Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Before we get started this morning, I wanted to talk with you a little bit about an amazing day we have coming up in just 3 and a half weeks.
On Tuesday, February 11th, we are going to be doing a powerful baptism.
And you need to be there.
Because Baptisms are the best thing ever to watch!
And some of you need to be there because you need to get baptized!
We keep seeing more and more people make commitments for Christ at Renovation, so we’ve decided to start doing baptisms TWICE a year.
And since we can’t go outside…the baptism will take place at the Spring Lake Park campus of Eagle Brook Church…on the border of Blaine & Spring Lake Park.
The Bible tells us that baptism is simply an outward symbol of what has happened on the inside of your life when you accept Christ as your Savior.
The Bible describes it as a symbol of what Jesus’ death did on Easter weekend
We die (to our old life), are buried (under water), wiped clean (by the water), our sins are left behind (under water), and we are resurrected (come up from the water) as clean and sinless.
Now, baptism doesn’t do that. Your faith in Jesus does that. But it’s an amazing symbol of what God has done in your life.
And baptism is something that happens AFTER we believe.
We see plenty of examples of this in the Bible.
After a jailer puts his faith in Christ in Acts 16, he is baptized
After an Ethiopian Eunuch puts his faith in Christ in Acts 8, He is baptized
We don’t always do such a great job of it here in the northern united states, but baptism is something that typically followed belief pretty quickly… (which is another reason we’re starting to do baptisms more often)
And if it’s already been a year for you…or 3 years or 20 years…it’s still worth doing.
It’s SUCH an AMAZING thing. And we want you to experience it!
And we do it because for one, Jesus commands it in Matthew 28
It’s an integral part of being a follower of Jesus
Secondly because Jesus himself was baptized…setting the example for us.
And thirdly because it’s an outward witness to the world of what God’s doing in your heart.
And it is an amazing thing to be a part of!
If you’ve never been baptized as a believer, after the service today, stop by the hallway table and sign-up to be baptized on the 11th.
It’s such an incredible experience.
If you have any questions about this…feel free to ask me.
All right, let’s get started with the message this morning
We are continuing in our Meology series this morning…where we’re taking a look at the sneaky sin of selfishness.
And how we LOVE to put ourselves first.
And this morning…we’re going to be taking a look at a topic that you had to have guessed was coming in this series….money.
Now, before we get there, let me tell you fill you in on the progression of my philosophy of teaching about money.
When I first started as a pastor…10 years ago now…at 22…my early idea was…pastors shouldn’t talk about money…that makes people uncomfortable…people should figure it out on their own
And then…about 5-6 years later…around the time we started Renovation…I thought, “Well, I have to teach about it once in a while…but I’ll just overly apologize every time I have to teach about it”
And now…another 5 years later…Here’s what I believe:
The Bible talks about finances more than it talks about faith and love.
In the four Gospels about Jesus, 25% of his teaching is about money, wealth, possessions, and stewardship.
To Jesus, it’s apparently an incredibly important subject. Which therefore, has to be worth teaching about.
So buckle-up. I expect this to be quite challenging today. But let God challenge you. Deal? Okay.
1 more thing…A wise pastor once told me, the best time to ever talk about money in a church is when things are going well.
So, know this as a preface…Financially speaking, we’re in middle of the healthiest year we’ve ever had as a church.
So this isn’t a secret plea to get more money…this is about us as persons…and how our “lifestyle of meology” is slowly drowning us.
THE TWO KINGDOMS
This morning, I want to set-up two contrasting lifestyles for you. Two kingdoms if you will.
The first is the Kingdom of Meology.
This is a kingdom where you and I sit on the throne of our lives…particularly our finances, our wealth, our possessions.
We are king. We are queen. We own it. We’re Lord of the land…great Sovereign of our bank account…the Great Protector of all things green and all things plastic.
It’s a kingdom where what “I’ve got is mine…and what’s mine is not yours.”
A kingdom where we spend it how we’ve like, and if by chance we get any leftovers, we might pass them on to that God figure”
The second Kingdom…is the Kingdom (not of Meology) but of Theology.
Which is the study of God…the Truth of God.
And in studying God’s truth, we find out it’s God who truly sits on the throne.
He gave you life. He brought you into this world…he is allowing you to still be alive…He will determine when your time is up.
He gave you a place to live, food on the table, maybe a job, some finances, and everything you own.
You know what the Bible calls this idea? This theology where God is the king and we are not?
It’s called Stewardship.
A steward is someone who the king appoints to represent them…and maybe even govern in their name.
But whatever they have…is not theirs.
They’re just temporarily managing the possessions and resources of the king.
So many of Jesus’ parables reflect this.
The parable of the talents where each person is given money and asked to make more
The parable of the tenants…where a man rents his vineyard to tenants
We don’t have much of a modern-day concept for this kind of arrangement…so think of when you house-sit for someone.
Let’s say…you have a friend who is going to go to Europe on business for 6 months, and they ask you to house sit for them.
Live in their house; clean it; watch their dog…make sure no squatters move in, etc.
You might be able to enjoy all the benefits of their house for a time…maybe a nice TV…maybe they have a ping-pong table…or a really nice kitchen.
But it’s not yours.
And you can’t take credit for it.
Or what if the owner of the house proposed to you that you pay a small percentage of their normal mortgage payments to live there?
Like $200 a month? Would that be wrong of them?
Would you say, “How dare you ask that of me while I live in your large house for 6 months!”
No, you’d probably say, “How generous! Sure, that’s fine! No big deal.”
See, that’s much closer to the reality that we live in…not the delusional world in which we think we are Lord of our own domain.
(Psalm 24:1) – NIV
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
We’d have to precede or outlast God in some way to not be considered stewards of these earthly things. But that clearly is not the case.
(1 Timothy 6:7) – NIV
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
To the best of my knowledge, you didn’t come out of the womb holding the deed to a house and you’re probably not taking your nice car with you to heaven.
We are just temporary stewards.
COMBATTING THE LIES
And it makes sense when we think about it.
Yet…even the most devoted Christ-followers struggle with this…especially when it comes to our finances.
Maybe you don’t when it comes to making time to read the Bible, or go to church, or serve…but…our money…oof…that runs deep
That’s the kingdom where we tend to stay on the throne…
So the Bible speaks often…very often…of giving back to God.
Yet, a lot of us are like, “Give back? What are you talking about? It’s mine.” J
And I want to examine today…why is this SO difficult? I mean SO difficult.
Why do so many of us struggle to live as Christ-followers in this area?
I want to cover four false-ideas that keep us stuck in the Kingdom of Meology rather than the kingdom of theology…a kingdom where God is king.
If you’re a type of person who takes notes, you’ll want to write this down.
If you’re not a person who takes notes; what a great time to start taking notes. J You can do so on the back of the bulletin
Okay…false idea #1: I don’t have the money to give back to God’s kingdom.
Some of you are like…how is that a false idea? I don’t have the money.
Well, for 1, it’s all about perspective.
The avg. Minnesotan is richer than 96% of the rest of the world.
Jesus tells us the story of the poor widow in Luke 21 who puts in two small copper coins…precisely for this reason
And if we don’t have it…we can certainly change how we spend it…in order to better accumulate it…in order to better give it.
The longer I’m a pastor, the more I find that so much of it is simply a matter of poor budgeting.
Let your pride down…ask for help.
Go online…and look for a “Financial Peace University class you could take.
It’s a great class on getting rid of debt and setting a budget.
There’s something like 20 classes just in North Metro starting in the next month
It’s worth taking next steps on. If you want to switch kingdoms. You want to live like God is king…of all of your life.
In fact, the Bible teaches…that since God has lent us everything we own…we should give 10% back to Him. It’s what the Bible calls tithing.
It’s all over the Old Testament.
Abraham tithed; the Israelites were commanded to tithe (and more)
The New Testament only indirectly reaffirms it; it focuses more on the heart and sacrificial giving.
Many see that as an out, but when you read the New Testament’s teaching about “he who has 2 coats, let him share with those who have none”…or the rich young ruler being told to sell everything, or the believers in Acts sharing everything, other believers selling their land for the movement of God….
“We realize that while it’s not about a strict number as much, if 10% is anything, it’s a floor, not a ceiling.
False Idea #2: I’ll just give later. I’ll switch kingdoms later.
I remember when I first became a Christian and was informed that Christians are supposed to tithe. Aim around that 10% mark.
I was like, “That’s a joke, right?”
But eventually I was able to start young and got in the discipline of it despite the waves of my life that would come.
Some of you have fallen on hard times. Job loss. Job change. Maybe one person is staying home now…something’s changed.
And we think… So we say, “Well, times are tough now…we’ll cut back our giving…or maybe we’ll give once we get more money again”
But A) Statistically, that is almost never the case
And B) As Mark Driscoll says, that’s like saying, “I’m going to commit adultery to prepare myself for future faithfulness”
A little strong maybe…but you get the idea.
You become faithful…by being faithful.
Even if it’s just a little to start.
I’m going to give you some practical tips before we end today…on how to START
False Idea #3: I’d Be happier keeping it myself
This is exactly the sentiment that we’ve been trying to deconstruct in this series.
The main idea of this series is that God has called you out of your selfishness…and to be a generous and self-sacrificing person…AND…if you do so…it’s there you’ll actually find MORE life.
Jesus himself tells us this in a quote often attributed to Santa J
(Acts 20:35) – NIV
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
Do you believe that?
I read about an interview with Financial Peace University guru Dave Ramsey where he said life tends to just go better for generous people
He said, “Would you rather be married to someone who is greedy or generous? Who would you rather have as a close friend? Someone who is greedy or generous? If you’re an employer and it comes down to 2 people, are you picking the greedy or generous person?...
You can see how…when we follow THEOLOGY and not MEOLOGY…life DOES tend to just work out better
Do you believe that in this case?
There was an interesting study done recently on a university campus where they handed out Starbucks gift cards.
They told the first group to take it and go buy something for themselves.
They told the second group to pass their gift card onto someone else
And they told the 3rd group to use the gift card to buy something for someone else…w/ the additional requirement that they actually go hang out w/ that person at Starbucks.
And they concluded form the study, that it was the 3rd group that was the happiest.
Again…it’s NOT actually that complicated when you think about it…but that’s not the way we live.
We live as if the way to be the most happy is MEOLOGY. Is to look out for ourselves with our finances.
Buy what we want…spend how we want…
But to trim our budget…to sell our possessions, to give back to God…to help others in need…
The FOURTH False Idea is perhaps the most dangerous…and most hidden…and the deadliest.
It’s a false idea that you probably wouldn’t say out loud to yourself…but you might live like it’s true.
And it’s this: “I don’t have to really give my finances to God…I’m Christian in other ways”
“I serve…I’m in a house group…I read my Bible…Jesus is my Lord”
But that’s compartmentalization.
As Randy Alcorn boldly (yet accurately) writes:
“If Christ is not Lord over our money and possessions, then he is not our Lord” – Randy Alcorn
But we say, “Oh no! Don’t’ say that! I love Jesus! I serve him! I pray! I…”
But the definition of Lord…is master…is King…is someone who has “authority over all of you”
But we say, “Nah…you can’t have that part of me”
Maybe you’re thinking, “Oh Jeez…this is just more of that “God wants my money” stuff.
Here’s what I’d say…”He wants way more than that. He wants your family…your kids…your job…your house…your life…your everything..”
Because He gave you everything…including sacrificing His son for you
And if you switch kingdoms. And Let Him be King. And Trust His ways…it works out better anyway!
But our money… more than almost any other part of us…is like the “Custer’s last stand of our selfishness”
It’s why some have said, “How you give…is your autobiography. Who you are is most clearly seen in how you spend.”
It’s why Jesus says, “Where you treasure is…there your heart is”
This is the difference between a spoken value and an actual value.
A spoken value says…”I love my kids”
An actual value is a person who “spends time with their kids because they love them
And giving is thus the demonstrated reality of what our spiritual condition is really like deep down inside.
If we were to cut your spiritual heart right open…who would we find sitting on the throne?
A STRATEGY FOR SWITCHING KINGDOMS
So how do you begin switching kingdoms? From the world of Meology to Theology. How do you abdicate the throne back to God?
What are some practical things we can do?
To begin with, just start. Start giving. Let go of selfishness.
To people around you in need. To charities you believe in. To God’s work around the world. And most importantly, to the local church.
The church is the ultimate hope of the world.
It’s where we give back to God’s kingdom…to further God’s kingdom.
It’s where we invest in things that will matter 3 million years from now.
But to begin…just start.
That’s sometimes the hardest part.
Many of you are sitting here today…maybe trying to duck into your chair…because you want to give…you know you should…but you just haven’t.
My advice to you…let go of the guilt…and just start.
I think part of the problem is so many of us feel so overburdened by the Biblical challenge of the tithe that we never start.
And while I think the best thing you can do is trust God and go for it…
Listen, it’s ALWAYS better to be taking small steps towards obedience than NO steps.
So if you need to start with 2%, start with 2%, and in 6 months, go to 3%
But the key is: start.
Don’t put off this changing of kingdoms any longer.
Make today the day you say…I’m going to start putting you back on the throne God…even of my finances…
One of the best things you can do is switch from being a tipper to a regular giver
I had a pastor friend tell me once that the people in his church don’t give…they tip.
When they hear a good message…or feel guilty..or whatever…they throw in a few dollars…a few times a year.
That’s not the goal. Guilt should NEVER (I repeat NEVER) be your motivation for giving.
The Bible says to give with a cheerful heart.
The goal is that you trust and love the true King so much…that you trust Him that it’s better to be generous.
And a way you can demonstrate that trust is to be regular with it.
Even if you have to take baby steps…take consistent baby steps.
Here’s what I’m going to write on a check every time at church…or I’m going to give this online every week…or I’m going to get a form in the hallway and set-up auto give, so I can be regular…I’m going to make this a spiritual discipline.
In fact, let me challenge you to something…
I want to challenge you to be a regular giver for 8 weeks. From now until March 9th…and see what happens.
This is the pattern of Scripture
(1 Cornithians 16:2) - NIV
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
‘Regular giving keeps you in the discipline of habitually recognizing who is king…and who’s money it really is.
If you’re married…get in the car on the way home today…and when somebody says, “So, what did you think?”
Like we said last week: “Have a producer conversation…not a consumer conversation:
Say…”So what do you think we could give? How could we switch kingdoms? Could we try this for 8 weeks?”
So take some more practical steps to get out of meology this week…and I believe you’ll see, that God as usual, is quite wise. J
That was the end of my message…but I want to present something to you this morning that was actually supposed to happen last week…but we had something fall through.
And who knows…maybe it was supposed to work this way.
Every year, we take one special offering for our work in Haiti.
And we’re actually going to be taking it NEXT Sunday…but while I’m up here…and, I guess, sort of on topic…I wanted to take another 2-3 minutes to give you a heads up about next week.
Exactly 1 month from today, we’re sending a team of 14 people to do some incredible work in Lizon, Haiti for the 3rd year in a row.
Most of our work will be out of or at “Ark of Noah by Faith” Church in Haiti
A church we began work with last year.
Our team will be doing a number of things there:
Putting on a VBS for children, doing an outreach service with the Church this year, and doing neighborhood evangelism.
We will also be a number of life-changing construction projects.
We were able to do a few touch-ups on their roof last year…but the reality is…they need a new roof
So…we are going to build them a new roof.
We have some skilled workers from our church going with us, so that’s going to be a huge blessing.
We are also going to build them a roof to their outhouse at their church (which they don’t have)
The things we take for granted, huh?
And it doesn’t just stop there…we’re going to help paint while we’re there.
And also help with their seating. This is what they have for seating right now
Mostly benches. So we’re going to start building bench pews with a back for them. Pretty awesome!
I believe this is a way that we can significantly improve another church’s ministry…and help them…now year round…reach more people for Christ.
It’s really neat!
All of the projects will cost a total of around $8,500.
The 14 people going on this trip, have already chipped in $3,500 through their trip fees. Which is pretty awesome!
So we as a church, as Renovation Church…as a people blessed by God their King…want to do OUR part to.
So our goal…next week…in 1 week…is to raise $5,000 in 1 day.
As Jesus says, “Freely you have received, freely give.”
And we want to give…IN a way that’s going to make a serious difference
Not to just some large organization…but to give to something…that WE’RE doing. That our team is LITERALLY going to do in just 31 days!
Is $5,000 a lot of money in 1 day? Yes it is. Can God do that through us? Yes He can.
I believe that when our hearts are right…and God is the King…anything can happen.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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