Our theme for 2016 is “Best Choices”. In our Confident Kids Program downstairs we are in a module called “Choices”. The kids are learning how to make good choices. The kids have learned that “We always, always have choices! It could be between a good choice and a bad choice, a good choice and a better choice, or a better choice and the best choice.
I have chosen to use boxing through this current series to help us illustrate the messages. There are many lesson to learn to be a Champion Boxer. One bad choice can get you knocked out. One bad choice you can lose your title to your opponent. God desires us all to be champions but as we learned there are always contenders. Those who would love to knock you out, take you down and destroy you. In the realm of life, we all know that our main enemy is the evil one. He comes to steal, kill and destroy. John 10:10 We also realize that there is another contender and it is our “Flesh”. That is the part of us that is not fully redeemed by the Holy Spirit. It is our body and soul that works against the plan of God for our lives. This part of you and me needs beaten into submission and this is called in our spiritual life, “Sanctification”. Please understand that if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior your spirit is born again, fully redeemed and going to heaven to be with Jesus and until that happens He has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us, guide us, and help us.
Now get ready today for a battle between your spirit and your flesh! I am going to present a spiritual discipline that for most people will get your ire up! If you do not know what “Ire” is, it is anger and irritation. So let’s try to listen to this message through our spirit man not our fleshly man and the spiritual discipline we are going to talk about is “Giving”. Already some of you are squirming.
I want to first apologize to you for all in my line of work, or call, that have used manipulation to get people to give to their ministry. We all have been turned off by the tele-evangelists. I am sorry if they have offended you and turned you off. I am with you. I hate manipulation. I personally struggle with talking about church and ministry finances. I hate to ask people for donations to help our ministry work. You know we do not make a big deal of the offering here at REACH Community Church. I do not want to become that which I hate. At the same time, we cannot let that keep us from submitting to this spiritual discipline that God has designed to help us grow and be what He wants us to be. God has designed us and desires for us to be generous and to have a spiritual discipline of giving.
In my struggle with this message this week I also struggled to try to tie it in to our boxing theme. How can giving and generosity be related to boxing. In my search to find some pictures or illustrations I came across this quote by Jack Dempsey. “The greatest defense is a good offense.” As I read a little about Jack Dempsey I came to learn that he was one of the best boxers in history and he is still rated in the the top ten of all time even though he fought about a hundred years ago. I learned that he was accused to taking a dive, in other words he lost a fight on purpose. My first thought as I tried to tie this in to giving and generosity was that “He gave the fight away!” That was only speculation and never proven. But Dempsey said this quote, “The best defense is a good offense.” As I studied and prayed this week I came to realize that our giving and generosity is a weapon against first of all the devil who wants us to be selfish, stingy and self-centered. It is also a way to overcome those very things he uses with our flesh.
So how does this relate to boxing? In boxing you have to keep your hands up to protect your face and sometimes you have to drop your hands to protect your body. You have to learn how to duck and dodge your opponent’s punches. That is part of being defensive. I also realized that if you have a good “Jab”, you can keep your opponent at a distance. He is afraid to come in too close as the jab is going to nail him. The jab keeps him out here. The jab is an offensive weapon and if used right and with discipline becomes a defensive weapon.
I have testified to you that both Debra and I were tithing when we met and we have continued to tithe ever since. Okay, you may be asking what is “tithing”. Tithing is giving ten percent of everything that God blesses you with. He gave this in the Old Testament to God’s people and we see Jesus reinforces it in the New Testament in Matthew 23:23 “For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens,g but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Jesus endorsed tithing here. I think we get it that you can be obedient to tithe and still be messed up as the Pharisees were. At the same time, He absolutely says “You should tithe!” I do not know about you but I am striving to obey Jesus in everything He asks of me. I declared Him, Lord. That means I should totally try to obey Him in all things including my giving which should include “Tithing”.
I say this as a testimony of God’s goodness. I can testify of total provision in our lives. We have experienced the miraculous in our personal finances. We have seen finances come into our lives at points of need that we cannot explain where it came from. We have seen our debts miraculously forgiven. God has blessed us and the simple fact is that He has blessed us and I want to give back to Him. That is key for us is that we realize that whether it is giving in our church, giving to the poor, helping other ministries, etc. when we release it from our hands we are giving it to God. If a ministry or church does not properly steward your offering, it is on them. We give to God and we release it at that point. We understand that giving is “Worship”.
Tithing is not something we struggle with. When finances come in, whether through a paycheck, a gift, or if we were to find money on the street, we tithe immediately! It is a discipline and habit. God said tithe off your increase so if it increases us, we tithe.
We will see that God desires all of us to be givers and it is not based on our financial position. He desires us to be givers whether we live in abundance or we are living in great need. The greatest way to come out of great need is to give. You have to understand that God’s Kingdom is flip flop of the world. The world and your flesh will tell you you can’t give because you won’t have enough. God’s way is that if you give, you will have enough and more than enough.
Let’s look at a poor widow that becomes a giver. A widow who gives out of her need and ends up having more than enough. This is God’s desire for you!
In 1 Kings 17: 8 -24 The first thing we see is that you do not have to be rich to be generous. God provided through a widow living in poverty. Through the widows giving out of her need she releases a multiplication of blessing back into her life. Jesus talks about this Mark 10: 29 – 30 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. Jesus commends those who give out of their need. In Luke 21: 1 – 4 He gives us this illustration:
“While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.a 3“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”
Next we see that giving requires faith. Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” Don’t look at what you have but what God can give.Obedience throughout the Bible always requires faith, but God rewards faith! God blesses faith!
The last principle we see here s that giving releases supernatural provision in every area of our lives. I talked about the jab, an offensive punch, becomes a defensive tool. Giving is the “Jab” in boxing. Giving keeps the devil away from our lives. Giving keeps us from the left hooks out of nowhere, those unexpected financial attacks. I believe is we are faithful in our giving to God can shield us from the those unexpected financial hits.
The widow’s faithfulness released the miraculous! Her son was resurrected from the dead! Would her son of been resurrected if she refused to obey Elijah? I can only speculate but I do not believe it would have happened. I am not saying that you can buy your miracle as the some tele-evangelists try to get us to believe, but I do see that the widow’s obedience to give out of her need released the miraculous.
God is a giver. He gave us His Son! Through His loving generosity we have inherited everything! God does not ask us to do what He is not willing to do. Through giving His Son He gained many sons and daughters. Are struggling in your finances and provisions? Do you ever feel like you are in a financial hole and you feel cursed? Can I read one more section of scripture?
“I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. 7Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
“But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’ 8“Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’
“You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. 9You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. 10Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease.a Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 12“Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. Malachi 3: 6 – 12
God desires the tithe. It is a starting place for you and all of us to begin to be generous. Couple of notes here: He says if you have not been tithing, ask for forgiveness and begin to tithe. That is repentance. Second he says bring it to the storehouse. I believe the storehouse is your local church, where you are spiritually and physically fed. You can give above the tithe, that is called offerings and you can give it where ever the Lord directs you, but the tithe should come to what you would consider your church. Third, this is the only place in the Bible where God says “Put me to the test”. God said it so I am asking you to take a step of faith and tithe and see what God will do! He promised and I promise you that He will totally provide for you above what you could ever ask or think!
Do you know that if every Christian tithed there would be no need for the welfare system? Every need in the church would be met. Widows and orphans would be totally cared for. We would be a blessing to Beaver Falls and beyond!
What would happen if believers were to increase their giving to a minimum of, let’s say, 10 percent. There would be an additional $165 billion for churches to use and distribute. The global impact would be phenomenal. Here’s just a few things the Church could do with the kind of money:
- $25 billion could relieve global hunger, starvation and deaths from preventable diseases in five years.
- $12 billion could eliminate illiteracy in five years.
- $15 billion could solve the world’s water and sanitation issues, specifically at places in the world where 1 billion people live on less than $1 per day.
- $1 billion could fully fund all overseas mission work.
- $100 – $110 billion would still be left over for additional ministry expansion.
Those are some amazing numbers.
I would love to see what God could to with REACH Community Church, your church if we were a 100% tithing church! It would be miraculous! It would be the Jab that would knock the devil out! Please pray about tithing? Be offensive in your giving!