SouthEastern MN.
While we were there, we went to the Eagle Center in Wabasha MN where you can see real-life eagles up close.
And because I’m a nerd, I convinced Lindsey to go to the class where they show you an Eagle close up and talk about it
(PLAY EAGLE CLIP) (MUTED)
(SHOW EAGLE STILL PHOTO)
Now, here’s the thing, can just any of us go up there and handle that Eagle?
Most of us, would get our faces pecked out…or our hands ripped off by its talons!
But there are a few people that can do it.
With the right tools (they’ve got the arm protector), knowledge, training (taught how to do it), personality temperament (they are calm people), and giftings, they can do it.
Same thing with money.
There are SOME people, with the right tools, knowledge, training, personality temperament, and spiritual maturity, that can handle it, and use their blessing of money greatly for the Kingdom.
However, unfortunately, money, for too many of us, is just a trap that lures us away from God like Paul writes.
And all of a sudden, before we know it… it has become our God.
And we expect IT to provide…we expect IT to make us happy…we expect IT to make things right…and give us satisfaction…and meaning.
But that’s idolatry.
It’s why Jesus so boldly says:
(Matthew 6:24) – NIV
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
It’s also why he says
(Matthew 19:24) – NIV
Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Because for far too many, unlike what the prosperity gospel claims, more money, DOESN’T end up being a blessing, but a curse to lure us away from our true Provider.
For most of us, it IS just MO MONEY…MO PROBLEMS.
MO MONEY…LESS JESUS.
Because the more we have…the less we end up needing Him.
There’s no secret that there’s an incredible correlation between the higher wealth of a country…the less likely the people are to follow Jesus.
That has to mean something.
Again, think to the Eagle Handler, it DOESN’T have to be a negative thing…
God isn’t saying “You should all be poor”
But he is clearly saying, “HANDLE WITH CARE…with wisdom.”
IT WILL TRY and draw you away…
Jesus tells us to WATCH OUT
(LUKE 12:15) – NIV
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
We can’t ultimately put our trust in our possessions, in our money, because not only can the “Eagle” bite us, peck at us, and cause us problems…it can fly away
God brought me to this verse after I wrote the illustration about the eagle and it just blew me away
(Proverbs 23:4-5) - NIV
Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. 5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.
The reality is, at the end of the day, we can’t trust money to be our God.
God could use our money to do some neat things..
But, it could also be gone tomorrow. It’s not God. And we can’t treat it like it is.
But do you know who won’t be gone tomorrow?
You know who won’t let you down? Or cause you to feel like you never have enough?
And ultimately, what this is REALLY about is not money itself…but what are you striving after?
We spend such an inordinate amount of our days, of our lives, literally STRIVING after more money, and more things…and it gets us virtually nothing.
But STRIVE after Christ…STRIVE for more of God…
Because THAT is what you were created for!
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN