Together, we are stronger. Together we can accomplish much. Together we grow in our faith. Together, we have the incredible opportunity to work with God in transforming the world.
Jesus did feed the multitudes. But each person was fed one at a time. When the disciples went out (on the mission to care for those who were there) they saw, with every person, there was something for everyone. This is what happens when we all come together…there is more than enough for those we serve because God has blessed us individually, yes, but also as a community.
When we put money in the offering plate, bring food for the pantry, go to the prison to minister, help with the homeless ministry, visit those who are sick, etc., we go out one at a time, but in the power of the Holy Spirit, as representatives of this church. We see God provide so everyone has what they need to be filled.
So where did they get the bread and fish? From one little boy (John 6). Because one disciple, Andrew (John 6) asked for food from people. This one boy gave what he had. He gave the snack his mother gave him that day. He gave away his source of food for that day. I’m sure he felt hungry, but he knew other people needed to eat to.
Guess what? That boy did not go without eating. Yes, when we give…when we tithe (at least 10% of our income), it does seem to hurt, at first. But the reality is God never leaves us lacking…God will always provide when we are in line with God’s plan, work, and movement. We will have everything we need.
Watch the full sermon here:
READ SCRIPTURE: Luke 12:13-21
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 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.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
There was a pastor who was in the middle of a battle with the church’s worship leader. They would go at it in worship meetings. The worship leader would often try to outdo the pastor in worship. No one really knows why there was so much contention between them.
One week, the pastor was preaching about stewardship and the importance of tithing. He gave a great sermon and many people were feeling like they needed to move toward tithing. The worship leader was still upset with the pastor. Right after the sermon, for the closing song, the worship leader had the congregation sing, “Jesus Paid It All.”
What’s funny about this story is the closing song. What is sad about this story is how they both were so focused on themselves. Their pride, their egos, their ideas. It was truly all about who was going to be right and have their way be done.
How true this is for us today. We all like to be right and have everything work out for us. We all like people to know what we have done for ourselves, for our family. We all like ourselves and what we can do.
Jesus has been teaching, healing, and going from town to town proclaiming the message “the Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
He has had crowds come just to hear what he had to say. Jesus would tell people things and concepts about God and heaven they never heard before. He spoke with incredible authority.
Even though Jesus would teach God is the source of all of our possessions, the source of our life, the source of our entire being. He still came across those who just wanted to be told they were living the right way, or have Jesus tell others how wrong that person is living. Does this sound familiar to anyone here today? How much do we judge other people and completely miss out on the blessings—the peace, joy, hope, love—God has in store for us. All because we hold on to this world more than we seek the Living God.
Jesus has to give hard messages, at times, to remind the people it is not about us getting into heaven, it is all about heaven getting into us. It’s all about joining in the mission of heaven here on earth.
That is the whole point of this stewardship series. If we continually seek and allow God to fill our heart, soul, mind, our whole being, with heaven, then we do not have to live with worry (anxiety). We realize there is nothing, in this world, that should hold us back from fully following God with everything we have and everything we are.
In our passage today, Jesus tells the parable of a rich man deciding he needs to make more room for his stuff. So, he builds bigger storage units to keep his stuff safe until he decides to go and retrieve it.
Did you know the storage industry is a $38 billion dollar a year industry with
- 44,000-52,000 storage facilities (approximately)
- 3 billion square feet of storage space
- 06 square feet of storage space per person
We are spending billions of dollars each year, as a country, for rented space that doesn’t belong to us, to store stuff we don’t have room for, and truthfully will not go back to get, or use in the future. We store stuff simply because we feel it has sentimental value and don’t release the hold it has on us
What do we save up for? Is it good to save? How much is too much? How will I take care of my kids after I’m gone? These are all great questions, and important for us to ask.
John Wesley taught about the use of money to the early Methodists. Wesley realized the people called Methodist were becoming so faithful to Christ that they were becoming prosperous. He knew that if the Methodists became too engulfed in their material goods and finances, they would lose the power of the Spirit of the faith they started out with.
In his sermon, On the Use of Money, Wesley coined the phrase, “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.”
When Wesley preached this sermon and taught on money, he was doing so to make sure the people called Methodist were not wrapped up in what they had or what they could earn. Wesley’s heart was that the people called Methodists kept the focus on the main thing: advancing the Kingdom of God wherever they go.
We live in a time when it seems the church is dying. This really can be further from the truth. The church seems to have lost power in America but is thriving in many other parts of the world. What is the difference?
Here in America, we like our stuff. We like our homes. We like our vocations. We like our lives just like they are. The sad reality is many people live as practical atheists. They live in a way that they profess Christ on their lips and do what they can as if God was not even in the picture.
This is what Jesus was warning against in the parable of the rich man and the barns. Jesus was showing that God had provided a harvest so great, there was not enough room for it all to be stored.
Earlier, Jesus told his disciples, “the harvest is plentiful…”See, whenever we realize God is involved, we pay attention to the incredible work that He is doing. There is so much work by the power of the Holy Spirit and we miss it because we get worried about how we’re going to take care of ourselves.
Jesus was teaching that when we do what we can to get our “needs” met, we miss out on the life God is offering. We miss out on the blessings God is providing each day. This is why Jesus taught, “take up [your] cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
Let us not live as practical atheists. Let’s be the people who give God thanks in all circumstances. Consider the life you have and how God is living in and through you to be a blessing to those around you and to the world.
What have you thanked God for today?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I held back by my possessions? In other words, do I have an unhealthy preoccupation with my possessions?
- Do I have more security in what I can do versus what God is providing?
- Do I try to earn more than I really need?
- Am I focused on only enjoying the fun things in life?
- Am I working toward and giving toward things that have an eternal impact?
Over the course of these past few weeks, we have talked about tithing. This is giving 10% back to God. Most of the time, as we have mentioned, we tend to think of tithing as only financial. I have also said, I believe people are, for the most part, more generous with their money than they might realize.
When we have talked about tithing, we have talked about that it is really in all areas of our life. (Money, gifts, talents, time). We remember that everything we have is from God and is God’s. When we give, especially to the Church, we are giving back to God what really belongs to God. We are showing that we trust God is and will provide what we need in order to survive.
It is challenging for us to realize God is the one who provides for our food, and everything else we need. After all, we can go to the store and get bread and any food or drink we want. We do not have to worry if there is going to be enough food to feed our family because we can just drive to the store. But remember that it is God who gave you the gifts/talents in order to do your work so you can have the income needed to provide the food. It is God who worked through the farmers and ranchers to makes sure the crops were what they needed to be. It is God who created all the plant and animal life. It truly is God who provides for our needs. So, we give back to God what is really His to begin with, trusting we have enough to live off of after we give.
We talk about the concept of tithing in all areas of our life. Do we think much about our time? Every day we wake up, remember it is God who has given us air to breathe. We are alive because of the grace of God who gives us breath each day. This means that the time we have is all because of God. Yes, even our time belongs to God.
So, here is a convicting question, “How much of our daily time is devoted back to God?”
If we have 24 hours a day, and we tithe off of that, this would mean 2.4 hours a day devoted to God. Do we think we could do this?
Now, this does not mean that we pray for 2.4 hours, or read scripture for 2.4 hours, or serve on mission/outreach for 2.4 hours, or talk with people about Jesus for 2.4 hours a day. It is all about devoting what we do to God and God alone. Praise God in all situations because God is with us always. There should not be any difference in our life with God and our life with people.
If we shift the focus off of what we’re giving to God and, instead, focus on what God is giving to us and through us, we can experience more freedom from the power money, possessions, fame, greed, etc. have on us. We can live as the people God called us to be. In all we do, we work with God to make an impact that will last beyond this week, beyond our life.
If we have read the book of Revelation, or paid attention to people preaching on the street corners or in the church, we have probably heard of the door in Revelation 3, where Christ is standing at the door and knocking to come in. But there is another door we should pay attention to. It is in Revelation 4:1 where Christ is standing in an open door and inviting us to join his world and his mission.
The mission of the Church throughout history has been focused on transforming the world and making disciples so everyone can experience and live in the Kingdom of Heaven here and now AND in the life to come. This is how we can make an eternal (never-ending) impact in the world, and in the lives of people.
Making an eternal impact means we give so that people have the opportunity to live. We share our faith in God through Jesus Christ because we know this is the true source of our joy, peace, hope, love. We share the life God has given us with the world because we are not in this by ourselves. We are in relationship with other people because of the relationship God has with us and we have with God.
So, what do we do?
Look at where your money is being spent. Is it being spent on things that will be here for a long time? Or do we spend our money on things that will be broken tomorrow, or even a few years from now? How much do we give to the church? If we increased our giving to the church, could we see more ministry and mission happening?
Look at how you use your gifts/talents God has given you. Are they being used to further yourself, your “brand”, your life? Or are they being used to build others up so they can be encouraged to live a life that God has for them?
Also, look at your time. How is your time spent? Is it focused on yourself and your life (including focusing solely on your family)? Or is it spent to help people know their value in Christ and help others understand their worth to us? Is what we do with our time glorifying to God all the time?
I love the stories I hear from people about how heaven is being shared in everyday life. Especially in times of illness or heartache.
There are many ways the Holy Spirit is working through people to make an impact in the world.
God has invited us to join him in the work he is doing here and around the world.
Yes, it always seems like a lot to do. It always seems like we’re asked to add more to our lives. It is true the mission is a lot, but we do not do this alone. We participate in God’s mission (because he’s already working where we are) with God and with other people. When we give our financial tithe to the church, give joyfully because Heaven will be experienced through the work being done in and through the church body.
It is false that we are asked to add more to our lives. The goal of talking about the spiritual discipline of stewardship is to realign, not just our finances, but our entire lives to the mission and life that Jesus Christ offers.
The Holy Spirit sustains us and gives us all we need to do the work he is doing.
So, give the worry over to Christ. Take not the burdens of the work and people upon yourself. Give them to Christ because his yoke is easy and his burden is light. We are not really doing our mission anyway. We are actually participating and joining in Christ’s work that he is already doing.
The generous life is more than us giving stuff and money away. The generous life is joining Christ is his mission to our community and to the world.
Always remember: WITH GOD, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.
Mark 1:15b NIV
Luke 10:2a NIV
Luke 9:23b-24 NIV
“Why do people get uncomfortable talking about stewardship?” This was a question we talked about last week.
Last week we started a 3-week series on stewardship. We talked about not worrying about what we don’t have, or controlling our resources because everything we have is because of God and really is God’s anyway.
Here is a video that sums this concept up:
We are all being challenged to look at where and how we utilize the resources (time, talents, gifts, money) God has given us. The topic of tithing was brought up. I know this is a topic most people do not like to hear about, but tithing really is important for our spiritual life. I mentioned that I believe people are more generous, for the most part, with the money given and time/talents used. It is easy to say, “10% is too much to give away,” but I bet if we really looked, we would see we are giving away 20% or more (especially if we count cash given). Now, the challenge is to look at where we are giving the money. We should always be asking, “is this going to help the Kingdom of Heaven? Or will this only be here for a very short time?”
This past week, I asked a group of people online, why don’t people give to the church? What was interesting is how most of the responses were about the people not liking the ministry or mission being done, so they withheld their money and said the church was not using the money wisely even though the church was being the church.
Our giving really does reflect how much we allow Christ to have control over our lives. As we pay attention to and assess our giving (in all areas of our life), let’s see where we are holding on to control.
Our passage today shows an interaction with a rich man and Jesus. He wanted to know how to have eternal life, but on his terms. His life was what was holding him back.
So, now we ask, “what holds us back from fully following Christ?”
READ SCRIPTURE: Mark 10:17-31 NIV
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it isto enter the kingdom of God! 25 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.”
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
There are a few things we have to pay attention to here:
First, the rich man called Jesus “Good Teacher” this means he already has respect for Jesus and his teachings.
How many of us have respect for Jesus’ teachings? If we think about it, Jesus never said, “Respect my teachings and live your life.” No, Jesus said the simple words, “Follow me.” This is the calling each of us has on our lives.
Sunday mornings are easy to profess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and respect what the pastor says in the sermons and during worship. But are our lives truly changed by the message of Jesus we hear on Sunday mornings? Is this reflected in the way we live our lives Monday morning?
We have to keep asking the question:
WHAT’S HOLDING YOU BACK?
In other words, how do we align our lives to reflect what we profess Sunday mornings? I know there are people who would hear these words and say, “I live my life for Jesus each and every day.” Still, others would say, “I live my life how I choose. This is why I don’t like ‘organized religion’. It’s just people trying to tell you how to live.” Have you heard or thought either of those responses?
When we profess Jesus Christ as our Savior, it is so much more than only respecting the words we hear and say each Sunday. It is about having all parts of who we are completely being transformed by the message, person, and Spirit of the Living Christ in the world and in our lives.
When we profess Jesus as our Lord, we make sure that, in everything, we give him the glory and recognition he deserves. We take the time to live our lives as Jesus lived, loving, serving and giving to the exact people who are different than us and whom we do not agree with.
Did you notice the rich man was looking for Jesus to tell him that he was a nice guy and was doing everything “right.” Notice, Jesus did not answer him the way desired. Instead, Jesus did was Jesus does best and asks him a question in return,
“Why do you call me good?”
Now if I were to ask you, what is “good?” I bet we would all hear many different things and the reasons behind them.
Why would we call Jesus “good”? Take a moment and write down, a thought, of why you would call Jesus “good”.
I often wonder if the rich man was trying to butter Jesus up by giving him a compliment, hoping a compliment would be given in return. Do we do this with Jesus? Do we do this with other people?
As we go through and hear the conversation between Jesus and the rich man, we notice the man’s inflated sense of himself and his character traits. What’s holding him back? His pride, in one respect. How many of us have been caught in the trap of not letting our pride get hurt?
Pride can do so much harm to our lives if not properly checked. He was trying to be told he was “good enough” just because he did not break a few of the commandments. Jesus took him deeper than the rich man was willing to go. He challenged the rich man to look at what he was lacking.
I am one of those people who continually reminds us not to focus on what we perceive to be lacking; but, instead, focus on what God is providing.
But this is a perfect example of how we should look at what it is we are lacking. Do we lack the desire to give up the control of our possessions and finances have on us to truly follow Jesus? This is an area I struggle with because the stuff I have makes my life easier in many ways. But dig into the question further.
Jesus is not only asking the rich man to sell everything he has, but he is challenging him to realize that “an unrestrained appetite for wealth or clinging too tightly to what we possess can hold us back and cause us paralysis in our following of Christ.”
Just as the saying goes “you don’t see a U-Haul behind a hearse;” we understand that Jesus teaches we cannot be weighed down by what we have in order to follow him. We cannot be worried about our stuff so much that we do not fully and faithfully follow Jesus in our day to day lives.
Another way of putting it, “we do not work for the stuff we have, we work to make sure what we have is utilized for the Kingdom of God.”
Following Jesus is not as easy as we would want to make it out to be. It is more than just saying a simple prayer and leaving it at that. Following Jesus means we listen to what he says and follow him with nothing holding us back.
Throughout this entire exchange, we see Jesus speaking in extremes. Do you really think Jesus was asking the man to really sell everything he had? I don’t think so. Jesus was doing a heart assessment and the rich man did not like what Jesus said, so the man went away sad.
So, what is holding you back from fully following Jesus? How can we have the same excitement for a new TV, football game, clothes, etc. as we have for following Christ? What is something you possess (object, a feeling of pride, knowledge, etc) that is grabbing your attention more than Jesus is grabbing your attention?
I would be a big liar if I told you I had all of this together and nothing was holding me back. In many people’s eyes, pastors are supposed to be perfect people and have no issues. But the truth is, we are all human, all in need of grace, all in need of healthy relationships. We are all in this together.
This life is not easy. In fact, when Jesus says, “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.”He meant it.
But always remember and believe:
JESUS MAKES THE IMPOSSIBLE, POSSIBLE
We cannot try to get our way into God’s graces by “trying our best” or “being better than other people.” We can only get into heaven because of Jesus Christ.
It really is impossible to get into heaven by pleasing God because when we project something (action or person) as good, we are bringing God down to our own level. But instead, we should continually seek the Kingdom of God because God is the only One who can call something good and get it right.
We cannot do enough to get into God’s good graces on our own. But Jesus tells us, “With man, this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
When we give, we are demonstrating the work of the Holy Spirit within our lives. We are showing to the world, truthfully ourselves, that we are willing to do everything necessary to follow Jesus. We are showing that the only thing that has our complete devotion is, not our stuff or talents or anything like that, but that we only seek to follow Jesus in our daily lives.
When we give to the church, we have the opportunity to be part of the work of the collective Body of Christ in our community and around the world. Yes, the Gospel message is free to give; but the transmission and spreading of the Gospel message takes resources. There is a whole world looking to see churches fail. Many people are constantly trying to prove God is not real.
Do we ever wonder how we can show people that God is real? One big way is to give. Give away financial resources. Give away our time. Give away the talents and gifts God has given us. Give everything away possible because God is continually providing and pouring out his blessings and his presence on all of creation, especially his most valuable creations: you and me.
Bishop Robert Schnase puts it this way:
“Giving makes following God real. We can live a God-related life, or we can live without attention to God’s presence and will. The God-related life means our relationship with God influences all we do. When we seek to do the things God would have us do, including giving, our practice intensifies our love for the things God loves. Then the material possessions that can serve as a distraction or impediment to following Christ become an instrument for our serving Christ. Our material good, consecrated to God, nourish our desire to serve God. Generosity feeds our love for God.”
Tom Chapman, in his book, Make All You Can Give All You Can, writes, “When God calls you to a major task, you will always have other options, and His plan is usually the most difficult one. Many times, it’s also the one that makes the least logical sense.”
We all have things that are holding us back from completely and fearlessly following Jesus every day and in every way of our lives. So, what is holding you back? For me, it really depends on the day and what I have going on and how much sleep I got the night before.
Last week we ended with a piece of Psalm 51. Today, let’s read verses 6-12 together as a form of prayer and praise to God for all the ways he is working in and through our life:
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
As we go through this week, let nothing hold you back from following Jesus every day. Let your love for him be evident through your actions, words, and giving.
Seek Christ for the life he offers and pay attention to the people he loves and how he spends his time, energy, and resources. Praise God for how he is continually working in and through our lives for the transformation of the world!
Schnase, Robert. “Practicing Extravagant Generosity: Daily Readings on the Grace of Giving”. Page 61
Mark 10:25 NIV
Mark 10:27b NIV
Schnase, Robert. “Practicing Extravagant Generosity: Daily Readings on the Grace of Giving”. Page 62
READ SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:25-34 NIV
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Today, we are beginning a 3-week series on stewardship. This is an important topic for us to focus on because everything we have is because of God and is God’s. We are really just stewards of the resources we have been given.
When we talk about stewardship, we are talking about the wise utilization of the resources that God has given us.
Many times, people hear stewardship, in the church, and automatically think about money. This is a good part of stewardship. But we also can easily neglect the other aspects of what it means to be a good steward. We ask the question of how we spend our money; but we also ask, where does our time gets spent, how is our energy spent, how do we use our talents God gave us.
Stewardship is much more than just money. It is also about the talents and energy God has given us. It is about the physical materials God has given us. It is about God’s creation we care for.
The truth is, when we talk about stewardship, people tend to get antsy and edgy because the thought is this, “You can’t tell me how to spend my [money, time, talents, etc]!” Why do we tend to default to this kind of thinking? I think some of this feeling is because we are worried that God is not happy with our lives, or other people would not be happy if they found out what we did with the resources God has given us.
This is one of the areas of our life we will try to “earn” God’s favor and the favor of people. We can focus on showing what we are doing because we like to appear generous. The point of all of this is to break free from the worry of how other people view us. The point is to keep striving for the Kingdom of God.
The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is Jesus giving a long sermon about how people live in the Kingdom of God. What it means to break free from the kind of life the world around us offers and live as free, joyful, peaceful people in God’s Kingdom, God’s eternal presence.
The passage on not worrying is good for us to look at and remember this aspect of living so our minds are not clouded and jaded toward the world we live in. If we stay in the mindset of worry, it becomes like a self-fulfilling prophesy: we will see what we are worrying about come to pass.
When we read the word “worry”, in the passage from Matthew 6, it is the Greek word merimnao. This word is much more than just every day, little worries such as. This Greek word talks about being anxious, to brood over the situation.
This is why the passage in Matthew 6 about not worrying is so important. If we can break free from anxiety and brooding over things we don’t really have control over and focus solely on what it is God wants us to do with the resources we have been entrusted with, then
we can be free to be the people God has created us to be.
What do you get anxious about?
Why do you think you get anxious about it?
There are many things I worry, get anxious about. SOME of them are:
- Not saying what I need to say in the right way
- Offending people
- Am I doing enough for my family
- Not having enough financially to provide for my family
There are always things that get us worked up with worry and anxiety. The key is to always keep in focus the Kingdom of God and the reason behind why we share the faith of Christianity in the world.
God never promises us an easy life, but he does promise to give us everything we need. When we worry, we tend to have our mind clouded with negativity. This can cause our thoughts to go “rogue” on us and begin to think negatively. Then the thoughts we have tend to control how we act.
Think about that. What we watch. What we read. Everything we take in through our senses can cause us to be filled with joy, happiness, life, negativity, despair, worry, etc. So, when we have thoughts that bring worry to our lives, I like to remember specific verses in scripture:
2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV, “We demolish arguments and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Galatians 2:20 NIV, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
John 1:5 NIV, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Psalm 119:105 NIV, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, and a light on my path.”
These are some of the verses I call to mind when I am facing worry or anxiety. They help, me personally, remember the grace that God has bestowed up me, upon the world. Sometimes it takes times for the negativity to leave my mind; but when it does, the light of Christ shines through.
Over the course of these next three weeks, I’m going to challenge us to rethink how we spend the resources we have. We’ll bring up the challenge to fully tithe (giving 10% to the glory of God). Let’s talk about this briefly.
Financial tithing is important. But many people say they cannot give 10% of their income because that is too much. The reality is, I think most people give away 20% or more of their income and not really think about it. So, we do tithe. Just not in the places that will bring about eternal transformation. We instead focus on things that will last only a week or so before it has to be restored, rebuilt, torn down.
Why is tithing important? First of all, we remember that everything we have is because of God. Everything we have is God’s. Psalm 24:1 says “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;” The truth? We are really giving back to God what is already God’s.
Tithing (giving God 10%) is also an act of worship and devotion to God. My wife, Amanda, had a great point the other day. We were talking about tithing (which we do) and she said, “The whole point of tithing is to prove money does not control us. It’s about giving to God without reservation and then fully trusting that what remains is enough to provide for your family.”
How many of us go through the month and not worry about money?
What are some other things we tend to worry about?
I have noticed people worry about:
- Whether they are liked
- Whether they are getting what they “deserve”
- Whether they really have what they need
- How we are going to get to do what we want
- How we’re going to pay for colleges/weddings
- We worry our money/time/talents will be spent on things we do not believe so we hold back and try to control where the money goes.
Notice what all of these “worries” point to – SELF!
Behind all of this is a sense of anxiety because we know we are not doing what we need to be doing. But we have to be careful because it is not about “checking the box” to get things done. It is really about Christ coming into our lives and transforming us from the inside out.
What causes us to “worry”?
The underlying cause can be several things: feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, pride.
But the truth is
THERE REALLY IS NO NEED TO WORRY.
Jesus tells his followers, in the Sermon on the Mount, “do not worry…but seek first his kingdom and righteousness.”(Matthew 6:25,33b NIV)
Christ calls us to continually seek the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. We are given the word to seek after Christ, to seek after his Kingdom. Not only is Kingdom; but his righteousness as well. Some of the ways we seek the Kingdom is to call to mind scripture, find the good around us and in us, be kind when we don’t feel like it, thank God for everything (even the hard times because he is with us).
The beauty of it is, it is not us who earns righteousness, or even life everlasting. It is Christ who freely gives. It is by the grace of God that we do not have to let anything, except the Kingdom of Heaven, fill our minds and hearts.
Christ is saying to not let worry or anxiety fill our lives, but instead to allow the Kingdom of God to fill our lives. It is then we will realize everything God is giving us because of his love for us. Because of grace.
If we are worrying and allowing anxiety to rule our lives, we are really looking after ourselves. But, if we are seeking the Kingdom of Heaven, we see there is no need to worry because God is taking care of us.
Think about your life. Maybe you had an easy childhood, maybe now. Maybe things have gone well for you professionally. Maybe not. Maybe your life is exactly like you wanted. Maybe not.
But God has given us everything we need because he has given us talents/gifts to take care of ourselves and family and to work in the world for transformation.
God has given us encouragement through certain people he has placed in our lives.
God has given us wisdom to know how to handle situations and people.
God has given us himself because he loves us so much that he wants to dwell within us through the Holy Spirit.
All of this is because of grace. See, it is grace we have what we have. It is becasue of grace we can do incredible work in the world. It is grace that we are able to breathe.
We know all of this intellectually, but it is not easy to live fully.
The challenge I have for us all is to continually seek the Kingdom of God first in all areas of our life.
Let us all allow God to break us free from the worries/anxieties of earth and help us experience his kingdom more and more each day.
Psalm 51:6-9 NIV is a great starting prayer for us as we begin this journey over the next few weeks. “Yet you have desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me now, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out my iniquity.”
It is challenging, but let’s let go of the feelings of worry and anxiety. God has given us all we need and is continually with you and me. God is doing great things.