Give Careful Thought to Your Ways -- Giving is an act of worship. A better way to say it is giving is a spiritual experience. It’s more than passing the plates. Giving means something and should change something. It’s like praise. Praise isn’t only singing. It’s a spiritual experience. Reading God’s word isn’t only reading. It’s a spiritual experience. Prayer isn’t simply talking into the air. It’s a spiritual experience. The purpose of any spiritual experience of worship is to change our hearts. They transform us into who we should be. Sadly, most Christians don’t know how to do biblical giving. They miss the power of giving financially. Give Careful Thought to Your Ways.
Careful Thought to Your Ways Power – sermon video audio notes
Careful Thought to Your Ways Power – sermon video audio notes
Scriptures: Matthew 6:21, Matthew 6:24, Proverbs 22:6-7, Proverbs 9:10, Haggai 1:6, Deuteronomy 14:22-26, Malachi 3:8-9, Malachi 3:10-11, Deuteronomy 14:28, Matthew 6:3-4, Deuteronomy 8:18, 2 Corinthians 9:7-8
Life Gate Church Reaching Up and Reaching Out
Careful Thought to Your Ways Power - sermon video
Careful Thought to Your Ways Power - sermon notes
Giving is an act of worship. Maybe a better way to say it is giving is a spiritual experience. It’s more than passing the plates. Giving means something. It’s like praise. Praise isn’t only singing. It’s a spiritual experience. Reading God’s word isn’t only reading. It’s a spiritual experience. Prayer isn’t simply talking into the air. It’s a spiritual experience. The purpose of any spiritual experience of worship is to deal with our hearts. Sadly, most Christians don’t know how to do biblical giving. They miss the power of giving financially. Give Careful Thought to Your Ways.
What I want to do today is share a little of Judy’s and my giving journey. Financial giving is a journey God takes us each on, from fear to faith. When any person comes into the kingdom of God, one of the first areas God begins dealing with is money and our giving. Here’s why. Money and our giving is a direct picture of what masters our hearts and what we truly serve. Give Careful Thought to Your Ways.
Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, THERE YOUR HEART will be also.
Your heart will always follow your treasure. To see where your heart is look at your bank statements, credit card statements, or where you spend your cash.
Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two MASTERS. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You CANNOT SERVE both God and Money.
Either money or God is our master. You know this by which commands your money. For example, if we can’t serve God with your financial giving because your debt, or VISA, Master Card, and American Express command you to serve them we’ve found our master. A power of biblical giving is to make God your master. Give Careful Thought to Your Ways.
Proverbs 22:6-7 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (7) The rich RULE OVER the poor, and the borrower is SERVANT to the lender.
We always talk about verse 6 but never connect verse 7. Wonder why God placed those two verses together? One of the primary ways we should train a child in is how to handle money. It will determine at an early age who or what rules and masters their lives. I love it when little children put their worship -- pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters -- in a tithing envelope and begin having a spiritual heart changing experience at a young age. We trained our children to give. A power of biblical giving is to help train your child to serve God and not money.
Father God began training Judy and me on our journey, as he trains you, using inward promptings. With me, the promptings first came to give more than a few $1 bills in the offering. I felt prompted to give $20. “Twenty dollars?! But what about my bills (my master)?” Fear put up a wall. $20 was a pretty big wall for us in 1978 when we had a house payment, two car payments, in debt up to our eyeballs with credit cards, both of us working, and two children to raise. There was no $20 to give, but, well, ok. I’ll work it out. We broke through that fear wall and moved into faith.
I’ve learned some things about fear on this journey. One thing is fear overcomes fear. For example, the fear of going to the dentist is overcome by the fear of losing your teeth or the fear of shooting pain going up the side of your head. We overcome the fear of going to school or college by the fear of being ignorant, poor, and unsuccessful. One fear is overcome by a superior fear. So fear is not bad, and there’s no such thing as living fear free.
Proverbs 9:10 “The FEAR of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…
Wisdom is not our being without fear. Wisdom is prioritizing our fears. That’s what we had to do. For me, the fear I had concerning giving was overcome by the fear of not giving and not pleasing the Lord. Which did I fear most: the bank and VISA, or God?
God’s promptings go something like this: Inwardly we feel prompted to give. It’s in the arena of our conscience -- right and wrong. We know what we should do. I’d say, “Lord, I’m not totally 100 percent comfortable giving this, but I’m too uncomfortable not to give it. Once through the $20 fear barrier, $20 was no big deal, and I was embarrassed I allowed $20 to frighten me. $20 had been my master.
Next, our prompting was to become percentage givers, but there was no money. I could do $20, but a percentage? I don’t think so. There was the fear again. Judy and I desired to do it. Like you, we discussed it. Our reluctance was not in giving a percentage. Our reluctance was we could not give a percent and pay our bills finding ourselves in a deeper mess. However, exactly as we gave the $20, we gave the percent. If we could be faithful to VISA and lending institutions, we could be faithful to God. We were learning to allow God to be our master.
We began working our finances around our giving instead of working our giving around our finances. We gave to God first. I was slowly learning God is somehow in this as all the bills were paid. I want to be clear. It was close. I’d scream at my checkbook after paying bills. It seemed for a long time there was no extra, and sometimes I wasn’t able to pay a bill when I wanted, but it was only a few years.
Then there were special offerings promptings. I remember one back in the early 80’s, our church wanted to purchase a satellite dish and equipment to receive special teachings from great teachers. Judy and I discussed it and felt to give $500 toward it. As a young family, we didn’t have $500 period, much less $500 to give toward a satellite dish for church. We felt strongly about this and decided if we could borrow thousands of dollars to buy a car, we could borrow $500 to give, bringing God’s teaching. We did. WE DON’T SUGGEST ANYONE DO THIS. I’m sharing our journey, our promptings, and our fears.
Percentage giving became a lifestyle for us. It was no big deal and not at all fearful. Special offering giving was no big deal. We’d pray, ask the Lord what we should give, and give it. We’d gotten through the fear… we thought. Then one day in a service right here about 1988, the prompting of God was to give our house. I’d never heard of such a thing. We’d sold a house, took the equity, built a new house, and became debt free. It appraised in 1988 for $72,000. Today the house and property would appraise for around $200,000. The house was our security net. If ministry didn’t work, we could always go back to our house. I honestly cried sitting on the front row dealing with the prompting of God in my heart. Talk about fear! I recognized the prompting of God. We did it. How many people get to write a check close to $70,000 to anything much less to their church? My parents and others though we had lost our minds. I wasn’t sure myself.
I could project our giving as if I was a great man of faith and Judy was a great woman of faith faithfully following her man as he followed God. That would be a false projection, at least for me. I wasn’t. I went through the same fears you go through. As uncomfortable as we were to give, we were more uncomfortable not to give. We believed in what God was doing in our church and our lives. We were watching lives transform. Our treasure and hearts were in the kingdom of God and money was not going to be our master.
Haggai 1:6 “You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but NEVER HAVE ENOUGH. You drink, but NEVER HAVE YOUR FILL. You put on clothes, but are NOT WARM. You earn wages, only to put them in a PURSE WITH HOLES IN IT.” This is what the LORD Almighty says: “GIVE CAREFUL THOUGHT TO YOUR WAYS.”
Have you ever felt this way? The Lord actually said this to people who believed in him, and this is so much of what we see today with people who believe in God. It wasn’t until Judy and I gave careful thought to ourways things changed. Likely it will be this way with you also until you give careful thought to your ways. I’m attempting to help you give careful thought to your ways.
I showed you last time there are three areas biblical giving teaches us to give into. The Bible calls each of them a “tithe.” There are three different tithes, not one. These tithes are not vertical. One is not more important than the other. They are horizontal. Each one has its specific purpose and brings its specific power and blessing. The word tithe simply means a percent. We are to give a percent of our income to: a tithe/percent to yourself; a tithe/percent to prevention; and a tithe/percent to intervention. I taught them last time, but I’m going to read all three rapidly.
(KJV) Deuteronomy 14:22-26 Thou shalt truly TITHE all the increase of thy seed that the field bringeth forth YEAR BY YEAR. AND THOU SHALT EAT BEFORE THE LORD THY GOD, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, THE TITHE of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; THAT THOU MAYEST LEARN TO FEAR the LORD thy God always. And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: THEN SHALT THOU TURN IT INTO MONEY, and BIND UP THE MONEY IN THINE HAND, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: AND THOU SHALT BESTOW THAT MONEY FOR WHATSOEVER THY SOUL LUSTETH AFTER, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or FOR WHATSOEVER THY SOUL DESIRETH: and thou shalt eat there BEFORE THE LORD THY GOD, and thou SHALT REJOICE, thou, and thine household
This tithe is for the giver -- you. They were to go to Jerusalem for feasts/vacations three times a year. Instead of herding livestock or carrying bushels of grain, vegetables, fruit, etc., they were to turn it into money and keep the money -- bind up the money in thine hand and join the party (feast). They were to use that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after… for whatsoever thy soul desireth (v 26). It was a tithe -- a percentage -- to themselves. They were to rejoice.God wants us to enjoy life before him and with him. It’s your money. This is giving a percent/tithe to you. The power of this percent giving is financial liberty not allowing money to master you. You are free to follow God and not follow money. Give careful thought to your ways. Do you do this?
Malachi 3:8-9 “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.
Exactly as “offerings” are plural, “tithes” are plural. There are three “tithes.” God sees our not giving a percent in these three areas as robbing him.
Malachi 3:10-11 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. I WILL PREVENT pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty.
It becomes “tithe” singular -- specific. “I will… what? PREVENT! A power of this percent giving is to preventcrises from happening in your life and the lives of others. We talked about how prevention is far superior to intervention. This tithe -- percent -- will open special supernatural (heaven) blessing. It’s not you give a dollar, and God will give you ten. It is supernatural blessings you need. God invites you to test him on this tithe -- percent giving. Give careful thought to your ways. Are you doing this?
Deuteronomy 14:28 At the END OF THREE YEARS thou shalt bring forth all the TITHE of thine increase the same year, and shalt LAY IT UP WITHIN THY GATES: And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; THAT THE LORD THY GOD MAY BLESS THEE in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.
God will bless you at your occupation. You will be at the top of your profession. I look at those in our congregation who have done this. They truly are good at what they do. They are irreplaceable. The purpose of this tithe is intervention giving. It’s obviously different. Instead of year by year as the previous two tithes, this one is at the end of three years and for supporting ministry, intervening to help transients, orphans, widows, those needing assistance. It is corporately given and separate from the prevention percent. Jesus labeled this alms.
Matthew 6:3-4 But when thou doest ALMS, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be IN SECRET: and thy FATHER WHICH SEETH IN SECRET HIMSELF shall reward thee openly.
The NIV says, “when you give to the needy.” This is when we need to intervene in the crisis. If we would all do this, we could take care of people when they go through a crisis. We give the percent corporately and is kept separately. It’s the best way I know not to let my left hand know what my right hand is doing. I have no idea who the money I give helps. Jesus said, “Thy Father which seeth in secret HIMSELF shall reward thee openly.” What better way to reward you than make you openly successful and irreplaceable? Give careful thought to your ways. Are you doing this?
In God’s economy, there are three areas we are to give a percent of what God has blessed us: yourself; prevention; and intervention. Here’s the way Judy and I and some of you do this. Let’s use $500 weekly income for simplicity. I’m paid weekly, so every week $50 goes to us. I use direct deposit from our checking to our savings. If I don’t, it will go out a hole somewhere. At the end of the year, we would have $2,600 to take vacations or do whatsoever our soul lusteth after. Every week we would write a check for our percentage giving for $50 to the local church (storehouse) for prevention giving. At the same time I write the prevention check, I would write a second check for $17.00 ($16.67 -- I round up for God. I want him to round up for me) as a one-third tithe or third-year percent tithe. Instead of doubling up the third year, which would be difficult, we simply add a third of a tithe to be given for the purpose of intervention. I like to keep it separate. Some of you write it out on your check what goes where. Give careful thought to your ways. Are you doing this?
I want to read two more scriptures in closing.
Deuteronomy 8:18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: FOR IT IS HE THAT GIVETH THEE POWER TO GET WEALTH, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
God gives you the power to make wealth. There is a power of biblical giving.
(TNLT) 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 You must EACH MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND AS TO HOW MUCH YOU SHOULD GIVE. Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For GOD LOVES THE PERSON WHO GIVES CHEERFULLY. And GOD WILL GENEROUSLY PROVIDE ALL YOU NEED. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
Giving is worship. Our giving is a spiritual experience. We know it pleases God in a special way. God loves everyone, but there are special love, blessings, and provisions for the giver who is happy about giving.
Careful Thought to Your Ways Power – sermon video audio notes
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