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Sunday, June 21, 2009

[Matt's Messages] "The Lord's Money and The Lord's Heart"


“The Lord’s Money and The Lord’s Heart”
In God We Trust - What the Bible Says About Money
June 21, 2009
Psalm 24:1-2

Last week, we began our new sermon series on money entitled: “In God We Trust: What the Bible Says About Money.”

And we started to lay a theological foundation for thinking about money biblically.

What was the main thing that we learned last week?

Money is profoundly spiritual.

Money is not just physical. Money is not just financial.

Money is profoundly spiritual.

You know the phrase, “Follow the Money?”

There is a direct tie between our money and our hearts.

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Money is profoundly spiritual.

Did you think about that at all this last week as you did your financial dealings?

What you do with your money reveals your heart.

How was your heart revealed this week?

If we looked at your accounts, what spiritual things would we see?

Money is profoundly spiritual.

Now, this morning, I want to lay down another major foundational biblical truth about money.

But before we do, I want us to think briefly about this question:

Is Money Good or Bad?

What do you think?

Now, I don’t see any way around money in this present world. It’s got to be.

But isn’t that because we are bad? So it’s a necessary evil?

The Bible says, doesn’t it, that money is the root of all evil?

What do you think?

That’s right. The Bible does NOT say that money is the root of all evil.

What does it say? The LOVE of money is the root of all evil, or of all kinds of evil.

Money is good. It’s something that God has provided for His people at least in this age, and it seems to me, in the world to come.

It comes, in this fallen world with our fallen hearts, with all kind of temptations to do wrong things with it. We’ll talk about those: steal, covet, love, worship, serve, overspend, miss-spend, defraud and so on.

But money itself is a good thing.

And here’s one of the major reasons why I say that (and it is the major foundational point I want to make this morning):

GOD OWNS ALL OF THE MONEY IN THE WORLD.

And if money was bad in and over itself, He wouldn’t want to own it.

God owns all of the money in the world.

Here’s our first text this morning:

Turn with me to the twenty-fourth Psalm. Psalm 24, verses 1 and 2.

“The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”

Everything on earth belongs to the Lord.

And that includes money.

“The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it,” [KJV: “and the fullness thereof”] Why? Verse 2 says because He created it.

He made it. Therefore it is His.

And that includes all of the money.

God owns all of the money in the world.

Does anybody remember what last week’s message was titled?

Anybody remember the title of last week’s sermon?

It was called, “My Money and My Heart.”

This week’s message is titled, “The Lord’s Money and the Lord’s Heart.”

Because God owns all of the money in the world.

“The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”

Now, if this was the only verse that said anything like this, then we might be tempted to explain it away.

But it’s just the most comprehensive and poetical!

The rest of the Bible is completely clear that God owns–in the ultimate sense–everything that there is on Earth including all of its wealth.

Psalm 50:9-11, God says: “I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.” And in that agrarian society, that describes tremendous, unimaginable wealth.

King David in 1 Chronicles 29 prays, “Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.”

God owns all of the money in the world.

And if we have any in our hands, it comes from His hands!

In the book of Haggai, the people are concerned about the piddly little temple that they are seeing rebuilt in Jerusalem.

And God promises that His future temple will be glorious.

And it’s not clear exactly how that’s going to happen.

So, do you know how God promises to make sure that it will happen?

He says (Haggai 2:8), “The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty.”

God runs through the Bible laying claim to everything and everyone.

He owned the Promised Land.
He owned Levites.
He owned the Israelites.

He owns the heavens and the earth and all that is in them.

Even the silver and the gold. Even the money.

All of the wealth of the world is His.

If God were writing scripture today, He’d say that He owns the bank accounts and the visa cards. He owns the hedge funds and the federal exchange. He owns the blue chip stocks and the liquid assets.

God owns all of the money in the world!

Money is profoundly spiritual. And one of the biggest reasons for that is that God, the most spiritual being in the universe, God Himself owns it all.

Now, that may or may not be news to you. But it is completely life-changing when we realize the implications of it!

God owns all of the money in the world.

Now, let me ask you a question: If that’s true, what does that do to private property?

Is there such a thing as private property, is their such a thing as human ownership?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, there is private property as it relates to each other–other humans.

No, there is no private property as it relates to God. Unless we think about it as only His private property.

The money in my bank account is mine in relationship to you.

And the money in your bank account is yours in relationship to me.

Your money is not my money and my money is not your money.

Therefore, private property exists. It is wrong for me to steal. It is wrong for me to covet. It is wrong for me to defraud you of your money. It is yours. That’s implied by the 10 Commandments.

That was clear even in the early church, for example, when Annaias and Saphira pretended that they had given everything to the church when they hadn’t. Peter told them as they died[!] that the money was theirs and they should’ve just kept some but been honest about it.

It was theirs compared to not being everyone else’s.

We’re not supposed to take from this truth, God owns all of the money in the world, and I belong to God, therefore, I can just take it from whomever I want–it’s not theirs anyway!

No. We’re going talk more about stealing down the road.

But in relationship to God, there is no private property.

There is no: This is my money over here and this is God’s money over here.

That’s how we often think about it, isn’t it?

Especially on Sundays when it’s time to give.

“Nine for me, one for Him. Nine for me, one for Him.”

No. God owns all of the money in the world.

The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it.

Now, what does that make us?

The old word for it is STEWARD. A steward is someone entrusted with another’s property and given the responsibility of managing it for a time in the owner’s best interests.

We don’t use that word much any more except around church. It’s lost its meaning.

Today, we might talk more about a Money Manager. Or a Financial Agent.

But it’s the same thing.

We are God’s Money Managers. Any money (or possession) that we have is ultimately His and put in our care for a time, and we will have to give an account for it.

Jesus taught this.

Jesus tells several parables in the gospels about being money managers or stewards. Luke 16, Luke 19, Matthew 25 and so on.

In all of these stories, there is a Master who is more or less like God. And there is a manager, a servant who is given money to manage, and there is an accounting for how the money was used.

And while I believe that these parables are about more than just money, they are not about less than money.

They are also about how we use the resources (time, talents, treasures–money) that God has entrusted to our care.

God owns all of the money in the world.

And we are His money managers.

Now, in one sense that’s very freeing, isn’t it?

The Christian leader John Wesley was once told, “Mr. Wesley, something terrible has happened! Your house burned to the ground!” But Wesley responded, “No. The Lord’s house burned to the ground. That means one less responsibility for me.”

It’s freeing. If we have this perspective, we aren’t possessed so much by our possessions–they aren’t ours in the first place!

But it also raises a major question, doesn’t it?

What should we do with the Lord’s money?

If I’m a financial agent, and if it’s not mine, then what am I supposed to be doing with it?

And here’s the answer: Do what you believe is in the Lord’s heart for that money.

I need a brave volunteer from the audience. It could be a man or a woman, young or old. Needs to be at least, let’s say, 10 years old.

Yes. Roye, come up here.

Are you brave?

I want you to examine this $10 bill. Is this a real $10 bill? Not one of Jeff Schiefer’s funny-monies is it?

Okay. Here’s the deal. This $10 bill belongs to me and my wife.

We want you to manage it for us.

Will you do that for us?

For the next 2 weeks, we want you to make the decisions about this $10 of ours. You can put it in your wallet with your own money. You can spend it, loan it, invest it, give it, whatever you can do with money, you are welcome to do with this $10.

Here’s the catch. In two weeks, on July 5th, we’re going to want an accounting of what you did with that money.

Now, I’m not saying that it needs to grow. I’m not asking for interest. It’s okay if it does grow, but it doesn’t have to. This isn’t a loan. You aren’t borrowing it from me. You’re managing it for me. Your are our financial agent. Okay?

How does that feel?

You ready for this?

Okay. Two weeks. We’ll see you back here.

Now, God is doing that every single day with everything that we have.

God owns all of the money in the world.

And if we have any in our hands, it is His. We are supposed to manage it.

How much money do you have? How much in your wallet? In your bank account? In your investments? In your possessions (equity in your house)?

It’s not yours. It’s yours relative to me. But it’s not yours relative to God.

It’s His. What are you doing with it?

Do you see why money is profoundly spiritual?

How do we know what to do with money?

We do what we believe is the heart of God for that money.

And that could be a lot of different things, couldn’t it? We have to get to know the heart of God so that we make wise choices with His money.

That’s the point of this whole series. That’s why we are studying what God thinks about money–so that we get a sense of His heart!

If God cares about the poor, then we should make sure that His money gets invested in the poor!

If God cares about the lost, then we should make sure that His money gets invested in missions.

If God cares about the local church, then we should make sure that His money gets invested in the local church.

But it’s more than that, isn’t it?

If God cares about our families, then we should make sure that His money gets invested in our families.

If God cares about order in society, then we should make sure that His money gets invested in government by way of taxes.

If God cares about our businesses, then we should make sure that His money gets invested in...

You get the idea! If God cares about...fill in the blank...then we should make sure that His money gets invested in the things that are valued in the heart of God.

That’s a big deal, isn’t it? It’s bigger than $10.

Our friend Pastor Josh Perry and some of the members at Crew Community Church in Huntingdon, West Virginia did a little experiment that they ran before their congregation.

They switched debit card accounts for two weeks!

Josh and Sarah had Tim and Jennie’s debit card.

And Tim and Jennie had Josh and Sarah’s.

And for two weeks, they used each other’s money for all of their financial dealings.

What a trip, huh? Would you like to try that sometime?

Sure, if I’m switching places with Bill Gates, right?

The point of their experiment was to really feel the fact that the money they were using wasn’t theirs.

We should feel that each and every day.

Wisdom in financial dealings has a lot to do with knowing the heart of our Father.

If you are a child with a living father, what did you get them for Father’s Day?

I was greeted today with several hand-made gifts at the table. Love ‘em!

Maybe it’s a phone call or a card today for your Dad.

I’m going to see my Dad this afternoon. And the kids are going to stay at his house this week while Heather and I go to National Conference. So, I guess I’m giving him grandkids for Father’s Day!

The best way to get a good Father’s Day gift is to know your Father so much that you know what he would want. You know his heart.

And that’s how we learn how to use the money that God our Father has entrusted to us.

What are you up to with God’s money?

Does it reflect His heart?

In the parable of the “talents” in Matthew 25, a man goes away on a journey (the man is like God), and leaves three servants in charge of his estate (the servants are like us). He gives them money to manage.

Two of the manage it well. And the master tells them this, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” [Mt. 25:21, 23].

They knew the Father’s heart and they got enjoy it.

But the other servant didn’t know the Master’s heart. He told him, “Master, I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering wher yo have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.”

He didn’t understand his master, at all! He didn’t know his heart.

His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.” And then he banishes him.

Now, the main point of that parable is to be doing God’s business while we wait for the return of Christ. To be investing in the kingdom.

But I was struck this week that the wicked servant didn’t know the heart of the master. He didn’t know (or care!) what the master cared about. He didn’t really know what kind of a master he was. One that wanted to share His happiness with His faithful servants.

He didn’t know the Master’s heart.

If he had, he would have managed the Master’s money more faithfully.

Roye, you are welcome do with that money whatever you think would be in the heart of Heather and me for that money.

For example, if you are hungry, if you think that Heather and I would want to feed you, then buy yourself lunch with that $10.

If you think that we’d much rather invest it and get a return on our investment, then you do that.

If you think we’d rather it was given to a good cause, then you do that.

It’s not yours, but you are making choices with it. Choices that reflect our heart. And you will have give an account for what you did with it.

Now, how do you know our hearts?

You watch us.
You read what we write.
You talk with us.

You relate to us. As we grow in our relationship with God, we grow in our knowledge of what He really cares about and in wisdom for what we should do with the money He entrust to us.

Here’s another way that we come to know His heart.

We give Him our hearts.

What is the second half of Psalm 24:1?

“The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it...”

We are His, too. Not just all of the money.

But God owns all of the people in the world–because He made us. And can do with us what He wants.

But it gets better than that.

We belong God, as Christians, not just by creation, but by redemption.

1 Peter 1:18&19 says, “It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed (bought!) from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ...”

We who are Christ-followers belong to God in a special way–we have been bought back from our slavery to sin, we have been redeemed!

Have you been redeemed? If you don’t know if you are redeemed, I invite you to turn from your sin and put your trust in the precious blood Christ.

Give Him your heart.

And you will come to know His.

And that will be a guide for you into the wonderful world of stewardship.

“The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”

God owns all of the money in the world.

We are His financial agents.

And as we learn His heart, we will know what to do with His money.

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