Chapter 19 - GIVING MY RESOURCES
There was this $50 dollar bill and a $1 dollar bill on the conveyor belt at the downtown Federal Reserve Building. As they were lying there side by side the $1 dollar bill said to the $50 dollar bill, "Hey mannnn, where have you been. I haven’t seen you in a long time ?" The $50 dollar bill replied, "Man I have been having a ball! I been traveling to distant countries, going to the finest restaurants, to the biggest and best casinos, numerous boutiques, the mall uptown, the mall downtown, the mall across town and even a mall that I just newly built. "In fact, just this week I’ve been to Europe, a professional NBA game, Rodeo Drive, the all-day retreat spa, the top-notch hair salon and the new casino! I have done it all!" After describing his great travels, the $50 dollar bill asked the $1 dollar bill, "What about you? Where have you been?" The $1 dollar replied, "Well, I’ve been to the Baptist church, the Methodist church, the Presbyterian church, the Episcopalian church, the..." "WAIT A MINUTE! WAIT A MINUTE!!" shouted the $50 dollar bill to the $1 dollarbill. "What’s a church?"
Luke 16:11 “and if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven
John Bevere – Money is the most important doctrines of scripture the Devil wants to pervert. For example the Bible has about 2300 verses of Scriptures on money and possessions. Faith is referred to in 500 verses while 500 verses refer to prayer. Yet very few know what God has said about money.
But what would you be willing to do for $10 million? In their book, The Day America Told the Truth, authors James Patterson and Peter Kim reveal some shocking statistics on how far people in this country are willing to go for money:
(25%) Would abandon their entire family
(23%) Would become prostitutes for a week or more
(16%) Would give up their American citizenship
(16%) Would leave their spouses
(10%) Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free
(7%) Would kill a stranger
(3%) Would put their children up for adoption
We must cultivate an atmosphere of giving!
2 Corinthians 8:7 (NIV) 7 But just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us--see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
Even Jesus had to deal with this in His ministry.
Luke 10:25-37 (ESV) 25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
3 Distinct Philosophies
1. The Robber – Whats Yours is Mine
2. Priest and Levite – What’s Mine is Mine
3. Samaritan – What Mine is yours
FOUR KEYS TO BECOMING A GENEROUS PERSON
1. Develop And Maintain A Relationship With The Holy Spirit
Acts 2:43-47 (ESV) 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Philipians 1:3-5 (paraphrased) ” I thank God for you. You are generous because of your faith.” (Loosely translated).
You can give and not love but it is impossible to Love and not give. Where your treasure is there will your heart be also
2. Model Your Maker
A. You Become like what you worship
Psalm 114:4-8 Their idols are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands. They cannot talk, though they have mouths, or see, though they have eyes! They cannot hear with their ears, or smell with their noses, or feel with their hands, or walk with their feet, or utter sounds with their throats! And those who make them are just like them ,as are all who trust in them.
B. God is A Generous God
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thank God for his son- a gift too wonderful for words.”
2 Cor 8:8-9 “I am not saying you must do it, even though the other churches are eager to do it. This is one way to prove your love is real.You know how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus Christ was. Though he was very rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.
Romans 5:15, And what a difference between our sin and God’s generous gift of forgiveness
C. Generosity is equated with Godliness
Romans 8:29, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.”
2 Cor 9:& “GOD LOVES A CHEERFUL GIVER”
Proverbs 22:26 – “they are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give.”
Psalm 112:4 When darkness overtakes the godly, light will come bursting in. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.
Psalm 37:21, “The wicked borrow and never repay, but the godly are generous givers.
D. Generosity means giving your best
E. Generosity can be an evangelistic tool.
Acts 2:45-47 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.
Luke 16:9 I tell you, use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven
2 Cor 9:12 “two good things will happen—the needs of the Christians in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanksgiving to God.
E. God will hold us accountable by the standard he sets. Matthew 18:21-35 – “Two Debtors”
Psalm 112 Generosity starts with the Fear of the lord
Ex: Alexander the Great
3. See yourself as a River and not a Resevoir
A. Understand Stewardship
Luke 16:12 “and if you are not faithful with other people’s money, why should you be trusted with money of your own?
B. Don’t Just understand the promise & Purpose of money
Romans 12:8, “If you have money share it generously.”
2 Cor 9:10-11 “For God is the one who gives seed to the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will give you many opportunities to do good, and he will produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
Yes, you will be enriched so that you can give even more generously. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will break out in thanksgiving to God.
4. Think in terms of the Line not the Dot
G.K. Chesterton said, "There are two ways to get enough: One is to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less."
What is our life now compared to eternity
Luke16:9, “I tell you, use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven.
Luke 12:33 “Sell what you have and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven have no holes in them. Your treasure will be safe—no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.”
Luke 12:13-21 “Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” Then he said, “Beware! Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have. Real life is not measured by how much we own.”And he gave an illustration: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. In fact, his barns were full to overflowing. So he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store everything. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!’“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get it all?’“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”
Whenever we mention GIVING we immediately think MONEY – it’s natural I suppose.
Yet as ‘supernatural’ people we are called to see a broader dimension. We are called to be a GIVING people. Few Christian people will give their finance in the right way if they have not discovered the higher call to a life of giving.
In life there are GIVERS and there are TAKERS!
There are those in whose nature it is to GIVE and those who by nature TAKE!
Givers never seem to struggle for friends and takers don’t seem to have friends for long.
Proverbs 18:16 “A gifts opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great”
Characteristics of a GIVER
Thoughtfulness, consideration, compassion, sensitivity, generosity, kindness.
Characteristics of a TAKER
Ingratitude, selfishness, self-centredness, thriftiness, insensitivity.
Even in the Church there can be givers and takers! Yet God wants us to be GIVERS!
God is the greatest Giver!
As a Creator: Genesis 1:29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”
As a Redeemer: John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
You may be by now expecting a message about tithes, offerings and the like. Well you’ll either be pleased or displeased. Because the actual giving of money is not the primary issue in Christian giving (stewardship).
Unless you can grasp the FIVE truths I will outline this morning you will always find giving a constant challenge.
TRUTH # 1: GIVING IS NOT AN ACTION – IT’S AN ATTITUDE!
2 Corinthians 8:1-7 “excel in the GRACE of giving”
You can never give properly until you give PROPERLY i.e. There is a right way and a wrong way to give.
2 Corinthians 9:7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
(whether in finance, ministry, helps – this is how to give)
Jesus talked about HEARTS ‘n’ TREASURES - Matthew 6:19-21 (read)
This reminds us that your attitude to what you have is vitally important to how you use it.
GIVING starts in the heart and becomes an action that is driven by what you feel or see.
That is why Paul urges CHEERFUL giving – because giving can be a hugely enjoyable experience.
TRUTH # 2: JESUS ASKS FOR MORE THAN MONEY
Mark 8:34-37 (Read)
Jesus encountered someone who took pride in what they gave.
Some have placed their tithe in the offering basket thinking they’ve done their bit for God and the Church – RUBBISH – God wants you more than your money.
Rich young man and Jesus – Matthew 19:21 "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
It’s as if Jesus was telling him to get rid of the riches that held him so that Jesus could have what really mattered – Him.
Financial giving is important but not as important as what God wants most of all – YOU. You are more valuable than pounds and pence.
TRUTH # 3: GIVING IS AT THE HEART OF CHRISTIAN LIFESTYLE
Jesus explains the greatest kind of giving – Matthew 10:5-8 “…….freely you have received freely give”
You are a walking talking bank vault of spiritual wealth ready to be given away. Every impulse of Jesus was to give – healing, feeding, loving, freeing etc…
He taught his disciples that giving is a way of life – Matthew 5:40-42
Being a disciple of Jesus should make us GIVERS not TAKERS. Looking for an opportunity to give.
TRUTH # 4: THE KINGDOMS PRINCIPLES ARE UPSIDE DOWN
Acts 20:32-35 (Read *v35)
This is the reverse of the wisdom of this age – the so called wisdom of a National Lottery, Prize Draws, Gambling and Gaming culture. The catch phrase of modern Britain is ‘It’s more blessed to receive than it is to give’.
Satan and society has hoodwinked some Christians into believing the same. They are the consumer Christians who come to Church to TAKE and not to GIVE. They measure a meeting by what they didn’t receive.
TRUTH # 5: EXTRAVAGANT GIVING COMES FROM THE HEART
Jesus unlocked the heart of a woman that led to her extravagant giving – Mark 14:3-9 (Read)
Her giving had actions to it. She broke the seal on her gift, removed the lid and poured it out. Yet she was not capable of such extravagance had it not been for how her heart had been touched by Jesus.
Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac, this woman cared no longer for the value of this luxurious and prized perfume
What would it take for you and I to break the seal and open the lid on our most precious possession?
Maybe the key to giving is still found in an encounter with the amazing God who has so freely given us so much.
Remembering that will at least unlock the gratitude that will ultimately make way for generosity.
“….Freely you have received, freely give”
19 BELIEVE: Giving My Resources
Pastor Larry Courson
Peace Lutheran, Ann Arbor, MI
January 25, 2015
We are now 25 days into the New Year. That means that we are 25 days into the challenge of keeping New Year Resolutions. Some people are keeping their resolutions. Many are not. One of the top resolutions every year is to get more exercise and lose weight. If you belong to and go to a fitness center on a regular basis, you’ve probably seen the number of people showing up to work out already start to decline.
Another top resolution every year is to manage our money better and to get out of debt. That’s a big challenge for people who put their Christmas gift purchases on their credit cards. Some people are really working at it. About 2 dozen people are attending the Financial Peace University program at Peace on Monday evenings. That’s great.
I think we all know that money is important to us. ‘Money matters’ is one of the biggest influences on how people vote in elections every year. The Bible has a lot to say about how we use our money and all of our resources. Sixteen of Jesus’ parables talk about how we handle our possessions. Today in our Believe series, we want to look at what we do with what we have as we ask how we can best use our resources to serve God and others.
So let’s begin with a very simple, but true statement. God doesn’t need our money! We believe God created everything. God is not limited by the money or other resource we give back to Him. God doesn’t need our money, but He wants our heart. Jesus tells us, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:21 NLT) If money is the most important thing in our lives, then money will become the focus of our time, our thoughts, and our actions. But if God has the number one place in our lives, then the pursuit of money and the stuff money can buy doesn’t dominate our lives.
There is a big difference between the things we “Have To Do” and the things we “Get To Do” in life. We have to pay our taxes. The government mandates what we have to pay. There is no way around it. There can be serious consequences for us if we don’t pay our taxes. But you don’t have to give anything to God or to help other people. We get to do that. It is our choice. Our theme verse today says, “Since you excel in everything else – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you – see that you also excel in the grace of giving.” (2 Corinthians 8:7)
You can come to this church every week and never give a single cent. That’s the freedom and choice that you have. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is God’s free gift to us all. No one made God love us. No one made Jesus enter into our world to die on a cross to pay for our sins. He did this because He loves us. This announcement is printed in our bulletin every week about our offerings. “If you are a first time worshipper, you are our guest and we do not expect an offering.” We mean that. The same announcement is a reminder that the offerings we give are an act of worship. Do you give because you think you have to do it? Or do you give because you want to give? There is a big difference. It’s like the difference between a child willingly helping with the dishes or cleaning up his bedroom because he wants to or because Mom or Dad makes him do it. One does it joyfully. The other does it grudgingly
Historians tell us that when soldiers in the Middle Ages came to faith in Jesus and were baptized, they would keep their right arm out of the water as if to say that the arm used in battle would not be committed to the Lord. How many Christians do the same thing. We hold our wallet in our right hand as if to say, “Lord, you can everything except my money.”
We are not required to give anything. But we have the privilege of giving. We don’t have to give, but we get to give. Paul wrote, “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” (2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT) If we break down this verse like an NFL analysis, we discover these things about giving back to God:
Who? “You must each.” This letter is written to Christians. So it applies to each of us.
How? “Decide in your heart.” Giving is a matter of the heart, not of compulsion. Our relationship with God determines what we decide.
What? “How much to give.” The money, the time we give are personal decisions.
When? “Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure.” If that is your motivation, put your money back.
Why? “God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” God loves us all. He wants us to love Him back.
I don’t think any of us want to just get by in life. We want to do something that is meaningful, significant. Your may have entered into your chosen career to make a significant difference in the lives of others. Teachers want to help kids learn and grow. People in the medical field want to help people stay healthy or regain their health. First responders want to help people facing difficult situations. We volunteer to do things that we think are significant, that make a difference. God gives us the opportunity to give our time, our abilities and our resources to make a significant difference.
Giving means doing something. If you only tell someone to do something, they are likely to forget. If you show them how to do something, they are more likely to remember. But if you involve them in doing it, they will not only remember but also understand. God gives us the opportunity to give back to Him and to others so that we remember and understand His love for us and for all people.
I want to end this with a challenge that you can decide to do or not do. Take a look at your checking account, investments and savings accounts and credit card statements and ask yourself these questions:
What patterns or tendencies do I see?
What priorities are evident in my spending?
Where am I pleased with regard to my money management?
Where am I disappointed with my findings?
What changes should I consider making?
God has given each of a number of personal and financial resources to use. As you put these things to work this week, think about how you can do something significant with them that will fulfill God’s purpose.
Believe 19: Giving My Resources
ChristBridge Fellowship (Non-Denominational)
Sunday, January 11, 2015
For the past four years I have been mentoring a young boy at our local schools. One of our routines is me bringing him ChickFilA for lunch. Because I’ve been doing this for four years I’ve developed a friendship with a lady that works the drive through. She’s always friendly, has a smile on her face, and asks about “our boy” as she calls my mentee.
The week before Christmas I was picking up lunch and saw Ms. Jesse. I asked her how she was doing and if she was getting time off for Christmas. She said “yes” and mentioned that she was off from her other job too. I didn’t know she was working two jobs. It made me more aware of her situation and I left thinking she would be a good candidate for our Special Christmas Offering.
That night I wanted to make good use of my time so I started scrolling facebook. Sometimes it pays off to scroll facebook. I came across a post that said, “Let’s Give Ms. Jesse A Little Christmas Joy!” These words were on a placard sign hung on a ChickFilA cow.
When I read further I saw that it was a GoFundMe campaign for the Ms. Jesse I knew (http://www.gofundme.com/is8hmk). But the campaign had just ended so I missed out on taking part. The original goal was $1000 and the total raised was $4830. The next morning she was presented a check for the money raised in 18 days by 115 people. People gave their resources to help ease another person’s load.
GoFundMe was launched on May 10, 2010 and is the world’s #1 crowdfunding platform for personal causes and life-events.” “Crowdfunding” is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the internet.
The Apostle Paul did a little crowdfunding himself but had to use face to face appeals and letters. We read about it in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. Here’s the cause Paul was raising money for: the Jerusalem church and it’s poor.
The Christians in Jerusalem were struggling financially. The Jews in Jerusalem may have isolated Christian Jews from the economic system. It’s one form of persecution they may have endured. Also, we know from Acts 11:28 and from the Jewish historian Josephus that there was a famine in Judea between A.D. 44 and 48. That may have been part of the reason for the poverty among the Christians in Jerusalem.
Paul saw a need and rallied the troops to help out. And many did. “For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it …” (Romans 15:27-28).
You might think that the ones to give are the ones who have the most. You might think that Macedonia and Achaia were living in robust economic times and had plenty of discretionary spending money. Think again. Paul will say in 2 Corinthians that it was out of their “extreme poverty” that they had “overflowed in a wealth of generosity” (2 Cor. 8:2). They were experiencing poverty too but still gave to those in need.
The same holds true today. Listen to these statistics:
Americans who earn less than $10,000 gave 2.3 percent of their income to religious organizations…whereas those who earn $70,000 or more gave only 1.2 percent. … Households of committed Christians making less than $12,500 per year give away roughly 7 percent of their income, a figure no other income bracket beats until incomes rise above $90,000 (they give away 8.8 percent). In fact, in absolute terms, the poorest Christians give away more dollars than all but the wealthiest Christians.”
People who have little in terms of resources tend to give more of their resources. The Macedonians did.
But the Corinthian church had not. Paul has to challenge them to give. Here’s how he does it:
He tells the story of the Macedonians as an example of giving (2 Cor. 8:1-5).
He tells them that Titus is going to help facilitate their giving (2 Cor. 8:6, 16).
He exhorts them to excel not only “in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you” but also in “this act of grace also.” He’s talking about giving to the Jerusalem poor (2 Cor. 8:7).
He says that their giving is a proof that their love is genuine (2 Cor. 8:8).
And finally he reminds them that they had promised to give a year before and now they needed to finish what they started (2 Cor. 8:10; 9:5).
The Corinthians had money. They had resources. They had just not shared them.
The Macedonians had extreme poverty. They had few resources. They shared what they had.
What was the difference between the two groups? And what is the difference between similar groups in the church today? Paul points to the basis of what made his GoFundMe campaign for Jerusalem take off in 2 Corinthians 8:9: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
I’ve known this verse by heart since 1987. We were preparing a team of teens to go to Haiti to work with the impoverished there. We wanted to help the kids understand that as followers of Jesus we sacrifice to help others. This verse seemed better than any others to help them make the connection.
In one of our final gatherings before flying to Haiti we had a team supper. It was a simple meal of rice and beans—similar to what the people they would be serving might have—and they were eager to eat.
But before they could eat they had to quote this verse. And they did. Each one spoke the words of Paul before they took their bowls and were served food. We talked of how Jesus served us so that we could serve others.
Money issues in churches are seldom financial issues. Mostly they are spiritual issues. Giving of our resources happens freely when we see Jesus and his sacrifice. That’s why Paul doesn’t issue this giving to the Jerusalem church as a command (2 Cor. 8:8). That’s why Paul says “Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” He’s content with teaching Christ and letting Christ take root in their lives.
When he does take root giving happens. Jesus’ grace then is the reason for our generosity now.
That’s the difference between stingy churches and generous churches. Generous churches believe what Paul teaches, that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor. 9:6).
What kind of harvest do you want in your life? Paul isn’t saying that the more you give of your finances the more finances you will receive. He is saying that as you learn to give God will in turn give you all you need. Maybe not all you want, but all you need.
Want to see more of a generous spirit developing in you? Paul gives some wisdom on how that can happen.
First, keep your eyes on Jesus. You won’t give out of compulsion or coercion. But you will give out of a Christ-centered life. He left the riches of heaven and became poor so that you and I can enjoy the riches of heaven. Paul says in Ephesians 1:7 that God in his mercy made us alive when we were dead in our sins, he raised us up with Christ and seated us in the heavenly places, so that he “might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
When you see what you’ve been given in Christ you will want to give.
But then you will need some practical steps to follow. Paul does not disappoint. In 1 Corinthians 16:2 he implies a few principles for generous giving.
Give on the first day of every week. We give the first of what God has given us and we give it at the first of the week when Jesus’ people are gathered for worship.
Each one gives. No one is exempted from giving. God has made us stewards of what he has given whether it is little or a lot. If you think you will begin to give “some day” when your income is higher you are mistaken. Jesus taught, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much” (Luke 16:10). Generosity begins now, not later.
Each one gives prayerfully as they have prospered. Although a common answer to “how much should I give?” is 10% based on a misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of the Old Testament tithe, no amount or percentage is ever required in the New Testament. Instead, each believer is to give from his heart. “Each one should give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” If you’ve never asked God to direct you in your giving, you need to. And whatever he leads you to give, give that cheerfully and honor him with your gift.
Give extra to extra causes. That’s what this collection was all about. The early churches had weekly needs among their own that they gave towards. But now there is a need that, along with others, the Corinthian church was being called to participate in through their giving.
And there are extra causes. People who, for no fault of their own, lose their jobs and are struggling to put food on the table until they find the next job. Organizations that need contributions to help feed the homeless and poor. Clinics that exist to help those without insurance and who have low incomes.
There are plenty of needs. And there are plenty of resources. Those resources are sitting in our bank accounts. When we are overtaken by the grace of Christ in our lives our hold on those resources will loosen as we take a greater hold of him.
So what do you need to let loose of? A good practice, especially at the start of the year, is to review your budget and your spending patterns. Much of the time when we think we don’t have much discretionary money we in reality do. We just aren’t using much discretion as to where we are spending it!
As we walk back through the past few months we can ask God to show us patterns in our spending. We can start to see where our priorities are in our money habits. If somewhere in our discovery we do not see God as a priority then some changes may be in order.
Remember that Jesus—the one Paul presents as our reason for giving—said we can only serve one of two masters: God or money. I can tell you from scripture and experience that money makes a miserable master.
Put God first in your giving.
Let Christ be your example.
Have a cheerful Spirit in your generosity.
You’ll find that giving a little Christmas joy can happen throughout the year.
New Hope Community Church (Non-Denominational)
January 11, 2015
Before we get into our study I want to offer something for all of us think and pray about. In our society money is king. I can talk about being stewards of our time and the abilities that God has given us and rarely does anybody get upset. I can encourage us to consider “all of the time we have each day” is a gift from God and therefore we should consider how He wants us to use it & nobody walks out of church annoyed or exasperated. I can encourage us to consider the abilities we have been given by God and how we can use those gifts to bring Him glory and honor and rarely will anyone roll their eyes at me from the pews. But, I sense, may not be true, but, when I challenge us to examine the Scriptures concerning the use of our money hands automatically clinch our checkbooks and hearts become like teflon. Men tune me out by saying, "I work hard for my money and ain’t nobody gonna tell me what to do with it." We as Americans have a real problem with money. We have taken a view of ownership rather than stewardship when it comes to our money. I will assure you that this is a major contributor to the problem plaguing us at the present time. We who believe so much in doing what we think is best with our money filed more bankruptcies this last decade than any other time in our nation’s history. The question has to be asked, "Do we really know what is best when it comes to taking care of our money? How to spend it, how to save it, and how to give and where?" I don’t think so.
The poor management of America’s finances is troublesome and perilous for us as a nation, but it is deadly for the followers of Jesus. I can say without hesitation that there is absolutely nothing that will ruin our witness as a follower of Jesus more quickly than financial mismanagement. It is challenging to share our faith in front of creditors who we do not or cannot pay? Let’s begin our study.
Since you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you — see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 2 CORINTHIANS 8:7
For children, there is a big difference between “have to” and “get to.” “You have to go to the doctor for a shot.” “You have to wait here and be quiet until I’m done.” “You get to go out for ice cream.” “You get to pick out a toy at the store because you were so patient.” Early on, we learn to draw a line to divide activities we perceive to be fun or boring, good or bad, positive or negative.
As adults, we still experience plenty of “have to’s” and “get to’s” in life. But some of these areas can move from one extreme to the other, depending on the person and their circumstances. Giving certainly fits such a description — particularly giving to the church. One person finds great joy in giving regularly to support Kingdom ministry, while another views it as a heavy burden. But what marks the difference in the two perspectives? What draws the line between joy and drudgery or delineates the boundary between generosity and greed?
KEY QUESTION: How do I best use my resources to serve God and others?
Historians tell us when soldiers in the Middle Ages came to faith in Christ and were baptized, the event often came with a unique twist. The warrior would keep his right arm up out of the water. The symbolic point intended was that the arm used for wielding his sword and killing would not be committed and surrendered to the Lord, as was the rest of his body. This decision was certainly an odd attempt to show that the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing.
Today it seems many Christians hold their right arms out of the water as well — but with their wallet or purse in hand, as if to say, “Lord, you can have everything . . . except my money!” In his first letter to Timothy, Paul warns:
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:9 - 10
Of the thirty-eight parables of Jesus in the Bible, sixteen of them deal with how to handle possessions; all told, 288 verses in the Gospels — one out of every ten — refer to money. Over two thousand Bible verses talk about our personal resources, compared with approximately 500 on prayer and fewer than 500 on faith. We can’t conclude from these statistics that Jesus’ heart was focused on money, but rather that he knew ours would be. His teaching continually directs us toward using all we have — including our money and our possessions — to love Him and love others.
KEY IDEA: I give my resources to fulfill God’s purposes.
God’s great grace should move us to think, not as though we are required to give, but as though we are privileged to give. The apostle Paul writes, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
Break it down:
Who - Each of you - whose left out? Whose included? No one & everyone!
Do What - should give - no other option made available; no exceptions made!
How - DECIDE in your heart - thoughtful choice made under the influence of the one who/WHO sits on the throne (of affection & authority)
How - not reluctantly or forcibly - thoughtful choice should influence healthy emotions
Why - God loves a cheerful giver - do you liked to be appreciated! God is proud of His kids when they reflect His heart.
The two most significant examples in the Bible of generosity did not come from the rich, but from to widows: one gave her mite (value today $2) - the other gave a meal. With one Jesus taught a lesson with the other he saved a prophet!
As devoted followers of Christ, our daily prayer becomes, Lord, how do you want me to use the resources you have entrusted to me? This includes our wallets and purses — the cash, checkbooks, debit cards, credit cards, savings accounts, and all our other resources.
This practice is directly tied to the belief of stewardship - Key Truth #9: I believe everything I am and everything I own belong to God. Therein lies our dividing line. Do we perceive our money, our resources, to be God’s or ours?
When Jesus redeems our souls, he can also redeem our financial management, debt, savings, investing, and giving. Our checkbooks, credit cards, savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and 401(k)s should all come under his authority and leadership.
As a pastor, I’ve counseled people on this topic for many years, and I can safely say that what keeps many Christians from giving isn’t really their lack of desire, but rather an abundance of personal debt. All too often, debt comes not so much from medical bills from unforeseen illnesses or unavoidable tragedies - - as from intentional choices to accumulate stuff, which then places an almost unbearable burden for many years and prevents true freedom and blessing in giving to God and his kingdom.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matt. 6:24) Sadly, while many Christians today would say they love God and desire to serve him, their devotion must go to “serving” the payments demanded each month. Jesus’ words are as accurate today as the day he first said them.
As we have stated with other key ideas, we give our resources with an eternal reason at the forefront — to fulfill God’s purposes. Money will never save anyone’s soul, but funds are needed to support ministries that reach people all over the world with the gospel of Christ. If we believe the only thing that will matter in heaven will be what we have done for Christ here on earth, then the vast majority of the money to go through our hands will not count for much — except what has been given to build Christ’s kingdom.
KEY APPLICATION: What difference does this make in the way I live?
• We intentionally give a percentage of our financial resources to fuel the purposes of God and his kingdom.
• We intentionally make available the material resources God has entrusted to me (home, car, clothes, tools, food) to fulfill God’s purposes in the lives of others.
Here is a valuable exercise. Take out your checkbook register and last month’s credit card bill. Walk through the past thirty days and categorize your expenses. While potentially painful, I can promise it will benefit you in the days ahead. Ask yourself these questions:
1. What patterns or tendencies do I see?
2. What priorities are evident in my spending?
3. Where am I pleased with regard to my money management?
4. Where am I disappointed with my findings?
5. What changes should I consider making?
Illustr: The day the church treasurer resigned, the church asked the local grain elevator manager to take the position. He agreed under two conditions. That no treasurer’s report would be given for the first year. That no questions be asked about finances during that year.
The people were surprised but finally agreed since most of them did business with him and he was a trusted man. At the end of the year he gave his report:
The church indebtedness of $228,000 has been paid.
* The minister’s salary had been increased by 8%.
* The Mission Program gifts has gone up 200%. * * There were no outstanding bills. * And there was a cash balance of $11,252!
Immediately the shocked congregation asked, "How did you do it? Where did the money come from?" He quietly answered: "Most of you bring your grain to my elevator. Throughout the year I simply withheld ten percent on your behalf and gave it to the church in your name. You didn’t even miss it!" "Do you see what we could do for the Lord if we were all willing to give at least the tithe to God, who really owns it?" The new treasurer had made his point.
As you lay your finances before the Lord, ask, “Am I using the resources you’ve given me to accomplish your purposes?” If the answer is yes, thank God for his wisdom and provision for you, and continue to grow in giving. If the answer is no, then self-condemnation and regret are not the proper responses. The very good news is that God, who is faithful and just, will forgive you, and he is ready to help you direct your energy to the transformation of how you use your money.
So where do we start?
We go back to the heart. There’s a decision to make. Whom will we serve? Ponder again these words of Jesus: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matt. 6:24
One man stated it well in his financial testimony: “I used to think I couldn’t afford to give to God, but once I started, God blessed me so much I could no longer afford not to!”
If you don’t already know this key kingdom principle, now is the perfect time to receive this truth: God has his own economy. He doesn’t have to rely on the current condition of any nation to bless his people, and he isn’t limited by anyone’s actions. He can produce what he needs to provide, exactly when he desires to bring it forth. The people who have read the Scriptures on giving and decided to take God at his word also testify to the miracles he has shown when they put their trust in him and placed all their resources into the center of his economy. Remember, we are in the world, but not of it! Whether it takes us a few months or a few years of faithful obedience to get our financial house in order, God has the unique ability to multiply what his people offer him and bless what he is given access to.
To assist in the process we offer 2 programs of Bible study and practical financial advice:
Financial Peace University and Crown Ministries
The Bible has much to say about the use of finances: it’s not all about giving, but also about saving, about sharing, about budgeting, actions and attitudes.