Rev Dr Edgar Mayer; Living Grace Toowoomba Church
Message: The Kingdom For Keeps – 11 – Sermon On The Mount Series; Date: 19 June 2011
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Jesus kept teaching about money. In the Sermon on the Mount, he kept coming back to one of the core issues in everyone’s life: your income, generosity, budgeting, making ends meet, helping the poor, safe investments, and so on. He also knew that when it comes to money, most of us are getting nervous because we never seem to have enough. How many times do there seem to be more bills coming in than money? I didn’t like last week’s (11 June 2011) newspaper headline that said: “Power prices set to rise 30%.” My reaction: “No! It’s expensive enough.” Everything seems to go up faster than my salary: not only electricity prices, but also grocery bills, school fees and council rates. Therefore, if I had my way, at least in church we wouldn’t talk about money. Let’s get the offering out of the way – quickly – and focus on something more spiritual. Only – without question – Jesus thought that money and our attitude towards money and what we do with money was far more spiritual than most other topics. In the Sermon on the Mount, he touched on how money can consume us – how we may think and desire and worry too much about what goes into our pockets – and then he spelled out how this is a spiritual problem, saying – Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters … You cannot serve both God and Money.” In other words, “You cannot always be consumed and preoccupied with both: God and Money.”
However, what are we to do then? The bills need to be paid. The pressure of making ends meet is still there and – in the Sermon on the Mount – Jesus is not actually reducing the pressure. On the contrary – he strikes fear into any budget-conscious father (and mother) by appearing to be reckless with my savings, telling us for instance – Matthew 5:42: “When people ask you for something, give it to them. When they want to borrow money, lend it to them.” How long would it take for us to go broke on that sort of advice? Isn’t there a limit to giving and lending our income?
How are you feeling about this? Jesus is making me nervous. How about you? I would be surprised if – this morning – Jesus’ teaching on money was not stretching us. Yet – and this is how I want to continue – Jesus – actually – took some time calming our fears. He assured us again and again that we have no reason to worry or get upset. He said:
Matthew 6:25-34: “ . I tell you, do not worry about your life … do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ … your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well … ”
Let’s test this promise of not having to worry against Jesus’ other money instructions in the Sermon on the Mount. Let’s have two categories: 1) “No worries” because – as we seek first God and his kingdom and his righteousness – he provides for us. 2) “Worries” because we are losing money.
[The Bible readings below are presented to the congregation and people are asked to assign the reading to its proper category. There can be some informal discussion.]
Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” [Category 1&2: It is positive to be blessed and possess the kingdom of heaven but the condition of being poor and destitute is another matter.] Matthew 5:5: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” [Category 1&2: It is not easy to be meek and forego some of your rights but the promise of inheriting the earth is great.] Matthew 5:12: “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” [Category 1&2: Giving everything to God to the point of being persecuted is scary but the language of reward is motivating.]
Matthew 5:13-16: “You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world … let your light shine … they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” [Category 2: How many good deeds does it take to light up the world? It is too much pressure to be the only source of light and salt on earth.] Matthew 5:38-42: “ … Do not resist an evil person … let him have your cloak as well … Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” [Category 2: This does not seem to be wise. Evil people would take advantage of unlimited generosity and we simply cannot give away everything to satisfy every demand. The Bible does know of exceptions in other places such as 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “ … we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’” However, the principle of not resisting and always giving is still scary.] Matthew 5:43-48: “ … Love your enemies … Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” [Category 2: Loving and giving to those that are your enemies seems to accelerate your defeat at their hands.]
Matthew 6:2-4: “So when you give to the needy … your Father … will reward you.” [Category 1: A reward from the Father in heaven sounds promising.] Matthew 6:7-8: “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” [Category 1: God is committed to provide for us even before we petition him.] Matthew 6:10-11: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.” [Category 1: Jesus encouraged us to pray for our daily bread and pray that circumstances on earth begin to reflect the riches of heaven.]
Matthew 6:19-24: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven … where your treasure is, there your heart will be also … No one can serve two masters … You cannot serve both God and Money.” [Category 2: It seems wise to store up some treasures and have a nest-egg for the future. I know that the Bible is not against storing up money for the purpose of good stewardship (e.g.: Genesis 41) but these verses still make me nervous.] Matthew 6:25-34: “ … Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear … your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well … ” [Category 1: Jesus promised that, together with the kingdom, all things necessary will be given to us as well.]
Matthew 7:7-11: “Ask and it will be given to you … everyone who asks receives … If you, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him … ” [Category 1: We can be absolutely certain that our Father in heaven is always going to delight in giving us good gifts.]
Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you … ” [Category 2: It is hard to be as generous to others as we want them to be towards us.] Matthew 7:15-20: “ … every good tree bears good fruit … Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire … ” [Category 2: Good fruit is simply an outworking of who we are in God but these words still sound threatening.] Matthew 7:24-27: “ … Everyone who hears these words of mine and put them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock … ” [Category 1&2: The promise of a solid foundation is wonderful but its dependence on our actions is scary.]
What have we learned? God is as radical about money as we have suspected – for instance: “let the evil person have your cloak as well”, “give to the one who asks you”, “love your enemies”, “be the light of the world” – but – at the same time – there is solid evidence which backs up the encouragement not to worry. In fact – if we only trusted Jesus’ words, none of us would stress about money any more. Throughout the entire Sermon on the Mount, Jesus kept promising us the best: “Yours is the kingdom.” “You will inherit the earth.” “When you give, your Father in heaven will reward you.” “Save your breath. It’s not necessary to babble in your prayers. Your Father knows what you need before you even ask him.” “Ask the Father about your daily bread.” “Do not worry. Whatever you need, will be given to you.” “Ask and it will be given to you. Everyone who asks will receive. Find the most generous father on earth. Look how much he gives to his children and then know: Your heavenly Father treats you even better than that.”
[Cf. In a similar setting to the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus demonstrated the Father’s love and abundant generosity – Matthew 15:29-39: “Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.’ His disciples answered, ‘Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?’ ‘How many loaves do you have?’ Jesus asked. ‘Seven,’ they replied, ‘and a few small fish.’ He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.”]
Are we getting to the stage where Jesus’ words are calming our fears? If you are like me, you want to say “yes” but the truth is that we remain wary about the wisdom of meekness and loving enemies with our money. Don’t we need a more cautious attitude where we store up money for a rainy day and – to be secure – maintain the highest possible saving rate? Jesus knew that these thoughts are deeply ingrained in us and – therefore – in the Sermon on the Mount – he was patient in reasoning with us. We don’t just have to take him at his word; he actually makes a case for not worrying about money. Just follow his logic:
Matthew 6:19-20: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
In other word: “Why would you want to store up treasures where they can be destroyed and stolen? The best place for treasures is heaven because only heaven can guarantee the enjoyment of your treasures.”
Matthew 6:25-34: “ … Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you … ”
In other words: “If the Father feeds birds and clothes the grass in the field – makes flowers look better than the most expensive dress – even though they do not labor or spin – do not sow or reap or store away in barns – how much more will he do for you? Look – what good is your worry? Will it change anything? Will it make you live longer? No!”
Matthew 7:9-11: “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
In other words: “If you imperfect humans look after your children, how much more will I look after you?” Jesus again argues a good point. As most human fathers would not give their sons a stone when they are asked for bread and would not give their daughters a snake when they want fish, so God will not give us empty promises when we ask for bread today.
How about it now? Jesus told us not to worry and he reasoned with us. His logic is compelling and we may add one more argument which expands on the very heart of our faith – God’s character and his generosity towards us – Romans 8:31-32: “ … God who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” God the Father presented us with the greatest gift when the Son, whom he loved more than we can ever imagine, came from heaven to earth, was tortured and breathed his last breath on a cross – for us. If God was willing to see his Son Jesus suffer and die for us (so that we can be forgiven on account of his perfect sacrifice), how will he not make sure that we get something as basic as our daily provisions?
This makes sense and – therefore – this morning – let your heart be changed. Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount so that we become different from the inside out because anyone can have their arm twisted, then try to give more and be more generous but Jesus wants more from you. Have a different heart. Instead of worrying about money, become free and rejoice in giving it away. The reason why God gives us anything is because he loves us. Be the same as God. Jesus said – Matthew 5:44: “ … Love your enemies … ” Matthew 5:48: “Be perfect . as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Love others with your money. What we do with money is meant to be the simple expression of who we are from the inside out: salt, light that cannot do anything but shine with good deeds, a good tree that quite naturally is bearing good fruit.
There is no fear in generous love. There is no place for worrying. As God did not even spare his own Son, so we become passionate in using everything at our disposal to bless others – we love them – and at our disposal – according to the Sermon on the Mount – are all the resources of the kingdom of God. Seek the kingdom and, with the kingdom, everything else is yours.
As you draw near the kingdom of God – his dominion – allow him to change your heart. He will. Jesus preached with authority. His words accomplish what they proclaim. Receive them now. Hand over your worry – turn away from your worry – and embrace his love and passion for you. It’s safe to be like him. Open yourself to him in prayer.
What then is good practical advice for being different around money? What can we practice doing with a different heart? The standard response in the Bible is to begin tithing which means to be diligent in honouring God with the first tenth of our income. I give you a few Bible references:
Genesis 14:18-20: “Then Melchizedek king of Salem … was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram … Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” Genesis 28:20-22: “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘ … and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.’” Leviticus 27:30-34: “All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord … ” Deuteronomy 14:22: “ ... You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year.” Malachi 3:8-10: “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this … and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
After Jesus had reached the Sermon on the Mount, he also made a reference to tithing, saying to some of his opponents – Matthew 23:23: “Woe to you … You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” Jesus had no problem with tithing. In fact, he endorsed the practice. However, he attacked any tithing rule which limited one’s giving to the mere tenth of one’s income. There are no boundaries in love. Give your heart to justice, mercy and faithfulness and then – by all means – begin by following the guideline of tithing. In Jesus’ words: “Practice the one without neglecting the other.”
How are we feeling about tithing? Are we getting clearer about this whole teaching on money? [Abbreviate and retell the following testimony in your own words.]
Robert Morris: The Blessed Life, Ventura: Regal Books 2002, 18-27: As a traveling evangelist, all of my income came from the love offerings I received from the churches in which I preached. In those years, my income from offerings might be $800 one week and $200 the next. Debbie and I just never knew. But early in our marriage, we had learned to trust God where our finances were concerned.
We were diligent tithers. God had spoken clearly to us about the principle of the tithe several years earlier. And ever since we began honoring the Lord by giving the first tenth of everything that came in, our needs have always been met – sometimes miraculously. What we didn’t know was that God was about to take us to the next level.
I was scheduled to preach at a church for only one night, and as it turned out, it was the only meeting I was scheduled to preach at all month. From a financial standpoint, that meant having only one opportunity to receive an offering instead of the usual four, five or six. Although Debbie and I had grown in our ability to trust and rest in God, this represented a major budgeting challenge in the making.
At the close of the service, the church received a love offering on my behalf. Shortly thereafter, the pastor approached me with an envelope.
He said, “Robert, I’m pleased and amazed to tell you that this is the largest love offering this little church has ever given. God used you to bless us tonight, and I’m so happy to be able to give this to you.”
When I opened the envelope, I found a cheque for roughly the same amount as our entire monthly budget. In one meeting, God had miraculously provided what it normally took several meetings to produce. It was quite a lesson for us. But the lesson wasn’t over yet.
As I stood there holding that check, basking in the warm glow of gratitude and wonder, something happened to me that forever changed the course and quality of my life.
Earlier in that evening’s service, a missionary had given a brief testimony and update for the congregation. Now, as I looked across the nearly empty sanctuary, I caught sight of him. As I did, the unmistakable voice of the Lord spoke in my heart, I want you to give him your offering – all of it. [Notice the testing which came at the very moment of breakthrough. Be prepared!]
In an instant, I went from euphoria to something approximating panic. Lord, that can’t be your voice! I mean … after all … I … You … You just did a miracle here to meet our needs!
Once again, the instruction came through, gently but clearly. I want you to give him your offering.
Like a kid who doesn’t want to hear what his brother is saying, I wanted to stick my fingers in my ears and sing loudly, “La, La, La, La, La … ! What? I can’t hear you!”
Give him your whole offering. Trust me.
I couldn’t shake it off. I tried to rationalize. I tried bargaining. I tried begging. The impression only grew stronger.
Ultimately, I waved the white flag and said, “Okay, Father, I trust you.” I endorsed the back of the check, folded it in half and took a quick glance around the room to make sure no one was watching.
Walking up to the missionary, I said something like, “I really appreciated your testimony tonight. Please, don’t tell anyone about this, but I would like you to have this offering. The check is made out to me, but I have signed it over to you.” I handed him the check and walked away.
An hour later, I found myself seated with about 20 members of the church at a pizza place. Across from me sat a well-dressed man I barely knew. (We had met briefly on one other occasion.)
After a while, he leaned across the table toward me, looked me straight in the eye and asked me a shockingly personal question, “How much was your offering tonight?”
Naturally, his question flustered me. I had never had anyone ask me that before, especially a near stranger! His boldness so caught me off guard that I didn’t know what else to do but answer him. So, I told him the amount of the offering. I remember hoping that was the end of it. It wasn’t.
In the same authoritative manner, he asked me another question, “Where is the check?” What nerve! I remember thinking. What is he up to?
Of course, I no longer had the check, but I wasn’t about to tell him that. So, I am not proud to tell you, this preacher lied through his teeth. “Uh … my wife has it,” I said nervously. She was sitting at the other end of the long table – a nice, safe distance away. Now can we change the subject?!
“Go get it. I want to see it.” The man was relentless! Not knowing what else to do, I made a pretense of getting up to go ask her for the check. Bending down close to her ear, I asked, “How’s your pizza?” “Good,” she replied, giving me a perplexed look. “Great. Glad to hear it. Just checking,” I muttered and headed back down the table to my seat.
My ears heard another lie floating past my lips. “She left it out in the car,” I said, trying to make the car sound as if it was very, very far away. (At this point, not only was I trying to hide the fact that I had given my whole love offering away, but I was also covering the fact that this evangelist, who had just spent the evening proclaiming that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, had just lied!)
As tiny beads of perspiration began to pop out on my face, the gentleman leaned across the table and got uncomfortably close. “The check’s not in the car, Robert,” he stated in a low voice.
“How do you know that?” I responded, trying to sound a little offended. “Because God told me – and he told me something else.” At that point, the man spoke words that have rolled like thunder through my life ever since. “God is about to teach you about giving so that you can teach the Body of Christ.” With that, he slid a folded piece of paper across the table. It was a check. The amount – to the penny – was 10 times the amount of the one I had given away only an hour or so earlier.
Ten times – to the penny. That was the night this journey started …
… not long after that life-changing night, Debbie and I were at an in-home Bible study where we spoke with a couple who was about to leave on a missionary trip. They had asked us to pray for them before they left. They particularly requested prayer for their finances. “We don’t quite have all the money this trip will require,” they told us. They did not mention the amount needed but, as we prayed, I had a strong impression that the amount was $800.
At that point in our lives, $800 sounded like a very large sum of money. But we had it, because of the amazing tenfold blessing we had received at the pizza place. That night, we were able to walk out to our car after the meeting and write the check. We caught them before they drove away and handed it to them. Of course, it was the precise amount they needed to be able to take that mission trip.
Frankly, it was the most exciting thing I had ever done. We were quickly beginning to discover how thrilling it is to be able to give when God tells you to do so …
Shortly after that, we went out to eat with a man who had just purchased a new van. We all rode in it to the restaurant and were talking about how nice the van was and how excited for him we were. When we returned to his home, he said, “Help me get my stuff out of my van,” so I began to gather up his cassette tapes and other items he pointed out. After several trips, I asked, “Do you even want that umbrella out of there? And, by the way, why are you moving all this stuff inside?”
His response was, “Because I’m giving you the van. But I need my umbrella.” “Excuse me?” I asked. He repeated, “I’m giving you this van. God told us to.” Naturally, we were awestruck, grateful and thrilled. The brand-new van had a value of more than $25,000.
Of course, that blessing raised another question. Now that we have this van, what do we do with the station wagon? It wasn’t much to look at, but it was good, reliable transportation. After some prayer, we felt the Lord instructing us to give the station wagon to a family that we knew didn’t have vehicle.
Almost immediately, someone we didn’t even know gave us another vehicle! “God told us to” was the familiar explanation. After more prayer, we gave that vehicle away as well. Soon, another one arrived to replace it. And then another one. And another one. Each time a vehicle landed in our driveway, we would give it away. And each time, another one would show up to take its place.
In the middle of this amazing sequence, God did something that, at first, puzzled us. In the case of one of the cars we were given, our prayer for direction brought this instruction from the Lord: Don’t give this vehicle away. Sell it.
At first, we weren’t sure we had heard God accurately. Seeking confirmation, we said, “Lord, are you sure you want us to sell this vehicle? We certainly have enjoyed giving them away.” The clear reply came back, No, I want you to sell the vehicle. I want you to sell it for $12,000.
At church that weekend, a man walked up to me and said, “Hey Robert, would you like to sell that van?” Somewhat startled, I said, “Yes, as a matter of fact, I believe I’m supposed to sell it.” The man then said, “I think the Lord wants me to give you $12,000 for it. Is that acceptable?” Of course, I sold him the vehicle.
The very next week we were scheduled to go on a mission trip to Costa Rica, so we put the $12,000 in the bank, awaiting instructions from the Lord on what to do with it. A few days later, we found ourselves in Costa Rica riding in a dilapidated old van owned by the missionary we were there to assist. I was genuinely concerned about whether we were going to make it to our destination.
At one point, I asked the missionary, “Why don’t you buy a new van? I think this one is about to die and go to be with the Lord!” “As a matter of fact, I am about to get a new van!” the missionary said very excitedly. “Last week, I was driving by a car lot, and the Lord told me to stop. Then he pointed out a van to me and said, ‘I want to give you that van, so I want you to pray over it’; so I did! I don’t know how the Lord is going to give me that van,” he continued, “but I know he will!”
Sensing the hand of God, I asked him, “How much do they want for it?” I’m sure you have already guessed the answer: $12,000. With great joy, my wife and I were able to write the check for $12,000 as soon as we got home.
Throughout this remarkable season of giving, we experienced tremendous blessing. Our income had skyrocketed. It seemed the more we gave, the more God gave to us. It was as if we were truly living out the old saying: You can’t outgive God.
Over the course of 18 months, it was our privilege to give away nine vehicles. What’s more, we were able to increase our giving to 70% of our gross income. We found ourselves living more comfortably on 30 percent thatn we had previously had on 90 percent.
We simply encountered God’s blessings everywhere we turned. And around each corner, we learned a new lesson in the power of Spirit-led giving. Just when we thought we were as radical about giving as we could possibly be, God would stretch us a little bit more.
For example, toward the end of the 18-month period, the Lord spoke to us about giving both of our vehicles away. He said, “I want you to give them both away. I’ll show you the couple to whom you are to give them; and another thing, I also want you to give your house away; and I also want you to take every bit of money that you have in the bank and give it away, too.”
Needless to say, we wrestled with this one. When we prayed, we said, “Lord, you’re asking us to give everything away that we own. Are you sure this is what you’re saying?” And the Lord kept saying, “I’m sure. I’m sure.”
So we did. As the Lord showed us the recipients, we gave the vehicles away. We gave away all the money in our bank accounts. And we looked and listened diligently for instructions about giving away the house. In our hearts, we had already given the house away. We had fully released it. We just needed to know what family we were to hand the title and the keys.
There we were – without transportation and without a dollar with which to buy any. As I sat in my house (which I no longer considered to be mine), I have to admit, I was having some carnal thoughts. I remember thinking to myself, Aha! I’ve got him. This time I’ve outgiven the Lord!
I recall having a very frank and honest discussion with God, saying, “Lord, you know, I think I’ve outgiven you this time. Yes, every time we gave a car away, you gave us another car. Well, this time, I’ve given both my vehicles and all my money away! This time, I think I’ve got you, Lord. I’ve outgiven you.”
Even as I said that, I sensed in my heart the Lord saying, Oh, really! At that moment, the phone rang. On the other end of the line was a man who said, “Robert, God has spoken to me about helping you with your transportation.” (You need to know that, besides the recipients, no one on Earth knew of what Debbie and I had given. This man did not know we had given our vehicles away.)
My immediate thought was, Well, that’s a blessing. This man is going to give us a car. My assumption was that the pattern we had seen repeated so many times was about to play out once more. I must also admit that I thought, Well, Lord, even if he gives us a car, the fact remains that we gave away two cars, all of our money and, in effect, our house. So I think I’ve still got you.
So I asked the man on the phone, “What did the Lord tell you to do?” He answered, “The Lord told me to buy you an airplane.” I was speechless. He continued, “As a matter of fact, I bought the plane today; and I’ve parked it at the airport; and I’m going to pay for the hangar; and I’m going to pay for the fuel; and I’m going to pay for the insurance and maintenance on the airplane; and I’ve hired a pilot. I’m going to pay his salary, so anytime you want to go somewhere, just call him and he’ll fly you there. I’ll take care of all the expenses!”
As I stood there stammering and stunned, I heard the still, small voice of the Lord whisper in my spirit, “Gotcha.” My friend, you can’t outgive God. God offers the only true guaranteed financial results available on Earth. There are principles, however, that we have to follow in order to experience God’s highest rewards. They are the keys to living a blessed life.
[p134: “And on three different occasions in our lives, we’ve had the privilege of giving everything that we own away.”]
This pastor and his wife began with the practice of tithing, then heard instructions which led them deeper into the more radical practice which is reflected in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. At first, there was fear – a moment of panic even – but then it became a thrilling adventure – pure joy – to be a channel of God’s blessings. And God was faithful. They could not outgive God. The Father kept showering upon them good gifts. Their resources multiplied – like a seed that is sown, is producing a manifold harvest. [Cf. Matthew 15:29-39 (multiplying food); Matthew 19:29: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8: “ … A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” 2 Corinthians 9:6: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”]
This morning – are we ready to be changed? Money can be our biggest problem. Therefore, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus kept coming back to this core issue in our life. [He himself was tempted by money – Matthew 4:8-10: “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”] Will you believe him? Trust his teaching. We don’t have to worry. Let go now. [Before you do the same as the traveling evangelist and sell everything on occasion, make sure that you have heard from God. However, do not be surprised when he wants you to be as generous as his character in the Sermon on the Mount.] We allow him to change our hearts – becoming free in generosity – sharing his love – sharing his joy in showering blessings upon all. This is going to be exciting because our Father is making sure that we’ll never run out of things to give. If you haven’t done so before – think about it – start tithing now and see what happens. And don’t worry. Amen.