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Back In The Black

Week 3 - Back to Basics: Practice, Practice, Practice

Week 3 - Back to Basics: Practice, Practice, Practice

Series Introduction

Our finances can get so out of control so fast, especially heading into Christmas season. Back in the Black will help us avoid financial pitfalls, climb out of financial potholes, and experience financial freedom.

  • What is one thing you are looking forward to this holiday season?

Sermon Introduction

Have someone read Philippians 4:11-13

Mike started his message with the definition of envy. He said, “Envy is resenting God’s goodness in someone else’s life, while ignoring His goodness in mine.”

There is just no win in comparison. It steals our joy and peace. Comparison drives anxiety and unhealthy competiveness through the roof. It shifts our eyes off of all the ways we’ve been blessed and we start living with a sense of entitlement. “I deserve” becomes our entitled mantra.

The Hebrew people prayed what they called the 18 Benedictions every day. “Bene” in the Latin means “good”. The word “diction” means “words”, good word or what the Jewish people called blessings. All day, every day, they wanted to thank God for what he had given them, so they would stop and pray, “Blessed are you LORD for you have given us food to eat.” “Blessed are you LORD for you have given us clothes to wear.”

They prayed these Benedictions because they realized that God was a Benefactor—he was the source of all that is good. And they knew they were the beneficiaries of God’s good gifts. And they had a name for the good gifts God gave them—they called them Benefits.

  • How different would your life be if you thanked God consistently throughout the day? How can you work prayers throughout your day?

Have someone read Psalm 103:1-5.

We have much to be thankful for but we so easily forget. When we are comparing ourselves to others we can start believing we deserve things. This time of year is especially difficult. We are assaulted with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and see the things we didn’t know we needed. These same items we didn’t know we needed are now on sale calling to us. We see our friends buying these things and start believing we deserve them. We tell ourselves we would be content if only we had that one thing. Thought patterns like this steals our joy and we become less grateful.

  • We all have areas where we are more vulnerable to comparison. What gets in your way and how does it keep you from being grateful?

In her book Radical Gratitude, Ellen Vaughn writes “Radical gratitude is powerful, provocative, life-changing. It’s like a pair of glasses that get progressively sharper: the more we thank, the more we see to be thankful for. Gratitude is the lens that reveals God’s incredible grace at work. It is the key to tangible, everyday joy.”

  • Think about your life and count up your benefits. What are three things you are most grateful for this year?

Research shows that people who look through the lens of gratitude are happier and content with their life. If we express our gratitude those feelings go off the chart. Who doesn’t want to live an off the charts life, filled with deep satisfaction? Paul teaches us the secret to being content in Philippians 4.

Have someone in the group read Philippians 4:11-12.

The best way to learn something is to practice. You want an off the charts life? Learn contentment by practicing gratitude.  One of the best ways we practice gratitude is through generosity. The more we express our thanks by giving away our resources, sharing our stuff, and extending our lives for the sake of others the deeper contentment and joy takes root in our hearts.

Mike said that grateful generosity is the power ball that energizes your whole life. Research on what makes people happy comes to an overwhelming conclusion – selflessness leads to happiness. Generosity infuses our lives and counteracts selfishness.

It seems counterintuitive but the absolute best way to fill yourself up is to pour yourself out.   We’ve been made in God’s image, so we’ve been divinely pre-engineered to give ourselves away. That’s what He does so when we do it, we feel like we are fully alive.

  • When was a time in your life that you shared or gave back. How did that impact you?

Jesus talked about money more than any other topic because he knew how it could impact our lives.  this a lot, saying things like, “It’s better to give than to receive.” He wasn’t delivering a message on tithing when he said that. He’s just acknowledging a fundamental reality of life -  it really is much more fun, much more fulfilling and deeply satisfying to give of yourself rather than to get for yourself.

Have someone read Luke 12:15.

We give willingly when we give from a heart that simply wants to say thanks. Giving is not an obligation have to on our list. We are not trying pay God back but simply want to honor Him and invest in someone else’s eternal future. When we give willingly we let generosity define our lives.

Have someone read 2 Corinthians 9:7 and 2 Corinthians 8:2,4.

The apostle Paul writes about this little struggling church in Macedonia who wanted to help out some folks in need. They didn’t have much, but they gave willingly and joyfully. God loves cheerful giver. You can’t be grateful and resentful at the same time.

Have someone read Matthew 6:1-4.

Jesus talked more than once about the need to give humbly. He doesn’t desire us to give and boast about how amazing we are as givers. He talks about giving in secret. We don’t have to match or out give someone else, we are just called to give.

To give consistently is to put our faith in practice. God owns it all anyway, he just entrusts it to us to manage while we’re here.  Every single possession that we have really belongs to our heavenly Father.

Money management is one of those things that God uses to grow us from the inside out. Awesome things like wisdom, discipline, patience, compassion, delayed gratification, and contentment all get shaped in us. It is priceless and life changing. Our hope is in transforming love of Jesus Christ that changes the world one heart at a time. Mike challenged us to refuse to hoard and instead to pour out and give generously.


Identify one way you can practice gratitude in your life this week. Put gratitude into practice and spend time praying and giving thanks to God as a group.

As a group consider how you can give back this Christmas season as a small group. From adopting a family to helping out with the Foster All Christmas Party, there are ways to give back and pour out to others in need. Visit our Compassion page to see a list of all the opportunities this season.

Week 2 - Back to Basics: What Test?

Week 2 - Back to Basics: What Test?

Series Introduction

Our finances can get so out of control so fast, especially heading into Christmas season. Back in the Black will help us avoid financial pitfalls, climb out of financial potholes, and experience financial freedom.

  • What is the best financial choice you have made?

Sermon Introduction

Have someone in the group read Malachi 3:6-12.

The word tithe means a “tenth part.” Throughout Scripture the number ten represents testing. There were 10 plagues in Egypt and in the wilderness God gave Moses ten commandments. This is seen throughout the Old Testament. God tests our hearts through tithing. The interesting thing is that tithing is the only area where God says we can test Him too.

We are not supposed to test God; however, when it comes to tithing, God says, “Try me now in this.” God desires His children to bring their tithes and offerings into the storehouse of the church. When we do this, God says He will pour out His blessings upon us, and He will guard us.

Tithing is a test of our hearts.  If we tithe, we are under God’s blessing. Tithing is a subject that many are uncomfortable with. We shy away from talking about it to our family or friends. When we are fearful of talking about this it keeps us from being accountable or seeking wise counsel. Last week Gene talked about 10 Financial Commandments. He talked about how we honor God when we give him our first fruits.

  • When you think of tithing, do you cringe or do you feel excited? Explain.

Have someone read Leviticus 27:30 and Deuteronomy 26 1-2, 13-15.

Pastor Robert talked about tithing being biblical. Many people will say that it isn’t in the Bible or that it was under the law so it doesn’t apply today. In reality there are numerous passages, written even 500 years before the law was given, that talks about tithing.  Jesus told many parables around money and being a good steward of what we are given. It was important to Him.

Have someone read Deuteronomy 26:1-2.

God gave the command that all His people are to tithe; however, with our obedience comes a blessing. Our tithe helps support the work of the church, and allows us to unleash compassion to those in need. The place where we receive our “spiritual food” is the place where we are to pay our tithes. Obeying God’s word through tithing breaks the curse and invites God’s blessings and provision for our lives and finances.

Pastor Robert talked about two types of people. The first are tithers and they say “I am so blessed. “The second are the people who don’t tithe. These people say “I can’t afford to tithe. “He talked about how you will never be able to afford to tithe until you start.

Have someone read aloud Matthew 6:21

Matthew 6:21 talks about where our treasure is, that is where our heart will be. When we are able to give 10% or more of our income instead of keeping that money for ourselves, it shows that we love God more than our money. 

Often you will hear stories of people who choose to tithe, even when they didn’t know how they would pay the bills or provide for their family. They take that step of faith and say, “I trust you Lord.” As time passes you will hear these same people share the amazing ways God met them and provided for all their needs. It can be scary to take that first step. In our small group, we have the opportunity to cheer each other on and to pray for one another. We can celebrate together as we share how God is meeting our needs. Our hearts grow bigger and our faith grows stronger when we trust God with our money.

Have someone read Matthew 25:14-30.

Tithing is more than the obedience. It is personal to Jesus, he desires to provide for us.

  • In his message, Pastor Robert shared that tithing is a blessing for the believer. Do you agree or disagree? Explain. If you agree, how is the tithe a blessing for the believer? Have you experienced this firsthand?

Pastor Robert began his message saying, “Every time we get paid we face a test…whom shall we thank?” As followers of Jesus, we have trusted Him for the forgiveness of our sin. It’s a big step to honor God first with the tithe and it takes faith that the God who you are trusting for your entire eternal destiny in heaven forever and ever can also be trusted in this area of your life.

  • Many believers struggle when it comes to tithing. Why do you think this is? What are some of the barriers or misunderstandings that hinder believers from tithing? If you are comfortable, share your personal experience with tithing.


This weekend Gene encouraged us to take the tithe challenge. The 3-month tithe challenge is an opportunity for you to trust God in this area of your life in the next 3 months. Gene boldly offered a money back guarantee.  If you get to the end of the 3 months and feel like God hasn’t blessed you, and God hasn’t kept His promises to you, the church will return the money. Pray you have the courage to fill it out and test God and trust God.

Spend time in small groups praying for each other in the area of finances and tithing.

This week consider journaling down your responses to these questions:

Are you currently tithing? Where is God asking you to grow in this area? Maybe you are struggling to become debt free. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to continue to trust Him in this area and for wisdom in your day to day financial decisions.

If you have not taken the challenge, take time to pray about it this week. How can you overcome the things in your heart that keep you from tithing? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you and make a plan to begin tithing.









Week 1  - Back to Basics

Week 1 - Back to Basics

Series Introduction

Our finances can get so out of control so fast, especially heading into Christmas season. Back in the Black will help us avoid financial pitfalls, climb out of financial potholes, and experience financial freedom.

Sermon Introduction

Most of us have made unwise and foolish financial mistakes over the course of our lifetimes that we wish we could go back and have a do-over on. 70 to 75% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, just one missed paycheck away from a crisis.

We can experience enormous freedom when we get back in the black. God’s Word, the Bible, is a great source of financial advice. This week Gene shared numerous Scriptures and synthesized them into a Financial 10 Commandments. These commandments are the basics to help you get back in the black.

Commandment #1: Thou shalt work hard

Proverbs 28:19 (NLT) Hard workers have plenty of food; playing around brings poverty.

The Bible always connects acquiring money with working hard. These days it seems like there is a growing entitlement mentality that says someone else ought to support me. The Bible says if a person will not work, they shall not eat. God knows that hard work not only produces the income we need to stay alive, productivity makes our lives more satisfying and fulfilling.

  • When is a time you’ve experienced the satisfaction that comes from accomplishing something you have worked hard for?

Commandment #2:  Thou shalt not keep up with the Kardashians

Exodus 20:17 (KJV) Thou shalt not covet.

Ecclesiastes 6:9 (GN) It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to always be wanting something else.

Thou shalt not covet is one of the 10 Commandments God gave to the Israelites through Moses. Coveting means you not only look at something your neighbor has and simply appreciate it, but you say to yourself, “I’ve got to have that too.” We go on Instagram and see our friend showing off the latest iPhone and think “I need that.”  We overspend trying to keep up. You can save yourself tens of thousands of dollars if you will just declare your neighbors the winner right now and say, “I will not keep up with the Kardashians!”

  • Each of us has things in our life we desire. From a love of cars to the latest gadgets, we struggle with being content. In what area of your life are you most tempted to say “I’ve got to have that too?”

Commandment #3: Thou shalt not impulse spend

Isaiah 55:2 (NIV) “Why spend money on what does not satisfy?”

Some people are emotional shoppers. When they feel sad, lonely, down, bored, or just feel they need a little pick-me-up they say, “I’m going shopping! That will make me feel better!” Others work so hard to earn money, and then they just obliterate their financial future with uncontrolled impulse spending. They come home still feeling empty and dissatisfied.

  • What situations in your life tend to trigger emotional or impulse spending? What are some healthier ways you can deal with those situations?

Commandment #4: Thou shalt create a budget

Proverbs 21:5 (NLT) Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity.

You will never just drift back into the black. You need a plan. If you put together a simple budget and work your plan, you will have plenty. Without a plan, we live re-actively instead of pro-actively. We impulsively buy things we don’t need because we have no other pro-active plan to direct our spending.

A budget is simply a financial plan to help you decide in advance how you’re going to spend, invest, and give rather than just hoping it’s all going to work out somehow.

  • When have you been most successful in budgeting and what is your biggest struggle to living pro-actively and not re-actively?

Commandment #5:  Thou shalt honor God first

Proverbs 3:9-10 (NIV) Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

Deuteronomy 14:23 (LB) The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives.

First fruits, refers to the first part of your income and is what the Bible calls the tithe, the first 10% of any income, earnings, bonuses, or inheritances we receive. It’s not just a percentage amount, but it’s the first percentage. We have found when you honor God first in your life, you invite His supernatural touch and activity into your finances. Whatever area you are willing to put God first in, He will bless.

  • Where do you need more of God’s blessing in your life? What holds you back from putting God first?

Commandment #6:  Thou shalt pay yourself second

Proverbs 13:11 (NIV) Whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.

After you’ve honored God first, instead of spending everything else you have to live on, you need to pay yourself by saving money. The reality is that 1 in 3 people in America has nothing saved for retirement and 6 in 10 Americans couldn’t cover a $1000 emergency. If you make an advance decision to save a percentage of your income, little by little it will grow.

  • What is something you could give up monthly to enhance your savings for retirement and/or emergencies?

Commandment #7:  Thou shalt minimize debt

Proverbs 22:7 (NIV) The borrower is slave to the lender.

When you live with debts that you can’t pay, making minimum payments, and unable to save, you know exactly what it feels like to be a slave to the lender. It is never too late to start finding freedom.  This February we will be offering Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Consider signing up and learn the tools to become debt free.

  • Have you attended Financial Peace University? If so, did you find it helpful in helping you get your finances under control? If not, would you consider it?  You can sign up at

Commandment #8:  Thou shalt not make any major financial decisions without wise counsel

Proverbs 20:18 (NLT) Plans succeed through good counsel.

Many people grew up in a house where there was a lack of wise financial counsel. Often, we repeat the mistakes of our parents.   Embarrassment and fear of being told something we don’t want to hear prevents us from seeking wise counsel.  But how many financial fiascos could we have prevented if we had sought counsel from people who told us what we needed to hear instead of what we wanted to hear?

  • Who do you turn to for wise financial counsel? If you don’t have anyone currently, is there someone you would trust to talk to as a next step?

Commandment #9:  Thou shalt leave a legacy

Luke 12:20  God said to him, ‘You fool!  This very night your life will be demanded of you.  Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

According to Jesus, a fool is someone who lives with no thought of God. He hadn’t thought about God in life, and he certainly hadn’t thought about God in death. Each of our lives will come to an end one day, and we have the chance to determine who will get what we have. It is an opportunity to bless others and make an eternal impact.

  • What type of legacy do you desire to leave?

Commandment #10:  Thou shalt trust God

Philippians 4:19 (NIV)  And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Ultimately, how you approach your finances is an issue of how much you trust God. Our faith in Jesus can guide us and help us find our way back in the black.

  • Do your actions reflect a true trust in God’s financial wisdom? Where have you seen His provision in your life? Where do you need His provision?


Review the list and identify which of the Financial 10 Commandments you need to work on. What is your next step to becoming debt free? Split into groups of 2 or 3 and pray for each other.

Gene mentioned the EveryDollar App ( Download it and start budgeting today.