“I expected more.” That’s what Jamey’s new wife said to him on their honeymoon when they couldn’t afford to go on an excursion during the cruise they were on. The trip was all-inclusive, except for excursions. There would be no extras but Jamey’s wife had expected more.
Jamey Paugh joined us today at Motor City Church with a testimony that you should listen to first hand. It is truly one that will make you think and has the capacity to lead you into real change. Jamey appealed to the God of the impossible as he wrestled with consistent lack in his life - his life in the position of husband and provider. God reminded him that he was created for more. We are all created for more. We are created in God’s image to be like Him. Ephesians 3:20 says that God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine. That same scripture speaks of the power that is inside of us. He can use us for the impossible. He can use us as conduits of the supernatural. He can do His impossible through us. Are you expecting more?
Jamey grew up in poverty because of several reasons - one of which was substance abuse and the toll it took on his family’s financial and emotional health. There was too much month at the end of the money. He shared about remembering the pain as he watched different situations play out. He remembers bankruptcy and having to move from his childhood home. In the confidence and optimism of youth, like all of us, he expected he would do things differently as a grown, married man. But he didn’t. He speaks of consequences to choices he was making during these early years of adulthood that should've awakened him to make needed changes - digging for loose coins in the booth at McDonald’s to buy his wife a hamburger, when his wife had to work two jobs, maxing out eleven credit cards, moving in to live with a college roommate because he couldn’t afford his own place. Desperation was his driving force. He owed his in-laws, his grandma and he had student loans to the tune of $125,000.
But God is faithful. He was a believer. He had a relationship with the Lord. And, the Holy Spirit was speaking to him. God is speaking to us all the time. But, are we listening to Him? God showed him Proverbs 22:4, “The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life.” NOT poverty and death.
God revealed to Jamey that he was a slave. He was making the same decisions over and over again in the same way, with the same results. And the pit grew deeper. God made it clear that He did not design Jamey to live the way they were living. He was able to get through to Jamey, to show him that he had a heart issue. He had a trust issue. He was focused on self and not on God. As Jamey began to refocus on God and really sought God for a solution to his dire situation, God promised He would get him out of debt, but that they would do it His way. It would be a process. The Lord began to do a heart work for him. It was impossible. But, God is the God of the impossible. He showed Jamey what to do and reluctantly at first, Jamey followed. But as things began to turn around and as Jamey released his own thoughts and ways, he came to trust God in this new area of his life. He came to know God as his source instead of relying on his own ingenuity and rationale. Deuteronomy 8:18 shows us that God is the one who gives us the ability to produce wealth. Proverbs 10:22 tells us that “The blessing of the LORD, it makes rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” God showed Jamey that He would not release everything into his hand at once because he wouldn’t know how to handle it. He taught him to be a good steward step by step.
One of the first mindset shifts was to plan for generosity instead of income. Do you ever plan for income and what you’re going to do with that income? God instructed the Paughs to set giving goals instead. Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” As we focus on God as our source and commit to giving plans that He guides us through, we will start seeing change and breakthrough. This in turn, will deepen your commitment to doing things God’s way.
Tithing is only the first step. Malachi 3:10 may be familiar, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
Matthew 6:21 adds to the truth of giving, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Take time to audit your bank statement - or your credit card statement if you are in a situation like Jamey was with no money in the bank. The statement will show you where your heart is. Where is your treasure? What are you investing in? This is the real situation.What do you really want? God is your source. All you have, you have because He has blessed you. How are you stewarding His resources that He has blessed you with? Are you seeking Him and are you obeying Him when He speaks to you?
Don’t base your giving on income and assets. Remember, tithing is just a basic first step. Don't give out of what you have. Give out of the resources of heaven. When God directs us to give a certain amount or a favorite possession, He is only asking for what He gave us in the first place. Look for that heart condition in yourself that says, “God can have all of it - anything He wants, because it is His in the first place.” And, He will provide for you according to His riches in glory.
Who is your Master, Savior, and Provider? How much more will you open your heart? Do you trust him?