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Being Faithful in a Faithless World – Micah Benavides

MESSAGE TRANSCRIPTION: 

Well, good morning, Eastside. Good morning. Oh, come on. Come on. Good morning, Eastside. Yeah. My name is Micah. I am your guy’s middle school and College pastor here at Eastside. And I’m so excited that I get to continue the series by winning the war in your mind. And if you’ve missed any of the series over the last few weeks, I highly recommend going back and watching these. Carla and Virgil have done a tremendous job. 

Now to get started, I want to ask you guys this question. Growing up, how many of you guys played a sport of any kind? Would it be cheerleading? Raise your hand cheerleading if you did dance? If you did football, soccer, or baseball, right? Yeah. And if you’re like me, you have a favorite wine or maybe even a favorite season. And during the season, you beat everybody. And for me, that was my fifth-grade year. I was playing Civita and football in Winchester, Kentucky, and this was me. What a stun, am I, right? Yeah. Go Raiders. Yeah. No, I’m actually a Raven fan now, going back to this season of my life. We went undefeated and unscored on. Nobody even came close. It was by a landslide. We were just beating everybody. And as I remember this season, I remember it was the first time I felt victorious in my life. Like victory. Yes. 

Fast forward to my college days. I’m now reading a book, and it is talking about the most victorious season ever in mankind. And in it, it beats all those people that have won Super Bowls, like Tom Brady, all those people that have those gold medals, like Michael Phelps, and all those people that have world records in all their professional careers. It was the victorious season of Jesus’ Ministry. For three and a half years, this man endured hardships and overcame temptation. Every temptation defeated Satan, paid for our sins, and then rose from the grave. By far, this is the most victorious season ever. And what I realized as I continued to read and continue to grow in my walk, Jesus wants me to have the victorious life he had.

So how can this be? I started thinking, and he gave me it was the starting point. The starting point was I had to make the decision to pursue all in life. And just like Chip said, it wasn’t checking off boxes. It wasn’t saying, yes, I’ve done this. Yes, God, I did this. No, you are making the decision, and you’re actually doing this. The Allin definition is this. You allow God to do anything he wants in your life because Jesus allowed God to do anything in his life. And when I decided to make this decision, I realized God wants me to trust him, to have faith in at least these four areas of my life and in your life. And so the first one goes like this, you trust God with your time, and what does that look like in Ephesians five? It says, Be very careful or then how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity. What are you doing with your time? Is it making an eternal impact like what you’re doing with your time? Really further the Kingdom, he said, make the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Our days here on Earth are numbered. And it’s very important that we know what we’re doing with our time. It says, Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. So in this, what do we say here at Eastside? We say the best way, the best opportunity for you to start trusting God in this area of your life is to join a life group. Right?

Chips life group was over here cheering them on not just in the 930 but also in this service. And so why do we say this? We want you to give up. God wants you to give up the extra 2 hours out of your week to be in his community. And what happens when you do this? I have some benefits for you. So Proverbs 17 seven says this, A friend loves at all times. When you join a life group when you trust God with your time, you get people that will love you at all times and in all areas of your life, the past, the present, and the future. And it says a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 13:10 says this, walk with the wise and become wise. What does this mean when we trust God with our time?

We start pursuing this all in life, and we get into a group that is also pursuing this all in life. And so in this, as I’m walking the all in life, someone else may be farther up the journey. They may know like, hey, this is what I need to do next. And I’m able to ask them for wisdom, right? And then when someone new comes in, and someone else makes a decision to pursue the all in life, I’m able to go, hey, yeah, you don’t know how to read, you don’t know how to pray, you know how to listen, hey, to the Holy Spirit, let me come, let me show you. And so, as you walk with the wise, you become wise. For a companion of fool suffers harm. What does that mean? That means if we go to the world thinking that we can get wisdom and all these things we can’t, it only leads to harm because the world says completely opposite of this. Another benefit is found in Proverbs again, 27:5, better is open rebuke than hidden love. You get people in your life that are going to give you honest feedback, real feedback. It says wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. These people in your life group can be trusted. And so when they decide to give you some peace and love around here is what we call Eastside when they start to be honest with you and tell you some of the blind spots that you can’t see that can be trusted. Proverbs 20:7-17 says this as iron sharpens iron. So one person sharpens another. Again, I talked about this right before. When you get with people that are pursuing the all in life, and you’re like me, at one point in time, I didn’t know how to read the Bible. I didn’t know there were different versions of the Bible. And so I trusted God with my time, and I joined a group, and someone in there was like, yeah, let me show you. Iron sharpens iron. He was sharpening me. He was sharpening with the tools of reading the Bible and praying and listening to the promptings of the Spirit. 

I can do this all day, and a lot of this is found in Proverbs. But the last benefit I want to give you is found in Job chapter two. When Jobs’s three friends, Ilafaz, Bildad, and Zophar, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they did what? When you get into a group, and something bad happens, because guess what, it’s coming. Life happens. We’re going to experience people leaving us. We’re going to experience heartbreak, and we’re going to experience betrayal and all these things. And what happens when I’m able to tell my friends what they do? It says, Just like in Joe, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. I know this to be true, that people in life groups, when they heard someone had lost somebody that they loved, that life group would drop everything and they would become knocking on the door, hey, what can we do? How can we serve you? Or they would just simply sit and grieve with that person that is grieving. So this is what happens when we trust God in this area of our life.

We become completely transformed in this. Not only can you be completely transformed by trusting God with your time, but also with your talents. In one Peter 4:10, it says this, each of you should use whatever gift you have received. You have spiritual gifts, you have talents, and you have wisdom that’s been given to you by God so that you can serve yourself so that you can build yourself up. No, he says, so that you can serve others as a faithful steward. What does that mean? It means that we have a responsibility with the gifts that we have received, the talents that we have received, and the wisdom that we have received of God’s grace in its various forms. We must trust God in this way, and the best way that we’ve created an environment for you to do that is by serving. We say, step into serving. You want to learn what it looks like to trust God with your time. Step in. And I know this to be true as I was preparing for this message. God, there are people in this room that will actually leave here and go join a serve team. 

And I know this to be true because just three weeks ago, I had an awesome conversation with a life group leader. And this guy leads a men’s group, and I’m sitting with him, and I’m talking to him about getting his guys to serve. And he’s like, well, Michael, my men are ready. What do you need? Now? That’s a huge thing. Whenever men start to say, like, hey, I’m ready, just tell me what you need, God. Revival starts coming because, like me, I’m a man, and sometimes I’m a little slow to move. I get a little lazy. And so when I hear that there are men in this Church ready to serve, and I just need to be told what needs to be done, how they can give their wisdom, how can they serve their people and their Church? It’s incredible. And this also happens on Sunday nights. This is the whole reason why we created Sunday Nights.

It’s a student service for students from middle school and high school to College. And we created this so that more adults, more parents, and more grandparents can model for our next generation of students what it looks like to trust God with their talents. And in this, me and Bon, I’ve been meeting with some families, and we’ve been giving them the vision of Sunday nights that we don’t want your child and your students to sit in a Sunday morning service. Why is that? Well, if you remember, back at Student Takeover, it’s extremely high energy when our kids and our students start to serve.

Right. Student Takeover is probably the best service, in my opinion, for Sunday mornings. Right. And what happens is on Sunday mornings. This service was not created for them. Sunday nights were. And so Sunday mornings are actually the best opportunity for them to discover their talents, discover their gifts, and serve. And Sunday nights is where they come, and they come to worship, and they come to hang out afterward. And so, as we trust God in these two areas of our life, we become completely transformed. Revival starts happening, and revival also starts happening when we trust God with this second or the third part, trust God with our treasures.

I got to be honest, and this is kind of hard for me. I get nervous talking about treasures because there’s something God wants to do in my heart, and sometimes I’m not willing for him to do it. And I started really praying about this as I was preparing the message, and I was like, God, show me, show me what this looks like. Show me what it looks like so I know how to trust you with all my treasures. And I came to Two Corinthians, chapter eight, and it says this and now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the Grace that God has given to the Macedonian churches. So what’s going on? There’s a group of believers, not just one Church, but there’s a group of churches that are choosing to trust God with their treasures. It says, in the midst of very severe trial, in the midst of persecution, in the midst of war, in the midst of famine, their overflowing joy, they have joy during this time, and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. How can this be? How can somebody that is in a severe trial going through war, persecution, or famine probably taking all their treasures away from the war? How is it that they welled up in generosity, and they overflowed with joy? It goes on to say, he says, for I testify that they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability. Again, how is this possible? And it goes, it continues. And they did this entirely on their own.

What were they given to? They were given to Paul. They knew Paul, who was spreading the gospel in different towns and different places. They knew Paul was going to become. They started to give an offering each week, and they said, Paul, when you get here when he got there, they did it entirely. Paul didn’t have to tell them. He didn’t have to persuade them. They did this all on their own. And since they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing this service to the Lord’s people and they exceeded our expectations, they gave themselves, first of all, to the Lord. This is the key thing. This is how they were able to do that. This was how they were able to have joy and severe trials and how they had rich generosity. Even though they were poor, they gave themselves over to the Lord first and then by the will of God, also to us. So what does this look like?

How is it that I put how do I trust God and put Him first in my life? I say some of us when I say that, you probably think of Salvation, right? And I believe some of us do have that role of stepping into Salvation. But some of us need to put God first, and I mean first priority, in all areas of our life, especially in our treasures. And what happens when we do that? We see the joy that we feel when we lay our lives down for God, and we give over to Him first. We see that there’s joy. I’m able to have joy and trial. I’m able to give generously even though I’m poor. What happens when we don’t?

Paul tells us in the next chapter. He says, Remembers this. Whoever so sparingly will also reap sparingly. Some of us say, hey, God-like, yeah, I’m going to step into generosity. I’m going to give you $20 a week, $20 a month. Because, God, I trust you, but I’m going to trust you with the bare minimum. And what does Paul say? He says, when we sow sparingly, we reach sparingly. We’re missing out on a lot of things when we choose to give God the bare minimum. But what happens when we sow generously? We reap generously. It says, each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. Not reluctantly, not under compulsion. Why? When we give ourselves over to the Lord, we stop saying, well, how much does the Church want? How much is Pastor Virgin going to ask for me today? We don’t do it out of pressure. We don’t do it out of being reluctant. And what happens is when we do this, we actually become what he says. God loves a cheerful giver. We’re completely open-minded.

And some of you guys know this because you guys have been doing this for a very long time. You guys have been given more than just the 10%. And so, you know, whenever I read this next verse, God is able to bless you abundantly so that in all things and all times, in all situations, having all that you need, you are abound in every good work. Some of you guys know that. And as I think of God, what can you do? How can we do this? God? I’ve already said it. We do this. We’ve created an environment for you to trust God with your treasures and joining the generosity of a Rockstar team.

We say this because it’s the easiest way to start growing that muscle. You’re not going to easily get to the 10%. 10% is hard, but the moment you start trusting, the moment you start letting go, it gets easier. It gets easier. And that grip starts coming undone until finally completely open-handed. God wants your heart, man, so that you will stop giving out of obligation so that you will stop giving because someone just asks you, and you’re pressured into it. God wants your heart so that when he comes to you, and he prompts you say, God, okay, it was never mine to begin with. Here it is. I give it all back to you. Not only does God really want us to trust Him in these three areas, but also in this last area, which is we trust God with our plans. 

For me, this was kind of hard to figure out because I was like, okay, God, you just don’t want me to plan anything. I’ll just wait for you. I don’t think that’s it. I don’t think God wants me to fly by the seats in my pants in every situation in my life, in every area of my life. But when I started to realize trusting God with my plans looks like this as I’m working and I’m doing work, I’m busy. And all of a sudden, God prompts me. He puts a name on my heart. Just this week, it was my friend Sammy. And immediately I said, okay, I’m going to drop what I’m doing. I’m going to give up my plans of my work or whatever I was doing, whatever task I was doing, I’m going to go message Sammy. It looks like also like a phone call. Or maybe you need to go up to someone’s house and be like, hey, man, I was thinking about you. What can I do? When can we have lunch? It may look like whenever you get a text from your life group members, and they’re saying, hey, we’re about to go out to eat. I know it’s your day off, right for me. I know it’s your day off, but will you come to join us? So I have to give up my day off the time that I feel like I need to recuperate, I just need my time. He says, no, surrender our plans. Go with him. 

And what I’ve realized is God’s plans almost always interact with other people. And my plans, what I want to do almost always revolve around the task to get done. So God wants faithful people. He wants people to trust him in time and talents and treasures and in their plans. And when I think of plans, I think of Mark Two. It’s probably the best biblical story that I can think of. And it’s of a group of friends that decide to give up their plan so that their friend may encounter Jesus.

They have a paralyzed friend. And as they get this nudge of like, hey, this guy named Jesus is healing people. He’s doing miraculous work. We need to take our friend there. And so they get there, they start carrying their friend because a friend can’t walk, and they start carrying them to the building. And what happens? The Bible says that it’s completely filled. There’s no way in. And so they didn’t just stop and say, okay, God, we tried. We tried to give you our plans, but it looks like there’s an obstacle and we can’t do it. They said no. And they start climbing up the roof, and they start undoing hay and shingles, and they’re like, no, our friend’s going to encounter Jesus. 

Our friend’s going to meet Jesus. He’s going to be healed. And they lower Jesus, or they lower their friend down on the mat. What does Jesus say? Jesus looks at him, and they say, he says, Because of your faith, because of your trust in my plans, your friend’s sins are forgiven. And the reality is we all have friends that are like this, that are paralyzed, that can’t make it to Jesus. They need to be carried. They need to be helped. And we have to give up our plans. We have to be okay, God.

This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to stop everything I’m doing because I know that they’re like sheep without a shepherd. They’re completely lost. And I know they’re vulnerable to the harsh world. And I know that the devil is waiting like a roaring lion waiting to devour them. And God wants us again to be faithful people, to trust him in these areas of our life. And as we close this morning, I want to challenge you guys. There was a bulletin that you guys were given or maybe on your seats. And this says a self-assessment. And the reason we’re going to do this, the reason we’re going to look at ourselves, is because in Corinthians again, Paul says, hey, examine yourselves to see whether you are in faith, to see where are you at in trusting God in these areas of your life, he says, and to test them during this moment. 

Take a pen, take a picture right down. You’re going to Mark where you’re at in each area of your life and trust in God with us. This is not for anybody else’s eyes. I’m not going to take him up. I’m not going to ask you to turn it in. Nobody else should be looking. It’s not a test you can cheat on. This is for you to be completely honest and real with God where you’re at. And so, when you look at the time again, we said the best way for every opportunity for you to trust God with your time is to join a group. Where are you at? Do you need to join a group? Is that the next step? Maybe you’ve joined a group. I know we just had a new couple join our group last week, and they loved it. It was awesome. And maybe that’s you it’s been an awesome experience, and you can’t wait for the next one. Some of us have been in a group for a while, and slowly we start to believe the lie. No, I got to have more time for myself. I got to have more time for my task. And we start showing up inconsistently like, no, God, I want to trust you.

With another hour this week, some of us are completely committed to the group. Sold out. Like, you get there early because you and your buddy that you met want to talk about the game. We want to talk about what’s going on in each other’s lives. You’re completely committed to this group. And because you’re completely committed to this group, now you’re ready to bring a friend. You’re ready to hear, okay, God, who is it that can bring God? Who is it you want to bring that person’s talents again? We said the easiest way to do this is to step into serving student Ministry. Sunday nights. Yeah. Hey, it’s the best place, and you need to begin serving. Maybe you’ve joined a serve team again. We had some awesome parents join the Sunday night team, and they loved it. I’ve never seen so much joy in someone’s face serving students again.

Some of us fall into the category of serving, but we’re inconsistent again when it comes to our time. Like, I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to show up early again on Sunday morning so that I can help any kids, or I can hold the door or that I can meet new people or that can come worship or inconsistent. Others are completely committed to serving. And you know, some of these people, they never miss a day. And if they could, they would serve every day because the joy and the purpose that they feel is like no other.

And for those people, maybe it’s the next step is to bring a friend. Hey, man, let me show you. Let me give you purpose in your life. You want joy and purpose in your life. Come with me. Come with me. It’s in serving others. It’s in using your talents, using your spiritual gifts, and using your wisdom to serve others. Nexus treasures. Again, this is hard for me. Some need to make the decision. Hey, I’m going to start, I’m going to start releasing my grip. It may not be a lot, but I know you’re telling me I need to work on this. Maybe you guys have started giving. It’s awesome. And you’re starting to see, oh, God, if I sow this, if I so generously, I’m going to start to reap generously.

Some of us have started giving, and we started working that muscle. But now we want to move to Tithing to the 10%. We start to see and taste the goodness of God. And when I trust him with my treasures, he does crazy and miraculous things in other people’s lives. Some of you guys are at Tithing. You guys are at the 10%. And some of you guys get beyond Tithe because just like in what Paul was saying, you have laid yourself down first before the Lord, completely open-handed because you step back and you see God, you have been faithful in my life. There’s nothing else I could possibly do to give this back to you. And so whether you’re in trial, whether you’re in poverty, you have overflowing joy and rich and generosity, the last one is planning. And maybe like me going into College, and I’m starting to learn about this victorious life of Jesus and this all in life. I didn’t know how to listen. I didn’t know what the promptings of the Spirit were. And I needed someone to show me what it looks like. And if that’s you, Mark that.

And then I started getting to a spot where I don’t allow space for the Holy Spirit to speak to me. I packed my schedule so tight and so busy. I’m on moving to one thing after another, and I never stop. I never allow myself to have space to hear the gentle whisper, to hear, hey, go do this. Hey, go meet with this person. Maybe some of us listen to the prompting of the Spirit, but we only act half the time. We say, God. Okay, yeah, I hear you. I know I need to text this person, I know I need to call this person, I know I need to meet this person.

I’ll do that next week, and we never do it, and it goes back and forth. Back and forth. Yes, I’ll do it this time, but I can’t do it right now God, and then the last one is some of you guys are you drop everything when the Spirit speaks. When the Lord speaks. Okay, God what is it you’re like the four friends. Who is it God, I know you’re calling me into a relationship with somebody. Who is it that needs to encounter you again? Mark where you’re at and see where you’re at. Examine yourselves. Where are you at and trusting God in these areas of your life, and once you do that, I want to challenge you. You can’t do all four if you’re like me. I’m like, all right, I need to work on this and do this. I’m going to do all four of them this week. We can’t do that because when we choose to do multiple things, we end up doing none of them. I want you to circle the area of life that you’re going to choose to work on this week. Is it time? Is it talents? Is it your treasure? Is it your plans? 

Let me pray, father, you have been so faithful to me over the years. I look back, guys and I see nothing but your faithfulness, but I have to be honest, God, that there are times that I believe in you, And I want to trust in you in these areas of my life, and I just need help believing help me with my unbelief father. God, will you help these people with their unbelief, father, we want to be people that are all in for you, allowing you to do anything in our life. Just as you did with Jesus’ life, we pray all this in your name. Amen.