October 2, 2016 – Are You Trustworthy?

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? “No servant can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money.”Luke 16:10-13

The brother’s household rejoices with the Father and his angels at the restoration of their dear brother, Caleb Moore!

The brother’s household rejoices with the Father and his angels at the restoration of their dear brother, Caleb Moore!

Are we trustworthy?  God’s test for us in this is centered in how we handle our finances.  There are certain things in our lives we hold as utterly priceless.  It is emotionally impossible and equally disturbing to put a “price” on a person’s life.  Life is righteously measured priceless and some heroically go to great lengths to protect and save life.  Jesus went so far as to give himself for the eternal life of anyone and everyone who’d opt to make him Lord and be his disciple.  Although physical life is rightly viewed as priceless, how much more valuable is the eternal soul!?  When Jesus says to us, “whoever can be trusted with little can also be trusted with much” and vise versa, he’s clarifying the meaning of what he teaches us next regarding “worldly wealth” vs “true riches.”  True riches are not worldly.  True riches are not “physical” and certainly not monetized.  Being tangible and having a price tag are all marks of “worldly” things.  True riches are spiritual.  We can be “rich in mercy” like our God (Ephesians 2:4), we can be “rich in good deeds” (1 Tim 6:18), “rich in faith” (James 2:5), and we can receive a “rich welcome into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:11).

It’s interesting that Jesus clarifies what we think is “our property” or “our money” is actually not “ours” at all.  We are merely stewards of the abilities, talents, monies, possessions and property God has given to us to enjoy.  “Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work — this is a gift of God.” (Eccl 5:19)  Jesus’ clarifying words are “if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” God gives us our wealth and possessions.  How are we managing them?  Are we trustworthy – or are we trying to serve two masters?

What does it look like to serve money? The first practical place to look is in our contribution. Be forewarned though, this is only one of many aspects of our thoughts and attitudes that should be examined when asking one another if we are truly trustworthy.  A few such aspects regarding our trustworthiness are timeliness in paying bills, adhering to a budget, being “one” financially as you are “one” in the LORD as married couples, debt to income ratio, luxury items, trust in God and in leadership, attitudes around missions, openness overall about finances, the proper use of credit, and many more out of the scope of a church bulletin!  

Brandon Cook is born again!  To God be the glory that he has made Jesus Lord of his life and is now our brother in Christ!

Brandon Cook is born again! To God be the glory that he has made Jesus Lord of his life and is now our brother in Christ!

For our God, giving to him fiscally is an ancient tradition dating all the way back from Genesis 4!  The first matter God admonished mankind on after “the fall” (the expulsion from the Garden of Eden) was giving to God.  “Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord.  But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.” (Gen 4:3-5)  We see God has a sentiment regarding our offerings, it affects our relationship with him.  God tells Cain, “Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Gen 4:6-7) We were so honored to have Ryan Keenan, the administrator of the West US, Canada, & Haiti Geographical World Sector, here this weekend to preach and teach powerfully about “Financial Freedom.”  Ryan challenged us to examine our lives and hearts with his first point Friday night, “Who Is Your Master?”  We see from the scripture here in Genesis 4 that the very first family was torn apart by greed.  Greed led to jealousy which led to anger which led to murder!  God discerned what mastered Cain by what Cain chose to offer him!  What we choose to offer God is indicative of what masters us!  We must not be deceived, the same thing that tore apart the first family in Genesis 4 back then will also tear apart the family of God today!

In Luke 12:15 Jesus says “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”  Then he proceeds to teach us a parable about a “rich man” who has such an abundant harvest that he decides to build himself an additional bigger barn for all his grain.  However, in the parable, the “rich” man’s “very life” is “demanded” from him and God calls him a “fool!”  The “rich man” in the parable is a fool because he was “not rich toward God!”  “There are 70 verses in the New Testament alone that deal directly with the topic of money.” (Laurie, “A New Beginning”)  With so much teaching in the scriptures about this – is it any wonder God’s first interaction with Adam & Eve’s sons was so significant?  We will both trust God wholeheartedly and serve him wholeheartedly or we will begin to despise his expectations of commitment and devotion.  This kind of drift is subtle and can happen to any one of us!  It’s the same drift the leaders of God’s people suffered from in Malachi 1:6 where God achingly asks, “A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?”  When we bring a weekly offering, it is something we do to “honor” our “Father.”  Because the offerings they were bringing were not wholehearted, God said “I will accept no offering from your hands” and “you show contempt for my name!”  Ryan asked us all in his second point, to “Master The Fundamentals.”  One such fundamental to master is giving to our God every week with consistency. “Who may live on [God’s] Holy Mountain?  …[one] who keeps an oath even when it hurts!” (Psalm 15:1, 4)

It should be our ambition to be “Useful To The Master” (Ryan’s third point) in every way possible.  God tells us “I will return to you” in Malachi 3 that if we “return” to him “in tithes and offerings.”  God challenges us to “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse.” He also admonishes us that we are “under a curse” and “robbing” him when we fail to do so!  Our Heavenly Father challenges us to “test [him] in this” and see if he will not open the floodgates of heaven with so much blessing we won’t have room for it.  He also promises that he’ll “prevent pests from devouring [our] crops,” and “the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit!” We know the Old Testament is a physical foreshadowing of the spiritual realities found in the New Testament. This is crystallized by the scriptures in the New Testament which explain this relationship.  For example “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4) and “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.” (1 Corinthians 10:6).  In the Old Testament the fruit was a physical harvest of food.  In the New Testament the fruit emphasized is that of disciples making disciples “to [Jesus’] Father’s glory.”  When we are generous with God we can be assured we will bear fruit that lasts.  We are admonished to build with “costly stones” in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15.

God has used our missions offering to do some amazing things these past few years!  It’s to his glory that Dubai was planted earlier this year and our very own Jamal Ellis of Phoenix is alongside R.D. and April Baker (R.D. is also of Phoenix) serving on the mission field. They had their inaugural service the other week where the 12 mission team members had 56 in attendance!  There were visitors from 13 different nations in the crowd!  The Tampa Bay ministry was also planted this past August earlier this year!  We also saw the Seattle church planted in April – all to the Glory of our God!  So much has been done, and yet there is so much more for us to do in “[making] disciples of all nations!”  Let’s be mastered by God alone as we master the fundamentals being useful to “the master!”  Our November 13th mission’s goal is $40975!  So far we’ve raised almost $12,000!  We’ll be tagging, we’ll be car-ticket-selling, we’ll be sacrificing, we’ll be sharing and preaching, we’ll be loving, we’ll be doing all we can to bring the knowledge of the truth to all men in our generation!  

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