True Riches

Stewardosity

Description

In this message, we learn that money is a test to see if we can be entrusted with true riches.

Good morning and welcome to Valley Creek Church. The sun is shining.

It is a great day for no other reason than the sun is shining. Thank you, Lord. I think it’s a great picture of the faithfulness of God. In fact, some of you, you’ve been going through some incredible storms in your own life and I think the sun shining this morning is God’s way of reminding you that no matter how long you feel like that storm has been going on, he’s going to come through on the other side. “In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus says, “but take heart for he has overcome the world.” In other words, in this other world you will have rain, you will have flooding, you will have storms, you will have thunder but take heart for he has overcome the world and the sun will come out again in your life. And so, somebody that’s in that place, you need to receive that from the Lord. I think he’s got that for you today. It’s a great day. I’m glad you’re here at Valley Church. I believe God has something great for us.

We’re going to jump right in together. We’re in a series called Stewardosity. And we’ve been talking about embracing stewardship and releasing generosity in our lives. And I want to start by asking you a simple question, how much money would it take to make you happy? How much money would it take to make you happy? I mean, have you ever thought about that question? I think it’s something we should think about because we spend a lot of our time chasing after money. So how much would it actually take to make us happy? Like what’s the goal? What’s the number? We should at least know what we’re striving to get. How much money would it take to make you happy? The answer to that question is there no amount of money that can make you happy because money is not the answer to your happiness, God is. Money is not the answer to your problems, God is. And yet if we’re honest and we look at our lives, I don’t think a lot of us necessarily believe that. If our behaviors reveal our beliefs, a lot of our behaviors would say we don’t believe that’s true, we think there is a certain amount of money that would make us happy, so we go after it. We’re just not sure what that number is.

And the problem with the world is the world’s answer is always, “It’s just a little bit more,” right? It’s just a little bit more than what you’ve got. Like you get to the finish line and world says, “No. Surprise. The finish line is actually here and you got to keep going.” That’s an exhausting way to live. In fact, in Matthew 13:44, Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who found a treasure in a field. He hit it again and at once in his joy sold everything he had and went and bought the field.” Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who finds this amazing treasure in a field, he sells everything he has and he takes his money and he uses his money as a tool to discover his treasure.” In other words, what Jesus is telling us is that in the kingdom of God money is a tool and God is your treasure and that you should use your tool to discover your treasure. But what we do, if we’re honest, is we kind of reverse those things, we think God is our tool and money is our treasure and we want to use God as the tool to help us discover money which we believe is our treasure but that’s not really how it is in the kingdom.

Money is your tool, God is your treasure. I mean, can you imagine seeing a neighbor in your backyard — in his backyard and he’s got a gold bar in his hand and he’s digging a hole in the ground with the gold bar. You’re like, “Dude, what are you doing?” He said, “Man, I’m trying to find a shovel. I think there might be a shovel buried somewhere in this ground.” You’d be like, “Bro, you got it backwards. The gold bar is the treasure, the shovel is the tool. Use the tool to fine your treasure.” I think a lot of us, as silly as that sounds, we take God and use him as a tool to try to dig a hole in our lives to find money which we believe is our treasure. God is a tool — or money is a tool — I almost got it backwards.

Seeing if you’re listening. Money is the tool and God is the treasure. It’s not how much you have, it’s what you do with what you have that determines happiness, okay? So if you got your bibles, flip with me to Luke 19 quick. Luke 19, quick, I want to read this parable to you.

It’s what Jesus — a story Jesus is telling us. It’s a little bit long. I want to read it to you and then we’re going to talk about it and I believe God has some great freedom for us today. Luke 19 starting in verse 12, Jesus says, “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas, a certain sum of money. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to who he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ ‘Well done, my good servant,’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’ His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’ Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man.'”

“’You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’ His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant. You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’ Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’ ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten.’ He replied, ‘I tell you the truth that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.'” This is a great little parable, a story that Jesus teaches us. And what I want to do today is a little bit like last week. It’s a little bit more teaching than I normally tend to do but I want to lay this foundation for you because I believe God wants to set you free. And so I’m going to take you through a couple of points and then at each one of — at the end of each one of them, I’m going to ask you a question again, ask you to have the courage to hear from God in your life.

So are you ready for this? Let’s try this again, are we ready for this?

Okay. Remember, everything Jesus says is meant to bring you freedom and it’s meant to give you life. Okay. First thing is this, we are stewards not owners. We are stewards not owners. The master, the king, he comes to his servants and he gives them a mina, a certain sum of money. So everything the servants have has come from the king’s hand and he tells them, “I’m going away for a while and I expect you to take this amount of money that I’m entrusting to you and I’m expecting you to put it to work. You’re going to use it for my kingdom and for my purposes and after a period of time, I’m going to come back and I’m going to hold you accountable for what you did with what I entrusted you with. You’re going to be responsible for what you do with my money that I’m giving to you.” And so what we learned is that it’s the king who owns it but the servants who steward it. And what I like about this parable is that’s really a 30,000-foot view of our life in the kingdom of God. Jesus is our master, he’s our king and he has entrusted us with money, with things in our lives and he says he’s going away for a certain defined period of time and he’s going to come back and we’re going to be held accountable, responsible for what we do with what he entrusted us with.

Everything we have comes from him and he expects us to put it to work for his purpose and for his kingdom. The king owns it, the servants steward it. You are a steward not an owner. Psalm 24:1, it says, “The earth is the Lord and everything in it. The world and all who dwell among it. Everything in the earth belongs to God.” James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of heavenly lights. Everything you have in your life has been given to you by God himself.” Or how about 1 Corinthians 6:19 and 20, “Do you not know that you do not even belong to yourselves, you have been bought and paid for with a price. You don’t even own your own body let alone the things that have been entrusted to your care. Everything you have does not belong to you, it belongs to the king.”

And if we’re honest with ourselves, most of the financial stress that is in our lives is self-induced, it’s self-imposed because we live like owners instead of like stewards. We make unwise decisions, we make short-sided decisions, we make selfish decisions because we think we’re owners and so it sets in motion over our lives stress and worry and anxiety and fear. Owners do what they want with what they have but stewards seek after wisdom because they know they’re going to be held accountable for what they have. So at James 1:5, it says, “If any of you needs wisdom, all you got to do is ask God, ask the master and he will gladly, generously give you wisdom.” In fact, here’s the question that I want to ask you is this, is when was the last time you asked God for wisdom on how to steward what you have? When was the last time? You just ask God for wisdom, “God, I need wisdom on how to steward that which you have entrusted to me. What do you want me to spend? How do you want me to save? Where do you want me to give? What do you do want me to do? When was the last time you asked him for wisdom?

I was thinking about it this week how interesting it is to me that over years of pastoring I’ve had literally hundreds, okay, hundreds of times, people have come forward to ask for prayer for provision. People that were desperate and they were broken and they were humble. They needed God to provide in their life in a significant way and so they come forward with this desperation and this hunger for God to move and so we pray for them and we believe, “God, will you meet their needs according to your glorious riches in Christ Jesus? Will you show yourself faithful? Will you show yourself strong? Will you move in their life?” And hundreds of times I’ve watched as God has provided the answers to those persons, he’s moved in profound ways in their life, hundreds of times that’s happened. And yet, this week I was thinking about this and realizing that in all the years I’ve never had one person who has every come forward to ask for prayer for wisdom on how to steward what they already have. Not one time. Hundreds of prayers for provision, not one time for wisdom for stewarding what we already have.

Do you know what that means? That means most of us in our hearts we believe we’re owners not stewards. Because why do I need to ask for wisdom for what’s already mine. I’m just going to do whatever I want with it. Listen, let us be as desperate for his wisdom in our stewardship as we are for his help in our time of need. We got to get that right. That’s what it means to be a steward. And you say, “Well, hang on a second. Stewardship, that’s not a word I hear in the world. Like what does that mean?” You’re right, it’s not a word, a world word, it’s a kingdom word. And here’s what it simply means, I think here’s the definition, three things that define what a good steward is. First thing is this, a good steward is in tune with the master’s heart. A good steward studies the master, knows the master, wants to be like the master and chooses to align his heart with the master’s heart instead of expecting the master to align his heart with the steward’s heart, you’re in tune with the master’s heart. The second thing is this, a good steward willingly obeys. They willingly obey even if they don’t understand it, if they don’t like it, even if they disagree with it. They choose to willingly obey because they know they’re a steward and not the owner that they submit to the master.

And the third thing is this, a good steward lives to please the master. The whole goal in their life is to hear the master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” So based on that definition, would you then qualify yourself as a steward? Are you in tune with the master’s heart? Are you studying him and knowing him and becoming like him? Are you choosing to align your heart with his? Are you expecting him to align his heart with yours? I mean, do you know what’s important to our master? Do you realize the most important thing to him is this, his bride, the people of this world and the people that don’t yet know him, he wants them to come and be a part of his family and be his bride. Are you in tune with his heart? Do you willingly obey? I mean, last week we talked about it, we said that God asked us to tithe, to eliminate debt and be generous. That’s what asked us to do. So whether you like it or not, whether you disagree with it, whether you don’t understand it, are you willing to just obey because you’re a steward and three, do live to please the master?

Is the whole goal in your life to hear Jesus say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” because all of us are going to be held in account with what we did with what he entrusted us with. See, the interesting thing about stewardship is that when you start to understand stewardship, it’s actually incredibly free. You may think, “Oh, that’s sounds bondaged.” No, no. That’s — it’s actually free because all of a sudden when you understand you’re a steward, no longer am I defined by what I have. What I have no longer defines my identity, my value, my worth, who I am and all of a sudden it starts to take away comparison and competition because it doesn’t matter what you have and what I have, what matters is we’re both serving the master, doing things for his glory. It’s incredibly free. So at Psalms 16:5 and 6, it says, “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup. You have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places for me.” In other words, God has assigned your portion and your cup and the boundary lines of your lives, that’s what he has entrusted you with have fallen in pleasant places.

And when you start to get that, it brings a great amount of contentment in your life. Because instead of trying to always expand your own boundary lines, you start trying to steward that which he has already given to you. In fact, think about this, we live in the DFW area. Surprise, if you didn’t know that. That’s where we are.

And this is a very transient area, people are constantly coming and going. And here’s something I see all the time especially in the lives of men, a job opportunity opens up in another city or in another state for $5,000 more than they’re already making, okay, 5,000, I’ll give you 10,000, I’ll give you 20,000. Here’s — I’ll give you $50,000 more in another state or in another city and instead of processing it with God they just see it as an opportunity to expand their boundary line, so they jump on it. And what they end up doing is ripping their kids out of HUB who are super engaged in student ministry and walking with God, they take their wife who has Godly relationships and is finding freedom and health in a life-giving church, they rip her out of here and they move to a new state and it probably takes between three and five years to find a new life-giving, a healthy church for their kids, himself and his wife to get connected in that place.

And for those three to five years, their life is utter chaos all because they wanted to expand their own boundary lines instead of just stewarding well that which God has already entrusted to them. And you say, “So what are you saying, you can never take a promotion?” No, I’m saying, did you stop and ask the master what he wants? Did you ask him what he wants to do with that which he has entrusted to you? It’s not what you have, it’s how well you steward. The world tells us it’s what we have. Who cares about what you steward. That’s why Jesus, the widow with two mites, she puts in her two mites and she is — even though it’s small boundary lines that have fallen in pleasant places for her, she is a good and faithful steward as opposed to the rich Pharisees who gave a little bit out of their excess who are constantly trying to expand their own boundary lines.

You see when you live like an owner, you live with your hands in your pockets because it’s impossible to give anything away because you think it’s yours. But when you understand you’re a steward you live like this and it’s easy to be generous because you know it’s not yours anyways. If you want to find financial freedom, financial health in your life, the greatest thing you can do is change your mindset from being an owner to being a steward, greatest thing you can do. Romans 12:2 “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds that it’s his and I steward it for his glory. It’s not mine to do whatever I want with it.” And I’m not just telling this to you, this is my life too. Like after last week’s message, Colleen said something really interesting to me. We had sold a old refrigerator to somebody, a few hundred bucks, they had already given us the money but they hadn’t picked up the fridge because all of the rain and so they were going to come and get it this week and after last week’s message Colleen said, “Man, I really feel like God’s asking us to just give the money back to the person and give them the fridge,” and in my mind I’m thinking, “Yeah, but I already spent the money.”

It’s a great idea but — okay.

An owner says, “I’ve already spent the money, who cares about that.” A steward says, “Okay, Lord. Because you say so, I will do it. I’m a steward.” So the question I want to ask you is, do you have the courage to just ask God, God, do I live more like an owner or a steward? Because only he can answer that question for you. In fact, if Jesus came to hold account today, you’re account, would he be able to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? Will you have the courage to ask him, are you a steward or an owner? Okay. We’re stewards not owners. The second thing is this, is God rewards good stewardship. He rewards good stewardship. Catch this, this blows me away, the guy gets one mina and he faithfully stewards it, turns it into ten, the master returns, he gives it back to the master and the master says, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You’ve been faithful with a little thing. I will entrust you with a greater thing.”

And he gives him ten cities. Now, does that seem like a disproportionate reward to anybody else? Come on, man. One little mina you get ten cities, are you kidding me? That’s how God rewards us. He disproportionately rewards us. If we’re faithful with little he promises to give us much. And what I want you to think about is this, the guy started with a little bit of money and he ended up being rewarded with cities. What is inside a city? Come on, what’s inside a city?

People and people are always more important to a king than money. And so a king will entrust you first with money to see how you steward it, to see if he can actually entrust you with the lives of the people that are really important to him. So money was a test to see if he could get what was really important. In fact, stewardship is always a qualification for all spiritual leadership and if you can’t handle money, you can’t handle people’s lives, that’s what God says. I think it’s important for you to know that every staff role and every significant leadership role in our church, the first conversation we have with people before we move forward is their stewardship.

Because if they can’t faithfully steward a little bit of money, we can’t entrust them with the lives of people which is important to God. In fact, if you’re sitting here and you’ve been thinking, “Man, why won’t God give me a ministry? Why won’t he let me be a spiritual leader? Why won’t he birth the dream that I have in my heart for his kingdom?” The question I would ask you is this, are you faithfully stewarding the minas, the money. Because if not, you’re not passing the test and he cannot give you people, okay. Are you with me on that?

Now, flip back in your bible like two pages, Luke 16. Let me just show you a different way that Jesus says this. Luke 16:10, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, money, who will trust you with true riches? True riches would be revelation, spiritual insight, the mysteries of the kingdom of God, the father’s heart, the things that really matter.

And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, his money, his tools, who will give you property of your own? Okay. See if you can catch this, Jesus right there flat out says money is a test. That’s what money is, it’s a test. He gives you money to test your heart to see if he can entrust you with that which really matters, true riches or spiritual revelation. And what we tend to do in our lives, we – most of us tend to think that money is the pinnacle. So that’s why I asked you the question, how much would it take to make you happy? We think it’s pinnacle that our whole life is about climbing up rungs to obtain a certain of money and then we’ll be happy and we think God’s truth is the very foundational basic thing, God says, and he’ll flip that ladder upside down. He says, “True revelation, true riches is the very thing at the top of the rung and money is the most basic thing that if you can’t handle money on the very bottom rung, you will never be able to get to the true riches, the revelation which is the top rung.”

I mean, I grew up doing a whole lot of construction with my dad and I remember the 24-foot extension ladder, okay, any guys that like do construction, you know what I’m talking about. There’s 24-foot extension that reaches way up to the gables and when you climb on it, man, it bends way inside in this little kind of [unintelligible] [0:20:18] as the thing’s bouncing but no one starts on the 24-foot extension ladder, you start on the little two-step baby stepper. And if you can get that one right, then you can go to the eight-foot step ladder, if you can handle than one then you can go to the 12-foot extension ladder and if you can handle that, then you can get to the top of the gables and go up to 24-foot extension ladder and you’d be amazed that how many big burley strong men cannot handle the little two baby stepper, the kind that you have like in your kitchen, you know, like a little step stool to just reach something on the top shelf. You’d be amazed that how many people have been in church for 20 years and can’t handle the little two baby stepper of stewardship. And so they can’t get to the gables, the top shelf, the revelation, the true riches that God has for them.

Every dollar you faithfully steward positions your heart to receive his revelation. I mean, listen to verse 12 again, “If you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, his money, who will give you property of your own, your own spiritual revelation.” Stewardship is the key that unlocks the door to revelation. In fact, a silly little example, maybe the HUB will illustrate for you. Let’s say you and I are friends and you borrow all of my tools, okay, you take them, I’m fine. Man, I want you to use them. You take them for a while and at the end of a period of time you bring them back and you’ve just trashed my tools. I mean, you broke my nail gun, you trashed my compressor, you broke the blade off my saw, all my hand tools you left out in the rain, it’s just rained for a month and so now they’re all rusty, you broke them, they’re all dull and kind of chipped up and you come by and you just kind of dump it in my garage and like, “Here you go. Thanks for letting me use it.” Here is my question, after that am I going to entrust my family to you, yes or no?

No. After that, am I going to entrust the secrets of my heart to you, yes or no?

No. Why? Because how you stewarded my stuff reveals how you really feel about me. How you stewarded my stuff reveals your level of trustworthiness. And if you can’t handle my tools, I can’t give you my family or my heart. How we handle or steward his stuff reveals what we really feel about him and it reveals our trustworthiness. He can’t give you his people and his heart if you can’t first handle his tool. Listen, as a pastor, one my great frustrations of the church at large, not Valley Creek but like the church at large, is the church is anemic in revelation. Church is literally anemic in revelation. You’re thinking, “What’s revelation.” Revelation.

Just think of something that was hidden that was uncovered, spiritual insights, the mysteries of the kingdom of God, the father’s heart. Not just cognitive information. But when your heart gets a revelation and you understand who God is and how he works in his kingdom the church is anemic in revelation, which is super sad because the church has been going for 2,000 years. I mean, Jesus died and birthed the church. So we should have 2,000 years of revelation all building on each other, going further and farther and deeper into the kingdom but we don’t have that. Why? Because we’re not willing to be faithful with the little things, his tools, so he can’t entrust us with the great things, his revelation. We don’t pass the test. In fact, if you’ve been in church for any period of time, you’ve heard lots of messages on giving, not at Valley Creek because we’ve hardly ever talked about it, but you’ve heard messages out there of different things of, you know, “You got to give or you’ll have cursed income or you got to give so you can get. God just wants to buy you, you know, a plane or something. I don’t know. That’s why you got to do it.” Whatever these things are. Okay. Do you want to know the real why?

The real why is this, you want to be a good steward so that he can entrust you with true richness, the revelation of his heart and his kingdom. That’s the why. This right here is what this whole series is built around, this is the pinnacle. If you get this, you’ve got the most important thing in this series. Some of you are like, “Oh, so I don’t have to come back next weekend?”

No, there’s other good things too. But this is it. This is the heart of it. I mean, we all love the Acts 2 church. If you’ve been around you’ve heard that Acts 2, man the first church. There was miracles, people got saved every day. God was just downloading revelation like crazy. We want that. We don’t want it took — we don’t want what it took, we don’t want to do what it took to have that kind of church. Listen, Acts 2:44 and 45, it says, “All the believers were together and had everything in common selling their possession and goods they gave to anyone as he had need.” It was a church full of stewards that released the profound revelation.

You say, “No, that was just a couple of rich people that took care of all their needs.” No, that was everybody. See, regardless of what he has entrusted to me, whatever the lot lines in my life, I’m going to be a steward and it was the individual stewardship that released public revelation into that church. What kind of revelation does God want to release into our family through your stewardship? Good stewards always have great revelation. In fact, they’ll say it to you like this, “Your maturity, your spiritual maturity will never outpace your stewardship.” It can’t. The revelation you currently have is in direct proportion to your stewardship. That’s what Jesus says. And so on the positive side, think of the potential for revelation we have just sitting in this room. Think of it. And the paradox of this whole thing, okay, you ready for this? The paradox of the whole thing is a good steward always ends up with more than even the best owner.

The guys started with a mina and he was rewarded with ten cities. Never in a thousand lifetimes could you take one mina and turn it into ten cities. What you have, you can never turn what you have into what he wants to give you on your own. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Good stewards always end up with more than the best owners. Owners spend their life striving to just barely make it by. Stewards just get to start to receive everything the master wants to give to them. Does that makes sense to you?

So the question then to ask God is, do you have the courage to just say, “God, am I faithful with the little so you can entrust me with the much? Am I being faithful with your tool that you can entrust me with the revelation?” Do you have the courage to ask him that? Because I’m convinced the whole lot of the American church is pegged out on their spiritual journey and won’t grow any deeper because they won’t handle the tools, so they can’t get off the bottom rung.

God says, “Let’s figure out how to use the tool and you can climb to the top gable and see the revelation.” Okay. And the last thing is this, is that the love of the master freeze you from the love of money. Two of the guys love the master and one guy loved money, and the guy that loved money had said he was afraid and that’s what the love of money will do, the love of money will always lead you to a life of fear. Look what Jesus goes on to say, verse 13, “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” You cannot serve both God and money. The Pharisees who loved money heard all of this and were sneering, they were offended at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men but God knows your hearts, what is highly valued among men is the detestable in God’s sight.” Okay. Wow. Can you just say wow?

I mean, think about this for a second, Jesus right there flat out says, “You can’t love God and money at the same time.” He says, “You’ll love one and hate the other. You’ll be devoted to one and you’ll despise the other. You’ll see one is a tool and one is a treasure.” And so the question you might ask then is, “Well, how do I know if my hearts loves money or not?” Well, let’s see, first thing is ask him because really only he knows your heart, ask him, but if you want some metric, some qualifiers, here’s some things you can test. First thing is this is do you worry about money all the time? If you worry about money all the time, you probably love it. Why? Because worry is a form of worship. If I’m worrying about something, I’m playing it over and over again in my mind, that’s what worship is, it’s bringing God up in our mind again and again and again. If you worry about it, you probably love it. The second thing is do you sacrifice for what’s important for it? Are you constantly sacrificing your health, your relationships and your spiritual journey to get more money, then you probably love it. Third thing is, is it hard to be generous? Do you find it really hard to be generous? If it’s hard to be generous, you probably love money because it’s hard to give away something I love.

Fourth thing I would say is, do you think a little bit more of it would take care of your problems and make you happy? Then you probably love it because you think it’s your God, it will bring peace in your heart. Fifth thing is, does it dictate your emotions? When you have a lot of it, is your emotions high and when it’s not going so well are you emotions low, you probably love it. And the last one is this, if you’re offended about when we talk — if you’re offended when we talk about money in church, you probably love money. If you’re offended when it’s brought up here, you probably love it because it’s that bondage in your heart that’s resisting everything that’s being said. Listen, can I tell you something, money is not a good god. He is a hard master and never delivers on his promises. And you say, “So what, we can’t have money? We just need to give it all the way and be poor?” No, there’s a huge difference between money and the love of money. Money is not good or bad. Money is amoral. A dollar bill in and of itself has — is not good or bad, it just is.

It’s our hearts that determine. The same dollar can be used for pornography, idolatry, adultery, greed, lust, jealousy, tearing down, destroying, breaking things apart or that same dollar can be sent over here to build and plant and encourage and bring compassion and comfort and love and joy and peace. The same dollar can be used as a tool to build things up or as a weapon to destroy things and tear it out. And it’s your heart that gives each dollar its purpose. Every dollar in your life has been assigned a purpose by your heart, you send it out from what’s in here. And a steward doesn’t love the tool, they love their master. I mean, do you remember Judas for a second, the guy who didn’t work out all that well.

Do you remember him? Okay. One of Jesus’s 12 disciples. And like Peter, John, James, Andrew, all, Jesus picked Judas. He handpicked Judas and brings him in to become part of the 12 disciples and Jesus gives Judas the money bag.

That’s what it says. And he say, “Okay. Well, wait a second, why does Jesus need money when he’s on this earth?” Well, because Jesus was showing us that money is meant to be stewarded for the master’s glory to build the kingdom of God, that it has a great purpose if we use it that way. So he gives Judas the money bag and what the bible tells us is that Judas stole money from the money bag. He was constantly taking money out of the money bag because he saw himself as an owner not as a steward. So he did what he want with what was in his hand that was entrusted to him by the master. And in my mind, I think every time Jesus did something amazing like walk on the water or feed the 5,000 or raise Lazarus from the dead or the bring the coin up out of the — or the fish up out of the water with the coin in his mouth, I think every time Jesus looked at Judas to say like, “Judas, do you see how great I am? Do you see my love for you is greater than that money? Do you see, I can do more for you than that money ever can? Would you let me love you, Judas, and free you from that love of money?”

And yet Judas never got free from it which is a paradox because if you think about it Judas picked up the baskets full of the extra bread and fish that were multiplied. Judas was in the boat when Jesus calmed the storm, Judas took the wrappings off of Lazarus when he came out of the grave, he did all of that but it didn’t change his heart. And I wonder how uncomfortable it would have been for Judas when he was sitting there listening to Jesus teach this because everything we read today, Jesus said and Judas would have been sitting there listening to it, I think he was probably like, “I need to go to the bathroom, Jesus. I’ll be back in five minutes.”

And the crazy part about Judas is, it says, “Judas actually did miracles with the other disciples.” Judas preached the kingdom, healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, cast out demons, Judas did all of that stuff. And so on the outward he looked like he had it altogether but his heart was still in love with money and he ultimately ended up selling Jesus for 30 pieces silver. Why?

Because you cannot love both God and money at the same time. You will always sell one for the other. And what I want you to see in that is Judas on the outward appearance is everything we would want to be minus like the last couple of chapters.

Up until he’s doing miracles. Judas did more miracles in three years than most of us do in a lifetime. On the outward everything was great but his heart still loved money. So it’s not what your life looks like on the outside, it’s what’s in your heart. And the truth is, I think most of us are like Judas, Jesus has handed us a money bag, he’s given you stuff to steward for his glory and yet if we’re honest, we’re a lot like Judas, we steal from the money bag. You’ll say, “Whoa, whoa. Hang on. I’m not stealing from Jesus.” Every time you use your money as an owner and not a steward you’re stealing from the money bag because he gave it to you for his purposes.

All the while, Jesus is over here doing great things in our lives, looking at us like he did with Judas saying, “Hey, did you see this? Do you see how great I am? I want to set you free. My love for you is greater than that money. What I can do for you is greater than that money. Receive my love and let me set you free.” And the crazy part about loving money is the love of money will always lead you to do something you never thought you would do. There’s no way Judas, day one, thought he was going to sell Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Do you understand in a room like this, there’s people sitting in this room that have done things they never thought they would do for the love of money. So at 1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money, not money, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Many people eager for it, have wandered away and pierced themselves with griefs.” You say, “Jesus is trying to make our life miserable and take the things away.” No, Jesus is trying to save you from piercing yourself with griefs. Because when we love money, our relationships and our health and our life and our peace and our joy and contentment and our destinies are ravaged.

You see, here’s what I want you to get, Jesus says, “The love of money is called the spirit of Mammon.” Jesus defines love of money not just as an action we do, he defines it as a demonic spirit. He says it’s an actual spirit in the demonic realm. He calls it the spirit of Mammon and like any spirit, it’s a spirit that sets itself up against the knowledge and the glory of God. It wants to deceive, it wants to steal, kill and destroy, it wants to tear down everything in your life. He defines it as the spirit of Mammon. And that spirit of Mammon, the love of money is the predominant spirit that exists in the DFW area. It’s the demonic spirit that reigns in this area trying to deceive us and get us to say, “We don’t need Jesus, we need him.” Would you agree with that?

And all you need to do is look around for five minutes in your life and you will realize that this is a city, this is a region that is gripped with the love of money. And the problem with the spirit of Mammon is here’s what it does, he comes to you and he whispers because he’s a demonic spirit, it’s not just a heart posture, he’s a demonic spirit and he whispers to you and he says things like this, he says, “Hey, you’re not a steward, you’re an owner. You have worked way too hard for that. You should spend it on whatever you want. Why would you want to be generous?” Or he’ll come to you and say, “Hey, hey. True richness? What does that even mean?” He’ll say, “What you need is money. Who cares. You’ve already got enough information about God, you need money.” Or here’s what he says. He says, “Hey, you don’t need God, you need me. In fact, if you had just a little bit more of me, you could be your own God.”

And all of a sudden, we live in a region that’s gripped by it. It’s starts turning in our ears and it brings this bondage into our life that starts to absolutely destroy us that’s why we resist talking about it, because it feels uncomfortable to define the very thing that enslaves us. But here’s what I want you to hear, the Holy Spirit in you is greater than the spirit of Mammon around you.

The Holy Spirit’s desire to set you free is greater than the spirit of Mammon’s desire to enslave you. You don’t have to feel hopeless, you don’t have to feel defeated, you don’t have to think, “What are we going to do?” all authority on heaven and earth has been given unto Jesus. He destroys all demonic powers and principalities if we choose to submit ourselves to his lordship. It’s the love of the master that freeze us from the love of money. That’s what the Holy Spirit does, the Holy Spirit brings your attention to Jesus to say, “Look at him, look who he is, look what he’s doing.” And when we see Jesus and start receiving his love for us, all of a sudden we fall in love with him and we quickly fall out of love with money.

You can’t free yourself from the spirit of Mammon, you can submit to his lordship and he will set you free. And so the question again that I will ask you see is do you have the courage to just say, “God, is there a part of my heart I’m even unaware of that loves money because I want to be free?” Listen to me, money is a tool, God is your treasure. And that is very different than the kingdom of this world. Happiness is not found in how much you have, joy is released when you know whose it is. It’s not what you have, it’s when you understand whose it is that joy is released in your life. And a lot of us say, “Man, God wants to take everything away from me.” No, he doesn’t, he wants to give everything to you. The spirit of Mammon, he wants to take everything away from you by promising you everything and delivering on nothing, Jesus wants to give you everything by inviting you to submit to him.

You realize in our story here, the only guy that lost everything in the end was the one guy who loved money. His mina was taken away. The other guys who were good stewards, they got and ten and five cities. Do you know many minas are in ten cities? I don’t either, a lot though.

He’s not trying to take things away from you, he’s trying to give everything to you. Our heart posture should be, I want to live my life to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Steward, come and share in your master’s happiness.” Listen to me, that’s how it says in Matthew, “Come and share in your master’s happiness. Happiness is not found in what you have. True happiness is found in sharing in your master’s happiness with him in his presence.” That’s what Jesus invites you to, okay. So will you close your eyes with me.

And I will totally acknowledge to you how hard that is. I get it. It’s hard because the demonic realm wants to keep you enslaved. And so the question I would ask you is just, “Man, what is the Holy Spirit want to say to you? What is he whispering and inviting you towards?” Listen, if right now you’re feeling offended, you’re resisting, you’re angry, you’re mad at me right now in this moment, okay, that’s the spirit of Mammon trying to keep you enslaved. He’s trying to throw an offense in your way to make you stumble over something that you may not get free from his grip. That’s a warning sign. If you’re here and you’re feeling ashamed, embarrassed, condemned, defeated, fearful, okay, that is the voice of darkness.

Because what the Holy Spirit does is come and he shines light on our bondage and says, “Let’s be free in the name of Jesus. Let’s leave this place with hope and freedom and life and restoration and renewal and a fresh start. God never comes to rebuke and condemn us, he always comes to free and empower us. That’s what grace does. And I believe all weekend, what God’s trying to do in this place is he’s trying to set you free. And so maybe in your own way, can you just have a little bit of confession and repentance, like maybe it’s just, “God, I confess that I’ve lived too much like an owner. Will you teach me how to be a steward?” Maybe it’s, “Lord, I confess that I haven’t been faithful with your tools with the little and that’s why you haven’t entrusted me with much. Would you give me the strength to be a good and faithful servant?” And then maybe in your own way it’s, “God, I repent and confess for having love of money in my heart.”

“I want to fall in love with you Jesus, so will you fill my heart with your love and break the power of the spirit of Mammon off my life, that I may be defined by the Holy Spirit of the living God that brings hope and life and peace and freedom and redemption, not the spirit of Mammon that brings greed and lust and idolatry and all kinds of awful things that destroy our lives. My senses is that some of you, you’re skeptical to all of this. Hey, that’s fine. That’s why I invite you to ask him because who cares what I have to say. What I want you to hear is what he has to say. Will you have the courage and the faith to just ask him about these areas in your life that he may set you free? So Jesus, we celebrate you. We say that you are the good king. You are our master and we are your stewards, we are your servants working with you to bring the rule and reign of God into this world.

Would you give us the courage and the strength to be good and faithful with the little things you’ve entrusted us with that you may entrust us with greater things. God, I’m believing that out of today, freedom is going to come and new revelation is going to pour into our lives so we’re going to know and see the knowledge of the glory of God in our lives. You’re going to entrust us with the lives of people, to lead them closer to you, Jesus. And I’m believing that a whole lot of people got set free from the spirit of Mammon. They are now under the lordship of Jesus Christ and walking in the freedom of the Holy Spirit. So Holy Spirit, will you come and fill this place with your love and with your freedom. In Your Name we pray, amen.

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