Trusting God fully in an area we tend to hold onto tightly.
Share one of your favorite summer memories growing up.
Over the last few weeks we have been learning and applying a very simple biblically based plan for managing our finances called the 100 Plan. The plan calls for us to honor God with the first 10% of our income, save the second 10%, and trust God enough to live on the other 80%.
Would you describe yourself as a trusting person? When you think of your spiritual journey, how would you rate your trust of God on a scale of 1-5? Why?
The word for "test" is a significant word in the Bible. It's often used to describe God testing His people.
Have someone read John 6:6.
Just before Jesus performed the miracle of feeding 5,000 people, He asked one of His disciples, Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" Jesus was testing Philip's level of trust. He was seeing if Philip believed he could supply the food for thousands of people. We see by Philip's question that he didn't trust that Jesus could feed them all.
Many of us know the story of how Jesus miraculously supplied food for this crowd of 5,000 men, probably 20,000 people in total, with just five small loaves and two fish. Imagine the conversation at the end of the day between Jesus and Philip. Did Jesus turn to him and say “You didn’t think I could do it, did you? Come on Philip, when are you going to learn that God can be trusted?”
Have someone read John 6:10-14.
This miracle was a sign to the disciples that Jesus could be trusted. Numerous stories throughout the Bible show us people that were tested by God.
When you think about the 100 Plan, what is the one area you most need to trust God with?
Have someone read I Kings 17:8-16.
The widow of Zarephath was a single mom. She was alone and frightened. She was running out of food and found herself preparing to cook their last meal. She was pretty sure they would die, with no food left in their home. Culturally she didn't have the option of working a respectable job.
The prophet Elijah was sent by God to find her. He approached her and asked her for a cup of water and bread. When she responds that she has all but a bit of flour left, Elijah tells her not to be afraid. He asks her to bake a little loaf of bread before cooking her last meal. Elijah tells her that the Lord has made a promise to her that if she does this, she will never be hungry again. She took that step of faith, trusted Elijah and gave all of her food to him. In return, there was food every day for Elijah, the woman, and her family.
God promises that if we trust Him first with our resources, He will supply our needs.
Have someone read Philippians 4:19.
Paul writes that we can trust God with all of our needs. Gene shared the story of a single mom he met at a church in Illinois. She was unemployed, going to school and was challenged by someone to tithe the first 10 percent, even her unemployment. She was scared to take that first step but ultimately decided to trust God to bless her faithfulness. Three years later God had provided at every turn. Mechanics helped fix her car when she didn't know how she could afford to fix it, and unexpected checks arrived in the mail just at the right time. Maybe you have experienced this or have friends who have shared similar stories. People who trust God have these kinds of stories of sowing generously and reaping generously.
Even though she had very little to give and was going through hard times, God put her to the test. She offered to God first before she did anything else with what she had and learned God could be trusted.
Gene shared his story of learning to trust God, both in good and hard times. Throughout his life, he has seen God's provision and how God used challenging times to prepare him for his future. We never know how God will use the trials in our life and turn them into meaningful moments. We have the choice to trust Him in times of financial or emotional need.
When Cheri, who runs the small group ministry for the Anaheim campus, was struggling to find peace with her past, she cried out to the Lord asking him to show her that He was there. At midnight that very night she received a Facebook message from an old friend. He felt God prompting him to share a verse with Cheri that directly related to her struggle.
Share a time you have trusted God and seen amazing provision.
God has said over and over again in His Word, "If you'll trust me and put me to the test, I will pour out a blessing on your life so great that you won't be able to take it in."
Have someone read Malachi 3:9-12.
Malachi was urging the people to open their hearts and let go of fear. They were afraid of losing what they had worked so hard for in life. They misjudged God for he has a way of taking our little bits and multiplying them.
Now some of you are wondering, "What is it God has promised to re-supply? What's the scope of this promise?"
When you honor God first in your life, when you trust Him, He will meet all your needs, including your financial and material needs. Some of the different ways he does this are:
Increased income or lowered expenses.
Cars or appliances lasting longer than they should.
Sparing us from financial problems we never realize could have happened.
One way or another, God will re-supply to those who put Him to the test, honoring Him first with their resources.
1. He provides for our emotional and relational needs.
God knows when we need a friend, an extra touch of encouragement or knows that we are just worn out. He knows when we are fearful, grieving or worried, waiting on test results. When we are trusting God with everything, it is crazy how he will meet us, bringing us a person, a text or a promise from His word. Hopefully, everyone has experienced a moment where we know God heard and met us. In those moments we see Jesus and our experiences encourage others that they can trust the Lord
Share a time you were at the end of your rope, and God brought someone in your life to encourage you.
2. He provides the deepest needs of our soul.
We have experienced those dark times when it feels like we can't take one more moment, where we feel so alone and forgotten. In those moments we can talk to Him, cling to God’s promises in Scripture, or even sing the simple yet powerful words of Jesus Loves Me as Gene did. He meets us in those moments, bringing us peace.
God promises to meet all of our needs. He invites us to trust him with our material, spiritual, emotional and relational needs. He challenges us to test Him. Until we take that step, we will never know whether we can truly trust Him.
How has the 100 Series impacted your thoughts on personal finances? Would anyone like to share any changes or challenges that you have faced?
Break into groups of two to three people and share one area of your life where you need to trust God. Then pray for each other, asking God to give you the faith you need to trust him completely.
If you have never taken Financial Peace University, now is the time to jump in. This course by Dave Ramsey will take you further and faster in this area. We are beginning another round starting July 12 in Southern California, and at-home study kits are available in Park Rapids. More information is available at eastside.com/events.