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November 12, 2020 7:00 am
God's to be generous with the resources he's given, but that generosity flows out of our relationship with him. They first gave themselves more giving that is God honoring his giving that is ultimately proceeding from the overflowing of a life that is entirely devoted to God. The worst thing that any church or pastoral team could ever do is encourage people to give and it doesn't really matter how you're getting along God wants his people giving financially to your church is an act of worship. It flows from your relationship with God. It's not just an obligation to fulfill. Just like the other things you do when you worship things like prayer or singing or being taught from God's word giving can become just another thing that we do. But if we really want to honor God through our giving will learn to do it is an act of worship will see how today.
This is wisdom for the heart and here's our Bible teacher, Stephen, Dave, for these past several months we've been addressing the subject of the church and when I began.
I mentioned this was a highly personalized series of studies. Even though, as I've mentioned, we have people watching the lifestream in different parts of the country of the world on any Sunday morning were still really not talking to them were talking to us. This is for us. These are significant days for our church as we have clarified our documents our Constitution and bylaws and we will be affirming those in January as a church body will give you a little more information on the specific dates but you have picked up.
Perhaps your copy and because were a Bible believing church.
The significance of this isn't lost on any of us when it comes to documentation we want to make sure were ransacking the Scriptures, especially the New Testament epistles to determine as to whether or not were following what we have been given by our Lord and and I don't about you but I've been struck all over again with the significance of the local church. The primacy of the local church in the redemptive purposes and plan of God. The foundation of the church upon the word of God.
The fact that this phrase on my pulpit soul is from Torah is indeed something that were committed to the Scriptures alone out of the Scriptures, our basis for what we believe in and how we live. I had a gentleman come to me last Sunday. Not sure which hour was after the first or second or this third service of time becomes a blur to me, but came up to me in the hallway between services and he paid really the highest compliment any under shepherd wants to hear and wanted me to share with our other elders. He said I got a copy couple weeks of the Constitution and bylaws as rewritten and I want you to know I took it home and I read every word of it and wherever you had a Scripture reference. We have a lot of probably well over 100.
I looked every reference and read every text I thought that guy.
EE deserves you know a reward in heaven. For that, I mean how many of you can say you've read every word.
One how many of you picked up a copy. Thank you, good. I was really glad Lisa picked up a copy and that amazing what what he said to me was this thought was so encouraging. He said, as I read through that document and I looked at all of those references, it just struck me and I want you to thank the entire elder team, which I'm doing this morning for so carefully and so clearly following the Scriptures. That's the highest compliment any under shepherd to be. Any church any body of believers. This is a commendation to you to that we would care that much about the Scriptures try to define who we are and what we believe, based on God's word down the last few weeks we've covered with churches throughout the centuries of culture's covenants church covenant. Traditionally involves a covenant of conduct and commitment to doctrine to two lifestyle that effectively honors and glorifies our Lord and in our new Constitution and bylaws we've attempted to make everything clear with sort of dropped the formality of the language and if you do choose to open that cover and read a little bit but I hope it's clearer to you.
It isn't so legally is an so formal because we we we really wanted to be understandable because it doesn't do any good for not to be clear what we did things we did is we rewrote that covenant goes back to the original days and and we crafted them according to promises and if you been with us for a few weeks. You notice that we've been basically going through these promises that we first made in terms of our own personal conduct and promises as a relates to our church in a relationship of the church and then will get to eventually promises related to our community, and I want you to know were using the word promise because that's really what it is but that also implies that this is really our desire. It doesn't mean that any of us however perfectly fulfill these promises. Okay were not interested in perfection, which is a good thing right.
Only Christ is, but we are interested in progression that is this is this is our pattern. This is what were pursuing.
I've use the expression that this is the direction in which our toes are pointed okay and then really having your life and mine. A lot of times what what matters isn't certainly perfection, but which way are you heading and if there is ever a time in the culture in the country in a world where the church ought in the direction it's toes are pointing in its today so we have attempted to clarify as best as we we can affect the text came to me this week where Peter is telling the believers in second Peter he says this he says apply all diligence and in your faith supply he's he saying add to pursue moral excellence and in your moral excellence. Add to that knowledge and in your knowledge. Add self-control in the self-control add perseverance and perseverance. Add godliness in the godliness, brotherly kindness and the brotherly kindness, make sure you're adding love for. Here's the key text for if these qualities are yours or you are increasing in them because we never arrive.
Then they will render you neither useless nor unfruitful. If there is anything I church would never want to be or become is useless and unfruitful. These are the promises were making one another were effectively saying we want to add all of these things we want to pursue all of these things. This is the direction were facing. This is where our toes are pointing, so to speak, and we don't want to be useless or unfruitful. Just throw that in this personal comment to your been encouraging to me, have had a number of people in our staff have had a number of people say we want to join.
It's like the more we lay this out. It doesn't drive people away clarifies what we believe in people asked about the process of joining and so I mentioned earlier we might do this.
We just decided we will so we will offer another greenhouse class this semester coming up. It will start in January, so if you're on the edge or you really did mean what you said when you said you'd like to take it, please call the office go online register under the page.
Join and I'll meet you on Wednesday nights beginning in January and if you're thinking what my schedule.
My work schedule or my children or whatever. We are now offering this live streaming for you and this was very helpful. We offered it last semester and number of people took it that way or missed the session or even traveled and logged on. That way you don't have to join if you take the class but if you want to join. You have to to be the most exciting 12 weeks of your life. Well so far in our Sunday morning study. We looked at a number of key issues related to our conduct in a relationship with the church we've addressed. We are, what is the church we've answered the question, why do you ever join a church. Why would you why the church actually exists. Why are we here widen the largest take us after we come to faith.
I will we've addressed who has the final word. And if you're wondering the final word is the word of God.
We've also talked about what makes us different from the world. We talked about how we are to treat one another or to relate to one another way we we've talked about how to get along with each other last Lord's day. We talked about how and why we discipline the unrepentant from us now if I hadn't come down with a cold and I can talk we would've been finished, but because of that were going to finish the 10th promise today and it is simply this. We promise to financially support the church through faithful, cheerful and sacrificial stewardship that we've attached several passages. Should you decide to look any of these and you can read these at your leisure to sort of draw from them. Principles about the subject of stewardship from our understanding of New Testament principles in our understanding of of what Christ would be would be pleased with this promise that your reading is very carefully worded to communicate a biblical perspective suddenly break it down into three principles. First there is the principle of faithfulness. We promise to support the church through stewardship that is faithful which which by the way, immediately indicates it should indicate or imply that when we give we are effectively faithful not to anybody or any institution or a jerk ultimately were faithful to Christ were faithful to him that the apostle Paul writes of the eagerness and faithfulness of the Macedonians who wanted to give to the needs of believers. In fact, believers living in another city and another church, and he uses them as a testimony to come up for the Corinthians, along he so he says let me give you a story. Let me tell you an illustration about some other believers in the course the application would be the hearts of the grimace. Let's just cut a drop in there.
Would you with me. Second Corinthians, just look at chapter 8 for a few moments and then look at the way he describes these Macedonian believers. He says I can just sort of jump in the verse three all back up to verse two in a minute but it but he begins to describe them and he says I testify that according to their ability second Corinthians 8 verse three according to their ability and then beyond their ability. They gave of their own accord. I noticed this in verse four, begging us with much in 3D for the favor that is the privilege of participation in the support of the St., can you imagine anybody begging to give to some cause is one thing to be excited about some cause it's another thing to be interested but can you imagine or say look tall when you do that when you take that gift, please don't think you've gotten our please don't do that.
Don't leave us out of it. We want to be involved in it. Then Paul makes this rather telling statement in verse five he says you need to know that this wasn't what we expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and the new us by the will of God.
They gave themselves first to the Lord giving that is God honoring his giving that is ultimately proceeding from the overflowing of a life that is entirely devoted to God and in the worst thing that any church or or pastoral team could ever do is encourage people to give and it doesn't really matter how you're getting along with God. Be horrible. Fact is a church ministry. We've been very reticent to ask the community to give us any money. That's what we we we don't do the community. Bake sales in the Carson's because we really, as we discussed, this is not, and we don't want to ask the world to give money to us that we will give to the Lord will bring to do that because what matters above and beyond any gift is the hearts we want people to come to know him as they come to know him and drawing him developing her discipleship and begin to give you rights.
Further, he says not now. Speaking of his command. This is a commandment to make here but but this is to prove the earnestness of your love. That's where it comes to bear. This really does reveal who we are looking verse 11 but now finished doing you've started yes. Not now finish it. There's readiness in you. I'm grateful for that but but don't just be ready to do it. Don't just talk about doing it. Don't just desire to do it but complete it. He writes by your ability. In other words, be ready and and that's a good thing. Be faithful, but act act on Irving is sitting in church.
I made sure that I can remember from years ago I did but I remember sitting terms of my brothers. I two brothers. I don't think the youngest was born, but sitting and charging so I can still see it. I was about 10 years old and I was sitting about three rows from the front and my older brother to my right and my younger brother to my left to me.
We call them I'm Stevie and Danny, at any rate, we agree that eventually, but Jimmy was sitting there and and and and and mom and dad in the offering plate came by and antennae took off that little clip on skinny necktie that he had put it in the offering plate of plastic to me and I and I didn't have time either passive and in it went down until mom got it stopped and she leaned forward, she recognizes she dressed. She she leaned forward and effectively simply to be responded with just total is about five years old just total innocence. He said well the pastor said to give your ties. I promise you that happen really mean. How is that for this wonderfully responsive. He said it okay. He probably was glad herein of and frankly but David surrendering that it is reflected in his heart always was very giving values with the Lord giving that honors God carries this this element of eagerness and and and submission that translates into faithfulness, not because to but I just really want only follow that up quickly with the second principle is the principle of cheerfulness.
For those of the older the faith. You know exactly what I'm talking but what we when we write this here to financially support the church you faithful, cheerful, giving up your new in the faith you get to think cheerful.
Once I got to do with anything. Well, I remember being in a church in East Africa by the way, in a Third World context in the block building a tin roof in the hundred plus people packed into it.
I was on a little platform and and and my sermon will be translated.
They were speaking a language I didn't know and something people begin to cheer me literally stood up and clapped me they were so excited. I thought what in the world and here came the ushers during these long poles little sacks attached to the they would come and feed down the row.
They were cheering because they now had the opportunity to give something to God deeply convicted Paul wrote this text to the Corinthians in chapter 9 second Corinthians in verse seven.
Let each one due just as he purposed in his heart, not grudgingly, that is, I hate to or under compulsion. I guess I have to miss has the sense of not necessarily that you have the responsibility that you really want to maintain. This is the attitude of I have to be at. I really don't want for God loves a cheerful giver which finally reverses that everything you might think about giving because what matters to God, then, is the attitude with which we give something not the amount of what we gave that I've said it before and I want to say it again. Don't give if you hate to don't give if you have to. You don't want to give because you can't wait to that's opinion spirit that I saw a W toes are clarified the perspective when he reminded me that I read him that as earthy, you know, earthy is money. It's as earthy as it is it it it it can be converted for whatever is given to Christ is touch with immortality. I mean, the results can be forever church has to be careful, it can, it can create givers out of obligation and I want you to know, and against his personal this is awesome. Okay this this is one of the reasons I do not come after during the offering or before the offer. I made up my mind years ago and I'm not I'm not I'm not saying negative things and disparagingly about other pastors who, but I just decided I would go to, or before the offering whole of the envelope or or or give you a story.
I just want to error on the side of this is you giving because you can't wait to give to Christ. This is what Paul would say this is the direction we want to go in. It amazes me. I share this with both hours and I've had people every hour come up and say we heard the same thing. I had two different couples in greenhouse class II different classes in the last couple of years independently of each other. They didn't know each other and they came up with the same rumor and it came up in and told me effect after our session on New Testament giving, which I spent a couple of sessions on the subject, explaining the tithing, the word time disappears when you get into the New Testament.
That is the establishment of the church and it is all grace giving it is what God moves your heart to give and then you happen to pay taxes to. Just as in the Old Testament usually paid taxes. That's the word for time really in about 25% of their annual income that went to times more than one time. I've never heard a pastor tell me that I was taught as one is actually more than one you want Adam. At any rate, you have the same in the night and then they gave overflowing gifts of grace defined the same thing in the New Testament repair taxes and we give overflowing gifts of grace out of out of love for the Lord, but any rate they they came up to me and they said after the sessions. They said you know we really came here skeptical to colonial and we came to this class and we were expecting you to teach something differently until she were to do it differently because of what we've heard several what did you hear I know there are a lot of rumors out there some hurts of a painful summer heretical summer tragic and I couldn't believe this will was really interesting thing another way to put they said well we had close friends tell us that it's okay to attend just on joint Salina. They said we were told by our friends that if you join the pastor is going to require that you give him a copy of your most recent 1040 tax return so that he can evaluate so that you can prove that you are giving to the church to couples hadn't had a man in and come up to me after one of the RCI was told the same thing that your pastor requires a 1040 so he can know for sure you're giving to the church. I thought that was a brilliant idea, but I think it know if I got joking and is going to go out there yeah it's true it is. It is not true rumor. I can assure you. Couple of things and what I don't even know what you give. I do not know what you just established the system going back to the days now 2027 years ago when we hired our first pastor and I drove them immediately to the bank as it is going to be your signature on this bank account and you're going to deposit the money. I am out of it church was three years old. I do not know what you wanted. Secondly, the only tax returns that I have ever looked at to evaluate charitable giving are ours and the reason that's important because those principles are leased in the way I've try to practice them as your pastor teacher is that I don't want you to ever give thinking you're giving to me or or even this church because ultimately, though, you do get to the church you are giving to Christ. It would be pitiful to be led to give to man.
How shortsighted would that be. We have been given immortality. We have been given forgiveness. We have been given grace, we been given the promise of the coming kingdom where we will be dressed in royalty as rotating serving along with him.
We have no idea.
The apostle wrote of the glory that he is reserved to be revealed in us. He's back already. So the false promise of prosperity theology you just give it judges can give you back all the more God will meet your need sacrificial giving does not make a demand on God's bribery simply responding to his grace for what he's already given as you were listening to Stephen today. Much of what he had to say was very personal and related specifically to the church he pastors.
But I trust that the principles from God's word regarding giving will help and encourage you. You're listening to wisdom for the heart with Stephen Devi. Today's lesson is called what we give away. It's part of a series of lessons on the church that Stevenson titled upon this rock. If God's using the teaching you hear on this program to encourage you. We sure love to hear about it. You can write to us that wisdom for the hearts. PO Box 37297, Raleigh, NC 27627 that's wisdom for the heart PO Box 37297, Raleigh, NC 27627. You can also contact us through our Facebook page or through our website which you'll find that wisdom online.org. We recently heard from Greg, who listens to us from Alabama. He wrote I use your sermons to help me lead my seventh through 12th grade boys Sunday school class helped me immensely, and I've grown so much since. When I first began listening. I look forward to receiving heart-to-heart devotionals each morning and gleaning and growing from the articles. Thanks, Greg Greg's referring to a monthly resource that we send as a gift to all of our wisdom partners. Each monthly issue of heart-to-heart features articles from Steven and a daily devotional guide written by Stephen son, Seth, as I said it's a resource we sent to all of our partners but we be happy to send you a few issues so that you can see it for yourself. Just call us at 86 648 Bible and will take it from there. Again, that's 866-482-4253 and as always join us tomorrow for more wisdom for the