Blessing Up, Knees Down
Sermon outline by Julian Archer, Stewardship Director, South Pacific Division
We don’t hear sermons about money very often, but if Jesus preached every Sabbath, we would often be reminded that our relationship with money and material blessings can be our number one spiritual obstacle. About twenty-five percent of Jesus’ teaching dealt with it. Can you imagine if our preachers focused on the dangers and the right use of money once every month?
*Jesus stands at the door of every person’s heart. He is gently knocking on the heart’s door. He knows that we like to fill our hearts with money and material blessings, but He desperately wants us to open our heart’s door to Him. Are you struggling to open your heart’s door to Jesus because of the material blessings that He has given to you?
*Jesus Himself said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:25).
*In 1789, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, wrote these challenging but powerful words, “Wherever true Christianity spreads, it must cause diligence and frugality, which, in the natural course of things, must beget riches! And riches naturally beget pride, love of the world, and every temper that is destructive of Christianity.”
*Let's read that again as we looch at each step in the process. “Wherever true Christianity spreads, *it must cause diligence *and frugality, which, in the natural course of things, *must beget riches! *And riches naturally beget pride, love of the world, and every temper that is *destructive of Christianity.”
Kaboom! Wow! That’s a dangerous sequence of events, but it can be seen in the lives of individuals, families, congregations, and even whole nations. They get rich, and they walk away from God.
Before we move into Jesus’ solutions for this “faith versus finance” problem, I would like to introduce a lady who is one of my favorite authors.
*Her name is Ellen G. White, and the respected Smithsonian Magazine recognized her as one of “The 100 Most Significant Americans of All Time.” Alongside famous Americans like Neil Armstrong (the first man to stand on the moon), Steve Jobs (founder of Apple Computers), Madonna and Elvis Presley (rock music legends), and Michael Jordan (basketball player), we see Ellen G. White listed too.
*She wrote many books and thousands of articles on the topics of education, health, raising children, spirituality, and much more. In fact, with her books now translated into more than 150 languages, she is the most translated nonfiction American author ever and the most translated nonfiction female author in all of history!
I believe that God gave her the gift of prophecy. She was used by God to give guidance and encouragement to His people in these last days of earth’s history. What a beautiful gift! Ellen G. White wrote lots about money and material blessings. Here’s a paragraph that she wrote about our topic for today.
*“‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock.’ . . . The heavenly Guest is standing at your door, while you are piling up obstructions to bar his entrance. Jesus is knocking through the prosperity he gives you. He loads you with blessings to test your fidelity, that they may flow out from you to others. Will you permit your selfishness to triumph? Will you squander God’s talents, and lose your soul through idolatrous love of the blessings he has given?” (Ellen G. White, Review & Herald, Nov. 2, 1886)
*So here we are, trying to balance our faith and our finances. Often it seems that when our finances and blessings go up, our faith goes down. But then when our bank balance goes down, we get back on our knees, pleading with God for help.
Money up, faith down. Money down, faith up. Is there a balance? Does God give us a solution?
*Let’s turn to Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19–21. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (NKJV).
That’s very simple teaching. God wants us to take our material blessings here on earth and upgrade them to an eternally safe investment in heaven. God wants to upgrade your investments! Jesus invites us to invest His blessings into His work and to trust God to continue to provide our earthly needs.
Yes, we need to keep working hard and earning money to provide food, shelter, and clothing for our families, but we are not to trust in that money. We are to trust in God. And we are called to invest some of our material blessings in the work of heaven, winning souls for the kingdom.
*Let’s look at Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (NKJV).
What is mammon? Yes, that’s right, mammon refers to money and investments, material blessings. Jesus is telling us that it’s impossible to serve money while also serving God.
*Did you know that even Jesus was tempted to focus on material blessings and worldly riches? While He was in the wilderness, Satan tried to tempt Him into sin.
Let’s read about it in Matthew 4:8–11, “Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.”’ Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him” (NKJV).
So, what is the solution? It’s actually very simple and easy to remember.
*As our blessings go UP our ________ must go DOWN. Can you guess the missing word?
*As our blessings go UP our knees must go DOWN. And the more our blessings go UP the more our knees must go DOWN.
*Let’s read that John Wesley quote again. “Wherever true Christianity spreads, *it must cause diligence *and frugality, which, in the natural course of things, *must beget riches! *And riches naturally beget pride, *love of the world, and every temper that is *destructive of Christianity.”
But look what happens when our blessings go up and our knees go down in prayer and thanksgiving. We can change this quote to say:
*“Wherever true Christianity spreads, *it must cause diligence and frugality, which, in the natural course of things, *must beget riches! But now we put Christ at the center of our lives. *And riches lead us to prayer and thanksgiving, *and humble, sacrificial generosity which is part of *true Christianity.”
May God continue to bless us all. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and use His blessings for His glory.
Access the PowerPoint presentation of this sermon here: https://stewardship.adventist.org/april-june-2023.
Astericks indicate where the paragraph is found in the PowerPoint presentation.