THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 6-17-01
LESSON TITLE: WHAT ARE THE GOD GIVEN AVENUES OF ACCEPTABLE WORSHIP? "GIVING"
Good morning! Thanks for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. We are excited to have you with us for this time of offering and encouragement, as we participate in the things of God. We are glad that you have joined us for this worship to our Savior.
Our commitment this morning is to give glory to the Creator through the singing of songs of praise and through the study of His Word. I hope and pray that each of us will do our part to make this service acceptable in His sight. Now will you bow with me in prayer.
This week we would like to mention another congregation which helps in making the Living Word Program possible, each Lord's Day morning. The Crocker Church of Christ in Crocker, Missouri, has been a long time supporter of this effort for Christ. We really appreciate this fine congregation for their like-desire to see the gospel of Christ taken to the whole world.
Please take advantage of the opportunity this morning to meet with this family of God. Beginning at 10:00 a.m., these brethren will begin with a Bible study and then at 11:00, they will have a morning worship assembly. On Sunday evening at 6:00, they will again come together for a worship service. This congregation also offers a mid-week service at 7:00 each Wednesday evening. If you have any questions or need further information about this congregation, please feel free to contact me or their minister, James Meredith. Their telephone number is: 1-573-793-2562.
This morning we want to begin our songs of praise by singing a song which considers an important Christian characteristic we must have in Christ Jesus. So, at this time, won't you join in with the congregation as we sing together, "Take Time To Be Holy."
(SONG # 1)
I think we often forget the magnificence of God! He has done so much for us and given us so much in this life. However, if we go to the writers of the Bible we find that these followers of God understood exactly who God is.
For example consider some of David's thoughts which are found in Psalm 18:49-19:1. There he said, "Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name...The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament show his handiwork." David acknowledges God as the giver and creator of all, just as we read in the first few chapters of the book of Genesis.
Notice also what Isaiah said in Isaiah 64:8, "But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand." This great prophet of God here acknowledges that our God is the very giver of life. He is the maker and the molder of all that we are or all that we become. Again, I am sure that Isaiah had Genesis in mind, as we read that God created man and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.
Even Paul and Peter in their books continually referred to the mighty power or hand of God! Again confirming to all who read that the God they served was worthy of all homage and devotion. Everyone who heard them, saw them or met them could truly see their belief and confidence in the God which they served. But we must ask, is this also what people see in us as servants of the one and only God of the universe.
Until we all come to a clearer understanding about this great and mighty God we serve - we will never be motivated to be everything He asks us to. The question is, have you acknowledged the awesome God we serve through an obedience to His Will? If not, Why not? Won't you chose to follow His Will and to Do what He says today?
This morning, our specific topic will be considering "giving" as we answer the question, "What are the God given avenues of acceptable worship?" This is our next lesson in our series on Worship. So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together I will return with this study from God's Word. The name of our next hymn is, "Savior, Teach Me!"
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
What a beautiful song we just sang together. We appreciate you continuing with us this morning as we again have this privilege to look into the words of God, the Bible, in order to improve ourselves as Christians in His service. We've had a great study together so far. We've had a lot of good comments and appreciate people contacting us and letting us know what you think about our program and about things which we cover and maybe even give suggestions from time to time. We enjoy and appreciate that so much. We've had a good study on worship and trying to understand what it is and trying to define it, understanding who should be worshipped, who should be involved in worshipping, those worships which really are considered unacceptable. Acceptable worship we've considered a lesson on that. And then we begin to look specifically at some different avenues which God shows us through the New Testament primarily in the examples of New Testament Christians that we again are to follow as those who are Christians and followers of God in this century. In fact, so far we've been able to look together at preaching and we've also been able to look together at the great importance of prayer, the avenue of prayer as we worship to God.
This morning, we want to look at giving. Giving is one that often we don't like to talk about very much because giving deals with something that has to do with our pocket. But really if you think about it and you look at statistics you'll find that over 90% of Americans make more now than ever before. You'll know this to be true if you talk to your parents or grandparents or those who have lived for many years and they'll tell you back of the days when they made maybe 50 cents to maybe $1.00 an hour. Things have changed a lot in this day and time and people do make a great deal of money, but yet we still find that people give actually less today than in times past even in hard times. We find that today people just really aren't that good of givers. In fact, on average it is said that most people only give about 1 to 2 to 3% rather than what we might even find under the Old Law that was a 10% of all that they had.
So giving is something that we need to think about and talk about. It's something that if you go around from church to church or even in the religious world, it's the same. The problem is the same. Many churches do not deal much with giving. They don't like to approach the subject. Ministers don't like to preach about it. They don't like to talk about it because it's unpopular. People don't like to hear about it. So therefore again, we shy away sometimes. We neglect it. But really, it's important. It's important because it's a Biblical topic and it's a topic that we find that they did in the New Testament as a part of their gathering on the Lord's Day, that is on the 1st day of the week. In fact, if you were to look today at maybe some specifics in your congregation, maybe where you attend, again you can find that even there that people just many times aren't giving as they should. It's very easy to take maybe an amount $10, $20 or $30 and then multiply it by families and you'll find out very quickly that often people just aren't giving as they should.
What are reasons that people give? Well, there are many reasons that we make and I might even call them excuses that we might use in order that we might not give or do something that God has asked us to. Sometimes we say, "Well, we just don't have the money." And many or probably over half will use this excuse. Then when you look at what we have, the vehicles that we are driving, the nice homes that we live in, and all the blessings of this earth that we spend money on. The reason we don't have money is because we're selfish and we spend things on ourselves. Don't we? Well, not only that but some people come up with the idea that really they just don't know how the money is being used by the church so therefore they don't feel comfortable giving because they don't know where it's going. Again, we've got to understand what the command of God is. Some might say, "Well , I don't agree with what that church is doing there even though it might be in an area of expediency or an area that maybe the leadership or elders have determined that this be where we should give the money." They say, "We don't agree, so we're not going to give." These are unacceptable reasons before God because God has commanded that we give. He has told us that we must give as He has blessed us so richly with.
In fact, if you go back to the book of Malachi, you'll find there that in that book there was a great illustration given there about how people were rebuked because they were robbing God of tithes and offerings. The people in Malachi's day were not giving as they should. They were robbing God because they weren't committing themselves to giving as God had commanded them to.
I know that you and I don't want to be guilty of such and we want to follow exactly what God has asked us to do and that's why this morning we want to look specifically at giving in the Bible. What God has to say, not what I have to say or man or maybe some church, but what God has to say about the importance of giving because that's the only thing that makes a difference, what God thinks and what God wants and what He says, because it is a Biblical topic.
We might first of all ask the question, "Is it commanded?" Well, yes. In the New Testament we find that especially in the book of Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 16 verses 1 and 2, that Paul there instructed the church at Corinth to give. And I want you to notice how he instructed them as it says there in chapter 16 and verse 1 again of 1 Corinthians. "Now concerning the collection of the saints as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia so you must do also. On the first day of the week, let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he has prospered that there may be no collections when I come." You notice here that there was an order, an order notice by an apostle, an inspired apostle by God, and that order was that they should lay by and store according to what they have prospered in order that they could give when? It says here on the first day of the week when they come together to give. To give why? For God. Not only did he tell the church at Corinth, but if you'll notice in verse 1 he talks about the churches of Galatia. He said, "Just as I have told the churches of Galatia..." That means more than one. Several churches in Galatia had had the same instruction that they should be givers. And why? So that when there was a need, there was money to care for the need. When Paul came or other missionaries, when there was a need in the congregation, when there was work to be done in the area, there was money available to do the work of the Lord and I know that's what you and I want to be involved in, too, as those who are good and faithful servants and followers in God's kingdom. So yes, on the first day of the week, the New Testament church was encouraged to put something aside so they could give it, and it was according to as it says here so clearly, "as they had prospered." As you have been blessed to return and give an offering in accordance to that blessing back to God so that it could be used to His service.
Now we might also wonder, "Why should we give?" Besides the command that we find here, what are some good reasons that we really are instructed by God to give? One is found in the book of Acts. Again, the book of Acts is such an important book because the book of Acts tells us about the young church, the church of the first century, the one that sets so many examples for us, not only about Bible conversions but also about new congregations and evangelistic work that was done throughout that period of time. But there in Acts chapter 20 and verse 35, read with me these words as it says, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Here we find another reason. Not only because we're commanded but we give because we will be blessed by our giving. When we do what God has asked, again He turns around and does more for us. And that's exactly the thoughts that Jesus had in the book of Luke. If you'll turn with me there to the gospel according to Luke, and if you'll look with me again in Luke chapter 6. We want to read together verse 38 and notice the words of our master. He says there, "Give and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be put into your bosom for with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." Here again, a beautiful illustration, a lovely example helping us to understand the importance of giving. When we give, we will receive. And according to how we give, it says here, according to the measure we use, that is what we again will receive. If we choose to use a teaspoon, what type of reaping or reward will we receive from God? A teaspoon. What about a tablespoon? Well, a little better and that's what we'll get back from God. What about a shovel, a snow shovel? Well again, if we give and give and give, God is going to bless us again, and it only makes sense because if He blesses us, because of our giving and what we're doing for Him, how much more are we going to do if He helps by giving us even more? So we find these are excellent examples and that's why there was such an impressive story as we find where the widow gave unto the treasury there and as she gave all that she had out of her little in life, she gave an abundance because she gave all that she had. Again, a heart, an attitude that was necessary in order that she would give as God had asked her to.
Well, you see, we need to be givers. We need to be those as we even find in that illustration that give because God has asked us to with the right heart, the right motive for His service, and not to be seen of men. I think sometimes we might be guilty of that, wanting others to see what we give. We very boldly put in the plate and want everybody to see what we have done. We want people to know how much we're giving to God. Well again, we need to understand that it's something between us and God. It's not something that the preacher should pressure me about or the church. It's something that God does. God tells me in His word to give, to be a good giver, to be a giver that wants results in his life because I prove to God through my giving that I'm serious about being a follower of His.
Giving again consequently not only deals with what comes out of our pocket, although that is primarily what we're talking about this morning. But we can give in many ways, of giving of our efforts and time and so many other ways in our life to again assist in the work of our Lord.
You might say, "Well, how much should I give?" You mentioned this morning that many give different ways and some don't give enough. So how should I determine that I must give? Well, we know under the Old Law, it was a tenth. I know many religions today will say, "Well, let's give a tenth or let's tithe." Well, I don't know about you but according to the New Testament, I'm no longer under the Old Law, but God has a greater and a better law for me. But even under the Old Law and those who claim to follow it today, I would ask, "Do you give a tenth?" Because a tenth was really of everything they had. You know many who claim to tithe, they get a salary and they take a tenth of that and they give it to God. That's not at all what tithing was about. Tithing was about not only what you made, but what you possessed. Your home, your lands, your animals. It was a tenth of everything that had to have been given to God. Now, how many people do you know that really tithe today according to that law?
Well, under the New Testament, we find that giving and being good givers really goes to the next step. Not only are we told to maybe give a tenth, we're told to give as we prosper. If you make a lot, give a lot. Not just a tenth. If you can give more, give more. A tenth is not enough if that's maybe something in your life that you prospered even the more. Give as much as you can and that's what God really asks. Not only of money, but of time and effort. Give and give and give. And again, when we give, we find in the Bible and we've seen the lesson that givers receive back from God.
I want you to go again with me to the book of 2 Corinthians. Here again as in the 1st letter to the Corinthians, we find some very good illustrations about giving and the requirement that is given to those who love God, but I want you to notice with me what it says there together in verse 7 and then we'll read a little bit more from this same opening in just a moment. He says there, "So let each one of you give as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity for God loves a cheerful giver." How do I give? Well, I give according to as I have purposed. 1 Corinthians chapter 16 verses 1 and 2, and here it says, "According to as I have purposed in my heart." And then notice the attitude part that comes out, not just the amount. That's not the only thing that's important. But He says here, "according to as you have purposed in your heart." We give as it comes from inside. How much do you love God? Well you see, that's the kind of giver you're going to be. Sometimes we say, "Well if I give, that means I love God more." Well, usually if somebody has got their heart right, they're going to be good givers. Isn't that what is true in the Bible? When somebody is really a Christian, they're going to do all the works that God has asked them in a proper and an effective way. Well, here again we find in these examples that God loves a cheerful giver as you have laid aside, as you have prospered, as you have purposed. Give back to God cheerfully. Why? Because He has given it all to you anyway. It's His anyway.
I might go back even to verse 6 and read the context here because there a lot of good ideas given in this opening verses. Again, 2 Corinthians 9, verses 6 and following. "But this I say, he who sows sparingly will reap sparingly, but he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." Then as we read in verse 7, "So let each one of you give as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity for God loves a cheerful giver." We will receive again according to how we give. If we give sparingly, what does God give back? Sparingly. If we give bountifully much, what does God give back here? We reap bountifully. There again, why are we not blessed many times in our lives? Why do we not see God working ? Because we're not giving as God has asked us to in the various areas of our lives.
Notice also what it says in verse 8 though. If we are good givers and we do it with the right heart and we give it with that which we have purposed according to what we have been blessed with. He says there that "God is able to make all grace abound toward you in all things, sufficiency may have the abundance in every good work." There in all sufficiency, we receive everything that we need from God because we have proven ourselves to be good givers, and when we are good givers, then God sees that we love Him and we care about Him and that we are really serious. We are so serious about what He has set before us and asked us to do in our lives. You see, giving as well as preaching, as well as prayer, all of these things show us clearly what God expects from us in this avenue of worship. If you want to receive from God, if you want Him to bless you and to give and give and give, we must do the same. Why? Because that's how we knows He loves us.
I love the way this author put it as he said, "Give as you would if an angel awaited your gift at the door. Give as you would if tomorrow found you were giving no more. Give as you would to the master if you met His loving look. Give as if you would of your abundance if in His hand the offering He took."
Think about these words again. Imagine, imagine, imagine if Sunday morning when you were in services there on the first day of the week and you had laid something aside, imagine if Jesus Christ Himself was bringing the plate around, would you feel as comfortable to put that $5 bill in it or that $10 bill or that $20 bill, or would you know that He knew that really you weren't giving according to your abundance? We're well-blessed in this country. If you don't believe it, look around the world. Take a mission trip to South America or Africa or many different countries throughout the world and you'll find out in a hurry that we're a well-blessed people, and we are blessed even though many times we are not good givers.
Let's learn the great lesson giving. Let's understand this great avenue of worship that allows us to show to God in a small way because God has done so much for us giving His son and blessing us with everything in this life, but in a small way, let's use giving as another opportunity to use giving to show Him that we love Him. Isn't that what He said in John 14:15? "If you love me, keep my commandments." You see, I keep His commandments when I worship in preaching the word, and teaching, when I worship through prayer and when I worship by giving my best to God, because when I do all these things I know that not only will He be glorified and praised, but I know that I will be blessed according to His will.
(SONG # 3 - "More Holiness Give Me!")
Again, let me thank you for choosing to be with us this morning. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.
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May we all understand more the importance of giving back to God, just as He has so richly blessed each one of us.