#164 (16/01/05)
Thanks Giving = Thanks Living

The Message

By: Robert A.Schuller

Special Guest

You all saw his picture on national television when he was in the backseat of the car and you saw the masked gunmen was taking him away. And for days we wondered would he live or die? And where was he? He became a national celebrity, the tough way. Now he’s back home, as you all know and he’s written a book “Escape in Iraq” and I’m telling you, this book is so exciting.

Special Music

" Joyful, Joyful.."
" Heavenly Father, Grant Your Blessing "
" Now Thank We All Our God "

" Ain’t Got Time to Die "


Acticle of The Message

Are you interested in a hot tip on a good investment? This is the hottest tip going. It comes from a billionaire. His name is John Templeton. Some of you may recognize his name. John Templeton is the founder of the Templeton Group of mutual funds. He says that life's greatest investment is in tithing. The greatest life investment for him has been tithing. This is a billionaire and his greatest investment is to give 10% of everything he has earned back to the Lord's work! That's what tithing is. Tithing is the most tangible concrete way we can honor God and express our love and thanksgiving to Him. A tithe is a tangible demonstration of faith, of love and surrender, given with a thankful heart for the grace that we have received from Jesus Christ. It is a tangible demonstration. You know the interesting thing about the things we teach here in the Crystal Cathedral is that almost everything we teach is an intangible thing. Possibility thinking, how do we put our arms around thinking? It's pretty hard, it is an intangible. How do we put numbers on possibility living and being able to live the life that God wants us to live and following God's guidance for our life? How do we actually make this real?

It is interesting that tithing is one of the few spiritual things which is very tangible. It is very easy for us to put that in numbers and know exactly what that number is. I know that because in the United States of America we have a thing called income tax. I can't tell you how many people have come to me and asked about tithing. They ask, "is that before or after taxes?" My response always is, "do you want your blessings before or after taxes?" The truth is that I don't want to get stuck in the letter of the law but I want to be fulfilled into the spirit of the law. The law of tithing is that when we give we have the greatest joy of a tangible expression of our faith in God. The bottom line is that faith needs to come first.

So often it's the other way around. How many people sit at their desk with a pile of bills every month? When the bills come in the mail, I put them in a "to be paid" pile on my desk. Then on the 1st of the month after I get my paycheck and deposit it then I can pay those bills. Then on the 15th of the month I get another paycheck so I can pay that new pile of bills that have arrived. That's the way I do it, the 1st and the 15th of the month. Now some of you probably are very much more responsible than I and you simply just pay them as they come. Here is the frustrating part. I have this pile of bills sitting on the side of my desk and then I have this little thing called my offering envelopes. I sit there and I look at the bills and I know I better take care of those bills. Then if there's anything left over then I can give something to the church.

I discovered something in the bible when I was a young man. It takes a lot of faith to practice faith first. The Bible tells us that we are to bring our first fruits to Him. Do you know what that means? In biblical times it meant they would bring their prime sheep. In other words, the first choice of the litter. It was the same with their harvest. When they harvested, the top 10%, the first 10% was their tithe. So, faith comes first. What does that mean? That means we have a stack of bills over here, but we pay our tithe first and then we see how much we have left over for our bills. Do you know how much faith it takes to do that? We see this big pile of bills here and we see these little offering envelopes over here and suddenly it takes a lot of faith to pay this little offering envelope. This is the way God has chosen for the church to have the means to pay its bills.

Recently we've been having problems with our sound system. You know what it is? It has to do with digital signaling. It has nothing to do with the equipment or the people who are operating the equipment. It has everything to do with the fact that we are in a digital age and there are digital broadcasts that are going out and our current equipment is not compatible with digital equipment. As a result of that we are being forced into moving into the digital age and going into the high definition broadcasting and high definition cameras. You cannot have part digital here and part analog over there. You have to do the whole thing. Do you know what that price tag is for us to go digital? It is very interesting here behind the scenes at the Hour of Power. You don't readily see what goes on behind the scenes here at the Crystal Cathedral. We have producers, cameras, technicians, editing equipment, etc., etc. It is going to cost us roughly $4 million dollars to make that transition to high definition. Where do we get the money to pay for this?

Well we have a couple choices. We can ask for your financial support for the Hour of Power, and we can offer you books and tapes for your donations. But there is a better way - and that is to simply look in faith and give the first fruit, 10%. I don't care if it's before or after taxes, give 10%. What happens when you give 10%? Suddenly, you are given an incredible gift! It's the most incredible thing in the world. It is one of those intangibles that we talk about all the time in this tangible world. Suddenly, we realize that even though we thought we didn't have 10%, we actually do. If you've never tithed before, I would encourage you to put together a systematic approach to tithing. Make a decision, make a plan, it's your plan, you create the plan, put it in writing and simply follow the plan and you will get there. It's done this way. Start with 1% if you're not giving already, and do that 1% for a week, a month or months, whatever your plan is. Then move to 2%, or whatever you have decided your plan will be and gradually increase your percentage over a period of time. Every time you sit down and you pay your bills you just simply pray, "God, thank you that I have the privilege of giving this to you. Youve blessed me with everything I have and now I get the joy of giving you my first fruit. I thank you, God, for this privilege. Now take this first fruit, Lord, and make it reach as many people as possible with your good news. Help the Hour of Power to buy another hour of television and reach more people; or, help this money to be able to buy the necessary equipment that is needed. Help this money to do whatever is necessary to perform what needs to be done so that others can experience the joy and grace that I have experienced."

Faith comes first. It is just amazing how a dollar never looks smaller than when it's in our paycheck, and never looks bigger than when we write that check. In the process we learn to control money and we learn the understanding of money and we learn how it works and we learn that this is a gift of love and not an act of a law. Were not doing it because it's a tax.

My daughter Christina graduated from high school this year and she has actually made enough money now, in this year, where she is going to have to file her first income tax return. So I didn't think she realized what was going on so I sat down with her and I said, "Christina, I have to talk with you about money." I said, you are going to have to pay income tax. She said, "what do you mean I have to pay income tax?" I said, "well you made enough money where you have to file an income tax return." Do you know what? She is American true blue, through and through. She had the perfect American response. Do you know what she said? She said, "How do I get around that?" Honestly, that's what she said! I replied, "Christina, you have to realize there are two things in life that are inevitable: death and taxes!

So, our tithe is not a tax it's simply a gift of love and there's nothing better than giving or receiving a gift of love.

My wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this past this week. We were married on November 10th. We were given a wonderful anniversary gift. It was an incredible gift from friends of ours in Florida. They have a little place in Florida and they asked us to come to this island called Little Palm Island in the Florida Keys. We didn't know much about it. For the last eight years they have been asking us to come to their resort on Little Palm Island. We have been very reluctant, I have to be honest with you. We were in the Keys once before and the Keys are a fun place but it is a long flight from California to get to the Florida Keys. It is a lot easier for us to go to Mexico. It's just a hop, skip and a jump to Mexico. Mexico is a two hour flight if you're going to the Cape and it's a 1 hour drive if you're just driving across the border to go to some of the resorts. It took us twelve hours to get to Little Palm Island. We got up at 4:00 in the morning, drove to Los Angeles International Airport, flew all the way to Miami, lost three hours traveling east, had a two hour layover, another hour and a half flight to Key West then 30 minute ride from Key West airport to the motor boat shuttle and then another 30 minute boat ride to the island. Thats a lot more work then just driving across the border! But we love these friends very much and they encouraged us to come and visit them. We went and it was the best place I have ever been! It was just a gift from God. These people were so thoughtful and giving and they wanted to give us this visit to their resort as an expression of love. In return, we accepted it, not realizing how much wed love it!!

There are wonderful things which take place when we give out of love. God has called us to give out of love and not out of law. A tithe is a tangible demonstration of faith, of love and surrender, given with a thankful heart for the grace we have received from Jesus Christ. A tithe is a surrender of our heart to Jesus. We surrender our finances to Him, we allow Him to chose what he is going to do with it.

A friend of mine, Tom Olds, was telling me that his pastor told him "you know there are two kinds of people in the church. There are those who spend the money and there are those who give the money." Tom is a bonds trader and hes very successful. His pastor looked at him and he said, "Tom, youre in the category that gives the money." Tom shared with me saying, "You know, Robert, ever since I discovered that my role in the church was to give the money so that others could spend the money Ive discovered it is a special calling that God has given to me. So, Ive made it my goal and my quest to make as much money as I can so I can give as much money as I possibly can and God has blessed me beyond my wildest imagination. It didnt happen until I surrendered to the fact that it was my calling, that is what God gave me and that is what God wanted me to do."

Some of you may be in that category today. You realize that God has called you to give and we want to encourage you to support this ministry and support your local church. If your church is the Hour of Power on the air then you need to tithe to this church. If your church is your local congregation, then you need to tithe to your local congregation. You need to give and if you want to support this ministry so we can continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others, then make this ministry part of your missions budget. We take this message to people who will never enter your church, who will never enter any church, who will watch on the Hour of Power just because its there. Theyre flipping through the channels and they see this beautiful edifice and they say, "Whats that?" They stop and they listen. We need the funds as well and if you can support us with a gift that would be tremendous.

If you want to start in January and make a commitment to be an Eagle Club member, that would be terrific. Maybe you would like to become a Golden Eagle this year or a Platinum Eagle or did you know we even have Diamond Eagles? We have 4 different kinds of eagles to accommodate the level of your income so that everyone may have the joy of giving.

The joy of giving, its the greatest investment you can possibly make. Dont take my word for it, dont take billionaire John Templetons word for it, take it because the Bible says so. Its Gods word.

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you that you have continued to bless us with so much and we have the privilege, Lord, to be here, to feel and experience the presence of your reality. So, God, as we enjoy and participate in this tangible, spiritual reality of tithing give us the faith to give you our first fruits. Now we love you, Lord, and we praise your name always and forever. Amen.

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