Getting Blessing Right

“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
Malachi 3:10 (ESV)
Read the words in bold again…tithe, test and blessing. Those words are significant to anyone wanting to find financial health.

Consider the first word: tithe. In a simple definition, it means 10%. Why does God ask for 10%?  After all, so many times Christians talk about God owning everything. Why does God want my 10%? What difference would it make anyway?

Christians often talk about God wanting one’s whole heart. Why does 10% of my wallet make any difference to my whole heart?

The interesting thing about the 10% is that it is an invitation to put God to the test. Test God, seriously? That’s what the word says. See, God knows his own faithfulness. When we test God with 10%, his faithfulness is affirmed 100%. As God continues to affirm his faithfulness with our 10%, the increase of our faith rises. That moves us to the third word blessing.

To really grasp financial health, we need to understand God’s blessing. When we give to God, we are not renting or buying a blessing. A tithe is not a down payment or a retainer fee on God. A tithe is a test…and maybe it’s not a test on God. Maybe it’s a test on us.

When we see giving in this way, it’s not God that we rob, it’s our own faith that is hurt. Yes, we do experience God’s blessing right here, right now. But when we look at some kind of invest return for our own gain as God’s blessing, we miss out on something more. God’s blessing may not be what you think…may not be what you expect. But, God’s blessing will be more than you ever could have imagined. 

Finding Satisfaction

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Matthew 6:31-34 (ESV)
Stop for just a minute and sing this kind of slow and Bob Marley-ish: “Don’t worry, ‘bout a thing. ‘Cause every little thing, gonna be alright.”

We worry about so much. What are we eating tonight? What will I wear today? Quite often the biggest argument that my family wrestles with is “Where do you want to go for dinner?” When I listen to my family fuss over food, I feel we have completely missed the point. Sadly, we’re not alone in these kinds of discussions. So many of will have similar arguments. Which shoes should I wear? How does my outfit look? Should I buy a new car?

All of those questions reveal something…quite often we look to other things to provide for our greatest satisfactions. Our honest belief is revealed: We really don’t trust God to satisfy our lives!
We waste so much energy on things that fail to satisfy running from this to that, moving from relationship to relationship, job to job, hobby to sports to recreation, following fads, going to seminars and therapies and purchasing the latest device. In doing this we say, “Self, stuff or money, not God, satisfies.”

Unhealthy perspectives regarding money aren’t just detrimental to our overall well-being, these attitudes are destructive!

Jesus offers a better way, “seek first the kingdom…”

In doing this, faith is strengthened; relationships are deepened; and life is rich and satisfying. Financial health begins with looking to God first to satisfy my life.

Week 6 Sermon Recap

Here are a few highlights from Pastor Jeremy’s teaching during MBC’s Sunday Morning Experience:

Scroll to the bottom for this week’s resources.
  • The average American saved a whopping negative 1% last year!
  • Jesus spoke more about money than everything but the Kingdom of Heaven….more than hell, more than heaven itself, more than relationships, more than sex!
  • 1/3 of Jesus’ teachings deal directly with finances.
  • Jesus said it very clearly, “No one can serve two masters, for 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 God and money.” Matthew 6:24
  • 4 Key Money DON’Ts from Luke 16:1-14
    • Don’t Waste It!           Luke 16:1
    • Don’t Live for It or Love It! Luke 16:13
    • Don’t Trust in It!        Luke 16:3
    • Don’t Expect It to SatisfyLuke 16:15
Money is so critical because it is a measure of trust and faith...
Do I trust God or do I trust the money I make?

I must trust God as my SOURCE and SUPPLIER!
“For him and through him and to him are all things.him be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36                                     
“You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth…”
Deuteronomy 8:18

I must keep GOOD RECORDS!                                                                                                   “Know well the condition of your flocks, andattention to your herds, fordo not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations?” Proverbs 27:23-24
Four Records to Keep:
1. What I own
2. What I owe
3. What I earn
4. What I spend

I must give to God FIRST!                                
"The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives.” Deuteronomy 14:23 (TLB)                                
“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” Proverbs 3:9-10

I must SAVE and INVEST for the future!                                          
“Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man's dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.” Proverbs 21:20                       
 “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” Proverbs 13:11                        
“Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.” Proverbs 24:27

I must INTENTIONALLY PLAN to get out of debt!
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”
Proverbs 3:27                       
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”Romans 13:8

I must BUDGET my spending!                                                                                                   "The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5

I must ENJOY what I have!
“But godliness with contentment is great gain…”  1st Timothy 6:6
"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Peace and Happiness

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God”
Matthew 5:9 (ESV)
What does it mean to be “blessed”? The simplest definition is “happy”. The Greek word used in the Bible for “blessed” is quite literally, “happy”.

Look at the verse again. This time replace “blessed” with “happy”.
“Happy are the peacemakers…”

Notice what Jesus doesn’t say. He doesn’t say, “Happy are the peace lovers.”—few people don’t love peace. Nor does he say “Happy are the peaceable.”—those who never get disturbed by anything. Jesus says, “Happy are those who make peace.”—who actively seek to resolve conflict.
What kind of happiness does peace making bring?

Consider this…when are you most happy in your relationships? Is it when you are fighting or when you are getting along?

I’m going out on a limb to guess you answered “when you are getting along”.

When are you most happy in your relationship with God? I’m going to guess it’s when you and God are getting along as well.

True happiness is found when we have peace with God and when we live at peace with others.
Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Through faith in Jesus we have peace with God. The Bible goes on to speak of how we have peace with each other:

“And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18

“Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

“Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14

Living at peace with others is work. However, it is a work that leads to the truest sense of happiness. To be happy is to be relationally healthy…living at peace with God and in peace with others.

The Friendship Principle

“Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?”
Amos 3:3 (ESV)
When you search the classic literature of friendship, you find that for Aristotle, Aelred of Rievaulx, Montaigne, Emerson, and much later, C. S. Lewis, true friendship was much more than the companionship often mistaken for it. The friendship we find in their writings will probably not be found in a chat room or at girls' night out or at March Madness watch party. It is as rare as it is intense—Montaigne thought you might find one true friendship every 300 years!

What is it that brings this rare gift together?

The principle of this kind of friendship is found in Amos. Read the opening verse again.

Friends are of like mind. The truth that comes from all of this is a friendship is a relationship that is entered into by individuals, and it is only as good or as close as those individuals choose to make it.

Someone has said that if you can count your true friends on the fingers of one hand, you are blessed. A friend is one whom you can be yourself with and never fear that he or she will judge you. A friend is someone that you can confide in with complete trust. A friend is someone you respect and that respects you, not based upon worthiness but based upon a likeness of mind.

Who are the people that you share a strong “like-mindedness” with?

How do they strengthen you? How do you strengthen them?
Take time to pray for these friends right now.

Week 5 Recap

Here are a few highlights from Pastor Jeremy’s teaching during MBC’s Sunday Morning Experience:

You can check out Sunday morning’s audio right here.

Click here for this week's reflection questions.

God gives a secondary aspect to the greatest commandment. Not only do we love God with everything we are (heart, mind, soul, strength), we are to love our neighbor, too. 

Many of us have been hurt by others. We don’t trust people easily. That hurt and mistrust hinders the way God wants to shape our lives in relationship with others. 

Over and over again, the Bible clearly affirms the significance of relationships in our lives…whether these relationships are wise or foolish relationships really depends on who and how we engage.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
2 Kinds of Friends
  • CASUAL friends are the result of CIRCUMSTANCE
  • INTENTIONAL friends are the result of CHOICES
“The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Proverbs 12:26 (NIV)

CHALLENGE you mentally!                                                                                    
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20
SUPPORT you emotionally!
?“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17
STRENGTHEN you spiritually!   
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works...” Hebrews 10:24                                                            
 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 2:17
How to Build Healthy Friendships
  • Get interested in OTHER PEOPLE! Philippians 2:4
  • Don’t be a CHRONIC COMPLAINER! Philippians 2:14-15
  • Be a GOOD LISTENER! James 1:19
  • Accept people UNCONDITZIONALLY! Romans 15:7
  • Help others feel SIGNIFICANT! Philippians 2:3
  • Be SYMPATHETIC! Romans 12:15
  • Stick with them in TOUGH TIMES! Proverbs 18:24
  • Share CHRIST with them! Luke 8:39

Friends Give Life

“No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.”
1st John 4:12(NLT)
Although our generation has access to more people than any other generation in history, somehow we can still end up feeling alone. A 2006 study published in the American Sociological Review found that 25 percent of participants said they had no one to confide in about important matters. Increasingly, we have people we can hang out with but no one we can truly rely on.

This is the sad testimony of the Technological Age. We are connected, yet fragmented. The world is closer together, but people are further away.

Yet, as the great country singing prophet Johnny Cash once put it, “Flesh and blood needs flesh and blood, and you’re the one I need.”

Jamie Tworkowski—the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms—once wrote, “You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips. Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs, but people more than anything else. You will need other people and you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living, breathing screaming invitation to believe better things.”

True friendship gives life. True friendship bestows grace. True friendship dances in God’s love together. Read the opening Bible verse again.

Did you catch it? When we love one another, God’s love is brought into full expression!

Relational health is best displayed when God’s love is expressed between people.

So here’s a couple of questions to think through:

How do you show God’s love and grace to those around you?

How do your friends show God’s love and grace to you?

Forgiven and Free

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 8:1(ESV)
Imagine I asked you to write down all of the bad things you have ever done on a 3 x 5 index card.  Relax; you don’t really need to do that. If you’re like me, one card wouldn’t be enough anyway! But just pretend for a moment that you and I wrote down every single wrong…every single word…every single bad decision…ever bit of shame and guilt…every stupid mistake.

Now imagine a roaring fire pit in front of you. Jesus is there by the pit. He invites you to throw your card, yes that card filled with every ounce of shame and guilt you wrote on it, into the fire. You throw it in the fire and watch. It burns, eventually being consumed until the card is no more.

That’s the power of God’s forgiveness. God’s love for His creation is so powerful that through Christ, His love consumes your sin.  An ancient song writer once wrote these words:

“…as far as the east is from the west, so far does He (the Lord) remove our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12
Because of Jesus, our sin, our wrong, our shame and guilt is removed. That emotional hole left by sin, shame and guilt is filled with God’s forgiveness:

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” Colossians 1:13-14

The Bible declares, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18

You may be carrying around something that makes you feel incredibly guilty, shameful or unworthy of God’s love. You may think that guilt is God’s reminder or punishment. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Jesus paid the price for you sin already. You don’t have to keep paying the price of shame and guilt. You can live life forgiven and free!

If you are in Christ, you are forgiven and you have been set free!
And that my friends, is truly emotional health.

Take Heart

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33(ESV)
We would be naïve to believe that we are not going to face tough times. Jesus made a simple promise, “
In this world there will be trouble…” John 16:33. There will be situations and circumstances far beyond your control. Crises will seem to come from out of nowhere. Pain will feel greater than you can handle. In that moment, when life seems impossible, remember this:
“But take heart! I (Jesus) have overcome the world.”

Jesus has overcome. Yes, the trouble is great. Yes, the pain is real. But yes also, we are not left alone in hardship and hurts.

God sees your hurts. He hears your cry. He holds every tear you will shed. More so, God stands ready to help! When we come to Jesus with our hurt, it can be humbling. We look to Jesus and say, “I can’t do it alone.” Pride gets in the way. Anger gets in the way. But Jesus tells us to take heart—be encouraged—because he has overcome for us.

When you feel like life is too hard, that the hurt is too much…look to Jesus. Find peace through him and in him. His love never fails. Stop fighting a war that’s already been won! Stop carrying a load that’s already been emptied!

Trusting Jesus’ victory over the hardship and hurt is a huge step toward emotional health.

Week 4: Sermon Recap

Here are a few highlights from Pastor Jeremy’s teaching during MBC’s Sunday Morning Experience:
Scroll to the bottom for this week’s resources.
  • One of the biggest roadblocks we face to knowing the rich and satisfying life Jesus promises is emotional wounds.
  • When we are physically wounded, the evidence is clear to others (bandages, scars, blood, crutches, casts, etc.). However, if we could see the emotional wounds of those around us, we would find that there is not one person, including me, that is free from emotional wounds.  
  • This morning you are invited to respond to God’s invitation of enjoying that promised life by letting God heal your emotional wounds.
  • “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
  • Emotional healing lies at the heart of transformation!  The greatest commandment, as offered by Jesus himself, is to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. We will do things for God all day. We will read our Bibles, pray and give to good works. We will fill our mind with good and God-honoring things. But very rarely do I find Christians who have the courage to trust God with emotional hurts.
  • Not trusting God to heal our emotional wounds is withholding loving God with all of our hearts. This is one of the central reasons why I believe we do not experience the rich and satisfying life Jesus promises in John 10:10…we withhold our emotional lives from God.
  • God desires to bring a wholistic transformation to your life, including healing your emotional wounds: “He heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds .” Psalm 14:3
  • How do we get there?  Revealing brings healing to our emotional wounds!
  • The Bible says, “In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears.”2 Samuel 22:7
  • When we offer our hurts to Christ, His transforming power takes life in us. In Christ alone, there is forgiveness, there is removal of guilt and shame, there are hearts healed and lives renewed!
  • God never wastes a hurt. Some of the greatest help you will offer someone else will come from your deepest pain.
  • Five Steps Toward Emotional Health:
  • REVEAL my HURTS  “So I remained utterly silent, not even saying anything good. But my anguish  increased; my heart grew hot within me. While I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue.” Psalm 39:2-3
  • Hidden wounds don’t heal—THEY FESTER!
  • “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away  through my groaning all day long.”  Psalm 32:3
  • I MUST release those who have HURT ME!  “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
  • Do I want to get WELL?   or  Do I want to get EVEN?
  • Replace OLD LIES with GOD’S TRUTH!but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.Romans 12:2
  • If you want to change the way you FEEL about life, you have to change the way you THINK about life!
  • “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers…” Hebrews 2:11
  • REFOCUS on the FUTURE!  “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” Proverbs 4:25
  • Your PAST is not your FUTURE!
  • REACH OUT to help OTHERS!  “...who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  2 Corinthians 1:4