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If you don't tell your money where to go, it will take you where you don't want to go. Your spiritual maturity will never outpace your stewardship. In this message, Pastor John Stickl teaches us the importance of setting guardrails in the area of finances.

Welcome to Valley Creek Church. I am so glad that you are here with us, whatever campus you are at, whether you're in Denton, Flower Mound, Louisville, The Venue, watching online somewhere in the world. Can we all just welcome each other for a moment together? It is great to be one church in multiple locations, taking next steps on our journey with Jesus. And I'm so glad you're here with us today. Because we're going to finish up our series called "Guardrails." And for the last few weeks we've been talking about keeping our life out of the ditch and we've been looking at the life of King Solomon, reading through the Book of Proverbs together throughout the week, and what've kind of said is that guardrails are healthy boundaries established by Heavenly wisdom. And we said that it doesn't matter who you are, every one of us, we need guardrails in our lives, because we all tend to drift. And we need guardrails that are clear, that are defined, that are intentional and you have to build guardrails before you need them. And we said that guardrails are good things in our lives because they’re meant to be bumped into.


That's why when you drive on the road, you'll always see guardrails full of paint and pieces of fiber glass, because you bounce off of them and they keep you going in the direction that you're supposed to be headed. And we've said for the last few weeks that it's better to bump into a guardrail than it is to end up in the ditch. That a scratch is better than a wreck, because none of us belong in the ditch, we belong on the road with Jesus. And over the last few weeks we've talked about some pretty big topics together. Like we've talked about wisdom, we've talked about the heart, we've talked about sexuality and obedience and if you've missed any weeks, I'd encourage you to go online and listen to them and I am really grateful, for how you have leaned in over these last few weeks into those tough topics. You haven't pulled back and said, "No no no, no no no, I don't want to hear it. No." You've leaned in because you want to be on the road with Jesus. In fact, Proverbs 16:17 really could be the theme verse for this whole series. It says, "The highway of the upright avoids evil; he who guards his way guards his life."


In other words, he who builds guardrails will get to his destiny. And so, I want to finish it up today by talking about one more tough topic. I want to talk about guardrails in the area of finances. I mean hey, we've already talked about sex, we may as well go ahead and talk about money. The two things that no one wants to talk about in church, sex and money, let's just hit them head on build some guardrails, because we don't want to end up in the ditch, okay? So, let me just go ahead and say it. I realize talking about money in church for some of us is really awkward and uncomfortable. But, if we're honest, the Church-At-Large, she hasn't always gotten this topic right. She's got plenty of mistakes, she's got her fair share of the blame. She hasn't handled herself the best way when it comes to money. So, if you're here today and the moment we say the word finances, you find yourself cringing, because you've been hurt in some way by the church. Can I just start and say that I am sorry for that?


If you've been hurt, disappointed, felt guilted or obligated, if you've felt manipulated to give, if you've been disappointed by bad stewardship, I am really sorry, because that is not God's heart in this area and what I want to say to you today is don't let their failures keep you from your freedom. Their failures only have the authority you give to it. So, I want to say to you, I'm sorry and I want to say, let's go back to what Jesus actually has to say about the topic. Because John 14:6, he says, "I am the way, the truth and the life." If we will walk in his way, we will discover his truth and we will experience his life, and if you read the Gospels you'll find one of the primary topics Jesus teaches about is money. Because, he knows money is one the fastest areas we end up in the ditch in our lives. In fact, mis-handling or mis-stewardship of our finances is a way we watch people destroy their lives all the time.


Money in our lives are inextricably linked together, so we've got to get this topic right. In Ecclesiastes 2, Solomon, who we've been looking at for the last few weeks, he wrote Proverbs, he also wrote Ecclesiastes. This is at the end of his life, and he's kind of reflecting, listen to what he says. He says, " I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. So, I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, the treasures of kinds and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well - the delights of the heart of a man. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me."


"I denied myself nothing my eyes desires; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor." You ready? "Yet when I surveyed all my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun." Okay, that's pretty depressing, don't you think? Meaning there's Solomon at the end of his life, he's got everything, he's got more money than he knows what to do with, he's got every possession a person could want, all the authority, all the influence and he looks at it and then he says, hey it's all meaningless, it's like chasing after the wind. In other words, here's what Solomon is telling us. At the end of his life, he says worldly wealth will not bring you Godly peace. Amassing a fortune will not bring you a life of freedom. And what I have discovered as I've walked through life, is that experience is the best teacher, but it doesn't have to be my own.


Experience is the best teacher there is, but it doesn't have to be my own, like I don't actually have to experience it to learn from it. I can be humble enough to learn from someone else's experience so I don't have to repeat the same mistakes. In other words, what I'm trying to tell you is you don't have to get to the end of your life to draw the same conclusion Solomon did. You can just learn from his mistakes and draw the conclusion yourself today by humbling yourself to learn from his failures and his victories. And so, what I want to do is I want to share with us four guardrails. Four guardrails in the area of finances that Solomon lays out for us in the Book of Proverbs, which he's the guy that has everything the world has to offer, so I think he has something good to tell us in that area. And what I want you to remember is that you can't get Godly results in an ungodly way. We've said this in the series. The abundant life is not available through the ways of the world. And so, we have to get God's wisdom in this topic if we want to become free and live free. And so, these four areas, they're really simple ones, as I start going through it you might say, well I'm doing one or two of them, here's what I want you to catch. If you're not doing all four of them you have not established the guardrails to keep yourself out of the ditch in this area. If you don't tell your money where you want it to go. It will take you where you do not want to go. Okay? Four guardrails, are you with me? We're all excited, ready to lean in one more time.


First one is this: Return your tithe to God. Proverbs 3:9-10, Solomon says, "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits," it's another word for tithe, "the tithe of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine." In other words, what Solomon says is, he says, "Hey the first thing you need to do with your finances is you just need to honor God." You need to God your tithe, and if you've ever wondered what is that word 'tithe' that we throw it around in church, this big word, what does it mean? Well, tithe just means 10%. It means the first in best, 10% portion of your income belongs to God. What God basically tells us, is He says, "Hey everything you have, I've given to you. And you can do whatever you want with 90% of it. But the first 10%, the tithe it belongs to Me and I want you to give it back to Me. Now, let's make something really clear together, God does not need your money. Like, you know, that right? Like, God's not like struggling financially, He's not having a hard time paying his bills, He's not kind of like at the end of His rope. Like, He created the universe with a word. He multiplied 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed 5000 people when Jesus goes fishing, He catches fish with money in its mouth.


I'm just saying like, I think He's okay. Like, He's doing alright. He doesn't need your money but He wants your heart. He doesn’t want the money out of your pockets, He wants the idols out of your heart. So, he's established the tithe. Listen, Deuteronomy 14:22-23, this is the purpose of it, "Be sure to set aside the tenth," the tithe, "of all your fields," your income, "that produces each year. So that you may learn to reveal the Lord your God always." In other words, God says, I created the tithe so you will learn to love me. So, you will follow me. So, you worship me. So that you will not have a heartful of idols, but so that I will be first and foremost in your life. Because God knows your money leads your heart. That's what Matthew 6:21, Jesus says, "Wherever your treasure is, your heart will be also." We hear that and we think, Jesus I think you got it backwards. Maybe Mathew when he wrote it down, he reversed the words because wherever my heart is then my money goes there. No, Jesus says wherever your treasure is, your money your heart goes, follows and it attaches itself to that thing. Your heart follows your money. And you know it's true. Because before you bought that car or those stocks or that new phone, you didn't think twice about it. But the moment you bought it, wham you heart followed and attached itself to that thing and now you care how it's doing, who's taking care of it, what it looks like, that's how powerful money is, it actually leads your heart.


Which is why God says, I want you to tithe. Because he knows, if we will give to him, our heart follows our treasure and it will follow and attach ourselves to God to his church and the ways of the kingdom. And it's fascinating to me how sometimes in church, we say you know what like my heart I'm just not really into it and I don't know why or I wish I wanted to follow Jesus, but I don't really feel it. And then you start asking questions about finances and they’re like, oh yeah no I don't tithe at all. Well, do you wonder why 100% of your heart is running after the things or the world. It's because 100% of your income is going there, so it's leading your heart and attaching itself to worldly things instead of kingdom things. I mean you just have to think about it like this, the tithe is just tangible trust. It's choosing to walk by faith in alignment with God's ways. Matthew 6:33, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and everything else will be added onto you."


And what you always have to remember is that God's ways and God's promises always come with a blessing. Listen to this, Malachi 3, the famous tithe passage, if you've been in church, it says, "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse -  the whole nation of you - because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. test m is this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not test their fruits, says the Lord. Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land, says the Lord. In other words, God says, hey if you would just do it my way, watch how I will move in your life. In other words, 90% of God's way is better than 100% the world's way.


That's a choice, we have to choose by faith to believe and walk in. And what I want you to notice, is in this passage is you don't actually give your tithe, you return it. We don't give a tithe, we return our tithe. That's why he says, he says, you've been robbing Me. They say, how have we been robbing you? He says in tithes. Like you've been keeping that which belongs to me, maybe the best example I can give you is this like. You can't give something to someone that you don't own. Does that make sense? It's not called giving, it's called returning, giving it back to them. Like, say for a moment, you and I are friends and you let me borrow your car. You said, hey you can borrow my car for the month, and the month goes by and at the end of the month, I'm feeling good, it's been a good month. I've enjoyed the car my life is great. And I show up in your house and knock on the door, and you open up the door and say, hey I was feeling so generous today, I just wanted to give you this car, and so here's the keys.


You look at me and you say, what’re you talking about. Yeah that was a great month, man like here I want to give you this car. You'd say, you can't give me back my own car. In fact, if you didn't give it to me, I would've called the police on you, like this is my car you're just returning it, okay that's the tithe. That's what Jesus is teaching us. In fact, that's why in Matthew 22, Jesus is saying, "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, give to God what belongs to God." In other words, taxes belong to the government and the tithe belongs to God. We shouldn't have more submission and reverence for the IRS than we do for God. We really have to think about it that way. And you're like, "Well I wouldn't if I wouldn't get arrested." It's not really an option is it. It really shouldn't be an option to rob from God either. I mean I remember a few years ago, my son he was probably 5 at the time, and we were at an Easter egg hunt, and you know they got all these Easter eggs hidden a lot and all these kids and they got these little plastic bags and he couldn't wait, and they blowed the whistle or however it started and he's running around and I'm watching.


But he's going to town, he just getting all these Easter eggs and he's throwing them in his bag, he's having the time of his life. I don’t know how it happened but somehow a rip happened in his bag. And with every egg that he put in the bag, like 5 eggs came out the bottom. And all the 2 and 3-year-old figured it out, they were like follow that kid around. He's dropping eggs, so you know. My son's going crazy and has no idea he's putting eggs in and he has no idea, he's just putting eggs in and they're just dropping out and there's this whole little hurdle of little kids following him around picking up his eggs. Then all the eggs are done and they blow the whistle, the things over and my son looks in his bag and he has 2 eggs in his bag. And he comes over and he's sobbing, like daddy I know I picked up at least 50, there's 2 and there's a hole in my bag and all those kids, they got my eggs. He goes on and on, and I remember sitting at it looking thinking, that's what our finances are like when we don’t do it God's way. That's why he says test me in this, he says test me to see if 90% of my way is better than 100 percent the world's way.  Because when you do it the world's way there's a hole in the bottom of your bag and all falls out, and the people of the world come around and they scoop up all the things that wanted God to give to you. It's true. And I know some of you're sitting here and you say, bro, tithing that's an Old Testament law stuff. We're under Grace. That’s why in this church is a grace church, why are you talking about old testament law stuff?


Okay, let's talk about that, you want to talk about that? Tithing is not an old testament law thing is a kingdom principle thing. Okay? The tree of knowledge of good and evil was really Adam and Eve's tithe to God. It was the one thing He said this belongs to me, don't touch it. They touched it, look what happened. Then you go to Genesis 4, Abel tithe, he brought the first born of his flock. Genesis 4, this is hundreds and hundreds of years before the law was established. Or how about Abraham in Genesis 14, he has an incredible payday. He strikes it rich with his treasure he captures, and he tithes to God. Or how about Genesis 28, Jacob has an encounter with God and he tithes to God. And then you get to the law, it's established in the law. Well, Leviticus tells it's holy it belongs to God. Proverbs 3, the wisdom literature, we see Solomon writes about it. Malachi, it's in the minor prophets we just talked about. Jesus, in Matthew 23:23 says. "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth, you tithe, of your spices - mint, dill and cumin, like your income. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former." Jesus, himself says, yes tithe. And I'll go one further. Jesus was the Father's tithe. The Father gave Jesus His first and His best, to you. And when he gave us treasure to you, his heart followed and attached itself to that thing, that's why there is nothing you can do to remove the Father's heart from your life. Because his heart if forever attached to you. Tithing is not an old testament law thing, it’s a kingdom principle.


Why? Because when we receive His grace, the only natural response is to respond with generosity. It's the only way to respond. And so, if you're here and you're like, I don't know man that's not for me. Listen, we don't have giving problems, we have receiving problems.  Matthew 10:8, Jesus is freely, "You have received; freely give." Well, I can't freely give if I'm not freely receiving because I can't give that which I have yet to receive. And that's where a lot of us get in so much trouble. It's like a hose right, you turn the hose on and you've got a kink in the hose, hose starts screaming, but nothing's coming out in the end, right? We've got kinks in our heart. The life of God is flowing in but our hearts are going. And there isn't anything flowing out, cause there's a kink and we can't receive. We don't give because we're told to. We give because we've received his grace. And we can't help but respond to the goodness of God after that.


I mean the story of Abraham tithing, 400 or more before the law, right? I don't have time to get into it, it's Genesis 14 you can read it. He has this incredible payday, he gets this huge treasure and he runs into the priest called Melchizedek. Melchizedek is an old testament pre-incarnate Jesus, it's a prophetic picture of Jesus, he has no beginning and no end, so it's like Jesus. And he runs into Melchizedek, this priest, and the priest gives him wine and bread, and then blesses him. And it says Abraham's response was to tithe. What does the wine and bread represent? The broken body and shed blood of Jesus, and the blessing that comes with it, when it is by grace received into the heart of man or woman the natural response is to now give back to God, what belongs to Him. This is why we give at the end of service at boxes at the door. Some of you, you've come to this church and you're like why do we do it, why do we pass baskets, this is weird, like those nice clothes purple felt things


Or plastic buckets, or silver platters like why don’t we do that. I'll tell you why, there's two reasons. Number 1 is I never one people who don't know Jesus to walk into this church and be confronted by actually having to touch a basket and have to make a choice of am I going to give money or not. Because why, because Jesus doesn't want anything from them, he wants everything for them. And I want to remove every obstacle possible for them to respond to the goodness of Jesus in their life. That's the first reason. The second reason is because generosity is a response to receiving God's grace. So, we sit here and we meet with Jesus, and that should be part of our worship and our response to say, now I can't wait to give and respond to the Lord. I mean it's the difference between the rich, young ruler and Zacchaeus. Luke 18 and Luke 19, right next to each other.


The rich, young ruler comes to Jesus, he says, Jesus what do I have to do to get eternal life? Jesus, you know a little story, you know the commandments, they guy says, I've kept them all and Jesus says, Okay, why don't you give everything you have, sell it to the poor, you'll have treasure and come follow me. So, it’s at that the man's face fell and he went away sad, because he was very rich. Then you get to Zacchaeus. This short guy who is a tax collector, ripping people off, climbs up in a tree. Jesus comes by, calls Zacchaeus down, goes to Zacchaeus' house. They just hang out and have a meal together, the bread and the wine. And by the end of the meal, Zacchaeus all on his own stands up and says, look Lord here and now I give half of everything I have to the poor and if I cheated anybody out of anything, I'll give them back four times the amount. I'm just saying you know Grace showed up in that house when the tax man is giving money away. And what's the difference? The rich young ruler didn't receive anything from Jesus so he couldn't part with a dollar. Zacchaeus received everything from Jesus.

So, the kink in his heart was open and everything could just flow. One of the greatest decisions of financial guardrails you'll ever make in your life is the decision to say I'm doing to tithe regardless of how little or how much money I make. If you say, I can't afford to tithe, that's like saying I can't afford to trust God. And if you say, I make too much money to tithe, that's like saying God is not worth it. It's a trust issue and a lordship issue, and here's what I would say, it doesn't matter how much money you have. If you don't tithe, you're a follower of Jesus, you're already outside the guardrail, because you're already outside his way. Tithing is the fork in the road for every follower of Jesus to say, am I going to do it in God's way or am I going to do it my way. And only you get to make that choice. The rest of the financial conversation for followers of Jesus matters nothing, until we get this one figured out in our heart with Him, cause it's a trust issue and it's a I want to walk on the narrow road in the narrow gate, instead of the broad road in the broad gate, makes sense? If you didn't like that point, you won't like one I think either more


Eliminate and stay out of debt. Listen to these verses, Proverbs 22:7, "Just as the rich rule over the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender." Proverbs 22:26, "Do not be a man who strikes hands in a pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you." Deuteronomy 15:6, "For the Lord your God will bless you, as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but you will from none; you will rule over many nations, but none will rule over you. Romans 13:8, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another." Those are verses I think most of us just don’t think are in the Bible. We've not read them, we've not actually thought that God actually has something to say around the concept of debt, but he does. Because what you have to understand, and I know don't think about your own situation for a moment, just step back and try to catch this truth. Debt is self-imposed bondage. It's what it is. It's choosing to willingly place yourself under the authority or the rulership of someone else, and you're not really sure how they're going to treat you. You're surrendering yourself, you're submitting yourself to, in a sense, becoming a slave to them, and the truth is debt is exhausting. So much of the stress and anxiety and the fear, so much of the relational brokenness that exists in our life comes from debt. And we put ourselves in the situations and then we get mad at God, for why our life is looking the way it is even though we were the ones who made those choices. I mean listen to me, if Jesus set you free, why do you want to re-enslave yourself?


Jesus didn't set you free so you could spend your life living in debt. And I know some of you're thinking, you're like, bro this is the 21st century, this is how we do things man. Okay. Just because the world does it, doesn’t that mean you should do it? And just because you can do something, does that mean you should? Isaiah 55:9, I mean this is kingdom thinking, I don't understand this is totally irrelevant to the world, but the people of the kingdom. It says, "My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts." Which means, kingdom people should always live different that the world in every area of their life including finances. Now see if you can catch this with me for a moment, Satan is an opportunist, okay? He is not creative. He can't create things. He can't stop what God is doing. He is an opportunist. And so what Satan has done is he has designed the entire world's economics system to reenslave the people that Jesus has set free.


He's built the entire economic system so we find ourselves in this place of bondage, with debts settled on our shoulders, because he can't stop us from being free in Jesus, so he'll find alternative ways to get us to agree with him and come under a posture or position of bondage. Does that make sense to you? I mean think about it, it's things like this, get it now, pay for it later. Instant gratification, long term bondage. The poor become enslaved to the rich, and the rich become enslaved to the love of money. And if you can even take it one step farther, the entire world economic system is built on breaking the 10th Commandment: You shall not covet. Satan get us to look at what everyone has and decide that that's what we want. And so, we go and take what we want, even though God hasn't given it to us, and we put ourselves in a posture of debt in order to get it. And so, when you're in debt to something, you don't own it, it actually owns you.


So, Satan plays on the brokenness in our hearts on wanting, having this lustful passion for everything we see, everyone else has. And he knows, if he can manipulate it, we can but it now and pay for it later, and he knows short term gratification, long term bondage. I have done this long enough to just tell you, debt probably keeps more people from their destiny than anything else I see. Because when you're in debt, what you're doing is you're enslaved to a paycheck, you're enslaved to a job, you're enslaved to that low payment plan, and so you're unable to follow God, when He asks you to get up and go. You can't follow. Because you're in this debt and what I want you to think about is like this, debt is pain for past. This is why it's so demonic in a sense. He's paying for the past. If you're in debt, you're paying for the car, you've already been driving and probably have worn out. If you've got credit card debt, you're paying for those things you've already used and probably don't even want anymore.


If you have that low monthly payment plan for the rest of your life, usually it's how they trick you. And it's like 5$ today, but it'll fine but I'll get 9 million from you the rest of your life. I own you till you're 102, and it will pass on to your kids. We could talk about the government but it's not a good idea. You're paying for the past. Why do I want to spend my life paying for my past if Jesus has already paid for it? Come on think about that, if Jesus has paid for my past, why do I want my life to be defined by paying for it. It is for freedom Christ has set us free [unintelligible] [00:27:40.13], he has forgiven our wickedness and remembers my sins no more, so why do I want to keep re-addressing the choices I made in the past. Psalm 103, "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed those things from us." It's a different way of thinking. I realize it does not align with the world’s economic system nor is it supposed to because we're the people of the kingdom. Do you know the number one reason, that people don’t come on staff at this church when we're right at the end ready to hire them?  It's debt. Number one reason is you say is, I don’t want a job at the church, that's fine, that's not what I'm trying to prove to you.


I'm trying to show you great people with a calling from God, get right to the point where everything is aligned for their future and their destiny. But they can't make the step because of the debt they picked up in their life. And you're going to tell me that's not demonic? You're going to tell me that's God's way? It's not. It's one of the greatest decision that you can make is to just decide to put a guardrail in your life, to say, if I can't afford it, I'm not going to buy it. You say, "But I want it now. Need to"[autistic voice] Self-control is the fruit of the spirit. So every time you get to that point and you want to drop off the edge, self-control means you're walking in step with God. And if you say, bro I'm okay with that, I'm not so sure about those verses, that's fine, here’s what I would at least invite you to do, don't make impulse decisions at least go home and pray about it. Because, I promise you, that car, that house, that thing, it will be there tomorrow, and if it's not God has something better for you. All the salesmen in the room don't like me today. But that's okay. Because, you can Oh my goodness, I have 5 minutes left.


But this is important. I've seen people with hundreds of thousands of debts, get out of debt, by doing it God's way. And you say, how do I do that, start tithing. You say, I'm already in debt, I can’t afford to tithe. You can’t afford to not tithe. Because you won’t get out of the ditch that you've got in however its happened by doing it the world's way. It will only come through God's way. So, consolidate, don't panic, the grace of God can get you out of any ditch. You've just got to invite him to it, okay? I don't know. Third one is start saving. I'm just doing to rip through this one. If debt is paying for your past; saving is investing in your future. Proverbs 6 is a great verse, "Go to the ant, you sluggard;" that’s a little harsh Solomon, but that's okay, "consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its fruit at harvest." In other words, the ant is saving all the time, because he's investing in its future. Imagine if all the work of a little ant did was to pay for last winter's food. But that's how most of us live. So, saving what it is is saying the best is yet to come. It's saying I believe that God has a good plan for my life, that I believe God's going to bring things into my space. You have to prepare for the opportunity, before the opportunity comes. Because, once the opportunity comes, it's too late to start preparing and that's all saving is, it's preparing for what God has in the future for you and me.


Listen, believe that God has good things for you because he does. I want to be ready to respond if God says to you something amazing. Do this. Here's the option for this. I want to bless you for that. You don’t want to be like, I can’t because I got all these payment plans over here, I want to be like, man I've been preparing for this, I didn’t even know what it was but I've been preparing for it, so here we go God I can follow. So, what if you've put a guardrail in place to say that the tithe that belongs God 10%. 10% goes into savings and I live on the rest of the 80. That'd be a guardrail, that would save a lot of us, a lot of pain, okay? And then the last one is this, I got a lot more to say on saving but another day. Just live generously. Proverbs 11 says, "Give freely and become more wealthy. Be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; but those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed." Listen, I think we are weary and exhausted because we don't give. It says when I will refresh someone else, God promises He will refresh me.


There's a refreshing that takes place when we release the generosity of Heaven though our life that satisfies something deep down inside of us. And it does an amazing thing. It's part of your nature to be generous in Jesus. Being stingy is actually no longer, it's part of your old flesh. It's part of Adam. It's part of the fallen nature. But being generous is part of our new nature in Christ. So, when we don’t live generously, we're living outside of our divine purpose which is why it's exhausting, which is why a lot of us are weary. I mean listen to this, Proverbs 19:17 says, "He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done." Love that. It says God takes it personally when you’re generous. Whatever you've done for the least Matthew 25, Jesus says, you did it for me. And a great example of this is Missional Move Breakthrough. We're just finishing it up at the end of this month, a one-year commitment that we did together to launch our Louisville campus and Next Steps Center, and thousands of people committed to give above and beyond what they're already giving to allow us to do, and to those of you, I'm so grateful for the incredible generosity, you've exhibited.


And what I love about that, it's refreshing and it's our purpose and what I want you to think is that all the resources of Heaven are over here and all the needs of the world are over here and it's right in the middle. You are. And so, he's just looking for people who would steward their finances well so he can flow it into their life and release it into the lives of the other people. Some of you are sitting here today, you have this incredible ability to generate wealth. And you think, man this is awesome I know how to make money. Listen, Deuteronomy 8:18, "Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth." In other words, God didn't give you that ability so you can just do whatever you want with it. He's saying, hey I trust you. I trust you as a kingdom agent. And I'm going to give you this stuff and as you give it to them, I receive it personally, it comes back to me and I want to entrust you with even more. And some of you are sitting here and you're saying, yeah, I don't make a lot of money and I'm struggling. Listen, God takes your little and He turns it into much.


He took a boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish, and fed 5 thousand people with it. And God took it personally and blessed the boy because it was said that there were 12 basketfuls left over and I think it was given to the boy. So, the boy fed the world, and his world got larger. We're supposed to feed the world, and our world will get larger. I want to be generous. But here’s the deal you have to life with the first three guardrails in order to able to be generous. I am convinced, most of us want to be generous, it's in our nature in Jesus. We want to be generous but we don’t do those first three things so when moments of generosity comes, we can’t respond. So, the question you have to ask yourself is are you stewarding your resources that even allows you to be positioned to be a generous person, and maybe a better question is in the middle here, would you entrust you with more? We all want more, but if you were the one stewarding it would you entrust you more based on how you're using it.


Those are questions we have to answer and they’re not all that easy. And what I want you to understand is you're like man that's great but okay. Listen, this is how we do it as a church. We give 10% at least of everything we have out into the world to accomplish the mission of God. We have eliminated and we stay out of debts. We make missional moves, we do it together, because we don't want to be in bondage to anyone. We save, we live way below our means, so when God invites us to do something, like the Louisville campus, we’re able to buy the building because we had been preparing for future opportunity. And then we live generously at every opportunity we have. And you say like, what does this have to do with me? Listen. Everything. Because your spiritual maturity will never outpace your stewardship. Let me close it with this Luke 16, this is probably my favorite verse in giving, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So, if you have not been trustworthy in handling money, who will trust you with true riches?" Spiritual life.


“And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?" In other words, here's what Jesus says, he says, money is a test, however you use money determines what God will entrust you with. We think more money is it, like that’s the pinnacle of life. God says that's the first step on the ladder. He says what really matters is revelation, spiritual insight, influence, authority, disciplining people's lives, he says all those things, the treasures of the kingdom I will give to you, if you learn how to handle money right. Which means money is what God uses to build your faith for your kingdom purpose. Money is the gym, preparing you for the game. And so, if I can't trust God with my money, how am I going to trust Him when He invites me to walk on water, kill a Goliath, raise the dead, heal the sick, or just step into my kingdom purpose.


It's the gym that prepares me for the game. The life that matters. I got no idea where you are and your financial picture. I just know this, you've got to start somewhere. And the goodness and the grace of God can pull you out of any place that you've been, and I know this, if you're sitting here and saying, bro, I really don't care what you have to say about all, that's fine. Here's what I would just say, would you ever just ask God, would ever just take a moment and ask God all four of those points? God, would you want me to talk? God, how do you want me to handle debt? God, what does saving look like in my life? And God, how does living generously look for me? Take it out of church. Take it out of me. Take it out of all those things people have told you. But you just ask God. And the reason that matters is mis-stewarding money can keep you from your destiny.


I love you too much to let you end up in the ditch when God has green pastures for you to get to. So, will you close your eyes with me for a second. Here's what I want to say. The Holy Spirit is here and what he does is he exposes things in our hearts and our lives, not to shame us or guilt us, but to free us. That's why the Bible says, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. The goodness of Jesus is in this place today and he doesn't want you to end up in the ditch. And you say, I'm in the ditch then just call out for help. And he can rescue you.


But you're going to have to partner with him to take some steps in that direction which might require some change, which will be uncomfortable but he promises the spirit of comfort will be with you. And so, could we, maybe for a moment, could we just do that? Could we just say Holy Spirit, what do you want to say to me in the area of tithing? Holy Spirit, how do you want to talk to me about the area of debt? I could tell you for some of you, he's saying there's no condemnation for cries those who are in Christ Jesus. And he can make all things new, you just have to believe him to receive. Holy Spirit what do you want to say to us in the area of saving? And Holy Spirit, where do you want to show us about the lifestyle of generosity?


Jesus, I thank you that you are the God who created the Heavens and the Earth. That you can take 5 loaves and 2 fish and feed 5 thousand people, which means you always take care of us. You are the God who meets our needs, who satisfies our hunger and thirst. Who goes before us and is behind us, and you tell us the boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places for us. So, we don't need to make decisions to get someone else's boundary lines, because what you have given to us is plenty, and may be steward that well. And lean into it. Holy Spirit, I pray that you would bless us in the realm of finances, that we would be people that would walk on the road in the ways of Jesus, that we might live and experience the freedom of Jesus, because you are good and your loves endures forever. So, I declare freedom today. Not shame. Not guilt. Not resistance. Not hard hearts. Not turning and running. I declare freedom in the name of Jesus, over an area that Satan wants to enslave us and you want to bless us. We love you Lord and today we choose to walk on the narrow road, the narrow gate, because it leads to the fulness of life. We love you Jesus. In your name we pray. Amen.