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
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
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.