Summary: An unapologetic message about tithing!!!!!!
THE PASTOR’S POINTS
sermon ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
A fellowship of Faith, Family and Friendship
July 27, 2003
A country song some years ago was composed around the theme of a small town in rural Texas being a great sight – in the rear view mirror! Egypt was that for God’s people. After 430 years as captives, the two-million plus slaves that made up the nation of Israel left Pharaoh’s town in the dust; the nation and its leader were plundered and broken. There was no fight with swords, spears and chariots; God had fought the entire battle, and the victory was complete. God’s plans, worked in God’s ways are like that!
God’s plan was to prepare Israel, the descendants of Abraham to possess the Promised Land. They couldn’t do that wallowing around in straw and mud, making bricks for the Pharaoh’s pyramid tomb. So God brought an end to the captivity and poverty of His people and, by doing so, redistributed the wealth and splendor of Egypt to a bunch of former slaves headed for Beulah Land!
I like that story! Most of mine are about going from hero to zero. God’s people went from zero to hero overnight. It wasn’t easy, and the journey they took required a lot of faith and courage, but it was worth it – just like all the promises of God.
This text overflows its brim with teaching about how to exercise faith in stewardship. As we investigate this story further, I want you to see several important principles of stewardship which are helpful for us, especially as we approach another time of planning for a new year, with budgeting and supporting the ministries of God’s work.
I. WHEN YOU COOPERATE WITH GOD HE GIVES YOU COURAGE TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP.
The people that came out of Egypt were not accustomed to success; they were slaves. They were used to being told what to do, and doing it so they wouldn’t have someone stick a sword through their head. Leaving Egypt under the “say-so” of Moses was one thing, but they were told to tell their masters they wanted to take some of the household gold and other valuables. 430 years of slavery can condition you to questioning a new way, even if it is God leading the charge!
So many of us have been stuck in the bondage of our own carnal living we don’t even want to hear the word “tithe”.
Do you know what the percentage is of born-again adults who claimed to tithe to their church in the last few years?
In 2000: 12 In 2001: 14 In 2002: 6
Yet, God says that if we want to cooperate with Him we will tithe. The testimony of believer after believer which I have heard over the years is that, if you begin to tithe (cooperate), God will give you the courage to continue…and He will provide.
Pastor and author Bob Russell writes:
Jackie Nelson gave a moving testimony years ago that I’ve often repeated. Jackie said, "I am a single mother of three teenagers. My ex-husband does not help. I barely get by. We really want to do our part in this three-year campaign so our new building can be built. But when we discussed it as a family, we realized that we can’t give any more than a tithe. So we decided that our gift would be to pray every day for the success of this program.
But in the middle of our discussion my oldest son said, ’Mom, we’ve got cable television. We don’t have to have that.’ So we’ve decided to give up our cable TV for three years so we can do our part.
The widow who was gathering a few sticks to make a fire so she could use the last of her grain to make a final meal for her son and herself met a man named Elijah who told her to give the last meal to him instead. Had I been the widow I probably would’ve used the sticks on him. But she had courage and took the step to give even the last of what she had – and God blessed her. The Bible tells us that after she did give the prophet what he asked, her meal barrel never ran out even though she had nothing to put in it.
The question then is, what are you going to do with what’s in your barrel this year? Will you cooperate with God and tithe?
II. WHEN YOU COOPERATE WITH GOD YOU WILL (eventually) BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND HIS WILL.
I have often had to smile at my own spiritual blindness. I have to confess I have a difficult time sensing where God is going with things. (He very rarely asks my advice or permission before He does things!). It would have been easy for Moses and all of Israel to second-guess the Lord when all those plagues didn’t get them released from Pharaoh; it only made things worse. It is difficult to figure out God’s ways – He says that His ways are higher than ours. In this case God was after something from Pharaoh: