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Giving 1

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Intro:  In the greatest position in the world to preach this sermon.  Because:

q   I don’t know who gives what.  That gives me greatly freedom because there is no one that I am preaching at.  I see no faces in front of me.

q   We really don’t have any screaming needs currently.  Plenty of places to spend money.

q   It is a spiritual issue.

Give a list of objections to this sermon.

It is possible at times for our worship to be detestable to God.  It provokes his displeasure rather than his pleasure.  He cannot stand half-heartedness.

Why don’t people give?

q   Greed

q   Lack of trust in God’s promise to provide our needs.

q   Not enough left over.

Give God from the best not from the rest.

Many of us regularly go in debt on Christ’s birthday to give to everyone else except him.  It would be a neat thing to give our most expensive gift to God this Christmas.  We would never consider going in debt to give to God on a weekly basis.

It is often what we keep that speaks more loudly than what we give.  Nothing that would bother me more than someone professing that they were doing me a favor when in reality they were acting in their own self-interest.

Our reactions betray our hearts.  How do we receive chastisement from others?  Cain’s pattern was to retaliate which is not evident of a broken and contrite heart.  Do we get mad at others when God convicts us?  Perhaps.  If so then we do not hold a repentant character but a rebellious one.  How a person receives correction is crucial to his spiritual survival.

When we break our relationship with God it affects the way that we relate to God’s people and particularly our family.

What would constitute an acceptable gift to God?  Is it in the nature of the gift?  (Doug Wheaton’s gift to his wife for Christmas)  I have had my children give me things that I don’t recognize but they are beautiful because of the heart that has offered the gift.  The nature of our gift giving reveals our true knowledge of the heart of God.  There are careful gift givers and they have a knack of picking out just the right thing.  Because they know us they know what we need or they know the things that bring us the greatest pleasure.  (DBA meeting – gift)  There are careless gifts thrown together with a bit of wrapping just to fulfill the obligation and they are often clutter to the receiver.  Perhaps that was the difference between the two – the thought.  Some say that this is what really counts anyway.

What was the difference between the two gifts?  Is that where the problem was?  Not really.

Gift giving – the most that we can get for the least that we can give.  Take the price tags off.

If the church revoked the church’s charitable organization status, it shouldn’t affect our giving one iota.

Giving with glad and generous hearts has a way of routing out the tough old miser within us.  Even the poor need to know that they can give.  Just the very act of letting go of money, or some other treasure, does something within us.  It destroys the demon greed.

n      Richard J. Foster, Money, Sex & Power

Milo Kauffman develops this thought a step further when he writes:

   "Stewardship of possessions is the effect of God's saving grace upon one's self and his property.  When God gets a man with a car He gets a car to be used in His service.  Some seem to think of stewardship as a whip or as legal action to drive people to give to the expenses of the church.  No doubt too often the attempt has been made to wring generous offerings from selfish souls.  Christian stewardship most certainly is not church legislation nor a scheme to deprive men of their cash.  It is the natural consequence of an experience with God -- the natural reaction of the human heart that has been touched by the divine spirit.

n      Milo Kauffman, The Challenge of Christian Stewardship,

I have never known a generous person to complain about how much money it takes to run a church.  Poor givers gripe about how much it takes; generous givers express concern that they don't do more.

   I have never known a family who tithed for any length of time who quit.

   I have never known a generous family that was not generally happy.

   I have never known a stingy, miserly family that was not generally unhappy about many things.

   I have never known a person who was critical of most things, mad about many things, who was generous.

   I have come to believe that most people who feel we talk too much about money, never really want to talk about money at all. Generous people enjoy talking about it.

   I have come to believe that there is a direct connection that exists between a person's faith and a person's generosity.  Those who give generously tend to become more faithful; and the reverse is true in both instances.  (copied)

See:  Prov 11:24; Eccl 5:13; 2 Cor 9:7-8

The average charitable giving in the United States is 1.7 percent of adjusted gross income.  The average among Christians is 2.5 percent.

n      Ron Blue

The day the church treasurer resigned the church asked the local grain elevator manager to take the position.  He agreed under two conditions.

   That no treasurer's report would be given for the first year.

   That no questions be asked about finances during that year.

   The people were surprised but finally agreed since most of them did business with him and he was a trusted man.

   At the end of the year he gave his report:

   * The church indebtedness of $228,000 has been paid.

   * The minister's salary had been increased by 8%.

   * The Cooperative Program gifts has been paid 200%.

   * There were no outstanding bills.

   * And there was a cash balance of $11,252!

   Immediately the shocked congregation asked, "How did you do it? Where did the money come from?"

   He quietly answered:  "Most of you bring your grain to my elevator. Throughout the year I simply withheld ten percent on your behalf and gave it to the church in your name.  You didn't even miss it!"

   "Do you see what we could do for the Lord if we were all willing to give at least the tithe to God, who really owns it?"

   And so the new treasurer had made his point.

    -- Adapted from A Sourcebook for Stewardship Sermons,

       by James E. Carter

If every church member in the United States were to suddenly lose his/her job and went on welfare, and yet were willing to tithe from the minimal amount received from public assistance, giving in the nation's churches would immediately increase over 30%!

   Love of the right use of money is the root of all good.

n      The Herald of the Covenant

Give to God First

Answering a knock on the door of his African hut, a missionary found a native boy holding up a large fish.  The boy said, "Preacher, you taught us to give at least one tenth, so here--I've brought you my tenth."

As the missionary gratefully took the fish, he questioned the young lad "Where are the other nine fish?"  At this, the boy beamed and said, "Oh, they're still back in the river.  I'm going back to catch them now."

Now that's what I call faith (cf. Mal. 3:10)!

"Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty..." (Prov.  3:9-

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