#158 (05/12/04)
Faithfully Given to give Faithfully

The Message

By: Robert A.Schuller

Special Guest

Andy Griffith has earned the highest respect for his work on two of televisions most successful series: “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Matlock.” In 1992, he was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame. And was presented the Lifetime achievement award from the national association of television program executives. Aside from his many television accomplishments, Andy has also found great success as a recording Artist with over twelve albums and a Grammy award. He was a music major in the University.

Special Music

" O Come All Ye Faithful "
" Come, O Long Expected Jesus "
" Go Tell It On The Mountain "

" Hallelujah "
CCA CHORUS – “Let it Shine”

DEVON GUTHRIE – “Do You Hear What I Hear?
INSTRUMENTAL – CANADIAN BRASS – “Just a Closer Walk With Thee”
SEXTET – TAKE 6 – “Joy to the World”
INSTRUMENTAL – CANADIAN BRASS – “When the Saints Go Marching In”

Acticle of The Message

Well last week I was talking about giving, faithfully given to give faithfully and specifically I talked about tithing because I’m convinced that tithing is one of the things that God told us to do. He has told us from the very beginning to give and last week, talking about tithing, I wrote something that I want to share with you. It says, “a tithe is giving a tenth of your income to God as an investment to express your thanksgiving and accept God’s divine honor for you eternally.”

Now today I want to focus beyond tithing to giving. And that may not surprise you in that this is Christmas and I know my wife has already started doing her Christmas shopping. How many people have started their Christmas shopping? A few of you have? Oh, there’s quite a few, you know. Christmas shopping is really fun because you’re not shopping for yourself. That’s what I like about Christmas shopping. That’s why I like my wife Christmas shopping. And we suddenly focus our attention away from ourselves to other people. And I don’t know about you, but my Christmas list always gets a little longer of more people I want to give to. And the closer I get to Christmas the more I realize oh, I forgot so-and-so. How many of.. you know what I’m talking about. I think it happens to all of us. That’s why the day before Christmas the malls are packed. Everyone remembers that one they forgot.

But you know, when you look at giving Biblically, it’s an interesting concept because in the Old Testament giving is always ten percent. It’s tithe. It’s a command, it’s a law. You have to give ten percent. But then we come to the New Testament. The New Testament, the New Covenant that we have with Jesus Christ and Jesus gives us a new understanding of how to give. It’s no longer the dictation of ten percent but it’s simply a measurement of our faith. And so we are generously given so we can give generously. And as a measure of our faith we determine how much we’re going to give.

The text is: Give and it shall be given back to you.” Do you see that? No percentage in there. It doesn’t say give 10%, 5%, 2%, 15%, 20%. There’s no percentage at all. It simply says: “Give and it’ll be given back to you. Pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your laps. For with what measure you give it shall be given back to you.” So you determine based upon your faith in God and His promises, what size measuring cup do you wish to receive your benefits with and your blessings?

Now one of the things that people, the mistake some people make from time to time is the belief that when we give financially that we’ll receive financially. But I believe that God goes beyond the understanding of finances to the understanding of happiness and God knows what we need and He knows where that need is the greatest and the blessings we receive from God aren’t always financial, but instead they are the greatest needs we have. Things we may not even understand.

And so today I want to give you another acrostic. Last week I gave you an acrostic for tithing. Today the acrostic is to give. And so our giving begins by giving generously. Choosing a big measuring cup with which to receive the blessings of God. I don’t know about you, but I want a big one. In the New Testament it’s give whatever portion that may be and it will be given back to you accordingly. And so the New Testament gives us the ability to give generously, beyond what we could possibly ever imagine and we discover that it literally is impossible to out give God.

I do marriage counseling from time to time, especially with new young people who are getting married for the first time and they don’t know what this marriage thing is all about. And I tell them first and foremost marriage is a giving relationship. You have to be prepared for a giving relationship. And in my marriage I made it very clear with my wife, it’s 60/40. And with that they have the same reaction you do. They laugh. Who gets the 60? Who gets the 40? Right? Guess what? Both husband and wife gives 60 and both husband and wife never expect more than 40% in return. And when you give and enter a marriage relationship with giving 60/40 suddenly you both are very, very happy because you realize you’re each giving 50/50. It’s amazing how it works but as we give generously the blessings of God begin to unfold and our relationships with our spouses, with our friends, with people we wouldn’t anticipate before and God gives. It begins by giving generously. It continues by giving intentionally.

There is an old fable, I don’t know if it’s true. I haven’t been able to verify its reality, but the thought and the concept works. It is this: At the turn of the century all the Arab countries were part of the British Empire. And as a result of that they brought many of the Arab leaders to London to see the Queen. And as they did, they stayed in a beautiful hotel and most of these men at that time were nomads and they traveled through the deserts and one of their biggest challenges they ever had was to find water. So they’re in a hotel for the first time and they discovered that if they turned a knob that water would gush out of this thing on the wall. And they were just astonished with all of the bounty of water that came out of this incredible water machine. And according to the fable when they went to check out the hotel discovered that all their faucets were missing. And the Arabs thought that they had the fountain of water.
Well everyone knows that the faucet is just the conduit, that the water comes from a different source and place, that it is drawn through here to where it’s intended. And when we look at being the vessels that God wants us to be we are the faucet. And as we learn to give, God decides to flow through us with blessings; that may be financial, it may be words of encouragement, it may be relational, but where you need it the most God flows as you continue to give. Give and it shall be given back to you pressed down, shaken together and then running over will be poured into your laps. With what measure you give it shall be given back to you. It starts generously; it’s continued intentionally, and then it is done visually. Visually realizing that our giving is a way for us to test our faith in God. That is the vision we must understand when we give. We are testing our faith in God.

I think one of the most beautiful ways that I see scripturally of people testing God is when Gideon wanted to know if he was doing the right thing. He had to have the correct answers because he was about to put his life on the line and as a result, he had to know whether or not he understood what God wanted him to do. So in his prayers that night he said, “God, I need to know. I need to put You to the test and find out whether or not You really want me to do this.” So he said, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do, Lord. If You really want me to do it I need to know for sure so I’m going to take a fleece and I’m going to put it outside. And in the morning when I wake up, I want the fleece to be wet and all the ground around it to be dry and then I’ll know that I’ve heard You correctly.”

So he goes to bed that night, he wakes up in the morning and he goes running outside and he sees this fleece and picks it up and he wrings it out and all this water comes pouring out of the fleece. And he looks around and the ground is perfectly dry. And he thinks to himself, “Hum, according to science it might be that this would happen every time. So maybe God hasn’t answered my prayer at all. Maybe it was just scientifically things that fleeces attract more moisture than the ground. So, I want to make sure that I hear you right, God. I’ll tell you what we’ll do. Let’s try this one more time cause I have to make sure I understand what you’re telling me to do. Tonight I want all the ground to be wet and the fleece to be dry.”

So he goes to bed, he wakes up in the morning. He slips and he slides through the mud till he gets to the fleece. And he takes the fleece and it’s bone dry and he cleans himself off with the fleece and he knows. He knows that he’s been called by God to do what he is to do.
And today some of you are asking what does God expect of me? Does God expect me to give 10%, 15%, 20%, 5%, 2%? What does God want from me? And we want to do what God wants us to do. And so as we learn to give I want to ask you to give generously, intentionally and visionally. Put God to the test. Allow God to speak to you and if you’ve never tithed before, stretch and say okay. Now I’ve never given anything before. I’m going to start by giving 5%, 5%, God. Now if You want me to do this, You need to prove it to me. And you establish a test with God and see if He will not answer your tests. And then as you give watch for God’s blessings. It’s absolutely amazing how God just unfolds in the most unpredictable, amazing, and incredible ways. Give generously, give intentionally, give visually, and then give eagerly. The Bible says that God loves a cheerful giver.

There was a rich man who died and went to heaven. And when he went to heaven he was met by Peter and he was all excited and Peter said, “Oh, wait till I take you to your home.” He said, “Oh, I can’t wait.” And as he was going through he went and saw his butler’s home and it was a big beautiful mansion. And he goes, “Wow! That’s my butler’s house? Oh, I can’t wait to see my house.” And as he’s walking along all of a sudden he sees his maid’s house and he goes, “Wow! That’s a beautiful home. That’s my maid’s house? Oh man, I can’t wait to see my house.” And all of a sudden God takes him to this little shack and he goes, “here’s your house.” And he goes, “no, no, no wait a minute, Peter. My maid’s house is that big mansion and my butler’s house is that big mansion and I get this shack, is that right?” And Peter says, “I’m sorry, sir. We really did the best we could with what you sent.”

There comes a time where we have to simply make the decision where we put our faith in God and say, okay, God, today’s the day I make a decision to be a giver, to follow Your commands, and to give. I’m going to stretch just a little bit and give generously. I’m going to give intentionally on a regular basis even when it doesn’t feel like it’s possible and I’ve made this commitment. I’m going to trust You and I’m going to do it intentionally. I’m going to do it visionally where I know that the reason I’m doing this is because You have promised me and it is impossible for You to lie. I’m going to do it eagerly with joy in my heart, knowing that as I give Your blessings are going to flow to me, to the people around me, to my community and to the world. You’ve made me as a vessel, O Lord. You’ve made me for a short little period in time on earth and so for this period may I be Your vessel through whom which You continue to feed Your people and give to all. I love You, Lord. Amen.

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