In Philippians 4:10-20, in a discussion about the financial help Paul received from the Philippians, he explains why we give to missions: not only do we do it as a spiritual discipline that teaches us dependence on God, but our giving is also a sacrifice that is very pleasing to God. When we give to gospel work, we are partners with those who are working to share the gospel message.
Malachi teaches the Israelites that God wants their obedience. He doesn't want more or less than that...just simple, complete obedience. They were under a curse because they were withholding the whole tithe. They were stealing from God, holding on to what was not theirs. They possessed the tithe, but were not owners of it.
Are you holding on to what is rightfully God's?
In Luke 12:13-21, a man asked Jesus to referee between him and his brother regarding a family inheritance. While the man likely was in the right to expect a portion of the inheritance, his question to Jesus was wrong because it was based in his desire for money (the inheritance). This greedy attitude came in the way of his following Jesus, caused him to try to use Jesus for his own agenda, and forced him to become self-serving instead of a servant to others.
In contrast, Jesus taught us to beware of all kinds of greed--and it takes effort! But he taught us, first by his example, then by the parable of the rich fool who left no room in his life for God and did not care about sharing out of God's abundance with others, to be rich toward God.
We're rich toward God when we practice both the right attitude--stewardship of God's resources--and the rich action--sacrifice in matters of money (since it's all God's anyway).
This sermon is a personal sermon. I presented the financial state that we are currently in as a church (we face a weekly deficit) and asked people to consider whether they can give more. I shared our personal circumstances with all humility to share that we are leading by example in this.
To encourage more giving, I offered the $3 Challenge. I asked us to consider making a sacrifice in order to give $3 more per person each week. If we do this, we will close the gap on our weekly deficit and begin rebuilding our savings. It's really that simple!
In the sermon, I offered a number of ways we can save in order to sacrifice: eating out less (or skipping dessert, or eating fast food instead of dining in); making coffee at home once or twice a week instead of buying it; and using the library once or twice each month for a book or DVD instead of purchasing the item.
We can do this if we work together. Will you sacrifice a little to help us a lot?
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