Recovery Road: More Than I’ve Ever Had

We’ve all experienced the great recession. Now we’re waiting for the great recovery. But why wait? What if the recovery could start with us? There’s no need to wait any longer.  The great recovery starts NOW.

This week Ted Beasley shared some of the following insights:

“In this series, we have discovered that Jesus doesn’t come to just save your soul. He comes to set you free. And if money is one of your primary worries, if you are flailing in an open sea of debt, if cash is at the root of marital discord or even your distance from God . . . then Jesus comes with freedom.

Mathew 11: ‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’

Jesus says the opposite of faith is not doubt. It’s worry. The opposite of faith is not atheism. It’s striving to solve your own
problems. Just follow my lead in the unforced rhythms of grace, and you will live freely.

We need to get real clear on two numbers: 1. How much we need to make in order meet our expenses and save for the future. And if you don’t know what that number is, I encourage you attend Financial Peace University or do some real planning on your own. But here’s the second number you have to be clear on: 2. How much do we need to feel deeply satisfied, that we have enough. It’s this second number God wants you to wrestle with because you are lied to 24/7/365 of about what will really satisfy you.

According to Scripture, there is a pernicious force in the world that lies to you and says, there is not abundance
in your life. Not only are we tempted with this personally, the world is structured to reinforce this message every day. Romans 12:2: ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’. Paul
says the only way to prevent being locked into that mental prison is to be transformed.

Consider how the brain works. Your perception of reality is created by stored neuro-nets that fire whenever you experience a stimuli from the outside world. Our brains process 3,000 pieces of information per second, but we are only conscious of about 5-7 of them. In other words, all kinds of messages that we encounter during the day, all kinds of old scripts from the past and harmful messages from others that were stored as neuro-nets influence how we see ourselves. How we view others’ perception of us, how we think about God. The god of this age has blinded our minds, Paul says. You have to train your heart to discern the lies.

When we surrender what God has given you back to God,we become transformational. Jesus tells an interesting story about this very subject in Matthew 25. He’s talking here about the kingdom of heaven – living life with the fullness of
God’s rule in your life. Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.

Then the man who had received the one talent (worth about 15 years of salary) came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents’. (14-28)

Three men receive a number. They are entrusted with talents by the master, but only two are faithful. What’s wrong with the third guy? He has three fundamentally flawed ways of seeing the world. They are the same three myths that cause us to be consumed by a number and never really step into the full life God has for us.

Myth #1: I don’t have that much to offer.
How have you responded to the gifts God has given you? Because, just like in Jesus’ story, God, who is a gift-giver has entrusted property to you. As you interpret this parable, in the place of the notion of a talent, you can simply think about your life. All of it is a gift: your physical body, your intellectual capacity, your creativity, your unique abilities, your life
experiences, your victories, your scars, your spiritual gifts, your friendships, your family, your time, your bank account, every possession you have. God generously gave it all to you and he said, ‘Here’s your chance of a lifetime. What are you going to do with it?’

Myth #2: Now is not the right time.
When it comes to doing something of eternal value with their gifts, some people say, “I really can’t give right now, now just isn’t the time.” They make excuses.

If God has spoken to you in any way during this series, if you’ve felt any kind of prompting to maybe check out this Financial Peace University, can’t you see he’s laying a talent at your feet – a spiritual opportunity to live with freedom. Are
you going to be the one just buried it out of fear or apprehension, or in faith are you going to ask God to do something good in and through you?

The master shreds the excuse, and then he gives his appraisal of reality. He said, ‘You’re wicked and lazy.’ Why is he wicked and lazy? Because he did nothing. He buried his talent. Laziness is the sin of unrealized potential. It
is intentionally ignoring God’s calling. Spiritual laziness is a choice of comfort and safety over stepping out in faith.

Myth #3: What difference does it make, really?
The third guy buried his treasure because he never saw the significance of his contribution. He never saw the end game.
The end game is there in verse 19-21. It says the master returns from his trip. And the first servant is glad to see him. He says, ‘Sir, you entrusted me with five talents. While you were gone, I took some risks, and put the money to work. Now look, I have five more talents to give you.’ And it is an amazing moment. The master is blown away, and he puts his hand on the shoulder of that servant and looks him in the eye and says, ‘Well, done, my good and faithful servant.’

Everything you sacrifice now, every risk you take, it will all be worth it on that day when you stand before him, and he says, ‘Well done.’

I observed one of those moments a few years back when I attended a memorial service in the auditorium where Gateway South Campus holds it services at Covington Middle School. The school is named after Weldon and Verna Covington. Verna used to attend Gateway before she passed away. She was this cute little old lady in her 80’s who kind of stood out from the crowd during the early days of Gateway when we were a group of tattooed, pierced, flip-flop wearing hipsters in our 20’s and early 30’s. Every Sunday, there she was a church with a smile on her face. She loved you all, and she loved this church. She and her husband were band directors in AISD for a big part of the last century. They lived the kind of lives of freedom and joy that we’ve been describing in this series. Verna and Weldon earned band teacher salaries. They didn’t succumb to the lies of our culture about buying flashy possessions or impressing people with their appearance. They joyfully worked a plan. Saving a little from each paycheck. Investing wisely. Giving generously whenever God brought a need across their path. Financial freedom isn’t about the big decisions you make, it’s the daily stuff that brings real peace. And because they weren’t consumed with keeping up with Jones’ they were able to follow their callings and touch the lives of generations of students. And God blessed them so much, that by the time they hit their 70’s and 80’s they had amassed a sizeable fortune on teacher’s salaries, and they became big philanthropists in Austin. And it was some of their contribution that made Gateway viable in the early days. So I’ll never forget being at that auditorium in Covington Middle School for Verna’s memorial and here story after story of young people she inspired. Now older men breaking down in tears talking about how she believed in them. Representatives of community organizations that had benefited from their generosity. And as the hodge podge memorial band played made up of members of Verna’ bands over the decade, I’m sure I could hear the voice of the master saying, “Well done. This is a life well-lived. It wasn’t amount a number. It was about an amount of trust in me.’

Ask yourself, ‘What of eternal value and impact am I building with my resources and my talents and my life?'”

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