Please see below for the teaching notes from this weekend, “iService.” (c) 2012, Terry Broadwater. For personal use only. For all other uses contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jesus said, P Mk. 10:45. “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to GIVE his life as a ransom for many”
- Not apologize for talking about money and tithing.
- Not assault you about it either.
- Encourage all of us to accept responsibility for tithing to support the work of the ministry through GCC.
At GCC we want to excel at giving God our best! We do that by having a very clear vision and mission, Learn, Live, and Serve through Gatherings, Groups, and Going Missional and resourcing that vision and mission wisely and generously. That’s why our budget for 2012 very intentionally reflects this- we’ve staffed lean and mean, we’ve planned for Friend Day Weekends, and we’ve focused our resource on the 3G’s!
The Pareto Principle! From economics and management meaning that 80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes. Or, 80% do 20% of the work and 20% do 80%! At GCC the 20/80 and 80/20 Principle needs changed! Here at GCC, we don’t want giving to be something we’re apologetic or obscure about because our motivation is pure- we want to be open and honest about the ministry here and we want you to be blessed! However, giving isn’t always easy because of the economic and other pressures we feel, etc. Often this relates to the tension we all deal with between consuming and contributing. And this doesn’t just manifest in a church context, it shows up in every aspect of our lives. For example (Source: Federal Reserves G.19 Report, July 2011):
• Total US revolving debt (98% of which is credit card debt) is $793.1 billion
• Total US consumer debt is 2.43 trillion
• On average we have 17 credit/debit/store cards
• Average credit card debt per household is $15,799
• Average balance per open credit card is $1,157
• 75% live paycheck to paycheck
• If you’re 28 you’re already $66,000 in consumer debt
From the Barna Report on Tithing:
• Tithing has dropped from 7% to 4% among the US adult population
• That’s a 40% decrease!
• 40 billion per is given to churches; compared to spending 40 billion on our pets and 60 billion on weight loss programs
• On average church adherents give $643.67 per year or $12.37 weekly!
I don’t share any of this to make anyone feel badly or to condemn. Again, my only motivation is that I have an obligation to share what God’s Word says about giving, about supporting the work of the ministry through the local church, and about how you hold the key to living under open heavens! Remember, when you put 10% into perspective, it’s really the minimum when it comes to the radical living the NT calls us to! Last weekend, in “iFinance” I gave you a Financial Vision based on Biblical Values. Now, let’s follow that up with having a Financial Plan to SERVE God’s Purposes because that’s where “iserve” starts!
A FINANCIAL PLAN TO SERVE GOD’S PURPOSE
Key #1: I plan to serve God and not be enslaved to money!
Luke 16:13 “You cannot be the slave of two masters. You will like one more than the other or be more loyal to one than the other. You cannot serve God and money.” The bottom line here is that being overburdened because of debt greatly limits how you can serve God’s purposes for your life. It ties you down, burdens you, you become a slave to money. Planning to, and serving God means you’re not only be a good manager of your resources, you are using money instead of money using you! Serving God is putting him at the “center” of everything, especially your finances. The question becomes: Who is my master and who am I serving- God or money? Because you can’t serve both!
Key #2: I plan to give and not get deeper in debt!
Acts 20:25 “More blessings come from giving than from receiving.” I love that verse and that promise! It confirms what God says in Mal. 3:10-12 about his desire to open the heavens and bless us. The key? Giving! Planning to give is good planning that leads to prosperity (Prov. 21:5). God prospers you because you are proving to be prudent with what He’s given you.
The question is: “Am I a consumer- looking to get, or am I a contributor- looking to give? Am I looking to be served or to serve?” Jesus said, “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to GIVE his life as a ransom for many” Mk. 10:45. See, when you serve, you give- of yourself, of your life, of your resources, of your time, and yes, of your money! The American economy forces me to consume, but God’s economy frees me to contribute; because more blessings come from giving than from receiving!” It’s the kingdom principle: “Give and it will be given to you…” God wants to and will bless you because you are being a blessing!
Key #3: I plan to save and not merely spend!
Matt. 16:26 “And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul?” If we’re honest, most of us are “spenders” and not “savers!” In a spiritual context, Jesus is saying that if you “spend” your life to get more and more, then you’re going to lose your life. But if you’re willing to lose your life, surrender it to God, submit to His Word, and serve His purpose, then you’ll “save” your life! In the material context, it’s planning and learning to save some money along the way instead of just spending it! Saving it means money serves you- spending it means you serve money! I confess that saving it is a challenge for me too! In an economy like ours it can be hard to save money; but it’s important we develop this discipline because it’s wise and God will bless that. I think too, we can both serve God’s purpose and save money by investing in the work of the kingdom, as we’ve already stated.
Key #4: I plan to have money work for me, not me working for money!
Prov. 10:16 “The earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people squander their money on sin.” I don’t know if any of us would confess today that we’re squandering our money and our lives on sin. Yet, that’s exactly what happens when we “serve” money instead of serving God! That verse says it all! There are those who “work” to “live”- they understand their priorities; they have other people they are responsible for. Then, there are those who “live” to “work”- they get as many hours as they can, earn as much money as they can so they can spend it all on selfish pleasures! Don’t work for money, let it work for you by investing it in the work of the kingdom, by investing it in people beginning with your own family, and in your service to others!
Key #5: I plan to be blessed and not be bitter!
Mal. 3:8-10 You people are robbing me, your God. And, here you are asking, how are we robbing you? You are robbing me of the offerings and ten percent that belongs to me. That’s why your whole nation is under a curse. I am the Lord, All-Powerful, and I challenge you to put me to the test. Bring the entire ten percent into the storehouse, so there will be food in my house. Then I will open the windows of heaven and flood you with blessing after blessing.” Again, this is the only place in the Bible where God challenges you to put him to the test. God says, when you give your tithes I will bless you beyond what you can contain- he’s not just talking about money!
God will bless your family, your health, give you favor with others, give you opportunities, bless you with business, and yes, bless you with money because he knows you will use it as a means of serving the needs of others! If you are not tithing, in Israel’s case, God said, you are “under a curse!” In the original Hebrew it means: “there is bitterness to your life!” Think about that! Your life is bitter. In other words, it’s not good. In the allegorical when people get a “taste” of your life, it’s a bad taste! But the opposite is true too- if you’re being blessed by God then your life has a “sweetness” to it!
Again, here’s God saying, “You have the key- you can choose blessing or cursing!” We get to make the choice, we control the switch- give God the first 10% and be blessed; withhold it from God and your life is bitter! Serve God- blessed; serve self- bitter! That’s the way it is- and if it wasn’t that way then there’s no difference between what it means to give your life to Christ and serve him and not doing that!
Key #6: I plan to grow the next generation and not just get for myself!
Ps. 112:1-3 “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in his commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches will be in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.” Prov. 13:22 “If you obey God you will have something to leave your grandchildren. If you don’t obey God, those who live right, will get what you leave.” Those two passages are amazing because they reveal how obedience is directly connected with God’s provision. Again, don’t miss the power of God’s “blessing”- Hebrew “barak”- sense of praise, filled with praise to God, bestowed good, state of happiness, well-being, favor. Because God is blessing you, you are able to bless the next generation! You have something to give!
Key #7: I plan to tithe and contribute and not take and consume!
I explored this at length last weekend, so we won’t go into great detail here again. But I do want to come to what God says in P Mal. 3:8-11, “I am the Lord, All-Powerful, and I challenge you to put me to the test. Bring the entire ten percent into the storehouse, so there will be food in my house. Then I will open the windows of heaven and flood you with blessing after blessing. I will also stop locusts from destroying your crops and keeping your vineyards from producing.” Nowhere in the bible does it rescind the command to tithe. And we should do it because it is at the foundation of what it means to “serve God” and it promises us these benefits, or blessings:
- “Food in my house”- Resource for ministry through the local church.
- “Open the windows (floodgates) of heaven”- No restriction of supply.
- “Flood you with blessing after blessing”- Overwhelming release of favor.
- “Stop locusts from destroying your crops and keeping your vineyards from producing (Hebrew- God watches over you and yours)”- Restorative protection
And imagine how God would bless that kind of obedience and faithfulness; not just for GCC, but you and your family living under open heavens, open floodgates of blessings on your life!! Not just money, but health, favor, your stuff doesn’t wear out as fast, protection, business and other opportunities! And I don’t have to prove it or promise it- God already has!!
This is where service starts! This is how we can serve more! Again, put God to the test with your tithe!