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Life of Paul Part 36-The Principle of Worship-Handling Money God's Way

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
July 6, 2020 7:00 am

Life of Paul Part 36-The Principle of Worship-Handling Money God's Way

So What? / Lon Solomon

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July 6, 2020 7:00 am

Handling Money God's Way

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Hey, good morning everybody. How are you?

Thanks so much for being here today. Hey, Philippians chapter 4, and we're going to be coming there in just a minute, but first, if I were to ask you in Major League Baseball, who is it that owned the record for the most consecutive games played? We'd all know the answer. Who is it? Cal Ripken Jr.

Right, okay. Now what about if I were to ask you in NASCAR racing, who owns the most consecutive races in Winston Cup races started without a break? Does anybody know who that is? Ricky Rudd. Very good.

I am really impressed. Ah, is that something? Do you hear what he said, Ricky Rudd?

In fact, this past weekend at the Coca-Cola 600, Ricky Rudd set a brand new NASCAR record, having now started 656 consecutive races, a streak that dates all the way back to 1981. Well, he was interviewed in Newsweek magazine a couple weeks ago, and the reporter asked him about the times that he came the closest to not actually making a race. Here's what he said, and I quote. He said, once I tore the MCL, the ligament in my left leg, and the orthopedic surgeon wanted to operate and put me in a cast for six weeks.

That was not the answer I wanted. So I got a little physical therapy and a knee brace, and I was back in the car within a couple of days. I couldn't use my left leg, however, so my team built me a hand-operated clutch so that I could drive. Now can you imagine going 155 miles an hour with a hand clutch?

I don't think so. He said, but the closest I ever came to missing a start was when, in a 1984 accident, I ruptured all the capillaries in my eyes. My eyes looked like a horror film. I literally had blood dripping out of my eyes, but I was back in the car for the next week's start. My face was so swollen that when the car went through a corner, all the fluid would go into my eyelids, and my eyelids would puff up and close so I couldn't see. So the way we fixed this is that we used duct tape, and we, no listen, and we duct taped my eyelids to my forehead so that they would stay open. Now I can't even imagine how you would do that.

How do you duct tape your eyelids to your forehead? What a guy. Well anyway, they asked him about the impact that all of this had had on his family, and he said, my son is seven years old.

When he caught his first fish at age four, it was with a neighbor. I was off racing. You know folks, to worship something means to put something first in our life. To make something number one in our life. And every single human being alive worships something. In order to find out what people worship, it's really easy to do. All we have to do is watch the way that person acts, the choices that person makes, the priorities that that person sets, and the object of their worship will usually become plain as day, as we've just seen Ricky Rudd worships NASCAR racing. Now the problem is that Jesus didn't say in the Bible, you shall worship NASCAR and serve it alone.

Jesus said in the Bible, you shall worship the Lord your God and serve him alone. And that brings us to the subject of what we want to talk about today. We're in a short series entitled Handling Money, God's Way.

Remember the deal, I made you a deal when we started this. The deal was, we're going to talk about money for a couple of weeks but I'm not going to ask you for a cent, and that deal still goes, because the purpose of this series is not to raise money from McLean Bible Church. The purpose of this series is to educate you and me as to the principles in the Bible for handling money in a way that honors God and that brings maximum blessing to our lives.

And so we're all we're trying to do is educate ourselves here. We're working out of Philippians chapter four. Remember Paul was in jail in Rome. The Philippians sent him an offering.

In response, he writes them back a thank you letter. We call it today the book of Philippians. And in chapter four, he gives us all the principles we need to build a biblical system of resource management. There are four principles here. Number one, the principle of contentment. We've already covered that. Principle number two, the principle of investment.

We've already covered that. Today we're going to cover the principle of worship and then next week we finish it up and we're done. Okay, so let's dig in verse eighteen, Philippians chapter four. I have received everything in full and have an abundance, Paul writes. I am amply supplied having received from Epaphroditus the gifts that you sent.

Now Epaphroditus is a man. He's the individual who carried this offering from the Philippians to Rome and gave it to Paul. And Paul says he's given me your generous offering and because of that I am amply supplied. But I want you to see how Paul goes on and describes this offering of the Philippians. He says in the end of the verse, they, that is the monetary gifts you sent me, are a fragrant offering and acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. Now this is kind of a strange way to describe an offering, that it is a fragrant offering and acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. He said why does Paul use language like that? Well it's because he's using the imagery of the Old Testament sacrificial system.

These are terms that come out of the Old Testament describing in the Old Testament when a worshiper would bring an offering to the temple in Jerusalem, they would take the animal, kill the animal, burn its meat as a sacrifice to the Lord and as that aroma drifted up into the heavens, the Old Testament referred to it as a fragrant aroma, a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. Now all this reminds me of the Chinese food restaurant right near the gym where I go to. See I love Chinese food and the reason I love Chinese food is because I'm Jewish.

Do you laugh? Asian people do not keep Chinese food restaurants in business, Jewish people do and if you don't believe that's true you walk into P.F. Chang's any day at lunch and just yell mazel tov and 30 people will yell back thank you very much. You watch. In fact over in Bethesda in the most kosher neighborhood anywhere in Washington, there is right in the middle of this neighborhood a Chinese restaurant, a kosher Chinese restaurant and the name of the restaurant is Moisture Dragon.

No I'm not kidding you. I'm serious, Moisture Dragon and it's good food. You go over there and eat sometimes. Anyway, this Chinese restaurant right near my gym, I'm walking across the parking lot and I mean I don't know what they're cooking but sometimes I have literally stopped in my tracks and said unbelievable. That is the best thing I've ever smelled in my whole life.

Now haven't you ever been walking somewhere by a restaurant and you smelled some aroma coming out and it just stopped you dead in your tracks and you went wow that is awesome. What the Bible is telling us is that this is exactly how Almighty God felt about these sacrifices in the Old Testament as the aroma went up into heaven and the Apostle Paul tells us here in Philippians 4 that when we as followers of Christ give to the work of God here on earth the way the Philippians had done, our giving is a fragrant offering, a pleasing aroma just like these Old Testament sacrifices were that brings enormous joy to the heart of God. Now folks in order to really understand the imagery that Paul's using here let's go back for a minute into the Old Testament and let's remind ourselves the basics of the Old Testament system of sacrifices. In the Old Testament in the to the temple in Jerusalem there were two kinds of sacrifices you could bring as a Jewish person. The first kind were sacrifices for sin. When a person realized they had sinned against God, that they had offended God, that they had caused a breach in their relationship with God, this Jewish person would bring an animal to the temple in Jerusalem, the priest would kill the animal, take the animal's blood and apply it to the altar there in the temple as a symbol of the blood of Christ that would one day be shed on the cross and in response God promised in the Bible he would forgive this person's sin, he would wipe away their offense, he would restore the relationship between the two of them. Now today in New Testament times there's no longer any need for animal sacrifices, the need has been eliminated because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for us.

Listen to what the Bible says, Hebrews 10. He, Jesus Christ, offered one sacrifice for sin for all time and by his one sacrifice he, the Lord Jesus, has made perfect forever those of us who place our trust in him. Now, where there is forgiveness like this, no sacrifices for sin are needed any longer. The reason you and I as followers of Christ today don't get on airplanes and fly to Jerusalem and have goats and bulls and lambs in the cargo section with us that were taken over there to sacrifice. The reason we don't do that anymore is because our sin, our offenses, have been paid for in full by what the Lord Jesus Christ did for us on the cross, period, period, and period.

We don't need to do this anymore. That's why God refers to Jesus in the Bible as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world because of what he did on the cross. If you're here today and you've never trusted Christ as your real and personal Savior, let me just say to you that not only are animal sacrifices no longer needed for our offenses to be forgiven before God, but animal sacrifices won't even work anymore. Ever since the Lord Jesus, the ultimate Lamb of God, shed his blood on the cross to pay for our offenses, that's the only price God accepts anymore. So if you're trying to reach a situation where your offenses are forgiven by God and the breach between you and God is repaired, nothing would make God happier than for you to get there.

But friends, you've got to offer him the payment that works. Religious works don't work. Being a good person, that's not the payment God accepts. Animal sacrifices in Jerusalem, that's not the payment God accepts anymore.

It is Jesus Christ and what he did on the cross and our willingness to trust and embrace that as our own. Now there's another kind of animal sacrifice that was practiced in the Old Testament, and these were worship sacrifices. This is when a person wanted to thank God, praise God, tell God how much they loved him and how devoted they were to him. They would also bring an animal to the temple. But the priest, when he killed this animal, instead of taking its blood and putting it on the altar, he didn't do that.

Instead, he took the meat of this animal and he burned it and the fragrant aroma for the filet mignon, you know, cooking, drafted on up into heaven. And this was a worship offering that the Bible says would be a fragrant aroma in the nostrils of Almighty God that brought real joy was well pleasing to God. Now today in New Testament times, these worship sacrifices are still around. It's just that they've changed form.

They've changed format. Peter says 1 Peter 2-5, today we are to offer up to God spiritual sacrifices of worship. We don't offer literal sacrifices anymore, physical sacrifices.

We don't take animals to Jerusalem and kill them anymore. We now offer spiritual sacrifices. And here in Philippians 4, the Apostle Paul tells us that one of these spiritual sacrifices of worship that we can offer God today is financial giving to God and to the work of God. You say, Lon, why is giving to God an act of worship?

Well, I don't understand. Well, because friends, when we as followers of Christ give money to the Lord, when we give it freely, voluntarily, cheerfully, gladly, we're worshiping because we're telling God that He's number one in our life, that He's more important to us than money itself. And this is what worship is all about. Worship is just about telling somebody or something that they're number one in your life. We find this truth throughout the Bible, that giving to God is a form of spiritual worship. For example, Matthew chapter two, remember the story of the three wise men coming to see baby Jesus?

Well, what does it say? It says, and when they saw the child with his mother, Mary, they bowed down and they worshiped him. Now how did they do this? Did they sing, Oh, little town of Bethlehem?

No, look what they did. They opened their treasures and presented Jesus with gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. They gave him the most valuable items they had with them. And what does the Bible call this? Calls it worship.

Hey, how about Mark 14? While Jesus was in Bethany, a woman came with an alabaster box of very expensive perfume made from pure nard and she broke the jar and poured the perfume on the Lord's head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor. And they rebuked the woman harshly and Jesus said, leave her alone. Why are you bothering her?

For she has done a beautiful thing for me. You know how much this flask of perfume was worth? Well, the Bible says a year's wages. What would that be today?

$25,000, $50,000, $75,000. There's no doubt in my mind this was the most valuable commodity or item that this woman owned. I can't imagine owning anything else worth this much money. And she brought it and broke it and poured it all over the Lord. And the disciples said, why is she wasting it?

Jesus said, you guys just don't get it, do you? She's not wasting. She's worshiping. By giving me the most costly financial asset that she owned, she's trying to tell me that I'm worth more to her than that flask of perfume is. She's worshiping me. You say, okay, Lon, I think I got it.

I got it. The point today is whenever I give financially to the Lord, that God sees that as worship, right? That's the point.

Well, almost, almost. There's one little caveat we have to add. And to do that, I want to show you one other passage of scripture. Mark 12 says, verse 41, Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.

You get the picture here, right? One day Jesus goes up on the temple Mount, sits down next to the offering box and just observes everybody come in and putting their money in. Now, wouldn't that make for an interesting Sunday here at McLean Bible Church? If the Lord Jesus physically showed up and walked around with the offering bag personally and watch what every one of us put in, opened your envelopes, looked at your checks. Wouldn't that be an interesting Sunday? Might be a bigger offering.

I'm not sure, but we'll see. You know, but anyway, look what happens. Many rich people threw in large amounts, but a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins worth only a fraction of a penny and calling his disciples to him.

Jesus said, Hey, fellas, come here quick, quick, quick. I want to tell you something. This woman put more into the treasury than all these rich people did.

And you say, well, that's not true. She didn't put in more. She put in a half a penny, a quarter of a penny. Some of these guys put in hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars. Well, friends, you gotta understand God's method of accounting is different than the methods we use here on this earth. Here on this earth, we're very impressed by the outward amount of people's gifts. We hear that somebody gave $50,000, $100,000 to the work of God, and we go, Ooh, wow.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, pretty good. God's not the latest bit impressed. Friends, he wasn't impressed with what these guys gave. You see, what impresses God is not the amount we give, but the proportion that we give.

Look what he says. Mark 1244, all these people, these rich people gave out of their wealth. Jesus said it didn't cost them a thing to give what they gave.

They didn't have to compromise their lifestyle one bit to give what they gave. But this woman out of her poverty put in everything, all she had to live on. This woman doesn't even know where dinner's coming from because of the gift she made.

And friends, if you don't get anything else today, get what I'm about to say. What Jesus is telling us here is that all giving to God doesn't qualify as worship. All giving to God doesn't qualify as worship. What distinguishes widow's offering from the offering of all these rich people, what qualified her offering as worship and not theirs, is that her gift reached a threshold that their gifts never reached. And what is that threshold that her gift reached? Her gift cost her something. The rich people's gifts, they didn't cost them anything. But her gift cost her something.

She didn't know where dinner was coming from. And that impressed the Lord. Why is it that costing us something is the threshold we've got to get over for our giving to be worshiped? Well, very simply, because friends, when we are authentically giving in a way that there are things we're doing without, that there are things we are foregoing, that we would love to have, but we're giving them up and foregoing them so we can give to God as liberally as we're giving. That's when we're communicating to God that He's number one in our life, not these other things we could have bought with the money.

He's number one. And folks, that's what worship is all about. You say, Lon, you mean to tell me that even though I may be given hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars, tens of thousands of dollars a year to God, that God may not be actually regarding that as worship?

That's exactly what I'm telling you. You say, well, what about this tithe thing? I mean, I was taught, you know, 10%, you give a tithe, you give your 10%, you make God happy, He leaves you alone, and you can go spend the other 90% on whatever you want. That's what I was taught. Give God his 10, you do what you want with the 90. Well, friends, I hate to tell you this, but somebody taught you wrong.

Somebody taught you wrong. Do you know, in all of the New Testament, speaking to us as followers of Christ, not once, not once is tithing ever mentioned, much less commanded or taught. It's not in the New Testament.

You say, well, then what in the world is it then? Well, in the Old Testament, a tithe, which is an Old English word for one tenth or 10% of income was collected from every Jewish person, every Israelite, and it was income tax. It was used to support the temple in Jerusalem and to support the priests and the Levites who served the temple in Jerusalem. They didn't have a job. They served the temple. How did they get any money? Well, 10% income tax was collected from everybody that lived in Israel, and that money was given to the temple for the service of the temple and for the priest. You say, wow, only 10% income tax?

I should be Jewish. Well, they don't do that anymore. We have to pay income tax just like you do in America. But that's what they did back then. If you wanted to worship God, a tithe was not worshiping God. It was income tax. You had to go above 10% if you wanted to worship God. 10% wasn't worshiping God. Now, there's no temple to support today. There's no priests and Levites to pay their salary. There's no tithe today. It doesn't exist.

It's gone. And if some preacher taught you that you can give 10% to God, make God happy, he'll go away and leave you alone. You can do whatever you want with the other 90%. He taught you wrong. It's not what the Bible says at all. You say, well, then what guideline does the New Testament give me about how to decide what to give? I'll tell you. 1 Corinthians 16 2 says, give in proportion to how God has prospered you.

10% would be a lot easier, wouldn't it? But you see, there are two knobs you and I have to turn to decide what we need to give that was appropriate. Knob number one is how has God prospered me? And knob number two is where is it that my giving actually begins to cost me something and become sacrificial? Now, I can't turn those two knobs for you and you can't turn them for me. I can't tell you what to give.

You can't tell me what to give. But every one of us needs to get on our knees before God and turn those knobs till we hit a number that God and we agree on. And that's the right number for you.

And that's the right number when I do that for me. For many of us here, 2% giving is worship giving to God in light of how God has prospered us at this moment in time. And in light of the fact that even giving 2% of our income is going to cost us something 2% is appropriate giving for some of us 6% is worship giving for some of us 10% is worship giving and friends in light of how God has prospered some of us here 10% giving to God is an insult. It's an insult.

You have to decide that yourself. But just remember all giving to God is not worship. No, no, no. It's got to cost us something like the widow did for it to really qualify as worship. And please don't think you can buy God off with 10%.

No, no, no. Some of us 2% is fine. Some of us 10% is not even a good place to start.

You got to you got to pray about it and seek those numbers yourself. Now I hope what I've been able to do today is begin to change the whole way that you look at giving to try to put a whole new slant on it. You know, many of us grew up in churches where we were taught to see offerings as the way we support the church and the way we build buildings and the way we support ministry. We have preachers who get up and said we need to give to the church. We need to give to the building. We need to give to the missionaries. We need to give to this and the other thing. And that's how I was brought up in the early days of my Christian life. But friends, let me tell you something. When the focus of our giving is church and buildings and programs and people, there's no joy in it.

Who in the world wants to give to pay an electric bill? What kind of joy is that? That's giving out of duty, out of obligation, out of responsibility. And it is a drag.

It is a drag. I'll never forget about 10 years into my Christian life, I was reading the book of Exodus, Exodus 35 and Exodus 35 is all about building the tabernacle out in the wilderness. You know, after the Israelites have come out of Egypt and beaten Yul Brynner.

You understand what I'm saying? And they're out there and they're going to build this tabernacle. And Moses, seven times, Moses refers to this offering he's collecting. And it hit me for the very first time as I'm reading this, that not once does he refer to it as an offering for the tabernacle. Not once.

Well, you say that's what they were building. I know, but that's not what Moses called it. All seven times, you know what he calls it? An offering for the Lord. Seven times.

And man, I thought, why didn't I ever see this before? You know, the story tells us Moses collected so much money, he had to go back to the people and ask them to stop giving. He said, I got enough.

Don't give me any more. You ever heard a church do that? Yeah. Tell me about it. You ever heard of somebody on the radio saying, we got plenty of money. Don't send any, enjoy the program.

No. Well, I'm convinced part of the problem is we've taught people how to give wrong. Moses didn't put their focus on the tabernacle. That wasn't what he wanted them given to. He wanted them given to the Lord. And suddenly I realized 10 years into my Christian life, you know, when I sit down and write a check, I ought to put in the little line that says to who I'm making it out, I ought to put Jesus Christ in there. That's who I'm writing this check to. I'm not writing it to a church.

I'm not writing it to a building program. I'm writing this check to Jesus. Suddenly it occurred to me that when I put money in an offering plate, I ought to look at it as though the hand passing that offering plate had a nail scar right in the middle of it. Suddenly it occurred to me that when I'm giving to a church, a building program, a missionary outreach, campus crusade, fellowship of Christian athletes, a radio ministry, the house in Washington, that the intermediary object of my giving makes no difference. Doesn't matter what I'm actually giving to intermediary, that the real object of my giving is Jesus himself.

And so I started a new practice. I still do it 20 years later, whenever I sit down to write a check to the Lord, you know what to do? I sit down, I write it. And before I sign it, I say, sometimes out loud, if I'm not somewhere where people think I'm nuts, sometimes out loud, Lord, I just want to make sure we're all clear. I'm giving this to you.

This check may be made out to a church or maybe made out to a missionary organization, maybe made out to a building fund, doesn't matter. I'm giving this to you as an act of worship, as a way of telling you, Lord, that you mean more to me than money itself. In light of all you've done in my life, I just appreciate you so much.

It's a joy for me to give to you. And I'll drive an old car if I have to. And I'll sit on old furniture if I have to.

And Lord, I'll wear old suits if I have to. But I'm not gonna let anything compromise my giving to you. I'm willing to pay something.

I'm willing to pay a cost in order to give to you. And then I sign my check. I got to tell you something, I get a bang out of giving.

I get up and I feel great. I don't feel like I'm giving out of obligation or out of duty or out of responsibility. Who wants to give like that?

There's no joy in that. I gave freely. I gave voluntarily. I gave of my own free will. And I gave generously and freely, joyfully to the Lord Jesus. And I feel great. This concept totally changed by giving 20 years ago. It's never been the same since.

And I hope it'll do the same for you. I hope you'll understand that no place in the New Testament ever, ever, ever does God command you to give Him a sin. Do you realize that?

Never. You know why? Because if He commands you to do it and you do it, it's duty. It's obligation. It's responsibility.

There's no joy there. God leaves it up to you. What does He say?

He loves a cheerful giver. It's up to you. It's voluntary.

You do what you want. But if you give to God, remember, you're giving to God as a way of worshiping Him. And in order for it to count, it's got to cost you enough that He knows you're putting Him ahead of your own creature comfort.

That's the threshold. My goal in doing this series is to teach all of us how to give to God in a way that is biblical. And this lies at the heart of it, friends. When you write a check and you give to the Lord, I want you to get a bang out of it.

I mean, I really do. I want you to sit there and go, I am so jazzed to give this check. Now, I don't think the average Christian sits there and says that after they write a check.

But you know what? That's what God wants you to feel because you're worshiping Him. And I pray this will change the way you look at giving, completely change the way you even think about giving and that God will bring real joy into your giving because you're giving as an act of worship.

Let's pray. Lord Jesus, as we've mentioned throughout this series, whenever the church talks about money, people get nervous because churches have manipulated people. They've taken advantage of people.

They've used people. We understand that. I just pray you would confirm in people's hearts what my real motive is in doing this little series, that it's not to do any of these things. It's not to get more of their money. It's to bring all of us to the place where the Philippians were, that we understand the principles of biblical giving. And Lord, that there's a joy and an excitement about it, as well as a blessing for our families and for us. So Lord Jesus changed the very way we look at giving because of this short series. Make us like the Philippians, who, as Paul said, begged Him for the privilege of giving to the collection He took up for the saints in Jerusalem. They begged Him to give because they really understood what giving was all about. Make us those kind of people, I pray. Lord, help us find a real joy in giving to You. And we pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-10 07:31:16 / 2023-06-10 07:43:17 / 12

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