40 Days of Vision - 3 Heart and Treasure - tithing
INTRO: The Top Hog
I heard about a farmer who called the office of the minister asking to see “The Head Hog at the trough.” The receptionist said, “Sir, if you’re talking about our beloved Minster, you may call him Reverend or Pastor, but I don’t think it would be proper to refer to him as the “head Hog at the trough.’” “Well, all right,” the farmer said. “I just sold a few sows and was going to donate ten thousand dollars to the building fund, so I was hoping to catch him.” “Oh, just a minute, sir.” The receptionist said, “I think I heard the little porker just come in!”
Many may think today that Pastor James is going to ‘whip us into a frenzy’ in order to manipulate us to give more money to the church.
No – Next week is our 1st annual Breakthrough Offering which goes towards the facilities we need to fulfill the church vision. I am believing that everyone who calls city ELIM their home church, will make a pledge to help take us through into a new level. For those who weren’t here a couple of weeks ago – let me show you our first goal. We are believing to raise money to meet the cost of replacing our rusty, leaky roof, which is at this point sprouting new leaks almost on a weekly basis. Lets look once again at the power point shown two weeks ago.
Often as pastors we almost apologise for taking up offerings, but we should never do that. It costs money to run a church and rebuild people’s lives. It costs money to run great children’s and youth programmes. It costs money to support missions. It costs money to provide these amazing facilities to accommodate the work of God. The “Great Commission” is expensive and money is one of the tools required to complete this calling.
Is it worth it? The answer must be “Yes”. The rebuilding of broken lives depends on God’s Word getting out. Eternity depends on the Word of God getting out to as many as will receive. There is no alternative.
As we give, we are investing into God’s House and the return is huge.
Salvations, healing, restoration, direction, peace, friendships, a place for your family to grow. The list goes on and on.
ENCOURAGEMENT – attendance on rise
This year at ECC – City Church has been the first year in the last 8 years that we have not had a negative slide in attendance figures! We’ve seen numerous people come to Christ, been water baptized and a new café built by the generosity of God’s people. Good things are happening! CONGRATULATIONS church.
However, we have a huge responsibility to maintain our amazing building facility and continue to invest in the incredible future God has for our church family here in the city. We are only seeing the ‘tip of the iceberg’ with all that God wants to do in our midst.
Just two weeks ago – two young English girls walked into our Café church on a Sunday night, after doing a search on ‘google’ on the internet to find a church they could attend. They found our web page – came to church – believed on the Lord Jesus – got saved and prayed for the baptism of the Holy Spirit! All in one night!
That’s why our church exists – but to reach souls costs money – to house our future activities requires a new roof @$65,000.
Brick Room - We are also wanting to finish off our brick room to begin to use it for outreach activities and expand our Café Church on Sunday nites. This will cost us approximately another $10,000 for flooring and painting and a sound system. Right now we have multi-national outreaches in our church that are wanting to use this room, but we can’t until we have finished it. Finishing it will mean more people coming into our building and more people meeting Christ.
Computers - We also have an urgent need right now for 3 new computers. Our current 3 are ten years old, using Windows 98, are incredibly slow and regularly crash on our staff. Businesses would not put up with this, and I don’t believe our church staff should have to either.
Friends, brides are never cheap – and the bride of Christ is no exception! Soul saving is not a cheap business!
I’m not ashamed to address the subject of money to our congregation. Why?
Because the Scriptures make clear there is a fundamental connection between a person's spiritual life and his attitudes and actions concerning money and possessions. Often we divorce the two—Christ sees them as essentially related to one another.
Next week as we conduct our 1st annual Breakthrough Offering – we are believing for a total of $75,000 to complete the job. We will take up our special offering at the completion of the service into a special Treasure Chest at the FRONT of the church. We will get the children over from kids church early and let the WHOLE church be involved in the project.
I want us to go in to this project as a church, knowing some clear principles regarding our money and how God wants us to manage it.
Here we go:
One man commented, “I’m a walking economy. My hairline’s in recession, my waist is a victim of inflation, and together they’re putting me in a deep depression!”
Did you know?
In the Bible, there are 40 verses on "baptism", 275 verses on "prayer", 350 verses on "faith", 650 verses on "love" -- and 2,350 verses that relate specifically to finances and material possessions.
“Money talks. It says ‘good-bye’. If you doubt this, answer the question, ‘How much money did I make in the last 10 years?’ Then answer, ‘How much do I have left?” Also ask, “And how much do I have stored in heaven?”
“A good architect can improve the looks of your house merely by discussing the cost of a new one.”
Many times Jesus bore out in his dealings with people the clear connection between us loving God and allowing him full access into our financial dealings.
Luke 19:1-10. Zaccheus, tax collector; tells Jesus he will pay back 4 times and give half to the poor. Jesus: "Today salvation has come to this house." How does Jesus judge this fundamental change in Zaccheus heart? By the fundamental change in his attitudes and actions concerning money and possessions. (Change didn't earn his salvation, but demonstrated it.)
Matthew 19:16-26. Rich young ruler, counterpart to Zaccheus. Jesus knows what's keeping him away from God is his attachment to his money and possessions-these are his God. So he says, "Give away to poor, come follow me and you'll have riches in heaven."
The man regretfully says "no." Jesus talks about how hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. He knows this man is not saved; he has not changed. On what basis does he conclude this? His attitude and actions concerning money and possessions have not changed.
People go through 3 conversions:
their head, their heart and their pocketbook.
Unfortunately, not all at the same time. Martin Luther
- \\ Matthew 6:19-25. Two treasuries, heaven and earth. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Whenever we put our money into something, we develop vested interests in that thing—where we put our treasures our heart will follow.*
You want your heart to be in the things of God? Simple solution-put your treasures in the things of God. Develop vested interests in God's kingdom. You want to feel more a part of ELIM Christian Centre? Then be more a part of it. Invest yourself in what this church is all about. That's how you gain vested interests in what's going on here. You want to have a heart for missions? Put your money in missions.
Transition to tithing:
I'd like to focus now on the biblical foundation, the cornerstone of financial stewardship. It is not the ceiling of giving, but merely the floor of giving.
But it is for many people the single most fundamental step in transforming your attitude and actions concerning money and possessions.
TITHING: THE TRAINING WHEELS OF GIVING
Next week I will be addressing the whole issue of money – offerings and breaking the spirit of mammon over our lives!
The Principle of Tithing
"A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD." (Leviticus 27:30)
1. "Tithe"—The meaning of the word "tithe" is ten per cent. If someone makes $2000 a month and puts $50 in the offering box he hasn't tithed. If you make $2000 a tithe is two hundred dollars. You cannot tithe 2% or 4% or 6% of your income any more than you can "whitewash" a wall with red paint.
Breakdown numbers: Income/ Tithe
2. "Everything." Doesn't mean "some things." Doesn't mean "most things." Means "everything."
(I realize in business, income has to be balanced against expense to do business; but the bottom line is, whatever the profit is to an individual or a family, before that money is used to pay anything else—taxes, retirement, insurance, anything—that money is tithed on.)
3. It "belongs to the LORD." It doesn't belong to me. It's not my money. It's not your money. It's God's money. (The 10% represents the 100%. Ultimately it's all God's. But in a very special sacred way, the 10% is God's. Untouchable.) That’s why – biblically tithing is not technically ‘giving’ – it is ‘returning’ what belongs to the Lord in the 1st place.
4. It is "holy to the Lord." "Holy" means "set apart." It is to be set apart and given to God, and used for no other purpose. (Don't intermingle. e.g. if someone owes money to Grayson, gives it to me and says "give it to Grayson"—do I put in my wallet and keep it? No. Why?)
"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."
Question: If someone steals from you, does that put a damper on your relationship with them?!
God has their attention. "How do we rob you?" Better listen to the answer.
In "tithes and offerings." The mandatory giving and the voluntary giving. Not only are they not doing the voluntary—they're holding back the mandatory.
Solution: Back to the basics.
God says "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse"- don't hold back any of it. The obedient Israelite didn't ask whether he could give 7% instead of 10%. He knew the answer. God couldn't have made it more clear.
Promises to those bringing in the WHOLE tithe:
Mal 3: 11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” Says the Lord of hosts; 12 And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land,” Says the Lord of hosts.(NKJV)
Where does the tithe go? Into the "storehouse." This was something in Israel that you didn't decide for yourself. The whole tithe went into the temple, where a storehouse to support the temple workers (Levites) was built.
Today, this is the church and those in leadership that God has appointed are to administer the gifts given for God’s work. (You see that in Acts 2 in Jerusalem, where it says the money was laid at the feet of the apostles, who then decided how to distribute it.)
The tithe should go to where the centre of God's program is on planet earth, which is the local church. Not to Focus on the Family, Prison Fellowship, Missions, or other Para church Ministries.
Freewill offerings can go anywhere. Beyond the 10% we're free to invest in eternity with freewill offerings.
In Malachi 3 God says something striking: "Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing. . . "
Rarely does God say "Test me." I don't think there's any other passage quite like this one. Like God longs for us to give him a chance. "Let me just show you. You can't outgive God." R.G. LeTourneau "I just keep shoveling out and God just keeps shoveling back, but God's got a bigger shovel."
Grace or LAW?
Now, everyone agrees there are still freewill offerings in the New Testament. But there is a debate about whether tithing is still a minimum mandatory standard. Some think there is no such thing as a minimum standard of giving any more.
Some say since we are under grace, and tithing was part of the law, it no longer applies to us and it is legalistic to use it as a standard. We should just do "grace giving," which means give only if you feel led.
We are not told anywhere in Scripture that the tithe as a minimum standard of giving no longer pertains.
Tithing was practiced before the law, by Abraham and Jacob (Gen. 14:20; 28:20-22) and is never specifically abolished in the New Testament.
There is no question that Jesus tithed. He was raised in a devout Jewish home, meaning that his parents obeyed the Scriptures, tithed and taught him to tithe.
In Matthew 23:23 Jesus states that while they should have paid attention to other important things, the Pharisees were correct in being careful to tithe.
Matthew 23:23: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." (Matthew 23:23)
So, what about this excuse often given by Christians regarding not tithing “We’re not under the law but under grace?”
Grace is truly amazing as I preached last week. But so many fail to understand the power of Grace. Let’s understand one thing – the righteousness of grace always exceeds the righteousness of the law!
Look at Jesus teaching in Matthew 5:
Matthew 5:17-20 (NKJV) 17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Notice that each time Jesus points to an OT law, He sets a higher standard under NT Grace!
For example the OT law said not to commit murder (Exod.20:13), but Jesus said not to be angry with your brother (Matt 5:22).
The OT law said not to commit adultery (Exod.20:14), but Jesus said to not even look upon a woman with lust in your heart (Matt 5:28). Once again a higher standard!
In other words, the righteousness of TRUE Grace at work will always exceed the righteousness of the LAW!
SMILE – that’s why when people tell me they don’t tithe because they are not under the LAW but under GRACE, I respond by saying, “Oh, so you give according to grace?” “Yes – that’s right”. Then I say, “Great! That means you give much more than 10%, because the righteousness of grace exceeds the righteousness of the law – it’s a higher standard.”
The point is that there are certain principles that permeate the word of God and TITHING is one of them!
The truth is the New Testament portrays the norm of Christian giving as far beyond the tithe. It never suggests the "floor" set by the tithe was eliminated, but simply that the ceiling of Christian giving was far above it.
Tithing is a way of putting God first. In fact, another term for the tithe in Scripture is the "firstfruits." Proverbs 3:9 says, "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops."
It was a way of saying, "We give of our first and best to you, our Lord, because we recognize all good comes from you." Tithe required calculation—adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing.
First meant as soon as it's harvested or as soon as payment is received it is to be given to the Lord. Not to be stored up, hid, hoarded or distributed elsewhere, but is to be given to the Lord's work.
LISTEN TO THIS: Deut 26:13 then you shall say before the Lord your God: ‘I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite…...(NKJV)
The best place for the tithe is not in YOUR house, but God’s house – removing it from our house guarantees the devourer being rebuked from your house.
BAROMETER The spiritual community's giving back to the Lord what was rightfully his was a consistent barometer of their faith and trust in him. When they slid spiritually, they ceased to give as they should. And when they ceased to give as they should, they slid spiritually.
Finally, our perspective on tithing will change when we begin to see the local church as a visible manifestation of God’s bride:
Please consider this illustration:
I have to go on an extended journey and I choose three men for a special responsibility. I say to those three men, “I’m going to send you each $10,000 a month. You may keep $9,000 of the money and spend it as you please, but I want you to give $1,000 a month to my wife for the meeting of her needs.”
As promised, I send to each of them $10,000 a month. After a few months I decide to call my wife and ask her specifically if she is receiving the support that I had arranged. Her reply is, “Well, the first guy is sending $1,000 a month as you had instructed him. The second one is actually sending in $2,000 a month, I don’t know why, but he is. But the third one sent in $800 the first month, $300 the second month, and nothing the third month!”
Now, as a husband who loves his wife with all his heart, what do you think I’m going to do? I’m the one providing this money to these men. I’ve told them they can keep $9,000 a month for themselves, all I’ve wanted them to do is to give 10%, so that there could be food in my house! (Mal 3:10)
Well – here’s what I’m going to do. The first man who was faithful in sending his $10,000 each month I will continue to send him $10,000. But – for the third man, the one who wasn’t satisfied with the 90% that I graciously gave him – I’m going to quit sending him $10,000 a month and give it to the most generous man instead. Why? Because I can trust the second man, he has demonstrated that he cares about what I care about. He is a good steward.
What the third man was doing was the same as stealing from me. Remember the verse: Malachi 3:8 (NKJV) "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings.
Now let me bring this illustration home to us this morning:
Jesus has gone away for a season of time. He has said to each of us, “I want you to take care of my Bride (the church) while I’m away, by giving 10% of your income to my House. You can spend the remaining 90% as you desire.”
Those who obey will be blessed. Those who go above and beyond will be extraordinarily blessed. But those who refuse to do the bare minimum will have what they have taken away and it will be given to someone who will be a good steward with it.
Matthew 25:29 (NKJV) 'For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.
God is faithful to His word. Tithing is the beginning step to open WINDOWs of HEAVEN over your financial situation and a platform on which to stand and REBUKE the DEVOURER – the devil who wants to STEAL, KILL and DESTROY from our lives.
We’re going to pray in just a minute – but before we do – next week we are going to ask you to carefully pray and consider a generous offering for the ongoing vision of our church. We have sent you out a CD and envelope for this offering and we really want to ask you to get your whole family involved. Teach your children special lessons with special offerings and let them also ask God if he would have them contribute that they too might gain a sense of ownership to the house of God! We will bring the children down at the end of the service as we take up the special offering.
Next weeks message is some powerful principles on money – spirits that can come on it, mammon, sowing and reaping, faithfulness, developing a generous outlook on life – etc.
PRAYER – breaking the curse