Summary: This sermon deals with giving the tithe to the Lord.

Title: Good News, Bad News

Text: Malachi 3:8-10,

Date: 1/06/08

Location: Sulphur Spring Baptist Church

Introduction: Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you this morning. The bad news is that we still don’t have heat over in the fellowship Hall so we won’t be able to have Supper again Wednesday night. The good news is they are supposed to start putting in the new furnaces tomorrow and should have them installed by Friday so the two classes that meet in the fellowship hall should be able to meet in their regular rooms next week.

The bad news is these two furnaces aren’t cheep, they are going to cost us somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000. But the good news is we have at least twice that much in the bank right now.

Despite the fact that we have money in the bank the bad news is that for the first time since I have been your pastor we fell short of reaching our budget goal, and so the stewardship committee was forced to make some cuts in next year’s budget.

The good news is we are having between 20-25 children and young people ride the van on Wednesday night to come to church. The bad news is we only have a 15 passenger van.

The good news is we have a wonderful audio / visual system and are enjoying its benefits, the bad news is we still owe about $15,000 on it.

All of this reminds me of a story Billy Jeff Cherry told me recently. He said ‘preacher did you here about the pastor who stood up one Sunday morning and said, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that we’ve got more than enough money to pay our bills and fund all of the programs and ministries of this church…The pastor paused for a minute to let that sink in and then he said… But the bad news is that it’s still in your wallets and purses.

This morning as we begin a New Budget Year I want to spend a few minutes talking to you about Christian Stewardship.

illustration: The pastor of a church that didn’t have a very good reputation for giving decided that it was time to do something drastic in order to help his congregation learn the importance of giving. He contacted an electrician and had all of the pews wired.

The next Sunday which was the first Sunday of the new year, the time when the church had traditionally taken up pledges from the people the Pastor stood up and made the following announcement. "From now on instead of turning your pledges in to the church office all pledges will be made publicly in the worship service." Then he said, so let’s get started. "All of you who will pledge to give ten dollars a week, please stand up." As soon as he said that he pushed a button that the electrician had installed in the pulpit and it sent a jolt of electricity through the wires and into the pews. Immediately about one half of the congregation jumped to their feet. The pastor reached down and adjusted the knob on the podium then said, "All you who will pledge to give twenty dollars a week please stand." A second stronger volt of electricity caused several more people to rise to their feet. This whole process was repeated several more times. Each time the pledge amount was raised along with the voltage. The ushers had to work fast just to record all of the names and pledges.

After the service the pastor and his staff were busy adding up the totals and congratulating themselves on the great success of the annual stewardship campaign—Their enthusiasm ended abruptly however, when one of the Deacons opened the door and announced that four church members had been electrocuted because they refused to stand up.

Now don’t worry, the Stewardship Committee and I didn’t wire the seats and I have no plans of doing anything like that. It’s none of my business whether you give $1 or $100, that’s between you and God. But as your Pastor it is my responsibility to tell you that what you give to the Lord every week is a reflection of your faith in God and your spiritual maturity. In other words, one of the best ways to monitor how you’re doing spiritually is to take a look at your giving.

Now according to my records I’ve only preached a couple of stewardship sermons in the 9 ½ years that I’ve been your pastor. I guess I just don’t want to be compared to the Televangelists who always seem to be asking for money.

But perhaps I need to change my thinking about this after all Jesus talked about money quite often. Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables that He told concerned how to handle money and material possessions. In the Gospels, one out of every ten verses (288 in all) deal directly with the subject of money. In the Bible there are 500 verses that talk about prayer, less than 500 verses that deal with faith. But there are 2,000 verses in the Bible that deal with money or material possessions. The Fact is Jesus talked more about money than He did about Heaven and Hell combined.

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