Summary: In today’s text we learn that when we return to God with obedient giving, he will return to us with financial blessing.
Author John MacArthur wrote that you and I spend 50 percent of our time thinking about money—how to get it, how to spend it, how to save it, and how much of it we need to pay for different things. If we spend that much time thinking about money, it is obviously very important to us.
You would think that with all that time and thought put into acquiring money, we would be good at managing our finances. But the truth is that most of us are not good at managing our finances.
Financial author Ron Blue has called our attention to the following facts:
• 60% of couples in marital counseling say money is the problem,
• 80% of Americans owe more than they own,
• 85% of Americans at age 65 have not saved $250,
• Only 2% of Americans are financially independent at age 65,
• The other 98% of Americans depend on relatives, seek help from charities, or continue to work to survive, and
• The average American churchgoer gives only 2.5% of his income to the work of God through the church.
Because we spend so much of our time and energy thinking about money, earning it, spending it, fighting over it, and because we handle it so poorly, God talks a lot about money in the Bible.
The Bible has over 2,350 references to money and the management of money. Of Jesus’ 38 parables, 16 deal with money. One out of every 10 verses in the Gospels has to do with money or possessions—a total of 288 verses. It has been said that Jesus talked more about money than about any subject other than love.
One of the major financial themes discussed in God’s word is giving. God talks so much about giving because he knows that you and I will never get the rest of our financial house in order until we get our giving straightened out. And in talking to his people about money, God is not shy. He doesn’t pull any punches. He tells it like it is.
This morning I want to take you to a passage that could change your giving life and, as a result, improve your financial life in a radical way. Turn to Malachi 3:7-12. In this passage, God confronts the people of Israel about their giving. And what he said then applies in many ways to us today. Let us read Malachi 3:7-12:
7 “Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’
“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 3:7-12)
Four weeks ago I began a new series of messages titled, “Taking the ‘Stew’ Out of Stewardship.” This is the fifth and final week of Forward by Faith, our Capital Stewardship Campaign. The leadership of the Tampa Bay Presbyterian Church believes that God is calling our church family to move forward by faith to fulfill the mission that he has set before us.
The mission of the Tampa Bay Presbyterian Church is to bring people to Jesus Christ and membership in his church family, develop them to Christlike maturity, equip them for their ministry in the church and life mission in the world, in order to magnify God’s name.
Today, every one in our church family will have the opportunity to participate in making a commitment to Forward by Faith. The Session has approved a campaign target of $575,000 to be given over a period of three years for three specific goals: (1) to retire our current mortgage early, (2) to refurbish our grounds and facility, and (3) to add pastoral staff. The leadership of our church has already committed $168,015 towards Forward by Faith.
As I mentioned, God is not shy about talking about money. In today’s passage, Malachi 3:7-12, we learn that when we return to God with obedient giving, he will return to us with financial blessing. God confronts us with two challenges regarding our giving: