IN THE ZONE
November 13-14, 2004
[An oval carpet is in the middle of the stage. In the middle of the oval are the words “In the Zone,” and the graphics for the series surround those words. In effect, there is a “zone” in the middle of the carpet.]
How are you all doing this morning? Pretty good? I am, too. It’s a great day to be alive, isn’t it? Football is in the air. I was thinking about football because a while back, I took my family to a high school football game. During the third quarter, one of the twins walked up to me—Landra—and she said, “Dad, can I have some money to buy some candy?” Now I’m not a big candy guy. As you know, we’re kind of health food nuts and all that, but I said, “Landra, here’s $5. Go and buy some candy.” She came back with a sack full of Skittles. And I watched her eat the Skittles. I said, “Landra, can I have some Skittles?” She said, “No.” I said, “Landra, just give me a couple.” [She said,] “They’re mine.”
My little daughter didn’t understand several things. Number one, she didn’t understand the fact that I was the one who bought the Skittles for her. Number two, she didn’t realize my strength. I’m strong enough to forcibly take those Skittles from her and eat every one of them. If I wanted to, I could have done that. Number three, she didn’t understand the fact that I could have gone to the concession stand, put 300 packages of Skittles on a credit card, come back to her and given her so many Skittles; I could have rained so many Skittles on her that she couldn’t have eaten them all in a year. I could have done that.
We all have Skittles. Some of us here have a pretty nice size pile of Skittles in our life. Others have a medium-size pile of Skittles. And some have these little bags of Skittles. Our loving God comes to us, and our loving Father goes, “Would you bring me some Skittles? Just a few Skittles.” What do you think our reaction is? “No! They’re mine!” God says, “Just bring me some Skittles.” “Uh-uh. I made those Skittles. I own those Skittles.”
Like Landra, we don’t understand several things. Number one, God is the one who gave them to us. They’re His Skittles. He bought them. If God wanted to—because after all, God is omnipotent, all powerful—He could take all the Skittles from you and me like that! [snap]
Also, we don’t understand the fact that if God wanted to, he could rain so many Skittles on our lives, we just wouldn’t know what to do with them. We couldn’t spend them all. We couldn’t enjoy them all. We couldn’t eat them all.
I’m in a series that kicked off last time called “In the Zone.” We introduced something called the God cam last weekend. See the God cam? [The view on the side screens goes to a camera shot of Ed from above the stage. Ed is standing “in the zone” on the carpet.] That’s the perspective that God has in your life and mine. We’re wired to live in the zone. We are made to live in the blessed place. We’re made to live in the sweet spot of God’s success.
And this is revolutionary for a lot of people here. God is for you. God wants to bless your life and mine. We serve a good God. God is all about you and me. And He wants us to live in this zone, in this area that’s distinguished from the rest. Too many of us, though—let’s look at the God cam again—don’t live in the zone. We’re not zoned in; we’re zoned out. We’re walking around on the edge and the ledge of where God wants us to live.
Some of us kind of drift in and out of the zone. Yet, a large block of us live outside the zone. We’re not zoned in; we’re zoned out. There is no way I can live in the zone, there is no way I can be blessable until I hit this sweet spot of God’s success.
We toss that word around a lot these days. “God bless you. God has blessed me. Bless you.” Someone sneezes, “Bless you.” We hear a comedian take God’s name in vain 400 times at some concert, and he’ll end his show by saying, “God bless you!” What does that mean? When we say “bless” or “blessing” or “God bless you,” we think about the intangibles—peace, love, joy, tranquility of the soul. And that’s part of the blessings.
Blessings mean, though, something deeper, something much more profound. To be blessed means to be on the receiving end of the tangible and intangible favor of God. That’s what it means. To be on the receiving end of the tangible and intangible favor of God.
Let me take out my psychedelic pens, my glow in the dark pens. As I write with these pens…. Don’t you love it? If you were here last time, you’ll know what I’m talking about. After about 20 seconds, they just pop. When I first write you’ll go, “Well, I can’t see it very well.” And all of a sudden, “Whoa!”
[Over the next several minutes, Ed draws a diagram on a Plexiglas board with glow in the dark markers to illustrate the idea of living in the zone.] Let’s say this is the zone. This is where God wants us to live. We’re made to live this way. How do you live in the zone? You have to realize that God is the Blessor. Everything we have is God’s. All of our Skittles, no matter if we have a Bill Gates pile of Skittles, they’re God’s. I don’t care if we have a couple of packs of Skittles, they’re God’s. God’s the Blessor. He’s given everything to us—our personality, our drive, our creativity, our innovation, our smile, our laugh, our athletic abilities. He has given it all to us. And because we have it from God, the stuff we have is God’s. God is the Blessor. We are blessed.
Because we’re blessed—and here is the fun part—we can turn around and be a blessing. Wow! That’s what it means to live in the zone. “How do you be a blessing, Ed? How do you do that? How do you get in on the receiving end of the tangible and intangible favor of God?” Two things. Number one, we receive the supernatural favor of God. God loved you and me so much he sent Jesus Christ to died on the cross for our sins and rise again. If we receive that, if Jesus infiltrates our lives, we have moved into the zone.
But it doesn’t stop there. Because we’ve received Christ, we do something. We reflect. We reflect the nature and the character of the Blessor. We reflect the nature and character of God. We realize that we are just—and this is a big “just”—managers. We don’t own anything. We manage stuff.
The first words God ever said to human beings were all about management. Check your Bibles. Genesis 1:28, God told Adam and Eve to manage his garden. And that should put to rest the age old debate concerning what is the oldest profession. It’s landscaping! Because God told Adam and Eve, “Take care of the garden. Manage it. It’s not yours. I made it,” God said, “Just take of it. Manage it.”
Some people, though, in fact a large block of us, don’t live in the zone. A lot of people live in The Land of “Ing.” [singing] In The Land of “Ing,” in The Land of “Ing,” in The Land of “Ing.”
Do you live in The Land of “Ing”? Are you zoned out instead of being zoned in? If you live in The Land of “Ing,” you’re into own-ing, earn-ing, cloth-ing, hous-ing, bling-bling, ca-ching, ca-ching! You think you’re stuff is your stuff. But your stuff isn’t your stuff! Your stuff is God’s stuff. You might think it’s your stuff, but it’s God’s.
God wants to move those who live in The Land of “Ing” into the zone. God wants to put his bless on your ing. He wants to put his super on your natural. God does.
Last time I said something that was kind of scary. People around the community have been asking me about this the entire week. I said 79% of the people at Fellowship Church who show up for the four services are living in The Land of “Ing.” Then I said—this is pretty bold now—21% live in the zone. 79% zoned out, 21% zoned in. I’ve got the hard data to prove it. We’ll talk about that in a little while.
Here’s the question. Here’s the question that hangs in the balance. How do we move from The Land of “Ing” into the blessed place? How do we move from The Land of “Ing” into the zone? See the God cam? How do we move from the edge and ledge of the zone into the blessed place, into the place where we can receive the supernatural favor of God, tangibly and intangibly. How do we do it? Well, it goes back to Skittles. What are you doing with the Skittles? What am I doing with the Skittles? God talks a lot about Skittles throughout the Bible.
I did some research this week. I’m the founding Pastor of Fellowship Church. Almost 15 years ago, we kicked off The Fellowship Church officially. And there has been 741 weekends over the last 15 years that I can count. I might be off a couple of weekends, but, you know, cut me some slack. I’ve only talked about stuff, money, Skittles, 24 out of 741 weekends. That’s pitiful! Because, as I did some more research, I discovered that one out of every six verses in the New Testament happens to be about stuff, happens to be about money, about Skittles.
In my research, I discovered that Jesus talked more about money and the handling of it than he talked about heaven, hell, prayer, or faith. Is that crazy or what? 30% of Christ’s parables were about Skittles, money, possessions, stuff.
So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to talk about money for the next year. I’m going to make up for lost time. No, I’m not going to do that. I’m joking you. I love, though, to talk about stuff. I love to talk about money. And I’ll tell you why. Any time I open the Bible and I communicate to you what God says about marriage, when we discover what God says about spouse selection, what God says about jealousy or envy or dealing with fear or handling stress or being blessed; I know, because I’m opening up God’s word, that it’s going to help your life and mine. Man, we’re going to click, go to the next level. I know that.
Money is so huge. It’s an extension of who we are, isn’t it? It’s powerful stuff. For a small piece of paper, it carries a lot of weight. It’s that mean green, isn’t it? We spend so much time trying to get money and invest money and protect money and save our money and spend our money and hoard our money. Money, money, money, money, money. Show me the money. Show me the scratch, the dinero, the paper—whatever you want to call it. Money is powerful.
Jesus never said that money is evil. He said the love of money is the root of all evil. He never said, though, that money is evil. So I’ve got to talk about this stuff, because this is going to help all of us. We’re going to talk about, over the next several weeks, money management. What does the Bible say about saving money? What does the Bible say about debt? What does the Bible say about these issues?
How about materialism? Do you ever struggle with that? Surely not! Not in Dallas/Fort Worth. We’re going to talk about materialism. Where does materialism begin and where does it end? We’re going to find out. This is going to be so fun. Because again, the goal that God has led me on, the journey that I want to take you on, is for all of us to live in the zone, the sweet spot of God’s blessing and favor.
To understand this, we need to understand the difference between ownership and management. Ownership and management. I’ve already told you in Genesis 1:28, God talked to Adam and Eve about management. Think about some other stuff God did. God created the heavens and the earth. He separated light from darkness. He made a week. What did God say about the week? “One day. Give to me one day. Honor me.” What was God talking about? He’s talking about first things first.
You know Steven Covey [wrote a] great book, “First Things First.” He didn’t think that up. He stole that idea from God. God’s been talking about that for thousands of years. First things first.
God says throughout his word, “Give that first day to me.” What’s the first day? The first day is Sunday. This is the first day of the week. That’s why the New Testament church began to worship on Sunday, the resurrection day, the first day of the week. We give our first day of the week to God.
Remember when God created the heavens and the earth and he made Adam and Eve, that husband and wife team? God said, “Enjoy, man, enjoy my garden. Enjoy the fruits. Enjoy each other. But,” God said, “there’s this one tree and don’t mess with this one tree. Honor me by staying away from the tree. Honor me with this one day. First things first. And also honor me by not messing around with this tree.”
Remember the children of Israel? They escaped from Egyptian bondage and they were waiting, they were right on the edge of moving into the zone, into The Promised Land. You remember that story? There were 10 cities that they had to conquer. God told Joshua, he said, “Hey Joshua, this first city that you’re going to conquer is named Jericho.” [singing] And the walls came a-tumbling down. Do you remember that? God said, “When you take Jericho,” he said, “Joshua, make sure that all of the stuff in this first city—gold, silver, bling-bling—make sure all of it (He didn’t say bling-bling), make sure all of it goes to my house.” First things first.
If you have your Bibles, you might want to turn to Exodus 13:2. God said, “Consecrate….” What does it mean to consecrate? It means to set apart something for holy usage. “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether man or animal.” We know back in Biblical times, back in the Old Testament, the first born child, that was major! They were to be set apart for holy usage.
Also, here’s what I want to talk to you about a little bit. Also, when an animal was born, the first born animal was huge. This first born carried a lot of weight, a lot of octane. This first born animal was either sacrificed; or, if it was unclean, like a pig, a clean animal was sacrificed in its place. Thus, redeeming the unclean animal.
God sent His first born. The New Testament says that Jesus is the first born. Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection paid the way, paved the way, redeemed mankind, and sequentially…. Although God is sovereign, God sent Jesus Christ to pave the way. And he paved the way of redemption before we ever turned from our sins and followed Christ. There’s something big about the first born. First things first.
So you’ve got the first born and you’ve got the first fruits. Back in Biblical times, people were farmers. I doubt we have a lot of people who are in the farming business here, but you might be. Let’s check out this text, Exodus 23:19, God’s speaking again, “The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God.” The first of the firstfruits. Now, you shall bring, not give. Say it with me, “Bring.” One more time, “Bring into the house of the LORD your God.” The first of the firstfruits.
Cane and Able, they were Adam and Eve’s sons. Cane gave this fruit stuff to God. Able gave his first born, an animal—sacrificed it to God. God accepted Able’s offering. He said no to Cane’s offering. I used to think, “Well I know why God did that. Because Able’s offering was a blood sacrifice, pointing ultimately to Christ. Cane’s was just some fruit.” But that’s not correct.
If you have your Bibles, you might want to turn to Genesis 4:3 because here is the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey says. “In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.” Hello! I hope you didn’t miss that one. “In the course of time Cane brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.”
You know what Cane did? Cane waited until all his crops were in. He was looking around his farmer’s market type stuff, all of his produce and he said, “Oh, man! This has been pretty incredible. I’ve got it all in. Now I’ll take a few Skittles to God and I’ll throw him an apple, an orange his way. I’ll throw God a bone. You know, “Here you go, God.”
“In the process of time”—no, no, no. That dog will not hunt when we deal with God. There’s no way we’re going to be zoned in doing that stuff. The Bible tells me, the Bible tells you that we’re to bring, not give. I’m not talking about giving here. We should bring our firstfruits, where? Into the house of the Lord—our firstfruits, first born, firstfruits. First things first.
Proverbs 3:9-10, “Honor the LORD with your wealth.” If we honor the Lord with our wealth, God’s going to honor us. [The verses continue] “With the”—here we go again—“firstfruits of all your crops….” That’s pretty sweet. “Then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”
Honor God, He’s going to honor you. First things first. So the Bible is telling me, it’s communicated to me that the first part of my income, of all of my financial gain should go to the house of God. In the Old Testament, that was the tabernacle/temple. In the New Testament, that’s the local church. I’m not talking about giving. We bring it.
Would someone bring me $100? [A man quickly brings Ed a $100 bill.] Okay, cool, thank you. C-note, $100 bill. Thanks for bringing it to me. Can’t wait for lunch now. I didn’t take his money! That’s my $100 bill. Before the service, I arranged with this young man to bring me my money. I gave him my $100 bill and said, “I’m going to talk about it. When I say bring it, you bring it.” He was quick. Man! Did you see that? I didn’t see anyone else moving. But he’s was like, “Okay.”
You know why he brought it so quick? Because it’s not his. It’s mine. That’s what God says. God says, “Bring it.” When God says “bring it” in your life, in mine, what do we do? Do we say, “Yes. Okay, God. Here you go”? Or do we say, “It’s mine, it’s mine”?
Does anybody have a $10 bill? I’ll give you this hundred for a $10 bill. Here, give me the 10 dollars. This guy said, “I’ll give you twenty!” No, it’s got to be 10. Thank you, though. That was good. That was good. [A young lady in the audience hands Ed a $10 bill.] All right, young lady. Is that a good deal? Yeah, it’s yours.
Let’s say I’m God, just for a second. $100, give me $10. Is that a sweet deal or what? I’m going to bless your life. I’m God. I’m going to take care of you. I’ve given you your abilities and your stuff and man, enjoy that ninety. Enjoy the rest. I’ve got 10—and that’s the worship requirement, the minimum worship requirement—that you just brought to me, which is some stuff that’s already mine. Is that a sweet deal or what? God being God could have said, “Here’s 10. Now give me the hundred. You live on 10.”
God’s a loving God. He wants to bless us. He wants us to live in the sweet spot of his success. And friends, let me tell you this. There is no way you will ever, ever live in the zone unless you’re giving, I’m sorry, bringing 10 percent of your income to the local church.
God doesn’t need your money. He doesn’t need it. He, though, knows that money is a test. It’s a tool that can be great leverage in your life and mine. He knows, when people like you and me bring the firstfruits of everything we make to the local house of worship, what’s going to happen? We’re going to be in the sweet spot of His success. We are going to honor God. We can enjoy our stuff. And we will have a blast here in this life. We can help others and build the most important thing out there, the local church.
I would tell you this. I would say if you’re living in The Land of “Ing,” and you are withholding what is God’s—if you are not bringing the tithe into the storehouse—I would say you can’t enjoy your stuff like I can. I would tell you I enjoy my stuff more than you. And I don’t care if you are worth $20 billion. I know I do. Because I learned a long time ago, I don’t have stuff unless I can give it away. Hello! I don’t have anything unless I can give it away.
Go back to God for a second. (This is rich here.) You know when God gave Jesus Christ to us for our sins, do you think people in heaven were going like, “Man, God, that’s…whew! You’ve given…. That’s a little bit much! I mean, Jesus? For those people that fumble the ball and sin? God, that’s, that is stepping up!” God gave his best. First things first. Jesus was like God’s tithe. Christ redeemed us. He blessed us, sequentially, before we turned and followed him.
The first 10% has the octane. First things first has the power. So when Lisa and I bring the first fruits of our Skittles, our income to Fellowship Church, what’s going on? God is supernaturally blessing the other 90%. The other 90% is redeemed.
So here is my question for you. Do you want to live with 90% of your income supernaturally blessed, or 100% of your income cursed? It’s your option. Blessing or cursing. For me and my house, that’s a no-brainer. I mean, that is a no-brainer.
Let’s keep going. Let’s go back to the J-man, Joshua. Because that story even has some more depth to it. I wish I could unpack everything, but let me teach you this for a second. Joshua, you remember, led the children of Israel. And God said, “Okay, when you take down Jericho, Joshua, bring everything—gold and silver, bling-bling (remember, I said that)—into the house, into God’s house.” That’s what God said. “The other nine cities, man, enjoy the stuff you get, have a blast, have a good time with that. But that stuff from Jericho now, first things first, is mine,” God said, “as an act of worship, as an act of saying, ‘Okay, I’m number one.’”
Well, Joshua, he was obedient. But there was this guy, if you read your Bible, named Achan. Achan dissed God’s directive. Achan goes, “Oh man, that’s a Rolex watch in Jericho! I think I’ll put that on. And some shoes in my size! I like that. And it’s a Ferrari chariot! That’s cool, too. I think I’ll….” Whoa! Did you hear what God said? “You’re cursed, Achan. You’re cursed. You’re robbing me, man. You’re stealing from me.” God said that. “Wow, Ed, that’s pretty harsh.” Well, I’m just telling you what God said. Let’s keep reading here.
Malachi Chapter 3:8-9, “Will a man rob God?” This is God speaking. “Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offerings.” What does the word “tithe” mean? It means 10. First things first. Verse 9, God said it, “You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me.”
I’ll ask you one more time. Are you living on 90% of your income that’s blessed, that’s redeemed? Or are you rolling the dice and living on 100% of your income that’s cursed?
Look at Verse 10, “Bring,” not give. Again, we’re not talking about giving. Now if it’s over 10%, we’re talking about giving. But now we’re talking about bringing. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse.” Let me stop here. Storehouse—in the Old Testament the storehouse was the temple. It was the tabernacle. In the New Testament it’s that which is most near and dear to the heart of God—the local church. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse.”
That does not mean that we break the tithe up. We say, “Okay, I’ll give 4% to this missionary. I’ll give, like, 1% to this Christian school, and then 5% to my local church.” You’re robbing God. You’re not bringing the whole tithe into the storehouse. I am all for missionaries and supporting them. I am all for Christian education. We support Christian education here at Fellowship Church. But the manifold wisdom of God will be made known through the local church. When you want your daughter to get married, you go to the local church. When you pass away, your funeral will be in the local church. It’s all about the local church. That’s the heartbeat of God, the bride of Christ.
Many people will watch this by television. And I would tell you, if you’re watching this by television, wherever you go to church, bring the tithe there. Don’t tithe to Fellowship Church. This is not your church. Bring the tithe to where you are. If you see this on the internet, I say the same thing. Radio, the same thing. If you are part of another church in this area, bring the tithe there. If you go to Fellowship, if this is your church, bring the tithe here.
God doesn’t need your money, doesn’t need it. Why does he ask for it? Because money is so powerful. And here’s what happens to us. If we don’t tithe, if we don’t bring it, all of a sudden we segue from being a manager into an owner and we think it’s our stuff.
It’s very easy to tell if Jesus is number one in someone’s life. It’s simple. You know how? Just look at their checkbook. Look at my checkbook. You can tell like that if Jesus is Lord, if He’s number one. And I discovered something a long time ago. You cannot out-give God. God wants to bless your life and mine. If we could see the blessings he has for us, we would not even…. Well, let me let the Bible explain it.
Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.” Have you ever thought about this? I have. The local church is the most important thing in God’s economy. The question is, does God want to bless the local church? You better believe it! How is God going to bless the church? Well, He will bless a lot of people in the church so they can bless the church. We’re either clogs or conduits, reservoirs or rivers.
Believe me, God’s blessed a lot of you in a great way. And the sole purpose of God blessing you is to bless this local church. I know a lot of you here are really blessed financially. And believe me, you’re not that smart. You know it’s from God. That was a joke, you know? Come on.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this.” This is God talking. The only place in Scripture where God says, “Test me. Test me in this.”
You know what I thought about doing? Now this is crazy. I can’t believe I’m saying this. “Test me,” God says. You know what I thought about doing? I thought about having a money back guarantee at Fellowship Church. I thought about next weekend starting this deal to say, “Okay, six weeks you tithe. And if God does not bless your life in mighty ways, we’ll give you your money back.” That would be pretty cool, wouldn’t it? Money back? I think we’re going to do that. I’m serious. I love that. That’s how sure I am with this stuff. I know it works. I’m a walking, talking, living, breathing testimony of it.
“Test me in this and see if I will now throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” I want to sign up for some of that. I’m telling you man, my life is a testimony to this. I’m blessed financially, yeah. But I am blessed relationally, occupationally, and emotionally much greater than I’m blessed financially. I’m a living testimony to this first. I’ve never met a person who said, “You know what, Ed? I bring the tithe, the first 10% to the local church and my life’s boring, man. I’m not blessed. I’m just not making it. And I’m living the same old, same old life.” I’ve never met that person. Wow, what can happen in our lives if we get hold of this!
Well some say, “You know, the tithe, it’s kind of an Old Testament thing.” You’ve heard that before? “It’s kind of an Old Testament thing. We’re under grace now. It’s kind of an Old Testament thing.” Malachi 3:6. Same thing. God’s talking about, you know, bring the whole tithe. Look at that verse. “I the LORD do not change.” When did God change his percentages? When did God change? He says, “I don’t change.”
In the Old Testament, in the law it said, “Do not kill.” So I guess I could say if I’m driving in traffic and someone cuts me off, I could just kill them. Because I’m under grace. You know, that’s the law. You know, The Ten Commandments. I’m under grace now, I could just kill that person for cutting me off in traffic.” You can’t do that! Bad boy, bad boy, what you gonna do?
And the Old Testament says, “Do not commit adultery.” “Well, man, I’m under grace. It doesn’t matter who I sleep with.” What?!
Well every time you have the old covenant, the Old Testament, when you move into the New Testament, when you talk about grace—click—the bar is raised. The bar is raised. What did Jesus say? “You look at someone in a mean-spirited way, you’ve committed murder. You look at a woman or a man with lust, you’ve committed adultery.” Whoa! I think I want to tithe under the law, because grace—click—the bar has been raised. The bar has been raised.
Matthew 6:21. Where’s your treasure? Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” You look at my treasure, you look at your treasure. I could follow and you can follow the heart. That’s the treasure test, the treasure test.
And sometimes when I teach about money, I understand that people get a little bit…. It’s kind of personal, stuff like that. Now and then people get a little bit upset. But the reason you’re upset is because I told you where your heart is. Maybe your heart is into owning and earning and clothing and housing and bling-bling and ca-ching, ca-ching and you’re out here in The Land of “Ing.” God wants to put his tithe on your ing. He wants to bring you from here [out of the zone] to there [in the zone]. It’s an adventure. It’s a blast.
You know, I could diesel on and talk to you more and more about tithing. But I don’t need to do that. Just watch this. I think you’ll like this. [A video is played on the side screens in which Ed interviews two members of Fellowship Church who are living in the zone.]
Isn’t that a great interview? Man, they should speak up here and not me. Last week and today, I told you I’ve got the hard data to prove the 79/21 percent. 79% hearing my voice are in The Land of “Ing,” zoned out. 21% are zoned in. “How do you know that, Ed?” Very simple. Our financial office knows who brings the tithe and who doesn’t.
I want you, the 79 percentile, to move to the zone, to move where many of us are. And it can happen today, but only as you get real about your stuff and realize that your stuff is not your stuff, that your stuff is God’s stuff.
The first time I ever shared this story about the Skittles with Landra, well, several days later I got a letter about this story. And here’s what this person wrote to me:
“Dear Ed, recently you talked about giving. You talked about that your stuff comes from God and belongs to him. You told an especially entertaining story about one of your daughters and her refusal to share with you the Skittles that you just bought for her. That was probably one of the most moving illustrations I’ve ever heard about giving back to the one who’s given it all to you. Thanks for sharing that.
We truly thank God for everything and have enclosed an offering. The Skittles we are joyously sharing are enclosed inside the bag [an empty Skittles bag]. Please use it in whatever way you feel will best serve the Lord through Fellowship.”
Inside this bag of Skittles was a check for $80,000.
I’ve never, ever, ever forgotten that. So, how about you? As you’re sitting in the stands of life, eating your Skittles, stuffing your face with all these Skittles and stuff, when our loving Father says, “Bring it. Bring it. I bought it for you. It’s yours. Bring it.” What’s your response?
Right now, we’re going to prepare to bring our Skittles to the storehouse. And we’re going to do this song called “Offering” which really ties everything up, which really kind of nutshells what we’ve been talking about. Over the ensuing weeks, we’re going to talk about money management. We’re going to discuss materialism and a lot of fun stuff. But let’s pray together as we prepare to bring it.