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Last episode, we took some time and reviewed Haggai chapter 1, specifically in light of Israel’s misplaced priorities. We learned that when our priorities are out of order, our relationship with the Lord and our finances will sway with the shifting sands of the world. We need Biblical, orderly priorities in our lives.
Today we will be taking time to look at the first of five Biblical priorities pertaining to our personal finances. Over the next weeks we will be looking at these priorities in the order that they should be executed in one’s life.
Our first Biblical priority, which is a privilege that we have, is giving. In this priority, giving should go specifically to our local church where we are being built up and nurtured.
Here is a snapshot of our outline today:
- The problem of stewardship (it is a worship problem).
- The priority of stewardship (giving is an act of worship).
- The principles of giving.
- The product of giving.
The Problem of Stewardship (it is a worship problem)
- Poor stewardship is actually not the core problem that those in the church face today. It is a symptom of a deeper, more pervasive problem. Our core problem is a worship problem!
- The World is not divided between those who worship and those who do not. Everybody worships something. Some worship the almighty triune God while others worship the things He has made. Who (or what) we worship will be displayed in our stewardship.
- How are Financial Stewardship issues connected to worship?
- There is likely not a shrine dedicated to the almighty dollar in your house. But, what we purchase with our finances could become the shrine that pulls our worship away from God!
- It is important to note that how we spend our money indicates what we love and value most.
- We are not to worship our money, possessions and assets. BUT, money is commanded to be part of our worship (tithing, generosity, etc).
The Priority of Stewardship (Giving is an Act of Worship)
To begin this point, let’s take a look at three verses that speak to giving as an act of Worship…
- Prov. 3:9 – Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; (Proverbs 3:9, NKJV)
The key word in this verse is the word “Honor”
- “This is the only time that the teacher advises his pupils to observe a formal act of worship” (Aitken, Proverbs)
- This “honor” is giving of their substance unto the Lord.
- This “honoring” is also a command.
- And, this “honoring” is right off the top (the “firstfruits”).
- In doing this in worship unto the Lord, it is trusting that in the remaining 90% of the harvest that God will provide 100% of your needs!
- Philip. 4:18 – I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. (Philippians 4:15–18, ESV)
- The term “fragrant offering” was used in Leviticus for an offering that pleased God. It also was used in Ephesians 5:2 of Christ’s offering of Himself. (Bible Knowledge Commentary)
- Here in this verse, Paul is stating that the financial gifts that he received from the Philippian Church was an offering unto the Lord, a sacrifice (where we see in Scripture that Worship is a sacrifice until the Lord – Heb. 13:15).
- Sacrifice, Praise and worship are intertwined are separate yet intertwined in the Scriptures
- Col. 3:2 – Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2, ESV)
- What is your mind focused on? Is it focused or set on the temporary or eternal?
- We can choose to worship in our giving or not.
- Choosing to “set your mind on things that are above” as you give shifts your focus from the temporal (this world) to the eternal (Heaven).
- Making giving a priority in one’s life requires trust and obedience.
- Common objections, misconceptions:
- God doesn’t need my money so why should I give? (God owns the cattle on a 1000 hills)
- My giving is so small, relatively speaking, the church won’t miss it. (widows mite)
- Luke 21:1-4 – As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)
- Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)
The Principles of Giving
- You should PLAN to give at the beginning of the week (by check or digitally)
- There should be a PERCENTAGE of your gift
- 10%? Why? Gross or net?
- What about grace giving?
- Giving should be focused on the local church.
“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,” says the Lord Almighty, “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.” (Mal. 3:8-10)
The Product of Giving:
- Our worship of God is enhanced through giving. Your heart follows your money, and as you give to the church, your prayer and worship of God is strengthened.
- The Reward Principle – Promise of blessing (today) and reward (eternity).
- “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19–21, ESV)
Are you having a “giving” problem in your life and budget? Could it be that you really have a:
- Worship problem?
- Trust problem?
- Obedience problem?
- A faith problem?
What is your plan for giving? If you don’t have one, you will never achieve your desired giving outcome. Have you considered the thought that you and I should “grow in our giving”? We will speak to this opportunity in a podcast in the new year!
God created rewards and knew that we would respond to rewards put before us. If you struggle with giving, could the thought of being rewarded eternally ignite forward progress in your giving? If so, let that be a catalyst in beginning your giving journey!
May we encourage you to begin, expand, or grow in your giving for your sake and for the Kingdom’s sake. It is then you will have the pleasure of investing in those individuals that will one day become “treasures in heaven.”
If you’d like to listen to the original episode on Priority #1: Give, click this link.
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