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Where is your treasure?

January 24th, 2012

Matthew 6: 19-24

  • It’s easy to slip into the mind-set of thinking God needs our money. But you can’t pay God for favours and He doesn’t need our money!
  •  We tend to think that good works and kindness to people will get us on his good side but if this was the case, we’d never be able to pay back the debt we owe God because it is so vast.
  • We have given ourselves so much to those things that displease him – even from birth we are living for ourselves and not him and this is what sin is.
  • We’re laying up this debt all our lives and one day we will stand before him and face up to this debt and give account for every moment of our lives.
  • Thinking that we can settle our debt by putting a few quid in the offering shows how blind we can be spiritually. We owe him every breath – it’s all a gift from Him.
  • When we understand how needy we are, it’s a shock to think that he’s continued to let us live and chosen to forgive us and pay our debt for us.
  • He’s forgiven us so much but the only way he could do this was for someone else to pay the price of our sin.  Jesus suffered and was crucified so that we would be utterly forgiven and given a fresh life and fresh hope. All that was against us is placed on him and all of his perfection is placed on us.
  • Romans 8:32 God has given us his son, the thing he most cherished on an eternal level.  He gave him up for us so that He could treat us as His sons and daughters.
  • When we understand what God has done for us and how generous He has been,  it changes everything
  • One of the ways you can tell someone’s a Christian is that they give away their money – you cannot be a worshipper of both God and money.
  • Christians know that our money is not really ours. When we know that we are safe and eternally secure in God, we see money differently.
  • We are stewards of money. We look after it and hold it lightly and are entrusted with responsibility to use it wisely.
  • If God blesses you with wealth, don’t just divide your money up (a portion for God and the rest is yours). What would Jesus do with it? All of it is His.
  • How are you stewarding your wealth and what does this mean? It doesn’t mean living in total prosperity, nor does it mean living in total poverty.
  • What are God’s priorities? He’s passionate about Jesus becoming famous and having a global church that populates the world.
  • What does your bank balance say?  Are you passionate about Jesus being glorified?  People who have met Him will give freely to Jesus’ mission.
  • In the Old Testament, there’s a lot about tithing which is giving 10% of your income to the Church. The first tenth is devoted to God, making Him the first priority.
  • It’s not that different in the NT, although Jesus mocks those who tithe when their hearts are far away from God. It is made legalistic.
  • Tithing is taught at CCK but it’s a starter’s amount.  We’re on an adventure – the more we talk and pray to God, the more excited we get about investing our finances into something that’s going to last forever! The church is God’s eternal plan.
  • Were planting sites and will plant sites and churches in the future. God’s vision is big. We’re going to bring God to a continent that has decided that He doesn’t exist. God wants us to be a David that takes down Goliath.
  • Some of us are good at Gift day giving, which Jesus loves, but weekly giving is just as important. We need to be both hearers and doers of the Word and step out in faith.
  • Know that God’s got your back. Giving 10% is a good place to start and being faithful with little will make you faithful with much.
  • If money is a subject that causes anxiety and guilt, God is a father who carries the heavy load and fills us with hope and peace.
  • For those in debt, Jesus was crucified for our shame to take it away from us.  Say sorry for foolish decisions and God will remove that shame.
  • God puts you with people you can talk to, wise people who will not accuse or judge and will pray through it with you. This is what  Small Groups are for.
  • Be ambitious each year and you’ll never regret it. You can never out give him and he can be trusted to look after you.

 

 

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Jesus & “Your” Money – 1 Corinthians 9:1-14

May 11th, 2010

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Paul has been explaining what true freedom is and what it is to be used for. When talking about money, we have to set the foundation right first, which is that grace is a free gift – it cannot be bought or earned with good works (e.g. giving lots of money to church). We can’t cover our sin with money – the price was God’s own Son. Another thing that needs to be clarified is that Paul is speaking to Christians, to members of the church.

Paul explains that he has every right to be paid by the church – and yet he chose not to in the case of the Corinthian church, as he didn’t want people to think they could bribe him, and the church had only recently been started up. However, Paul does explain four reasons why he has this right, as do the leaders of any church:

1. Common sense

  • v.7 – if you work, you should get fairly paid.
  • Often, Christians are the slowest to get this – some of us have a superspiritual view of money, thinking it is “unspiritual” or the root of all evil, or thinking that it will make the pastors/elders more spiritual and humble by keeping them poor! But money can and should be used for God’s glory, for blessing others – the church needs it. It is the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil – when you treat money as god.
  • Jesus had to be supported financially when he was in full-time ministry.

2. God wants fairness

  • v.8 – it is in the law of God.
  • God has said many times in Scripture that He cares about fairness. He wants there to be justice for those who work – to be given dignity and rights and treated well.
  • Paul uses the metaphor of an ox – good representation of what ministry work looks like: genuinely hard work, carrying a heavy load, extends beyond ordinary working hours, a continuous labour.

3. God’s presence costs cash

  • v.13
  • The Church is the presence of God – extending the Church, doing the work of God’s kingdom requires resources, and that requires money.
  • The Church is God’s plan and only plan for the world – Jesus gave His life for it, and He will build it.
  • We can be tempted to give our money to other ministries that seem more exciting than giving to our church – but the church is God’s mission and the mission we should be on. God has placed us here, to serve THIS city.
  • We are not forbidden from giving to other ministries – it’s just that our priority in giving should be our church. We can give on top of what we give to church.

4. Jesus said it

  • v.14 – ‘the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel’
  • 1 Timothy 5:17-18
  • It is a clear, biblical principle, taught by Jesus Himself.

There are four common myths that stop people from giving:

1. “More people = more money”

  • i.e. thinking that it will just be covered by others. However, every member is needed. The church cannot afford to have people not giving.

2. “It’s ‘my’ money”

  • No it’s not, it’s God’s money. We are stewards – we merely look after God’s money. He can do with it what He likes. Our calling in life is not to accumulate wealth and material possessions, but to steward well.

3. “I can’t afford to give”

  • If we have this attitude, will we ever be in a place where we’re able to give?
  • It sets a principle of “God gets the leftovers” or “God gets whatever I have spare”.
  • The reality is, we can’t afford not to give! We need to learn that God covers us – that He is our security, not money.
  • We can’t outgive God!
  • We rob God when we don’t give to Him the first and best.
  • We need to realign our priorities – where your treasure is, there your heart is also.
  • If we learn to steward with little, God can trust us to steward with large amounts.
  • Learn to give freely, wholeheartedly and crazily!

4. “CCK just needs to survive”

  • i.e. we just need to stop being so ambitious.
  • In truth, we need to be way more ambitious – God has much GREATER ambitions for our city, our nation and our world!
  • This is a serious matter – we need to reach people with Jesus, we need to be building and growing more and more. And in order to do that, each member needs to play their part.

Wealth is a Vapour

November 20th, 2008

Solomon has been portraying the emptiness of life under the sun – even ‘religious’ life (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7). He now turns to deal with wealth and its limitations, kicking off with a statement like the old cliché that money can’t buy you happiness… (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

Maybe here is some solace – certainly some timely wisdom – for us as we wander into recession.

The Shortcomings of Wealth
A psychologist called Michael Argyle in his influential book The Psychology of Happiness statistically shows that people who most value money are less satisfied and are in poorer mental health.

Solomon knew this from his own modest research (and God’s wisdom…) the fact is wealth cannot make you content – it was not created to! It was created as a means of worshipping the only one who makes us content.

Three other problems add salt to the wound. Firstly, the more cash you make the more accountants, consultants, brokers, managers and friends there are who will want a piece of you. You may spend decades making a fortune you never touch. You merely watch it going out the back door (Ecclesiastes 5:11).

Secondly, the wealthy lifestyle is rarely healthy. Stress, overwork and big dinners will mean that your designer clothes become what Douglas Wilson calls ‘wrapping paper for ulcers’ (Ecclesiastes 5:12).

Thirdly, wealth is fleeting (Ecclesiastes 5:13-16). It just is. Surely the last 2 months of global finance confirm this. Whatever success we have, we are fools to imagine our fortunes secure.

The Gift of God
Maybe after all this we’re tempted to think the answer is poverty. Whether through deliberate downsizing or by sheer misfortune we might hope to become happier by possessing nothing. Not so. It’s far more likely that those who lose everything pass their remaining days in bitterness (Ecclesiastes 5:17).

So neither poverty nor riches will do for the person who is truly searching (Proverbs 30:8-9). Solomon points to another hope.

In the end there is one way out of the distress: the gift of God. Amidst the apparent emptiness and vanity of life God provides a way that is ‘good and fitting’ (Ecclesiastes 5:18). And it has nothing to do with wealth, but everything to do with contentment.

The truest contentment comes from knowing the God who rules over the apparent chaos (financial, social, political, emotional or whatever) and makes everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He is able to give us our ‘lot’ (Ecclesiastes 5:18-19) – our portion – or, as Jesus friend Peter has it ‘everything we need for life and godliness’ (2 Peter 1:3).
The Gift of Enjoyment
The need for God-given contentment is seen starkly in the case of those who have everything they apparently need – but no ability to enjoy it (Ecclesiastes 6:1-2). Even those who sail through recession, untouched by the murky financial climate, are not guaranteed true happiness.

What’s needed is the contentment of knowing the true and beautiful God. With him firmly in the equation we see money in the right perspective. It’s not bad – it’s a useful tool. The greater goal of all creation – including your bank account – is God’s glory. So use it for that.

We continually pursue that which doesn’t satisfy because our appetite wanders away from the one right in front of us who became impoverished, with nowhere to lay his head, naked and less than nothing, suffering in darkness the death of a criminal. He became poor, that through his poverty we might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).

He will meet our needs and enable us to enjoy the world he made. He will see that, eternally, we don’t go hungry and thirsty (John 6:36). He really will – he died to ensure it. We can, and should, trust him; and live generously, giving thanks for every good gift, holding each one lightly and remembering how we got them: because of his kindness.

You can watch or listen to this sermon here

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