New Hope Notes
Putting God First
Bless This Mess
Pastor Jon Burgess
Putting God First
Bless This Mess
Pastor John Burgess
May 25 & 26, 2019
Aloha, New Hope! I want you to welcome Gavin Tsuda as we kick off our final message in the Bless This Mess series. Also, it’s Memorial Day weekend so I thought it would be perfect to have Gavin as he not only serves this church as a volunteer 20-30 hours a week, but also serves our country as an infantry officer in the Army Reserves—he just competed 30 years in the Reserves!
Today, we’ll be talking about Putting God First in our Finances. Our wallet is usually the last thing that gets saved for Christ. In fact, Jesus addresses this topic in…
Matthew 6:31-34 NIV says, “31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
This is a perfect verse to have Gavin walk us through some of the challenges that he faced, after two years of returning home from his deployment to Iraq.
GAVIN: Well, when I came back from Iraq, it took me a couple of years to put my business back together; and I was just getting my momentum when I found myself in the middle of a lawsuit! It was financially and emotionally devastating—I had lost everything! It was a very tough time, and I just couldn’t sleep.
I remember going to the marina late one night and thinking, “Man, if I just swim out to the ocean and didn’t come back, this whole thing will just go away.” That’s how low I was. I grabbed my phone, trying to find a message by Pastor Wayne, but the very first video that popped up was ‘Hope Is Alive!” The words: “And I will fix my eyes not on what I see, only to look to you for hope.” That was the Lord’s message to me at that moment; and it got me through that day!
I realized that I had lost hope in the middle of my mess—everything seemed hopeless. On top of that, my baby son, Ricky, became very ill, couldn’t breathe, and almost died. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on so I came here (New Hope Oahu) and went to Community Care. I ran into Pastor Emy Alvarez and I asked her to pray for my son. When she finished, I got a text from Cheryl (my wife) that everything had cleared up, and Ricky was perfectly fine!
Since God had answered that prayer, I asked her to pray about the lawsuit too. She prayed so confidently and said that God would take care of that, too!
It was still a tough time. I remember talking to Pastor Marsha [Kochi] and telling her, “Man, this is so hard.” She told me that I must trust the Lord. I said, “I am.” She said, “Are you really?’’
Pastors really know how to ask questions because when I really truthfully thought about it, I had to admit that I wasn’t fully trusting in the Lord. I had been pressed by the Lord to make some changes in my life that I had been resisting. I had an investment advisor firm that I had spent much time and money to get it to where it was: I was comfortable; able to control everything there; and I wanted to hold onto it! And the Lord was prompting me to let it go!
During this process, one of my clients came to me and said, “I don’t want you working for anybody else. I want you to partner with me.” So I prayed about it, and the blessings that have come out of that partnership allowed me to leave my investment advisor firm!
PASTOR JON: Wow! The power of surrendering your life, son, court, and business to God led you into something you didn’t think was possible when you said, “Yes,” to Jesus!
You heard it folks. Matthew 6 invites us to bring God into the mess of our lives, finances, and struggles. We are invited to surrender. Ultimately, the best place for our finances, plans, and family is in God. He owns it all anyway, so we may as well give up trying to control them.
I mentioned earlier that you have been volunteering in numerous areas here at New Hope; and you thought that, eventually, you would step into ministry. But God sped the clock up a little, didn’t He?
GAVIN: Yes. After I retired from everything, I joined the 24-hour prayer team, and heard the Lord so clearly say, “Leave your nets.”
PASTOR JON: That’s the day you came to see me and I told you that Ken Silva is transitioning out of his executive position, and that I believed you were the person to serve in that position; so I asked you to pray about it. I’m really thankful that you said yes. In fact, will you all welcome our amazing Pastor Ken Silva!
Ken has been overseeing our extension ministries; and much of the outreach and success with our building initiative is a result of his leadership. Ken will continue serving here, but he feels a new season is upon him. Let’s join in prayer for Gavin as he takes this step of faith. He is such a great example of a godly man of character and integrity, and we thank the Lord for bringing him into our midst.
We will look at two practical ways that we can invite God into what is often some of the messiest places in our lives—our finances! How do we truly do what Jesus talks about in Matthew 6? How do we truly put God first in our finances?
1. Prioritizing Eulogy Over Resume
So much of our resume describes our external skill successes: Our economic logic, what makes the world go round, and what would it take to get the things we want, how I can impress the world and be seen. But if we really want to have a good resume: Focus on what you want said about you in your eulogy, and how you would want to live your life. Then you will have a polished resume.
The person giving a eulogy usually talks about character: How the deceased made them feel, their love and respect, and those little moments they spoke into their lives. Eulogies are our virtues, and how we will be remembered—our legacies long after we are gone!
Emphasize Christ’s sufficiency rather than our self-sufficiency. Put God in control of your budget rather than you controlling it. Control is the opposite of what Paul is saying in:
1 Timothy 6:6-10 NIV says, “6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Notice, Paul doesn’t say that money is the root of all evils. Money is not evil. Money is a means to an end. But many have allowed money to have a hold on them when they are not surrendered into the hands of God. It is the love of money that causes us to fall into difficulty. Some people eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves!
The message here is to put God first in these areas: Stop worrying and start trusting. Let God control your life so you can have contentment (it requires that you and I surrender). The more we give, the more we receive (a lot of people laugh at that logic). In the Kingdom of God, we believe that the legacy we leave won’t be one of selfishness, but one of selflessness. We won’t leave a legacy of worry and fear, but a legacy of trust!
It is so easy to get distracted so one of the questions that helps us to really focus on our eulogy is, “If everything was on fire, and you only had time to grab one thing, what would you grab?” In other words, what matters most? Most would grab people because nothing else is coming with us into the next world—only souls!
I was reminded of this when my wife visited Kenwood Vineyards with her family a couple of years ago. One night, I received a text from my wife that there was a large fire that was spreading across the vineyard and she really needed us to pray.
When everyone was sleeping, my wife’s mother-in-law had gotten up to do something, and when she looked out the backyard, a wall of flames was moving rapidly through the vineyards towards the house! In that moment, she ran to my wife and her sister to wake them up, and got everyone out of the house!
In that moment, my wife was forced to answer that very question, because everything would soon be on fire. She ran and gathered her family. They got into the car and all they could see was the wall of flames burning everything behind them!
We reminisced about that night when I thought I might have lost my family, because many people had lost their lives from that fire. It really put things into perspective. Crisis has a way of crystallizing what matters most. Are all the things that we spend so much time worrying and stressing about actually matter? They can all get burned up!
So much of what drives our worries regarding finances is our fear. When I received that text from my wife about the fire, I was so afraid and angry because I couldn’t control anything that was going on over there. Not one thing! I had to trust God, and know that He was in control. I never want to have that fear again, especially when it comes to finances.
That fire had taken away my false sense that I was in control. The truth is, even when there is no fire, I’m still not in control. Some of us need to surrender. We need to let go of our false sense of value and worth. The Lord is asking us to trust Him. The only thing we have is right now. We need to prioritize our eulogy over our resume, but we also need to…
2. Choosing Giving While I’m Living
Don’t wait to give later, or when you have a lot in your bank account to be a generous person. Many people die with a full bank account and an empty life. No one on their deathbed says they wish they could have spent more time in the office—they usually say they wish they had spent more time on relationships they had.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 NIV says, “17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
Don’t put your hope in wealth. He wants to bring you into a new place of enjoyment and freedom that can only come when you and I are no longer held in the grips of fear and worry about money—so we can take hold of the life that is truly life. God wants you to leave a legacy of generosity rather than scarcity.
Let’s surrender our control at the feet of Jesus because so much freedom comes when we surrender. Lay your fears down!