Summary: Many times it’s difficult to stand up for God... especially when it comes to the matter of our giving. (Offering was taken after sermon and the offering increased significantly over the Sunday before)
OPEN: The minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to, after the worship service, ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building. Therefore, he was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute.
The substitute wanted to know what to play. "Here’s a copy of the service," he said impatiently.
"But you’ll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the finances."
During the service, the minister paused and said,
"Brothers and Sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as expected, and we need $4,000 more. Any of you who believes they can give $100 or more, please stand up
At that moment, the substitute organist began to play a hymn... "The Star-Spangled Banner."
And that is how the substitute organist - became the regular organist!
APPLY: God has always watched to see if His people are willing to stand up
To stand up and prove that the believe He IS God.
To stand up and declare they trust Him.
To stand up and say… I believe
ILLUS: Bob Perks: “It’s one thing to say you believe in something, but so much more to prove it”
Or in other words – it’s ease to say you believe… it’s another to stand up and prove it.
God waits to see if we’re WILLING to stand up and prove we believe, but there are many times in life when it gets difficult to stand up for God
ILLUS: Bruce Larson in his book: “What God Wants You To Know” wrote:
The bumper sticker says smile if you love Jesus;
So I smiled all day long… And the people thought I worked for Jimmy Carter.
The bumper sticker said honk if you love Jesus;
So I honked… and a policeman arrested me for disturbing the peace in a hospital zone.
The bumper sticker said wave if you love Jesus;
So I waved with both hands… but lost control of the car and crashed into the back of a Baptist bus.
Oh, God -
If I cannot smile… or honk… or wave…
How will Jesus know that I love Him?
If you love Jesus tithe… honking is too easy.
You see, there will be times in our lives when we will be hard to stand up for God. There are going to be times in our lives when standing up for God is going to make others uncomfortable. There may even come a time when standing up for God may bring sanctions against the church or cause us to be arrested for our faith. But perhaps the most difficult time for a Christian to stand up is when it comes to the question of their giving.
ILLUS: According to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine back in 2000
The average evangelical Christian today gives only 3.5% of his income.
According to the Barna Research Group,
8% of American households tithed in 2001,
and only 3% tithed in 2002.
The percentage isn’t much better for those claiming to be born-again Christians.
In 2001 14% claimed to tithe
while only 6% made the same claim in 2002.
The only explanations the research group could give for the decline was the priest scandals, terrorist attacks and the soft economy. Leadership Journal, Fall 2003, p. 7
What that tells me is that there are many times in a Christian’s life when the issue of what we give to God is going to be a difficult one.
I. As I was studying this story in I King 17 I saw something that intrigued me.
Look with me to verse 4 of our Scripture: “You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there." (1Kgs 17:4)
Why did those ravens bring the food to Elijah? – God ordered them to
Now look at verse 9: "Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food." (1 Kings 17:9)
Why was the widow of Zarephath going to feed Elijah? – God commanded her to
Elijah was being fed at the Ravine at Kerith because God ORDERED the ravens to feed him
Elijah was fed in the land of Sidon because God COMMANDED a widow to supply him/food
Now look at verses 10-15
So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, "Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?"
As she was going to get it, he called, "And bring me, please, a piece of bread."