Rich is a moving target as there is always a “richer” so what you have seems to never be enough. As your appetite for wealth grows, you keep stuffing it with things. Often we equate intelligence with money by thinking if they are rich they must be smart because they have all of these expensive things. Money can change you if you let it get your heart. Money doesn’t make a good savior for your life. Rich people are not good at being generous as giving away their money is almost like they are giving away their soul. Greed has their heart. Poor people do not place their hope in money and would be willing to give you the shirt off their back because their heart belongs to God. God has provided you with so many blessings and opportunities which you should enjoy. There has to be a balance in your life between posessions and honoring God. Pastor Michael shared his idea, that if followed, will prevent your hope from migrating towards money. He calls it the David principle which states: My one goal is to honor God with everything I possess. We are only uses of the wealth as everything comes from God and everything belongs to God. Pastor Michael challenges you to make giving a priority by creating a giving plan. By giving, you are honoring God with a way to further His Kingdom. Remember that as God provides, I will be good at being rich.
A good rule to live by is: As God provides, I will be good at being rich. No matter how many possessions you have or how much money you make, you may never consider yourself to be rich. Rich is a category in your heart that comes from thanking God for providing you with all of the blessings and opportunities that you have in life. That kind of rich is a mindset that culture does not teach you. Being rich monetarily changes people. It causes them to become arrogant and to place their hope in their wealth rather than in God. The wealth becomes their self worth so they need more of it and begin to hoard it. When you view wealth in that manner, there is no way you can be generous or willing to share. The wealth is what defines you, but the problem with doing that is when it comes crashing down, it destroys you. Money can take your joy and happiness away. Through generosity, you will find true life on Earth. Being rich in good deeds provides you with a peaceful spirit. Pastor Michael spoke about priority giving. That is making God a priority in your budget and giving to Him first. When God has blessed you with income then your first action should be to give some back. By giving to God first, it creates a shift in your thinking making it difficult to become arrogant because your focus is on how to be generous and good. The second is percentage giving as the percentage given matters more than the sum. Take some time this week to pray about giving and decide what to do. Take the first step and progress as your blessings progress. Make God a priority and remember as He provides, be good at being rich.
There is a missing ingredient in our lives. Often it is difficult to see it in ourselves, but we can see it in others. This ingredient is even missing in the church which is where it should be found. Christmas is about God sending us something we needed, but didn’t deserve. God sent us the missing ingredient in a remarkable and unmistakable way with the birth of Jesus. God became flesh and walked among us through Jesus. The thoughts of God were brought to us. Jesus was full of truth and grace. That was hard to believe as those words have opposite meanings. How could He be both? John the Baptist believed and followed Jesus saying He was the one. John the writer also said this is the guy I have been talking about my whole life.
Jesus loves us so much that He gives us more grace than we need. Jesus gives us grace in place of grace already received. Jesus reached out to everyone, even those who didn’t deserve it. People flocked to Him because of it. On the grace side, He understands that we are not perfect and that we are lawbreakers. Sin exists so we are going to need grace. We are not worthy, but he will make us worthy. On the truth side there is right and wrong. People know the law, but Jesus brought the law even higher by raising the standard. Jesus lived His life to show us who God was and how He feels about us.
If you haven’t already guessed it, the missing ingredient is grace. The opportunity to be completely forgiven and made right with God. When grace is missing, it distorts your relationship with God. Jesus has paid the price for everything we have done wrong. Accept His grace and forgive yourself. God loves you and wants you to succeed. He may also want you to extend some undeserving grace to someone else. It’s not always about who is right or wrong. It’s about embracing the gift that God gave you and being able to acknowledge your hurt, but giving grace anyway.
Most of us have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. Some of the good things include delicious food, family time, parties, seeing the excitement of your kids and the story of Jesus. The not so fun part of Christmas centers on how commercial it has become. There are pressures with this holiday including the need to please, not feeling like you have bought enough, getting yourself into debt and trying to keep up with others. The true meaning of Christmas gets lost in all of the materialism. It’s time to refocus on Jesus because if you don’t this will be a time of year that you dread instead of a time of celebration. The Christmas season is an opportunity to pay it forward, show others the love of Jesus, put differences aside and be generous because of what God has done in your life.
Pastor Michael read scripture from Timothy 6:17-19 which talks about teaching those who are rich in this world to place their trust in God who richly gives you all you need rather than in your money which is unreliable. God wants you to rely on Him. Having more than your friends and colleagues causes one to feel rich. Rich is a moving target though and in a world of competition and comparison, it’s often challenging to feel rich. God has richly blessed you in so many ways and provides opportunities for you. One of God’s blessings is generosity, which was created in you when He sent Jesus into this world.
The world is deprived of the real meaning of Christmas. It is not about the presents. It’s about what Jesus did for you. God has made you rich by giving of His grace, love and forgiveness. You are a conduit to show others what God is like. Generosity empowers you to experience true life. Don’t let everyday life get in the way of your good intentions. Refocus on God, volunteer your time, donate money or gifts and be a light to others. When you act generously, you look like your Father in Heaven.
Religion is mans attempt to connect with God that consists of a set of man made rules telling you how to behave, dress and what to believe. The church ends up creating a box that you have to stay in to remain connected to God. The box ends up turning people away instead of reaching them. You feel unable to measure up or that you have messed up too much and gotten too far away from the box. Once that happens, you feel you can’t go to church and begin to drift. Pastor Michael feels that religion leads to pride or despair. You feel pride when you follow the rules, but then life happens and you fall short leading to despair.
Pastor Michael read scripture about Paul and his thoughts on religion. Paul did everything that the system asked of him. He devoted his life to being good and following the rules. Paul felt that was a complete waste of time compared to knowing Christ personally. You can’t reach anyone with rules, but you can with relationships. Relating to someone can change their life. When you lead with relationships then you can see what God can do rather than telling someone what is right & wrong. The way to reach people is through truth and love. Jesus is a living example of God’s love for you. He is the religious system. Faith is what closes the gap and gets you a relationship with God.
A healthy church looks outside its doors. Those focused on the movement will fill up with Christ and then go out to make a difference in the world. The church is where you can use your burden to bless others. It’s where you can get your parachute packed and pack the parachute of others. Remain a light no matter what it costs and reach out to the lost, because through God you can change the life of one person.