RELAUNCH, Pt. 7
Finding God’s Power For A New Beginning In Stewardship
Opening Scripture: Haggai 2:3-10 NLT “Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? 5 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! 6 You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! 7 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you!8 Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord. 9 You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses. 10 It’s because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops.
1. When God saves us, He does a miracle of transformation in our inner person called the new birth, or being born-again. Our spirit becomes brand new.
2 Cor 5:17 AMP “Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!”
2. God’s plan is for the fresh and new spiritual reality that is in our born-again spirit, to migrate outward to our mind and thoughts and attitudes and actions.
2 Cor 3:18 AMP “And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.”
3. The process of being changed into the image of Christ depends on our willingness to embrace God’s truth as it is revealed to us. Revelation brings transformation when we act on it by faith.
James 1:22-25 AMP “But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].23 For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror;24 For he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like.25 But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience).
4. One of the areas Jesus Christ spent a lot of time teaching was on financial stewardship. Jesus taught that how we handle money and material things has a great influence over our spiritual life.
Matt 6:19-21 NLT “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
5. From the very beginning it has always been God’s plan to bless and prosper His people, like any good father or mother wants to do for their children. We must renew our minds to the promises of God so we do not handle finance out of fear.
Dt 8:18 NKJV ““And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
Ps 23:1 NLT “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”
Lk 12:32 NKJV “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Rom 8:32 NKJV “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
6. When we understanding God’s plan for Kingdom Economics, we begin to trust that God’s plan is never to decrease us but rather to increase us, so we can do more and more to advance His Kingdom. But like all of God’s promises, His promises take faith.
James 2:26 NKJV “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
7. Under the New Testament Jesus Christ has removed the curses by becoming a curse for us. He now asks us to do out of a new nature of love and a new life, what was formerly a law and a commandment. We now keep God’s commands, not to avoid the curse, but because we share God’s nature.
Gal 3:13 NKJV “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
Rom 7:6 NLT “But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.”
8. God established the tithe as the means by which He funded religious worship, teaching, and the ministry of the priesthood.
Mal 3:10-12 NLT “Bring 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! 11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. 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.”
A. There were twelve tribes or branches of Israel, but God chose one tribe, the tribe of Levi, to serve the other eleven tribes as priests, meaning this was their full-time occupation and career. This meant that the other eleven tribes would each take responsibility for a tenth or 10% of the cost of supporting the Temple and the priesthood.
B. This is why Mal 3:10 says “so there will be enough food in my Temple.” The tithes of the other eleven tribes literally helped to feed the Levites so they could serve the altar and conduct the sacrifices for the people.
C. This practice of the tithe was carried over into the New Testament as the means by which God ordained that the local church and its ministers would be supported.
1 Cor 9:13-14 NLT “Don’t you realize that those who work in the temple get their meals from the offerings brought to the temple? And those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrificial offerings. 14 In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.”
1 Cor 9:7-12 NLT “What soldier has to pay his own expenses? What farmer plants a vineyard and doesn’t have the right to eat some of its fruit? What shepherd cares for a flock of sheep and isn’t allowed to drink some of the milk? 8 Am I expressing merely a human opinion, or does the law say the same thing? 9 For the law of Moses says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” Was God thinking only about oxen when he said this? 10 Wasn’t he actually speaking to us? Yes, it was written for us, so that the one who plows and the one who threshes the grain might both expect a share of the harvest. 11 Since we have planted spiritual seed among you, aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink? 12 If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported?”
D. The Bible makes it clear in the New Testament that the law was merely a shadow of greater things to come. If under the law God asked His people to give 10%, would grace in the New Testament ask us to do less? No, the idea of grace is that God wants to do it through us even bigger and better than the law could ever do, because we now share His nature, and because He wants to bless us even more that the law promised.
9. In the New Testament, Jesus confirmed the tithe, but used His apostles to teach us not to give for the wrong reasons. Giving is worship, and God doesn’t want us giving grudgingly or because we think we have to. No, the goal of giving under grace is give out of love.
2 Cor 9:6-8 AMP “[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings. 7 Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving]. 8 And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation].”
10. The bottom line today is that if we are living by faith and walking in the grace of God, God wants us to support our local church cheerfully so that our congregation has a home with pastors and spiritual leaders who can give themselves to the ministry without distraction, in order that we may be a lighthouse to our community.
A. The tithe, or first tenth, is a great place to start giving, because God still considers the tithe holy. But under grace, the tithe is a terrible place to stop. It all belongs to God, and sometimes God will ask us to go beyond what was required under the Old Covenant.
Lev 27:30 NLT ““One-tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord and must be set apart to him as holy.”
B. God asks us to bring tithes and offerings to our local “store house” where we are fed. Today this is our local church where we are in covenant relationship with other Christ-followers.
1) Giving to other ministries is fine, but this should never come from the tithe. That is what our remaining 90% is for, to give offerings or whatever else we see is needed. If we eat at Wendy’s, but pay our bill at McDonald’s, how long can Wendy’s stay open?
2) Giving to other family members who may be in need is Biblical, but this should never come from the tithe. Again this is what God has allowed us to keep the 90% for. Be generous out of what is yours, not what is God’s.
3) Giving our time is not the same as giving a tithe. It is expected that all Christ-followers will invest their time in helping serve the local church and build God’s Kingdom. But serving and tithing are two different things in Scripture, and to confuse them is not good Biblical interpretation.
Dt 12:11 NLT “you must bring everything I command you—your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, your sacred offerings, and your offerings to fulfill a vow—to the designated place of worship, the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored.”
Mal 3:10 AMP ““Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse”
C. The tithe is the first fruits of all our income, not just what is left after we pay taxes, and retirement, and whatever else is being withheld. Be honest with God about your tithe because He already knows.
Pro 3:9-10 NLT “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,and your vats will brim over with new wine.”
11. Why should I tithe?
A. Because everything you have, God gave it to you, and tithing is how you say thanks to God. It is like God gave you ten apples, and asks that we give one of them to Him out of appreciation.
B. Because it supports your pastors and staff so they can give themselves to the Word and prayer, and take care of the church and its membership.
C. Because it makes it possible for your church family to have a “house” to worship in, and pay the same bills you pay, such as utilities and upkeep.
D. Because tithing keeps us free from selfish and shallow living.
E. Because tithing teaches us to trust the Lord.
F. Because tithing teaches us to always put God first in our lives.
Dt 14:23 LB “The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives.”
12. What is the temptation of not tithing and how can we overcome it?
A. Fear is always the temptation that prevents us from obeying God, because we don’t trust that God can take care of us.
B. We probably already spend more than our tithe on other non-essential things. Some people may pay more for a membership at the YMCA or local gym than they give their local church. Or they may be willing to spend $50 to take their family to a movie, but not consider that their local church cannot exist without faithful supporters. In many cases it is necessary to rebudget and repurpose what we are already spending so that it is represents the new life of Christ in us, and not the old life we have been saved from.
C. When our income is small, giving one dollar out of ten dollars earned baby-sitting or mowing yards is not so hard. But when we are making $30k, $40k, or $50k a year, the temptation is to not want to give the 10%, or the $3k, $4k, or $5k this would require. But we have to remember who gave it to us in the first place, what He has asked us to do with it, and that He can take it away and give it to someone else who will be faithful. We have to also consider that He may have already done that, if we are stuck in a rut and are never able to get ahead.
Dt 8:11-17 NLT “But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. 12 For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, 13 and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! 14 Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt…17 He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.”
13. God is inviting us to a RELAUNCH in our finances by remembering the Lord’s tithe. Try it. Let Him prove Himself to you.
Obedience is the place of blessing, and it is always God’s desire to bless you!!! God invites you to prove Him.
Mal 3:10 NLT “Bring 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!”