EXPERIENCE THE POWER OF GIVING

 

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

1.           One day, a Minister asked: “Is there anybody in the congregation who wants a prayer said for their shortcomings?”  “Yes,” was the answer from a man in the front pew.  “I’m a spendthrift.  I throw money around like it is growing on trees!”  “Very well,” said the Minister.  “We will join in prayer for our brother—just as soon as the collection plates have been passed.”

 

2.           About a week or so ago, the leaders of our congregation asked me to teach a lesson on “tithing” – “Giving financially to God.”  (I think they want me to preach on this subject because they are trying to get rid of me.  In fact, I all ready got my bags packed because after this sermon I am sure you are going to send me on my way)!

 

3.           During my many years in ministry, I haven't heard too many sermons on giving financially to God.

 

4.           Why don’t we preach very much on the subject?  I think we don’t preach on that subject very much because giving is a sensitive topic.

 

5.           Why do some Christians bristle at the mention of giving?  Maybe it’s because, deep inside, we’re still pretty selfish and would rather spend our money on ourselves.

 

6.           Maybe it’s because of disagreements with church leaders over how the money is spent.

 

7.           But perhaps our biggest cause for concern over giving is our fear of the future.  We’re afraid that if we give too much away, we won’t be able to make ends meet.

 

8.           Whatever the reason’s maybe, it’s time to stop avoiding the subject and honestly seek God’s direction from the Bible on the principles for giving!  Giving should be a joy not a burden.

 

THE TITLE TO TODAY'S LESSON IS "EXPERIENCE THE POWER OF GIVING.”

 

THIS MORNING, WE WILL LOOK AT THREE IMPORTANT POINTS ON THE SUBJECT OF GIVING.

 

 

I.                           FIRST, WHY SHOULD WE GIVE FINANCIALLY TO GOD?

 

A.                 WE SHOULD GIVE FINANCIALLY TO GOD BECAUSE HE HAS GIVEN US EVERYTHING.  WHEN WE GIVE TO GOD, WE ARE EXPRESSING OUR LOVE BACK TO HIM.

 

1.       Dr. John Willis, a distinguished professor of Old Testament studies at Abilene Christian University, has written a profound paper on tithing.  In it he says: “By giving their tithes, the Israelites were proclaiming that they were giving back to the Lord a portion of that which he had prospered them (Dt. 26:10-15).  Just as God had given His people the food and resources they needed for their existence, by tithing the people were imitating Him by giving their God-given food and resources to the slaves, the poor, the sojourners, the orphans, and the widows.  Thus, tithing was the means God gave the Israelites to express their love to God for all He had given them (Dt. 6:4-9) and to express their love to their neighbor as God had expressed His love to them (Lev. 19:18).

 

 

2.       Paul wanted the church in Corinth to be leaders in giving.  He didn’t order the Corinthians to give, but he encouraged them to prove that their love was sincere.  When you love someone, you want to give him or her your time and attention and to provide for his or her needs.  If you refuse to help, your love is not as genuine as you say.

 

3.       We should give to God and His Son’s Church in order to express our love back to Him.  When we give financially, we are showing our love back to God!

 

B.                WE SHOULD GIVE FINANCIALLY TO GOD TO EXPAND HIS SON’S CHURCH.

 

1.       When we give financially to the church, we are:

 

a.      Providing support for missionaries to spread the Word of God.

 

b.     We pay for the preacher's salary which enables him to work full time in order to teach the Word of God.

 

c.      We provide the money for this church to buy some Bibles in which we passed out in the community.

 

d.     Providing a place for us to meet and worship.

 

e.      Helping others who are in need.  You money goes to help the poor, orphans, and widows. 

 

C.                WE SHOULD GIVE FINANCIALLY TO GOD BECAUSE WHEN WE DO, WE WILL BECOME RICH IN EVERY WAY.

 

 

1.       God promises that if we give to Him, we will be rich in every way.  The Bible describes riches as both spiritual and material.  Of all the riches we can possess, none of them is more important than spiritual riches.  In one aspect, God is saying that we will be rich in spiritual blessings. 

 

2.       But God is also saying that if we give to Him, He will bless us financial.  Word of caution:  If you have the desire to be wealthy so that you can spend these resources on yourself, don’t expect to claim this reward (1 Tim. 6:9, 10).  The so-called “health and wealth gospel” teaches that Christians should give to get.  But God says we should give to get to give again (2 Cor. 9:11).

 

ILLUSTRATION:

 

Someone told me a story about a man who gave 90 % of His income to God.  When he died, he had over 100 million in the bank.

 

3.       When we are faithful givers, God will provide us with enough to live on and He will provide us with some to give to others.

 

II.                         SECOND, HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD WE GIVE TO THE CHURCH?

 

1.       Before I answer that question, I need bring forth a few biblical principles that will help us to determine the amount we should give.

 

2.       God owns everything that we have.  Everything we possess is merely on loan from God so that we can use His resources to bring Him glory and expand His kingdom.

 

3.       He has given us the abilities we have to make a living.

 

 

4.       Since everything we have is God’s, we are mere mangers of His money.  So when deciding how much to give, we must keep this in mind.

 

5.       God deserves and expects us to give to Him first before anything else.

 

 

6.       When we get our paychecks, the first thing we should do is take out what we are going to give to God and then whatever we have left, we live on.  If we do it the other way around, then God will get cheated.

 

7.       God expects us to give cheerfully.

 

 

8.       God expects us to give regularly and in accordance with our income.

 

 

a.       When Paul tells the church at Corinth to “set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income,” he gives no legislated amount for the Christian to give.  There’s no statement about percentages or specific monetary figures in any of the New Testament passages. 

 

9.       So how much money should we give to the church?

 

a.       I believe that the OT was written “to teach us” (Rom. 15:4) and thoroughly equip us for “for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  I feel that the OT gives us a good and safe guideline for our giving.

 

 

b.      The Hebrew Word for Tithe (Ma’ser) literally means “tenth part.” 

 

c.       Even though the New Testament doesn’t specifically spell out the exact amount we are to give, I feel that at least 10% of our income should be set-aside for the Lord.

 

d.      Of course, your giving is between you and God.  You may want to give more than 10% of your income.  That’s great.

 

e.       But whatever you decide to give, please remember these four principals:

 

(1)       God owns everything.

 

(2)       God deserves and expects us to give to Him first before anything else

 

(3)       God expects us to give cheerfully.

 

(4)       God expects us to give regularly & in accordance with our income.

 

III.                       THIRD, WHAT COULD HAPPEN IF WE DON’T GIVE FAITHFULLY TO GOD?

 

 

1.      This passage teaches that when we short change God in our giving and refuse to honor Him with our wealth, God actually accuses us of stealing from Him.

 

2.      What’s the punishment for stealing from God? 

 

a.       We go under a curse!  God punishes us for stealing from Him.

 

ILLUSTRATION:

 

A brilliant, young electrical engineer, whose life was in trouble, wrote a letter to the MacArthur Church of Christ telling about his experience.

 

As you know, I came to this church a very hurting person.  I carried burdens that left me completely helpless.  I was existing, but no really living.  Three years ago I grew gravely ill and lost most of my physical strength and much of my immune system.  At my lowest point, I literally crawled across my front lawn to get to my car because I was too weak to walk.  I felt that I was dying, and I was morbidly afraid of death and literally terrified of going to hell.  I was out of touch with God.  I felt if I could just find another doctor surely everything would get better.

 

Then, in desperation, without asking for anything specific, I cried out to God to help me.  “Please God,” I prayed, “Do something to let me know you’re here.”  I was ready to do anything.  Now I know that God was humbling me so that I would come to trust him more completely.

 

On my first visit to church, I was astonished!  Even though this congregation is very large, I felt comfortable here immediately.  I felt a keen sense of the presence of God which I had never felt anywhere else.  The minister is an inspired preacher.  His sermons are always helpful, but the moment of truth came when he preached a sermon on stewardship and said, “Anyone who does not give back to God at least 10 percent of his income is a thief.”  I had never even seriously thought of giving 10 percent and couldn’t imagine how in the world that could possibly fit into my tight budget.

 

But the word “thief” hit me hard as the truth always does.  I now realize that I was so miserable precisely because God was last on my list of priorities rather than first.  So I asked God’s forgiveness, and I pledged to give back 10 percent of my income for the rest of my life.  This is the most important decision I have ever made.

 

From that moment, things began to change dramatically for the better.  The people who are closest to me have marveled at the changes in my life.  Too many positive things have happened to be coincidence.  Most obvious, my health greatly improved.  Most practical is that, after looking for a job for three years, I found one—the best job I’ve ever had in my life!  Most gratifying  is the deep feeling of inner peace, which, for the first time in my life, I feel.  I feel different on the inside than when I first came to see you, and everybody who knows me says I’m different on the outside, too.

 

3.      What a story!  If you’re experiencing great financial difficulty or other problems, have you considered the possibility that you might be living under a curse? 

 

4.      If you think that you are under a curse, then all you have to do to get out of it is to start giving to God with all of your tithe!

 

CONCLUSION:

 

1.      The principle of tithing is simple.  If you tithe you will receive God’s blessings.  In fact, God says that he “will throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”    If you don’t tithe you rob God, and you cheat yourself.

 

2.      When we give financially to God…

 

a.       We are expressing our love back to Him.

 

b.      We are expanding His Son’s Church.

 

c.       We will become rich in every way.

 

3.      Before we give, we must remember these four principals: 

 

a.       God owns everything.

 

b.      God deserves and expects us to give to Him first before anything else.

 

c.       God expects us to give cheerfully.

 

d.      God expects us to give regularly and in accordance with our income.

 

4.      I hope and pray that this lesson has provided some biblical insight into our giving.  At this time, if you are subject to the Lord's invitation, please come now as we stand and sing.