Summary: The first in a series of three messages on money and giving.
Keys to Unlocking God’s Blessing in Your Life, Part 1
Giving With An OPEN HAND”
By Pastor Ralph Juthman
Matthew 6: 19-24
‘No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.’
A country preacher was known for his enthusiasm in the pulpit. One Sunday, He got up and began to shout out:
"IF THIS CHURCH IS GOING TO SERVE GOD IT’S GOT TO GET DOWN ON ITS KNEES AND CRAWL!!!"
And the audience yelled back "Make it crawl preacher, make it crawl!
"AND ONCE THIS CHURCH HAS LEARNED TO CRAWL, IT’S GOT TO GET UP ON ITS FEET AND WALK!!!"
"Make it walk preacher, make it walk" the audience moaned.
AND ONCE THIS CHURCH HAS LEARNED TO WALK ITS GOT BEGIN TO LEARN TO RUN!!!"
"Make it run, preacher, make it run!"
"AND ONCE THIS CHURCH HAS LEARNED TO RUN, ITS GOT TO BEGIN TO GIVE!!!!...
The congregation was quiet for a moment, then in unison responded,
“LET IT CRAWL PREACHER…”
Giving and money has about as much interest from people as waiting in the dentist’s office for a root canal. Tragically, many preachers avoid this topic for fear that people will accuse them of being after their money.
This is not how the Bible approaches the topic of finances at all. In fact, the Bible is a very practical book. If we truly believe what it says, then it behooves us to understand what God’s word says about this very important area.
According to Jesus, money is a spiritual issue. And, since it’s a spiritual issue, we need to address it for at least four reasons: I was listening to Pastor David Jeremiah, this week, and he listed four reasons why we cannot ignore this topic.
First of all, stewardship is a priority of scripture:
The Bible has placed a priority on the proper stewardship of our finances. IN the New Testament alone, there are 40 verses that deal with water baptism; 275 verses talk about prayer; there are 350 verses on faith and 650 verses on love.
For those who give the excuse that “I am in the New Testament, and tithing is the Old testament”, consider this, there are 2350 verses that talk about finances. IN fact a full 15% of Jesus teaching dealt specifically with money.
In Matthew Jesus talks about finances and wealth 88X. In Mark 54X. 92X in the book of Luke. Jesus drew a connection between our spiritual life and our attitude between our possessions and money.
Our attitude towards our wealth ( and we are all wealthy) serves as a barometer of our spiritual health.
Businessman and Leadership guru, Ken Blanchard hits the nail on the head when he said,
If you want to take the pulse of your faith, there are many places to look— beginning with your checkbook. The church treasurer counts what we give; God counts what we keep.
Stewardship is a priority of scripture and in Luke 16:11, Jesus teaches that it is a prerequisite for service. Listen to what Jesus says,
So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?
If we are unfaithful with how we handle our finances, why would God trust us with ‘true riches?”
God is preparing us for service in His Kingdom, and what we do now is writing our job description for the future.
Stewardship is the prerequisite for service, it is the priority of scripture and it is the program for success.
I heard it said recently, “When we serve the Lord He lifts us up and sense His blessing in our lives.” God wants to bless us on order that we would be the conduits of His blessing to others.
IN 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9, the apostle Paul gave instruction to the Corinthian church concerning giving. He says in regard to their faithfulness in giving to the need in Jerusalem, 13Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need.
It would seem that there were some who were excusing themselves from their responsibility of giving, by saying, “I don’t have anything to give. God understands if I don’t participate”
However, their seeming lack of resources was not an excuse to not fulfill their responsibilities. Paul reminds them, that it is not what we don’t have the issue is what are we doing with what we do have?
In other words, our obedience in giving will overflow to blessing others and the result will be God is glorified and His name exalted. Listen to what Paul goes on to say in 2 Cor.9:12