In this message from Sunday, February 23, 2020, Pastor Jacob talked about how faith brings purpose to your time, treasure, and talent.

City Lights Church is a contemporary Vineyard church located in the northwestern part of Richmond, VA. City Lights Church is a part of the Vineyard USA network and an ARC family member.

TRANSCRIPT

Hey there. And welcome to the City Lights Podcast. City Lights is a church located in the northwestern part of Richmond, Virginia. For more information about City Lights, you can visit us at wearecitylights.com. Now enjoy today’s message.   

How’s everyone doing? Well, I am so glad you guys are here with us. I gotta say something right in the beginning: I am losing my voice. I know like, so it happened on Friday, and it’s been going down a little bit, so I’m gonna talk a little quiet, a little softer today, so just forgive me if I start sounding like a 12 year old boy at any point of his message. I promise I’m a grown man. I promise. So welcome to City Lights. My name is Jacob. I’m on the team here, and we’re just so glad that you’re with us today. I got a few city highlights that I want to share. Like Erin mentioned earlier our nonprofit ministry spotlight, go ahead and check in and we’ll donate a dollar to that ministry. If you want to know more about that ministry, feel free to talk to myself at the end of the service. And I would love to give you info about. City Lights Plus Step two is right after the service. What is City Lights Plus, you may be asking. That is our membership class here. In step one, we learn more about the church: how we operate, our vision, and our values. And step two, we actually learn about your part in the church – where do you play a part and how do you help. So we encourage you to come out and step two you have the ability to join a Plus Team. And a Plus Team is what we call our volunteer teams. And the reason why we call it a Plus Team is because we believe you add something to the church. Sometimes if you volunteer you’re just supporting someone else’s initiative or agenda; we believe you’re a part of what we’re doing here. So you add something. So if you did not take that one, don’t worry, you can hop right into step two, and that’s right after the service. And we have child care for you, too. So if you have kids, we’ll play a movie for them right after. The last thing: Donut Sunday. We always want to make church easy for you to invite your friends, your family, your coworker, your Wegmans cashier. Invite them out, get some free donuts. So that will happen. We’ll have free donuts with our delicious free coffee that we have.

Now we’ve been in a series called Stress Out. Where we’ve been looking to get stress out of our lives so joy can come into our lives. So the first week of the series, I talked about three big rocks that really matter in our lives. And that’s relationships, purpose, and God, and how stress will try to come in and make us put those things to the side and focus on things that don’t really matter. Last week I talked about how stress can carry a weight. Stress can be heavy and it never was a weight that you were meant to carry by yourself. Now if you are new with us today, and you want to watch those messages, you can go to our website: wearecitylights.com and you can subscribe to our YouTube channel and our podcast, and you can listen to those. Okay? Next week, we’re going to talk about relationships. Now, not just romantic relationships. Everyone has relationships. Everyone deals with people every day. And so we’re gonna talk about that next week. And I’m excited.

But this week. I want to give you some practical steps on how to deal with three of the biggest stressors that everyone has. Three of the biggest stressors. And those three are: time, work and money. Now, before you say, “I knew it; I knew I would come to church – I’ve finally come to church, and they’re gonna talk about taking my money.” Now, before you say that and you leave and you go spend your money watching Sonic the Hedgehog. That is not what we are talking about. This is not a giving message. Don’t worry, we’re not going to take pledges at the end of the service. We’re not gonna pass the offering plate two or three times and look at you kind of weird if what you drop in makes too much noise, you know, you want that to be light like paper. I’m joking. Okay. This is not one of those kind of messages. Now, I truly believe that generosity is in the heart of every single person. I believe that we have something inside of us that wants to be generous. And I believe that because God is generous; we see that God is generous in love and compassion and wisdom and favor.  

So Erin and I made a commitment during the developmental stages of the church that we will never, ever, ever beg or pressure people to give money here as City Lights. We’ll just never do it. And the main reason is because it’s not biblical, so we won’t do it for that reason. Where we get our view on giving is found in 2 Corinthians starting in verse 9, it says this says, “remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reaps sparingly. Whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your hearts to give. Not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”. See, that’s why we even call our giving box over there in the corner the Joy Box. Even though it’s kind of sad right now, we’ll make some steps to make it look better. It’s a sad joy box. It’s like the movie Inside Out. Have you seen that? It’s a good one. Pixar.

There’s joy for your life when you sow into a local church. Because what God will do for you, but also with your finances it’s able to support a ministry to do something to add joy to the lives of many people. So this message is about giving to you, not getting from you. I want to set that out from the beginning so you’re not listening to this whole message thinking “I knew it, man. I knew it. Every church, man, just trying to take my money.” No, we don’t need your money.

You can title part three of this series: Faith Over Control. Faith Over Control. Now, these three topics that I talked about (our time, our schedule, our work, our money) they’re pretty practical, right? Pretty practical matters. So you may ask what does faith have to do with practical matters? Well, I’m glad you asked. Faith has everything to do with practical matters. Faith has everything to do with practical matters. Another way to put it is like this: Your faith has to be real because your world is real. Your faith has to be real because your world is real for you. Debt is real in your life. The cost of childcare is real. It is. Too real. Being a stay at home parent is real and is even way harder than what most people think, right? So if our world is real, then our faith must be real; it must be something that we can live out every single day.

So what is the enemy of faith? What is the enemy of faith? A lot of people may say fear, and there’s even that that classic Indiana Jones scene where he has to take a step of faith over out on the bridge. But the bridge wasn’t there. And he’s afraid and he’s nervous and finally takes a step and you see that his faith was there and so fear, a lot of times, is what people say is the opposite of faith. But for me, the opposite of faith is control. Control is the opposite of faith, and there’s no bigger areas in our lives than when we want the most control over than our time, our work, and our money. We want control over those things. Sometimes it’s easy to put God in our Sunday morning box, right? We came to church. Check that off the box this week, you know. But I’m telling you, God wants to be the God of your Monday through Friday. He wants to be there with you every step of the way, not just on Sunday. Now, for this talk, I want to take time and talk about these three things, but to make it a little bit easier, the way I’m going to discuss it is: your time, treasure, and talents. We’re going to talk about your time, treasure, and talents.

My starting point today is this: Stress wants control over my time, treasure, and talent, and it does. Too many of us live with stress throughout the week, barely making it to Friday, right? We just army crawling. By the time Wednesday comes, we think of the Camel – “Hump Day.” Like we barely there, right? And we barely make it to Friday; we feel like we’re drowning. I don’t think that’s God’s best for your life. I don’t think just getting by is God’s best for your life. So my destination point today is this: Faith brings purpose to my time, my treasure, and my talent. See, faith brings purpose to your everyday life. It brings purpose to everything, to your everyday life.

Our theme verse for this series is found in Luke’s Gospel. Check this out. Luke 21 starting in verse 34 says, “Be careful.” And anytime Jesus starts a sentence saying, “Be careful,” we should probably listen, we should probably lean into it. It says, “Be careful or your hearts will be weighed down.” We gotta be careful, because when stress comes in – stress is not just external things that are happening around us – stress can take captive of our hearts. It can weigh us down. Stress can come inside of us. It continues. It says, “but carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of life. And that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.” And for most of us, that is a great description of how stress can feel at the end of the week. I don’t even know how I made it here. I got so much going on, I got so much responsibility. There’s so much happening.  

Jesus tells a parable. A parable is just a story that illustrates a message to it. And Jesus tells a parable about a father and his sons. And what we see from this younger son is how control almost caused him to waste his time, his treasure, and his talent. So check this out in your Bible. Luke 15 starting in verse 11, “Jesus continued.” He already told two more stories. So this is his third story. “Jesus continued, ‘There’s a man who had two sons and the younger one said to the father, “Father, give me my share of the estate.” So he divided his property between them.’ ” Now, for you to get a better understanding of this verse, this is what actually has happened, that made it seem kind of like, you know, proper. Like they’re at a business meeting at Starbucks or something, but they weren’t eating tea and crumpets at this meeting. Not that anyone eats tea and crumpets at Starbucks. So what was really happening here is this son is walking up to his dad and he says, “Dad, you can just die right now and give me my money.” He says, “Dad, you’re just over. Give me my money.” When Jesus is telling this story to the Jewish audience, they would’ve been like, “Dang. No, he did not just say that. He said that to his daddy like that,” you know. Like they would’ve been caught off guard. This is a shocking part of this story. So here, this young man, he looks at his dad and he says, “I want what is mine now. And I want it on my time. I want it when I want it.”

And I wonder how often we actually do this to God. I wonder how often we actually, in our everyday lives, do this to God. You may be like, “God if you just give this to me right now, then I’ll be happy. God, if you just give me that promotion. How they gonna promote Sally when I’ve been working just as hard as Sally every single day. God, if you just give me this right now, then I’m gonna be happy.” And then what happens is you feel like God is not on your time. So you say to yourself, “Oh, God, you aren’t on my time, so I’m gonna do it my way because you aren’t really looking out for me. You don’t really have my best interests in mind.”

Now, last week I picked up Kingsley, my daughter, she’s 20 months – when do you stop counting months? “How old is your daughter?” “352 months. Carry the four. Divide the five. Algebra.” When do you just finally say enough is enough with the months? I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore. Last week I picked up Kingsley from school, from her day care, early because I wanted to have a daddy daughter play date, and I know she’s really little, and she doesn’t really understand when I pick her up early, but I want to set a precedence. Like this is what Dad does. Dad comes in and he has spontaneous play dates with her and stuff like that. So we went to the Children’s Museum right in Short Pump, and then we went to Carytown Cupcakes right in the mall, too. And she was super excited. She thinks cupcakes are ice cream. So she says, “Ice cream, ice cream,” you know? We get our cupcakes, and she’s like, “ice cream, ice cream.” “Wait, We’re gonna eat it with mommy at home. We’re gonna go home and we’re gonna eat our cupcakes with mommy.” And then she’s like, pumped. She’s like, “Okay, okay.” And she’s pump. Then we walked to the car, get in the car. And the whole car ride home, she’s super excited. She’s like “ice cream, ice cream.” I’m like, “yeah, yeah. Ice cream. Ice cream.” She’s just pumped. Then we pull into the driveway. I’m like, “Kingsley, we’re home we can eat our cupcakes with mommy. And she’s like, super pumped; she’s so excited. I get her out the car and walk her in the house and I say, “Erin, I got her some cupcakes” And Erin said, “Oh, go ahead and give her half now and we can eat half after dinner.” So I picked Kingsley up and I show her beautiful funfetti cupcake. And I take my butter knife and I cut the cupcake in half. And now what you’re about to see right now is based on a true story. Go ahead and run this clip.

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She was so sad. I think this is a good illustration of how we are with God, right? Like here I am trying to be this good father and do a surprise play date with her and get her this cupcake. But things didn’t go the way she wanted, right? And now she’s upset. Now she’s angry. And I think that’s how we are. Sometimes we can’t see what God is doing for us, and we want in our way.

Three ways stress has control over your time is this: 1. You pretend you have too much of it. See stress comes into your life and makes you feel you got too much time. You’re like, “Jacob, that ain’t what I’m dealing with now.” I want you to think about this because maybe you actually are dealing with this. How much time do you watch Netflix more than what you should be watching? Or how much time are you just scrolling through on Facebook on your phone, right? When you could be doing other things. See, I think sometimes unproductive activities – or even in some cases – destructive activities are ways that stress will make us waste time to avoid dealing with our stressors, avoid dealing with things that we really need to be dealing with. The second way stress has control of your life is this: 2. You don’t think you have enough time. Now, this is me, man. I always feel like I don’t have enough time. You are constantly running late to things. You leave the house in a panic all the time. You’re blitzing down the street, getting to where you need to be. You’re rushing to meetings; rushing late to class. You may have this mindset where it takes you to exactly 23 minutes to get somewhere. So instead of leaving 30 minutes before you need to leave, you leave exactly at 23 minutes. You know, not accounting the traffic. You constantly live in this place of anxiety and stress, and you’re frustrated all the time. And everyone else on the road is against you, you know, and all this. You gotta leave margin in your schedule. You gotta leave space in your schedule. If not, you’ll constantly find yourself anxious and full of stress. And the third thing that stress tries to tell us to take control over, stress will say, “Now, now, now you gotta have it now, now, now.” Stress will convince you that you need it right now at this moment, and you don’t need to wait.

This is what stress will do for you. And you may find yourself in one or two or maybe all three of these categories. And I’m gonna tell you this. It has to stop. Stress has to stop. Living like this is not sustainable for your health. Living like this is not sustainable for your mental health. Living in a constant place of stress is not sustainable for your marriage; it’s not sustainable for your kids. You have to make a decision to say, “I can’t live in a place of stress like this anymore.”

Three ways faith brings purpose to your time is this: I mentioned this in part one of the series, one way to eliminate stress in our lives is to know that our days are numbered. You’re like, “Jacob, that wasn’t encouraging the first time you said it, and it ain’t encouraging this time you said it either,” But for real, though, the reason why it’s helpful is because whatever we think we have a lot of, we will waste it. But whatever you don’t think you have a lot of, you will cherish it. See, your time is valuable and you have to cherish it. I would even say it like this: one of the worst parts of sin – I know that’s a big word “Sin,” you know, it kind of scares people – sin just means missing the mark. But one of the worst parts of sin isn’t just the sinful behavior, it’s that sin is wasting your valuable time. It’s wasting your valuable time. I think more than anything, the biggest lie that sin tells you is that you’re time has no value, that you don’t have nothing to offer. And that’s just not true. The second way to bring faith into your time is this: Invest your time in what really matters. Invest your time in what really matters. Where are you investing your time into? Notice how I didn’t say spending your time. No one wants to spend anything, right? You don’t want to spend money, you don’t want to spend it because you don’t get it back, right? But we want to invest. Our time is something that will get us a good return. My question to you: Are you investing your time in things that aren’t going to give you a good return? Are you investing your time in things that don’t really matter. Like I mentioned in part one, the three things that matter the most (our relationships, your purpose, and God) are you investing your time in the those things. Then the third thing that faith will say to us is this: say yes or no. This is one of my hardest ones, I overcommit myself way too much. I got any overcommiters in here. You say yes all the time? Have you ever made a plan, and you knew in the back of your head and you already had another plan at the same exact time that you made the plan. Yeah, that was bad. Some people are saying “Nope, nope, I don’t make plans with nobody.” Say yes or no. This is what Jesus says about our decisions. Matthew 5:37 says, “just say a simple yes, I will, or no, I won’t. Anything beyond that is from the evil one.” Sounds pretty intense. This is something that I learned in my life: Any time you say yes to something, you always say a no to something else. Whatever you say yes to, you are saying no to something else. So I would just throw it out there. What are you saying yes to? That’s making you say, no to something that you should actually be saying yes to?

This is where we see this young man. He walks up to the father. He says, “Give me mine now. I want it right now,” and then check out what happens next. It says, “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.” Once he wasted his time, once he got control of his time, he thought he knew better than his father. He goes out, he goes to the clubs. He’s dancing. He’s doing the stanky leg. He making it real stinky up in there in the clubs. Just wild living, doing his thing. And then he’s taking that money and just living it up. What does Jesus say? Check out what Jesus says next, “After he has spent everything…” After he had spent everything; after he did things his way; after he had sole control over his finances; after he spent everything. What happened next? “There was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.” Wait, wait, wait, wait, Wait a second. Wait, hold on, Hold on, Hold on, Hold on. Not after he did it his way, he gained more and then when the economy took a hard turn, he was all right. That’s not what it says. It doesn’t say, “After he did it his way, he gained more and he was prepared when those unexpected layoffs came.” That’s not what it says. It says, “After he spent everything doing it his way, a famine came and he wasn’t ready for it, and it took him by surprise and his treasure was gone.”

Now the reason why money is an important topic to talk about is because we all have money stressors; money is a big stressor. One of the top three reasons why people get divorced in America is because of financial reasons – it’s because of money stress. Everyone deals with money stress to a certain degree. An interesting stat that I found when I was studying for this was about credit card debt; it says the average credit card has $16,000 of debt on it, and the average American has three credit cards. What? That’s a lot of debt, right? And it’s crazy because the Bible actually even gives us insight into this. Proverbs 22:7 says this, “The borrower is a slave to the lender.” See, I have never met in my life – maybe you have – but I’ve never met a debt collector that says, “Oh, bless your heart. Oh you just want to spend a little bit more. Oh bless it. Bless that thing. Don’t wor-, oh you don’t have the money to pay it back. Oh, that’s okay. I won’t think about it.” No. They want their money now, right? And then they’ll charge you more, charge you interest for it. We have to have financial peace because Jesus offers us a life of freedom. Jesus offers us a life of freedom, and we can’t be free when we are under the slavery of debt. It’s just an effect.  

Three ways stress controls your treasure is like this: when we want everything now. This is my and Erin’s biggest struggle right here. We always want things like right now. We want our house to look like Instagram. Actually we want our house to look like Chip and Joanna Gaines’ house. See, this is when you just want to buy things you don’t need and you want it right now. And maybe for you, you’re buying things to impress people and you’re buying things to impress people that don’t really even matter. And you don’t really need to impress those people because they don’t really matter in your life anyways. So you don’t need to have everything right now.

The second way stress controls your treasure is when we engage in self destructive behavior. Now, I don’t know what that is for you. For Erin and I, the thing that we do way too much is we eat out way too much. And that could definitely add up real fast, can’t it? You know. So it’s much easier to do it with our schedule, all that stuff. We can make all the excuses. We can normalize our behavior all we want. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t get us to reach our goals. And I’m gonna tell you this: You may have some things that you’re doing, you’re spending money on what you know you shouldn’t be, and the stress will cause you to spend even more on things that you don’t want. And the third thing is when we spend everything we have. This is where we see the young man. He spent everything. And for some of you, maybe that’s where you are. You don’t have a lot to your name. You’re kind of stressed out. You’re thinking about retirement. You’re thinking about these things, and you don’t even know how you’re gonna get there. You may find yourself in one of these three categories, and Jesus puts it like this. Matthew 6, it says this, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” And so for the sake of time. I’m gonna give you two ways to bring faith to your treasure. But I have over eight ways that I see in the Bible, and I will love the share them with you over coffee or something like that, if you want to get to meet with me and talk to me about it. But two ways faith brings purpose to your treasure. The first one is this: tithing to a healthy local church. Now you’re like, “Oh, but he said it anyways. I knew it. I was waiting for it to come up.” Notice how I said, tithing to a healthy local church. I didn’t say tithing to City Lights. I didn’t say tithing here. I actually believe the local church is the hope of the world. Like I truly believe that. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there your heart is.” One of the best ways to back up what someone believes is based on where they’re spending their money. And that’s why Erin and I, we invested our entire life savings into City Lights Church. Like everything. We invested our entire life savings into this church. We moved our family from Virginia Beach. Our comfortable living in Virginia Beach; two comfortable jobs. We declined an amazing opportunity to pastor a healthy local church down in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. And we did it because we knew God called us to start a healthy local church right here in Richmond. And he told us to start it and home base was gonna be Short Pump. And I’m thinking to myself, Short Pump people got a lot of money, don’t they? Like what? Why is God sending me to this place? And he said, “No, I called you to be here. I called you to be here.” And we invested everything into it.

But tithing means a tenth. And I’m gonna be honest with you, tithing was primarily an Old Testament practice. Okay? That’s what we primarily see. However, you do see Jesus, He does endorse it in the Gospels and the Apostle Paul does talk about percentage giving in the New Testament. If you want to talk more about that stuff, I would love to you as well. But for me, though, for me I’m just like a bottom line person. I want to know exactly my next steps. For me, tithing helps me have a best next step. So, my personal budget is based on percentage, and we even based our budget in the church by percentage budgeting. So Malachi 3:10 says this, it says “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me and this says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the flood gates of heaven and pour out such blessing on you that there will not be enough room for it.” So this is where you can get that verse for tithing. And there’s some other things to that, too. And so what you see right here, we got some janky apples, it’s all right. They serving their purpose with the illustration. So here you go. I got nine red delicious apples right here. Right. I got nine red delicious apples. And what tithing is, tithing is saying I got this one Granny Smith apple. And what, tithing in its most clear way, is saying to take your income, take what you make and you give 10%. You give one of them; you give 10% to God. And God is saying the rest is yours. And for me, when I started tithing in my life, I saw financial breakthrough. Even more than that I saw spiritual breakthrough. Where money has such a hold over my security and the way that I thought about my success. And I’m gonna tell you this: money comes and goes, but what you invest your life in, that’s what really matters. And so again, that point I say invest in a healthy local church, you don’t have the invest your money here at all, but invest your money in a healthy local church that is doing something, that’s making a difference in your community and be planted in that church, too. Okay, so the last thing I’m gonna say about this and I am going to go ahead and jump off, I’m getting ready to close. I believe in tithing so much – I like to put my money where my mouth is – I believe God will open up blessings for you financially and spiritually so much that if you give 10% of your income to City Lights Church for the next 90 day, so each pay period you give 10%, if you do not see spiritual breakthrough or financial breakthrough in your life in the first 90 days of doing that, we will give you all your money back. We’ll give it all back to you because we don’t need it. I’m serious. We don’t need it. Like we don’t need it. Giving, generosity, that’s for your benefit. It’s what God can do in your life. So we just want to help you take that next step. So if that’s something that you’re thinking about, please talk to Erin or myself at the end of the service and we’ll get you all set up for that. And that’s how much we believe in it. Like we’re not gonna be sad if we gotta write you a check back and say it didn’t work for you. We’ll be sad, not because we’re losing the money; we’ll be sad because we want God to bless you. And we want God to move you forward in your life. And we believe that’s one way.

Second way faith helps you with your with your treasure is faith brings contentment to your life. We need to develop a heart of contentment, a heart of gratitude So you may not be where you want to be but you ain’t where you could be. And God is gonna bless you right where you are, too. So we gotta have this heart of knowing that in every season of life I can be grateful – I can be grateful.

So back to the story of this young man. He wastes his time; he wastes his treasure. And the last thing we see is that he wastes his talent. And it goes like this: it says, “he went out and hired himself out to a citizen of that country who sent him to the fields that the feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.” He finds himself working at a job that he doesn’t like, and it’s not in the fullness of his talent. Two ways stress controls your talent: Stress will make you negative at work, and stress will see your work only as a burden. Now I want to say this really fast when it comes to work. I’m not just talking about a 9 to 5 job. That is a big portion of it, but for some of you, you may be a stay at home parent. You may be a college student; a high school or middle school student in here listening to me, and it’s tough. Or you may be in here and you may be in a job that you love; you’re in your career choice, but you still have hard deadlines that you have to meet. You have challenging goals that you have to meet, and it’s gonna be a stressor there. Here’s a funny statistic that I found: 80% of workers feel stress on the job. 25% of workers wanted to scream at the job because of the stress. 10% of workers are concerned about an individual at work. They fear it could become violent. 14% – uh oh – felt like striking a coworker in the past year. Lord, this is my confession. That was me. 18% experienced some sort of threat of verbal intimidation. So what is all that saying? Work can be stressful. That’s what it’s saying. So I want to give you three ways to bring purpose in your talent.

Three ways real fast: discover my real purpose and make a difference with my life. See, the happiest people I know aren’t the people that got the better jobs, the better spouses, the better kids. It’s the people that are living on purpose for a purpose, and so your job may not be the purpose that you have for your life. But I would encourage you with this. That’s why we set up our church for you to be able to serve. We believe serving can be a purpose that God has for you see the way we think about it is like this. Maybe you dread going to work, you get the Monday blues, right? But the way we look at it, it’s like this. Maybe if you start serving at City Lights and you saw someone’s life could change today and you knew that you are part of that; you knew that you made an impact in that. You’ll go to bed tonight knowing “wow, I did something with great importance with my life today.” And you can take that into your Monday. Second thing is realize that my vocation is my ministry location. See, church doesn’t just happen inside this place. Right after we’re done, they’re about to play Bad Boys up in here. So church happens wherever you are, and I’m gonna tell you this: find and need and fill it. Find a hurt and heal it. Like be praying for your coworkers. Be the kind of person that comes to work with the Krispy Kreme donuts, right? If I’m speaking to any managers or bosses in here, be the kind of person that when your employees see your car in the parking lot when they pull up, they’re not filled with a bunch of dread because they gotta work with you. Lead in a kind of way that people are so excited to be around you because you’re bringing light to their lives. One thing I want to say to that real fast April 12, we have our Easter service coming up – and Easter’s coming in hot. Start right now developing relationships with people at your work, so when Easter comes, you can invite them to church and you can see an easy invite there. The third thing is this work for God, not for people. And this is so important to have deep in our heart because sometimes our bosses, sometimes our coworkers, they don’t give us the praise that we deserve, right? They don’t see what we want. But God does look at your work. Check this out, Colossians 3:23 says, “whatever you do work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

I’m sorry for taking long. We do commit to being a 65 minute long service and we’re edging right on that right now, but I felt that these three “T”s were so important for you to hear. And I like to be as authentic as I can from the stage and be as real as possible. I went to bat with myself all week about preaching this message. I wasn’t going to do it. I honestly wasn’t gonna do it because I felt like “man, we’re such a baby church, we’re still new. And I don’t – Maybe I shouldn’t talk about money yet, you know, and all these things.” And I had all this like, kind of like fear and anxiety going into prepping this message and delivering it. And what I end up feeling on Thursday – I was about to change my whole message – on Thursday, I end up feeling that there’s people in here that aren’t living the best that God has for them in their time, their treasure, and their talent is the thing that’s prohibiting that. And God put it really heavy on my heart that I cannot let my fear and insecurity come in the way of your blessing and what God has for you. And so even when God led me to this story to talk about the lost son, this story really doesn’t have a lot to do what those three topics, but what I really felt was :The end of this story is where a lot of people are gonna come to today. When it comes to some of the most important things in your life. Check this out verse 17 says this, he was hungry, he was working with pigs, he was depressed, and verse 17 says, “when he came to his senses.” When he came to his senses, he’s in a place he doesn’t want to be. He’s up to his eyeballs in debt, right? He has all these things not going the way he wants. But when he came to his senses, there’s some people here. You’re about to have that moment today. You’re gonna have that “come to my senses moment,” because what I’m doing right now, the way I’m living right now is not giving me the results I really want. And I keep doing the same thing week in and week out, believing for something different to happen. But you find yourself in the same place that you were last week and the week before and even for some of you the year before. And this young man, it says “he came to his senses and he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare? Here I am starving to death. I will set out and go back to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ‘ So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off.” While he was still a long way off, the Bible says, “The father saw him and was filled with compassion for him, and he ran to his son and he threw his arms around his son. And he kissed his son.”

See when Jesus was telling this story to the Jewish audience of that day, this was a normal story. This was a story about Father God and his wrath and judgment on people. The original story ended with the son coming home, and then the mighty hand of God smited him and judged him for his transgressions. But Jesus takes this story, and he does an M Night Shyamalan twist to the story. He does a twist ending to this thing, he says, “God is not angry. God is not mad. God is not fed up at you. God does not hate you.” But he says that God is looking for you. He’s up in the tower and he sees your stress and he sees your pain and he sees your trouble. And I know I’m losing my voice, but there’s some people in here that God wants to get to you right now. God wants to give you freedom for your life. And there’s people, and you have a conception about God that is not true, that God is angry and mad. But God is full of love, full compassion, and he runs to you.

Then the story says the son, he goes to tell his speech, he says, “Father, I’ve sinned against heaven and  against you. I’m no longer worthy be called your son,” but the father ain’t even listening. He said, “quick bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger, sandals on his feet, bring the fatted calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For my son was dead and is alive again. He was lost, and now he is found, and it is time to celebrate.” It’s time to celebrate friends, those material possessions that you own, the things as you have, they do not need to be your master anymore. They do not have to dictate the way you live your life. There’s freedom in Jesus. There is hope in Jesus, even in the practical.

See, we can choose faith over control because our God is for you and he is powerful, and he is trustworthy. Bow your heads with me, let’s pray. God, God we thank you. We thank you that you care about every aspect of our lives. God, that you are deeply involved in our lives. And I even feel there’s some people in here right now, you need to know that God is looking for you, and his heart is filled with compassion for you. I even feel there’s some people in here, that you’re at a job that you don’t want to be in, and you got a dream in your heart, you have a dream in your heart and you keep making up all the excuses on why you can’t pursue that dream. And I just feel like the Lord is saying go after that dream. I don’t know if that’s for one person or a couple people but I feel that deeply. There’s some people you’re just kind of going through the normal routine, and, you know, there’s a step of faith for you. You’re kind of afraid to do it, but God is saying release that control. Take that step of faith. He wants to bless that thing that you’re going to step out to do. I even feel there’s some people when it comes to your time, you are so used to the excuses that you make about yourself, and God is saying that is not you. You are wonderfully and fearfully made in his image. You can do all things through Christ. I feel like there’s some people that are under that hold of debt. And God is saying no more. It will not ruin your marriage. It will not ruin your livelihood. He has a plan for you. It’s a good one. So, God, we thank you for these things. We thank you that you are a loving father with a heart full of compassion for us. And maybe you’re in here today and you’ve never made a decision to trust Jesus with your life. But now you’re thinking you want to. Or you may be in here and you have trusted Jesus with your life before, but life got in the way and you want to recommit your heart back to Jesus. If that’s you, I’m gonna count to three. And on three, you can just toss your hand up in there. I’m not gonna call you out or embarrass you or have you come up front. Nothing like that. I just want to see who I’m praying for. So if you want to make a decision to trust Jesus with your life or recommit, on three, just toss your hand up in the air. One, two, three. Bless you all across his room. Bless you. Bless you. You can say this prayer out loud or you can say it in your heart. Just say, “Jesus forgive me for my sin. Make me new. Today I hand control over to you. Today I’ll follow you. In Jesus name. Amen.

Thanks for checking out the City Lights Podcast. If you’d like to partner with us financially, you can go to wearecitylights.com/give, or you can text any dollar amount to 84321. Thanks for joining us today.

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