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Health Wealth and Happiness





Exodus 35.20-29

Lk 18.9-14

The Provision of God


A pastor visited the property of a farmer in his church and began to talk to him about his willingness to share with others, through the churches offering. “If”, said the pastor, “you had a 100 cows would you give to the Lord 50 of them?” “Sure, I would”, said the farmer. “If you had two hundred sheep, would you give the Lord 100 hundred of them?” “Sure, I would”, said the farmer. “If you had two pigs would you give the Lord 1 of them asked the pastor?” “Hey steady pastor you know I’ve got two pigs.”

Giving what we have away to others will always take an amount of thinking, desire and even courage for us to act.

From our earliest years our first response is to cling to things, hold them tight, call them mine and maybe even refuse the thought of giving away.

Friends today we will be listening to what God has to say about our possessions and finances.

Story about God’s provision

Years ago, a young man began a small cheese business in Chicago. He failed.

He was deeply in debt. “You didn’t take God into your business.

You have not worked with Him,” said a Christian friend to him.

Then the young man thought, “If God wants to run the cheese business, He can do it, and I’ll work for Him and with Him!”

From that moment God became the senior partner in his business. The business grew and prospered and became the largest cheese concern in the world! That man’s name was JL Kraft, and we know the company tody, as Kraft.

When we give ourselves over to God through Christ Jesus all that we are and have, belong to God and through His teachings, we are able to be wise stewards of His blessings on our lives.

Passage: Exodus 35:20-29

So, all the people left Moses and went to their tents to prepare their gifts. [21] If their hearts were stirred and they desired to do so, they brought to the Lord their offerings of materials for the Tabernacle and its furnishings and for the holy garments. [22] Both men and women came, all whose hearts were willing. Some brought to the Lord their offerings of gold—medallions, earrings, rings from their fingers, and necklaces. They presented gold objects of every kind to the Lord. [23] Others brought blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, fine linen, or goat hair for cloth. Some gave tanned ram skins or fine goatskin leather. [24] Others brought silver and bronze objects as their offering to the Lord. And those who had acacia wood brought it. [25] All the women who were skilled in sewing and spinning prepared blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, and fine linen cloth, and they brought them in. [26] All the women who were willing used their skills to spin and weave the goat hair into cloth. [27] The leaders brought onyx stones and the other gemstones to be used for the ephod and the chest piece. [28] They also brought spices and olive oil for the light, the anointing oil, and the fragrant incense. [29] So the people of Israel—every man and woman who wanted to help in the work the Lord had given them through Moses—brought their offerings to the Lord.

Luke 18:9-14

Then Jesus told this story to some who had great self-confidence and scorned everyone else: [10] "Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a dishonest tax collector. [11] The proud Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: 'I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there! For I never cheat, I do not sin, I don't commit adultery, [12] I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.' [13] "But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, 'O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.' [14] I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For the proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honoured."

In talking about wealth, I must say up front, that I am not an advocate of what is commonly known as, the prosperity doctrine. This simply put suggests that God wants you to be wealthy and if you are not then there is something wrong with your faith.

Friends, God blesses all people, He causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust, Matthew 5:45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too.

Wealth is not about our faith in God; our faith in God is about recognising where our wealth comes from.

In making this statement we do need to take into account passages such as Joshua 1.8 which reads, ‘Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth, meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.’

Story of Colin Cotton

A friend of mine took this passage from Roms 13.8 ‘let no debt remain’ into his business practice…

Tell his story….

Paid Bills within 7 days

Triple A Credit rating in Japan

The practices of our lives are to bring honour and glory to God; this is true in the handling of our finances as much as it is in our attitudes.

A Biblical view of finances is that wealth is a blessing from God, we can see this in passages such as Gen13.2; Ps 112.13; 1Tim 6.17.

However, as a follower of Jesus, we realise that physical wealth brings with it the duty of generous liberality towards those in need.

The Bible also recognises that having material wealth brings great challenges to individuals, such as; Failing to acknowledge God as the source of our blessing (Duet 8.17; Hos 2.8), trusting in riches (Ps 52.7), having a materialistic outlook on life (Lk 12.21), a desire for more or greater wealth (1Tim 6.9-10).

As Christians we should have a similar attitude to wealth as King David in 1 Chron 29.14ff


But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you have already given us! [15] We are here for only a moment, visitors, and strangers in the land, as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a shadow, gone so soon without a trace. [16] "O Lord our God, even these materials that we have gathered to build a Temple to honour your holy name come from you! It all belongs to you! [17] I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously. [18] "O Lord, the God of our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make your people always want to obey you. See to it that their love for you never changes. [19] Give my son Solomon the wholehearted desire to obey all your commands, decrees, and principles, and to build this Temple, for which I have made all these preparations." [20] Then David said to the whole assembly, "Give praise to the Lord your God!" And the entire assembly praised the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and they bowed low and knelt before the Lord and the king.

[The author of 1Tim writes that…

1Tim. 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.]

When we look at passages that relate to tithing we can either see it as a duty to follow God’s commands in order to seem religious, or as a response to God’s blessings, grace and mercy that He has poured out on our lives, or we could debate the accuracy and relevance in order to justify our attitudes.

Wherever we sit, it is important to consider the reasons that God called for tithes.

There are two points that I want us to consider briefly today that sometimes I think we as Christians forget.

  1. When God called for tithes in the Old Testament it was to provide for the tribe of priests who where not given an allotment of land as their own and the up keep of the temple, its ministries and services to the poor, widowed and orphans etc. Of the many passages on tithing in the Old Testament, we find various uses for the tithes. The suggestion is made by one commentator, that the reason for this is that, the needs of the times where different and required the tithes to be used in differing ways.

  1. The Israelites not only gave of their tithes, but they gave generously for the provision of the temple when it was required.

In all the passages we find in scripture about giving and tithes we find the common denominator as being that they are given unto the glory of God.

We live under the new covenant, that is the covenant of Christ Jesus, salvation through grace not appeasement by following a set of rules.

It is true that Christ does not command His disciples to tithe and when he does speak of tithing, he is speaking against the Pharisees and their attitudes, however Christ did not say don’t tithe. He challenged the heart attitude and mind set of the person doing the giving.

Christ’s attack on the way the tithes where used was an attack on a lack of a right sense of priorities.

Story of Colgate

The Colgate-Palmolive Company is one of the oldest in America, going back nearly two hundred years. It was started by a young man named William Colgate. He left home at sixteen years of age to seek his fortune, and everything that he owned in this world was tied together in a bundle that he carried in his hand. But as he walked along on his way to the city, he met an old neighbour, the captain of a canal boat who asked him where he was going, “I don’t know, father is to poor to keep me at home any longer, and says I must make a living for myself now.” All I know how to do is make soap and candles. Well the boat captain says let me pray with you and give you some advice. After praying the man said, someone will soon be the leading soap maker in New York. It can be you as much as anybody else. Be a good man, give your heart to Christ, give the Lord all that belongs to Him of every dollar you earn; make an honest soap; give a full pound; and IU am certain you will be a prosperous person.

When William arrived in New York he had trouble finding a job but he followed the man’s advice He gave himself to Christ and began worshipping there. He gave a tenth of the first dollar he earned and from that point on he considered ten cents of every dollar sacred to the Lord. In fact he soon started giving twenty percent and then he raised it to thirty and then fifty. He found himself so successful that he finally gave 100% of his income to the Lord.

Having wealth should bring with it a spirit of contentment, (Ps62.10; 1 Tim 6.8), not a spirit of complacency.

So, if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

1 Tim. 6:8

Faithfulness in the use of our riches brings spiritual reward (Lk 16.11) for true wealth and true riches are the spiritual blessings that God gives, rather than material blessings (Lk 12.33).

"Sell what you have and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven have no holes in them. Your treasure will be safe—no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it.”

Luke 12:33

We cannot ignore the biblical mandate to offer the best and first fruits of what God has provided for us.

Christ in the face of material wealth pointed to the heart of the people giving and reminded His disciples that God desires a broken and contrite heart.

Tithing is a biblical teaching, we are often reminded that Christ didn’t tell his disciples to tithe, I suspect the reason for this is because He expected that they were tithing.

Our Lord reminds us we are to tithe with an open spirit to God rather than with a mechanical response to our religious duty.

Even though we can see through scripture that tithing was used for a variety means, in the NT epistles tithing is not ordered, instead the writers say, giving must be spontaneous and in response to God’s work in each and every one’s lives. 1Cor 16 and 2 Cor 8 and 9 give us a glimpse of Paul’s teaching on this.

Perhaps some of us are thinking I cannot afford to tithe, let me share this story with you.

Lyle Eggleston served as a missionary for many years in a little town on the coast of northern Chile. In time the congregation grew to about eighty adults, but Eggleston was concerned that the Christians in that area didn’t seem to be able to support their own national pastor. The people where very poor and the churches offering amounted to no more than six dollars a month.

One day, Eggleston brought the problem to the Lord during a definite time of prayer. A few weeks later he stopped to visit a middle-aged couple, new converts who had begun the habit of reading their bible everyday. What does this word tithing mean, asked Manuel? We saw it in our reading today and we don’t understand it.

Eggleston didn’t want to answer the question for he knew that the couple where poor and on the verge of destitution. They where somehow managing to feed themselves and their twenty-four Rhode Island hens on the income from the eggs. They insisted on him explaining the word and so he did say that Paul in the NT urged believers lay aside a portion of their income to the Lord.

The following Sunday they came to church smiling and handed in an envelope with 19 cents in it as their tithe.

The following Tuesday they had an exciting story to share with Eggleston.

They had nothing for breakfast and where tempted to take some of the tithe to buy food. They didn’t and as they went about their chores, they found more eggs when the nests where usually empty at that time of day. Then a man came along wanting fertiliser and so they cleaned out the hen house and got a good price and with that they where able to buy groceries and the wife could go into the city and buy a cheap pair of shoes. She found a shoe store went in and discovered it was owned by a nephew she hasn’t seen for more than five years, he gave her the shoes as a gift. The following week Manuel got a job on a project that would last for two years.

Word got out to the others in the church who then began experimenting with tithing and soon the church could pay its bills and support a national pastor working with the Indians and in a short time the could afford to call and finance a pastor of their.

Lyle Eggleston and his wife where able to move to a new location and start a new work as that little church grew.

All because poor believers took God at his word and began to tithe.

See Deut 15.10-11

“Give generously to Him and do so without a grudging heart, then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. V11There will always be poor people [see Matt 26.11] in the land. Therefore, I [this is Moses speaking] command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”

The principle of stewardship is intricately linked to the concept of grace: everything comes from God as a gift and is to be administered faithfully on His behalf.

Are we being wise stewards of God’s blessings upon our lives?

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