Summary: Message on Firstfruits as a lifestyle
THE PASTOR’S POINTS
Bible Teaching Ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
Dr. Russell Brownworth, Pastor
June 27, 2004
Pillar #6. Practicing Biblical Stewardship
God has provided material resources so that I may glorify Him through the exercise of faithful stewardship over them. I will be held accountable for this stewardship. Therefore, I will diligently seek my master’s best interests in the way I earn money, expend it for life’s needs, use it to touch the lives of others and give it for the support of His work through my local church.
8“Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me!
But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.
9“You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! 10“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,
“if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you
a blessing until it overflows.
11“Then I will rebuke the devourer for you,
so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground;
nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the LORD of hosts.
Malachi 3:8-11 (NASB)
I never get tired of pointing-out the three needed books in worship:
a Bible, God’s holy book,
a hymnal, God’s song book, and
a wallet, God’s ledger book!
I was tempted to preach a sermon about total-life discipleship this morning and deftly weave-into the message precepts and principles of money. That would have been my “comfort zone”. I repented! God never called me to preach in a comfort zone, or to provide one for anyone who listens. God’s Word has also convinced me that although we human beings have a tendency to say “my this” or “my that” – it is all His, not mine.
I am specifically talking about money this morning, but stewardship extends to every area of life…time, health, family. This sermon is about money; specifically, the money in your pocket. My meaning is clear…we may say, “my money, my real estate, my family, my time, my, my, my” But, it is not your money or time, it is His!
The Lord IS the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills – and, oh yes, He also owns the hills and the air over them!
This will be a Biblical message in the tradition of Jesus. Jesus said more about a person’s possessions (and what he does with them) than He did about heaven, hell, love or the second coming.
This is also a straight-forward message – these are urgent times! I could attempt to make us all feel good by reciting the statistics of how much we gave to missions last year. I could try to make us feel guilty that we aren’t building new buildings like some other churches do. But, “feel good” or “guilt-trips” aren’t what is called-for by God’s Word.
So-called “feel good” messages are like putting a band aide on a cancerous tumor. When a doctor tells you things are well, that you should go home and you’ll do just fine, when in reality you have only a few weeks to live, is not a doctor – he’s the enemy. It is the same with a preacher who “candy coats” the Word of God. Feel-good preachers may draw a crowd; they’ll draw no approval from heaven.
A guilt-monger might get you to part with a few bucks, but you won’t touch the heart of God with guilt giving. When we give out of guilt it only takes a little time and we slip back into the old ways after the guilt subsides.
Guilt giving is motivated solely by emotion. It is like the man who had his credit card stolen on a Friday afternoon. He told a co-worker on Monday about it. The co-worker asked, “You did report it, didn’t you?” “Actually, no,” replied the man. “When I checked my balance this morning I found out the thief is spending less than my wife did!”
If you give because someone puts you on a guilt trip, once the guilt emotion wears off, we rediscover our real heart’s desire – self! Guilt doesn’t last.
What DOES last is the Word of God. And so, this morning I want to share with you the BASICS OF CHRISTIAN STEWARDSHIP from the “Owner’s Manual”…
The question is, “What is Christian Stewardship?” The answer is simple – it is the “whole tithe” (as we read in Malachi).
Mathematically the tithe is 10% of your income. The first time we encounter the word “tithe” in the Bible is Genesis 14:20, where Abraham paid a tithe to a priest named Melchizedek.