Better To Give
By Bobby Blakey on January 30, 2022
Better To Give
By Bobby Blakey on January 30, 2022
“Truly, truly I say to you,” is what Jesus would say before he was about to say something that you would have a hard time believing. And I'm about to say something today that you're going to have a hard time believing, but I'm here to share with you a secret to your personal happiness. Doesn't that sound nice, everybody? What if I could tell you a way today that you could be more happy than you are right now? And what if I'm not just making something up, but it actually comes from a credible source? Like Jesus, it's a secret quote from Jesus you can't find in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John; it's not in the Gospels. But it's from Jesus. And it teaches you a way to think that, if you embrace it, you will be more happy, more blessed than you are right now. It's called the ninth beatitude by many people. Maybe you've heard of the Beatitudes, that blessed are those who are poor in spirit. Or blessed are those who mourn or blessing or those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Like you're going to be happy if you have this kind of disposition. Well, I want to show you something that Jesus said about how you could be happy in Acts 20:35. And I invite you to open the Bible and turn with me to the book of Acts chapter 20. And Paul quotes Jesus, and we don't have this direct quote in anything that Jesus says in the Gospels. And we're going to study it here together this morning. And so, I invite everybody to turn in your Bible to Acts 20. We're going to start in verse 33, and we're going to the end of the chapter. This is our sixth time we've studied this speech that Paul gives to the elders of the church in Ephesus. And this is the conclusion. And so, I invite everybody here in the room, everybody watching this on a screen, maybe out front, or online. If you're watching right now, open your Bible to Acts 20. And let's all stand up for the public reading of Scripture. This is the end of Paul's speech to these men. And we need to give this our full and undivided attention here today. And so please follow along as I read starting in Acts 20:33-38. This is the Word of God.
“I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.”
That’s a reading of God's Word. Please go ahead and have your seat. So, the quote from Jesus, maybe it's even red letters if you got one of those Bibles, but it says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Now I love that quote, I've quoted that quote, I was looking forward to preaching that quote, with all of you. And then when you actually get into studying the Scripture, and you look at the context of what is being said, you realize that what Jesus is talking about here is not just giving your life or your heart or your energy. I mean, Jesus is the ultimate example of giving. The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. I mean, Greater love has no one than this than one would lay down his life. For his friends. Jesus gave his life away for us. Can I get Amen at the nine o'clock service? Jesus gave his life for you. I'm like, oh, I don't preach. Let's go. But when you get into the context, this is talking about giving money. I mean, look at verse 33. He says, “I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel.” I mean, this is Paul, going back to when he came to Ephesus. I didn't come there for your money. I didn't come there for your material possessions. In fact, if you go to verse 34, he says, I did work with my own hands. I met my own needs. And I even met the needs of those who were with me. So I didn't come to town for your money. I worked hard to make my own money. And then he says in verse 35, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way, we must help the weak.” So, Paul is saying three things here. He's saying I wasn't in it for your money. I worked to make my own money. In fact, I worked hard so that I would have money to give, to help the weak, to meet those who were in need. Because here's what I believe what Jesus said, you're going to be happier, you're going to be more blessed if you give than if you receive. Wow.
I never really understood that phrase, that quote, that secret idea of happiness from Jesus was specifically in the context of working and giving money. See the Beatitudes is about how to be happy, blessed are those is another way to say, happy are those… Does anybody remember when Dr. Eric Zeller came from Dubai? And he said happy like hundred times in that sermon? Does anybody else remember that? Right? He was speaking to us. He was saying, do you want to be happy? Well, in Matthew chapter 5, when Jesus preaches, he's given you the secret to happiness, well, here's like a beatitude. But it wasn't in Matthew 5. No, this is Paul's mindset that he's sharing with these men, that Jesus is saying, when you give your money away to others, rather than trying to receive more money for yourself, you will end up happier by giving than receiving. Wow. That's a bold quote right there. Now, a lot of people don't like and maybe you're one of them... A lot of people don't like it when churches talk about money. I know it's not a very popular topic. Oh, boy. Here we go again. Some of you have already thought this. Right? Oh, boy, here we go again, church talking about money. Let me just say it like this. If you don't like talking about money at church, imagine how much I don't like talking about money at church. You think it's awkward? You don't even have to stand up here and talk about it. All right? So, I understand if there is a negative stigma about money at church these days, and you know what there should be? Because there are so many false teachers out there who are in it for the money. I mean, tele-evangelism in America is just fleecing people for their finances. I mean, we know there have been scandal after scandal. And now it just happens, and it doesn't even feel like a scandal, as people are preaching the Word of God, twisting what it says in a way to try to get money from people. So, if you think that there's a lot of hypocrisy among preachers and churches about money, I want to say Amen to you here this morning. All right? In fact, I met a guy here at our church on Tuesday night at one of our double double nights, and I was getting to know him after the service. And I said, hey, do you go to church much? He says, no, I don't like going to church is the kind of the vibe that he was giving. His neighbor brought him on Tuesday night. And I'm like, well, why don't you go to church? What do you think about it? And he says, well, I had this relative of mine, who used to be all about church and they were a hypocrite. See, a lot of people have met hypocrites, and it's really turned them off to the whole religion thing, to church, to pastors, people like me, because there is so much hypocrisy out there. And we need to make it very clear here today. There is so much hypocrisy out there. And that's why I don't like talking about it. Maybe that's why you don't like hearing it. But we're not talking about hypocrites here. today. We're talking about the apostle Paul, and we're talking about a quote that he has from Jesus Christ. And Jesus is not talking about some false teacher or some church that's getting people's money and mismanaging it, misusing it. Jesus is talking about you here today; Jesus is talking about your happiness. And he's saying that you will have a better experience in your soul if you give rather than try to get more for yourself. So that's what I said to this guy on Tuesday night. I said, yeah, there are a lot of hypocrites, I definitely hear you about that. The question we should all be asking ourselves though is, is Jesus a hypocrite, because if Jesus is the real deal than we should all listen to what he has to say. And I'm here to tell you this morning, Jesus is not a hypocrite. And if Jesus says, you're going to be more blessed giving than receiving, you can take that to the bank, or you can go withdraw that from the bank, because that is going to be true. All right? So, I want to tell you how I got over that I didn't want to talk about money at church.
Go with me to Philippians chapter 4. This was the passage that changed it for me in Philippians chapter 4, when we went through the book of Philippians in 2019, and we did this thing called the Summer of Joy, and the theme verse for our study of Philippians was Philippians 4:4. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” See, we got into it when we went through Philippians. Double-clap still going strong years later here today, everybody. And we were like, I thought this is going to be so good. We'll talk about how Paul is in prison for the gospel, and he’s still is writing a letter of joy to this church, and they're partnering for the gospel. This will be an epic study, it ends with how Jesus is better than anything else, or we’ll glorify Jesus. And I did not know that at the end of Philippians 4, maybe I knew it a little bit, but I'd never really studied it in depth, that it becomes about money. In fact, look what he says. This is Paul writing in Philippians 4:14. And we got to this verse, And we preached a sermon called Fellowship because it says here, “Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.” Now next, in my Bible, I got the ESV translation, English Standard Version, there's a number two right there next to the word share. Anybody got that? Number two in your Bible? Well, if you look down at the footnotes there, and when it says share, it could also be translated fellowship. Hey, thanks for your fellowship in my trouble. And then he said this in the next verse, Philippians 4:15. “And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.” What? And this blew my mind when I first learned this. He's using the word that we use all the time, fellowship, he's using it to talk about money. I had never seen that usage of the word before in Scripture until we got to Philippians chapter 4, because we love fellowship here at this church.
This week, on Tuesday night, we're going to start our 34th fellowship group here in our church family. We love getting together, we love encouraging one another. We love talking about the Word to make sure we're not hearers, but we're doers of the Word. We want to not be a big church; we want to be a very personal, intimate church in these fellowship groups. We want to share the life of Jesus Christ with one another. And then it's like, wait a minute, that includes money, we use the word fellowship, the sharing of the life of Jesus. And he's using that to describe how they gave and how he received money from them. Look at what it says in verse 16, “Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.” And so, that was eye opening for me when I studied that. We preach that here. We did a sermon called Fellowship, and there was $ sign in the s, like fellow$hip is going to mean sharing our money. And if we're going to be the church together, we need to be partners for the gospel. And we need to even be partners when it comes to our finances. We preach that; we preach this passage. And we saw people at this church become more generous. In fact, that was at the time that we had this opportunity with this building across the parking lot, that we could make it Compass Circle, and people decided to give so that the construction could be done on that building. Has anybody been in that building here at the church? All of that is because people gave of their finances. And that's when I realized, wow, as much as there's a negative stigma, where we don't want to talk about this, when people are generous, and they give, and we partner together, we can see awesome things, like a new building happen. Go to the high school ministry and see how pumped up they are about that new space they've got. Go to the junior high ministry and watch these young people just thriving in this environment. I was in the building yesterday morning, seven o'clock on a Saturday morning, me and some guys are getting together to talk about the Bible. And I look around the building. There are five other small groups meeting there on a Saturday morning, talking about the Bible. The whole kids’ ministry team is there in the cafe, praying for your kids before they even show up for church. They're meeting there the day before praying for them. And the evangelism team is assembling, getting the ice cream truck ready, and going into the Seal Beach Pier with the gospel. And I'm thinking this is awesome. Look at what God is doing with this space. And none of that would have happened if people didn't give; if they didn't meet that need. And I started to realize, hey, we shouldn't be shy about talking about this. If this is really done the way that God says in his Word, this is an awesome thing. And don't get me wrong. I love this building. But I love that building more, everybody. You want to know why I love that building more? Because it cost us more, because people all like sacrificed, and some people gave very generously, and like we put something into that building. And it means something more. There's a sense of ownership, a sense of like we're in this together here in our church. People really care about what God does here, and they're willing to share life, even their money. And it was empowering. It was exciting since we preach this Word over the last two years, even through all of COVID. We have seen more people giving to the church and more people being generous with what they give. Praise the Lord for the power of his Word. And do you see what Paul is saying? Paul is tapping in here to the secret of what Jesus is saying. Look at what he said there in verse 17. He says, “Not that I seek the gift.” It's not just about the money you guys are giving me to meet my financial needs. No, look at what he says, “I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.” I love it when you guys have given to me and supported me, Paul is saying to the Philippians, because I think that's going to be an increase. I think that's going to be fruit for you. I think that you're going to be rewarded for what you give.
See, this is the idea that Jesus is trying to give us. There's more blessing, there's more happiness in giving than there is in getting more for yourself. And Paul's now saying that when you guys give to me, not only do I appreciate the gift, but I'm glad for you because there's like an increase going in your account. You're now like giving, getting credit for what you give. And he goes on to say this, Philippians 4:18-20, “I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
You see what he just said? He said, these people, this church, the Philippians, they gave him money while he was in jail, supporting him. And he says what you actually did was you gave a sacrifice to God, that gift that they gave to Paul, the person. Paul says, it wasn't about me, that you are giving to the Lord. And when you sacrifice, and you give to the Lord, God is pleased. Here's something we really need to learn. We all need to learn it together is that when you give, it's not about the preacher, and it's not about the church; we're giving is something very personal between you and God. All the money you have has been given to you by God. He has provided for you and your family. And what you do with that money shows what you think about God. And when you are generous to give, God knows that you are thankful for what he's given to you, and that you trust him, you have faith that he will continue to provide for you. See, I'm not talking about your relationship with our church, I'm talking about your relationship with God. Are you offering a sacrifice to God that he is well pleased with? That's what Paul said happened when they gave him money; they were actually giving to the Lord.
So, point number one, let's get it down like this: Don't miss out on the happiness of fellowship. Don't miss out on the happiness of fellowship. Make sure you put that dollar sign in that fellowship, everybody, because that was something we learned at this church. That was a turning point here at Compass HB. You can now literally walk in and see a whole new building that came out of people being generous to give, and they weren't just giving to the church or a building project, they were giving to God. And that spirit of generosity has been a blessing here at this church. And many people I know are even blessed that they got to do it, that they got to be a part of it. And they have like a sense of happiness about it in their heart. And so, we don't want to miss out on the truth that you will be happier if you live your life to give your finances, rather than to get more for yourself.
So, go back with me to Acts chapter 20, and let's really think through how Paul thought about life here. Because Paul gave us these three statements. Paul came into emphasis to preach the gospel to see Jesus build the church, and Paul made it very clear when he would go into a new city. We've seen this repeatedly throughout the book of Acts. One, he's not coming and asking for their money. He is preaching the gospel, free of charge. He's not charging anything for it. He's not expecting the people who aren't even saved yet at this brand new church; he's not expecting them to pay him. He says I coveted no one’s silver, gold or apparel. I didn't come here to get from you guys. In fact, one of the things we know that Paul was a tentmaker. We read about that in the book of Acts, and that he would work with his hands, he would work to make his own money. So, they didn't have to support him; he would support himself. And then he says in Acts 20:35, that he supported himself not to just get by himself, but to be at a place where when he saw someone who was weak, that he saw someone they had a financial need, he was ready to help those who are weak, to meet the needs of the brothers and sisters there in the church. So, Paul's not in it for other people's money. He's working to make his own money. In fact, he wants to have more than he needs, because he wants to be in a place where he's ready to give to other people when they're weak. He wants to help them. Now this is a way that Paul thought, but you can see where his thought came from. It came from Jesus. And he gives this quote, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Now, we can't track that quote back to one chapter and verse, but if you've ever read one of the Gospels … like what I did is I went back to the Gospel of Luke. And Luke, he wrote the book of Acts, and he wrote Luke. He wrote it to the same man Theophilus. So, when he drops this little quote from Jesus, that Paul says, well, there's already a whole bunch of teaching that Jesus did about money that trained Paul in the way that he thought about it.
Does anybody know how much Jesus talks about money in the Gospels? Like if you start reading Matthew or Luke, and you start counting all the times that Jesus refers to money, Jesus actually talked about money a lot, and more than we could even look up all of them. What an amazing study it was to go through Luke and be like, wow, there are so many places Jesus talks about money, we won't even be have time to go through them all on a Sunday morning. But everybody, grab your Bible and turn to Luke 12 because I want to show you three things Jesus taught about money. That's on your hand out there, if you want to write that down. Once you turn to Luke 12, three things Jesus taught about money. There's more we could say, we just narrowed it down to three to try to help us get in this mindset, that it would be better to be thinking about giving than to think about getting more for myself. And right under that three things Jesus taught about money, you could write down Matthew 10 and Luke 10. And these are passages where Jesus sent out his disciples, the twelve, or in Luke 10, he sends out seventy-two disciples. And it's really interesting the instructions that Jesus gives, because especially in Matthew 10, he says, “Don't charge anybody money for it.” You're supposed to go into the cities, preach the gospel of the kingdom, see who responds in faith, see who rejects you, but I want you to go from city to city, preaching the gospel, but don't charge people money for the gospel. Freely you have received, freely give. And then right after he says you can't be in it for the money, don't charge people money, then he says and take no money with you. Don't take any money with you. Don't take backup clothes. Don't take extra sandals. Only take like what you're wearing. Only go with what you've got right now. Don't put extra money in your money bags. No, you just go out, don't charge money, but watch, God will meet all of your needs. People you preach the gospel to, those who receive the Word, they will show you hospitality, they will help you financially, they'll feed you like. Hey, don't charge money, but the laborer is worthy of his wages. That's a key quote about money in the Bible. You might want to write down 1 Timothy 5:17-18, that says “Those who do the work of preaching and teaching are worthy of double honor.” if someone is preaching the gospel, if someone is teaching the Bible to the church, well, that is a hard work that they're doing, and that is worth them receiving a wage that is worth them being paid for. So, here's the dynamic that Jesus established with the disciples that Paul did when he went from city to city. You don't charge any money, but watch, God will use the preaching of the Word to supply all of your needs, because people will give in response, because they will see that the laborer is worthy of his wages. So, Jesus establishes that dynamic for the disciples, for people like Paul when they go out.
Look at Luke 12, because here's a teaching that he does for money that applies to all of us, and it's called the parable of the rich fool. It starts in Luke 12:13. And it says, “Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’” Remember, at this time, receiving the inheritance from the Father, the family's wealth being passed from generation to generation, that was the big deal. That was the point of life. And now here's two brothers debating about their share of the inheritance. And this man wants Jesus to get into it. But Jesus said to him, verse 14, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” So, Paul said, I didn't covet your silver, gold or clothes. Jesus says, hey, watch out, be on your guard, check your heart, make sure you're not coveting other people's stuff. Thou shalt not covet your neighbor's fill in the blank, everybody. Are you looking at stuff other people have and wishing you had it? Are you window shopping? Are you commercial watching? Are you looking at all this stuff wishing you had more? Do you think you would be happy if you got more, if you received more for yourself? Jesus is saying to all of us here today, watch out for your covetousness. Be on guard in your heart. And then he wants to tell us a story about how this works. Luke 12:16-21, “And he told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” This guy has so much stuff, so many crops coming from his field, he can't even fit them in his barns, I would imagine this guy would be doing fine if his barns weren't even full. If his barns are like crammed, packed full, then this guy's got to be really doing well. He's got so much he needs to build bigger barns. This is probably more than he can even use. But he's thinking, I’ll store up for way into the future. He's not thinking I've got more than I need. I should give to other people who are in need. No, he's thinking I should receive even more for myself. Here's a guy who's thinking that way. And here's how bad it gets. Look at verse 19. He says “Soul, you have so many goods laid up,” you've got so much as stored up right now, you're going to be good for many years now you can just relax. And so like he actually thinks that money, or having an abundance of his crop, is going to satisfy his soul. See, this is when it gets really bad with money. Money is something we all need to interact with; money is something we all need in this life, but there's that line that gets crossed. When you think that the desires of your heart, the secrets of your soul, who you really are on the inside, is somehow going to be satisfied with money, that's what this guy thinks. He thinks that his money, his material possessions can solve his soul problem. And that's when he gets called fool in the Scripture. Because your soul is being required of you, at this very hour. You're going to meet your maker now. And all that money ain't doing nothing for your soul. It ain't even doing anything for you. If you didn't want to give it to other people, it's all going to other people now. And this is the warning. The point of life is not to get rich for yourself. The point of life is to have treasure with God to store up riches with God. That is the point. Don't be like this fool thinking how much more can I get for myself? How much can I store up for years to come? That's foolish is what Jesus is saying. If you're in it for your own treasure, you are a fool. This is how Jesus talked about money. And then he says this whole idea about hey, if you're worried about it, if you're like, well, if I don't worry about myself, if I'm not greedy to get more for myself, who's going to have my back? And he says God's going to have your back. That's why you don't need to be in it for yourself because God's in it for you. You're worried about what you're going to eat. You're worried about what you're going to wear. Look at the birds. Look at the Flowers. Look at how God cares for them. How much more does he care for you. Seek first God, his kingdom, his righteousness; he will add to you everything that you need. We're familiar with that. But then go down to Luke 12:32. And this part where Jesus keeps going, he says, “Fear not little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” We talked about that just a few weeks ago. Hey, God wants to give you way more than just this life. God wants to give you the eternal glory of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus. And so, sell your possessions. This is verse 33. “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Let's get this down for the first thing Jesus taught us about money: Invest your treasure in heaven. This is something Jesus wanted everybody here to know. Stop storing up your treasure here on earth. Sell what you've got. Give it to those in need. Don't try to be moneybags down here. And because the thieves are going to come and take, the moth and rust are going to come and take it, you're not going to be able to hang on to it. Like don't try to do all of that. Give it away. Because when you give it away, you're storing it up in heaven. That's where you want to be rich. That's where you want your treasure to be. You don't want to be living for this life. You want to be living for the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Can I get an Amen from anybody on this? Now, I love that word, moneybags. I don't know if anybody else loves it. But I have a fond association with the word moneybags, because my family growing up was a Monopoly family. Anybody else grew up in one of those families. Meaning that there were moments of intense disagreement in my family growing up, moments of hoarding and just greed. Anybody know what I'm talking about? And my little brother, Ben Blakey, God bless his soul. He landed on that free parking space more than anybody else at our house. And I can still see him there wearing his little robe, getting that pile of money, throwing it up in the air, my money, mine mine, and we used to call him Mr. Moneybags. And that kid beat me more at Monopoly. And I'm still bitter about it. As you can tell here this day, right? And I could just see him there. Mr. Moneybags, Ben Blakey little kid in his robe, I look at all my houses, look at all my properties, look at all my money. Do you realize that when we die, all the money in this world will be like Monopoly money. It's all funny money, everybody. It doesn't transfer. It doesn't go to the other side. It's all going to mean about as much as those games of Monopoly back in the day. That's what money is going to be like. And Jesus, he's trying to get you to realize, like, the point is not to have everything stored up here. The point is to store it up for there. And here, you store it up by saving, by receiving by getting more for yourself; there you store it up by selling and giving. He's trying to help you realize it's more blessed to give than to receive.
Are you a receiver who wants more for yourself? Or are you a giver who wants to store up your treasure in heaven? Jesus is teaching us a radical way to think about money. And he's saying, we'll be happier by being the one who's store it up in heaven, rather than store it up here on earth. Now go over to Luke 18. Let me show you how serious this attachment to money can be. Luke 18 gives us the story of the rich young ruler. Okay, the rich young ruler, and this guy, he's not going and giving money to some preacher. He's not going and giving money to some church. This guy is talking directly to Jesus. And he knows Jesus is somebody when he comes he may not really understand who Jesus is as the Son of the living God. But He says when it comes to Jesus, good teacher, this is Luke 18:18. “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” So, he knows Jesus can tell him what life is really all about. He can bring him into relationship with God; he can tell him all the secrets of the kingdom to come. Like he knows Jesus is that guy. Now I don't think he really knows that Jesus is God who can save him from his sins. In fact, I'm not sure this guy even understands that he has sin. If you go on in the conversation, Jesus eventually says this in verse 22, and he calls this guy out. “When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’” Hey, change your mind about money, Jesus says to the rich guy, and here's a personal invitation for this guy to be one of the disciples, like this unique three-year time period where you could like sell all that you've got, leave it all behind and follow Jesus around, and he'll teach you the way of life. This guy gets a personal invitation to follow Jesus. All he's got to do is sell his material possessions and give it all away, and then come and follow, and he'll have treasure in heaven. But verse 23, “when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.” And then Jesus says this, everybody needs to hear this. “Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Do you hear what Jesus is saying? Jesus is saying that people will not go through the pearly gates, people will not walk the streets of gold, because they will hang on to money. Money is keeping people from heaven; money is sending people to hell. That's what he's saying. Rich people, they're going to have a hard time letting go of it. They're going to want to get more for themselves, and they're going to lose their soul in the process. Wow. What a strong warning to a church in Orange County of all places, to people who live in Southern California in the year of our Lord 2022. We're even those who of us who don't think that we're rich, are rich by the standards of the history or the rest of the world. There's a real danger that you can get caught up in money to the point where you gain the whole world, but you lose your soul. Man, I'm talking to people in this room, and I'm saying there might be a secondary reason we don't like talking about money at church. One is because of all the hypocrisy and the gross misuse. And we should all be against that. The other is we like our stuff. That might be a reason we don't like talking about money at church. We don't want to give; we want to keep for ourselves. When this gets to this guy, he knows he needs eternal life. He knows Jesus is the source. He's got a personal invitation to follow Jesus on the earth, and he's going to hang on to his money and walk away said, because he would have been happier if he gave it all away that day. And this just devastates the people who hear it. Verse 26, then “Those who heard it said, ‘then who can be saved?’” Whoa, like, wow, how does this even work then? People's minds are blown by what Jesus is saying. And he's saying, what is impossible with man is possible with God. And then Peter says, well, wait a minute. See, look at this way. We did that we left our homes and followed you. Peter is like, hey, I remember the day I dropped my nets. I was there in the fishing business, the family trade, I dropped it all, and I did leave everything. I left my house behind, my family behind, and I am following you. I've done what you told that guy to do. Here's what Jesus has to say to him, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” Everybody, when you give something away for the sake of the kingdom, when you leave something behind to follow Jesus Christ, you will receive many times more now and in the age to come. That's not some prosperity preacher saying that, that's Jesus Christ saying, truly, I say to you …
Let's get that down for our second thing Jesus taught about money. Present leaving equals future receiving. Giving away, selling, being generous now means that there is a reward coming later. That's what he promises here. No one who leaves your house, your financial situation, and notice even gets into your family relationships. He says no one who leaves that behind is not going to receive many times more both now and in the age to come. You think you're losing out on some kind of gain you could have in this life Jesus promises you no, by leaving that behind, you will receive an award both now and especially in the age to come. You see, the inheritance you're going to receive, all the riches of the grace of God will be given to you in the name of Jesus Christ. Know it's so worth it to leave it behind now, because you will receive it more later. This is what Jesus was teaching. Jesus didn't want his people to have less. He wanted his people to have more. Jesus didn't want his people to be sad. He wanted them to be happy. And he said, the secret to your happiness is being a giver, not a receiver. And he said, You guys, trust me, no one who loses out in this life, they're not losing out at all. They're gaining.
Now go over to Luke 21. This is the one I really want everybody to see. I don't know, maybe you've heard this story. But I don't know if you've really thought it all the way through. Because this is the story of the of the widow who gives her last two coins. This is also in Mark 12. And Jesus and the disciples are at the temple. And they're watching people give there, where you can see it, they're in public in the temple. And they're watching people and people are coming and giving handfuls of money there at the Treasury in the temple. And then this one widow comes in. And here it is, Jesus looked up. And he saw the rich, putting their gifts into the offering box. We've got a couple of offering boxes here in the room. Most people give online these days, but literally there at this moment where they can see who's walking up there, and what they're putting in, probably not some kind of check. But you can see actually the amount of coins, the amount of money that they're putting in there. And so, they're seeing the rich put their gifts into the offering box. And he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, notice how he's saying all of these things. He knows this is going to be hard for us to change our minds about money; it's going to be counterintuitive to who we are to think. It's going to be better to give than receive. So, he says “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Now, people were giving larger amounts, this lady only gives two little copper coins. But Jesus wants to make a point that he says publicly to the disciples recorded so that you and I can hear it today. Do you see that woman right there? Do you see that widow, Jesus is saying, the lady who it looked like she barely gave anything she gave more than anybody else here? So, it's not about the amount that you give. That's really mind blowing right there. Because I think a lot of people think, well, I don't have a lot to give. I'm not some rich person. I I'm not somebody who's got like the spiritual gift of giving. God hasn't blessed me in that way. I'm not super generous like that. So, I don't really have a lot to give, I don't really know if my giving is going to mean something. I think that's a reason a lot of people are hesitant to give, because they don't think they've got a lot. That is the point right here. This lady had nothing. And she gave it, and God was pleased. Jesus is like, that's what giving looks like. Giving doesn't come out of abundance. Giving is when it costs you something, when there's a real sacrifice to when you're like, wow, I'll tell you what I'm doing with my money. I'm trusting God, and I'm giving to him by faith. Jesus is saying, take a look at that lady, everybody pay attention.
Let's get this down for the third thing Jesus taught about money: We all need to understand the kingdom currency exchange, that the currency exchange in the kingdom is not like you give thousand dollars, that's thousand dollars there. No, you might give two coins. And if I might be more than people who are giving thousands of dollars, that's the concept here. Well, no, God is looking at your heart, God is looking at what it costs you. God is looking at your faith and how you really trust him. And don't get caught up in the dollar amount because for everybody here, you might have different levels of means, different budgets, different ways that God has blessed you. No, God is looking at your heart. And he's seeing whether you're really thankful, whether you really trust him. And whether you're really taking that step of faith. So, you know, you're given with faith when you feel it a little bit, when you're like, well, that's a lot to give. I'm not sure about that. See, that's what this lady does. She's like, what am I going to do with my last money? I don't know. I don't know how it's going to all work, but I'm going to trust God to provide, and I'm going to sacrifice, and Jesus is like, hey, everybody pay attention. Something just happened right there with that lady. All these other people, they gave an amount they didn't even feel it. Didn't even know sacrifice to at no cost to it. You see that lady, that lady is representing faith in the Lord right there. That lady she's really offering something to God and God is pleased. Do you think that at the time this widow gave these two small coins? Do you think that the temple was completely corrupt at that time? Do you think? Does anybody know a story where Jesus gets a whip, and he runs the money changers out of the temple? Anybody ever heard that one before? Do you think this was like polluted religion? In fact, are the religious leaders themselves the people who falsely accused Jesus and got him killed? You think there's bad corruption in the churches in America? You're right. Imagine what was going on, the shady stuff at the temple at this time. God was so pleased with this widow. Since it's between you and God, this is something where God's looking at your heart. God knows what he's given to you. God knows whether you're really trusting him. And whether you're really taking that next step of faith. And you're saying, I'm ready to give this because I trust you, God. And Jesus, when he sees it, he's putting everybody on notice. That lady gets it right there. I wonder what Jesus thinks about your giving, about your money? I wonder what he thinks because it's between you and him. It wasn't between this widow and the temple.
In fact, go back up into Luke 20. Look at verse 45. Look at the warning that Jesus gives here in Luke 20:45, just right up above, “And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, ‘Beware of the scribes.’” Hey, watch out for those religious leaders, those false teachers. They “like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” This is the juxtaposition of Jesus’ warning, those false teachers who are in it for the money, who are going to go get widows to give them all their money, widows to give them their estate, watch out for these guys who are going to go take widows’ money, you put that right next to it, here's a widow giving her last money to God, everybody. Look at her. She's given more than anybody else. Jesus understood that money and giving would be completely corrupted. And he says, Watch out for the people who are doing all the corrupting, don't get jaded yourself. Don't get cynical yourself. Don't act like the little bit that you give to God doesn't matter yourself. No, look at this widow over here, everybody.
Yes, the whole temple at this time is corrupt. Yes, they're going after the widows to get them. They probably didn't go after this lady because she didn't have anything to give them. But God saw her heart, and God was pleased with her sacrifice. And Jesus says, this is an example for everybody. I mean, this widow is famous on Earth, because it's recorded in Scripture. And she will have a great reward in heaven. Because this lady, she was willing to give all that she had because she had faith in God. You want to say you have faith in God, show it with your money. That's the truth. Who's ready to take the next level, the next step and say, I'm going to put my faith in God, where my bank account is where my money is. And I'm going to give in a way that I'm like, whoa, is that too much? I'm not just giving out of my abundance, I'm giving something that feels like it actually costs, because that's how worth it God is to me. And that's how much confidence I have that God will provide for me and my family. Can I get an Amen from anybody on that?
See, I understand why we don't want to talk about money. But Jesus, he could call that out in one sentence. And then he could say, look at this lady, giving what she's got. And the very next sentence, Jesus was able to say, yes, there is so much corruption there, watch out for it; don't get caught up in it. But hey, don't let it affect your heart. Yeah, this is between you and the Lord. There's only one person who knows all about your money besides you. And that's the one who gave it all to you. And he knows how you're going to spend it. What you're going to do with it. He sees in your heart of hearts, whether you really believe that you would be happier and more blessed if you gave it than if you tried to get more for yourself. What do you believe here today? What do you think about money? Jesus is telling you, you could be happier if you were ready to give rather than trying to get for yourself. And he taught this over and over and over. And then Paul lived this way. He showed the Ephesians this. And now he's referring to Jesus, there's one thing that we should all know. Jesus taught about money. Give it away, store up your treasure in heaven, give a sacrifice to God. Don't try to get it for yourself. And the reason I'm not afraid to talk about this, the reason it doesn't bother me to preach this this Sunday morning at nine o'clock is because I care about you. I care about you and your relationship with God. And there's a joy when you know that your money doesn't matter to you as much as your faith in God. There is a joy that you can have with your father; there is a happiness in your soul when money stops being a burden in your life and can start being a way that you can bless God and bless other people, there is a joy that you can know when you are free from the love of money. And I want you to experience that joy, that blessing. So, I'm saying this for you. And I'm saying that if you gave money to a bad church in the past, God saw what you gave. Don't get caught up in all the corruption, watch out for it. It's out there. But this is between you and God.
Now go back to Acts 20:35. And look what happens when he ends with the last three verses of his speech about money, basically telling these elders that they can't be in it for the money, you can't be in it to get the people in Ephesus gold, silver, or apparel. You’ve got to work hard and make your own money; you’ve got to be ready to give to meet the needs of other people within which happens here at the church all the time. We saw that in the book of Acts that people would give a collection to the church so that when anyone in the church had a need, that that money was collected, and the Apostles in Jerusalem, boom, the elders here in Ephesus, they could give it to meet the needs. And so, he ends by talking three verses about money, quoting Jesus talking about giving. And then verse 36. Well notice what it says, when he had said these things, they were bummed that he talked about money in church. Is that what it says there in verse 36? Does everybody see that? Oh, another giving sermon? Oh, here we go. Paul, you're always getting back to the money. No. “And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again.”
These men shared a whole lot more of their lives than money. What they had was way beyond dollar bills. These men shared their souls with one another. Money was just a part of what they shared. It wasn't even the biggest part. When Paul says to these guys, you're never going to see me again. I'm talking about grown men, I'm talking about Paul seems like a man who has strong faith in the Lord. And these are the men that he like laid hands on to lead the church in Ephesus, these are grown men and they are weeping here. They are hanging on one another. They're kissing one another. I mean, I don't know what it's like for you. But in Orange County, here in Southern California, we have this whole vibe. I'm not going to cry. Anybody wants to admit that's how it is these days? So, oh boy, here we go. I'm starting to feel a little emotional. Keep it together. Keep it together. Anybody talking to yourself like that? Don't crack. Blakey stay strong. Stay strong, right. And then like a little tear comes out. And then you start doing the dab? Anybody ever done the dab before? You start dabbing? Like, I'm not crying. I'm not crying. You're crying. I'm not crying, right. It's like, you're okay. No. And then at some point, you know, it just tugs on the heartstrings. And at some point, the waterworks start flowing. And then you start doing that ugly, cried, you know what I'm saying? Like, now you're just all in, you're like, yeah, it's been ordered, right? And now you're just like, you're like, yeah, I totally feel this, and I don't care. Who knows it? I'm crying, right? That's what these grown men are doing. Like, hey, we love each other so much. We've shared so much life together in Jesus that the reality that you're going, and I'm not going to see you again. Like we're going full waterworks on that; we're going full cry mode. I mean, there are people at this church that I know, they're going to go to Long Beach, and I'm super pumped about it. And I'm excited about it. And I'm like, we need to plant this church in Long Beach. And then I start thinking, hey, when they actually go, there's people here that I'm going to miss, I'm going to miss some of these people maybe more than I've ever missed anybody in my life. See, because we shared life together. Because what we're here doing at churches, we are becoming a family, becoming brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, we all have the same Father in heaven. We've all been purchased by the same blood of Jesus that redeemed us from our sins. We're here to not just share money, or time, or little acts of service. We are here to share our very souls with one another, our very lives. And these men did that. And now you're saying it's over. And now you're saying it's come to an end. Now you're saying that you and I were saying goodbye. And this is it. And these men are full on hanging on you, crying about you walking all the way up to the ship. I don't know if you've ever had a goodbye like that, where you say goodbye, and then you run after him when the car is driving away. And you try to say goodbye again. And then they go into the airport terminal. And there they go on some boat, and you're like, oh no, this could be the end. Wouldn't it be nice if people at church in America cared about each other like that? And let's pray that that's what happens here at this church. That when it comes to us saying goodbye to one another, we're full waterworks because that's how we loved one another here. Oh, we were way past sharing a little bit of money with each other. We shared everything we had, our very souls with one another.
Point number two let's get it down like this: We need to pray that our partnership ends with tears. We need to pray that the partnership we have in the gospel of Jesus Christ, the fellowship that we have, and sharing life, yeah, might include sharing money, but we want it to be way bigger than that. We want to share who we are with one another; we want to be known. And we want to know one another. So, we can consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds. I want to make a difference in your life. And I want to know you so well that you make a difference to me. And then we're going to, some of us are going to leave here and go to Long Beach. Yeah, we'll see each other in the future, but it won't be the same as how it was when we were here together. And when we say goodbye, I hope there are tears when one of us dies, I hope there are tears when we come to the end. I don't know what that's going to look like for us. But if there's going to be an end where we are apart from one another, I hope we're like these guys right here. I hope we're like family with one another. I hope we're not some church where I barely know people, because I kind of get in and out on a Sunday morning. But I really get into one of those fellowship groups, I really go to that Foundations class, I really meet some people and I share my soul with them. And I'm like, I want these people to be my people. So, when I heard, when they leave, I cry.
Go to 1 Thessalonians chapter 2 with me. And this is how our church started is that we wanted to be a family. And we still have that same commitment this very day. And even if God brings more people and saves more souls to the church, we want the church to always be small and personal, because we want to be a family with one another. And that's what he said here in 1 Thessalonians 2. We studied this back in the first days of our church, we started with the foundation of the gospel in 1 Thessalonians 1, how they repented from idols, how they trusted in Jesus to come and get them from heaven. And then we got to chapter 2, where he says in chapter 2 verse 1, “For you yourselves know, brothers, that are coming to you was not in vain.” Did you know that brothers is the main way we are referred to in the Greek New Testament? It says brothers about the people of Jesus over five hundred times in the Greek New Testament. Paul is writing that all the time. Brothers we are, we are the brothers and sisters. That's who we are. We are a family. Look what he says in verse 7, “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.” This is Paul, a grown man saying I love you like a mom nursing her baby. Wow, what an analogy for a grown man to use about himself and about how he cared about these people. I loved you like I was your mom, he's saying to them. So being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. Do you see why none of these people are fazed by Paul talking about how he gave and encouraging them to give because they're given way more than their money. They're giving their very selves and they're doing it because they want to do it because they love the people. That's what he's saying here. I am not just sharing with you the gospel. I'm not just trying to teach you the Word, I'm trying to share with you my very life. In fact, he refers to himself as their father, verse 11, “For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” I hope the dads here in the room can relate that when you know what you're saying to your child is true, and you know they need to learn it, and they don't know yet though they think they already know it, but they don't really know yet. And here you are as dad. And you know it's true. And they haven't experienced it yet. And you're like they need to hear me right now.
How do you speak to your kids when you really want them to get it, and you really will know it'll bless their life? That's how Paul saying he spoke to those people. Like he genuinely cared what happened to them. He didn't give it a take it or leave it approach to the people, but he was like a father saying you’ve got to live this way or you're going to suffer the consequences. You’ve got to see what God is saying to you. You’ve got it. Can you hear me son? Can you hear me? That's how he spoke to the people, like a dad. And then he says in verse 17, “But since we were torn away from you…” If you remember in Acts when they went Thessalonica the Jews ran them out of town. And he says, when “we were torn away from you brothers for a short time, in person, not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face.” That would that phrase, they're torn away from you. He's like saying, when we were orphaned from you, that's what it felt like when the Jews chased him out of town. He was just getting the church started. And the Jews come, and they chase him out of town. And he's like, oh no, my family, what's going to happen to them? What's going to happen to their faith? Because he really genuinely cared about these people? Will you pray that we will genuinely love one another here at this church, that we will care for one another, like a family? That's even the way we would learn how to think about one another? Will you pray that we could be like Paul, who has that tough money conversation with the elders, guys don't be in it for the money. He's saying that you guys know how I was. And then they're sharing way more than money. They're sharing their selves, their souls, their life, and they're crying, because they love one another. Let's pray that we can really share life like that, then will you pray with me right now as I pray for our church?
Father, we come to you today. And Father, we just want to confess to you that there is so much hypocrisy, it makes it hard for us to talk about money in church. And we confess that to you, but God, I pray that today would be the day we get over that. And we would see that, wow, we need to talk about money at church because we need to learn a new way to think, that we want to store up our treasure not here on earth, but we want to store up treasure in heaven. We need to all have a change of mindset about money and we need to come together as a church. And Father, I just want to praise you for changing my mind about talking about money at church. I want to praise you for what you taught us when we went to Philippians 4. And then we saw fellowship with that dollar sign. I want to thank you for all the people here at this church, that you put it on their hearts to give towards that project. And now we can walk around in it. Every day our young people can walk around in it. We’ve got more people coming to church throughout the week than we've ever had before. And so, we can see what happens when people give. As a father, thank you for teaching some of us that and I pray that today, all of us will know that if we don't already that we will all hear Jesus say today that we will be happier, we will be more blessed if we live our lives to give away rather than to get more for ourselves. Father, I pray that we would believe this, that we could hear Jesus say, truly I say to you, that we could see a lady walking up in a corrupt temple surrounded by shysters who are in it for the money, and she could give those two small copper coins. And that you would point that in the midst of everything else going on, that you are pleased, that you love those who give you sacrifices, you love a cheerful giver. Open our eyes to see that. And let us see that our money is between us, and your giving is something that we do between you and us. And Father, let us be your kids who are so thankful for what you've given us. And let us trust that as our father, you will provide for us. Give us that faith so that we don't act like we need to hang on to it and receive it for ourselves. Teach us your way to be a giver. And so, I pray that you will do a mighty work here at this church. Father, I just commit up to you this double double project where we have opportunities to expand here with our kids’ ministry, with a courtyard, with another auditorium, with a whole another church in Long Beach. This could be such an exciting time. And the truth is that how we give will determine what we're able to do. God, I just commit that up to you, and I pray that someday we will be so bonded together, so united in the sharing of life, that when we say goodbye to our brothers and sisters go into Long Beach, that there will be tears. When we say goodbye to one another at the end of our partnership in the Gospel it will have meant something so important in every one of our lives. Father, I pray that what we do at this church will matter, that it will matter in our hearts, that it will matter for eternity, that we will not go through the motions, but we will give our very lives for one another. We pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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