Encounter: Read The Message version of Matthew 6:19-24 and from the translation you most commonly use in your study of scripture. Then read 1 Timothy 6:6-11 in your favorite Bible. Underline words or phrases that strike you as applicable to our present day perspectives and uses of our money and resources. Begin to write down any thoughts you may have about your own possessions and management of resources.
When I was a young pastor some twenty years ago, I remember one of my mentors telling me I needed to be careful when and how often to preach about money. He said if you are doing everything else right in making disciples, you shouldn’t have to mention it except maybe for a short series before budget time in the fall.
Being a pastor whose passion is spiritual formation, I agreed wholeheartedly and those early years have shaped my pastoral practice regarding yearly campaigns and even our Sunday offerings. I believe when our focus is positioning ourselves for transformation as we respond to God’s movement in our life, our desires and choices change and many times we will quite naturally live aligned with God’s ways.
It's interesting though to look how God created times and seasons for planting and harvest, for giving and receiving, saving and investing. And it's even more interesting that with approximately 3 years of ministry Jesus would spend so many of his words in sharing his upside down principles regarding money. Jesus did not think it awkward to bring up the subject quite often.
Nelson Searcy in his book “Maximize” says that when it comes to money and the church one of our biggest challenges is silence. He goes on to say, “Jesus was never afraid to talk about money. Outside of the kingdom of God, stewardship was his favorite subject. He talked more about money and possessions than about faith and prayer combined. He spent more time dealing with denari than with heaven or hell. In fact, if we were to teach about money as Jesus did we would have to make it our topic every third week.
And while I have no plans to talk about money every third week, I look forward to creating a “campaign” through a sermon series as an opportunity to come together and see just what God can do with a community who makes intentional commitments to the kingdom of God while we care for our families and set an example of stewardship for our children and students. Seeking financial freedom not just for ourselves but for something much greater than we can dream of.
As we allow God to reveal to us the plans and purposes of Eden Church, Jesus says take the challenge. The challenge to have an eternal perspective in place of a temporal one. A time to take seriously God’s invitation to ask for more in order to do more and then to watch how He is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think of.”
Let’s dream together how we can live more fully into our purpose to be “A welcoming community seeking transformation through relationship with Jesus Christ and encouraging others to join us!”
If you didn’t get a chance to read last week’s Renew, please go back and look at all God is doing in and through our Eden community and what we are dreaming about for the future. Think about what you would add to our dream and be sure to share it with someone. Who knows what God can do when we acknowledge that he is the giver of all that we have and all that we are!
This Sunday, I’m using Week 1 & 2 to inspire the message. There’s still time to dive into our community wide study, No Strings - Untangling Your Heart’s attachment to Money. Just ask!
Dreaming with you,
Reflect: How do you think finances and possessions are affecting your relationship with God and others? Does the scriptures above speak to how you answer this question?
Encourage: In answering the above question does it discourage you or encourage you as you begin to reflect on this series? Are you open to see how God might use this study to reveal things about yourself and your attachments to money that you did not know? Can you keep in mind God’s love and grace as he guides you in his goodness?
Gather: In your Life Group or Sunday Study group, read and discuss Matthew 22:37-40 asking how is this passage connected to the passages above in the Encounter section. What thoughts or feelings do you experience as you read these commandments of Jesus, particularly in light of how we steward our resources.