In God We Trust
April 22-23, 2006
Like this shirt? I’m not sure what it means but there’s a story behind this shirt. I don’t know what the actual message was, but I liked it so I bought it. I went into the store, a local store, you’d recognize the name if I called it out, but I will not because of what happened. So I’m just walking through it and I see this shirt, and I’m thinking, “Man, that’s a cool shirt. I like that.” I just tried it on and it fit, so I took it. I walked out of the store and all of a sudden I heard these sensors going off, alarms. The sales person begins to sprint after me. I’m like, “What?”
Security comes up to me, they go, “What are you doing?”
I said, “I’m taking this shirt. I saw it, I liked it, I tried it on, it fits. So I’m walking out with the shirt.”
They said, “You can’t do that.”
I said, “Why not? I like it.”
They said, “Because you just can’t. That’s stealing.”
I said, “You know what?” (I’ll tell you the store. It was Nordstrom.) I said, “You know what? I am sick and tired of Nordstrom. Every time I come in to this store, all you want is my money. I’m tired of it. In fact this whole mall, Northeast Mall, all you want is my money.”
You walked into church tonight. Saturday night. Hey, thanks for being here on Saturday night. Some of you are like, “All the church wants is my money. That’s all they talk about is my money.” Well, everybody wants your money. Texas Motor Speedway, what do they want? Our money. What does Jerry Jones want? Our money. What does the car dealership want? Our money. What does the real estate executive want? Our money. But why do we say that? Why do we do the push back when it comes to the things of God? That’s a very interesting question, isn’t it?
I’m going to talk about money. People get funny when you talk about money. Have you ever noticed that? People like, whenever I talk about sex or money, people like, “Oh, I’m not going to come back for a while. This makes me nervous.” I used to not like it, but now I love talking about money. I really, really do.
I want to tell you something that I discovered recently. You can’t even talk about how to become a Christian without talking about money. You ever thought about that? This word “redemption”—when you become a believer, a Christ follower, we’re redeemed—that’s a financial term. God chose that term, redemption.
Then if you keep reading, I believe, to be specific here, Ephesians 1:7, 13-14. Check this out, “In him we have redemption,” financial term, “through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Now look at Verse 13, “And you were also included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” Let’s keep going Verse 14, “Who is a deposit…” Wait a minute, that’s another financial term. “Who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
So just to become a Christian, I’ve got to talk about salvation terms, money terms. I’ll talk about redemption. Just to become a Christian and talk about that, I’ve got to think about the Holy Spirit of God because the Bible says I’m sealed with the Holy Spirit of God. He is my earnest money and you know once you give the earnest money you can’t get it back. And that’s the great thing about those of us who are believers. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit of God.
And then the Bible keeps going on—I won’t read all the verses—it says that Jesus paid for your sins and mine on the cross. God was literally buying back all of our junk and our funk and our sin and our rebellion through Jesus. And if you really want to unpack this, turn to the book of Genesis. If you’ll just read Chapters 1 and 2, not now, but just turn there in your mind and think about it. God formed his partnership with Adam and Eve. He created Adam and Eve in this environment, Eden. I mean, you’re talking about off the chain. This place was amazing. God said, “Enjoy the garden. Have a blast.” “But,” he said, “there’s this one tree I don’t want you to jack with. There’s this one tree that’s mine. Don’t mess with the fruit on the tree in the middle of the garden. It’s my tree.”
Well, the evil one slithered up to Eve and what did the evil one do? The evil one—[to a woman in the front row of the audience] I’m not saying you’re Eve, but I’m just saying let’s just use it for an example for a second—the evil one came up to Eve. And the evil one didn’t say, “Hey, cruise to the other side of Eden and build a treehouse away from God.” No, he didn’t say that. What did he say? He pointed to God’s divine portion. He said, “Eat from the fruit of the tree.” He was all about God’s divine portion and specifically the Bible mentions this in Genesis 3:6, “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food,” she saw it was good for food, “and pleasing to the eye and desirable for gaining wisdom…” What did she do? “…She took it and ate it.”
Very important! She ate the divine portion and because she ate the divine portion, what happened? She was cursed. Adam and Eve were cursed. They chose to be cursed. I thought that was fascinating.
So God always keeps something for himself, a divine portion. And it’s interesting how God formed his partnership with Adam and Eve. Let me put it to you in terms that we can all understand. Bill Gates. Microsoft. You’ve heard about that? I’ve heard of him before. The guy is amazingly wealthy. What if Bill Gates came up to you, Ray, “What’s up Ray? How are you doing?” What if Bill said, “Ray, you’re my man? I like you. You got a nice bald head. You look good. You smell good. You know what, Ray? I want to do something for you, brother. I want to do this deal with you and here’s what I want to do. I will give you 90% of Microsoft, 90%. Just give me 10. That’s my portion.
Ray, would you take that deal? Would anyone here refuse that? I’d be like, “Bill!” We’d all be turning somersaults and stuff.
Well, that’s the kind of deal, the kind of partnership that God had with Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve enjoyed the garden. “I have created you in my image. I have made you. Everything is a gift from me. I want you to reflect your love to me. Show me your love.” That’s what God was saying throughout Genesis. “But there’s this one tree. Don’t jack with the one tree. Don’t mess around with it. It’s mine,” God said. “It’s mine. It’s mine.”
How many people are married in here? You’re married. All right. Is it enough to look at your spouse and say, “ I love you?” Well, that’s good. That’s nice. That’s romantic. But your spouse wants you to back it up. Are you guys married? Okay. When you tell her, “I love you,” and she likes that, “Yeah, he loves me.” And you like to hear it again and again and again. But also, I know you want to say, “Okay, show me.”
That’s what God’s saying. It’s all about love here. God’s saying, “Adam and Eve, man, I love you. I’m crazy about you. This is my portion. You say you love me. Cool. Show me you love me by your discipline, but have a blast. Have a wonderful time.”
But Eve, she chose to go against the grain. She chose to sin. She ate the divine portion. And it’s very interesting if you unpack Genesis 1:2, especially Genesis 3:6. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food…” She saw it, that’s the lust of the eye. “And pleasing to the eye…” That’s the lust of the eye along with the lust of the flesh. “And also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” That’s the pride of life. I’ll be God. I’ll replace God. The evil one said, “Hey, Eve, hey, girl, you can become like God.” That’s why—this is very important now; I’m going somewhere with this—that’s why she ate the divine portion.
My family has had a life verse. I’m talking about my family. I’m talking about, in fact, I should say for generations this has kind of been our verse. I built this whole series on this verse. I love it. Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”
Last time I talked about this briefly. Our part is to trust. What does it mean to trust? To be totally dependent on God? It means literally just to lie face down and say, “God I trust you.” That’s what it means. Trust. Trust the Lord in all of your ways, with all of your heart, with the totality of your being. Don’t lean on your own understanding.
Every time I have tried to lean on my own understanding, you know what happens? I stumble, I fumble, I go around in circles. My paths aren’t straight and yours aren’t either. But Scripture tells me trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don’t lean on your own understanding, but in all your ways, in all of your ways acknowledge him, that’s God, that’s Christ, and he will keep your paths straight. My job is to trust and God’s job is to keep my paths straight.
What’s the quickest way from point A to point B? A straight line. But how many times when I’ve leaned on my own understanding, I’ve gone over here and I’ve gone over there and I’ve even run [Ed runs to the back of the auditorium] way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way off the course and so have you.
It’s just great being back here. How y’all doing, man? Yeah all right, all right, all right, all right. This is good. I haven’t really run that much today anyway, so I think I’ll just run a little bit [Ed circles around the back of the auditorium, down the aisle and back onto the stage] Ooh, yeah. Ooh. All right. Now that I’m 45…. I’m getting older—power walk!
Now why does God want me to trust? It’s all about love. He wants the best for me. God wants to bless me. Proverbs again. Proverbs 16:20, “Blessed is the man or the woman who trusts in the Lord.” I want some of that. How many in here want to be blessed? I do. I want to be blessed. Well, blessed is the man or the woman who does what? Trusts in the Lord.
What does it mean to bless? To be on the receiving end—I did a whole series on this—to be on the receiving end of the tangible and intangible favor of God. We’d like to trust God for forgiveness, for eternal security, for love, for peace that surpasses all comprehension, but those are the intangibles. And that’s part of trust. That’s part of blessing, to receive that. We do receive that.
But also, in God’s economy, matter matters. Say it with me: matter matters. So tangibly I’m going to be blessed. I’m going to be blessed with some cantaloupes. I’m going to be blessed with body. I’m going to be blessed with the future. I’m going to be blessed with a career. I’m going to be blessed in all sorts of ways tangibly.
You probably wonder what these cantaloupes are up here, don’t you? Who all likes cantaloupe? Okay. We all have cantaloupes. Some have, I don’t know, thousands. Some have hundreds of thousands. There might be some here who’ve got millions of cantaloupes. Millions. I’ll talk about that later.
Blessing. I want to be blessed. Every time I see that word “blessing” in the Bible, every time you see a word like “trust” or “faith,” usually you have blessing around it. And also you have something tangible around it. So I’ve got to trust God in every way, but let’s talk about for a second trusting God financially because that’s big. Tom Cruise made that phrase popular and Cuba Gooding, Jr.–Is that right?—in that movie: “Show me.” Don’t act like you didn’t see it. “Show me the money.” Yeah, that’s what God’s saying.
Okay, you say you love her. Oh, really? Show me the money. “Adam and Eve, you say you love me. You say, ‘Man, God, this garden is awesome. Look at all these cantaloupes you’ve blessed us with, all this bumper crop.’” God said, “Okay, okay, show me the money.” God’s saying, “Honor the divine portion. Don’t eat the divine portion.”
That’s interesting and as you look through Scripture, too, there’s a power in this whole financial thing, in this whole transaction thing with God. We see it in Genesis. We see it throughout the New Testament, this transaction, this business stuff. Everything’s about finances. Jesus talked more about money than he talked about Heaven or Hell. Eighteen of the 38 parables are all about money. Jesus was always talking about money. God is talking about money a lot. Why? Well, God knew that I would struggle with it. He knew you would struggle with it. There’s something about something that’s tangible that kind of messes us up. It kind of freaks us out.
Jesus said one day in Matthew 6: 21, “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” Wow! Where your treasure is that’s where my heart’s going to be. So God’s saying, Ed okay you say you trust me. You say you don’t lean on your own understanding. You say you acknowledge me in your ways, show me the money. Show me the money. And throughout Scripture we see the power of this principle. We see the power of God’s portion. Later on it was called the tithe.
What does “tithe” mean? “Tithe” means “tent.” Tent. Everything I make or you make should be brought where? To the house of worship. We are not giving. I hope you know I’m not talking about giving. I am not talking about giving. I’m talking about bringing. The Bible says we’re to bring the tithe, God’s portion, to where? The local house of worship. That’s what we’re to do. And it’s interesting to see how many blessings are tied into this whole tithing thing.
But here’s what we do. This is incredible, but a lot of us are eating the tithe. Eve. A lot of us are eating the tithes. Why would we eat the tithe? Well, we go Eve. We’re like Eve. We eat the tithe. The lust of the flesh, the pride of life, the lust of the eyes. “I can become like God.” “I can determine my own destiny, forge my own future, pave my own path, so I will eat the tithe.” And that’s why some here are under a curse. I’m talking about you’re not blessable. You can’t even say, “God bless me.” You can’t even say that because you’re eating the tithe. Now I’m only talking to believers. If you’re not a believer just count ceiling tiles or something. We can’t eat the tithe. We eat God’s portion, it’s going to mess us up.
God said, “Show me the money. Bring the tithe into the storehouse.” There’s a power in the first because God says the first 10% of everything we make is God’s. Have you ever thought about this? I only have a few minutes to do it. The firstborn, that’s huge in the Bible. The first fruits, major in the Bible. “That tree, man, don’t touch it.”
If you go to Joshua 7, I believe, you know Joshua is claiming the Promised Land. There’s ten cities and that first city, what did God say? “Hey, that’s mine. Hey, Joshua, you can do anything with the other stuff from the other nine cities. But that first city, brother, the gold and silver, bring it to my house.” Well, Achan, one of Joshua’s boys, took some for himself. And what does the Bible say? That stuff, that gold and silver, was cursed because they did what Eve did. They ate the tithe.
I would rather bring 10% and have the other 90% blessed as opposed to having all of my income cursed. How about you? I think I’d rather do that. I think I really would. God has blessed me in so many ways, I can’t really even describe it or put it into words. You are looking at someone who is so blessed it’s just freaky. I could die tonight and on my death bed I would say, “You know what, this has been the most awesome life known to man.” I’m blessed so much more than the money I make (and I make good money), but I’m blessed billions of times more than that. I wonder why?
Well, let me give you a reason. And God just dropped this in my lap this week. It goes back to cantaloupes. I told you I was going to talk about it. [Ed begins to juggle three cantaloupes] I’m kind of out of practice. I used to be pretty good with this.
But I’ve got one cantaloupe. Count them for me. [Ed begins to pick up cantaloupe from a pile and roll them out onto the stage]
Audience: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.
Ed: Okay. Let’s just say, for example, look at this one. [Referring to a rolling cantaloupe] Unbelievable. Go, go, go. Let’s say this one right here is the best one. Let’s just say for illustrative purposes. Ten, right? Well, the first one smells good. Thump it, it thumps good. Let’s say this is the best.
Well, Scripture tells me I’m to bring the best to God. Again, don’t even think about wasting your time trying to e-mail me about money. Try some knee-mail because God’s the one that said this stuff, not me, okay. I’m just telling you what God said, so if you don’t like it, there’s the exits. But you need to listen. This can change your life. This is an incredible blessing. I had to throw that in.
Let’s say I bring this to the local house of worship. I’m putting this cantaloupe in God’s hands. I’m bringing the tithe. Is that awesome? I’ve been doing that for 24 years. Lisa and I have been doing that for 24 years. We have been bringing the tithe. When we were on this level not making very much money, we brought the tithe. And as the years have progressed, and as God has blessed us financially, we’ve gone from this level to this level to this level to this level. And there’s more steps for all of us.
We’ve been faithfully bringing the tithe. But I had to ask myself, I was asking Preston this, “Preston why am I so blessed?” You’re looking at a blessed man. Then I figured it out. Check this out. Ray, hold that Bible for me for a second, brother. Thank you. Why am I so blessed? And many others here could say the same thing. I’m just using myself because I’m up here. Okay, I’m bringing the cantaloupe, right? I’m thumping it. I’m smelling it. The best to God. Are you with me? I’m putting it in his hands.
I’ve been blessed for 24 years, like wow, why am I so blessed? [Ed breaks open a cantaloupe] Look what is inside the cantaloupe. I just heard someone; someone just said it. Say it like you mean it. Seeds! This thing is just packed with seeds. So, literally, I am sowing a seed. I am bringing the first fruit of my gain to God. I’ve been doing this for 24 years. I’m putting a cantaloupe in his hand. And in the hands of God, my meager tithe, when is was on that level and now what it is today, is multiplied in the hands of God. Because he takes all of my stuff and he makes it seed. And it is seed and he turns it back into my life and blesses the fool out of us. That’s what God does.
Some of you are going, “Man, why don’t I have a life full of blessing? Why don’t I have a life full of joy? Why do I feel cursed? Why do the heavens feel like they’re made of brass?” It goes back to the cantaloupe, dude. It’s all about the cantaloupe. I can sow a seed and I place that tithe, God’s portion, in his hands. I bring it to him and look at the seeds.
Well, now think about God because Jesus was God’s tithe. First-born right? God gave his best, right? Where did God direct his gift? Oh, I’ve got it, to a university. I’ve got it, to a Christian school. I’ve got it, to a charity. I’ve got it, to a mission’s organization.
The local church. God gave his best, he sowed his seed into the local church. What was last weekend? [Easter] Exactly. God sowed the seed of Jesus into the ground. He was buried; he rose again. And you have your Bibles, right? [Touching his Bible with messy hands from the opened cantaloupe] I’m going to mess my Bible up, but I have a lot of…okay.
You won’t believe this. 1 Corinthians 15:20, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Would somebody help me preach? Is that incredible? They took the seed, Jesus, buried him. We’re the fruits of his resurrection. He’s the vine and we’re the branches. That is some awesome stuff. So I am made and you’re made to be blessable, and it all goes back to a bunch of cantaloupes. We smell ‘em, we thump ‘em, we bring the best. We give God the best.
Let’s go back to Eve. Malachi 3:8-9, because Malachi syncs up with all this stuff. “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me,” God says. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and”—what? We’re eating the tithe. We’re going Eve aren’t we? Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this.” The only time in the Bible that God says, “Test me and see if I’ll not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing”—oh my goodness—“that you’ll not have enough room for it.”
When we eat the tithe, when we rob God, when we choose to be cursed, we are slamming the windows of heaven. We’re locking them up, we’re putting bars on the windows, not God. God wants to bless you and me and one of the major ways he talks about throughout Scripture is in this whole financial realm. Obviously God can bless much greater than finances. My life is a testimony of that, but because I bring the tithe, because I bring the cantaloupe God is blessing my socks off.
About a year ago, because I’ve written a bunch of books and God’s blessed me through writing, this attorney called me and he said, “Ed, I want to represent you, to be your agent, your literary agent.” I’m thinking, “That sounds weird to me.” He said, “Trust me, man. I can get you in front of people and tell some publishers about some stuff that you’ve written. And I’m telling you, it’ll be beneficial to you, but I need to make about 10% of what you sign for.”
I’ve never had an agent before so I said, “Okay.” It sounds good, doesn’t it? I’ve got an agent! Be my agent. Well, this man has opened a lot of doors for me, and he’s got me in front of people I would never have gotten in front of alone.
That’s just the bottom line. I just signed a publishing deal I’ll tell you about next week with a major publisher from New York. And I was sitting in New York talking to these people, and I’m like, “This is nuts. What am I doing here?” Well, it’s my agent. This guy never heard of Fellowship Church. Fellowship who? What? Ed Old? Young? He didn’t know. My agent is working for me. He’s doing the stuff. He’s opening doors, giving opportunities I would never have on my own.
When I bring the tithe, when you bring the tithe, make a wild guess who our agent is. There you go. He’s opening doors. He’s blessing. He’s giving opportunities and insights. And these meetings we would never have otherwise, so I just want you to get a grasp of this.
You know, at Fellowship Church we are in a phenomenal run. It’s amazing what God’s doing here, and we’re in the midst of this campaign. We’re just kicking it off, called “Town and Country.” I’ve talked to you a little bit about that. Uptown—we’re building this building and uptown, a part of Fellowship Church, will cost $10 million. We went ahead and bought the building on faith, on trust. We stepped out and bought it. We’re retrofitting it like a church. We’ll reach thousands of people down there. There’s 1.1 million people in a five-mile radius of this church, and we are stoked about it.
We also were able to acquire 1,100 acres of land in East Texas. It’s always been our dream to have a children’s camp, a student camp, a camp for leaders. And we’re beginning construction today, literally, on that whole endeavor. We’ve already been going through the process and jumping through the hoops to get that going. That’s going to cost at least $10 million. So what’s before our church, and we’ll talk about this more and more over the ensuing weeks, we have an opportunity over and above our tithe.
Because let me stop here and make another point. You won’t believe this. I said earlier—remember this?—tithing is not being generous. I’m not giving when I tithe. I hope you know that. Starter generosity occurs at 11%, 12%, 13%, 14%, 15%, and so on. That’s when I become generous. The tithe, that’s the minimum worship requirement.
We’re challenging our church. I’m challenging you right now to start praying about giving over and above your regular tithes to this endeavor called “Town and Country.” And that’s between you and God. Pray about it. Think about it. What does God want to do in your life? He wants us to be generous givers. He’s gotten it to us, now he want to get it through us, where? To a university? To a charity? To a Christian school? The local church. “The gates of Hell,” the Bible says, “will not prevail against the church.”
Let me have my Bible one more time, Ray. This is great Ray, having you hold the Bible. This is awesome. Proverbs 3:9-10. So I trust in God with everything I am. I don’t lean on my own junk. God’s going to make my paths straight. And then it goes on, Proverbs 3:9-10, skip a couple of verses down, “Honor the Lord with your wealth.” See, every time you see anything about trust and faith—boom!—something tangible shows up. It’s amazing throughout Scripture. “Honor the Lord.” I knew it was going to be there when I began to study Proverbs 3, I just knew it. “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” That’s the promise of God. And God always, always, always keeps his promise.
I’m a living, breathing, walking, talking, testimony of it and so are so many, many, many, many, many people here who bring the cantaloupe and put it in God’s hand. Who give over and above that to make all this stuff happen. I hope you realize this stuff just didn’t happen in a vacuum here. Do a quick view of Fellowship Church—the campus, the lake, the children’s facilities, the worship center, our offices, the lights, the high definition screens, all that stuff. “I guess it just happened, man.” Come on, now. You’re sitting around with some people who have planned this thing, who have brought the tithe, who have given over and above the tithe and given offerings to make it possible. In fact, many of you would not know Jesus Christ personally if these people hadn’t brought the cantaloupe and then been generous with their offerings.
So, don’t eat the tithe, Eve. You’re going to curse yourself. Don’t let the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life mess you up. It’s time for some people here to test God. I’m telling you God is trustworthy. He can be trusted.
So what’s the answer to all this stuff? You know what the answer is? I’ll tell you what the answer is. You’re sitting on the answer. Most of the guys here are sitting on the answer. If you would, guys, take out your wallets for a second and just take out a dollar bill. Just take out a dollar bill. This is the answer. Take out a dollar bill. Somebody give me a dollar bill. I promise I’ll give it back. Somebody give me a dollar bill. What’s up Chris? Thanks, brother! Dollar bill! Now there’s our boy George on there. Let me see. What does it say on the back? One, two, three, four, a four-word phrase. It’s plastered on our currency, Chris. This is off the chain. Let’s read it together. A one and a two and a three, In God We Trust. That’s the answer. Isn’t that funny, it’s printed on our currency.
We deal with it, we dream and scheme about ways to make more of it and it’s right there in our face—In God We Trust. That’s my prayer for my life and all of your lives over the next several weeks. In God We Trust. Do you trust him? Do you trust him? Because it’s all about the seeds of blessing?