media

 

Sermon Series

 

October 7, 2012 AD, by Pastor Ben Willis

1 Thessalonians 1:1 [NLTse]

1 This letter is from Paul, Silas, and Timothy.

We are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

May God give you grace and peace.

When you were a kid, who was your favorite team of heroes?

Batman and Robin?

Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock?

The Lone Ranger and Tonto?

Obi-Wan and Anakin?

Others…?

Let’s turn in our Bibles to Genesis 2… This is the record of Creation. In Chapter 1 we read that “God created human beings in His Own image. In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” (v. 27) But as that gets spelled-out here in Chapter 2 only man has been created yet, only “Adam”. But then God said, in v. 18: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” And then, after creating all the animals to see if they might be a fitting “helper” for him, God made a woman from the side of the man. (What’s been traditionally translated, from out of Adam’s “rib”.) And when Adam awoke from the sleep God had put him in, he looked at the woman and said, “At last! This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh!” (v. 23)

For many centuries this idea of woman as “helper” to man was seen as God creating her to be lesser – subservient – to the man: He the master; she the helper. But the Hebrew word ??? (ezer) is not one of position, with the man being higher and the woman being lower in the relationship. No. As a matter of fact, our Father uses the same word to describe His Own relationship with us.

Let’s turn in our Bibles to the psalms: Psalm 27… Look to v. 9 with me, where David sings: “Do not turn your back on me. Do not reject your servant in anger. You have always been my ??? (ezer) – my helper. Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me, O God of my salvation!”

And Psalm 70 sings: “But as for me, I am poor and needy; please hurry to my aid, O God. You are my helper and my savior; O LORD, do not delay.” (v. 5)

And Psalm 115: “O Israel, trust the Lord! He is your helper and your shield. O priests, descendants of Aaron, trust the Lord! He is your helper and your shield. All you who fear the Lord, trust the Lord! He is your helper and your shield.” (vv. 9-11)

A “helper” – an ??? (ezer) – is not a servant or a sidekick but an ally, a partner, one who has the ability to help and is willing to help. (And that help can be offered by one of greater power, lesser power, or equal but different power.) The point I believe our Father’s given me to make today is that “it is not good for us to be alone”: It’s not good for us to be alone in this life; it’s not good for us to be alone as we live this life by faith.

We see this applied to the life of faith when Christ Jesus sent out the seventy to go ahead of Him into the towns and villages He was planning to visit during His preaching ministry. Let’s turn to Luke 10… “The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places He planned to visit.” (v. 1)

We see this two-by-two “staffing” continue among Christ’s people as we read the Book of Acts: Peter and John are always mentioned as being together; and Paul and Barnabas; and then Paul and Silas; and the “we” statements across Acts are recognized as indicating when Luke (who wrote Acts) was traveling and ministering together with Paul and the others.

In our reading today from Paul’s letter To the Thessalonians, the apostle is writing in partnership with Silas and Timothy. In another of his letters he writes with Sosthenes (who had been one of the leaders of the Corinthian synagogue before he became a Christian), and, of course, Paul’s letters are filled with the names of those he’s traveling with, ministering with, whom he is helping and those who are helping him.

Would you turn with me to Ecclesiastes 4… In v. 7 King Solomon writes: “I observed yet another example of something meaningless under the sun. This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, ‘Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?’ It is all so meaningless and depressing.”

Which inspires him to go on and write: “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer…” (4:7-12)

I’m not trying to beat an already dead horse this morning, but I am feeling the Lord speak to me – speak to us – very clearly that we are not to live this life Jesus has saved us for alone. No, He’s made us and called us and put us to death and given us a new life to live together.

When we read a book we often like to find another who’s read it to discuss it and hear their what spoke to them and enjoy it more fully. We’ll often play sports against others – especially those of a similar skill level – to help challenge us and grow our skills. We often work out or diet with others for accountability, support, and encouragement. It’s nice to hike or dive with another for companionship and safety. Shopping with others gives us added insight and wisdom in our purchasing. We build or craft things together to share talents and tools. Adventures are better with a friend so we can retell the stories and relive the wonder and awe. We watch movies and share music with those around us to share the laughter and cry together and get to share our inspiration with those closest to us.

In just the same way, we need a partner, an ally, a helper in the Christian-life to discuss discipleship ideas, to encourage one another in following Jesus more fully, to stand together against the attacks and deceit of the Enemy, to benefit from each other’s wisdom, to be held accountable to promises we’ve made and commitments to repent and change, to learn from other’s experiences and share ours with them, to tell and re-tell each other’s stories of victory and forgiveness and transformation along the Way, and to laugh together and cry together as the Holy Spirit grows us more and more into Jesus’ likeness. The benefits go on and on…

But this “prayer partner”, this “accountability friend”, this “discipleship helper” God is calling us to is not just an “aid” our Father wants for us just so that we can enjoy and benefit more fully in following Jesus. No, we need this helper. Turn with me to the prophet Jeremiah 17:9… The Lord is telling Jeremiah that only He is able to fully and fairly judge people, because, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (vv. 9-10) We need others to hold us accountable, to study the Bible with, and to challenge us as we live the Christian life because the human heart is deceitful: We rationalize, we misinterpret, we overlook, we pretend, we see only the log in the other person’s eye. We need a brother or a sister to “sharpen us” and help us see our life – the good, the bad, the faithful, and the unfaithful – the way it really is, more clearly than we are able to on our own.

Husbands and wives make a natural pairing for this except that men and women often experience very different kinds of temptations, and it can be helpful to have a discipleship partner who has insights and compassion for our trials. Another reason not to partner with your spouse is that men often have trouble sharing with their wives some of the things that tempt them, and women likewise. And our discipleship helper – our accountability partner – needs to be someone we can be transparent with: Laying the victories and failures of our souls open before them. We need someone we can be open and honest with, whom we can: u Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (5:16)

So you can partner with your spouse but I’d recommend that, men, you find another man, and that, women, you find another woman. There might be three of you together, but I wouldn’t recommend having four or more. Two (or three) is a nice grouping to allow everyone to share as deeply as each one needs, and to allow us to bear one another’s burdens without getting overwhelmed.

Reach out to someone whom you know and enjoy or whom you think you would like to get to know and would enjoy; somebody you can be honest and vulnerable with and whom you believe would be honest and open with you; someone who’s at a similar level of Christian maturity as you believe you are (because this isn’t a mentoring or counseling relationship but a partnership mutually caring for each other’s soul); and, of course, you want it to be a person you can meet with regularly to share, challenge, and pray with together. Your goal should be to meet in person together weekly, or at the most every other week. (You can meet over the phone occasionally, but try to be in person as often as you can.)

The agenda for your time together can be pretty simple:

Begin in prayer; then,

Share together what the Holy Spirit has been revealing to you (in Worship, in your devotional/quiet times reading Scripture and praying, in your daily experiences and ministry work, etc…); then,

Share those areas where you are currently struggling or facing ongoing temptation, asking for specific prayer and support, first one of you then the other; and then,

End your time by praying for one another and setting your next meeting time.

This isn’t an intellectual exercise: “Yes, I can see that the Lord is calling and how it would benefit me to have a prayer and accountability partner…” No. Look around you. Think about who might fit this critical role in your life. Pray: Ask God to show you this special helper. And then meet, challenge each other, support each other, pray for each other, and live! He has more abundance for us than we are enjoying…

Jesus says, “When two or three are gathered together in My name I am meeting there with them.” (Ch:vv) And after speaking about the blessings of life “two-by-two”, Ecclesiastes 4:12 ends saying “a threefold cord is not quickly broken”. When we commit and humble ourselves to live His Way with another Jesus promises us He’s with us binding Himself around us – and giving us His Own strength and empowerment: A threefold cord is not quickly broken.



September 30, AD 2012 by Pastor Ben Willis

Romans 16:1-16 [NLTse]

16 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in [SEHN-kree-ay] Cenchrea. 2 Welcome her in the Lord as one who is worthy of honor among God’s people. Help her in whatever she needs, for she has been helpful to many, and especially to me.

3 Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus. 4 In fact, they once risked their lives for me. I am thankful to them, and so are all the Gentile churches. 5 Also give my greetings to the church that meets in their home.

Greet my dear friend Epenetus. He was the first person from the province of Asia to become a follower of Christ. 6 Give my greetings to Mary, who has worked so hard for your benefit. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews, who were in prison with me. They are highly respected among the apostles and became followers of Christ before I did. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys.

10 Greet Apelles, a good man whom Christ approves. And give my greetings to the believers from the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew. Greet the Lord’s people from the household of Narcissus. 12 Give my greetings to Tryphena and Tryphosa, the Lord’s workers, and to dear Persis, who has worked so hard for the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, whom the Lord picked out to be His very Own; and also his dear mother, who has been a mother to me.

14 Give my greetings to Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters who meet with them. 15 Give my greetings to Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and to Olympas and all the believers who meet with them. 16 Greet each other in Christian love. All the churches of Christ send you their greetings.

Phoebe: Paul writes that she was a deacon (or a deaconess, sometimes called) in the church of [SEHN-kree-ay] Cenchrea, a port-city about six miles east of Corinth on the Saronic Gulf of the Aegean Sea. But who was she? Was she married? Widowed? An older woman? A younger woman? Did she have any children? She seems to be the carrier of this letter to the Roman-Christians, but has she come to Rome on business – was she a business woman? – or did she make the trip especially just to bring Paul’s message? We don’t know… We just know that she lived for Christ, and we know these comments about her her character and service for Christ…

Priscilla and Aquila: Though never specifically stated as being husband and wife, it is generally assumed that they were since they’re always mentioned together. Clearly, at one time they’d saved Paul’s life, risking their own in doing so. Since normally the husband’s names would be listed first (as we’ll see a bit later), Priscilla seems to have been of a higher standing in Roman society than Aquila, or perhaps she served a more prominent role in the church. And yet, even knowing these things, these folks are still for the most part just names, and there’s so much we don’t know except that they lived for Christ, and these comments about their character and their service for Christ…

“Epenetus” was a common name among slaves and those who’d been legally freed from slavery, called “freedmen”: He was the first Christian in what they called “Asia” – where the Galatian and Cappadocian regions were located, and Paul’s home-city of Tarsus, and Ephesus and the seven cities of The Revelation – the area that today we call “Turkey”.

Maria might have just been the Latin form of the Hebrew name “Miriam” (often translated “Mary” in the New Testament), but it might also be a designation that she was a Roman citizen.

Andronicus and Junia are the other husband-wife pair I mentioned earlier, and here Andronicus is mentioned first as is normal for that day. Andronicus is a Jewish name and Junia specifically is a name for indicating her Roman citizenship. Paul tells us they were imprisoned with him at some point, though we never hear anything more about that in Paul’s other letters or even across Luke’s records in The Book of Acts. But they were apostles – not of the original Twelve, of course – and highly respected among those who had been specifically sent out to spread the good news and extend Christ’s Kingdom! But again, whether older or younger? How they became apostles? How they met Paul? There is so much we don’t know except for these short words about their lives in Christ and these brief comments about their character and brief record of their service for Christ…

Ampliatus and Urbanus, Stachys and Apelles, were all common slave-names found in the Imperial household. Phlegon was a common slave name. The households of Aristobulus and Narcissus may refer to freed slaves of Herod the Great’s grandson, Aristobulus, who spent his lifetime in Rome, and Narcissus – a very uncommon name – likely refers to a man who was himself a freedman who rose to become one of the most powerful people in the entire Roman Empire under emperor Claudius’ reign in the 40’s and early 50’s A.D…

So there’s some we do know and yet so much we don’t know about these earliest of Christians, but we do know they were Romans and Greeks, Jews and Gentiles, men and women, slaves and freedmen, common people and prominent Roman citizens; we know that they lived their lives and risked their lives for Jesus Christ and each other, and that they served the Lord and His Kingdom in ways the renowned apostle Paul found noteworthy!

In similar manner, the historical records of Milford and Pike County and First Presbyterian Church are littered with the names of men and women who also clearly lived their lives for Christ and left records of their transformed character, and their lives of service for Christ and His Kingdom…

Bartholomew Weed was a blacksmith, and is recorded as being the first “praying man” in that early wilderness and logging community of Milford. Such were his prayers and his praying that his house was stoned and he was openly laughed at! Jacob Quick, likely a part of that early Tom Quick clan, was a lawyer who held evangelistic prayer services that were often broken up by the rough and rowdy among his neighbors. In 1822 we read that Quick joined with some other townsmen by the names of Francis Smith, John Lafarge, John Brink, George Bowhannan, and a D. Jayne to petition the State of Pennsylvania for permission to establish “The Presbyterian Congregation of Milford”. We know nothing else about these men, they are names on a page, except that they lived their lives, taking risks and making sacrifices, for Jesus Christ and to spread the good news of His Kingdom.

A man named Moses Bross started a prayer meeting in the old Court House (now the Sheriff’s Office) soon after he moved to Milford. And from these prayer meetings began a Sunday School called “the Presbyterian Sunday School”, also held in the then Court House. A man named James Wallace was the first Sunday School Superintendant, and the teachers were Mr.’s Samuel Depuy, William Freel, and Mrs.’s Louisa Ross, Jane Depuy, and Caroline Wells. They taught from the Bible and Noah Webster’s Spelling Book. (Which – believe it or not – was quite a Christ-centered work even being a spelling book!)

When “The Church and Congregation of Milford” was first formed Moses and Jean Bross, Samuel and Eliza Depuy, Mitty Watkin, Elizabeth Westfall, and Jacob Quick were the founding members, though that must not be a complete listing since James Wallace (who wasn’t mentioned) along with Moses Bross and Jacob Quick became the first Ruling Elders. And we know that Samuel Depuy and Jacob Quick were lawyers since the designation “esquire” appears regularly after their names, but we don’t know if they were older or younger, what brought them to Milford, among the fifty children that were part of that going-strong Sunday School were any of those kids theirs? We don’t know, we just know they lived their lives for Christ and served Him and His Kingdom in these ways…

September 25th, 1825 the Reverend Thomas Grier (who only came to Milford every 3rd Sunday from his pulpit in Westtown, NY) led worship, preached the Word, and ordained those first Elders, and so September 25th is considered the birthday of the Presbyterian Church of Milford.

Evangelistic meetings were held, until by the fall of 1832 “most of the leading men of the town had joined” the church! So you local history buffs, as you read about Milford and its goings-ons in the early and middle 1800’s leading up to the Civil War and beyond, you’re reading the stories of the men and women and families of not only Milford but of First Presbyterian Church of Milford, as well! The fruit of the lives of Christ-changed men and women.

Knowing all this, even so, many of those men and women and young men and young women are just names, perhaps men and women and young men and young women who are known for their secular pursuits and accomplishments across other aspects of our local history, but known in Heaven, and their words and deeds recorded forever that were done because they’d given their lives to Jesus Christ in service to His Church and His Kingdom…

This reading from The Letter to the Hebrews seems to take on added weight and mandate this 187th Anniversary, and this our first Sunday in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church:

Hebrews 12:1-4 [NLTse]

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion Who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility He endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

There are many names scattered across the Scriptures and across our history books, names and sometimes faces we know so little about, but God knows. Ordinary men and women who are remembered and recorded as being great because God chose them to be His Own, because God forgave their sin and brought them near to Him in Christ, because God gave them His Spirit to live within them and “By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death.

“But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.”

Among us this morning I think only Ron Gregory’s name is in the current “history book” of First Presbyterian Church. I wonder what future follower of Christ will be looking for inspiration, reading, and asking, “What a great man of God Ron Gregory was. I want to live my life for Christ like he did!” It’s a great privilege for us all. It’s a great responsibility for us all!

But even if we don’t make it into human print, each and every one of us who bear the name of Christ – written across our foreheads it’s so easy to know Whose we are, The Revelation writes – everything we are in Christ has been recorded in Heaven: The ways His character has sanctified our character, the way His life has our lives new, all we’ve done for Him and sacrificed for Him (not to earn His love or salvation but because we love Him and because His Spirit lives in us), it’s all written, not one thing missed, for the angels to “Wow!” over and the saints who’ve gone before us to celebrate and worship Christ for in Heaven.

So let’s strip off everything that keeps us from Christ, especially those sins we may be stuck in; it’s an endurance race, so let’s get our minds set to apply ourselves for the long-haul; let’s keep our eyes on Jesus: He’s the One Who started it all and Who said, “It is finished” when He opened the way to God, and Who will return to make all things new and lead us home; let’s focus on the joy the Holy Spirit gives and the joy Jesus Christ has promised will be ours! putting up with trials and hardships when they come (if that’s what living for Him and expanding His Kingdom brings); let’s not become weary; let’s not give up.

Now may the God of peace—Who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with His blood—may He equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to Him forever and ever! Amen.



September 23rd, 2012 AD, by Pastor Ben Willis

The Bible reveals all manner of things God wants His children to know about, even warnings to protect us and give us security during our time here in the world. Any guesses as to what God – in His Word – has chosen to warn us about the most? [Wait for answers.]

Money. The New Testament refers to money, wealth, poverty, and stewardship more than any other topic. Money is one of the foremost topics on God’s mind to wake us up to, warn us about, and protect us from. So, as a part of a society which often defines people according to how much money they have or don’t have, by our “earning potential”, and according to the quality and quantity of our material possessions, what does a healthy attitude towards money look like? How can we as God’s children and Christ’s people use money responsibly without worshiping it and giving it power over our lives?

I believe our Father reveals to us three ways, across His Word: 1) uuu Godly people regularly remind themselves that money can’t solve the ultimate problems of daily life here in the world, only God can; 2) uuu godly people actively seek to be content with God’s provision and the knowledge that true riches are stored up in Heaven not in any manner of mattress or account here on Earth; and, 3) uuu godly people look for opportunities to give obediently, generously, and regularly to proactively fight-off the idolatry of money, wealth, and possessions, and to open our lives to the abundance only openhandedness and liberality allows.

Let’s begin with #1 – uuu Godly people regularly remind themselves that money can’t solve the ultimate problems of daily life here in the world, only God can. Open your Bibles to Matthew 5:1… I’m going to be reading from The Message translation of the Bible, so it may be different from whatever translation you may have open in front of you but please follow along. I’ve chosen The Message because it’s so fresh and different, but I want you to be comparing it to the more-traditional language you may have in front of you…

Matthew 5:1-12

1-2 When Jesus saw His ministry drawing huge crowds, He climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to Him, the committed, climbed with Him. Arriving at a quiet place, He sat down and taught His climbing companions. This is what He said:

3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule.

4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit Me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all Heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Reflecting on this translation (and, again, please keep your eyes on your Bible translations as I go along): You are blessed when you’re at the end of your rope – when you can’t take any more; you’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you; you are blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less; you are blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God; you’re blessed when you care; you’re blessed when you get your inside world – your mind and heart – put right; you are blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight; you are blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution; and, you are blessed when people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you in order to discredit Jesus Christ…

But whether using the more traditional wording or this Message translation, Jesus’ qualifications for blessedness all have to do with being empty and weak and having to depend on and grow in our Father’s love because there’s no other help that can help. And when I look at these characteristics – spiritually empty, brokenhearted, content, zealous, compassionate, pure, harmonious, ill-treated – for everything else you might be able to use Mastercard, but not for any of these things. Only God can satisfy.

#2 – uuu Godly people actively seek to be content with God’s provision and the knowledge that true riches are stored up in Heaven not in any manner of mattress or account here on Earth.

Turn to Luke 12:22…

Luke 12:22-34

22 Then, turning to His disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to Him than any birds! 25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

27 “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

29 “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need.

32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in Heaven! And the purses of Heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

What do you dream about? What are you saving up for? What are you willing to make sacrifices in order to achieve? What do you need to be happy? These are the kinds of questions that show us the desires of our hearts. And the desires of our hearts reflect what we truly treasure; what we believe will truly save us…

With #3 in mind – uuu Godly people look for opportunities to give obediently, generously, and regularly to proactively fight-off the idolatry of money, wealth, and possessions, and to open our lives to the abundance only openhandedness and liberality allows – these words of Jesus charge us, command us, “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in Heaven! And the purses of Heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

Our Father has given us the tithe – calling us to give 10% of our income towards the strengthening and expansion of His Church here in the world – as a gift to us, to help us fight greed and the lure of selfishness and worldly-mindedness. But many of us could, and perhaps ought to, double-tithe – give away 20%. Some of us need to triple-tithe – give away 30% or even more – to fight the decay of our hearts and our faith, to stop our steady decline down the slippery-slope of our dependence and treasuring of money…

Preaching about money, I know, can make many people feel suspicious and uncomfortable: Maybe I’ve said some things that have hit a little too close to home (I know I’m feeling that way towards some of this stuff, even as I’m preaching it!); or maybe you’re thinking, “You’ve just said all this because you want my money.” And, of course, both of these reasons are exactly why our Father is so concerned about us and money: Because it can divide us, it can make us suspicious of each other’s motives, it can tempt us to treat each other unequally, and even move us to curse each other in our hearts out of jealousy on the one hand or contempt on the other. But He would save us from these things.

He would save us!