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100 Series

Week 4 - Trust

Week 4 - Trust

Series Introduction

Trusting God fully in an area we tend to hold onto tightly.

  • Share one of your favorite summer memories growing up.


Sermon Discussion

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.

  • Good health.

  • 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?


Prayer

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.

 

Week 2 - Peace for Financial Storms

Week 2 - Peace for Financial Storms

Series Introduction

Trusting God fully in an area we tend to hold onto tightly.

  • What’s one fun thing you’d like to do this summer that doesn’t cost any money?


Sermon Introduction

Each of us has experienced, will experience, or is in the midst of a financial storm. Sometimes short-term financial emergencies look like separate, unconnected incidents, but the truth is, repeated events like these are a sign of a larger problem.

  • Where do you turn when you’re experiencing a financial crisis?

It is almost inevitable that at some point in our lives we will experience a more cataclysmic financial event: a significant illness, the loss of a job, a recession, etc. These events can cripple us if we are not prepared.

The Bible has 2350 verses dealing with money, possessions, and management of our stuff.

Jesus taught more about this subject than any other. He didn't do this because He wants something from us; He wants something for us. He wants us to live with less financial anxiety and more peace.

  • What has been creating financial stress for you recently?

Last weekend Gene explained a very simple financial plan, based on the wisdom of God's Word, that works for people at any income level. We’re calling it the 100 plan. It’s something Gene and Barbara have adhered to for the entire 25 years of their marriage. It’s often called the 10+10+80 plan or the give, save & spend plan.

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.

The second “10” is what we're talking about today. This is where we take the next 10% and save it to prepare for the financial storms that will come in the future.

As a group, take turns reading Genesis 41:1-39.

Genesis 41 tells the story of an economic storm that hit Egypt during the time of Joseph. Through an incredible series of events, Joseph ultimately became the person second-in-command to Pharaoh.

After being sold into slavery by his brothers and later thrown into prison by Potiphar for something he didn’t do, it may have appeared that Joseph's life was doomed. But God gave Joseph the ability to interpret a troubling dream of Pharaoh's, revealing that Egypt would experience seven years of great agricultural prosperity followed by a devastating economic storm: seven years of famine (likely caused by drought). Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of preparing the nation for this coming economic storm.

Have someone read Genesis 41:47-49.

Joseph was wise enough in that time of prosperity to prepare for the financial storms of the future. Today we live in a time of economic prosperity. We tend to assume that as we progress in our jobs and careers, our incomes will gradually increase. This isn’t true for everyone, but for most of us, our income does go up over time. Unfortunately, instead of using this era of prosperity to increase reserves and save for a rainy day, many Americans are buying more, charging more, financing more, spending more, and saving very little.

Have someone read Proverbs 21:20.

Statistics say that, regardless of income, 8 out of 10 Americans live exactly like this. That means 80% of us today are applying the increases in our prosperity to spending, not to saving, leaving ourselves with woefully insufficient savings. Let's be honest, if you live this way, sooner or later there is no financial peace.

Joseph was wise enough in times of prosperity to prepare for the financial storms of the future. He was wise enough to create margin.

Have someone read Genesis 41:53.

It might surprise you to learn you don't have to make a lot of money to accumulate a lot of money. Over time, small amounts of money grow and grow to incredible levels through an amazing thing called compound interest.

Many of us think our circumstances are too tough and too tight to save anything. We keep waiting until we have a larger amount to get going. We don’t need to wait.

If you're 25 years old right now and you save $2.75 a day (which is half of many people’s daily cappuccino budget) and continue until you're 65, your savings would be a little over $40,000. However, through the miracle of compound interest, that $40,000 would grow to over $1.1 million. At $2.75 a day for 40 years, over $40,000 would make you a millionaire with just your coffee money!

That is significant and life changing! We can start small and build on that over the course of our lives.

  • If you’re currently saving enough for the future, what changes did you have to make to get started?  If you’re not, what are one or two changes you can make to increase your savings.

Have someone read Proverbs 13:11.

The question to ask yourself and to spend time in prayer about is how could you start creating margin in your financial picture. Consider where you could find the money to start or increase saving. Gene gave several examples of easy ways to save money.

  • Share meals at restaurants

  • Bring lunch to work, eat out less

  • Order water when eating out

  • Make your own coffee

  • Cut cable TV

  • Review your bills yearly to see if there are better options

  • Buy on sale, never pay full price

Dave Ramsey estimates the average family could save $200 a month. And $200 a month invested over 20 years with compound interest could grow to $150,000 for your future, just because you eat out less.

  • When you look at that list and add up the potential savings, how much do you think you could save a month?

Gene also shared ideas that we might consider more radical, like buying used cars for cash or moving into a smaller home.

80% of Americans today are under financial stress. It may be that unless you do something radically different, you will be, too. If you want to experience peace through the financial storms of life, you must create margin.

  • How would your life change if you weren’t under financial stress?

One of Gene's recommendations this weekend was to consider automating things like tithes and contributions to a 401K. If we don't see it, we don't miss it. When we automate these things, we are never tempted to spend it elsewhere. We make God a priority when we give Him our first fruits.

  • Do you automate tithing and savings? Why or why not?

If you want financial peace, take the first steps today to doing things differently. Identify something you could take out of your life so you could create margin and have peace to weather the inevitable financial storms. Take time this week to think about what choices you could make that would end up making a big difference.


Prayer

Break into groups of two to three people and share one thing you could give up or change to save for your future. Then pray for each other, asking God to give you the discipline to say no to spending and yes to choosing financial peace.

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.

Week 1 - All in

Week 1 - All in

Series Introduction

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?


Sermon Introduction

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:

Dear Gene,
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?


Prayer

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.