Obedience Leads to Financial Blessing
Good morning and welcome back!
And Happy 4th of July to you all!
My prayer is that everyone will have a happy and safe Independence Day holiday.
This morning we are going to continue in our series The Bible Doesn’t Say That.
And this morning we are going to build on last week’s sermon but look at it from a slightly different angel.
This morning, if you would like to start turning there in your Bibles, we are going to be in , and in just a moment we will be reading from .
And just as a reminder, last week’s sermon dealt the phrase “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves, which we both discovered is not in the Bible and is not consistent with God’s mercy and grace.
We had to face the fact that there are times and situations in our lives to where we simply cannot help ourselves.
Times and situations when we MUST rely 100% on God, which is what He wants us to do anyway.
However, we did learn also though that God does know what we need and God will provide for all our needs.
But unfortunately however what we have done though is stretch this idea of God providing for all our needs into a whole message that God will give us anything we want.
And what I’m talking about here is this Prosperity Gospel that we hear so much about.
The idea that as long as we are obedient to God and as long as we give to the church, God will fill our bank accounts up, give us new clothes, new cars, new houses and all the things we desire.
Well, I’ve got some bad news The Bible Doesn’t Say That!
We are not guaranteed any type of financial blessing and over-abundance.
God’s Word promises that our needs will be met and not necessarily our wants.
Now, that doesn’t mean that God will not bless us and that God will not give us more than we need, but I also believe that God is also very careful about the over-abundance.
And the reason why is that God knows our nature and these things can be temptations and these things can turn into idols.
Yes, the Bible does tell us that obedience is better than sacrifice and we have many examples of God blessing those who are obedient but it is no guarantee.
Also, we have to examine our motivation behind our obedience.
We have to ask ourselves, are we being obedient as a response to God’s love or are we looking for some type of payoff?
“I will obey, if I get a big return.”
We have people out there telling people if they will send $100 to their “ministry” then God will give them $1000 or if they send $1000, God will give them $1,000,000!
Folks, it don’t work that way.
If God tells you to give, then you give, not out of obligation and not because you think God’s going to give you a big payoff.
No, we give because we love God and as a response to that love, we obey God, expecting nothing in return.
In , Jesus says this . . .
45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Meaning that good and bad comes to everyone and instead of focusing on what we are going to get out of things we may way to do what Jesus says in verse 48 . . .
48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
And rely on God to take care of us.
Now, does that mean that we shouldn’t be giving to the church?
Well, the answer to that question is, do you want your church to stay open?
There is a misconception in the church world that all the money that the church takes in either goes to the pastor or gets hoarded up in the bank.
That is simply not true.
A church is just like our homes, it has bills and has to pay the bills.
We have electric bills, water bills, gas bills, phone bills, internet bills, insurance, lawn-care, repairs and maintenance, cleaning supplies, Sunday School supplies, VBS supplies, and the list goes on and on and on.
And all these things are paid for by the money that people give, the tithes they pay.
And I will even go as far to say that everyone should be contributing something to the church.
The bills continue to come in but the giving tends to decrease.
And we are no exception here.
We have money that has been given for specific purposes that we are not allowed by law to use for other things, but our general operating account is pretty low.
At our last board meeting we learned that our average weekly giving for the last few months has been around $450.00 a week.
Which is not a lot when we are trying to run a church.
And this is not a sermon about tithing....The point is, if you are in this church and you are not giving then, why?
Is it because you have been disappointed, thinking that God will pour money into your bank account if you gave and he didn’t?
Because if that is the case, then you have been caught up in this false idea that obedience leads to some sort of financial blessing.
And this morning, Paul is going to teach us something about God’s true blessings.
So, if you have found in your Bibles, I’d invite you to stand with me if you are able, as we read verses 10-13.
Again, that is . . .
10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Now, in this passage Paul is responding to the Philippians, who apparently were concerned about Paul’s condition.
We know from reading different letters that Paul writes and some historical facts about Paul that he had some physical issues.
Paul talks about having a thorn in the flesh, which some believe is a physical problem, that many believe had to do with his eyes and his sight.
We also read in Scripture that in many places that Paul was bi-vocational.
He worked a secular job and preached.
The book of Acts talks about Paul being a tent-maker and at times this was how he made a living.
So Paul, like most of the disciples was not a rich man.
In fact Jesus, himself, when he was on earth was not wealthy.
He was the son of a carpenter, so he had a skill, but Jesus didn’t live in a mansion.
Jesus him:self says that . . .
20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
To which many think that Jesus was alluding to the fact that he didn’t even have a home of his own.
He relied on God and the kindness of others.
So this notion that the disciples were affluent and rich, that Jesus had money coming out of his ears is a misconception.
And for us to think that God is going to treat us any different than he did Jesus is also a misconception.
However, when we read our Bible we find that the disciples for the most part seemed content, Jesus seemed content, and even Paul here seemed content.
In fact he says here . . .
10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.
Paul is rejoicing in this passage!
He is happy that others are showing concern for him and caring about the fact that he may be in need.
But he tells them that he doesn’t need anything but rather that he has learned to b content whatever the circumstance.
Whatever the situation or circumstance that Paul has found himself to be in, he has learned to be content.
And I wonder have we?
Have we learned to be content wherever we have found ourselves?
And people often answer this to themselves-they don’t want to say it out loud but this is what they are thinking- “Paul didn’t go through what I have....”
And you are right, Paul hasn’t gone through what you have, but here is a bit of what Paul did go through . . .
23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27 I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.
2 Corinthians 11:
And the one thing Paul wasn’t able to write about was the fact that he was killed.
1 Corinthians 11:23-
This was not a man that God poured every good thing into.
Paul didn’t get many breaks and Paul’s bank account was not full.
In fact Paul gave up everything for Christ.
Paul before his conversion was a high ranking Jew, set to probably be the next high priest, with power and money.
But he gave it all up, not because he thought God would fill up his bank account, but because Paul loved Christ.
Now, that does not mean there is no pay-off and no reward.
However, the reward is not in the here and now.
The reward is eternal.
The reward is salvation and eternal life.
The reward is the inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Yes, we will be kings and queens, princes and princesses but not here.
This life is full of trouble and hardship.
Not just for the disobedient but FOR EVERYONE.
That is life.
But Paul also tells us this . . .
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
And because Paul has learned to trust the Lord for ALL THINGS and not worry about the things of this life, (like we talked about last week) Paul has learned to be content in whatever situation and circumstance he finds himself.
And I ask you again this morning, have you?
Have you learned to be content in whatever situation or circumstance you are in?
Have you learned to trust God for all things?
Have you learned to be obedient to God in all situations, not just when things are going your way?
And that is another issue we have in the church world as well.
People tend to give and participate into the life of the church, as long as things are going smoothly and as long as things are going their way.
But the minute that they don’t get their way or somebody rubs them the wrong way, many times they act like kids who take their toys and go home.
Folks, in all things, its not about our way, it’s about God’s way.
Now, do we as a church board always make the right decision? No.
Do I as a pastor always make the right decision-ABSOLUTELY NOT!
We are all human, we all make mistakes, we all get out of sync at times, but we are trying our best.
Not to give each and every one of us every single thing we want, but what we feel that Lord is telling us we all need.
And it is a hard balance.
So, again the questions are have we learned to be content?
Have we learned to be obedient to God and not self?
The Secret To Being Content
The Secret To Being Content
And I keep asking these same questions because to be honest, I don’t believe any of us have this 100% figured out yet.
Some days I do well with it, some days I do very poorly with it.
However, Paul here tells us the the secret.
He writes . . .
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
And here it is . . .
13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Or in the KJV, which I prefer, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
And the reason I prefer the KJV is that it identifies without question where our strength and our ability to persevere comes from.
“Him” could mean anybody!
But the “Him” is Jesus Christ and only Jesus Christ!
Now, people will say HOLD ON HERE IT SAYS I CAN DO ALL THINGS.
Yes it does.
It does not say God will give you all things.
It says that we can accomplish any task, any challenge that God gives us.
It tells us that God will provide everything that we need to accomplish God’s will.
When we put our faith in Jesus Christ and trust God for all things, we are obedient because we trust, not because we are expecting a big return.
And this is hard lesson to learn and one I am still being reminded of from time to time.
Our very first VBS as pastor here taught me this lesson very well.
We had spent weeks and weeks planning and preparing.
Had even went door to door, plastering flyers everywhere.
We had all kinds of volunteers and spent money on food and supplies.
And I had it all built up in my head that we had done all this stuff and God was going to reward us with a whole church full of kids.
Well, we ended up with 15 kids. We had 17 volunteers.
I was so disappointed that God did not send us more kids.
I was upset, I was mad. I wanted to know why God didn’t bless us with more kids.
And God answered me . . . You just be obedient and let me worry about the people.
And God has had to remind me of that several times since at different times.
And it was all because my motivation for obedience was wrong.
I was expecting a big pay-off in the number of people that showed up.
No, God says be content and trust me, period.
This morning have we done that?
Have we found that place of contentment?
Do we trust God for all things?
Do we obey because we love, nothing more nothing less?
Has this message spoken to you in any way?
If so I would encourage you to come to the altar and pray about it.
Maybe you have never trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior.
You can do that today.
Maybe you have trusted the Lord as your Savior, but have never given Him full control of your life, trusted him in all ways.
You can do that today as well.
Whatever the need is today, if the Lord has laid anything on your heart, I would encourage you to come and lay it on the altar.
What will you decide today?