January 22, 2018 | This may be the most relevant issue the Bible writes about

Pile of MoneyI don’t think there is a topic written about in the Bible that is more relevant to our personal needs today than the topic of “money”. In fifteen years of ministry, I can tell you that nothing has driven church members to question God’s care for me than when they’ve been in need. I have prayed with numerous Christians who have had more month than money and they’ve wondered how they were going to take care of their family’s needs. Have you been there? Why is that?
 
Jesus gives us this warning in His ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (Matthew 6:24)—“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Notice Jesus didn’t say “You cannot serve both God and the devil”. Why would Jesus say “money”? We live in a money driven society. We need money to survive. But Jesus very clearly draws the line in the sand between God and money. By His comparing “God and Money” as the object of your devotion, He is teaching us that there is no greater competitor with our heart than money.
 
There is a reason that out of the 38 parables that Jesus taught, 16 of them discussed financial management. There is a reason why the Bible speaks more often about matters of money than it does on prayer and love combined. There is a reason why Jesus spoke more about the topic of money than he ever did about heaven or hell. And it is not because God, the church, or your preacher want your money. It is because when it comes to you following Jesus, when it comes to you fully placing your TRUST in God, MONEY is without a doubt the number one competitor for your HEART.
The Apostle Paul gave this warning to a young leader named Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:6-10—“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 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. 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.”
 
Paul encourages Timothy to be content with what he has. Why? Because you’ll take nothing you have with you when you die. Ambition is not a bad characteristic to have. But when ambition gives way to greed in pursuit of “more”, your greed will ultimately lead you into temptation to sin that will cause you destruction and ruin. And then Paul gives this caution to young Timothy — “ the love of money is a root for all kinds of evil”. Paul never warned that money is evil. Money is not the problem. Greed is the problem. And it doesn’t take much money to become greedy.
 
When money becomes the object of your heart rather than God, you are stepping into dangerous territory. When I begin to consider what I can do with my money instead of trusting God’s plan for the money that He has entrusted to me, I am wading into temptation that will ultimately lead to sin.
So consider your finances right now— and honestly ask yourself, am I 100% surrendered to God financially? Am I fully committed to handling my finances God’s way? If not, then you’ll find yourself thinking things like this: “I work hard for my money.” “Well I have bills to pay.” “I can’t afford to give.” “I give God 10%, the other 90%; it’s mine.” “All the Church ever wants is my money.”
 
If you’re finding that you’re arguing with yourself over whether you are financially surrendered to God, then you’re allowing money to compete with God for the throne of your heart. This is not a financial issue— it’s a spiritual issue. And Jesus wants to lead you to complete surrender. Jesus wrapped up this conversation in His “Sermon on the Mount” with this command (Matthew 6:33)—But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” This statement comes on the end of a long paragraph that began with “You cannot serve both God and money.” If you find that you really want to be 100% committed to Jesus, but you’re struggling to let go of the control of your finances, then this is your next step. Put God first. Seek Him first. Not just in your prayer life. Not just with your time. But also with your finances.
 
If you’re not obeying God’s Word with how to handle finances, then change the way you’re handling your finances. And if you don’t know how to handle your finances, then it’s time you learn. And we want to help. Beginning Thursday February 1, we will be hosting a 9-week class called “Financial Peace University”. This is a video based course taught by Dave Ramsey where you will learn the Biblical approach to budgeting, saving, spending, investing, and giving. This class will equip you with the knowledge and the tools to begin putting God first in your finances. If you worry about money…if you struggle with greed…if money competes with God’s place in your heart…you need to sign-up for this class. Don’t put it off. Go online right now and sign-up. Here’s the link.
 
In Christ,
 
Pastor Ashton
 
January 15, 2018 | When happiness is left still wanting…

Most people enter into marriage to achieve happiness. But when happiness is left still wanting, what do married people do? When troubles arise in the relationship, how can one overcome them when the marriage is purposed around being happy?

In his book, “Sacred Marriage” (which I highly recommend), Gary Thomas asks the question, “What if God had an end in mind for marriage that goes beyond happiness, comfort, and desire? What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”

Holiness is the standard that God calls every Christian to. 1 Peter 1:15-16says, “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”

Marriage is one of the most opportune ways God gives believers to become more like Him. For marriage calls us to an entirely new and selfless life!

There is a giant thread running throughout the Scriptures comparing God’s relationship to his people with the human institution of marriage. Marriage models God’s Love for His Church.

In Ephesians 5:21-33 Paul writes by inspiration of the Holy Spirit about the covenant relationship of marriage. And in this description, marriage serves as an illustration for how God loves and relates with His Church. Read what Paul wrote…

Ephesians‬ ‭5:21-33‬
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

The early church father, Augustine, considered three benefits of marriage — offspring (procreate), fidelity (guard against sexual sin), and relationship (union). And he considered this third benefit as the greatest benefit of all. For as long as a couple is married, they will display the ongoing commitment between Christ and the Church. No matter how imperfect we are, simply “sticking it out” is vitally important. Because our faithfulness displays the faithfulness of Jesus to the Church.

In a time in which many are married for self-centered purposes, comforts, expectations, and desires, our world desperately needs a visual illustration of what God’s Love, devotion, and faithfulness with His people looks like — and it’s found in the union of a marriage!

Not only do marriages reveal how God is committed to His Church; but, this relationship also reveals the Gospel. Look again at Ephesians 5:25-27“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

The Gospel is that man can be reconciled with God. Everyday two sinners live together as husband and wife and our differences must be mutually reconciled so that we can continue to live in union with one another.

How do we model the Ministry of Reconciliation in our Marriages? Read what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:16-17, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

So what if my marriage were an opportunity for me to become more like Jesus! What if I were to look ay my wife through the eyes of Christ. I would clearly see that she has a new identity in Christ, just like me. And every day, the good days and the bad ones, are opportunities to walk, talk, love, forgive, and relate like Jesus would.

In Christ,
 
Pastor Ashton

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One Response to “Beyond Sunday”

  1. Nancy perry says:

    Thank you. It’s a pleasure to go to church now.You not only preach from the Bible but also from your heart. If I didn’t know any difference I would think you were Dr Stanley son. I watch him 3 times each week. Keep up the great work and I will be their every Sunday if Lords willing
    God Bless you and your family.

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