The Influence of Materialism

The Influence of Materialism

Scripture: Romans 12:2, 1 John 2:16-17, Luke 14:26-33
Date: 01/06/2018  Lesson: 1
"Materialism is one of Satan’s weapons of choice against Christians. After all, who doesn’t like money and what money can bring us in the here and now?"

It's Your Money! Isn't It? by Edward Reid

It's Your Money! Isn't It? by Edward Reid
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Good morning, friends, and welcome to Sabbath School Study Hour here at the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church. I'd like to welcome those who are joining us, across the country and around the world, for our study time today. Also, of course, the members and the visitors of the granite bay church. Always good to see you week after week, coming early to study the word together. It's an exciting day today, because we're actually going to start a brand-new series of bible studies - our new lesson quarterly - and it's entitled stewardship: motives of the heart.

You might be wondering 'what can we study for thirteen weeks about stewardship?' I kind of looked through the lesson quarterly and saw some of the things that are coming up - very important principles that we're going to be looking at through our study this next thirteen weeks. Today we begin with lesson #1, which is entitled the influence of materialism - so that'll be our study for today. For those of you who are joining us, if you don't have a copy of the study guide series entitled stewardship: motives of the heart, you can go to the Amazing Facts website - just amazingfacts.org - download lesson #1 - and that's what we're studying today - and you can study along with us or you can visit a seventh-day adventist church in your area and you can ask them for the lesson quarterly and you can take that home and study with us here and then, during the week, you can do your lesson as well. We do have a free offer that goes along with our study today, entitled culture and the Christian. This is free to anybody in north America, just call our resource phone line, that's 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #143.

We'll be happy to send this to anybody in north America. Outside of north America, just go to the Amazing Facts website. You can type in the name culture and the Christian. You can read the book for free right there online. Well, before we get to our study this morning, we want to begin by lifting our voices in song.

I'd like to invite our song leaders to come onstage. As we were practicing today, I was thinking, 'what a privilege it is for us to be able to gather together under one roof or across the planet and around the world to sing together and to study together God's word and to be like-minded. The bible encourages us to be like-minded and to worship together. We're going to sing about that today - hymn #8 we gather together - we're going to sing all three verses so I invite you - those of you that are home - pull out your hymnals and sing along. You know, this world is a mess and, as we were singing that, I was also thinking what assurance that we have: no matter what we're going through, no matter how dim and how dark life seems, we have a defender in our corner that is about to come and rescue us.

And I'm so grateful for that this morning. Let all the world in every corner sing. And I know that all around the world we are singing together hymn #9 - right - the next page - let all the world in every corner sing - so let's sing. Very soon we are going to look up and say, 'lord, there is my king I've been waiting for.' Amen? I pray that that's what is in your heart every moment of every day. At this time, Pastor Ross will have opening prayer.

Let's bow our heads for prayer. Dear Father in heaven, thank you, once again, for the opportunity to gather together and open up your word to study this important lesson, for where our treasure is, that's where our heart will be also. And we want to make sure our hearts are in heaven. So bless our time together as we look at these important principles, we pray, father, as we study, we will sense your presence and your leading in our lives. In Jesus' name we pray.

Amen. Amen. Our lesson today is going to be brought to us by Pastor Doug. Where is Pastor Doug? (Laughs) just as he was inviting me up I thought, 'oh, microphone, turn it on. Sometimes I get up here and I forget my battery.

Morning. Morning. Happy Sabbath. Welcome everybody. This is one of those times in the year where we - we live in a paradox - we're living in the future - because at the time this is broadcasting for most of the people watching us - some are watching live online right now - but, for most people that are watching this, this is broadcasting in 2018.

And we're beginning a new quarterly I'm very excited about, but people see - we still have our winter decorations behind us and so we're kind of living in the future a little bit right now. Because of the way that it takes time for us to edit these programs for the satellites and the stations that carry it - not only do they edit it, we type in closed captioning, we send it off - it takes like two - three weeks - so we always are studying the lesson about three weeks in advance of the rest of the country and so that's the reason for that. But we are beginning in a brand-new lesson dealing with stewardship and so I'm very excited about that. Some of you heard Pastor Ross announce that we're going to start being a little more interactive. We'll take some scriptures from the audience here, but we're also going to be taking some questions that people may send in and you can do that - well, you can go to the Doug Batchelor Facebook page and just type in questions you have about the lesson - not just general, across the board bible questions - and you can find the lessons online.

Today's lesson is lesson #1 in our new quarterly dealing with stewardship. I'm actually excited about this because it's going to be talking about, you know, there's two things you really give an account of in the judgment, one is, 'what do you do with the time that God gave you?' - Your life - and the other is 'what do you do with the stuff God gave you?' And so we're going to be talking about the stuff for the next thirteen weeks and our faithfulness in what we do with the things that God has given us. Stewardship: motives of the heart - and today we're on lesson #1 - the influence of materialism - and we have a memory verse. The memory verse is Romans chapter 12, verse 2, and if you'd like to say that with me, that'd be great. Are you ready? Romans 12, verse 2 and this is from the new king James version in your lesson, "and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

" The Lord is calling on us all to be transformed. Now, how much stuff is too much? I remember I was driving up highway 101 years ago and I saw a man hitchhiking, and I periodically pick up hitchhikers, and the man was wearing a - a kind of a faded white robe - had long hair and a beard - and he was barefoot. And I knew right away - I said, 'this is going to be interesting.' So I pulled over and I picked him up and he climbed in and we drove along a little bit and I don't remember how, but he found out I was a Christian - maybe he asked what I did or I sometimes have a bible, but he said, 'so you're a Christian?' I said, 'yeah.' And then he said, 'well, why are you wearing that dead cow on your feet?' He was talking about my leather shoes - and I said, 'well, I don't know, I guess I bought them and I put them on my feet.' I don't know what I said - and he said, 'are you a Christian?' I said, 'I'm a Christian, yeah.' I said, 'are you a Christian?' 'I'm a Christian, yeah.' He says, 'but I don't touch anything dead. We don't wear anything leather - I don't even wear a leather belt.' He says, 'we don't want to kill anything.' Well, he reeked of marijuana (laughter) and - don't ask me how I know that, but I - I - I know what it smells like - and I said, 'well, you're a Christian?' - He said, 'yeah.' I said, 'am I mistaken or have you been smoking?' He said, 'yeah, it's the herbs - all these herbs that God gave us.' (Laughter) and it was just really interesting to me, but he, you know, he said, 'oh, we've forsaken everything.' And then he asked me for a donation because he said, 'i live by faith.' And I didn't feel impressed to give him a donation because he was going to use my donation to go buy pot so he could have dreams and visions (laughter) and - but, you know, I had to admire him, he was just kind of living with nothing. You know, Jesus sent out - and he quoted that verse in the bible where Jesus said to the disciples, 'don't take a staff in your hand; don't take a purse with you, but just go in faith and go out and preach and, you know, whatever house you enter they'll - eat what things are set before you' - and they really lived by faith on those missionary endeavors.

Now, you read, later in the bible, that the apostles did take some resources with them when they went. It wasn't a universal statement. He was helping them develop faith when he first sent out the twelve, and he later sent out the seventy; he said, 'watch how God provides for you. Don't take anything with you. You trust me.

' But later you see when the apostles went out on their missionary endeavors, that, you know, some of them worked along the road and probably Peter did some fishing along the way and Paul did some tent making, but how much stuff is too much? Are we living in a very materialistic world today? Yes. And so, our first lesson is talking about the God of this world and, according to the book affluenza - this is a book written about the affluence in America - Americans spend more, annually, on shoes, jewelry, and watches than we do on higher education. Even the phrase 'the American dream' alludes to owning a house, a car, vacation, retirement - it doesn't talk so much about freedom anymore. So what is the God of this world - who is the God of this world? How did he get to be the God of this world? Remember the devil said to Jesus, 'fall down and worship me; all this is mine. You died to save the world? You don't have to die to save it, I'll give it to you - it's mine.

' And Jesus said, 'the prince of this world comes and he has nothing in me.' And so, even Jesus recognized that the devil, sort of, kidnapped or hijacked this world. God made the world, he gave it to Adam; Adam was to be the steward of this planet the bible says whoever you obey, that's whose servant you are. When Adam and eve chose to obey the word of the devil when he said eat the forbidden fruit, instead of the Word of God, they surrendered the dominion of this world to an enemy, and the planet from that time until the cross, was hijacked by the devil. People know that this life is short. If you don't have Christ, you don't have eternal life - that means this is the only life.

And so, the attitude of people who think they're living a temporary life is get all the gusto you can, now - have as much pleasure - it's very hedonistic - have as much pleasure as you can now because this is it. Acquire as many things as you have - it's not about how many people you serve, it's how many people serve you. It's not about storing your treasure in heaven, it's storing your treasure here. An this is the philosophy of the God of this world. And - but how does a Christian balance that? Is God asking us to do like that fellow I picked up hitchhiking? Just get a white robe - he didn't even have sandals, he was barefoot - and just go around, depend on the generosity of everybody else - don't own anything? Or - you know what prosperity preaching is? It's a - it's a theme of theology that a number of pastors and ministries have claimed, it's basically, you know, you speak God's blessing and that you're supposed to - God shows that you have faith by, you know, you are blessed and you have lots of possessions - and they point to job and they point to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who were wealthy and Solomon - and they say, 'they had faith and God blessed them and if you have more faith, you'll have more blessings' - and it's all about - it's really a very selfish form of theology, you know, how much stuff can you - you've heard of 'name it and claim it'? Or they call it 'blab it and grab it' - you just say it and it's yours - you just have faith and - that's the other extreme - so you get Christians that go around in white robes that have nothing - I met a Christian family and he really did live from faith.

He was a little more normal - he had a bus - him and his family - home-schooled the children. He drove around, he preached and he'd meet people that would just give him offerings to keep preaching. It was a little more stable theology - and I studied with him for days - he actually hung around with us for a few days and there were some things we couldn't agree on, but how far does it go? How much should you have? How much stuff is too much? What's the attitude of this world? Should we love money? I'm asking a lot of rhetorical questions just to get you to think. And, by the way, if you think of any questions connected with this lesson, send them to my Facebook page. We've got people in the back that are looking at them live.

The last ten minutes we'll take some of those questions. Ecclesiastes 5, verse 10, "he who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This is also vanity." Have you ever heard people say, 'I've got just enough money now'? Not too many. A lot of people, when they get - someone asked nelson Rockefeller - he was very wealthy - you've heard of the Rockefellers? And they said, 'how much money does it take for a person to be happy? And his answer was 'a little more.' (Laughter) it's always a little more. Do you ever find billionaires say, 'okay, I've got enough.

' Has bill gates stopped working? Has - what it is, jeff bezos, who owns amazon, I heard he passed up bill gates - has he stopped working? You'd think after 50 billion you'd say, 'you know, I think I'll do something else now. I'll become a philanthropist and just give it all away.' But no, there's just - there's a drive there to get more and more. Then you've got that verse 1 John 2:16 and 17, "for all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes," - this is talking about possessions - "and the pride of life - is not of The Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it;" - and all the things of it - "but he who does the will of God abides forever." What happens to our stuff? Jesus said, 'thieves break through and steal, moth and rust does corrupt' - moths used to be a bigger problem than they are today, but I was very sad to find - I looked in my closet and I opened the closet and I was very suspicious when I saw some little bitty moths fly out. And, you know, if you have wool suits - moths don't like polyester - and I had my favorite suit in there and I pulled it out and there was a hole in the back - it was eaten - it looked like a little cigarette burn - just eaten a little hole out of it and I thought 'agh!' I went to the tailor and he tried to patch it and it probably hid it for most people, but I always knew it was now a hole-y suit.

Moths do corrupt. So you've got the pride of life, the lust of the eyes - it's not just talking about, you know, physical lust, it's talking about craving things - coveting things. I've got a coupon. Some of you know there's a new sporting goods store that's opened up where 'sports authority' used to be. It's called 'dick's sporting goods' and I'm in the neighborhood so they sent me a coupon.

So I went and I was walking through the store and a gal who works there stopped me and she said, 'can I help you find something?' I said, 'i don't know what I'm looking for,' I said, 'but I know if I spend fifty dollars I get ten off and I'm sure you have something here that is going to bring me lasting happiness.' And she started laughing. So she said, 'yeah' - she said - I said, 'where's your racquetball department?' I said, 'there must be something that's going to bring me true happiness here because I've got a coupon.' So I did end up - I had to spend forty to save ten. But do you think that's going to bring us lasting happiness? Is it stuff? Materialism. Someone's going to read for me, in a moment, Mark 8:36 - okay, we'll start at this end. I'm going to read Luke - parable - Luke 14:26 - it's actually not a parable.

Jesus said, "if anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." Now, the word 'hate' there doesn't mean you've got - 'alright, lord, I'm going to start hating everybody in my family and then I can follow you.' What he meant was, 'I'm going to value less than him.' - "And whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it" - now we we're involved in a pretty significant building program here at granite bay - partnering with Amazing Facts - this 'word' center and we spent a couple of years doing a capital campaign and looking at the financing and everything before we launched, because this verse haunted me - that we might take off and build and not be able to finish. And you have to have a mixture of faith and also you need to be prudent too - otherwise people begin to mock, "saying, 'this man began to build and was not able to finish'? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace." He said, 'look, we can't win this war.' He does an accounting first. So you need to do some accounting in life, right? So you better make peace because we're not going to win. - "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.

" Whoever doesn't forsake all cannot be my disciple. Go ahead, manjeet, I'm going to have you read your verse and then I'll comment on that. "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?" Yes, and what will a man give in exchange for his soul? At least one of the apostles was an accountant. Some people like working with Numbers and some don't. I'm one of those - I don't.

You've heard me say before - I don't tease, I really am dyslexic. I mean, it was a struggle through school and, if I dial a phone number, I have to look at a seven-digit number three times when I dial it. I can get the first two Numbers I dial, then I'll get three more Numbers, then I'll do, like, the last three Numbers - and it's just - Numbers are a struggle for me. An address - just remembering Numbers. If you start a bible verse - you start telling me the words in a bible verse, I can often finish it - so I know my bible, but the chapter and verse I sometimes struggle with.

And so, Numbers are a struggle. Karen - she loves Numbers. She does accounting and she likes - did she comment? Yeah, there she is - yeah, she likes Numbers. She plays that sudosoduku game when, you know, you've got all these Numbers and they add up and I'm just like - that, to me, would be torture. And she likes games like dominoes, where they add up, you know, all the Numbers have to add up.

But Jesus had one accountant - Matthew, at least - he may have had others - judas liked to count too. 'One for you, two for me.' That's how judas counted. But a good shepherd counts his sheep and it is appropriate for Christians to take account. And, if you're going to launch off on an expedition of being a Christian, Jesus says 'count the cost.' You need to be willing to let go of everything. When you begin the journey, you really need to let go of everything and put it in God's hands.

Now, he may give back to you as you need it, and you just realize you're a steward. Remember, a man said, 'lord, what must I do to have eternal life?' He said, 'good master, what must I do?' He said, 'why do you call me good? None is good but one and that is God. But if you would enter into life, keep his commandments.' He said, 'which ones?' Thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, honor your father and mother, don't covet - he didn't mention that one, but that was his problem. He said, 'oh, all these I've kept from my youth up.' Jesus said, 'one thing you lack, go sell everything you have, give it to the poor; you'll have treasure in heaven. Take up your cross and follow me.

' Now, is The Lord asking every believer to liquidate? Probably not, but why would Paul later say, 'those of you who are rich, don't forget to minister to the needs of the church.' Well, if you do it all at once, you can never minister anymore, right? And so the bible talks about using wisdom. But every believer really puts everything on the altar when you first come to The Lord. It's a hundred percent commitment to be a Christian is what Jesus is saying. It's your time - it's your life - all belongs to him. So you've got to be careful and guard against materialism.

A lot of people fall into that trap. Philippians 3, verses 7 and 8, Paul said, "but what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I counted all things loss" - everything is a waste - "for the excEllence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain" - what? Christ. Christ. For Paul, things were not where it's at.

It was Christ. You know, there's a good quote in your lesson from the book education, "when Christ came to the earth, humanity seemed to be fast reaching its lowest point. The very foundations of society were undermined. Life had become false and artificial." - Sounds like today - "throughout the world, all the systems of religion were losing their hold on the mind and the soul. Disgusted with fable and falsehood, seeking to drown thought, men turned to infidelity and materialism.

Leaving eternity out of their reckoning, they lived for the present." And the Romans and their hedonism and their orgies - and that all had to do with just try to grab all of the pleasure you can now and all the materialism and the love of money. So, do you own some stuff? Does your stuff own you? Are you afraid to go anywhere because someone might break in and steal? Some people can't go on a mission trip because of their stuff. And, in America, many people can't go on a mission trip because of their pets. It's true. They say, 'i can't go anywhere.

I've got to stay home and take care of my little schnauzer.' I - we've got dogs and we've got cats - I mean, you know, I'm not against that, but you've got to really say, is God's kingdom first for you? Filling your barns - that's the next section. When it comes to materialism, is there any nation that has surpassed what we're seeing in the united states right now? We define our lives by how much stuff we have - social status by how much money we make - what we own, what we wear, where we live - does happiness come from the abundance of things a man possesses? What does Jesus say? A man's life does not consist in the abundance of things that he possesses. It's really what possesses you. Does The Lord possess your heart? That's where happiness comes from. So, I preached a sermonette and I didn't even get into the points on that study.

Luke 12:15 - here's the point in this section: "take heed" - Jesus said - "and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." And he shares a parable: "the ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, 'what shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' So he said, 'i will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.''" - Be happy - do it all right now - "but God said to him, 'fool!'" - He addresses him with one word - "'fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.'" Now, whether The Lord tells you that very day you make that decision, or a week later, what profit is it if you gain the whole world and you lose your soul? And instead, The Lord blessed him with abundance and, instead of thinking 'God has given me this windfall that I might bless others,' he said, 'oh good, I'll keep it all for myself. But I don't have room for it all. I'll build bigger barns to keep it all for me.

' And God said, 'look, I have blessed you with an abundance that you might be a channel of blessing for others. See, when God blesses you with material things, God wants us to be a blessing and allow those things to flow out to others, amen? Amen. Do we need to guard - even Christians - against the danger of becoming possessed by things? God told the children of Israel, when he brought them into the promised land - Deuteronomy 8:10, 'when you enter in and you get these houses you didn't build, and when you get vineyards you didn't plant, and when you get to eat from - drink from wells you did not dig, - "when you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless The Lord your God for the good land which he has given you. Beware that you do not forget The Lord your God by not keeping his commandments, his judgments, and his statutes which I command you today, lest - when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget The Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;'" - we forget that we've been saved. I read once where, in the spirit of prophecy it says that sometimes the devil will cast abundance in a person's path to destroy them.

And Benjamin Franklin said more people are destroyed by abundance than want. Poor people know their need of God, but more people, franklin said, are destroyed by abundance than want. And so, here we are living in the most abundant country in the world - isn't that a troubling thought - that we might get to the place where we think we don't need God - we've got the American dream. We've got - you know, even those on welfare in our country, they've got cell phones, right? Most of them have cars - I mean, we figure what used to be luxuries, we figure those are the necessities now. And so, just the standard of living has really changed.

Luke 16:19, "there was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and...{Fared sumptuously every day." - You know that parable of the rich man and Lazarus? I don't have to read it all to you. You've got this paradox - you've got this rich man, he's got everything in the world, lives in a palace, best clothes, best food - poor beggar lays at his gate, doesn't have anything - he wants the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table. They both die. Where does the rich man end up? Hades, the greek place of torment. Where does the poor man end up? He's in Abraham's bosom - the jewish place of reward.

And Jesus is saying there's a big reversal of fortune here. So, being blessed with an abundance and materialism in this life is not a sure sign that you will be blessed in the next life. Matter of fact, isn't it James that says, 'woe rich man, howl and weep for your riches that'll stand in judgment against you because you were surrounded with so many poor you didn't care about.' I'm paraphrasing here. So we need to be - we need to be sensitive to that. Alright, the allure of materialism - now, it's not your fault.

We are victims, right? I mean, aren't we bombarded with advertising? We can't help it. How much money is spent by madison avenue to advertise stuff? Billions and billions, so it's not our fault, we're victims. The advertising world is powerful. Companies - I'm saying that tongue in cheek, sorry - companies spend billions of dollars putting their images of products before us, telling us 'you're never going to be happy unless you really have this product. And real satisfaction is going to come from this thing or this cream, or whatever it is that they're selling, and we feel dissatisfied - see, the advertising is designed to make you feel dissatisfied unless you have this - dissatisfied with the way you look, dissatisfied with the food you eat, dissatisfied with the clothes you wear until you have their clothes.

So that's what the advertising's all about, and what it does is it - it breeds a culture of materialistic people that think that having - what is materialism? Maybe we should look at a definition. A preoccupation with possessions and believing that owning products brings happiness and success. Is that true? It doesn't bring happiness. Jesus said, 'if your eye is single' - Matthew 6:24 - 'your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.' What are you focusing on? And that's why he goes on to say, 'you cannot serve God and money.' What is your focus? Is it on things, is it down here, or is it up there? Someone's going to read for me and then we're going to take some questions from our listeners. Someone's going to read Daniel 4, verse 30 - in just a moment.

Remember what king Nebuchadnezzar did? He was on top of the world and he thought he had everything that would bring lasting happiness - go ahead, read that for us - Daniel 4:30. "The king spoke, saying, 'is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?'" He had everything - palaces and treasures, and possessions, and land, and clothes, and food. He had it all and, as the sun went down, he looked from his balcony on this glittering empire and said, 'ah, it's mine. I'm king of the world!' And what happened? God spoke to him in a moment and he became a raving beast and they had to send him out in a muddy field where he ate grass like an ox. He lost it all.

Like that rich man with the barns, you can lose it like that. Did job lose it all at once? Yeah, so we've got to guard against materialism. Some people will lose it all through death. Nebuchadnezzar got a second chance. Job got a second chance.

We don't want to wait to say, 'lord, are my things possessing me or do I possess them?' We want to know. So, Pastor Ross? There he is. Oh, we've got some questions that came in, maybe some from those who are viewing this live stream program or from our Facebook page. We did, Pastor Doug. This is kind of fun.

We get to interact with those who are viewing and I think, later on - maybe not at this program, but maybe in some future studies, we can take some questions right here from those of you in our church sanctuary. You know, Pastor Doug, I think we've got the questions typed up, so we're going to try and put them on the screen so we can read through those questions. If they're not quite ready with the questions, I have them here in my hand, so we can still go ahead - there we go - that's our first question. The question is: 'should we buy things we don't need when there is so much need in the world?' Good question. Let's face it, we buy some things we don't - they're not needs, they're really wants.

So many people have needs that are not met, should you feel guilty every time you buy something, that it's just really a desire of your heart? My answer would be that a Christian needs a balance. I think it was wesley who said, 'you should earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.' This week I got a check I did not expect. My first reaction is, 'oh good, I can go out and buy that guitar I wanted.' It wasn't enough for the guitar, but it would go towards it. Then the Holy Spirit said, 'doug, that's pretty selfish. As soon as you get some extra money, instead of thinking about people that don't have any, you think about you.

' Well, you're that way too. We're all naturally kind of selfish, but the Holy Spirit got ahold of me and it said, 'maybe you should pray and say, 'God, how can I at least give half of this to someone else?'' And so, I'm not - I'm not the Holy Spirit. The Lord may impress you differently. But when I get a windfall like that I think, 'you know, I shouldn't keep it all for myself.' Just another example. Sometimes, this time of year, people send nice gifts to Amazing Facts.

Businesses we work with, you know, sometimes they send a little Christmas basket or something like that and, typically, you know, sometimes they'll give it to me - it'll say 'to Pastor Doug' - I take it to the office and I say, 'here, cinnamon rolls' - whatever it was that they sent us, you know? And other times we take it home - Karen, this week, we re-gifted things that I didn't feel it was right that I should keep it. And so, we went around to our neighbors, we said, 'here.' And we gave them some of the treats and things that people had sent the office because, you know, I think that you ought to always be thinking, 'how can I give it away?' When God blesses. So there's a balance. But I'm still hoping to get a guitar. (Laughter).

Alright, the next question that we have - no, let me give you a scripture - psalm 37, "he shall give you the desires of your heart." It's not wrong to have a desire and get something nice. Okay, the next question that we have is, 'why do we call offering for mission a work - a sacrificial gift when we don't see many people actually sacrificing to give?' Good question. Most of the giving - not all - most of the giving that's done in churches in north America does not require a sacrifice. How would you define a sacrificial gift? When you give - and, because of your gift, you have to be denied of something yourself, that's a sacrifice. Most people, when they give, they will drive the same car, eat the same food, sleep in the same bed - they'll wear the same clothes - they don't really experience any loss.

There might be a different digit in their bank account - it might be a little lower, but there's really no sacrifice. And so, a sacrificial gift means you give so that it hurts you a little bit in some way - there's some self-denial involved. That's a real sacrifice. Most people don't give that way. Do you know, poor people, statistically, give a greater percentage of what they have than rich people? Okay, the next question that we have is 'what is living sacrifice - what is a living sacrifice and what does that look like, practically?' Okay, we're to present ourselves a living sacrifice - and this is in the lesson - Romans chapter 12.

Well, first of all, it's like when Paul said, 'it's not I that live but Christ that lives in me and the life that I now live, I live by the faith of The Son of God who gave himself for me. I am crucified with Christ.' It means that every day you say, 'i die daily. I'm not going to live for myself. Lord, what would you have me to do?' In how you spend your time, in how you spend your means, in the words that you speak, you say, 'i want my life to be a sweet-smelling savor to God.' A sacrifice, they would actually burn it on the altar and God called it a sweet-smelling savor. You ever smell a barbecue? It still smells good to me - I don't eat it, but (laughs) - so, you know, it means our lives are to - by the lives we live - the obedience, the decisions we make - are going to bring glory to God.

The next question we have is a practical one; I think a lot of people ask this question. It says, 'I'm on a limited budget, should I pay tithes and offerings before I pay my other bills? Good question. You know, often Christians are criticized by secular people; they say, 'you tell these poor people they've got to give a tenth and they barely have enough for themselves. You greedy religious people.' You know, Jesus saw a woman come into the temple - rich people made a big spectacle - they'd blow the trumpet and put a gift in and everyone would applaud. And this one widow came up and she put in two mites and then she tried to sneak away and Jesus said to the disciples, 'you see that widow, she just put in more than everybody else because she put in everything she had.

' Now, did Jesus run up to her and say, 'don't do that, that's the dumbest thing in the world you could do. You should at least keep fifty percent - put in one mite.' Or did he bless her and commend her for her sacrifice? So the question is asking, 'should we still pay our tithe - one tenth - when we are struggling? God says, 'prove me and see if I don't open for you the windows of heaven.' He doesn't say 'prove me if you've got everything else covered.' Prove me when it really is a sacrifice. And I remember, years ago, when I was in the firewood business and I would work all day and get sixty dollars for a cord of wood, then I had to buy gas for my truck and my saw and groceries and there wasn't a lot left and I'd say, 'six dollars is tithe.' But I would pay it. And, you know what? He kept blessing. That's right.

And now I've got the problem where we don't have enough storage for all the stuff that we've got. Some of you have that problem. Okay, the next question that we have: 'does wanting to be successful financially conflict with the idea of not loving the world? Well, what's the opposite of wanting to be successful financially? Wanting to be a financial failure? Is there virtue in a Christian saying, 'I'm a Christian. I must fail financially.' So, if you're going to decide how you want your finances to be, do you want to be a success or a failure? Now, loving money's a different thing, but Christians should - doesn't the bible talk about investing? Doesn't Jesus commend the stewards that invested wisely? Doesn't he condemn the steward that did not, at least, put it in the bank and get interest? So Christians ought to be prosperous. I think, you know, The Lord really blessed America because the Americans started out with a protestant work ethic of being frugal, saving, and making wise investments.

And the country, under that ethic, was booming. The Lord blessed the jewish people in many ways. In many countries, wherever they go - some of these biblical principles of being industrious and being frugal, they prosper. And so, there's nothing wrong with wanting to make good investments, just don't be stingy and hoard it all. You should be willing to share.

Not only tithes and offerings, but with the poor - be generous. The next question that we have, 'how do I calculate my tithe? Is it on my gross or on my net income? Do you pay tithe on the net or on the gross? It depends. Now, when you get your paycheck, depending on where you work, there are deductions that are made before you ever get it. And they may deduct social security. You can choose for yourself.

If you're going to live long enough to get your social security - if you pay tithe on your gross when you first get your check, then you don't have to pay tithe on the social security later, because they're just paying you back what you've already paid tithe on. Do you understand? But when they take out your taxes, are you supposed to say, 'well, I'm only supposed to pay tithe on what I netted after they took away my taxes. Taxes are a bill of life. If you said, 'i only pay tithe after I buy my groceries' - well, groceries are a bill. If you say, 'i only pay tithe after I buy everything I want.

' Well, there's no tithe left. And so, you should pay tithe on your increase. Your taxes are a bill that every citizen pays for the roads and all the wonderful politicians you get and things like that. So, I think taxes is part of your increase and it's a bill we all pay. Alright, we've got two more questions to go.

By the way, if you're wondering, 'do I net, gross, net' - do as much as you can and you'll find you can't out give God. Don't say 'how little can I do?' Do as much as you can and see if God blesses you. Okay, next question - our second to the last - 'how does a hotel owner keep the Sabbath?' That's a good question. Amazing Facts actually had to grapple with that. Somebody, in their will, left us a third ownership in a hotel.

And we sat down and we thought, 'well, they're open Sabbath - they're making money on Sabbath. What do we do about that?' We pondered that and we talked to some theologians and they said, 'do you own controlling interest?' We said, 'no.' They said, 'well, then you're not responsible. The Sabbath command says, 'the stranger within your gates' - in other words, if you own the gates then you control what happens on Sabbath. For instance, if you own - if you have money in a bank, do you know the banks may invest in hotels that are open on Sabbath, but you don't have controlling interest in that - you can't control that. And so, I don't recommend that Sabbath keepers go into the hotel business if you're wanting to keep the Sabbath.

That doesn't mean that there aren't Sabbath keepers in that business but, you know, you might struggle with that. Obviously, there are people that might need hotels on Sabbath if they're traveling. And so, that is kind of an interesting question. I didn't give a very good answer, did i? Well, I would try to stay away from a business that you have everybody working on Sabbath if you don't have to be in that business. If you own part interest - a fragment of a hotel company, it doesn't mean it's a sin of you don't control what's - they're doing.

Nothing unethical about a hotel, right? How many of you stayed in hotels? (Laughter) okay, how many of you have stayed in a hotel on a Sabbath? Okay, our final question then, 'with so many needs in the world, does my gift really make a difference. Yes. Think about that widow we just talked about, who gave her two mites. How much money has come into the treasury of God, because of her example, over the lasts two thousand years? Billions - I'll be you - easily billions of people have been inspired by the faithfulness of that unnamed widow - we don't even know her name - who said, 'you know, I love God and I want to give everything.' And, because of what she did, so many - a river of funds have flowed into the treasury. So, he that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.

You be faithful with the little you have and God will bless the rest, amen? Amen. Alright, Pastor Ross, I think - do I have time to finish a couple points? You've got, yep, five minutes to finish up. I want to see if I can cover a couple more points in our lesson here that we were just talking about. So we talked about love for self and where does selfishness or self-love originate? Satan. The devil.

He said, 'i will be like the most high.' 'Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty. You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.' It says, 'every precious stone was your covering.' He was really into the Christian jewelry back then - lucifer - the ultimate futility of materialism. Joshua 7:21 - you remember when achan - he coveted. He saw, among the spoils of jericho, a Babylonian garment and 200 shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels - it says, "I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver.

.." - What happened to achan? Did he benefit from that covetousness or did it end up being - it destroyed him. He had to have it. You ever feel 'I've got to have it'? And even though he was commanded not to touch it - people who say, 'I'm getting ahead by keeping the tithe' - do they get ahead? Or does God say, in Malachi, 'if we rob God, God withdraws his blessing and the locusts devour what you have and thieves break through and steal' - and there's all kinds of plagues. When the children of israel were faithful, did their shoes last longer? Yes. Did their clothes last longer? Yes.

I was just talking to a brother this week and I said, 'you know, I've just found, over time, that The Lord seems to bless.' Karen and I had a refrigerator that we bought with our house, and it lasted - we don't know, it may have been in the house 20 years before we bought it and it lasted the 20 years we had the house. And, you know, God sometimes just makes your things last. Matter of fact, our refrig up in Covelo, it's 30 years old. And so, you know, God sometimes just blesses your stuff. He says, 'I'll rebuke the devourer for your sakes.

' Making things last longer. Have we learned you can lose everything all at once? Did that happen to job? What was job's response? Go to job 1, verse 20, "then job arose and tore his robe, and shaved his head;" - after he lost everything - "and he fell to the ground and worshipped, and he said: 'naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and The Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of The Lord.'" You could lose everything and still bless God. Solomon says the same thing. Now solomon knew about stuff.

He said, in Ecclesiastes 5:14, "but those riches perish through misfortune; when he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand. As he came from his mother's womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; and he shall take nothing from his labor" - you never see a hearse pulling a u-haul, do you? Not very often. You cannot take it with you. Job 31, verse 24, he also says there - now someone's going to read, for me, in a moment 1 Peter 2:9 - in job 31:24 he says, "if I have made gold my hope, or said to fine gold, 'you are my confidence'; if I have rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because my hand had gained much...this also would be an iniquity deserving of judgment, for I would have denied God who is above." Now job was very rich, but he said, 'gold is not my hope. I've not rejoiced because my wealth was great.

' His happiness did not come because of the abundance of things. Go ahead, read, for us, 1 Peter 2:9, please. "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;" amen. You know the priests back in bible times, they were to live of the offerings of the people. They did not get a possession in the promised land.

Did you know that? The other twelve tribes - the priests were really a thirteenth tribe, you might say - the levites - the other twelve tribes, they all got a certain territory. The priests, they were given some suburbs to live in, but they did not get an inheritance because they were to consider themselves pilgrims among the tribes to go and to minister - to scatter like salt among the other tribes and serve them. Peter, quoting moses in the old testament, let me tell you what Peter's quoting: Deuteronomy 7, verse 6, "for you are a holy people to The Lord your God; The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for himself, a special treasure above all the peoples" - he says we're to be a nation of kings and priests. And so the idea is that we are pilgrims and strangers. We do need things - and the priests did get gifts and sacrifices from the temple - for the purpose of ministry.

And, whenever the people stopped paying tithe, the priests would go back to their fields and the ministry stopped happening. During times of great prosperity among God's people, the kings would make sure that the priests were out serving as - they were the doctors, they were the Judges, they were the teachers - the priests would teach the children to read, and they were the ministers of the gospel. And so, real happiness is going to come from, of course, a connection with Christ. I want to read a book - a quote, rather, from the book Desire of Ages p. 668, "All true obedience comes from the heart.

It was the heart work with Christ and if we consent, he will identify himself with our thoughts and our aims and so blend our hearts and our minds into conformity to his will that, when obeying him, we'll be but carrying out our own impulses." Wouldn't you like to be so converted that when you obey Christ you're really carrying out the impulses in your heart because he's changed your heart? So our hearts are not filled with selfishness, they're filled with God and his work. Well, friends, we are out of time for today's lesson. I enjoyed kind of interacting with the people who are watching. You know, we have thousands watching each week and we like to involve them. We have a free offer.

I want to remind you, it's called culture and the Christian and, if you simply call the number on your screen - ask for offer #143 - that number: 866-788-3966 - we'll send this to you for free and pray that you read it and then share it with a friend. God bless you. We look forward to studying his word together with you next week. Every now and then, in the panorama of history, we hear about individuals that go from the lowest depths to the highest pinnacles. They emerge from the shackles of prison to lead and inspire a nation.

Take joseph, for instance: he's sold by his brothers as a slave, then falsely accused and thrust into prison. Yet, through a series of divine circumstances, he miraculously goes from the prison to the palace, ruling the ones who once imprisoned him. Sound far-fetched? It's happened in history more than you think. South africa is the home of just such a leader. Nelson mandela worked tirelessly to establish peace and freedom in his country and his influence was felt around the world.

Before freedom, there must be forgiveness. Like joseph, who was unjustly accused of a crime he did not commit, nelson mandela was accused of terrorism and sentenced to life in prison on robin island. He was often exposed to cruel punishment and abuse. But even in the midst of apparent failure and discouragement, he never lost heart and he never gave up. After years in prison, a growing number of supporters rallied for his release and eventually it took place.

And God used him so that he was instrumental in helping to abolish racial segregation in the country of south Africa. Incredibly, he now was, virtually, the absolute leader in the country that had imprisoned him. He had all the tools and the power at his disposal to get even with the prison guards and others that had mistreated him. Instead, Mandela chose forgiveness. It reminds me of that verse in the bible in Ephesians chapter 4, verse 32, "let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." I'm so thankful that nelson mandela, like joseph, chose to forgive those who were once his enemies, and to serve his nation with love and courage. You can find a number of examples of this happening in the bible. You have Daniel, who was a captive from the land of judah, and yet God arranged things where he becomes the prime minister in the kingdom of Babylon. You have Esther, who was a poor orphan girl in persia, and yet God worked things out where she becomes the queen of that country. The book of Jeremiah ends with an incredible story of a young king named jehoiachin, who was in a Babylonian dungeon for 37 years and then king evil-meredoch has mercy on him and he had a new status, going from the prison to the palace.

This is what The Lord wants to do for you and me, friends. He gives you the bread of life. He gives you the robe of Jesus' righteousness. He gives you a seat at his table. If you accept his forgiveness and you're willing to pass it on, you and I can live and reign with Christ.

Wouldn't you like that experience? Let's face it, it's not always easy to understand everything you read in the bible. With over 700,000 words contained in 66 books, the bible can generate a lot of questions. To get biblical straightforward answers call in to bible answers live - a live nationwide call-in radio program where you can talk to Pastor Doug Batchelor and ask him your most difficult bible questions. For times and stations in your area, or to listen to answers online, visit bal.amazingfacts.org.

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