Back In the Black Week 3: Practice, Practice, Practice

SERIES introdction

Our finances can get so out of control so fast, especially heading into Christmas season. Back in the Black will help us avoid financial pitfalls, climb out of financial potholes, and experience financial freedom.

  • What is one thing you are looking forward to this holiday season?

sermon introduction

Have some read  Philippians 4:11-13

Mike started his message with the definition of envy. He said, “Envy is resenting God’s goodness in someone else’s life, while ignoring His goodness in mine.”

There is just no win in comparison. It steals our joy and peace. Comparison drives anxiety and unhealthy competiveness through the roof. It shifts our eyes off of all the ways we’ve been blessed and we start living with a sense of entitlement. “I deserve” becomes our entitled mantra.

The Hebrew people prayed what they called the 18 Benedictions every day. “Bene” in the Latin means “good”. The word “diction” means “words”, good word or what the Jewish people called blessings. All day, every day, they wanted to thank God for what he had given them, so they would stop and pray, “Blessed are you LORD for you have given us food to eat.” “Blessed are you LORD for you have given us clothes to wear.”

They prayed these Benedictions because they realized that God was a Benefactor—he was the source of all that is good. And they knew they were the beneficiaries of God’s good gifts. And they had a name for the good gifts God gave them—they called them Benefits.

How different would your life be if you thanked God consistently throughout the day? How can you work prayers throughout your day?

Have someone read Psalm 103:1-5.

We have much to be thankful for but we so easily forget. When we are comparing ourselves to others we can start believing we deserve things. This time of year is especially difficult. We are assaulted with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and see the things we didn’t know we needed. These same items we didn’t know we needed are now on sale calling to us. We see our friends buying these things and start believing we deserve them. We tell ourselves we would be content if only we had that one thing. Thought patterns like this steals our joy and we become less grateful.

We all have areas where we are more vulnerable to comparison. What gets in your way and how does it keep you from being grateful?

In her book Radical Gratitude, Ellen Vaughn writes “Radical gratitude is powerful, provocative, life-changing. It’s like a pair of glasses that get progressively sharper: the more we thank, the more we see to be thankful for. Gratitude is the lens that reveals God’s incredible grace at work. It is the key to tangible, everyday joy.”

Think about your life and count up your benefits. What are three things you are most grateful for this year?

Research shows that people who look through the lens of gratitude are happier and content with their life. If we express our gratitude those feelings go off the chart. Who doesn’t want to live an off the charts life, filled with deep satisfaction? Paul teaches us the secret to being content in Philippians 4.

Have someone in the group read Philippians 4:11-12.

The best way to learn something is to practice. You want an off the charts life? Learn contentment by practicing gratitude.  One of the best ways we practice gratitude is through generosity. The more we express our thanks by giving away our resources, sharing our stuff, and extending our lives for the sake of others the deeper contentment and joy takes root in our hearts.

Mike said that grateful generosity is the power ball that energizes your whole life. Research on what makes people happy comes to an overwhelming conclusion – selflessness leads to happiness. Generosity infuses our lives and counteracts selfishness.

It seems counterintuitive but the absolute best way to fill yourself up is to pour yourself out.   We’ve been made in God’s image, so we’ve been divinely pre-engineered to give ourselves away. That’s what He does so when we do it, we feel like we are fully alive.

When was a time in your life that you shared or gave back. How did that impact you?

Jesus talked about money more than any other topic because he knew how it could impact our lives.  this a lot, saying things like, “It’s better to give than to receive.” He wasn’t delivering a message on tithing when he said that. He’s just acknowledging a fundamental reality of life –  it really is much more fun, much more fulfilling and deeply satisfying to give of yourself rather than to get for yourself.

Have someone read Luke 12:15.

We give willingly when we give from a heart that simply wants to say thanks. Giving is not an obligation have to on our list. We are not trying pay God back but simply want to honor Him and invest in someone else’s eternal future. When we give willingly we let generosity define our lives.

Have someone read 2 Corinthians 9:7 and 2 Corinthians 8:2,4.

The apostle Paul writes about this little struggling church in Macedonia who wanted to help out some folks in need. They didn’t have much, but they gave willingly and joyfully. God loves cheerful giver. You can’t be grateful and resentful at the same time.

Have someone read Matthew 6:1-4.

Jesus talked more than once about the need to give humbly. He doesn’t desire us to give and boast about how amazing we are as givers. He talks about giving in secret. We don’t have to match or out give someone else, we are just called to give.

To give consistently is to put our faith in practice. God owns it all anyway, he just entrusts it to us to manage while we’re here.  Every single possession that we have really belongs to our heavenly Father.

Money management is one of those things that God uses to grow us from the inside out. Awesome things like wisdom, discipline, patience, compassion, delayed gratification, and contentment all get shaped in us. It is priceless and life changing. Our hope is in transforming love of Jesus Christ that changes the world one heart at a time. Mike challenged us to refuse to hoard and instead to pour out and give generously.


Identify one way you can practice gratitude in your life this week. Put gratitude into practice and spend time praying and giving thanks to God as a group.

As a group consider how you can give back this Christmas season as a small group. From adopting a family to helping out with the Foster All Christmas Party, there are ways to give back and pour out to others in need. Visit our Compassion page to see a list of all the opportunities this season.