Trusting God fully in an area we tend to hold onto tightly.
What is your one area in your life you hold onto tightly and struggle to trust God in?
We might not be aware of this, but finance is an area that most of us take a test in every few weeks. It is an area that God uses to test our hearts, our commitments and to test our trust in Him. Every time you get paid, every time you get some income, it is a test of where your heart is.
Have someone read Matthew 6:21.
God doesn’t want part of you, He wants all 100% of you. Jesus was asked what is the greatest command in life and we read that he said all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. It is pretty clear, how we manage our treasure is a heart test that reveals what we’re committed to.
Have someone read Matthew 22:37.
When it comes to the subject of money we have all kinds of different money management styles. Money is one of the biggest sources of conflict in many marriages and relationships. Gene shares that it’s not been a source of conflict for he and Barbara because they have chosen to live by the 100 plan (more on that later).
Gene says that this plan is one of the most life-changing things God has done for him, and God can radically and miraculously transform this area in your life as well.
In your home growing up or in your home today, is money a source of stress and conflict? If yes, how did your family/or you address it? If not, how did you get to a place where you feel confident and peaceful about your finances.
Often, our parents become our role model for how we handle our finances, for good and bad. If we are not actively aware of it, we may inherit their poor financial choices, but the great news is there is hope. We have the opportunity, no matter where we are financially, to start making wise choices.
Over the course of this series we will go through God’s 3-part financial plan. We call it the 100 plan, and it’s so simple all of us can follow it.
Here is the plan: 10 + 10 + 80 = 100.
The first 10, represents taking the first 10% of your income and honoring God by tithing: giving to the local church that you’re a part of and connected to. That is what we are talking about this week. We honor God first and best and then He promises to bless the rest.
The second 10, is to take the next 10%, save it and get compound interest working for you.
The 80 means you take the final 80% and spend it on everything else, trusting God.
Often, we approach things in the opposite order, spending first and then saving and giving only if there is anything left. Both Scripture and our own experience teach us that this sequence doesn’t work.
Choosing to follow this sequence, we create a ME, ME, GOD plan, and put God in last place. We give Him our leftovers, instead of bringing him our first and best, and God cannot bless any area of your life, where you are not putting him first.
Have someone read Deuteronomy 14:23.
Honoring God first with your giving represents a heart test for a follower of Jesus.
It tests your trust in God, are you putting God first or not? If we’re honest, the reason many of us struggle is what the apostle Paul called, “the love of money.” Jesus called it greed.
Have someone read Luke 12:13-21.
Jesus is speaking to a crowd of people and someone interrupts him with an invitation to get involved in a family squabble over money and inheritance. Jesus cautions the crowd to guard against all kinds of greed because life does not consist of an abundance of possessions.
Imagine someone following you this past week. What would that person say your life “consisted in”? In other words, what would they say was important to you? How have you invested your time and your money over the past week?
Jesus then shares a story about a man who was a visionary, an innovator and successful entrepreneur. He planned for everything, except the things that really mattered. Jesus called him a fool.
According to Jesus, a fool is someone who lives with no thought of God, with no thought to God’s activity in their life and world. It wasn’t wrong to plan for the future, it’s that his plans didn’t include God.
Gene challenged us to wrestle with two questions as we apply this message this week in our own lives.
The first question to ask is, “Am I trusting God with all?”
Psalm 24:1 says, the earth is the Lord's, and everything in it. In other words, it’s not just the first 10% that belongs to God. 100% belongs to God. We just manage it, and God asks us to return the first 10% to Him.
It’s as if God is saying, “You’ll go further on 90% of your income with my blessing than 100% of it on your own.” When you give to God your first and best, He promises to bless the rest. In Luke 6:38, Jesus said, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap.” Until we prioritize giving as our first priority, God will never be able to bless our finances.
The second question to ask yourself is, “Am I robbing God?”
Have someone read Malachi 3:6-12.
Have you ever tested God in your tithing? If you have, what were the challenges you faced and blessings you experienced? If not, what are some of the barriers that keep you from tithing?
The tithe, the first 10%, belongs to God. You don’t actually give a tithe to God, you return it to Him. The Bible never speaks of giving your tithe but uses words like bringing or returning the tithe.
Gene shared a portion of a letter he received a few years ago after preaching a sermon on tithing, it reads:
I want to thank you for adding that last bit to your sermon last weekend about tithing among the wealthy. “To whom much has been given, much is required. For their responsibility is greater.”
That verse really hit home with me and I felt you were speaking directly to me. Although we’ve always given to our church, we’ve never tithed and we’ve wrestled with that concept for some time. God has truly blessed us with a successful business and the ability to make money. I don’t think our reluctance to tithe has been due to a lavish lifestyle, quite the contrary.... I do believe that fear has prevented our tithing, fear that we wouldn’t have enough later when we really needed it. But, during that portion of your sermon, I truly felt the size of God’s gift to us and I wasn’t afraid to trust Him any more.
Since we moved here and began attending the church, our business has flourished and I don’t believe that is just pure coincidence. I think that has been God’s reminder to us that all gifts come through Him and that He will continue to provide. So I think it’s time to give Him his just due. Thanks for having the courage to say what is really in your heart.... Although we have a long way to go, our faith has deepened significantly during our time here….
What does truly feeling “the size of God’s gift” mean to you, and what are the implications of that understanding?
You have the choice to make a decision today to put yourself in a position where God could bless your life with financial freedom. Gene encouraged everyone to try tithing for 100 days and if God doesn’t bless you, Eastside will refund your giving. It’s a money back guarantee. Yet, it also requires expectant faith, saying to God, “I will trust you 100%.”
How will you respond to Gene’s 100 day challenge of putting God to the test? What action steps will you take to make this a reality?
Break into groups of 2-3 and share where you need prayer in your financial life. Then pray for each other, asking God to set you free in this area and to give you the courage to take the steps you need to take.
If you or someone in your group is looking for some help and don’t know where to begin, we are beginning another round of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University starting July 12 in Southern California, and at home study kits are available in Park Rapids.