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					                    August 10, 2008

Imagine
A Money Margin
Pastor Sal Sberna
[Pastor Sal’s opening prayer:]

           Lord, Jesus, thank You for giving us desires in our hearts for wanting to
           live for You–to please You. Sometimes we are conflicted, God, because
           there’s so much in our life that we know really isn’t dedicated to You–
           really doesn’t please You. So sometimes we feel very guilty when we sing
           songs like that [None But Jesus by Hillsong]. God, we’re also so mindful
           of Your grace this morning. You know our heart’s desire and our intent.
           Our prayer this morning is that You would take our heart’s desire and our
           intent and You would give us insight, wisdom, power through the Holy
           Spirit, and grace to be able to make our actions equal to our heart’s desire
           and intent.

           Just like the quote I heard from Mother Teresa this weekend, Lord, I want
           to be somebody who loves You like You’ve never been loved, Lord. Help
           us, God, this morning to take the next step in becoming somebody who
           loves You like You’ve never been loved before. Change our desires and
           our hearts. I pray the Spirit of God would move in this room, in this place,
           as He’s been doing now. Move in our hearts and our minds to get us in
           alignment with what You want for our lives, Lord, and for what You want
           for our church. Then use us to go into the world to align the world. We
           know that You love the world and want the world to come unto You. So,
           Lord, bless this time as we are in Your word now. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Take your Bibles and open them to James 5.

There have been a series of messages this summer, through the book of James, called Imagine.
Imagine what your life could be like if your walk matched what we say that we believe–if your
walk and your talk match–if your faith and your footsteps were actually together. That’s the
challenge of life of a believer: the things that we believe becoming the reality in which we live.

James is going to talk to a particular set of people in chapter 5. In the first six verses He is going
to be speaking to rich people.

How many of you here would consider yourself rich? Very good. In the last service nobody
confessed to it. Most people–when they say rich people–they always think of somebody else,
don’t they? Oh, no, no, no! We’re not rich, but the neighbor–they’re rich; or that person–they are
rich.

Have you ever asked your parents when you were growing up: Dad/Mom, are we rich?
[Pantomimes their response:] Oh, no, no, no! But your mom’s parents, they’re rich. We’re not
rich. A lot of it has to do with perspective on things.

[James] is going to talk to these rich people, and it’s not going to be pleasant. These are tough six
verses. They are an admonition for us to really consider what we are doing with what God has
given us.
I think I shared this with you maybe a year or so ago when I was doing a message on
stewardship. If you Google™ and find out the average median income–I think that the average
median income right now for most Americans is between $45,000 and $48,000 per household.
That’s the average/mean income. If you make that [amount] of money, then you are probably
[making] the upper half of income in the United States. That’s what is median right now. If your
average income in your home (pre-tax dollars–count whatever income there is) is $75,000 to
$78,000–somewhere in that range–you are in the top 20 percent of Americans. That’s pretty rich,
if you make that kind of money.

I don’t know what you make or what your household income is, but I do know surveys we’ve
done on our church. I do know that we’re up there–the majority of us. You did an average, and
we would be able to say–as a church–we are a rich church by that standard right there.

Maybe you don’t consider yourself rich. Maybe you say:
  • Oh, man, I’m glad I made $74,000.
  • For a minute there I thought I was rich!
  • The preacher hasn’t been talking to me today!
  • I’m not rich. Whew!
  • Honey, give a little bit more today so we’re not rich.
  • I don’t want this thing to apply to me today.

Here’s what I want us to do before we get into the text. I’m telling you, the text–when you start
reading that chapter (and don’t read ahead of me or you won’t listen to me)–it’s pretty tough!
What I want us to do is get a balanced understanding about money before we set off on this:
     • Where it comes from
     • How God views the money
All right? Just about three, four, or five verses here, just to kind of refresh our memory so we
don’t go off in the wrong direction.

Money isn’t evil. The Bible doesn’t say that money is evil. In fact, in I Timothy [6:10a] the
Bible says what? “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”–the love of it. You see,
you are supposed to love God, love people, [and] use money. Not use God, use people, [and]
love money. Money is very neutral. It can’t get up and walk or talk or any of those things. It just
is. It becomes good or evil depending on how it is used and viewed.

Money is not security. The next thing, Proverbs 11:28, “Whoever trusts in his riches will
fall.” Money is not security–that’s what the Bible says–it’s not security. I love this Proverb (it
just came to mind): Money makes itself wings and flies away. [Proverbs 23:5 (paraphrased)]
They’re called children. Money makes itself wings and flies away. You can’t trust it. It’s not a
permanent thing.

Deuteronomy 8, verse18, says the Lord:

           But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the
           ability to produce wealth…
                                         Deuteronomy 8:18 (NIV)
Isn’t that something? God’s not against money–He’s for it. He said: I’m going to give you the
ability to produce–not just what you need–wealth.

This is a wealthy (on average in America) congregation, okay? You may not think so but
statistically and biblically, we are. All right [agreed]?

I Samuel 2:7a (NLT), “The LORD makes some poor and others rich…” Don’t you love the
Bible? You ought to read that thing. It’s tremendous! If you want a perspective of money. Here it
is: God makes some poor and He makes some rich. Poor isn’t wrong with God. Rich isn’t wrong
with God. It just is. He’s going to bless. I love this next verse:

Proverbs 10:22 (NIV):

           The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, {here’s my favorite part of
           the verse} and he adds no trouble to it.

God wants to bless you. Just let me tell you, I will confess to you right up front, I’m blessed. I’m
blessed and I want to be more blessed. I don’t want you thinking I’m blessed enough, okay? I’m
blessed, but I want some more. I think that’s a good biblical [attitude]. I mean, I’m content. If I
never was blessed again, fine. But God, You said You would bless me and I want to be blessed.

   •   Why would God bless me?
   •   Why would God give me more?
   •   Why would God give you more than you have right now?
   •   When you have more than you need, why would God do that?
   •   What are you going to do with it?

Those are good questions, aren’t they? So let’s take a test. You say: Okay, I’m not rich, I make
$65,000 a year. I’m not rich. All right, so you’re not rich. It’s not about the income level. I did
that for comparison so we all kind of get in our mind:
    • It’s not the other guy
    • It’s me
    • It’s you
All right? [Agreed?]

Especially, if you go internationally– Ask some people who travel internationally and deal with
companies internationally–
   • What the pay scale is over there
   • The standard of living over there
Compared to this–there is lay down, no doubt about it–we are the richest country in the world.
We are the richest people in the world, per capita. I guarantee you that.

What, then, are some tests? James gives some in here. The first one is this–we are going to do a
test–we are going to ask ourselves:
DO I HAVE MORE THAN I NEED?
Do I have more than I need? That means I’m rich. If I’ve got more than I need, that means I’m
rich. Jesus said if you have shelter, food, and clothing, with these things be content. Be content.
Those are the promises: shelter, food and clothing. So, do I have more than I need?

AM I TRUSTING MONEY TO SECURE MY FUTURE?
Here’s the question: Am I trusting money to secure my future or am I trusting God? Look in
verse 1:

           Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery
           that’s coming upon you.
                                            James 5:1 (NIV)

Listen to me, rich people–all of us in this room–listen to me: Weep and mourn because of the
misery that’s coming upon you. If you have more than you need and you have abundance, you
don’t think bad things are getting ready to happen to you–good things. Look at all this! I’ll be
happy dancing in the street, going to all-you-can-eat buffets, going to all-inclusive stuff because
look at this stuff right there.

Why am I going to have a weeping-and-mourning time here? Because of what’s coming upon
you. Not now, but what’s going to happen to you.
   • There is something in your future that you’ve overlooked.
   • There’s something that in all of your security that is going to become a source of
       embarrassment and pain with you.
   • Because you’re rich you think your future is secure, but you haven’t considered why you
       have all of that.
   • Because you haven’t, that which you think is going to be happiness, isn’t going to be
       happiness.

My future is secure by Jesus Christ. Your future is secure by Jesus Christ. Money doesn’t secure
our future. If you’ve got more than you need and you think: Okay, I have all of this right here
and as long as I have this, I’m going to be okay. That’s not what the future is about. (You’re
going to see in a second what it is.)

DO I NEED A BIGGER CLOSET?
Do I need a bigger closet? And, all the men looked at their wives and said… [Men in the
congregation respond: Yes.] I didn’t say it. They said it! I was just quiet when they said that.
Look at verse 2:

           Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.
                                           James 5:2 (NIV)
What is he saying? You’ve got so much stuff you can’t use it. Do you have more stuff than you
can use? Now tell the truth, shame the devil. You know you do. You’re rich! That’s a test
question right there. If you’ve got more than you can use, you are rich.

I hate to admit this. I wish I could say this was my wife’s problem–she’s not even here today so I
could say that–but it’s not, it’s mine. I’ve got more shoes than my wife has. That’s almost metro,
isn’t it? I’ve got more shoes than my wife has! I think it’s a childhood issue, actually. I’ve been
kind of psychoanalyzing myself on this. What is this thing about shoes and coats? My wife says:
If you buy another coat I’m throwing you out of the house. There’s no room for any more coats.

There were two things–when we grew up in need, borderline poverty–you never could get
enough of: shoes and coats. We’d buy cheap shoes that wouldn’t last very long and they were
never in style. In fact, if I ever got anything that was in style, you knew it was now out of style
because I could afford to get it. When these deals were shoes–that’s why my shoes are always
shined, and clean, and stuff. For whatever reason, there’s this is like a psycho-thing in [my mind]
about security in shoes. That means: Okay, I’ve got enough shoes.

I’m telling you, I’ve got shoes in my closet (I can’t believe I’m saying this. Why am I saying this
about myself?) I haven’t worn in years! But just in case, I’ve got them. I’ve even given them
away and I’ve still got a closet [full]. You walk in the closet and immediately there’s a stack of
shoes there.

Now, if you’ve got more than you can use, you’re rich.

Do you need a storage unit? That is the mark of excess in America, isn’t it? Storage–I think I’m
going to invest in one, man. I think I can make a lot of money doing that–a storage unit. Most
people (Do you know?) never visit their storage unit. I mean, if you had some stuff in a storage,
wouldn’t you want to kind of like to check it out, just to make sure that it was there? How do you
know? They could have ripped you off. But if you’ve got more than you need, you don’t even
know it’s there anymore.

You could move out of the country: Oh! We forgot the stuff from the storage unit! I’ve known
people: We forgot to get the stuff out of the storage unit. Well, guess what? You didn’t need that
stuff, did you? You totally forgot about it, but you kept it.

Do I need a bigger closet? Am I trusting money to secure my future? And the third one:  

AM I GUILTY OF HOARDING?
           Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify
           against you and eat your flesh like fire. {This is really encouraging,
           isn’t it?} You have hoarded wealth in the last days.
                                              James 5:3 (NIV)
That’s a pretty significant statement. What is he talking about? This corrosion was eating at
them. It’s going to eat your flesh like fire. They are no longer spiritually productive. I believe
this is what it‘s saying. Every reference to fire–in a believer’s life–is always like an inspection
fire.

In I Corinthians 3 it talks about an inspection that we are going to go through–a review (if you
will)–as believers. Not for sin. They’re not going to flash all your sin on a big screen for
everybody to see. Besides in Heaven you won’t care anyway if they did that. It’s not about our
sin.

Remember, I said we have these finite resources that God has given us? I keep trying to remind
us of this. We have time, money, and opportunity. God is going to take the time He has given us,
the money (and under money is all of our talents and abilities), and our opportunities, and He is
going to say: All right, what did you do with what I gave you in the time allotted and the
opportunities I presented to you?

Paul basically says: Some of us are still going to make it into Heaven, but by the skin of our teeth
because we didn’t take full advantage of these opportunities. We allowed money and stuff–
    • Hoarding
    • Closets
    • Things
    • The future
    • Security
–to rob us of faith, love, action, and risk in the kingdom of God. Therefore, there is nothing to
show for our lives. But, man! Look at all of the stuff we have.

Are we hoarding? Am I guilty of hoarding? Let me tell you why we hoard. Are you ready? [The
reason is:] Just in case. You never know, do you? Why do you need one of those? Just in case.

Let me tell you another thing. My wife and I went camping. (She is still on vacation by the way–
I’m not bitter.) We had so much stuff with us that we never used. Stuff that–when we were
getting ready–well, just in case, you’d better bring this. Then you go to REI, and there’s a bunch
of just-in-case everywhere. They’ll make up emergencies–just in case, you better get that now
and I’d better get this. We had stuff we didn’t even open–just in case.

That’s hoarding–just in case. Well, just in case you’ve got God and I’ve got God, just in case.
We don’t need that other stuff. We got the just-in-case covered.

AM I GENEROUS?
Next, am I generous? Here is one descriptive of a Christian’s character that should always be in
there: That is a generous person. Gracious and generous should be words that describe us as
people. There are two things I believe and I try to teach the people who are closest to me:
    • You cannot err on the side of grace
    • You cannot err on the side of generosity.
What if they squander what you give them? It doesn’t matter to me. I squander what God gives
me all the time. It hasn’t stopped God from giving to me. I may get some corrective measures put
into my life, but He doesn’t say: Okay, I’m going to quit giving to you. That’s risk.

You never err on the side of grace when you are gracious. Do you know why you ought to be
gracious to everybody?
    • Because you are going to need it, honestly.
    • God is gracious to you.

When there is a need, am I generous?

           Look! the wages you failed to pay the workmen {this stinks} who
           mowed your fields are crying out against you. {In other words, if you
           are in a position where you can be generous to people with your stuff, be
           generous.} The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the
           Lord Almighty.
                                                James 5:4 (NIV)

Now look who is listening to this–God is. God notices. When people have a need, and the people
that He’s given the resources to (to meet the need) turn a deaf ear to the need, God notices. He
says: I hear these cries.

All throughout the Bible, the harvest that is spoken about is always a spiritual harvest. All around
the world there are prayers going up right now–people who cry out to God saying:
    • Lord, I need the tools to do this job for You on the field.
    • There are souls that need to be harvested.
    • There are churches that need to be planted.
    • There are people who have needs.
    • God, I need the tool of food.
    • I need the tool of water.
    • I need the tool of mechanical things.
    • I need the tool of shelter.
    • I need the tool of medicine.
    • I need the tool of education.
    • Lord, I’m trying to harvest here, and I don’t have the tools.
They are praying to God.

You can’t send a worker into the harvest without a scythe/sickle–without something to cut. You
can’t. All over the world there is this great harvest of souls out there, and the harvesters are
saying: Lord, we don’t have the money to do it. We don’t have it. Where is that money, God?

Guess where God gets it. This will blow you away. Where does God get the money to do what
God does? He gives it to you and to me. He makes us rich.
HAS MY WORLDLY WEALTH HELPED OR HURT OTHERS?
Last [question:] Has my worldly wealth helped or hurt others? Oh man! I wish this wasn’t in
there. “You have lived {your life} on earth in luxury and self-indulgence.” Uh oh! Let’s just
go home. You know? Let’s just forget we even started this. It’s that convicting.
           5
            You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have
           fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned
           and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.
                                             James 5:5-6 (NIV)

How have I done that? By thinking more about yourself–
   • Your security
   • Your stuff
   • Your future
   • What you need to have
–and turning a deaf ear to the pressing needs of humanity that is perishing everyday because:
   • They cannot eat
   • They do not have water
   • They’re ignorant
   • They’re dying of AIDS
   • There’s nobody out there sharing the Gospel with them.
You and I slaughter the innocent when we are greedy.

Man! When I read that I thought: God, I’ve got too many shoes. I’ve got too much stuff. Not that
those things are wrong. Those aren’t wrong. But when the balance is off and the perspective is
skewed and it’s about me, it’s not right. All right, ready for good news?

WHY DO I HAVE MORE THAN I NEED?
It’s okay to have more than I need. But why do I have more than I need?
     • God’s going to bless me.
     • He said He’s going to make me rich.
     • He said He’s going to take care of every one of my needs.
So does everything that comes to me have to be mine?

The sin that’s being dealt with here isn’t money, being rich, being affluent, or having nice things.
They simply forgot–or they never knew–why God gave them more than they needed to begin
with. They just assumed it was for them.

That’s what I do. You know? Oh, man! All this must be for me. I’ve been a good guy. Thanks
for the bonus, God.

Let me ask you something–I think it’s a fair question to ask God: Why have You given this to
me? We ask God when He doesn’t give us something: Why didn’t You give me that?
Don’t we do it when we have a need and the need isn’t met? Don’t we say: God, You promised
that You would meet my needs and now this need is unmet. I’m just wondering why You’re not
doing that? Why aren’t You? Is it something in my life? Are You trying to redirect me? What’s
the deal here?

Isn’t it just as fair to stop and say: God, why have You given me so much more than I need this
month? Do you think that’s fair? Yeah? I think that is a smart thing to do. Why would God give
us [so much]? God, why do You give us so much?

[Extra is not to relieve worry.] It’s not so we don’t have to worry about the future. He said:
Don’t worry about the future. You don’t need money. Money is not going to secure your future.

[Extra is not to increase our lifestyle.] It isn’t to increase our lifestyle. Remember, when we
talked about margin a couple of months ago? Here’s my income level and here’s my lifestyle
level right here [bumped up against each other]. You see, we’ve got to live [our] lifestyle a little
bit lower of income level so there’s this margin right there that God can use. Then we can
expand how rich we really are.

[Extra is not for our children’s inheritance.] Not to worry, not to increase our lifestyle, not to
pass it on to our kids. I never, ever, ever have read or heard about anybody who said: Because
my parents didn’t leave me millions of dollars, I’m an emotional, psychological, and spiritual
wreck–ever. So take a deep breath. Don’t worry about the will. They’re going to be fine. But the
ones that have been given millions of dollars have been ill prepared (for the majority part) for
stepping in to that kind of responsibility of riches.

The greatest thing–I think, I grew up with the advantage of being disadvantaged. My kids don’t
know that. I think I was better off than they are. I think (quite frankly) my kids are probably a
little too taken care of. I’m going to try and take care of that soon, but I think they’re a little too
taken care of. All of our kids–most of us would agree–they’re a little too taken care of. So don’t
give it to your kids.

[Extra is not to retire earlier.] How about retire earlier? Woo hoo! Let’s retire. Why? –Fish,
golf, [or] whatever. Let me tell you something about early retirement–if you want to do a
transition and go do something else, fine. But if you’ve got enough money in your estate– Estate
planning means:
    • I’ve got too much money and I’ve got to protect it from the government. That’s what it is.
    • I’ve got to give it to my kids
    • Put it in someone else’s estate
    • Fly to Columbia and start a whole/other business.
You’ve got a lot of money. You can retire early. Thank God for that. Thank God.

There [are] a lot of different things you can do. Let me put a suggestion in your mind. Some of
you are so gifted in what you do that you are highly compensated for it, or you’re middle-of-the-
road compensated for it.
What if I said: You know what? I’ve got enough money in the bank now (because God so
blessed me) I’m going to quit preaching. Some of you said: Yeah! Do you want a love offering?
That would be a waste of what I could do with the giftedness that God gave me.

You can make money. For you to retire early and sit on money that you’ve already made–when
you could be making money–and maybe say: Okay, normally I was going to retire at 52, 55, 60
(whatever)–but you know what, I’m going to work an extra two years. Every dime that I make,
I’m going to strategically fund some kingdom causes that will:
   • Make a lot of people understand who Jesus is
   • Alleviate a lot of suffering and pain
   • Relieve a lot of financial pressure

Why don’t you use your money-making gift totally for the kingdom of God for a couple of
years? I’m just going to put that in your mind. I want you to pray. I want you to think about it.
Some of you are gifted at making money. Some of us are gifted at spending money. You’re
gifted at earning money. So, when you think about retiring early, back off–just back off and pray
through that thing. I pray that God puts that on somebody’s–several somebody’s–hearts in here.

Why, then, does God give us this extra money?

BECAUSE THERE ARE THOSE IN NEED
Number one: Because there are those in need. God made the poor and the rich, folks. There is:
    • Sin
    • Suffering
    • All types of illness
    • Injustice
    • Ungodliness
    • Sorrow
    • Loneliness
    • Pain
A little bit of money can do a lot of good [when] put in the right place (quite frankly).

Listen [to] what Paul says about us, who are rich:
           17
             Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and don’t
           trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in
           God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18 Tell
           them to use their money to do good.
                                              I Timothy 6:17-18a (NLT)

Isn’t that great? Money is not evil. If I don’t love money, but I love God and people–as a rich
person–I can use my money to do so much good:
    • Help treat malaria
    • Help feed children
   • Help send the Gospel around the world
   • Help support missionaries.
There [are] so many different things that you can do.
           18
             They should be rich in good works, generous to those in need,
           {Oh, man! There’s that word again.} always ready to share with
           others.
                                               I Timothy 6:18b (NLT)

I mean: Hey! Look at all the stuff I have here, God. It’s all extra and You’ve given me some
more. Okay, I’m ready. Who needs it [the help]?

Oh! If you could get to that place in your spiritual life, your professional life would be so much
more enriched. You would take on a whole transformation of character–that you do not even
know the possibility of yet, until you become generous–always sharing with others.
           19
             By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good
           foundation for the future so they may experience true life.
                                              I Timothy 6:19 (NLT)

In the beginning of James he said: Woe to you–your future isn’t good. And here’s Paul saying:
Look, if you do it right–happy days, happy days when you get to go see Jesus. Your time, your
money, and your opportunity were all leveraged for the kingdom of God. You know what?
    • God blessed you–you didn’t suffer, you were blessed.
    • God took care of you, and–through you–took care of so many other people.

I may have shared–I’ve shared so many stories of my family and my kids–sometimes I forget
which ones I’ve shared. Teaching them to share was a big deal to us. Teaching them to let stuff
go and give was (to us) one of the touchdowns of parenting–if we could do it. If one kid had a
pile of cookies (five cookies) and [the other] didn’t have any, I didn’t want them to hoard and
say: No, my cookies. We taught them.

The big touchdown comes when sister/brother doesn’t have any and comes to sister/brother and
says: I don’t have any cookies, can I have a cookie? Yeah, here, let’s share. Touchdown!
Touchdown! Why? Because one child has more than they possibly need and the other child has
none.

How does your Father in Heaven feel? …One of His children has all these riches and the other
has none. They just need a little bit, and we say [pantomiming a toddler voice]: No, mine! [He
would feel] just about the way that you’d feel if your kids did that. [Pantomimes a parental voice
instructing:] No, you share. That’s why you have so many.
THE KINGDOM HAS NEEDS
People have needs. The kingdom has needs. I told you, God finances what He does through us by
giving us more than we need. But if you spend it all, you’ve forgotten: Oh yeah, it’s not all for
me. It’s not all for me.

           I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that
           when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
                                              Luke 16:9 (NIV)

I don’t know if this is going to be possible, but I told the first service and I’m going to tell you.
My wife and I would like to give as much as we’ve kept over time. A lot of that could be back-
end loaded if you understand what to do with your money as you die.
    • You can give your stuff away
    • You can give strategically
So that–literally–when you die, you could give as much as you kept. There are people who can
show you how to do that. In fact, I’d like to show you how to do that so you can continue to bless
people.

If I’m going to fund the kingdom–which God says I’m going to–when I get to Heaven, there’s
going to be a whole lot of folks who just love me–
     • Because of the little thing that I did
     • By providing for them
     • Through whatever opportunity that I had
–and they came to Christ.

How are we going to do that? Let me end with these three things: How do you do greed
prevention? Are you ready? This is how you make sure that everything that comes to you doesn’t
stay with you. This is how you’re going to be able to say at the end: God, You gave me extra.
Now what do You want me to do with it?

GREED PREVENTION #1:
PERCENTAGE GIVING
That’s why God has always used a percentage. No matter if you make $20,000 or $200,000 a
year. A percentage is a percentage. Equally across the board it’s 10 percent. The Bible calls it a
tithe.

You think: Gee, when I was making $20,000 it wasn’t a whole lot of money, but at $200,000
that’s a whole lot of money, Preacher.

Okay, well, God can make you [earn] $20,000 again if that’s a problem. He can!–10 percent is
10 percent. You’ve got to start–that is a great starting point, right there. I wouldn’t do any less
than that.
GREED PREVENTION #2:
PRIORITY GIVING
In other words: This is the first thing I’m going to do. If not, here’s what’s going to happen: there
will be less, and less, and less at the end of the month to give God. Why? Because your needs
will expand. Your income–if you’re not careful–always will push your needs to be a little bit
more. You’ll live to the level of your income. So God gets it first.

GREED PREVENTION #3:
PROGRESSIVE GIVING
As God blesses you financially every year, you evaluate, and you bump up your percentage.

Now listen, I know money is hard to talk about. I know [some of you are saying to yourselves:]
Every time I come to this church you preach on money. Well, you must come three times a year.
That’s all I can say. This happened to be in the text this week–that I strategically picked out eight
months ago– no.

You need God. I need God. God doesn’t need my money. He’ll get it done, trust me. It is our
blessing and our privilege to allow God to get it done through us. If I have more than I need,
that’s not the issue.

Let me tell you why this is important, too. I think Houston (Texas) was one of the only major
cities in America for personal income to go up last year. (I was listening to the Bloomberg
Report the other day.) I thought: Man, that’s incredible! Thank you, $4 a gallon. You know?
Everybody benefited here in this city.

You’re going to benefit. Some of you are going to have significant portions of money given to
you at the end of this year. I want you to ask God: Why did you give me this, God? Not just
because [gas] was $4 a [gallon]. God knows how much oil is. God knows what you are going to
get. God knows the timing of it. [Ask:] What’s going on in my church and the kingdom of God
that I’ve been given this big/fat check–for me? –or Thee?

Let me end with this scripture, James 1:10-11.
           10
              …the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, {that’s us} because
           like flowering grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with a
           scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and
           the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in
           the midst of his pursuits will fade away.
                                               James 1:10-11 (NASB)

In other words, there’s just a limited amount of time. In the midst of making all that money and
enjoying all that stuff, you’re going to fade away. You’re going to die. In Gods mind, it’s like a
morning flower coming out that by evening time is dead, blown, and gone away.
So here’s what I want you to do. I want you to turn to the person next to you and say this: You’re
fading fast. You’d better give while you’ve got a chance.

We’re all fading fast, aren’t we? We’re all fading fast. This is our opportunity.

Now, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to pray and we’re going to receive our
morning offering. So let’s pray together:

           God, thank You for giving us so much. God, keep blessing us. Please bless
           this Church. Put more rich people in it, Lord according to the definition–or
           above and beyond the definition we used. God, let us every week say:
           Lord, what do You want us to do now? Bless us so that we can bless
           others and fund Your kingdom.

           God, now I pray and ask that You bless this offering and You meet the
           pressing needs that this money represents. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Lead Pastor: Dr. Sal Sberna


The MET
Metropolitan Baptist Church
13000 Jones Rd
Houston, TX 77070

Previous sermons: TheMetOnline.org
Information: cashworth@themetonline.org


                 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more
                 than all we ask or imagine, according to his power
                   that is at work within us, to him be glory in the
                      church and in Christ Jesus throughout all
                        generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
                                   Ephesians 3:20-21
                                    (New International Version)



Legend:
[words in square brackets] = additional explanation for clarity not spoken by the preacher
{words in curly brackets within indented quote} = spoken explanation not part of the quote
(words in parentheses) = spoken by the preacher as an aside to the core sentence idea

				
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