By Pastor Greg Byman
February 18, 2018, 10:00 a.m.
St Joe Community Church
"Jesus talked much about money. Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables were concerned with how to handle money and possessions. In the Gospels, an amazing one out of ten verses (288 in all) deal directly with the subject of money. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions." SOURCE.
A search for the word “content” reveals that Scripture has much to say about the matter. In Philippians 4:11, the apostle Paul famously exhorts millennia of fellow Christ-followers, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”
But how do we become and remain content? Today’s message is called “Practice Generosity” and is the fourth in a series called “God’s Giving Principles.” The sermon was preached on February 18, 2018.
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Greg Byman, St. Joe Community Church
February 18, 2018
Series: Keys to Contentment
Sermon: Part 4, Practice God’s Giving Principles
We're continuing on a series called Keys to contentment keys to contentment last week we said that we pray that practicing generosity actually leads to greater contentment hoarding does not lead to satisfaction just saying that holding on to things and refusing to give yourself away to give your things away to give your time away does not make you more content it paralyzes you it puts you in a spirit of discontent makes you want to have even a little bit more than you already have not satisfied with you currently have you want more to fill a dark hole with things that will never satisfy you contentment. Is an attitude not an amount we've said that it's not a two that Jesus gives us when we practice being content don't come overnight it's something we have to work at being content I'm still working at being content OK we're all working at this some of you have been married a long time and how many of you say you're completely content in your relationship some of you would say yes and I praise God for you but many others would say we're still working on contentment even in our marriage after these many years I'm not saying you haven't learned to get along that's nice to say in but it's but it's contentment learning to be content with whatever you've been given already and we need to work at that and I want to talk about giving principals last week was practicing generosity that we need to practice generosity and I ask you the question how much time have you given to the Lord of Utah your time thirty six plus days solidly committed to giving to someone else beside yourself in a way in which that you're not in control of the results then you will not receive necessarily the blessing from the exact place in which you are giving your time and energy or efforts. And it's one thing I mean some I said you know I don't play the lottery but I have a I have stocks. You know it's one thing that you give your money away to for a one K. You're going to get a return on that but how much you're giving away in such a way that you know that you're not in control of anymore no have no effect on you monetary when it comes back to you when it comes back in whatever form of it's benefit. What is the lord doing in your life right now and you can say my generosity is that such a level that I'm learning to be content with what God's already given me. So this morning we're going to do something you're never supposed to do in church talk about money we're not allowed talk about that in church are we because that's a taboo subject you talk about money I will leave you talk about money I'm outta here why every church in town talks about money you know why every church in town talks about money because Jesus talks about money and the Bible talks about money and I can say that in the last five years I have not had a message on giving of any significant portion other than in passing through as we talked about other things in my sermon so I think we've done a pretty good job of tithing our time talking about money and I'm not even tired of my Sundays probably talking about money Howard Dayton from town Financial Ministries I think that's the name of the company now on what's called now sixteen he says that he notes that Jesus talks a lot about money sixteen of the thirty eight parables sixteen of the thirty eight parables were concerned with how to handle money and possessions in the Gospels Matthew Mark Luke and John and amazing one out of every ten versus two hundred eighty eight and all deal directly with the subject of money the Bible offers five hundred verses on prayer less than five hundred verses on faith but more than two thousand verses on money and possessions ha. It matters what we think how we handle our money you want to get someone rout out mess with their money you want to get elected for public office tell them how much money they get to keep you want to get someone excited about a cause tell them how you're using their money to further that cause and how it's affecting lives you want someone to get riled up about something you take something from you tax them tax out ation without representation I think that's a historical statement and nations can be born from a statement like that money it matters how we handle our money and when Jesus says how you handle your money determines whether or not you're spiritual or not well I don't want to hear that why does he deal with it because money someone someone said this friend of mine in California who ran a foundation Baptist foundation investment company to help further Christian causes in California he said when money is all you need nothing else will do when money is the only thing you need nothing else will do now the words you've got to have money to do things and so when you talk about that that is the most basic currency whether it's electronic or cash or big that's or whatever it is it's what makes the world go around when the electric company says I want you to pay your bill you don't say well I'm just going to give my time to you I'm going to go sweep or floors and then maybe my bill will be paid and they know we want money and when the government says we want your taxes you say well you know what I'm going to what I'm going to do is I'm going to spend as I'm going to spend on my budget here at the house and then government at the end of the day if I have enough money to send you for my taxes I'm going to send it to you Monk will Sam says no I don't work. I get off the top whatever you make fact I've even to create a law that says your your your employer if you're not self employed has to take off the top because I'm afraid you're not going to do it for yourself so I'm going to do it for you in a form of a rule that says you're your your government your employer has to take it from you oh and I might give it back to you if you've given too much but you will know that till later and we just go along like sheep. OK some are fighting and I know that. I'll give them no more than they should have and I'll give them no less than they've asked as I don't like jail and the Bible says Render unto Caesar what is Caesar and Jesus said render unto God what is God's and there is a point in which we do what we're supposed to do with the government but it's about money in it so let's talk about money and ways to help leverage that which we deal with every day to make us more content leverage it don't curse it that said money is the root of all evil No the love of money is the root of all evil when you love money you cannot love God or money you have to love one of the other you hate one of the other the other you've got to decide who you're going to serve you're going to let money serve you are you going to let let let money serve you you're going to serve money there's a phrase that nobody knows some said Winston Churchill said it but there's really not any provable fact that he did we make a living by what we get we make a life by what we give so let's make a life by what we give and let's practice generosity in some ways that the Bible says we ought to practice it let's talk about God's giving principles and I've got several on the list here we're going to go through as many as we can and we have to finish up next week we will but we're just going to run through the Bible starting in the book of Psalms So if you ever Bible turn to Psalms. And the first place you want to turn to if you are a brand new Bible student is to turn to the table of contents the very from your Bible and it shows you all the list of the books of the Bible and you might want to take your finger or take one of your take your yellow card that you're going to fill out and turn in later and put it there at the table of contents like on going to write here put it right here in the book and then that way as I go through here I'm going to start from right to left going through the Bible this morning some of you may not get to the verse as soon as I'm talking and that's OK Just write the Bible verse down you can look at a later it's going to be online and you can look at it you can listen to the sermon again and go through it again if you want to but we're going to go through and highlight principles of giving that God has given us in His Word now I first want to give credit to a couple of people labor cat whose home with the Lord has made many principles that I have practice and I say phrases that are probably Larry Birkhead ish OK so there they may be his John Maxwell is a Christian leader he is a pastor he's a seminar teacher and I have many things that I've learned from him on stewardship and most of these phrases do come from him so I'll give him a lot of credit but again I've tweaked them and turned them into Greg isms that are really got isms but I mean. I've made him what they are here today and John Maxwell might get some credit for it and then the third person that would get credit for be rumbling through and maybe you may not know who he is but he's another financial seminar guy and possibly Dave Ramsey would be in here a little bit too because he has some things to say and I've been studying some of his material on stewardship as well in the last couple of years so giving credit ahead of time in case somebody calls you know this isn't original with me it's obviously not original with any of us but we've tried to bring it together in a way that it might be clearly understandable so that we can move forward and practice giving the way God asked us to first of all in some chapter twenty four in verse one it says the earth and everything in it and the world and its inhabitants belong to the Lord for he laid its foundation on the season established it on the rivers the first one is who's in charge principle who's in charge God is his stuff if you have anything in your hand it's God's not yours it came from him it is you never had a mom or dad say this roof over your head you mine this feet that's under the table it's my table the radio in my car that's the one I paid for or am paying for well listen to what I will list ever had and by Am I the only one this is happening in my the only parent and the only only son of a father that had a few words to say about who owned what Yeah well you can hear it through your father and your mother god saying what you have is mine and what's mine is mine what's yours is mine right it's all mine and how you handle it matters and I got a say on how you handle it and I got some to tell you need listen because I'm in charge number two see on the go through it kind of quickly we already read this verse in Malakai it's a very last book in the Old Testament on page one hundred in my book but might be a different number in years it's called the ten ninety test. Now I can go to Genesis but I want to go to Malakai and it's already been read for you this morning and Malakai Chapter three The ten ninety test that God wants you to test him that you can live better on ninety percent than one hundred percent what yes you can live better and you'll be more content when you live on ninety percent than on one hundred percent and as Pastor Mitchell shared with us it is the only place in the Bible where Jesus or God said test me don't test the Lord but you test him in this don't test the Lord on other things but you test them in this one and you can see whether he is true or not true whether his promises are right or not in the Malakai chapter three will a man rob God yet you are robbing me you ask how do we rob you by not making the payments of ten percent and the contributions you are suffering under a curse we are to give to the Lord what's due to Lord's and what he's saying is I want you to give to me and I'll go there back to there but if you want to see that this is not a law law this is something that was practiced well before the law of the new of the Old Testament that when Abraham encountered a special heavenly being who's representing God Now Cassaday it's a very confusing passage by the way and I had a whole lot of thoughts about that but we don't have time to talk about that because then who is Ian was he as form was he Christ and inhuman for you Don't you know it's all kind of question about that now you going to look at it more in the world but when Abraham worship God He gave a tie he gave a tenth the concept of tithing the concept tithe means tenth by the way ten percent let's say that whatever it is that you've decided in your heart to give today as your regular ties based on whatever regular income you received in this last pay period add a zero to it this is this is at a zero to it is that how much you made that's really kind of what what this is a tenth as ten percent so if you made one hundred dollars you give. To know if that's what that's what tent that's we're talking about here if you made a thousand dollars you give ten dollars zero zero hundred dollars OK. It's the math is this it's not new math it's the same math decimal points are the same no matter what your paycheck looks like it's called a flat tax right now I'm just going to go backwards no no it's not a bill or it's ten percent by the way if we were to say we were going to be legal listed about giving to the Lord and you were to include all of the extra offerings that the Old Testament said that the Jews had to search had to give well over forty fifty percent of your income would be going to the Lord. Beyond what you're living on over a period of five ten years I mean we're talking all the festivals all the feasts all the ways in which well beyond ten percent so we're not we're not we're not going there are non-evil legal istic I'm just saying there's a spot in the scripture it says if you want to test whether God has proven to be taking to take care of you if you want to test whether God really will handle your finances if you want to test whether God really will take care of your household start giving to him what he asked you to give and as you do that let him come through for you in a way that you've never seen before it's an amazing thing that I'm here to testify that as my wife and I and me as a single when I was poor as could be I remember writing that one check where I thought there's no way this is ever going to work and there's no way I'm going to have anything and I pleasantly was surprised by a gift in the mail while I was in school to take care of the bill that I didn't think I was going to take care of other times I've given the tithe check and I had to go you know Lord I don't know this can be a tight week and it was just my bad calculation of my math and what I had in the bank account no surprise God is a God that takes care of us. And he says test me in this and see if this is true right next to that is the Molokai three ten where it says bring it into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house which is principle next you give where you get the words where your fat is where you need to give That's the first place you've given every ministry in in in on Christian radio every ministry that as worth its salt and what it does will always say give first to your local church and then move to the Beyond what's going on because this is the basic foundation of ministry of where you serve and where you go and what you do it's not to raise the coffers of a church particular church it just says that we all move together as a unit and then we move beyond that the local church is God's first place that he starts working and so that's why we talk about that again it's this is not about care and did not ask me or treasured not say hammer it down past or now she has to write the bills and she sent us what's bullets a few times when she says or we're going to get this done I'm not saying that her and Sherri and the finance team don't wrestle with this and grapple with this issue but it's not about us trying to get more money at St Joe We're just saying God is working God works through your resources and he will bless you if you will test him I'm going to at the very end of the sermon we did something several years ago when we for about three or four years into being a church I gave the tie a promise one based on me based on the Lord I said you tied to the church for a month maybe three months and if you don't feel like you are blessed we're going to give you your money back and now Karen just had a heart attack. No. If you can if we can have a recorded. Ledger of how much you gave and you say I don't think God bless me now that was we really did give that promise and I didn't get permission by the body of leadership to do that this time but I'm telling you what it's not about us keeping your money it's about you getting blessed That's what I'm saying and I believe that so much that I'd be willing to go to test save somebody so I get my money's worth whatever OK I have never had anybody come back and ask for their money is what I'm saying but I've had tons of stories of people whose lives have been radically changed because they found contentment and living on ninety percent and could stand here and testify of how God's been faithful to them when he never they never realized or thought that that God would do what he did in their lives I believe that anybody here who's not giving to the Lord that way you're missing out on something you're missing out on that story you're missing out on the presence of God in a way that I cannot explain it to you you just have to experience it it's amazing you give where you get the ten ninety principle and basically it's all because God's in charge anyway and he said that's what you have to do than God said it I believe it that settles it but let's go on and talk a bit more about giving because not about just the rigorous ten percent this is this well more than that so let's move on to. Number four but before Number four comes along first for the get to that phrase. Some of you have heard me say Have you ever found a U.-Haul behind a hearse You know when you're me say that and one day we were working in this church remodelling. And a hearse pulled up in our driveway Well you all behind it. Really happened really happened rods like take a picture of that take a picture of that pastor that he's wrong I did find the hall behind it. I just would love to see people going out of St What in the world is that going down the highway back up to Michigan. The reality though is you can't take it with you so the next principle is we need to send it ahead you can't take it with you but you can send the head and if you just turn to the right a little bit to the very next book in the Bible Matthew chapter six Matthew chapter six verses nineteen through twenty one Principle Number four is send it ahead don't collect for yourselves treasures on earth where Mothman rest destroy and where thieves break in and steal but collect for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither Mothman or rest destroy is worth these don't break in and steal for where your treasure is there your heart will be also this about a hard issue God says if your heart's on eternal things you're going to gift so that more people can find Christ you're going to give in such a way that people know that your attitude and effort is not about money it's about Jesus if you were to drop dead right now and people were to look at your affairs money affairs and you were to look at the things that you were did with the pathway that they saw all through your checkbook and your calendar lead them to Christ or would it lead them to pet hobbies and things that you no longer have any benefit of on the other side of eternity is your pattern of life leading people to want to know and follow Christ because you have wholeheartedly honored and trusted in Christ are you walking where there's water are you going where there is no borders with your life are you fully trusting in Jesus to hold you up when you get out of the boat or are you staying in the boat with your resources to say God I got it I know that you take care of me but I gotta take care of myself first God helps those who helps themselves live from the pit of hell we would need Jesus to down the cross if we helped ourselves. Burson in the Bible we need to send the head the only way we have riches in heaven is if we are rich towards the things of God and one of the greatest leverage is we have for doing the things of God is the resources that is put in our hands so we have I only have as much time as I have I only have as much money as I have and I only have as much opportunities as God has given me and I only have the talents and abilities that I currently have one of my doing with them to leverage it for things that last forever number five Keep on going in Matthew chapter twenty five Matthew chapter twenty five just keep on going to few chapters in the book of Matthew giving grow the giving grow principle God's principle of giving is to send it ahead now the words if you want your money to last forever use it for His kingdom and His glory God's giving Principle Number five given girl by the way these are in order they're only in order because of what I want to do you walk through the scriptures together more carefully this morning is much more easier but it's easier and there's probably five hundred principles of giving but I'm you didn't want to stay that long so five giving grow Matthew chapter twenty five was it say in verse twenty one it says His master said Well done good and faithful slave you are faithful over a few things I will put you in charge of many things share in your master's joy when we handle God's resources appropriately we will grow into greater opportunities the question is not what are you going to do with what you're going to get it's what are you doing with what you already have are you're already handling your time well for the Lord are you already handling what God has given you and your resources in your abilities and talents don't look to do something grand on another place on another stage before you're not first willing to do something grand for God on the stage he's already given you. Don't wait for the promotion at work to do something great be great right in the moment that God has given you in your place of work well done now good and faithful servant you've handled a couple of things well here's a few more things to handle so you say long not get anything more to handle. Maybe you're not well done good and faithful servant with what you already got maybe you haven't been trustworthy with what you already have maybe you can't be entrusted with another raise because you still rob God with the raise you already got just saying God has something in store for all of us and he wants us to grow and we give and we grow and we give and we grow it's it's a it's a continuous process of spiritual growth number six the big shovel principle Luke Chapter six verse thirty eight Luke Chapter six verse thirty eight it's the big shovel principle you cannot give God In other words you cannot give him it's really quiet this morning and everybody keeps reaching for their wallet making sure it's still there I'm not taking anything you know what you know you know why we don't pass a plate at our church some of us have a box not a plate in fact there's a concert and in the building and they said Pastor can you get the offering plates and all of our members started chuckling. And then we got this picture of John Cougar was here and then a couple of the guys are here and we had a picture of them holding these big boxes and go around to the different places here can you put your money in our offering box is why do you do that what you do so well let me let me just give you kind of a history background of our church and it there's nothing there's nothing wrong about offering boxes there's nothing wrong about offering plates there's I always say in people Jamie loves my story I want the one I want to stick the bag on a stick and then you can and then if Jack doesn't give enough you he's kind of halfway through these as but you know he'll have to hit like three people maybe one zero and in a start giving a little more to the bag I mean I think that be awesome and train our big guys to do the offering you know. That's wrong so the reason why we don't do the offering plate and it's not nothing spirits about all that when we did pray about it and God led us to do this is that there were churches in town there's there has been a history of continuous offerings being taken in a particular In one particular service and when we started surveying last unchurched people in Fort Wayne they would often say the one thing that annoys me is how many times the church always last for money they're all annoyed right now in our church service. But that they said the offering plate just keeps getting passed and passed and passed and passed and pass and we said you know what we're going to lemonade it because Jesus had brass offering plates I think at the Lord's Supper I'm not sure if he did I don't know with the felt on the bottom so that you didn't in that what he had I mean the other words there is no there's no white theological term for offering plate in the Bible you know we give offering that a big old canister and they are watching it all go and you could hear the big trumpets the little brass things and you can hear it go in and then when the when the widow put her tiny thing in that nobody even heard clinking clank and Jesus said she gave more anybody else here I mean I mean there are there's there are stories about how it was done in the new tent in the Old Testament New Testament there's no prescription for the New Testament and so we said you know what we're going to put an offering box in the back and as the Lord leads people to give we're going to practice tithing when I believe in tithing going to trust in time I'm going to teach tithing but what we're going to let the Lord handle it that way and we're not going to put a plate in front of everybody every Sunday morning and God has continued to meet our needs that way and it has lowered the anxiety of church people and lost people and it is raise the level of responsibility in their lives because we are able to speak to them about the gospel before they start hearing us talk about money. And that's just been kind of a practice we've done well we always do it this way I hope we don't say in our church we've always done it that way will never not do it another way I'm just saying that that's why we do it this way now and so and the offering box is also a great way for us to receive your spiritual cards as you move forward and you have per request and it's just an easy way for us to collect at the end of the service what God is saying to you've collectively as a body of Christ on Sunday mornings we gather together that's why we have offering boxes and. And that's why we we practice the practice of receiving our ties and offerings that way so the big shovel principle in Luke Chapter six verse thirty eight says 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 back to you you cannot give God just keep giving and you will keep getting now this is not before a long cape conversation I was talking about earlier this is it may not be in the form of money that you'll receive money back I'm not talking about that I'm talking about the spiritual blessings that you need God will take care of you completely if you trust him with your resources he will absolutely abundantly overflow you with blessing you will just say enough that's awesome God you're so good if you just let him handle your resources instead of you handling it and telling God how you're going to do it in violation of his word and in Luke Chapter twelve we see the DO IT NOW principle. Luke Chapter twelve not going to read the whole story but basically this guy says Man I got so much money and I got so much stuff I'm going to go build some barns I'm going to go build some warehouses I'm going to put it all in my whore houses you know they just did a they just got rid of a nursery a gardening center up near my house across from Byron health center and they sold it and I thought Yeah but to be but maybe some apartments maybe an office complex they'll be maybe some more houses like their building like millions of them up by us right now nine hundred to scout announced a couple miles north of that property you know what they're building or build more storage facilities they're building more storage facilities because people have more stuff they can't fit in their house and they've got to go rent storage facilities to put the stuff that they don't know what to do with and it reminds me of this story it says You fool for tonight your very life as it is being required of you he went to heaven. In mind of Jesus didn't make a commitment call on that one the guy didn't use his wealth to further spiritual causes he hoarded it and didn't use it for what he's supposed to and what good did it do him to have a warehouse full of stuff when he was dead what are you doing with that you've got right now do it now if God prompts you to give to something go give to it now if God says Hope Center is on your mind go do it right now if God says there's a particular ministry or a particular missionary or is a particular situation or cause for the name of Jesus Christ do it now don't wait until later and if you have a ton of money that you know is going to be passed on to the next generation put in place legal terms in which you can use those monies beyond your life for the Kingdom of God because it will probably get squandered by the people that don't know what to do with that much money when they get it Be careful with how you handle your money and do it now and then number eight we already talked about this in Luke but in chapter in number eight is give what you get what you give you get what you give and second great the INS nine verse six basically whatever you sow that which you will reap and for those of you that are not agricultural in background when you sow something you sow it in the ground that's a seed and you reap or you harvest. Whatever it is you put in you put a few seeds are going to get a little bit unless it's zucchini and one zucchini plant will feed a family for years zucchini and tomatoes I'm telling you just as Plan A few of them leave that patch and you'll have a bunch for years to come and all your neighbors they've got enough but what you put in the ground comes up and how you spend your resources will come up whatever you invest in that's what we return to you and if your investment is all about your own pleasures and your own things and all the things that you want to do to satisfy the flesh then the only thing that will be back is you become a prisoner of your fleshly desires but if you want to be released from your flesh and you want to be released from your selfish attitudes and your hoarding tendencies then start investing in things that will return to you a spiritual blessing and see what God does in your life and finally to make sure that you know that we're not asking you to give her a grudging Lee and second create the ends nine verse seven and I say that correctly and my in the wrong one here oh yeah I am I put the bookmarks of check first Corinthians and like what in the world each person should do as he has decided in his heart not out of regret or out of necessity for God loves a cheerful giver now I again I do not want to answer for the finance team if you're angry and you give to us we'll still cash your check. Because we don't know if maybe deep side you're really happy OK this is not about how forcing people to give to God Now their words at this moment this is the moment when Pastor Greg says you are now released to do what Lord tells you to do and I'm not to look over your shoulder to see what you do I'm not going to stand by the offering box like Jesus did by the way because only Jesus going to look at your heart and on your mind. I'm not looking at what you did I don't look at what people give By the way only people are accountable for giving under my watch as pastor is our leaders that handle money and if they're not giving to the Lord faithfully they're not allowed to handle money in our church and if I don't handle money carefully and give to the Lord at least the tide series allowed to tell the team he's not tithing you are and should and that is we're very transparent about it if we handle money in this church you know and you know that we handle our own resources we are generous people who are asking people to be generous that's just that's just a fact but in terms of how much you're an amount or whatever to know I'm to fleshly to be able to handle that information I'll just be honest Christian pastor I don't want to know if somebody gives a whole lot more money and maybe give preferential treatment to that person I don't plan to do that don't want to do that never intended to do that and if I have please forgive me and tell me quickly because I don't want to treat anybody differently because a person's amount has nothing to do with how I treat somebody period now if I know your stand and unite to talk about that then I'll say get over it and move on OK I love you in Jesus name but the reality is that we don't look around what people give you know one thing you get or you get a report and you get a letter from a saying thank you for giving but I write that report I write that letter blindly I write I hand signature because I think it's worthy enough to be looked at every single letter even though I don't know who all is going to and I give all the copies to Sherry she folds it up and puts in the envelope and gives to people their record with the letter that I have sent but it's not because I know what Sherry is doing some people have different opinion about that I just kept has to be what I practice as your pastor I'm not here to tell you what to do this morning I'm just saying you trust what God said to do and practice some of these giving principles that has been put in front of you this morning and see if God will do it something that he's never done before in your life the ten percent test we use start with the baby steps of doing the basics of giving to God If you cannot already we just try it and see what God does this week this month. The next three months see if God doesn't stretch that ninety percent beyond your wildest imaginations we just see what God's going to do in your life I want to release you to a blessing I want to release you into a lifestyle of generosity that will lead to a commitment to a attitude of deep and abiding contentment in what God has in store for.
B: Bible book