A message on giving
On this sermon, pastor Alan sheds light on the topic of giving. Drawing from biblical teachings, he clarifies many of the misconceptions around this topic and answers some of the common questions involving tithe and offering in the modern church.
A big thank you to our worship team for leading Us in this time this morning some weeks ago Pastor David contacted me and asked whether I'd be available to preach on this occasion and it worked and he sent me an email confirming it and said your choice free choice and uh I began thinking about it and praying about it and I looked at some passages here and there and nothing much seem to gel I attended the members meeting a couple of weeks back and uh as the financial statement was being presented and the budget for the new year it was mentioned by one of our leaders that from either the church Council or to the church Council had been suggested that we have a message on giving and I thought something just gelled in my heart I could do that maybe that's something to think about and then a little while later as Pastor David was chairing the meeting he acknowledged the fact that that requests have been made and said that's a bit awkward for the pastors to preach on a topic like that because there's so many points of view out there in the audience and the congregation and it's a bit hard for the pastors to address it and not tread on people's toes he said that Alan Gray's preaching on the 9th of July maybe it's something he could take up and I thought well there's a word of affirmation and when it comes from somebody like Pastor David who walks so closely with Jesus you've got to listen to that affirmation so this morning I'm going to preach on giving ah I was waiting to listen for grounds and see who got up and left Peter Kirby nearly dead but he decided to stay but I heard good I'm sorry that I well no I'm not really sorry I was going to say I'm sorry that I don't have a PowerPoint presentation to share with you what are the Banes of my life when I was in a position of having to preach each Sunday was having to prepare a PowerPoint to go with it sometimes the PowerPoint took me longer than the sermon to put together and when I look at the Powerpoints that the guys use now I don't know where their resources are but they're so captivating and they catch your attention and and I just seem to be able to find basic stuff and then press the button in and out of order and distracts me and so no I'm not sorry that I don't have a PowerPoint but I am sorry that you've got to look at my ugly face instead because you don't have that diversion but before I share some thoughts on giving I want to lead us in prayer some years ago I visited a lady whom I knew and she was in hospital an elderly lady and the prognosis was not good she's a lady that was Associated Loosely with a Church of another denomination and occasionally she would attend there I guess she would have put herself in the bracket of being a Christian and as I talked with her for a while and as I was getting near the end of the visit I asked her I said would you like me to pray for you she said oh no thanks I shared that story at a funeral some months later and uh I could see some usually family members most of them family members that knew her sort of a bit of a snigger that would be her and others I think felt a bit of disgust actually not wanting to pray you know what I admired her for her stand I admired her for her honesty because I think too often we will accept prayer or pray and really not mean what we're saying this morning I want to lead us in prayer as we consider this topic of giving and I'm going to conclude the prayer with the typical word amen a word that means Lord let it be this is my heart's desire and I want to say to you that if the prayer touches your heart if it's an expression of your desire to God you might like to express your amen as well it's a prayer based on scripture and I invite you to share it with me father as we consider this topic of giving sometimes a contentious issue sometimes a topic that is not a comfortable one for us it is my prayer along with that of the psalmist that the words of my mouth and the meditations and responses of our hearts would be acceptable in your sight our Lord and Our Redeemer amen I like I'm sure many of you have heard some terrible messages on giving manipulative messages the era of the televangelist is one thing that comes to mind many of those evangelists were genuine in what they were on about but some just use it as a means to manipulate the generation of funding a couple of years ago I became interested in a particular devotional guide that was free promoted free I'd read some back copies and I thought yeah I might subscribe to that and I received the first issue and I sent off a donation because I realized that those sorts of things cost and this was a Ministry and I wanted to support them in their Ministry but after a while I I began receiving messages that they have felt constrained to support another Ministry and they'd like you to contribute toward it oh that's okay I I don't mind people putting things out there if the lord has laid it on their hearts I've even said to some of our church Council leaders look if you've got a special issue bring it to our attention as church members sometimes we have funding there that we're waiting on the Lord to guide us as to where it should go and if you don't make it known we don't know and I'm grateful that when I look at the financial statement there's that building fund there nobody's saying you have to give to it but it's there and uh if the Lord touches our hearts we can contribute toward it but this particular devotional guide when a little step further and they would send emails and say oh look if we haven't got the money by such and such a date we won't be able to do that Ministry we really need you to give I got to tell you that gets up my nose I have problems with that my understanding of scripture and my own personal practice has taught me that giving grows out of an attitude and if there's one word you want to take home from this message this morning it would be the word attitude because I strongly believe that in dependent upon our attitude toward God and our relationship with him will dictate our attitude toward giving to God's work attitude one of the Old Testament characters that has really challenged me in that whole area is that old guy job would be what I would call the Elon Musk of his age read a little bit about Elon Musk last year 52 year old guy worth 234 billion dollars who on earth needs 234 billion dollars sadly I read on that he's had three marriages all ended in divorce and is now in a fourth marriage a fourth relationship that's not yet solemnized as a marriage he has ten children from those relationships well Twiggy Forest the Australian rich man worth 27 and a quarter billion dollars he and his wife have a strong desire to be philanthropist and make a lot of that money available to help particular Charities and what have you job would fit into those sorts of categories a very very wealthy guy of his day and in the opening verses of the Book of Job we read that he was a man who was blameless a man of complete integrity he feared God and stayed away from evil and then it lists his uh what do you call him his bank account if you like he had seven sons and three daughters he owned seven thousand sheep three thousand camels 500 teams of oxen 500 female donkeys he also had many servants he was in fact the Richard richest person in the entire area foreign s were Stripped Away From Him you receive word that some thieves had come in and taken his livestock and killed off the servants who were caring for them he had word that a strong wind blew through a tornado of some sort a hurricane came through and while his children were partying together the house and was destroyed and all the kids were killed and suddenly this this fantastic Empire that job had was decimated he had nothing when we get to the end of chapter one we read that job stood up and tore his robe in grief yes that's understandable he grieved that losing all that he had particularly his family I guess and then he shaved his head and he fell to the ground to worship and he said I came naked from my mother's womb and I will be naked when I leave the lord gave what I had and the Lord has taken away praise the name of the Lord you see the attitude of job those possessions were not his God but rather a gift from God those possessions were something that Good Fortune if you want to put it that way who blessed him with a long life road but he never held on to it even when it was taken away from him he could worship God and say look I came with nothing I leave with nothing what I had was not my own what a great attitude you know for quite some years now I've been serving as a Chaplain at the local caboolture hospital which among its other aspects of Hospital work has an emphasis on the maternity Wards and the Special Care Nursery and I can say that over all of those years I have never yet had a midwife come down to me and say guess what I've just delivered a child with a silver spoon in its mouth never happened and I doubt it's ever going to happen because we come into this world with nothing all that we have is an accumulation of things as life goes on for some it is plenty for others it is struggle Street Osama says in Psalm 24 and verse 1 the Earth is the Lord's and everything in it the world and all its people belong to him everything is God's no one else everything belongs to him not us this statement comes again to that effect in psalm 50. in verse 10. God says for all the animals of the forest of mine and I own the cattle on a thousand hills I know every bird on the mountains and all the animals of the field are mine God owns it all in the olden days When Ross and I used to walk the streets with Moses we used to sing a song based on that Tsar he owns the cattle on a thousand hills the wealth in every mind he owns the rivers and the rocks and reels and the Suns and stars that shine these are my fathers now wait there I've missed the line wonderful riches more than ton can tell these are my fathers so they're mine as well he owns a cattle on a thousand hills and I know he cares for me friends since the days of Adam God has said everything here is for you for you to use for you to look after or there were some boundaries but those my boundaries were minimal and sadly Adam and Eve tripped up and overstepped the boundary this world in which we live is a gift to us from God talents and the gifts that we have are from God to use for him to benefit others but I want to say that our giving is not about quantity but about quality as Jesus Sat one day with his disciples in the temple we read in Luke chapter 21 verses one to four while Jesus was in the temple he watched the rich people dropping their gifts into the collection box then a poor Widow came by and dropped in two small coins I tell you the truth Jesus said this poor Widow has given more than all the rest of them for they have given a tiny part of their Surplus but she poor as she is has given everything she had friends never ever faint that because you can't give a bundle of dollars that that's not acceptable to God looks at the heart he looks at the attitude the motivation and God condemns falsehood phoniness throughout the Old Testament in a number of situations like Jeremiah chapter 6 or Hosea chapter 8 and verse 13. God says to his people through his respective prophets look don't bring all your precious perfumes from those overseas countries and offer them to me and as an altar don't bring in all your sacrifices when you don't mean it they're a stenched to me they stink that's a challenge isn't it do we give out of an attitude of gratitude what do we give just because it's a habit or just because our arm has been twisted so how do we develop this concept of giving how do we develop our attitude back in the Old Testament the idea of tithing is brought to our attention sometimes you will hear our pastors say we're going to be waited on for our tithes and offerings in my mind the tithe is that which we bring into the house of the Lord to support the work of the local church the offerings are that which we give over and above for a special cause of some sort that's how I function that may not be right that's why we function but in Deuteronomy chapter 14 when the law is being presented to the people of God as to how they ought to live their lives in the area of giving Moses conveys this message from the Lord you must set aside a tithe of your crops one-tenth of all the crops you harvest each year bring this tithe to the designated place of worship the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored and eat it there in his presence this applies to your ties of grain new wine olive oil and the force first born males of your flocks and herds doing this will teach you always to fear the lord your God I've got to say I am extremely grateful to parents who taught me this concept of tithing when I received my first pocket money two Shillings 24 pennies modern day currency 25 cents I was given to Bob and I was given a bundle of little envelopes that I see people at church using when the offering plate come round they would put these envelopes in and and I was taught that out of my two Shillings I would put tuppence hate me into an envelope take it to church I probably didn't understand what that was all about but that's what people did so I did it it was the religious thing to do if you like and let me say there's a danger in doing things just because it's religious in years to come when I had my first job as an apprentice motor mechanic the age of 16. I received my first weekly pay packet 14.76 and 1.48 went into offerings it was the amount before the government got their hands on it with taxes the gross amount and I gave that tithe as a practice and little by little I realized that this concept of tithing was not a religious thing to do but everything was God's all that I had was a gift from God any resources that I had accumulated any gifts that I had any talents that I had it was a gift from God and here's God saying would you just give me back 10 to show your love for me bring it into the house of the Lord to worship me and as Roz and I were preparing to get married we talked about this whole concept of giving and we have based our whole marriage on the basis of giving to the Lord a tenth of our income because we are grateful for what God has given us and to be giving back just one tenth is minuscule to all that he has given us that's our deep desire to worship him with our tithe The Book of Leviticus emphasizes the same thing this aspect of the law to bring a tithe into the house of the Lord to Worship the Lord with I'm grateful that I had a mother who taught me that from the very beginning and you know my mum's 93 years of age now and we duck down every couple of months to see mum and dad in New South Wales and I doubt that there is ever a time that I would come away from that visit without mum at some point saying we are very blessed the catch cry that she has we'll sit down to a meal and give thanks and she'll say we are very blessed that's your talk about people that come to care for her or take her out and I'm just so very blessed that's her attitude an attitude of gratitude and I'm so grateful that Mama has instilled that into me and I now can appreciate just how wonderfully blessed I have been and continue to be some people will say oh yeah but that idea of tithing that that's just law that's legalism you know we're in the New Testament now we're under the Covenant of Grace you don't have to do that they might be right if you look at it that way if you look at it as a legalism but you know long before Moses I see the idea of tithing was part and practice of some of the greats that our fellow Abraham he had to go and rescue his nephew from that Wicked City Sodom and it wasn't an easy thing there was a bit of a battle ensued and Abraham came away from that battle with a lot of booty a lot of loot and having left the city of Sodom behind is walking along and he meets a guy by the name of Melchizedek a high priest of God don't know a lot about Melchizedek but he seems to have been pretty important because when you get to the book of Hebrews we're talking about the high priesthood of Jesus and it says that Jesus was a high priest in the order of Melchizedek pretty important priest and as Abraham had this contact well with Melchizedek he gave to Melchizedek as a gift to God a tenth of the booty that he had received from Sodom he tithed it a couple of generations later as the man Jacob Jacob had had a severe falling out with his brother Esau a little bit of conniving with his mother and and Esau hated Jacob because Jacob had stolen Esau's Birthright and Esau was wanting to kill Jacob and Mum got word of this and spoke to Dad and they agreed that Jacob should go back to the old Homeland and find for himself a wife there get out of this difficult situation and as Jacob's on his way Nightfall comes lies down and in Genesis chapter 28 verse 22 we see that Jacob's got his head on a rock as a pillow and he's sleeping and he has this dream of a ladder Angels going up and down in that dream God speaks to him reminding him that he's still his even though he's perhaps done the wrong thing even though he's perhaps On The Run God's still in contact with him and when Jacob woke from that night's sleep he gathered other rocks around and he he built like a can a memorial and he called it Bethel a word which means House of God and there before he left that place he promised to give the Lord one tenth of everything that he ever received you see that's long before the law it was just an idea that they practiced you're not going to say that I have grown to a point where I don't practice tithing as something of the law and I practice it as my expression to say thanks to God for all that he has given to me when we get to the Book of Malachi we're just about to jump into the New Testament into that area of Grace if you like over the years the people of Israel had gone their own way oh they said dare we follow God when things got tough oh God can you help us that sort of an attitude in some of the Finer Things of commitment they'd got away from the Lord and in Malachi chapter 3 verses 6 to 10 we read these words I am the Lord and I do not change that is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed ever since the days of your ancestors you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them now return to me and I will return to you says the Lord of Heaven's armies but you ask how can we return when we have never gone away should people cheat God says the Lord yet you have cheated me but you ask what do you mean when did we ever cheat you you have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me you are under a curse for your whole nation has been cheating me bring all the tires into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my temple if you do says the Lord of Heaven's armies I will open the windows of Heaven for you I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in try me put me to the test wow here is God calling his people to come back to him and honor him with their tithes bring it into the storehouse why well God's house has to function their personnel that need to receive an income there's maintenance that needs to be done there's stock that needs to be purchased bring it into the storehouse don't cheat on me it's my house where people come to worship me and if you think I'm kidding put me to the test and I will open up the storehouse of heaven and bless you in such a way it'll blow your socks off now friends and God says put me to the test pretty certainly doesn't mean that you come in and say okay Lord here's Matthias now you you come good with your bit because we're instructed in Scripture that we shouldn't do that to God what God is saying here is more when you bring your offering into me trust me trust me I will bless you and as I look back over my life wow as God blessed me when I started college God's call upon my life to pastoral Ministry became a strong reality when we were just six months married buying our first house at a ridiculous mortgage rate of something like 16 percent we're both working at the time I was a qualified diesel fitter and enjoying my work Roz was a legal stenographer with a firm of solicitors and good income but we realized that if I go into college to train that means stepping out of my job no such thing as hacks or student allowances in those days it was a step of faith and after we processed it all and it became very clear that yes this is a step of faith that the Lord wanted us to undertake our first son was born in December 1976. so Roz came out of the workforce and we didn't have her income and I started college the following February three months later we did so because God called and there were many times when we would be faced with a bill that had to be paid and I'd get that bill and say hey Lord this is your problem there were numerous times when people would give us a gift and you know the amount of that gift would be the exact amount of a bill that we had received they didn't know that God knew and in those months and years when we did not have an income I can tell you there was not one meal that we missed out on not one we still met our mortgage payments we still ran our motor vehicle still fed our kids God opened up the store houses of heaven and provided a few years later on we had two kids and we're in Ministry and I was receiving an incumbent I can remember clearly we're about to embark on our four weeks annual leave you put aside our tithe paid all the other bills and realized that we had very very little to go away on holidays with we sat down and said well should we keep this tithe back just in case we need a bit of a backstop while we're away we can fix it up later but as we talked that through we were challenged no that's the Lord's money the Lord gets his first and so we contributed our tithe and we went away saying to ourselves just as well we're staying with mum and dad while we're away because we couldn't afford accommodation while we were away we spent a couple of weeks at Ross's parents place in a couple of weeks at my parents place they live fairly close at the time my father had a full-time job at a power station and he also had a contract that came up once or twice a year whereby he would slash several hundred acres of a an Army Depot in Denman just rugged terrain and because he was working he asked whether I might be able to help him out and so I sat on the back of the tractor drag and slasher around this acreage for a week or so we got all the grass cut thinking nothing of it just helping Dad out and before we left dad said to me the Army's paid me for that contract you did the job you can have the money it was the exact same amount of the ties that we put in before we left that's the way God works and I've got to tell you that now as a retired person having come through those years of ministry not really expecting to be in the position that we are in now I stand in awe and wonder of God who has provided for all our needs we own our house we own all that we possess we have no debts God says honor me an attitude of gratitude and I will open the storehouses of Heaven pour in an abundance of resources Jesus emphasized that same teaching in Luke chapter six and verse 38 he says give and you will receive your gift will return to you in full pressed down shaken together to make room for more running over and poured into your lap the amount you give will determine the amount you get back friends you cannot out give God no way so what's the bottom line is tithing the gun well it is for me but that's between you and God for what you do it seems to me that the Apostle Paul Nails it on the head in his teaching to the church at Corinth when he writes in second Corinthians chapter nine and verses six to eight these words he says remember this a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop but the one who plants generously will get a generous crop you must each decide in your heart how much to give and don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure for God loves a 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 make up your mind through consultation with God how much you will give don't give because you have to don't give because some church leader says we need you to meet our budget give out of an attitude of gratitude give joyfully and God will bless you well if that's been an offense to you tell the Pastoral team that you don't want me back again let's pray rather sometimes there are issues in life pertaining to our walk with you that are not easy to understand or even easy to act upon help us always to put things into a godly perspective help us always to live our lives out of an attitude of gratitude for all that you have done for us and continue to do for us Lord for some that challenge might be a difficult one give them understanding of your truth give them understanding of your will and purpose for them as your person but in all that we do Lord help us to do it and to live our lives as an expression of our gratitude to you for all that you mean to us. Amen.