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Sunday, June 14, 2009

[Matt's Messages] "My Money and My Heart"


“My Money and My Heart”
In God We Trust - What the Bible Says About Money
June 14, 2009
Matthew 6:21

Well, as you can tell from the back of your bulletin, the new sermon series on money has officially begun!

Thank you for praying for me as I’ve studied and prepared (and studied and prepared and studied and prepared!). Don’t stop praying, because as I’ve told other people, just because I’m ready preach doesn’t mean it’s any good!

Really, truly, thank you for praying.

And thank you to Jeff Schiefer, our resident graphic artist, for the new logo for this series. It’s a little small this week, maybe we can have Stacey blow it up bigger for next week so that you can see all of the little details that Jeff has worked into the design.

I especially like my name there where the secretary of the treasury normally signs the bill!

Jeff told me that he’d thought about putting my ugly mug in instead of Washington’s. But I think that there would be too many Groucho glasses and handlebar mustaches drawn onto the back of our bulletins if we did that!

Now, Jeff these aren’t legal tender are they? You can’t print up about 100,000 of these on green paper for me can you? I didn’t think so.

The series title is “In God We Trust: What the Bible Says About Money.”

And it’s not just a series on giving. Often, when you think about preachers and preaching on money, you expect them to talk about giving.

And we will talk about giving–a lot. Generous giving is an important biblical command for us to follow with amazing joyful rewards that come with it. We’ll talk about that.

But this series is about more than just giving.

In fact, it’s about more than just money. It’s really about our possessions, in general.

But money, in specific, because money symbolizes our possessions, is what we often use to get our other possessions, and can be our greatest earthly possession.

So, we’re going to talk about money. What the Bible says about money.

What we could do, would do, should do with money.

And also, what we couldn’t, wouldn’t, and shouldn’t do with money.

We’re going to cover a lot of ground in the next couple of months.

But before we get too far into it, I want to say a few things about the reasons WHY I am preaching on money and a few things about what are NOT the reasons why I’m preaching on money.

First off, I’m not preaching on money because the church is in bad financial shape.

Some people think that whenever the preacher gets to talking about money, there is a money problem in the church. But the opposite is actually true. Your elder board met on Tuesday night, and we got our financial report from our trusty treasurer Pennie, and we’re in fine shape. All of our bills are paid, the missionaries are supported, the staff has received their paychecks (Praise the Lord!), we’re not behind on the budget. Our fuel bill is paid for at least the next year.

We are in good shape. (That doesn’t mean “stop giving!”) But we are in good shape right now.

And I think that that makes it a good time to preach on money. Because there is no possible ulterior motive.

And while I’m talking about that–today marks my 11th anniversary as your pastor. It was actually June 14, 1998 when I officially began my ministry here.

For what it’s worth, I think that today, I have become the longest serving pastor that Lanse Free Church has ever had in its 117 years. There was a Reverend Johansen that was here for 11 years, I don’t know if that’s 11 and some change or just 11. But as this next 12 months go by, I’ll be passing him into 12 years of service.

And for the last 11 years, you have done a phenomenal job of taking care of our financial needs. Thank you!

You are a very generous church. I have nothing but pastoral pride for how you have taken care of us...AND...for how you have given to others!

You send about a quarter of all of our budget outside of our ministry here. That’s awesome.

And it’s actually more than that because you regularly give to causes and funds and needs beyond our budget!

You gave an extra, unbudgeted $10,000 to our district this March. I am so proud of you!

You are generous as a church. I don’t know if everyone of us is generous, and we always need to hear the call to be generous, but I’m NOT preaching this series because this church needs a boost in the generosity area!

Second, I am not preaching on money because I’m some kind of financial expert!

I am not!

I’m not a total money dummie, but I’m not an economist either, and I have struggled both to understand the big picture of what God says about money in the Bible (one of big reasons why this series has taken so long to prepare!), and I’ve struggled at times to manage my money well within God’s revealed will for how to handle our money.

To give you an embarrassing example. This week, I overspent the money in my checking account, and I’m going to get what I call “a speeding ticket” in the mail this week saying that I have a overdraft protection fine. Sorry about that, Heather Joy!

Now, we’ll be fine. I’ll be getting my next generous paycheck soon, and I can pay the overdraft fee, and we will make our monthly budget this month, too.

But I got to spending too fast without reference to what I had in my account, and I’m going to have to pay a speeding ticket.

And, part of this overdraft situation, I was at a restaurant this week with some friends, and I realized that I didn’t have cash and had to borrow ten bucks to pay the bill.

Now, that’s not the general way that I operate. Don’t get me wrong! And think that your pastor is out of control with his funds. Or will be hitting you up for a loan soon!

But, I tell you this to say that I am not some kind of an expert on money.

Wisdom with money comes hard for me. And God has been very gracious to me in the wife that He gave me and the principles of financial wisdom that came with her.

And I’ve learned a LOT over the years.

But I’m not some kind of an expert. I’m not Dave Ramsey or Larry Burkett or Ron Blue or Randy Alcorn.

So, we’ll be learning together as we study what God says about money.

And I’m going give some personal examples along the way. Examples of what to do and what not to do from my own experience (like–don’t get a overdraft speeding ticket!).

And in giving these personal examples, I don’t want you to think that I’m expecting everyone to do the same exact things with their money that I’ve done with my money.

No, I’ll give them for examples, but you need to figure out FROM WHAT GOD SAYS here and how you feel that the Lord is leading you what you are going to do with your funds. Okay?

So, I’m going to be real with you, and you then deal between you and God with what you do with these principles. Okay?

Now, enough about why not. Why?

The number one reason is because of our economy. As I look out on an economy in recession–which could conceivably (I’m told) become another Depression, I think that it is vital that the church rehearse what God has told us about money.

If we are going to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, then we need to go over again and again what He wants us to do with money.

And that’s true all of the time, but I think in depressing economic times, it’s even more true. We have to remind ourselves–this is what Gods think about money! And act accordingly.

And secondly, I see that a lot of people are struggling with money. So, there is a practical component to this series, as well. It’s not a money management course, but I expect that the principles that we learn will have a practical outworking in our own household budgets and the decisions that we are making about money.

I expect this series to help us practically with our own balance sheets.

And the third major reason for this series (beyond the fact that I’ve never preached a series on money, just individual sermons), is the point of today’s message.

And that is this: Money is Profoundly Spiritual.

The Bible teaches that what we do with money is profoundly spiritual.

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

Money is profoundly spiritual.

What we do (or don’t do), what we think (or don’t think), what we feel (or don’t feel) about money reveals all kinds of things about our spiritual condition.

Money is profoundly spiritual.

Our text for today is the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6, verse 21.

Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Money is profoundly spiritual.

What we do with money is profoundly spiritual.

It involves our hearts!

Remember, your heart is not just the “feeling” part of you. It is the worshipping control center of your being. It is the spiritual part of you.

We live out of our hearts. The heart is the authentic you. It is the most you part of you.

Our hearts are the spiritual control center of our lives.

The Bible says to guard our hearts because our hearts are the wellspring of our lives.

Our lives flow out of what is in our hearts.

That’s true of our words. Right? Out of the overflow of the–what?–heart the mouth speaks.

Well, it’s also true of our money.

Money is profoundly spiritual. It is directly tied to our hearts.

Notice what Jesus says in verse 21.

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

In the context of talking about giving and money and not worrying, etc, Jesus explicitly ties our money to our hearts.

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

We might not want to think about it, but money is profoundly spiritual.

There is a direct link between what we do with money, and what is going on with our hearts.

I want to say three things about that.

#1. THE LORD CAN TELL WHERE OUR HEARTS ARE BY WHERE OUR TREASURES ARE.

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

And God can see it.

What you do with money reveals what is going on in your heart.

Now, in this context, that’s true about giving. If you send your “treasures” on ahead to heaven, they won’t rust or wear out or get stolen.

First Bank of Heaven is 100% guaranteed. FDIC “Father Deposit Insurance!”

And God can tell if you heart is set on things above by whether or not you are a generous with money.

But it’s also true about everything else that we do with money.

Money is an spiritual indicator.

Whether you are:

Buying.
Selling.
Borrowing.
Loaning.
Investing.
Stealing.
Paying taxes.
Working.
Spending.
Worrying.
Gambling.
Budgeting.

Whatever you are doing with money is an indicator of your spiritual condition.

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

And God can see it.

Now, I can’t always see it. And neither can you.

I can’t necessarily tell by looking at your bank statement or your credit card statement what is going on in your heart.

Because I can’t see your heart. And the same action might have radically different heart motives behind it.

So it’s important not to quickly judge people based upon what you see them doing with their money. It’s important not to too quickly judge motives!

But God can see it.

God sees where your heart is by where your treasure is.

Your money gives away your heart.

And if we’re honest with each other–we can see a good deal of our own hearts by looking at our money, too, can’t we?

Think about your financial dealings this last week. What might they say about your heart?

My wife and I refinanced our mortgage this week.

What we were doing was not just financial. It was profoundly spiritual.

Our hearts were totally engaged. And I felt that on Friday when we closed on the loan. Especially because I’ve been working on this series.

How much money is in your wallet right now?

Don’t yell it out!

But do you know?

And how important is that to you?

How much equity do you have stored up?

How are your investments doing?

Those are not just financial questions. They are spiritual questions. And the state of your heart towards those things reveals your spiritual condition.

Not to me, necessarily. But to the Lord.

Money is profoundly spiritual.

Here’s our second point.

#2. THE LORD CAN MOVE OUR HEARTS BY HELPING US MOVE OUR TREASURES.

Notice carefully what our Lord Jesus is saying.

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

It’s an inevitable rule.

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

So, one way that God does His work of changing our hearts is by helping us to move our treasures.

Randy Alcorn, in his helpful book, Money, Posessions, and Eternity puts it this way, “But what we do with our money is more than an indicator of where our heart is. According to Jesus, it is a determiner of where our heart is. This is an amazing and exciting prospect. If I want my heart to be in one particular place and not in another, then I need to put my money in that place and not in the other.

Do you wish you had a great heart for missions like other people you know? You can, according to Jesus. Put your money into missions and your heart will follow. Do you want a heart for the poor? Then give your money to the poor. Do you want your heart to be in the church? Give your money to the church. You heart will never be where your money isn’t. It will be where your money is. If most of your money is in General Motors (He wrote this book in 1989!), your house, or your hobby, where is your heart going to be?” [pg. 130]

Do you get it? One way that God changes us (and it’s God’s work, not ours, ultimately!), is to move us to move our money.

To put it into the places where He wants it. So that our hearts get there, too.

Does that make sense?

The Lord can move our hearts by helping us move our treasures.

Is there, right now, a place where your money shouldn’t be?

Without hearing 8 more sermons on it, do you know that you are using money in the wrong way?

It’s time to repent and change.

Money is profoundly spiritual.

And God wants to get our financial houses in order so that our hearts will be in order.

He’s going to use our money to get at our hearts.

Because, number 3, and last:

#3. THE LORD SHOULD BE THE ULTIMATE TREASURE IN OUR HEARTS.

The Lord Himself should be the ultimate treasure in our hearts.

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

And I think He’s talking about more than just money. More than just “treasures” in the sense of possessions.

He’s talking about what we treasure with our hearts.

Even, what we worship.

That’s why verse 24 likens Money to a false god. Jesus calls Money: Mammon (KJV). And He treats in that verse like a false god.

Now, money isn’t a false god by itself. We’ll talk about that probably next week.

But we can turn it into a false god by treasuring it too highly.

And then the Lord has been taken out of His rightful place at the center of our lives.

He wants to be our supreme treasure!

He wants our hearts!

And what we treasure is where our hearts will be!

Money is profoundly spiritual.

It indicates, in fact, whether or not we are worshiping the One True God revealed in Jesus Christ.

The Lord should be the ultimate treasure in our hearts.

Of course, He has not always been that. Not for any of us.

That’s what sin is. Sin is falling short of treasuring the Lord like we should.

But Jesus Christ died on the Cross to pay for our appalling lack of treasuring God.

He treasured God perfectly! And His death pays the debt we could not.

And His perfection is now applied to our account so that God see us as perfectly treasuring Him.

And He has now freed us to increasingly love Him more than anything else–including money–and all that it can buy.

He wants to be our Supreme Treasure and where our hearts truly are!

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