unday worship was at 1:30 in the afternoon so we could give our best to God.
Sound Doctrine Church was remarkably busy and productive in the community.
Persecution and prosecution of one individual that was setup drove Sound Doctrine Church out of town.
Sermon: Giving that * was* at Sound Doctrine Church
– the church is no longer in existence –
Giving At Sound Doctrine
These sermons are kind of frustrating for me in a lot of ways because I want to go deeper with the things we look at. It’s kind of like skipping stones where you’re just touching the surface of things. But I do want to talk about just the practical kinds of things and the way we’re going to conduct ourselves and what kind of people we’re going to be. In fact, I’ve got a sermon here for all of you about the Holy Spirit and giving that I would like for you to listen to during the week. And Thursday we’ll come together and talk about it and pray about it and just kind of begin to air a lot of things out. Because when you start talking about money you’re talking about a very touchy thing with most people because it is so close to the flesh. And even for those of us who think we don’t have a problem with it we really do. Because it’s so tied to the world and the flesh is so connected to it that God has to come along very powerfully and deal with it. In Luke 16:14 it says:
Luke 16:14 – The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.
Jesus is talking about money and hating and despising money and the reaction is just an emotional type of reaction. So when we begin to talk about hating and despising money and what kind of people God calls us to be usually a lot of people just kind of react with an emotional kind of response and say it’s ridiculous without any real thinking about what’s going on.
Luke 16:15 – He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”
I’ve been preaching for over nineteen years and this is one of the attitudes God has worked all those years to have an attitude of despising and hating money, finding it to be detestable. Tonight isn’t so much on what kind of attitude you should have as much as just talking about what the church should or shouldn’t do. You’re never going to find charts up here with a goal that says we need this much money and then we fill in the charts or put the little red crayon or whatever it is and try to reach a certain goal. You’re never going to have gimmicks promoted, never going to have anything brought to you that says if you give this amount of money you get this over here. These again are things I’ve done since day one that God has called me to preach. We’ve never done anything different than what I’m talking about today. So it wasn’t like halfway along the program that He changed things and went a different direction. And it’s not like you can expect five years from now for anything to be changed or any different unless there’s a lot of sin that’s happened in my life or the life of leadership. There’s never, ever going to be any hype to give or pressure to give or any twisting of the arms or appealing to the flesh in any way. In fact, I don’t even track what you give. I don’t have any idea right now as to who’s giving what or how much, I mean obviously there’s an accounting and I could keep track of that, I could go over and look, but I never cared to. For one thing, if your heart is right before the Lord I don’t have to know where your heart is by how much you give. That’s not a measure of the heart anyway. I could go look at somebody and they could give me ten thousand dollars a month but that doesn’t mean their heart is right, that doesn’t mean that they hate and despise money, that doesn’t meant that they’re spiritual at all. And then there are other people that give a dollar and it doesn’t mean that they’re very spiritual and very holy and doing all that is required from the Lord and even more so. So I know that the Spirit is able to reveal our hearts to bring things out in the open and so I can look at other aspects of your life if I’m concerned about money. But the only reason I would be concerned about how much you give and how you give is for your perfection, not for the source of your money or getting anything from you. And I can tell you over nineteen years we’ve hit rock bottom, worse than rock bottom. I’ve had to go into debt myself just to cover the needs of the body, to meet other people’s needs. This isn’t the kind of thing where you’re going to find a panic kind of asking of money every three days. We’ll get into that more in a moment.
Over the nineteen years we’ve had the attitude of Jesus Christ keeping things as low key as possible. You’re not going to hear me run around saying “We need this over here” or “We need that over here” or “We’ve got to have the money for this kind of thing.” In fact, people have come to me and told me that I make it look easy. Because you won’t find me worried about it or fretting about it on the outside. I’ve grown a lot to where I really do have a peace in those circumstances any more and I’ve found the secret to be content whether well fed or hungry. That doesn’t mean tomorrow I won’t be lying in bed in cold sweats because there was a time when I did that. When I literally lay in bed thinking for sure that we were going to die and I would break out in a cold sweat, worried about it. But I won’t go around talking about it, I’m not going around saying “We have these needs over here, we have this problem over here, let’s take care of it.” If you come and ask me if there’s a need in Jesus I’m probably going to slough off the answer in one direction or the other. We’ll see why here in a moment.
For nineteen years and ever since the beginning we’ve given away everything for free. We’ve never asked for anything, asked for money in return for anything, it’s been our joy and supreme sacrifice to give away things for free. To do anything else would be totally contrary to what God has worked in me. Again, the only reason I’m pointing these things out is because you have a right to know how I have conducted myself and how is leadership going to conduct itself in the future. Those are legit questions that people need to know. In fact, it’s kind of a testimony to the fact that we’re just now getting around to talking about this issue. We’ve been here eight months and usually this is the first sermon that people are going to get into when you start a new church. “How are you going to finance these things?” and “How are you going to put it all together?”
Again, personally, we sacrificed everything thousands of times. We’ve gotten all the way clear to rock bottom and it was a choice between food and tapes and I know you know what won out on that particular situation. I’m not by any means trying to say that we’re destitute, that we’re poor, that we’re living in cardboard boxes, but I’m telling you that there have been times when it goes up and down like that all the time. And that’s the way God works sometimes. We’ve grown a little bit accustomed to it here and there, a matter of waiting on God to provide where He sees fit—as He works things in the body. So you can expect this kind of peace to be there without a lot of hype or drawing things from you. If you want to give we’re going to see that the primary thing is that you do it cheerfully. I’ve turned down money sometimes, I’ve turned down ten thousand dollars at one time. Somebody wanted to give some money and their heart wasn’t right and it was a large sum of money and this isn’t the kind of thing where I’m turning it down because I’ve got a reserve of money over here. It’s simply because their heart wasn’t right and that money was refunded. We just mailed back a check the other day for twenty dollars. A guy had written in and he’d ordered a copy of the CD off the website and enclosed a check for twenty bucks. But he didn’t say whether it was a gift or for the CD, he just asked for the CD. I wanted him to know that the CD is free. But since he didn’t specify whether it was a gift separate from the CD or not I wasn’t going to take the liberty of cashing the check, so I sent him a CD with an explanation stating that I didn’t know which one was which and left it at that for whatever he decided to do. It comes down to some very small things that come out that will reflect a larger thing.
Let’s go ahead and turn to 1 Corinthians16:1. Because the most important thing that we do on the outward kind of thing is that no collection is ever taken. We’re not going to pass a Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets till you fill those up. We’re not even going to pass the plate. We simply have a box that people put their money in and there’s nobody standing guard or watching over it or making sure you do your part. We were in a church one time when it came time for an offering that the pastor or leaders was standing up front. And everybody got up and walked down the center of the aisle and they literally watched people put in to the basket. Of course they would do a couple of offerings that way to make sure you met whatever needs you were supposed to do in Jesus. In this body God wants us to be into a place where we all grow, that there is no collection that is necessary. The one major thing through this whole thing is that we want our hearts to be such that we never have to announce that there’s a need that has to be met. That if we each can do what is in our hearts to do before the Lord then when needs come up they can just be done, they can just be met. In 1 Corinthians 16:1 it says:
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 – Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
Paul was the type of man that when he went in to preach the gospel he didn’t want collections being made while he was there. So that’s the whole point of this whole body—what God has in mind—we want to get money out of the way. We find it to be detestable, we don’t value it at all. We know it’s a tool, we know that it’s something that God does work with, but we don’t want to talk about it. We don’t want to really have to deal with it. We just want to give it away, we just want to put it to work. And so we don’t want it to be an emphasis at all. We don’t want to be coming together and saying, “We have to take up a collection for this and a collection for that,” and be spending our time talking about those kinds of things. Because I think it’s interesting too, that the collection, the money was already taken so that no matter how Paul came, if he came with a whip or he came in love, the collection was already taken. In so many churches they take the collection after the sermon which means of course, the guy is trying to motivate people to give and trying to move them in that direction. Whereas with Paul, the money was already there. He wasn’t getting any more and he wasn’t getting any less. So he’s going to preach exactly what should be done. And there’s one thing you also need to know, in over nineteen years of preaching and counseling I have never altered one ounce of what I was going to say from the pulpit because of money. I’ve never held back in counsel or rebuke or correction because of money. It’s always been laid out very clearly and very directly and if the money walked out the door it walked out the door and I didn’t really care. So I think you’ve seen that evident as we began this whole body. There’s no attempt to flatter, no attempt to draw anybody in or to say, “Oh you need to give this much.” In fact, several times since this body was formed I didn’t know if I was going to be out on the street with the next breath because I don’t have a savings account, I don’t have an IRA or whatever you call them, I don’t have any stock, don’t have anything else so it’s just strictly whatever you see is exactly what is going on. Nothing more or nothing less.
Number two: Let’s go 2 Corinthians 9:7. Because above everything else God wants you to be cheerful in your giving. I want you to be cheerful in your giving and I don’t want any giving done in any other way. If it’s one dollar give it cheerfully. If it’s a quarter give it cheerfully. If that is all you can give cheerfully than just do that. If you’re a millionaire and all you can cheerfully give is one dollar then do the one dollar. In 2 Corinthians 9:7 it says:
2 Corinthians 9:7 – Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
The only thing that I do ask is that you knock off the ten percent bit. I don’t know, there’s just something galling about the whole thing where somebody gives and it’s like $12.95 so I know exactly what your income is for during that week because it’s exactly ten percent. Give nine percent or eleven percent, but don’t do the ten percent thing. That’s just the law. God is looking for cheerful givers, so decide in your heart what you want to give, not playing “ten percent” which seems to be an attitude of buying off God. But sit down and ask yourself, “What is it in my heart that I want to give?” And don’t give any more than that. And obviously you just do what your heart is calling you to do. Look at it again, verse 7, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver.” You shouldn’t give because the need is there. You shouldn’t give because of the pressure of the situation. You should give because you want to give. And it’ll be one of the things we’re going to be looking at is to continue to give so that you’re not giving because of the need or because I have to stand up here and we have to announce we have to do this over here and it’s a noble cause and everybody has to weigh in their heart what to give at this point. What we really want is a group of people who’s hearts are just giving. And then when the need to give just flows out of that and joyfulness is there and it’s time to meet the need and everything is in its proper place. “or God loves a cheerful giver.” So that’s the attitude you need to have. What is it you’re excited about? What is it you find a joy in giving? Like I said before, honestly, if five dollars is all you can joyfully give then just give five dollars and don’t give any more. Nobody is going to come to you and challenge you about it or get on to you about that, God will deal with you in due time to make you more cheerful or to deal with what needs to be changed. But I do not want you coming—and really God does not want you coming—to just give because you have to. So often people will come to me and they’ll say, “I don’t feel convicted to give, I don’t know what God wants me to give.” And it’s really hard to explain to people that God doesn’t convict us on what to give. God leaves it up to us and our relationship with Him. In other words, He lets us sit down and say, “What is in my heart that I want to give? What is it that joyfully and cheerfully I want to give before the Lord?” And He allows a freedom there and a fellowship there because He wants to see how spontaneous we are. So that’s why I say if you do the ten percent bit you’ve just locked yourself into kind of a law that says God says I need to do this so I’ll sit down and do that and here it is. That’s not a relationship. Whereas a relationship with God simply comes before the Lord and says, “Okay, this is great. I love the Lord and this is what I’m going to give and it’s an exciting thing to do.” And it’s part of that joy you have in the Lord to do. And so know that God isn’t going to convict you to give. There will be times when God directs you to give and He might even convict you but only if it will flow out of a cheerful heart. If you don’t have a cheerful heart then He can’t come along and convict you.
Number three: Just be faithful and consistent in whatever the amount is that you have chosen to do cheerfully before the Lord. In Luke 16:11 it says:
Luke 16:11 – So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?
That has to be said that those of us who are greedy or we hold on to money or we refuse to let go and we don’t have a cheerful heart about it don’t expect God to bless you spiritually. So that’s why I’m saying you can tell where a man is at not by looking at his checkbook or by how much he gives or doesn’t give because God doesn’t want to give someone who is holding on to worldly wealth for themselves and is not learning that freedom and joy to hate and despise money, God is not going to give him true spiritual fellowship. He’s not going to give him the true blessings of God. So if you’ve not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth who will trust you with true riches? So again, if it’s a dollar you’ve decided to give then do it faithfully, do it consistently. You remember what Paul wrote? He says to take up the collection, each with his income, planning ahead and thinking about it, taking it all together so that when I get there no collection will have to be made. There had to be planning about it, there had to be thinking about it.
So often what people will do is they’ll have a tithe check they hold on to for three or four days and meanwhile I’m telling you the needs of Christ are put on hold until that time period because I’m not going to come to you under normal circumstances and say where is your tithe or what are you going to give or we have this need here. It just gets put on hold. And all this really is it’s really just a simple matter of love, treating others the way you would want to be treated. In other words, think about how you want to be paid. If you went in before your boss and you said, “Where’s my paycheck?” “Oh, I just haven’t gotten around to it today, I’m just kind of holding on to it,” you’d be indignant about it. So it’s really just a matter of love, of knowing that if you get paid and you’re traveling to go out of town, the same thing with the regular boss, you’d expect to be paid. So it’s treating others as you would want to be treated. So there shouldn’t be any twisting of the arm or that you have to do this but there should be a diligence about it that says this is important, this is a privilege, this is a joy, and this is important. And again, I repeat to you what I’ve said before over the years, one dollar can really, literally, make a difference between meeting certain needs at certain times in Jesus Christ. It really does come down sometimes to some very small thing. Ten dollars here and there, twenty dollars here and there can make a difference between going to lunch with somebody and sharing the gospel or not or trying to work around or trying to make up where somebody else didn’t do what they needed to do. Because what’s so sad with this whole business of giving is if you don’t do it then God has to make up for it somewhere else. And He will do that. And He will do that even though some of the work is hindered and stopped. We don’t want to be a people like that, we want to each be doing diligently what we’re supposed to do.
Let’s go to 1 Corinthians 4:2. A very simple passage, this is why I like these kinds of sermons they’re really practical, they’re down to earth and they’re every day. I can remember when I first started becoming a Christian and hearing sermons I used to get very frustrated because it wasn’t practical, it wasn’t every day and it wasn’t how-to and it wasn’t what if, it wasn’t in terms of every day and every hour, so these are really just practical, joyful things that we can do that will make everything just flow joyfully in the Lord. It’s kind of like oil of anointing that says everything is in its place and we can move on with more important things than money. And really, all of us want to put that behind us and get on with what we need to do. 1 Corinthians 4:2 says:
1 Corinthians 4:2 – Now it is required that those who have been give a trust must prove faithful.
So we put together Luke 16:11 that says if we are faithful with worldly wealth He will give us true riches. So take a long look at money and your attitude toward money and ask the Lord to begin to grow you and mature you and put joy in there and show you how all of this should come out. Not because we’re taking a collection or again we’re going to be asking for money but because if you are faithful with worldly wealth and learning how to hate it and despise that, He will give you true riches and true fellowship with Him. You will be able to walk with Him.
One of the greatest stories we’ve had, Carla and I learning to hate and despise money, we see God work in so many different ways. Not just in terms of provisions but in terms of challenging other people and presenting the gospel with every tape, every tract, every publication, learning to give those things away for free is a supreme joy in Jesus.
Let’s go to 2 Corinthians 8:10. Again, be faithful with the joy that you have and faithful with the excitement that you have about it. It says in verse 10:
2 Corinthians 8:10 – And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so.
We have to awaken the desire within us; we have to come up away from the world. We have to be crucified up from this world to understand to even have the desire to give and to do that joyfully and to do that with some joy and excitement. Not because of programs and not because of hype, not because we’re building a church, not because we’re saving up for a fund to pave the parking lot or anything like that, just a simple matter of saying and having a desire that says I want to meet some needs in Jesus Christ. It goes on to say in verse 11, it says: Now finish the work—that is be faithful to what you are saying to do. In other words it’s not enough just to have it in our hearts; we must carry it on to completion in order for our joy to be complete, for other people’s joy to be complete. Again, listen to the tape this week and we’ll talk about these things on Tuesday how everyone can be encouraged in Jesus Christ as we begin to move in this.
2 Corinthians 8:11 – Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.
Nobody is laying down some type of heavy rule here that says give more than you’re able to give. Go back and begin to say, “Okay, what is in my heart to give, what is it that I propose to do in faith?” According to your means, according to your income, according to your labor, according to what God provides. And then let God begin to teach you beyond those matters in every day life.
Let’s go to chapter 9 of 2 Corinthians and read on a little bit more. Again, there is so much more we can get into. He goes:
2 Corinthians 9:1-2 – There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints. For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action.
What we’re really talking about is an enthusiasm and excitement. What I really want to see is in the little kids when they come in with their quarter or their dime and they’re holding on to that for the week to be able to give. Finding that excitement behind what they are giving so that when they what? Grow older in the Lord it then becomes a joy to sacrifice before the Lord and it’s not being pulled away from them, it’s not being badgered out of them, it’s not being promoted out of them, it’s not because they get anything out of it but because that is something they have set aside to give before the Lord and they know the Lord is going to honor that and they’re excited about that relationship. Again, look at the joy they have. Verse 2, “For I know your eagerness to help”—that is, they’re looking and they’re asking and they’re excited and they realize they’re calling on God and they want to meet those needs. And so you can just see the leadership doesn’t have to stand up with all the charts and all the graphs and all the things and say, “Let’s do this over here. We need to do this fund-raising over here. We need to have a bake sale or a car wash.” All the nonsense things that go on. These people are eager to give and we want to be in a place where we have this kind of joy so that what? Everything is in its place, we’re doing what we can do and God’s going to be able to bless that and His work will be completed. “For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give”—they were ready, they were in place, they were excited—“your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action.” Not the amount they gave, but what? The enthusiasm and the joy with which they gave.
Why do you think there’s so much talking when you come to church? Everybody wants to know how much you give and what’s being done with the money and Satan whispers through other people that they’re just after their money and that’s what they’re going to get. And in a lot of places that’s true. But the point is, he whispers to what? To remove the joy. To make us think that we’re doing something, that somebody is putting something hard on us. Let your joy be complete. But even if leadership is bad, let your joy be complete. And by that I mean that we don’t want bad leadership but look at Jesus who went up to the poor widow and He commended her for putting in everything she had to live on into the offering plate, didn’t He? But Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees for what? For the evil men that they are and the fact that they devour widow’s households. And for the fact that they were greedy for money. But He didn’t tell them not to give. He commended her for what? Her faithfulness to God. And God will reward her because what she did, she did with joy even though it was what? Several pennies. Verse 3:
2 Corinthians 9:3-5 – But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to say anything about you—would be ashamed of having been so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.
So there is this really hard balance the leadership has to walk. On the one hand we want everyone perfect in Jesus Christ, completing what the joy in your heart can give and somehow urging you on to do that without compelling you, without twisting your arm, without entertaining that it’s a gift of money. So if leadership is dead to money and they’re willing to hate and despise it they’ll know how to what? Present you perfect in Christ. It’s not that we’re totally laid back here and that nothing’s going to happen. God is going to perfect, He is going to make holy, He’s going to cleanse us and teach us how to hate and despise money but it’s not going to be to get money from you or to twist your arm so that we can do our favorite pet project. It’s going to be so that you might be holy and that your joy might be complete.
I remember one brother who is in this body right now who had saved up a lot of money in order for a certain item. In order for him to get to Jesus Christ he had to give up all that money and so we had to wrestle through all of that. And I had to be dead enough myself that I wasn’t after the money. But once he gave up the money and once he surrendered, his joy was complete. Always with everybody who gives I can tell you right now there is a teaching, there is a direction, there is a pointing to the cross where there is that backing off that says, “Okay, now what is your decision? What is it that you want to do?” And nobody will force or twist beyond that which is proper in the Lord. The same way here, Paul shows up to help, to direct, to encourage them to what? Stir up in their heart their completion to obedience, but he’s not going to twist their arms to see that it is done. Does that make sense to everybody?
Number four: Let’s go to Acts 4:34. Please don’t hem in leadership when it comes to this matter of giving. That is, don’t give a certain amount of money and say that it needs to go for certain needs or that a certain need comes up and then you give the money and then the money you give doesn’t go for that particular need because the needs of Jesus Christ change hour by hour. There are a lot of times when money will be coming a certain direction but God will direct it to go a certain way. But I think it ought to go over here. So if you begin to hem in then we begin to start playing this game where everybody is trying to control where it’s going and God is not able to direct where it should go. In Acts 4:34:
Acts 4:34-35 – There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
So it really is the job of leadership to distribute and to meet the needs within the body. But you see, you don’t have a bunch of people running around saying, “Okay, I’m going to give this money here but I want it to go towards so and so,” or “I want it to go toward this need over here.” Because why? You don’t know all the particular needs in the body. You don’t know what the needs of Jesus Christ are for that day or for that month. That doesn’t mean that you can’t ask and we can’t dialogue and we can’t discuss, but what happens is if you come in and begin to say, “Okay, here is this amount of money.” Or, “I offer this particular thing,” and then you begin to direct how that should be done, I guarantee you everybody’s gotten ten different opinions about how many should be used. And the trick here is to hear from God how the money should be used and whose needs should be met and what needs should be met and in what direction they should go. And the only way we can do that is to have leadership free enough to hear from God in what direction that money should go and where it should go to meet the needs of Jesus. Verse 35 again:
Acts 4:35-37 – and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
So you see here the leadership is in charge of the direction and the giving out and that doesn’t mean there isn’t daily fellowship. That doesn’t mean you bake a batch of cookies you come lay them at my feet and then I’ll distribute them to where they need to go. We’re talking about the giving and sacrifice of land and money and materials where things are large enough they need to be distributed. Nobody is going to take away your joy and fellowshipping with each other because God is going to work a tremendous amount of joy and you’re going to have abundance one month and somebody else is going to be in need and then you’re going to be in need and they’re going to have an abundance. I guarantee He’s going to work a lot of things here we can’t even get into tonight. And I’m not going to rob the joy from you of what? Finding that freedom to be able to give.
Number five: Let’s go to Mark 6:34. Don’t ask me if there are any needs in Jesus that need to be met. People used to ask me that question all the time. I usually tell them “You don’t want to know.” I tell them, “Don’t ask because I guarantee you don’t have enough money to meet the needs anyway, even if you did ask.” In Mark 6:34 it says:
Mark 6:34-36 – When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
Now the needs of Jesus Christ are simply this: Jesus Christ had a group of people for whom the word of God needs to be presented. They need to be fed physically, things needed to be taken care of. And did the disciples have enough to meet the needs? So if you come to me and say, “Are there any needs of Jesus Christ, is there anything I can do to help?” The reason I’m saying that is because when they’re asking the question they want me to say, “No, there aren’t really any needs, you can keep your money.” In other words, I guarantee you that you cannot give me enough to meet all the needs that are presented to be done. There are always more needs in Jesus Christ then there is an abundance of supplies to do that particular work. Look at verse 37. He said:
Mark 6:37 – But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
And so Jesus Christ is trying to teach them to what? “Take everything you have and put it in for the gospel.” And Jesus Christ is going to try and teach you the same thing in your own life. That doesn’t mean that you give everything to church or to the leadership in the church. It just means that God is trying to lead us into a place where He says, “Okay, here are the needs of Jesus Christ, go ahead and try to meet them with self effort. Go ahead and try and do that without faith. You’ll never accomplish it, you’ll never be done.” Right now I’ve got far more needs than I can possibly meet all the needs of Jesus Christ. So that’s the condition that we’re in. We’re already in that part so the answer to your question, “Are there any needs in Jesus Christ?” The answer is “Yes.” So however much you decide to give, give that much. “‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘That would take eight months of a man’s wages!’” As if they even had the money to go do that—that is what they would go do. But they’re not willing to do that. They’re not willing to spend the kind of that would be necessary to go do that. They don’t go, “Okay, let’s go do it.” Not that they even had it. They’re just appalled that Jesus would even suggest they try and meet everybody’s needs. So I want to take a step back and look at all the needs of Jesus Christ that we can meet and I want us to get to a place where we don’t turn anybody away. And that we give everything away for free and that will be according to faith, according to our zeal. We may not be able to do everything but let our hearts be in that place. Verse 38 Jesus says:
Mark 6:38 – “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”
So look at the stock of what you have and look at the needs of Jesus Christ and I guarantee that you will be overwhelmed. If you’re not overwhelmed you’re not looking, you’re only concerned about your own needs. That’s why when people come to me and ask me those questions all the time I can tell that all they’re really concerned about is their own money because the needs are overwhelming if you step back and take a look at the situation. To meet all the needs of Jesus Christ is way beyond any of us. Who of us has a food budget to feed five thousand people? Nobody sits down and says, “Okay, this is my budget for the week. I’ve got a hundred dollars or a hundred and fifty dollars for groceries that will feed five thousand people.” And yet we want to be a people for whom God brings to us to where if you just give me ten percent you’re missing the whole point. This is a whole wide discipleship that’s going on. This is an exciting kind of life to watch God multiply things in the Lord. Its says, “When they found out they said, ‘Five—and two fish.’”
Mark 6:39 – Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.
In due course He sat down and He fed the people. So again, don’t ask me what the needs of Jesus Christ are because they are overwhelming. And that’s why I said I’m not going to run around here saying, “Here’s this need here and I’d like to do this project over here and all these things should be done over here.” I guarantee you right now I’ve got certain individuals who have gotten certain things they want to do and other people who have certain things they want to do and this needs to be done over here and everybody has all kinds of projects that need to be done. And what’s important is that each one of us seek the Lord as to what He wants to be done, how He will supply it, and let us be carrying our little fish and our little bread and come before the Lord and say, “Here, Lord, I give You this cheerfully.”
In fact, let me just read you a message I just got the other day. And these come in from time to time. It says:
To whom it may concern:
Hello. My name is Denise. I’m eighteen-years-old and I’m from New York. It has recently come to my attention that God has led me to start up my own street ministry and Bible study group within my very, very needy community. I’m going to create a library of resources for people to go to. The problem is I have no money to start up my project and I have been led to your site and have looked over some of your books. I was wondering if you could find it in your heart to possibly donate some of your books, tapes, cards, tracts, or whatever you may have to donate to my attempt to witnessing and teaching God’s word. If you could please e-mail me and send me any materials to the following address. Thank you very much.
Those kind of things come in here and there and all the time. We get messages from India requesting material. There’s a lot of stuff we really have to turn down. Simply because why? God is trying to move us into a place where we’re doing what we need to do. And we don’t want leadership to have to come and say, “Okay, we’ve got this need over here, let’s try to meet this and do this over here,” because let us do what we can joyfully and let God bless and deal with us.
Let’s go to 1 Chronicles 29:6. The prayer for this body is, again, as we started out with saying is that there would be no need for an offering ever to be taken. Just being indignant with what we see going on within the body of Jesus Christ ought to drive us to that point. To have a church and a place where you never have to stand up and say, “Let’s meet this need here,” because everything is just there for it to be done. That would be a testimony of God’s grace in and of itself alone. Forget all the rest of the miracles and all the rest of it but can you imagine where nobody ever has to ask or make a donation or call for a donation or do anything else but it’s just simply and willingly done. And everybody is giving. So don’t wait until you see a need to give because then it’s too late. Just do what God has called you to do and everything will be in its place to do the work.
1 Chronicles 29:6 – Then the leaders of families, the officers of the tribes of Israel, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of the king’s work gave willingly.
Again, over and over again even in the old law what do we see? Being cheerful, being willing, sacrificing but doing it joyfully, not because it has to be done or that it must be done. And of course, what I love about this whole area here is it has to do with what? Leadership. Read it again, verse 6: “he leaders of the families.” The fathers were first in this. The heads of families were first in this. Instead of everybody whining and complaining about what leadership is or isn’t doing, everybody is concerned about what they can do in the Lord in order to what? Bless the Lord’s work. “The officers of the tribes of Israel, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of the king’s work gave willingly.” You can just see these groups of men getting together and deciding this is what we’re going to do and this is where we’re going to begin. Even though they’re building a temple and sacrificing they’re going to get to a place where they’re going to be sacrificing daily and doing things before the Lord and having all kinds of festivals, they still come back and what? Sit down and say, “We willingly do this work. We willingly want to do this for the Lord” and have total freedom and surrendering everything for God is a tremendous joy. Verse 7:
1 Chronicles 29:7 – They gave toward the work on the temple of God five thousand talents and ten thousand darics of gold, ten thousand talents of silver, eighteen thousand talents of bronze and a hundred thousand talents of iron.
Again, they’re not programs, they’re not promoting, they’re not begging, they don’t have charts, they don’t have a goal. They’re not selling little stickers that go on the back of a pew. They’re not doing anything but what? Just willingly giving to the temple and the needs will arise which we can meet and it’s a just very exciting thing in the Lord to have those things there ready to go, ready to roll to meet those needs and just keep pressing on. Instead of what? Being so locked tight in what it is we want to do and being unwilling to really give with any amount of joy. Verse 8:
1 Chronicles 29:8 – Any who had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the temple of the Lord in the custody of Jehiel the Gershonite.
And so they gave the things that were precious just as we read in Acts. They had land and sold those and just put it at the apostles’ feet and they were used to do all kinds of things. Just to reflect a little bit on what’s happened here in the last eight months that we’ve been doing, the guy in China, Nicholas, had donated twenty thousand dollars to this ministry. So a lot of the needs and a lot of the things that we’ve been doing have been based on what he has given. So it was all there in place. We haven’t been in a place where I’ve had to get up here and say we need this to be met or this has to be done or that we need to do this over here. We’ve just been able to move along concentrating on what? On real sins and real problems and real people blessed. Because why? He did what he did freely. Nobody asked him, we had no clue about it. In fact, he just made a direct deposit to the whole situation. And in the same way people who were in Denver that were here before they really have the grace of giving down and a lot of what they gave and supplied the needs so that we could continue this work here. So this is something that goes on behind the scenes, it’s supposed to be quiet, it’s supposed to be giving of our precious things. It’s supposed to be a very joyful thing and privilege in God, not a program and not a gimmick that will rob us of our freedom in God. Verse 9 says:
1 Chronicles 29:9 – The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders . . .
They were excited about this whole business because they could see that the leaders were first in this—in giving to the Lord. And that’s what you have to decide here that we need to pray for leadership and look for leadership that is excited about giving away everything that it can in the Lord. And finding people that are dead—from leadership on down—to money so that your giving is a joy and a freedom to do and not evil suspicions of what are they up to? What are they spending it on and what’s going on? You know, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have checks and balances and be walking in the light and you can go look at the books but you know that is really about as dry and dead as you can get. And we really need to have those checks and balances there and we want to do whatever is right in all men’s sight but there’s no freedom in that. There’s no freedom in having five or six people who want to go look at the books all the time and see what’s going on. We need to be seeing each other’s hearts and to see what is going on. I’m not telling you that every time I spend money that I’ve had a sign from the Lord and done exactly what I needed to do. But you know the heart’s desire there is to what? Is to hate and despise money and to sacrifice as much as possible and be dead to flesh just as it for you. And if everybody is doing that while everything is in the light and all the checks and balances are there and the freedom is there to do what God has called you to do and we can fellowship together as we do the work instead of leadership against congregation or congregation against leadership or who’s doing what with what money, and who wants to be in charge of the money and who wants to check the books.
I remember when we first started this body we’re sitting in the living room and there was a woman who was willing to be part of the church if she could be in charge of the books of the church. Of course, she’s the very one who should be disqualified from the whole business. The only person that I have as an example that is in charge of the books with Jesus Christ was Judas. So it’s really a job that we really should all be running from and saying, “No, I don’t want that one,” because it is a real responsibility. I’ve seen all the gamut of attitudes concerning money. Usually what happens is God comes along to deal with somebody in the body about their money and who’s the first person they look at to see whether they’re doing their money right or wrong or not, but upon the leadership? And then all kinds of attitudes come my direction and it certainly has caused me to check my own heart and turn them over to the Lord. But I’m telling you this whole thing becomes very dynamic and very alive and very troublesome at times as God begins to deal with all of our flesh. So let it not become leadership against congregation or congregation against leadership. Let us all get before the cross, all in the attitude of hating and despising money and let God work it out so that everything’s in the light and everything is what it needs to be and I can stand next to a brother and say, “I know that brother’s heart.” He may have sinned in a certain attitude toward money or he didn’t have it exactly right but I tell you I know his heart and I know how he wants to conduct himself and I know that we’re trying to look after what God is calling us to do. There are a lot of times, too, in the past where God has called me in His leadership to buy certain items and a lot of people didn’t understand why and what for and later on I’m proved right. There are other times when I would think it was wrong and it was right. Anyway, you know the pain of the cross and you know the struggle and you know what is going on so you have to look not on the outward appearances, you have to look at what is in the heart. I can assure you nobody is going to run off to the Bahamas or Hawaii or whatever. Let me tell you one thing about this whole business, I know I’m kind of rambling here but let me tell you something. The needs of Jesus Christ are so great that I have yet to find a time when we had a lot of money. The largest amount of money we had at one time was the twenty thousand dollars Nicholas gave. Usually by the time the money came in the needs were overwhelming and it was already going out. There wasn’t the freedom for me to run off to Las Vegas to gamble ten thousand dollars because it was gone so quick. So I wouldn’t worry too much about that for meeting the needs of Jesus Christ this church isn’t going to have a hundred thousand dollars in the bank unless we have a real goal in mind and we know what’s happened because the needs are just overwhelming. Verse 8 again.
1 Chronicles 29:8-9 – Any who had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the temple of the Lord in the custody of Jehiel the Gershonite. The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.
Giving is supposed to be one of the most cheerful, joyful things you can do in the Lord. It is not to be the counting of dollars and dimes and conserving here and “Let’s cut back here and let’s do this over here and let’s check and see what this brother’s doing over here.” It is supposed to be one of the most exciting things in the church to be done and yet Satan and man and his world have robbed all the joy out of this whole business of giving. I can’t tell you the many depressed nights I’ve had because the people would give but there was no joy in what they were doing and it was just a tremendous burden to even take the money or consider the money or to wrestle with it. There was no freedom in that at all. This should be the king rejoicing in Jesus Christ, the leadership rejoicing, you rejoicing, everybody excited about what is taking place in terms of giving and serving and linking our lives to each other. It is supposed to be one of the most exciting things in Jesus Christ to do. That is what our goal is and that’s what it should be. One more time verse 9:
1 Chronicles 29:9 – The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord.
I plead with you—if you don’t want to give, please do not give. Just don’t do it. And if God is convicting you about something and we’re challenging you about money there will always be that avenue out there. There will always be that section out there where somebody backs off and says, “Okay, it’s your decision to decide what you want,” and if you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. But if you do do it, do it wholeheartedly and do it with all the joy that you have even if it’s a dollar, even it’s a quarter, just do it faithfully, consistently and with a lot of joy and hopefully it will fan into flame and you’ll discover the joy the rest of us have found. Verse 10 says:
1 Chronicles 29:10 – David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, O Lord, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.”
Let that be our song. Let it be that we don’t have to take offerings, we don’t have to go through the gimmicks, that there’s just that kind of freedom and flowing in the Lord that we can spend our time rejoicing at the work being done and things being brought in and not praying about how we need this need met over here and we need this need met over here. Look, Jesus Christ already knows what we need before we get there. Let us just go in before the Lord and say, “God, here’s the needs, meet them,” and then press on with what we need to do. And then each of us do our own part willingly from the heart. Not looking at somebody else, not looking at what they do, just do what is joyfully in your heart to do and God will do the rest to glorify His name. Let it be a thing of joy. Verse 11:
1 Chronicles 29:11 – Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.
And so the money is there but what do we see? We see the praise, we see God as God, we see that joy, we see that pressing on before the Lord, we see real worship there. Not because why? They had all this money over here. But because of the willing hearts. Because of the willing, joyful hearts. So let your joy be full. Let your excitement be what it should be. Again, I’m not trying to point back to you, I’m trying to point back to a pattern of nineteen years. What I’m telling you we have done for nineteen years from day one. So now is not the time to be all reserved and buy into the lies of the world, let’s press on. Let’s begin to do the work, let’s all rejoice before the Lord. There’s a lot to be done, there’s a lot of excitement that can be. Again, I’m not going to run around and say we’ve met this need over here and we have this need over here and we should do this need over here. Let me tell you, it just happens. My right hand really doesn’t know what my left hand is doing and there are a lot of things you’re going to get credit and glory for you don’t know about. Because the money is there, the position for me to do these things are there and I’m saying, me right now, there’s going to be other leadership later on, and the leadership of the body is going to do it and you’re going to stand before glory and go, “We did what? And we did this over here? And that book was sent there and that tape was there and we labored over here?” You’re not going to have a clue. There’s a lot of things I’ve done that people will remind me, oh yeah I did that, because what? I’m not keeping track of those things. This is just a celebration before the Lord and that need right there in front of me is the most important need to me in Jesus Christ. It’s the new freedom I’ve found. So in the same way be surprised when you enter glory. That’s why we’re not going to send out a statement at the end of the year, or let you know what you did or didn’t do. But you’re going to stand before Jesus Christ and say, “We did what?” At least that should be the goal.
Let’s go to Philippians 4:15. Because what is so ironic about this whole thing is I know when we first started this church here obviously I’ve had ministry on the internet and computers and all that for years and we’ve reached out really around the world to a lot of people. I’m sure our tracts and tapes line a lot of trash cans and reached a lot of people and we’ve done expos and I don’t know how many thousands of tapes and materials we’ve given away. And the amount of people that send money back I could probably count on my hands, it’s not very often. Look at Philippians 4:15. Not that I’m looking for that but it’s an amazing thing in Jesus. It says:
Philippians 4:15 – Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only;
This whole business of money is one of the weakest parts of the church. Look around you if you don’t believe me. So here’s Paul, think about all the churches he started and all the labor he did and how he sacrificed himself and how he laid down his life and how he was a man who hated and despised not only money but also his own life. And yet he has to write and say there was only one church that met his needs in Jesus Christ during that whole time. That is an amazing statement and it’s a truthful statement even to this day.
I remember when we talked about coming here; one of the sisters and the other people who were starting this church were amazed when I turned to them because they thought I had money coming in from the internet and from all these sources out here because of giving away for years. It doesn’t happen that way at all. If you offer for free they’re going to take advantage of it. That is human nature. And until the cross is there, until the cross crucifies people and they know what it is to hate and despise money, don’t look for it to come back. It is not going to come back. The only way you’re going to cover your costs is to sell the tapes, sell the materials, and I’m not about to turn that way or go that direction. So it comes down to a few people who are willing to sacrifice joyfully before the Lord. One more time verse 15 says:
Philippians 4:15-17 – Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.
He could talk to them this way because why? They had a relationship, they had a basis. He knew that they were hating and despising money and they knew who he was, they knew what his heart was so there was a rich dialogue about money. I want us to get to a place in this body where we have rich dialogue about money. You follow what happens at most churches everybody is real quiet about their money. You’ll notice that at most churches. The church is quiet, the leadership is quiet, they do their budget thing and so do the members of the congregation. I dare say you can’t walk up to anybody in the church and say, “How much you got in your checking account right now?” and begin to talk about that in the Lord because there is not that freedom there. That is one thing you do not walk into, you do not discuss, you do not even get into that area at the cost of your life. And yet Paul was able to dialogue, he was able to talk, he was able to fellowship in the light. Not that I’m going to run around and say, “What’s in your checking account? Let me see it.” I’ve got enough trouble balancing my own checkbook and spending money as I need to in the Lord appropriately.
The point is, though, there’s going to be a lot of things we’re going to do that are going to require money to be done and needs to be done in a certain way, and we need to figure out what the Lord’s will is. We need to be having hearts where we can come together and we can talk about these things and a brother can have extra money and somebody say, “You want to do . . . ?” “Yeah, that’s great, I want to do that.” That there can be that kind of freedom because we know each other’s hearts. You know that I’m not after your money and I know that you’re not after my money or whatever it is that’s going on. That we’re just doing the work with joy before the Lord. Verse 17 says:
Philippians 4:17 – Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.
That you could really hear a man say that and know in his heart that really is true. There are a lot of men that might quote that to you but I know they’re lying even as they speak the words. “Not that I’m looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.” So we’re looking for opportunities. We’re saying, “Lord, show us the needs of Jesus Christ that I may have a credit when I come in before heaven, to my account.” I wish everybody would come in with five hundred needs in Jesus Christ. Let’s do this, let’s do that, let’s meet this need, let’s go over here, let’s do this over here, let’s do this publication, let’s do this book a month club, let’s do all these things over here. Let the needs be overwhelming that we might come before the Lord and say, “Lord, we want to do this. What is Your will? What should be done? What can You work through us and how much are we allowed to do?” And let us grow through that and find the work that He has called us to do. He might turn down most of it or all of it until we are fully ready but the point is, let us be zealous about the needs of Jesus Christ. Let us not be like the rest of the church, just kind of standing around, “I don’t see any needs, God hasn’t convicted me, it hasn’t come my way, I don’t know what to do.” We’re just waiting upon God and not been convicted about it. But there are plenty of things to be done and ways to present the gospel. Let’s let Jesus Christ veto ninety-nine percent of it until we find the one thing that is His will to be done. “Not that I’m looking for gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.” So let’s get a lot of things credited to our account.
Philippians 4:18 – I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
We need that to be the answered prayer around here that again, the work comes up and we meet those needs and we press on and do it. It’s really that simple and together we rejoice. So again, listen to the tape that I have up here, the tapes are free today, by the way, and we’ll discuss those on Tuesday because it has more to do with the title of it is The Holy Spirit and Giving. It has a whole lot more to do with the heart than we’re looking at today. You can never run away from that.
Finally, let’s end with 2 Corinthians 8:7. Because like everything in Jesus Christ it’s all the grace of God or its self effort. It’s either God working this within us or us just setting out to strive to do it and this really isn’t hard work. It’s really just a matter of surrendering. It honestly is getting back before the Lord and saying, “God, I give it all to you. Let your grace flow.” Now I’m not telling you your flesh won’t struggle and you’re not going to have times of real anxiety and that God isn’t going to deal with attachment to money. That will happen, but it is a grace that He must work and we must ask for Him to give the grace. That’s why I’m not going to come along with programs or ways to promote it or say, “Okay, now we’re going to put you on the cross,” or to make everybody feel the pain, “We’re going to give up fifty percent of our income this month.” That stuff is nonsense.
2 Corinthians 8:7 – But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
It is a grace, it is a blessing, it is something that God must bestow and He must work and that He longs to do so. Just look again at verse 7. “But just as you excel in everything in faith”—you know that faith comes from heaven and you know we fan that into flame, we know that we make it alive. We know that we walk in it, we encourage it by our surrender. Just as you excel in speech. Learning how to talk to people, learning how to present scripture to them, learning to let the Holy Spirit flow through them. That all must come from the Lord to know how to talk to other people. In knowledge, in complete earnestness, you know that zeal, that effort of doing everything with our whole heart must come from the Holy Spirit with cleansing and working. And in your love for us—we certainly know that must come from the Holy Spirit. “See that you also excel in the grace of giving.” So this is something that we can go back for and we say to the Lord, “Lord, I don’t understand this. I don’t even have this. It’s not even in my heart.” If your heart is cold toward it, admit it. Confess it before Him and say, “God, make me an example of someone on fire by grace. Work within me that surrender. Do it, it is Your labor and Your work.” So none of us have it. None of us were born hating and despising money. I guarantee you. None of us were in that place where we just came in to Jesus Christ and we’re all ready to roll. This is the grace that He must work. And let us pray and ask that He work it and let us walk in the light so that it will happen. And let’s fan it into flames. Let’s learn to hate and despise money and we’ll find a tremendous joy in our labor.
So those are the basics of what we have to give up. We’re not going to pass the plate or buckets, you know, just be faithful and consistent with whatever you’ve decided to do and we’ll go from there.
Let’s go ahead and pray:
Father, open our eyes to the needs of Jesus. Overwhelm us, Father, with these needs and the work for which You’ve called us to so that we may not depend upon our efforts or our strength. Let our faith be rich and alive, Father. Let us not be caught up in the petty things of worrying about a dollar here or two dollars over here or we can’t meet this or we can’t do that. But, Father, even if we don’t have physical means we can pray. Even if we are not able to do what we think we want to do, Father, we can still plead before You to work it in some other way. Let us, Father, be able to meet many needs in Jesus Christ. Show us how to excel in this grace and this gift, Father. And work a unity within this body, Father, that our joy will be complete. And we each will willingly offer ourselves to You that we all might spend our time worshipping and glorying, Father, Your tremendous power and grace. And we pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.