Monday, February 27, 2006

Weekend update

Sunday was great! We completed week 2 of God at the Billboards this week. Dara sang the John Mayer song, "Something's Missing." She did a fantastic job. The band did a great job on the cover just before I spoke about the rich young ruler and his journey for something that was missing in his life.

We had 60 yesterday with several visitor! And at least 5 people gave their life to Jesus this weekend. It was awesome. This weekend epitomizes what we are trying to accomplish with our church.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Im back


What a month. I am sorry I have been out of the loop for quite some time. I had posted a blog about being in Bolivia while I was in route at a hotel but it never posted apparently. Sorry.

I will be blogging about all the details of the trip in the next few days.

Blessings and I am glad to be back.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Giving is about trust

The Bible lays that plan out. There are 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, and more than 2000 verses that deal with money and possession.

Jesus talked about money in 16 of the 38 parables. That’s 42%! If we want a revolution, we’ve got to talk about money, as well.
Many of the struggles in your family have money has their root. Financial disagreements are the number one cause of divorce in America.

Money matters in all areas of our lives.
Money is a key to the revolution of life.
It takes money to do what God has called us to do.
Just as there was a plan to finance the American Revolution, there is a plan to finance this revolution and it’s found in Malachi 3.7-12. Malachi is the final book of the Old Testament. It’s a prophetic call for the people to return to God and take part in a spiritual revolution.

“Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty. "But you ask, 'How are we to return?' "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. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.”

First, I want you to notice the Purpose of the Tithe.
The tithe means the first 10% of your income. Tithe simply means a tenth. So, what’s the purpose of the tithe? The tithe was established to demonstrate our commitment to God.
Here was a country in need of a revolution and the message from God through Malachi is this: You aren’t giving your best; your giving what’s comfortable. You’re serving out of convenience, not out of commitment.
In Malachi, the people did not put God first in several areas of their lives.

  1. He was not first in their sacrifice.
Look at Malachi 1.6-8, “"A son honors his father, and a
servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?" says the LORD Almighty. "It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. "But you ask, 'How have we shown contempt for your name?'
"You place defiled food on my altar. "But you ask, 'How have we defiled you?' "By saying that the Lord's table is contemptible.
When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?" says the LORD Almighty.

They aren’t giving God what’s first; they’re giving God what is leftover. Leftover commitment doesn’t stir a revolution.

  1. They did not put God first in their family.
Look at Malachi 2.14-16, “You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.
"I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.”
They aren’t giving God their best and it isn’t because their giving the best to their families. Their families are being broken into because of their lack of commitment. God says I hate divorce because of what it does to families. It tears them apart and shreds them to pieces.

  1. They did not put God first in their money.
Malachi 3.7-9 said it clearly. They loved their money more than they loved God.

Here’s what I know: there is a relationship between your possessions and your priorities.

The tithe was established to align our priorities. That’s the purpose—demonstrate our commitment to God.
We not only need to look at the purpose—we need to look at the problem. Look with me at verses 6-9 and then 13-15:
"I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of
Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty. "But you ask, 'How are we to return?' "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.”
Now go to verse 13, “"You have said harsh things against me," says the LORD. "Yet you ask, 'What have we said against you?' "You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.'"

The problem isn’t that they aren’t tithing—that’s a symptom of the real problem. The real problem is that they were far from God! The really big problem was that they didn’t even know it.

What happens when we stray from God?

  1. We don’t know how to return. (verse 7)

  2. We grow insensitive about it (verse 8)

  3. We leave a tangible trail (verse 8)
The lack of tithing was the result of that tangible trail.

Giving is not a step in getting closer to God. Giving is the result of being close to God!

  1. Our talk is better than our walk.
Look at Malachi 2.17, “You have wearied the Lord with your words.” Talk is cheap. I can hear the chattering talking heads on television any time I want. Monday morning quarterbacks fill the airwaves after the games. Anybody can be a critic—but are your really committed!

There is a purpose—demonstrate commitment.
There is a problem—strayed from God.

So, here is the proposal. Look at verse 10, “So bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and test me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts.”
Notice a few things here:

  1. The Percentage—10% (the whole tithe)

  2. The Place—The Storehouse (Temple)

  3. The Purpose—So God’s program can be advanced

  4. The Proposal—TEST ME!
This is the only place in Scripture where God commands us to test him. We test him in every area we shouldn’t, but often fail to test him in the one area where he instructs us to.
Why does God want us to test him?

  1. He knows Money is the last thing he gets.
I’ll give him my heart. I’ll give him my time. I’ll let him use my talent. But, my money is the last thing I give him. It’s the final piece of the commitment puzzle.

  1. He wants to partner with us.
My part: Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse and test
God’s faithfulness.
His part: Personally provide for my needs and personally protect my possessions. Look at verse 10.
That brings us to number four: The Partnership in the tithe. Look at verses 16-18, “Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. "They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”
Let me give you five tithing truths:

  1. God owns everything. People who don’t tithe think money belongs to them.

  2. My giving is a true test of my commitment to God. Jesus said, “You heart will always be where your treasure is.”

  3. God wants our first 10%, not the leftovers. Proverbs 3.9 says, “Honor the Lord by giving him the first part of all your income.”

  4. With God..$10-$1=$10+

  5. Tithing is an issue of trust, not an issue of money.
Rick Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life tells how he learned to trust God with his finances. He writes, “Let me tell you how God taught me how to give. The very first time was when I was at college. I had $50 in my bank account. It was about three or four weeks away from the end of the college semester. I had a $500 bill that had to be paid for the semester of college and I had $10 that I owed to a friend. I had $50 in the bank. I was reading these verses one day that said sow and reap, if you sow generously you'll reap generously, sow sparingly you'll reap sparingly.
I thought, I'm going to put God to the test. I took the $50 out of the bank, closed out my meager savings account. I wrote a check to the American Bible Society. I don't know why I chose them. I just chose a Christian organization. I said, "I'm sending you my last $50 and I'm praying that God will meet my need. Please pray." This was the very first time I ever did this.
A couple of weeks later I got invited to speak in a church in inner city Los Angeles. After it was over, the pastor got up and said, "Let's take up a love offering for this poor, struggling college student." They took up the offering and it was $565. I took $500 and paid off the college bill, $10 and paid my friend back, and the remaining $55 and gave it as a tithe back to the Lord.
I think God has blessed him a little bit since then even, don’t you. The number one best selling non-fiction book of all time. Did you know that he reversed the tithe on the profits of that book—he kept 10% and gave 90% back to the Lord!

I believe so much in the concept of being blessed by giving that if you will faithfully commit to giving your tithe to the church for 90 days that if at the end of the 90 days if you are not blessed, and your life hasn’t changed, we will return your money to you.

So you have our 90 day money back guarantee.
I want you to be blessed this put God to the test….

PS Thanks for all your help with sermon Glenn!