OPEN: Hey, good morning and welcome to 2013 and STAG. I'm Jack. Well, it looks like we've got a series going here on basic Christianity. We verified faithing as saving, then confirmer God's reality. Went on to the complete Jesus. And today, to start the new year off in the right direction, we'll zero it down to our individual Walk. It's all about giving. And we'll be taking Communion later on, if you want to get your elements together now. but first....-->
UW: the following hour of RCR is....
DISC: the views you hear are mine and not meant to....
Let me start out by saying that this is for Believers. Believers only. Now, it's hard enough for a Believer to accept this teaching. they've been assaulted by tradition, TV preachers and the erroneous reasons for giving taught by most main stream pastors. Even in Christianity, giving has been given a bad name. If you're not a Believer, then I recommend you tune out for a while. You'll only hear someone trying to get people to give money. Save yourself the stress.
Giving is a paradox. It's the simplest thing about the Believer's Walk, at the some time being the most difficult, the hardest to do. The whole Bible is one big book about giving. It's dealt with by God in just about all 66 books. Dr. Scott used to always say that Jesus talked more about giving than he did about heaven. We're told repeatedly how much to give, where to give and when. There are no little loopholes that will allow us to interpret the instructions for our own convenience or safety. The thing that makes it so hard is the surrender involved. We have to surrender 100% of our interest in the money, or sheep or barley. Folks like to make sure their money is going for the right cause. But God is interested in garnering Trust in Him, so He says "No strings. Trust that I'll take care of you for that which you give to Me."
People have an erroneous idea of what the Christian Walk is all about. Most think the Walk is a One Way street, down which they are automatically propelled. Like it's an amusement park ride to heaven. Some, I'm sure even begrudge the time they "have" to spend going to church on Sunday; just making it home in time for the game. There is very little understanding that the Walk requires some action on the part of the Walker.
Yes, I know that Christians all over the globe are given instructions on how to live as a Believer. All the do's and don'ts. All the rules for a Good Christian Life. A life of faith. It's not about how you live. It's about why you live. Paul was a true Believer. He spent time with the risen Christ. He calls himself a doulos of Christ. We read "servant' in the Bible, but the Greek word doulos means slave. In one place Paul says he has the "stigmata" of Christ. In other words, the branded mark of a slave. We should be found doing the same kind of thing Paul did. Paul wasn't doing what suited him. He was working for God. He accomplished what God wanted him to accomplish.
"Yeah, sure, I'm going out tomorrow and start establishing churches." Look, if that's what God wanted from you, you would already be doing that, instead of reading this piece. We are to take the principle behind that action. What did Paul accomplish by starting up those churches? He created an environment that would help in further dissemination of the Word. He brought the\m the word and they made it available to those around them. It's everyone's job. Edify the Believers. Help them grow in the Word. The Holy Spirit draws them in and the Believers pass on what they know.
Yes, church after church is given sermons on witnessing and leading some non-believer to the Lord. Evangelism. "Well, doesn't it say go unto all the world and preach the Gospel?" Why do we think that we can appropriate the direction given to the Apostles? Are all those in the pews on Sunday in the same circumstances as the Apostles? Jesus didn't tell the blind man to go convert others after he gave him his sight back. Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to "go and sin no more." Not "tell every one about me and help them be believers."
That's obvious, but why aren't those ways promoted in the church? Not enough blind people. And the sighted people wouldn't have any thing to do.
That leads us to what I feel is the main reason for all the evangelism found in Christianity. Ego. It's such an attractive ego trip. It's membership in the Ultimate Cause. Way better than the anti-abortion movement. Just think, you can be a Priest of God, helping the poor unbelievers.
OK, they don't usually put it in those words, but that's what people will hear. The sincere ones will honestly be trying to help others. The insincere ones will be on a power trip. But you see, both are not fulfilling their obligations to the Walk.
We know that works don't save. Only faithing saves. In other words, anything, that's ANYTHING, that based in ego doesn't count. The only thing that counts is ignoring the unknown and acting in trust that God will overcome that unknown.
Well, what else could we possibly call witnessing in order to lead someone to the Lord anything but works of ego? Who decided to go out there on the corner or knocking on people's doors? The person on the corner was the one who decided to be there.
All our decisions contain an agenda. We ALWAYS have a reason for acting, for doing something. I don't say that ALL reasons are bad or that all agendas are bad. I'm only pointing out that, like it or not, they are there. OK, let's consider the reason(s) why our corner person is there.
Peer pressure. Self-righteousness. A sincere desire to help people.
There are probably more, but that'll do for now. There's no need to fill out these categories more than we already have. The main point, again, is that it's not directed by God that the Walk contain evangelism.
One point of confusion is we ARE to "get the Word out." As usual, Satan has twisted this Truth a bit to make it of none effect. In three major areas is this confusion. The object, the method and the content.
The Method is what we've been discussing. We don't know how to get the word out, to Whom that word is to go and What that word really is.
I'm not going to take a lot of time with this. But briefly, the Word is Jesus' Good News of the coming Kingdom of God here on earth; not salvation, as most want it to be. The Method is the same as used by the Holy Spirit. The Method must give the receiver 100% control over the intake. They must have absolutely no doubts about treating the information exactly as they see it. Like a radio show they don't like, they can just turn the knob. They don't have to feel bad or apologize to the radio. And most important, that word is to be made available to other believers. Non-believers are not addressed in Ephesians 4, where it outlines the work of the ministry.
That part of the Walk is hard enough, taking a lot of work dispensing with a lot of traditional thinking and action. The main thing I want to deal with is the foundation on which the Word is gotten out. What does it take to get the Word out? Let me remind you again, that ALL believers are tasked with the "work of the ministry." That means that it's not only the Pastor that gets out the word. Every person in the pew should have his own individual way of getting the Word out. Why?
Because getting the Word out is the way to accomplish the work of the ministry.
I guess we'd better read that passage in Ephesians four.
Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Eph 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Eph 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Let's skip over some of the extras and see the bare bones. It's clear that the saints are to do the work of the ministry. Skip. The end result is the last line. Until we all become like Christ. The work of the ministry is building up the believers until they become like Christ.
Notice that it's no different for the pastors, evangelists, prophets, etc, Everyone is building up the Body of Christ. Let's bring that down to the individual church. What's your Pastor preaching to you? I'd rather have a Pastor that was teaching, not preaching. We have to think about what it takes to be like Christ. That means we have to ask, "What was the most important thing Jesus did?" And why did he do it.
Yes, someone said, The crucifixion. The Why might be a bit harder to get right. He didn't die to save us. His death only opened the door to God for us. It allowed God to re-establish contact with humans, especially the House of Israel, the Ten "Lost" tribes.
He had divorced them and couldn't remarry unless He died. It was His own Law that said so. If Jesus didn't die to save us, what was the reason? It was his last great act of faithing on something God had said. ALL Jesus acts were in accordance with what God had said, either through nature or the written word. Jesus was "perfect" in one way. He always acted in Trust of God. He always did what God asked. He even did something God didn't task him to do. Being crucified was NOT part of Jesus mission on earth. He told God in the Garden that he'd done everything God had told him to do.
Jesus whole mission was to prove to an on looking world that God was real and could be trusted to overcome death. Acting in "faith" was the way to God and His coming Kingdom. Jesus' Trust is what fulfilled the Law. He said he came to fulfill it. He was the only one to ever do 100% of his actions according to the Law.
The only way a believer can Trust God is to have a solid belief in God's reality, like Jesus had. Now we're getting down to the part of the Walk that turns most people away, once they find out about it.
Why are most Christians running down the wrong track? They've been taught that way. They've been improperly taught to get out there on that corner. Their ego has been attracted to a Good Work. The same will go for offerings to the church. It'll be found that most pitches for giving have some kind of reward attached.
We are told to give to the orphans, while the top is skimmed off for "administration costs." We are told to give for a new piano or roof or educational wing or our name on a brick. And most insidious is that what we give will be multiplied 10 or 100 fold.
A lot of small town pastors have an outside job. There's barely enough in the Collection to pay the rent or utilities. Let me ask this: Wouldn't God help with the funding of getting the Word out? Wouldn't He set it up so that the expenses for getting the Word out would not be a problem? Yes, of course. He's said in more than one place that He'd bless the money and the giver. Then why are churches so poor? Please, let's not get into the mega churches that are obviously preaching something besides Trust in God.
I like to break giving down to the practical side. Sure we have heard that the giving isn't for God. He asks us to give for our own benefit. It teaches us obedience, and surrender. It also, over time, shows that God, indeed, does work in our lives. That's all true.
But there is a more practical reason. And I haven't heard this reason explained in the detail that I know. The people of the Bible were told to do all the sacrifices. But in all their instruction there is almost no mention of support for the Priesthood. And it seems rather hidden by the Laws of the Priesthood regarding what they could keep. I guess the people said, "Uh, I don't know. God said do it, so that's what we do. It's so our sins don't count." Why did God say give? To support the priesthood. Why? So they would have the time to study God and pass on the teaching to the people. And, of course, to help the people faithe with their sacrifices.
God has given us the privilege to join in His efforts to get the Word of the Kingdom out to edify other believers. But we have to do that the way God has it set up.
I'm convinced that Ephesians four tells us that we are not to evangelize, but to edify other Believers. The work of the ministry is the completing of the saints. The saints also do the "work of the ministry." That clearly means that we aren't to evangelize.
I believe that the saints should continue in study so that the Holy Spirit can "draw" someone to them to answer some particular question for that person. I also believe that saints are to make their knowledge available to others in a way that allows the receiver 100% control over the intake. But this can hardly happen face to face. It's easy with a book, a website, a blog, a radio show, a poster announcing Bible study.
The shepherd didn't stuff the grass down the sheep's throat. He just showed them good pasture.
Now we're at the individual level. We find that we are supposed to be proactive in making available information about God. The work of the ministry requires that believers participate. That's going to take money. The larger work of the ministry is paid for out of the offerings of the saints. The amount has never changed. It was first recorded in Genesis when Abraham met up with Shem, Noah's son. The Bible names him Melchizedek. He gave Melchizidek "tithes of all." And Jesus put his stamp of approval on tithing by telling the Pharisees that they were right to tithe.
God's formula for giving has always been the tithe. And the reason for the tithe has always been the building up of the saints. God requires tithing for anyone who wishes to help in the work of the ministry. The tithe isn't what you want it to be. It's a specific amount. Tithe isn't some generic word for giving. It means, literally, a tenth.
When was the last time you heard any preacher teach this about giving?. I've even had a preacher tell me that it was OK not to give. He cited Paul in First Corinthians, where he says that he didn't make the Corinthians give, so they wouldn't be able to come back at him later. What this young preacher didn't include was Paul's orders in Second Corinthians. He tells them he'll come with "a rod" if they haven't got their offerings ready. In almost every other letter Paul tells them to give to the teacher. He says that the preacher of the gospel "
lives" by the gospel. He means that they are sustained by offerings. Galatians six, six says, Let him that is taught in the word "communicate", which says in Greek, "share materially", with him who teaches, in all good things."
The Believer knows that all he has has been given to him by God. And many more tell you that, than act it out in their lives.
And most believers know the word stewardship basically means "taking care of things." But that's where the understanding stops. They think they are to take good care of the things God has given them. It's about the things, not God. WE have to ask, "Why has God given us this stuff? Does He supply our food only so we can live today? Does He give us good crops so we can trade for the things we can't grow? Did He allow that back problem so you could have some time off from work? This Stewardship thing is about every little detail of our lives.
Stewardship of our life is using it for God. Our whole life, not just Sunday morning and prayer meeting night. And in my opinion, prayer meeting night is suspect. Remember the principle is using the action for God. There are a lot of folks going to a prayer meeting that's more about how many people can be prayed for or who can pray the longest. Then the bored listeners become the prey, prey with an "E" not an "A".
The sure knowledge, understanding and salvation of God that has been given to us is to be increased. Our stewardship is doing something, all things, that will help others gain that same knowledge and understanding.
God is looking for spiritual increase. He doesn't need the money or anything else we can give Him. He's looking in others for the change of spirit that happened to you. And He expects you to help get that change out to someone else. God only uses the physical money to accomplish the task. You send your tithe to your teacher to help him get the word to others.
You've heard me say that the Believer will be giving back to God 25% of everything that comes in. It came from God, didn't it? Whatever you tithe, God has said that He'll take care of you for that. No matter what you are doing now, your goal is that 25%. Think of it this way. God gives us what we need,(what He knows we'll need), plus 25%. See, it's not about money, it's about needs. Many times needs are met with less or no money changing hands.
Christian giving isn't about what you can get back from God. But I dare you to find any TV preacher that will own up to that. They've got all the gimmicks in the world to get you to send them money.
Christian giving is an action happily performed by the Believer.
The part that turns a lot of people off is that they can't tell the recipient of their giving what to do with the money. That's not God's way. God's way is "No stings attached." Total, 100% surrender of the money, the self. And don't you know that that's one of the basic lessons of the Believer? Trust God, 100%.
The Believer's Walk is expensive. Anything you do to further God's knowledge, etc., is going to cost you some money. We have been given stewardship over more than our paycheck. We are expected to do more than just tithe our money in that same stewardship. We are to use the talents that God gave us in stewardship. We are expected to use our time and energy. Again, what is that stewardship? It's using the Whatever to help others obtain the knowledge and understanding that God has given us.
Listen. Wouldn't you like to help someone have that same feeling you had when you woke up? You know, that first minute that you really realized God and knew that all that stuff you'd heard was true. That's a high you wont' find in the drug store.
So, after the tithe is done, we put up a web page, write a book, open a Bible study. Everyone can't do the same thing, but God has already given you the talent that you can use. He's been getting you ready for this particular moment in time. As a true Believer, make that idea a reality, not just a neat thing to say. Your whole past was leading up to this very moment. Admit that and surrender to God. He's taken you this far. He's able to finish the process of making you His Child.
I want to dissect the parable of the pound from Luke 19:11-27:
We need to see that giving is way more than just putting money in the plate. It's only a small part of the total Believer's Walk. It only helps grease the wheels of God's Wagon.
Here's a quick read thru.
- Luk 19:12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
- Luk 19:13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
- Luk 19:14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
- Luk 19:15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
- Luk 19:16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.
- Luk 19:17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
- Luk 19:18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
- Luk 19:19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.
- Luk 19:20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:
- Luk 19:21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.
- Luk 19:22 And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:
- Luk 19:23 Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?
- Luk 19:24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
- Luk 19:25 (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)
- Luk 19:26 For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.
- Luk 19:27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
That's a complete story of what Jesus will do. He goes to heaven to receive his Kingdom, and tells the Believers to "occupy" until he comes back. We have to remember that the word we see, the word "occupy" doesn't mean sit around waiting. The Greek word means trade. Verse fifteen plainly said gained by trading. Jesus expects us to be "trading" to increase what he's given us. He gave us his gospel and told us to help complete other saints so as to show some increase in what he gave us.
I relate the third guy to someone who doesn't even tithe and still thinks he's OK. That kind that puts a twenty in the plate, and is proud of it. That third guy didn't do anything at all with what he was given. No increase.
Now, again, the definition of stewardship is not just keeping something God has given you the same as when He gave it to you. Stewardship contains "increase." Whatever it is, you make it better. You see, this goes for everything you own. If you can say that God gave you everything you have, then that hole in the front porch should be repaired, made better.
As I said, this parable covers Jesus' whole history. What happened to those who didn't accept him as King? In the parable they said we won't be governed by that king. The ruler said, "bring hither, and slay them before me."
Jesus came, gave us God and returned to heaven. One day he'll come back and we will be asked to give account for what he left with us. Anyone who didn't accept Jesus good news of the coming Kingdom of God, won't be allowed in. If you don't accept what Christ told us, you die.
Now, I want to finish up with what Paul says to those Corinthians about giving. He's explaining to them what the "grace of God" looks like in the daylight. You find this in 2 Corinthians 8, verses 1 through 9. He uses the Philippian church as an example of what happens when the Spirit of God, the grace", is present in Believers. It's only nine verses. Let me read that. And remember that when Paul says "grace" he's talking about the implantation of God's Spirit in the Philippians.
- 2Co 8:1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
- 2Co 8:2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
- 2Co 8:3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
- 2Co 8:4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
- 2Co 8:5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
- 2Co 8:6 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.
- 2Co 8:7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.
- 2Co 8:8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.
- 2Co 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
So, Paul's says that the grace of God was shown to be in the Philippians by their begging him to receive an offering, even though they were very poor. He says this comes from the Spirit of God, the Grace. And then tells the Corinthians that he wants to prove that they have the same Spirit of God. Their giving will be the proof.
In other words, if you've got the Spirit of God, you'll be a giver. But, let's analyze that. It's deeper than it looks. You see, many folks start out trying to do it right, but don't really have the Spirit to help them. The new comer may tithe for a while, but not seeing what they expect from their giving, not seeing their money blessed, like they've been told it would, they give it up. Without the Spirit's help it's near impossible to give even the first tenth. What Paul is really saying is that a person can't give God's way, consistently, over a long period of time without the Spirit of God inside them. What we have to do is notice the timeline of a person's Walk.
It's not a catch 22, but sounds like it. Giving God's way is a faithing act. A faithing act brings the Spirit. You can't give without the Spirit, but giving brings the Spirit. After the conversion experience, the person has the Spirit. This happens before any giving takes place, but founds any future giving. That is, as long as the Spirit is renewed. It's not like once the Spirit is in, it's in for all time. That's the Once Saved Always Saved false doctrine.
I believe that it takes a while before the Believer can recognize God's hand in their lives. And especially giving takes longer, because, as said, it doesn't mean only money. It's about needs being met. When someone shows up with a free turkey at Thanksgiving, that meets a bunch of needs. Don't think that giving 25% of what comes in is going to help you win the lottery.
You know, we might not be able to give together on the radio, but we can do some faithing and get a bit of the Grace that the Philippians had, God's Spirit in our bodies. Let's take Communion. It's definitely an action based in God's word. Communion is faithing. There are two elements at God's Table and they each have their specific function. Jesus explained what these two thing symbolized. The bread symbolizes his body. The wine symbolizes his blood.
The bread is for the healing of our bodies. Isaiah and Peter both say that our sickness and infirmities were put on Jesus, by the physical hurt he endured, his "stripes". This opened the door to God's healing. Let's take the bread and talk a little faith by saying it in the past tense, By his stripes,….I WAS healed. In Jesus' name.
The wine, heals our souls. Many times it's said that Jesus' death would make it possible for God to overlook our imperfections. Jesus provided us with a way back to God. He made it OK for us to ask God for help. Take the wine now, and thank God for His grace, In Jesus' name.
1-I don't know what your situation is today, but If you call yourself a Believer, it's time to assess your Walk and start doing it God's way.
2-If you want to talk about giving or anything else, STAG is a comfortable place to do that. We're at 88 Briceland Rd. in Redway. The number is 707 923 ALLY (2559.) On the web it's STAG.WS and it's STAG@ASIS.com for email.
3- I'll be back here on Feb 3rd. I hope you can make it too.
4-If you want to start off the new year by helping God build up other Believers, find a teacher and start giving. It says that "God loves a hilarious giver."
5-And God's promised provision is really true, because God is real and does all the stuff He says He will.
This is Jack, Bye.
I love mail.