Responding to God’s Blessings

Date: November 13, 2016

Speaker:

Series: Blessed Beyond Belief

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There’s no denying it — God has blessed us beyond belief! We have received so much from His hands. But why? Why has He blessed us and what are we supposed to do with those blessings? Are we supposed to keep them all for ourselves, or does God have a bigger purpose in mind? Once we learn this important principle, we will discover the real definition of what it means to be blessed.

Audio Transcript

Series: Blessed Beyond Belief
Sermon 3: Responding to God’s Blessings

Alright, grab your Bibles and turn to Psalm 116. We’re going to look at one verse there. That will be sort of the backdrop for our focus this morning. This morning, we come to our last message in this short three week series we’ve been going through called Blessed Beyond Belief. On the first week, we looked at the importance of “recognizing” God’s blessings. And we took that whole morning just to think through some of the material and physical blessings that God has given us and continues to give us every moment of every day; but also the incredible spiritual blessings that He has given to us that we’re so richly blessed to have. And it’s important that we recognize His blessings. And then last Sunday, we talked about the importance of “remembering” God’s blessings; of how easy it is to recognize them one time, and then just move on with our lives to get busy with our lives, and not remember His blessings and give Him praise for them. So it’s important for us to remember His blessings. And there’s no denying it, folks, you and I have been richly blessed by God. It’s easy for us to hear that. And I was reading again this week about how Paul said we’re all so rich. And yet we read that and we think, “Well, no, I’m not rich!” Well, just do a little research. Go on Google and search for some statistics, and you’ll find out very quickly that—even those of us with the lowest income in America are rich compared to the vast majority of people in this world. Yeah, we can choose, if we want, to complain; to compare ourselves to others who have more than we do. But the bottom line is, there’s no denying we have been richly blessed by God in a million ways.

And even as we sit here, right now, in this very moment, we are recipients of His ongoing blessings that we’re unaware of most of the time. And so the question surely must follow. What is our “response” supposed to be to the fact that God has blessed us so much, and continues to bless us every moment of every day? How are we called to respond to His blessings? It’s not enough to “recognize” them. It’s not enough just to “remember” them. The Bible calls us to “respond” to His blessings. And we’re going to finish this series with that thought.

The Psalmist asked this question in Psalm 116:12, and I hope it’s a question that will get hold of us today. And I hope it’ll be a question that all of us take with us as we leave here. I pray that it will really burn in our hearts as we think about it. He said, “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” What a great question, isn’t it? What in the world shall I render to the Lord, for all of His benefits toward me?

God made a promise to His people — a promise that is very simple, but very powerful. God basically said, “My part of this promise is, I’m going to bless you, simply out of my deep love for you. But your part of this covenant, this promise is:

• I want you to Recognize my blessings,
• I want you to always Remember where your blessings come from and give me praise for them,
• but I also want you to Respond by giving the first and best portion of everything that I’ve given to you, back to me.

It’s not enough, as I said, to just do what we looked at last week — to just “remember” God’s blessings, because, folks, here’s a frightening reality — it’s not enough for us just simply to remember His blessings and praise Him for it, because it is possible for praise to be on our lips, but rebellion to be in our hearts!

Jesus addressed this numerous times with the people of His day. Matthew 15:8, one of those times He said, “These people honor me with their lips…” If He had put a period there, we would have walked away looking at those people going, “Wow, those are some great people right there. They’re really godly people!” But there’s no period there. There’s a comma. He said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” People may see our praise and think we’re fully surrendered. But God sees our heart, and He knows whether or not we’re really surrendered. So giving praise to God, as we talked about last week, is not the only response. We’re commanded to “give” to God for His blessings. We’re also commanded to give Him our possessions. It costs us nothing to praise God, but it does cost us something to give our possessions to Him. This, (what we’re going to talk about today,) is the true test of where our love really lies. And sadly, what we’re going to talk about today is where many people tune out, and they just flat-out refuse to surrender this area of their life to God. As if I needed another reminder of this, just this past week, Sandy and I went to meet with someone who she had met, and we wanted to kind of reach out to him. And during the conversation, Sandy said to him, “So tell me about your religious background. Were you were brought up in any religion?” And he said, “Yeah, my mom took us to church when we were kids. But you know, the pastor was full of it.” (He knows I’m a pastor, and he’s saying this to my face! I love the honesty of some people. It’s a little disarming at points, but least you know, where you stand.) And he said, “I moved to Greenville two or three years ago and I knew I probably needed to go to church, so I found a church and I started going…” (and then listen to this!) He said, “One Sunday, the pastor got up and started talking about tithing, and I left, and I’ve never been back!” He said, “The church has no business talking about money.”

But there was another fresh reminder for me of the reality of this, that this world is filled with people—even churches are filled with people who say. “That subject is off limits! You can talk about anything you want. But don’t you dare talk about my possessions!” Well, I just want to tell you this morning, as long as a Christian has that attitude, he will always be an immature Christian. If we ever hope to be fully devoted followers of Christ, we’re going to have to come to the place where we yield this area of our life to God, because whether we like it or not, there is a foundational principle that runs throughout the Bible — Old Testament and New Testament. And it is this: God knows, if He doesn’t have our possessions, He doesn’t have us! It’s just that simple. We can praise, we can sing, we can go through all the motions that make it look like God has us—that He is our Lord. But God knows if He doesn’t have our possessions, He doesn’t have us. He knows the heart of man. He knows that we are prone to setting our hearts on the material blessings that He gives us instead of keeping our hearts on him. And this is so beautiful to me; this is so loving to me. It shows His kindness, His fatherly kindness to us. He knows this tendency is in us, and so as a safety measure to guard us from greed and to keep us from setting our hearts on things other than Him, God gave specific instructions to His people in the Old Testament on how to handle their possessions. And these commands were not meant to hurt them. They were meant to be a reminder that God is the owner of everything. They were meant to be an expression of thanksgiving back to God. And these commands were meant, as I said, to be a safeguard against greed.

Let me just share a couple with you from the Old Testament, and then we’ll move on to the New Testament. For example, in Leviticus 27, when Moses received the law from God—the principles that God gave His people to live by to keep them from trouble. Part of that law said in verse 30 of Leviticus 27, “A tithe of eight everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord. It is holy to the Lord.” And from then on throughout the rest of the Old Testament, God emphasizes this matter of bringing the first and best portion of everything to Him. Why? Because it “belongs” to Him. He’s given the whole thing to us as a blessing. And yet there’s a portion of it that is not ours. It belongs to Him. For instance, here’s one example — Numbers 18:29 said that you must present as the Lord’s portion, the best and holiest part of everything given to you. And as long as God’s people followed this simple command, God blessed them abundantly. But here’s the flip-side of that. What we see again and again in Scripture is that as soon as God’s people stopped obeying that simple command, God removed His blessings from them.

One example of this is in 2 Chronicles chapter 31, the story of Hezekiah. I love this story. Hezekiah was a very godly king. He took the throne at age 25. He was a godly man, but he was inheriting a mess from his father who had ruled before him who was a very ungodly king. His father Ahaz had been wicked. The nation under his rule had drifted away from God. They had drifted away morally and spiritually, and now, they were suffering financially. So Hezekiah comes and he led a revival. He tore down the idols, he reopened the temple, and he re-instituted sacrifices to God. So now he’s getting the nation back on track back to the original commands of God, but one of the things Hezekiah did was, he told the people, “It’s time for you to start tithing again.” Verse 5 says the people brought a tenth of everything they had, and they brought so much that they had to heap it up in piles in the temple. And what was the result? Were the people worse off because they gave to God? No, not at all. God blessed them, and revival came to the land. When the people finally said, “God, we’ve been robbing from you. This is your portion. We’re going to relinquish this. We’re going to give this once again gladly to you and to your work,” God said, “You know, because of that, I’m going to honor my part of the commitment; I am going to pour out my blessings upon you.”

The Bible tells us to “pray” for revival, but it also says to “give” for revival. It’s not something we hear about that often, but that’s what Malachi the third chapter says, as well. God said in Malachi 3:7, “Ever since the time of your forefathers, you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask…” (these are the people talking back to God,) “…But you ask, how are we to return?” Do you want to know what God says next? The very next verse, God says, “Will a man rob God? Yet you robbed me.” That’s a strange response. When God says, “Return to me,” and they say, “How are we supposed to return to you?” God immediately cuts to their material possessions. He says, “You’re robbing God.” And they say, “How do we rob you?” “In tithes and offerings,” God said. “You are under a curse, the whole nation of you, because you’re robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room for it.” The promise is clear. God says, “If you give the first portion back to me, I will bless you.”

Now I want to put a very quick footnote there. This is not some formula for a “Get-rich-quick” scheme. This is not what you hear on TV. “Sow $1,000 seed into this ministry and there will be a $10,000 check in your mailbox next month.” That’s baloney. Don’t buy into it. It doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to get rich financially. That is not the motive for giving to our God. Those are selfish motives. God never honors that. Sometimes God’s blessings are spiritual blessings. Maybe you’re sitting here and you’re going, “Yeah, Phil, that’s Old Testament. What about the New Testament? What does the New Testament say about giving?” Well, the first thing I need to remind us of is that we are no longer under the Old Testament law. We’re under grace. Colossians 2:14 said, “Christ cancelled the written code… (that’s all the old law,) “…He cancelled the written code with its regulations. He took it away, nailing it to the cross.” And we should all say amen to that. So if the Old Testament law has been fulfilled in Christ, and we are no longer under the law, but we’re under grace — what does the New Testament say about giving?

Well, let’s start with Jesus. What did Jesus say about giving? What’s interesting, as you see what Jesus did, how He handled the Old Testament law, He always “raised” the bar. He always “raised” the standard for people. For instance, Jesus said in Matthew chapter 5, he said things like, “You have heard it said, ‘Do not murder.'” And all the Pharisees who knew the law by heart, the Old Testament law, they were saying, “Yes, that’s right. Do not murder. We’ve kept that!” Jesus raises the bar and says, “But I say to you, don’t even hate.” And they swallow and go, “Yikes!” Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I say to you, don’t even lust in your heart.” So Jesus had this pattern of taking the Old Testament standard and raising the standard to an even greater level.

Now, also, I want to be quick to say there’s no record of Jesus saying, “You’ve heard it said, ‘Give 10% back to God,’ but I say to you, give 15%.” He didn’t say that in Scripture. What Jesus was interested in was the “motive” for giving more than the “rules” of giving. He said things like, “Give from the heart, not because you’re forced to… Give because you want to please God, not because you want to impress people… Give because you’re laying up treasure in heaven, not because you’re laying up treasure on earth.” In Matthew 23:23, Jesus said, “Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You give a tenth of your spices…” (Now that’s what the word tithe means. the literal translation of the word tithe means tenth, 10%. “…you give a tenth of your spices, mint, dill and cumin, but you’ve neglected the more important matters of the law, justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former.” Jesus is saying that both “matters of the heart” and “giving to God” are important. You shouldn’t neglect one for the other.

So this is an issue we can’t afford to err on either extreme of. One other passage we can look at here is 1 Corinthians 16:2. Paul is writing to the New Testament church about the standard of giving now in the New Testament. He says. “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income.” Now notice, Paul didn’t say, “New Testament church, you give a tenth. You need to give a tithe.” He didn’t say that. He just said, “Give as you have been blessed. Give in accordance with your income. Give proportionately.” That’s the New Testament standard.

Now, I know there’s a lot of teaching all over the board on this. If you’ve grown up in a church, or you’ve been in a church recently where they still teach that we are under the 10% tithe, that teaching may have been well-intentioned—I believe it was—but folks, it’s wrong. We are no longer under the command of the 10% tithe. If we take that Old Testament rule and force it on people, then surely we must take all the other Old Testament law—the dietary laws and all of those things. I bet every one of us in here today has some article of clothing on that has been woven together by more than one type of fabric. Did you know if we were under the Old Testament law, that would be breaking the law. We wouldn’t be allowed to do that. You wouldn’t be allowed to eat shrimp or lobster, or any of those things. But we are not under that Old Testament law anymore. And to teach the church today that we are, is absolutely wrong. We are not under law. We are under grace, folks. We’re under grace. The Bible says the law came through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Amen! Isn’t that beautiful news? The Old Testament 10% tithe may be the “measurement” for generosity, but it’s not the “strict command” any longer.

And so we might hear that and go, “Yes!” However, we’re still commanded to give. And in fact, because of all that Christ has now done for us, we’re called upon to be generous givers, rather than simply holding to the strict 10% Old Testament tithe. For instance, here’s a couple of quick ones: 2 Corinthians 8:7, “But just as you excel in everything, in faith and speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness, and in your love for us, see to it that you also excel in this grace of giving.” Excel. Hmm. 2 Corinthians 9:6, “Remember this, whoever sows sparingly, will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each one of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion.”

Okay, so there are the two extremes. We should neither shrink back from this practice of giving to God and say, “I’m not going to be a part of that,” or “Okay, I guess I will.” Nor should we err on the other side of the extreme. You should never let a pastor guilt you into giving. It should never be done under compulsion, like, “I guess the church will get mad at me if I don’t!” Folks, I’m gonna tell you, you will never hear that at this church. If you’ve been here every Sunday since we started, there’s not one of you who can say you’ve ever heard me press this matter of giving upon you to guilt you. Never, I’ve never done it and I never will do it, because I believe that the way Christ designed His church to function is the right way, and I don’t want to meddle with those issues at all. Do I think I’m smarter than He is that I should come and try to manipulate people into giving so our church can continue to move forward? Not a chance! Christ’s model for the church—the New Testament model for the financial aspect of his church—is if the people in the church give joyfully and faithfully, the church can move forward financially to accomplish the mission. If they don’t, the church sinks. And it ought to. You go, “Man, that’s crazy talk. I’ve never heard a pastor say that.” Listen, if we, as a church body, love Christ, we should never give under compulsion. If we stop giving, our church should close its doors. And I should go be a greeter at Walmart or something. Just hang this whole thing up. I am never going to manipulate anybody to try to force you to give to this church. I don’t know who gives here and who doesn’t. Never have, and don’t want to. It’s none of my business. That’s why we don’t take up a public offering. Jesus said, “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” He wasn’t talking about your “hands.” He was talking about “other people” around you. Why? Because it’s either an opportunity for people to boast, or it’s an opportunity for people to feel embarrassed if they have nothing to put in. So why we don’t take up an offering? There’s a box on the back wall if you want to give. If you want to support the ministry of this church, that’s how you do it. It’s between you and God.

So he says, “Each one of you should give what you’ve decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly, nor under compulsion. For God loves a cheerful giver.” So now the bar is raised even more. Now we’re not logging our 10% and pouring it into the treasury like “Okay, God, get off my back!” No, now we’re supposed to be cheerful givers. Like, “Honey, it’s time for us to write our check again to God’s work. This is awesome!” Never happens, does it? We should be cheerful. And listen, this has nothing to do with “our” church. I would preach the same message if I was invited to preach at another church. If you’re here or if you’re somewhere else, we should be cheerful, generous givers to God’s work. We should be. And what will happen? Verse 8, “And God is able to bless you abundantly so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

In the Old Testament, there was a fee — 10%. “The tithe is the Lord’s.” In the New Testament, He’s given us Jesus Christ. He’s given us eternal life. He’s given us His indwelling Holy Spirit. He’s given us the privilege of living in the most affluent nation on earth, and we say, “God, how much do you expect me to give to you?” And God says, “Just give according to how I’ve blessed you. Just give in proportion to how I’ve prospered you.” I mean, that’s beautiful to me. The pressure is off, and the now it’s a matter of the heart. It’s not a matter of obligation. It’s not a matter of the “amount” that we give. It’s a matter of the “sacrifice” that we give to God. That’s why Jesus pointed out at the temple the little widow lady who put in two tiny copper coins—two mites. She dropped them in after this big Pharisee had poured all his coins into the sort of trumpet-shaped thing that they poured their their money into. Big noise, big rattle! Everybody’s turning around going, “Whoa, look at Joe up there. He’s really pouring it in. Yeah, Joe’s a good guy, man. He’s a big giver!” And this little widow lady comes along and drops in or two coins. Oh, can you imagine the shame she’s feeling? Can you imagine the embarrassment she’s feeling? Jesus says, “Hey, fellas, come here. I want to teach you a life lesson. See that little lady right there? She out-gave all those arrogant, pompous Pharisees. She’s out-given all of them!” And they’re going, “You’re really bad at math. Like, that’s not even close!” Jesus says, “No, no, you guys, you’re using the wrong calculator.” I don’t care how much people give. Someone can out-give everybody else dollar-wise and still be cheating God. Someone else can drop in just a couple pennies and out-give everyone else. God says, “just give as I have blessed you.”

This is where the real test of our response to God’s blessings comes into play. One of the reasons God asks us to give back to Him, as I alluded to at the beginning, is because it serves as a gauge to see where our heart really is. Folks, God doesn’t need our money. Do we understand this? God doesn’t need our money. He owns everything. In the Old Testament language, it says He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. And we read that and we go, “I don’t even know what that means… who wants to own cattle?” Back then, if that was you, you were in business! If you owned cattle on a thousand hills, you are the man! God says, “No, ‘I’ own cattle on a thousand hills.” He doesn’t need our money. But when we refuse to give back to Him, we’re revealing the true condition of our heart. That’s why He put this in place. It’s not for Him. It’s for us.

I knew a pastor who he used to pray these words before every offering. And it made me extraordinarily uncomfortable. But I know he meant well. And in the cold letter of the law, he’s right. He would say, “Lord, no matter what we say or do, ‘here’ is what we really think of you”… and then they would take up the offering. And I was like, “I know you mean well, and technically that’s true. But man, you’re making some people feel really uncomfortable right now—those who just don’t have anything to give.” Folks, there are times in life we don’t have anything to give. It doesn’t have to be money. We can give in a hundred different ways to God. But even though my my pastor friend, I think went a little too far, that’s actually what God is saying. Throughout the Bible, He’s saying, “You can talk all you want about being a Christian and how much you love me, but put your money where your mouth is!” That’s really what He was telling His people to do. Prayers might give “audible” evidence of our love for God, but giving provides “tangible” evidence of our love for God and our trust in His provision. It’s a tangible response to His blessings. It’s a way for us to say, “I’m choosing to put God first. I’m choosing to trust in His provision, knowing that He will more than make up the difference.”

Folks, this is the beautiful part — God will never fail us in this. This is why this whole issue stands or falls on a much deeper foundational belief of ours than this issue of giving. Do we trust that God will do what he said? Do we trust that He will keep His end of the bargain? Or do we actually, somewhere in the back of our mind, think that God is a liar? He said, “If you honor me in this, I will bless you. I will make up the difference if you trust me in this.” Well, we either believe Him in that or we don’t.

So how do we respond to God’s blessings if we set our hearts on the blessings, rather than keeping our heart on the Blesser? Have the “gifts” become our treasure rather than “Him” being our treasure? You go, “I don’t know. How would I know that?” Well, I’ll tell you one simple way to know that — how do you feel right now? Are you squirming? Are you angry? Are you sitting here thinking, “This is so annoying! It’s so annoying to me when churches talk about this.” That’s a pretty good indicator of where your heart is. Yes, I understand there’s been a lot of bad teaching on this. People have been hurt. I understand that. But folks, we’ve got to move past that! We can’t live in those past hurts. Let me just ask if you ever had a bad haircut? You’re looking at me right now like, “You’ve got one right now!” This is just my hair. This is how it is. This is the best I can do with it. Have you ever had a bad haircut? Yeah, we all have. Did you stop getting your hair cut for life then? have you ever had a bad meal at a restaurant? Yeah. Do you stop eating then? No. So if you’ve been wounded by a church somewhere along the way; if you’ve heard some wrong teaching on this subject, and I know I have to… so what? Put it aside, hear the truth, and let’s move on. Let’s not drive a stake in the ground and put a line in the sand and say, “I will never move forward on this issue because a pastor 47 years ago offended me.” Come on, guys! Come on. We’re called to maturity in Christ. We need to understand that this principle of giving to God is not there to harm us or to rob us. It’s there to bless us. God wants us to give, as I said, not because “He” needs it. He owns everything. He wants us to give because “we” need to do it. It’s for us.

So giving is not only a tangible way to respond to God’s blessings; it not only acts as a safety gauge for our greed; it not only demonstrates our trust in God, but it also reminds us that this earth is passing away, and everything that we invest here will be lost. I hope you’ll hear me on this. I came so dangerously close to falling into this trap years ago. When I ran my business, things were going great and I was flying all over the place, doing this and that. Sandy and I had all the money we needed. And I look back on it… I didn’t see it then, but I see it now. Even though I was in church, I was giving, I was serving — I look back and I see that I came dangerously close to letting the blessings of God become an idol in my life. I got so used to them, that fear gripped my heart at the thought of not having them. So what I realized was, I had unknowingly drifted to a place where I was trusting in my resources instead of trusting in God.

And you know what God will do sometimes when we get to that point?… what He did to me — He will pull the rug out from under us. He’ll say, “No, you’ve got to learn to trust me, not in the things of this world.” I was kind of building an empire. And I look back now and see how foolish it was, because nothing in this world that we invest in is going to last. Nothing! I don’t know of one billionaire who, on his deathbed said, “I wish I’d made more money.” There might be one, but I don’t know of one. The richest man who ever lived—do you want to read part of his dying words. Solomon said, “I denied myself nothing my eyes saw.” Wow. I sure envy him, don’t you? “I’ll take a yellow Ferrari and a red Ferrari. I see that, I like it… I’ll take five! I’ll take ten of those. two of those…” Solomon had everything. But he got to the end and he wrote these words, “I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the ones who come after me, and who knows whether they will be wise or foolish, yet they will have control over all—the fruit of my toil, into which I have poured my effort and skill. This, too, is meaningless.”

Jesus described this obsession with building our empire and gathering things for ourselves in Luke chapter 12. When He told the story of the rich fool, he said that the ground of a certain rich man yielded a great harvest, and he didn’t even have room to put all his crops. Again, it doesn’t mean much to us, but back then, that was their life. This guy was wealthy, and it was just piling in by the truckloads. And so this guy looked at all this stuff, and he said, “Man, what am I going to do with this? I know! I’ll build bigger barns to store all my goods, and then I’ll have plenty, and I’ll kick back and take life easy.” Then the next verse says, “But God said to him, ‘You fool, this very night your soul will be required of you, and then who will get all those things you’ve stored up for yourself?'” It’s so foolish to live a life of selfishness, storing up things for ourselves, when we know that they’re all going to slip through our fingers like sand one day. Why do that when we can make investments that will last for all eternity? Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…” How clear is that? Why are we so good at hearing what we want to hear? Jesus says, “Hey, don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth,” and we go, “I’m sorry, what? What are you saying, exactly? It’s a little unclear.” No, he says, “On this earth, moth and rust will destroy, and thieves will break through and steal.” He said, “It’s better to store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

So I close with this — What about you this morning? And I’ve asked myself this question for the last few weeks thinking through this message. What about me? Are we storing up treasures on this earth? Folks, I’m not saying it’s wrong to have things. Please don’t misunderstand this. God delights in blessing us. We ought to, as a family, save up some money for a special trip or to buy that special thing. That’s good. It’s right. It’s proper. We should do that. God wants us to enjoy the blessings that He’s given us. The problem is, God never blessed people so that they could keep all the blessings for themselves. He blesses us so that we can be a blessing; so that we can sow part of it into His kingdom for eternal work.

Where are we on this? Are we storing up things for ourselves? As an added bonus, (as if we needed anything more from God,) He has not only promised all these things we’ve talked about, but He’s also promised that He will reward us for giving back to Him. In Luke 6:38 Jesus said, “Give and it will be given to you, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” God has been so good to us, folks. Whether you have (in your mind) “plenty” this morning, or whether you have “little,” God’s been good. He’s been generous to us. We could never out-give Him for all He’s given to us. The psalmist was right: “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?”

• We’ve “recognized” God’s blessings,
• We’ve “remembered” God’s blessings,
• So now, how will we “respond” to God’s blessings?

I pray that we will respond by living generous lives for His kingdom, sowing back a portion of what He blesses us with into His kingdom work while we still have time. The truth is, we owe Him everything. Everything! And yet He only asks for a small portion back from us. How kind of Him! How unselfish of him!

Can I just say, if this is an area where you’ve struggled, (and I know, I know it can be a real struggle,) I want to encourage you to trust God. Take Him at His word. He has not put this request in place to harm you; to steal from you. He’s put it there to bless you. But you’ve got to take the step. You’ve got to trust Him. You say, “I don’t have much start.” Where you are? Start where you are.

I pray that all of us will learn to live joyful, generous lives in response to God’s blessings.

Contend for the Faith

Date: November 13, 2022 | Speaker:

Have you read the letter of Jude lately? It’s a short letter with a bold message, and it’s for all believers everywhere. Jude brings attention to a danger to the faith, and he doesn’t beat around the bush when he writes about it. His passionate appeal is as relevant for us today as it was for first and second generation believers. Are you willing to receive his timeless call to contend for the faith?

The Hope that God’s Judgement Brings

Date: November 6, 2022 | Speaker:

As God’s children we sometimes choose to disregard His commands and go our own way. If we continue to ignore His calls to repent, He will send discipline into our life to correct us, like any good parent would do. Feeling God’s discipline is never pleasant and it might even make us think that He doesn’t love us anymore, but the one who is disciplining us is the same loving Father who is always working for our good. If you’ve been away from God and feeling the sting of His chastisement, come back to Him today. Behind the dark clouds of God’s judgement is the sunshine of forgiveness and hope!

Are God’s Judgements Fair?

Date: October 30, 2022 | Speaker:

Some people think that God is being unfair when He dispenses justice and judgement, yet they also think it’s unfair when justice and judgement are not handed down to someone who has wronged them. God has put certain unbreakable physical laws in place, and He has also put immutable spiritual laws in place… break either of them and you will suffer the inevitable consequences. Is there something you feel that God has been unfair about? Always remember that His law is perfect and His judgements are always right, even if it doesn’t feel that way. Be assured that you can trust Him, regardless of how things look today.

Are You Cheating on God?

Date: October 23, 2022 | Speaker:

Millions of people have experienced the sickening heartache of discovering that their spouse has been unfaithful to them. It is a pain that cuts very deep, leaves scars and destroys lives. In the Bible, God describes His people as His bride who has continuously committed adultery with other lovers. The anguish God feels is almost unbearable to read. Sadly, you and I are all guilty of the same thing because sin is spiritual adultery. Through the vivid imagery of the book of Hosea we get a sobering look at what our sin actually does to God, and we hear once again the call to return to Him and make things right.

The Problem with Religion

Date: October 16, 2022 | Speaker:

We attend church faithfully every Sunday. We sing the songs, we serve in various ministries and we give our tithe. As far as we’re concerned, those things prove that we’re a “good Christian.” But the Bible says we can do all those things and more, and not be godly at all. That’s the problem with religion. It fools us into believing that as long as we’re checking things off our spiritual todo list, we must be right with God. The only true and accurate assessment of our spiritual condition is when God measures us against His perfect holiness. That’s when we suddenly recognize our true condition and our desperate need to be found in the righteousness of Christ! So, what benchmark are you using to determine your standing before God?

You Can’t Fight God and Win

Date: October 9, 2022 | Speaker:

For decades a systematic effort has been underway behind the scenes to remove God from every facet of our society and destroy the moral foundation of the United States. We can now clearly see and feel the disturbing effects of that endeavor because we are living in a society that has launched an all-out war against God. God has been removed from our schools and our government, millions of innocent babies are being murdered, pressure is increasing against churches, and the very definition of the family unit has been ridiculed and dismantled. It seems that God has turned our nation over to the vileness that it craves. What will it take for America to regain God’s blessing and protection, or is it too late to even try?

Broken but Blessed

Date: October 2, 2022 | Speaker:

One of the most remarkable details about the life of Christ is often overlooked. The Bible tells us that on the same night Jesus was betrayed; on the same night Peter denied Him; on the same night he was falsely accused, beaten and spat upon… he gave thanks. He gave thanks! How was He able to be thankful even when facing the most excruciating trial of His life? It’s because He trusted His Father’s plan completely and He knew with absolute certainty that even when He was being broken, the very trial that was breaking Him had already been blessed by His Father. We are also called to give thanks in all circumstances, but do we have that same level of trust in our heavenly Father’s plan for us?

Jesus Can

Date: September 18, 2022 | Speaker:

Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee with his disciples and encountered a man possessed with demons. Jesus loved this man and displayed his power over the enemy by commanding the demons out of him and setting this man free. This passage reminds us that there is always hope for the hopeless and that when Jesus moves in our lives, then He gives us a message to carry to the world. Is your hope in the Jesus Who Can?

Prepare to Meet Your God!

Date: September 11, 2022 | Speaker:

No parent enjoys disciplining their children. It grieves us when they sin and have to be corrected. Throughout history God has disciplined His wayward children in hopes of bringing them back to Him. They refused to listen, so eventually God had to give this heartbreaking conclusion: “You have not returned to me… now prepare to meet your God!” That is a sobering statement, and we all need to be prepared for that day! When God looks at your life, would He have to conclude that you have not returned to Him? Why not come back to Him today while He is still calling?

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