Summary: My message today is about a spiritual discipline that helps us to grasp Heaven’s values, that will help us to clarify our understanding of those things that are really just so much dog doo and those things that are like diamonds of Heaven. I want to talk
Last month I started a series of sermons which is built around this assertion - “God loves to bless His children!” We defined blessings, not so much in terms of the normal measures of worldly success - being wealth, fame, or beauty. These are certainly desirable, but God loves to bless us with things of much greater value.
Gordon MacDonald writes – “God desires to pour out on people gracious and uncommon gifts: gifts might include personal affirmation, intimate relationship, extraordinary challenges to destiny, and remarkable energies that surpass the limits of we think of as normal...." The Life God Blesses, Nelson, 1994
We learned that a key to being positioned in life to receive God’s blessings is to be devoted to God, to have a pure heart, focused on His will. We took at look at the values of the person who lives for God’s blessings, considering the kind of life which Jesus defined as blessed in Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount. Nothing He said there parallels the system that values reputation, money, or pleasure!
I spoke about the importance of a generous heart that sees the opportunities God is providing. People of faith live with an ‘abundance mentality,’ a mind-set that is never focused on caring for self, but that sees forgiveness, sharing with those need, and living liberally as the mission of every Believer. "A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." (Proverbs 11:25, NIV)
This morning, I am returning to the theme “Preparing to Prosper.”
Pastor Dave Stone tells the true story of a lady named Mrs. Hollis Sharpe. Every night, Mrs. Sharpe took her miniature poodle, Jonathan, out for a walk. Being a good neighbor, she always took a plastic bag along so that she could clean up after her dog when he did what dogs do in other people’s yards. One night right after Jonathan finished doing his duty, which was safely secured in the plastic bag, they were returning home when a mugger jumped from behind some bushes attacked Mrs. Sharpe from behind. He shoved her to the ground, grabbed the plastic bag, jumped into a car, and drove off with the spoils of his crime.
Although Mrs. Sharpe sustained a broken arm, she still maintained a sense of humor. She told the police, "I only wish that there would have been more for him in the bag!" - www.PreachingPlus.com
I wonder what that guy said when he opened the bag in the car and found nothing but dog doo!
On a more serious note, many of us are treasuring the wrong things, holding onto things that, from Heaven’s point of view, are without value. Paul, the man who had enjoyed a measure of success prior to coming to faith in Christ, is very direct in his assessment of the things he once valued. In Philippians, he writes - “Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him.”
My message today is about a spiritual discipline that helps us to grasp Heaven’s values, that will help us to clarify our understanding of those things that are really just so much dog doo and those things that are like diamonds of Heaven. I want to talk with you about the practicing of Tithing.
Are you a tither?
I believe that tithing is the Scripture’s pattern for contributing to the work of God in this world.
In Leviticus 27:30 the principle is stated in simplicity.
‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD." (NIV)
That passage reads this way in The Message - "A tenth of the land’s produce, whether grain from the ground or fruit from the trees, is God’s. It is holy to God."
Tithing is a spiritual discipline that leads us to enjoy God’s blessings. Do not jump ahead of me and think that I am preaching a simple ‘cause and effect’ principle like the old-time ‘seed faith’ preachers did! It is a misuse of the Bible to teach that God is like a bank with a guaranteed rate of return. Giving $50 in the offering this morning, does not guarantee a $500 return this week! But obedience to God’s way will always produce blessings.
I agree with Pastor Bill Hybels take on the promises of God. He says,
"Don’t worry about how God will bless your tithes and offerings. He might increase your income. He might lower your expenses. He might sustain your household appliances. He might protect your health. He might keep your car out of the shop. God blesses us in his way, in his time."