Open to the Gospel of Luke if you would please. The Gospel of Luke. I’ve been looking forward to this day for a number of reasons. The Lord really stirred my heart actually a couple months ago when I talked to you about finances. And everybody said …
That was almost everybody. I’m quite impressed actually. Somebody once said the wallet is the last thing to get converted when we come to Christ. I’ve kind of wondered, If that’s the case, was it really a conversion? Jesus seemed to declare things a little bit differently. I tell you what, I am so interested in seeing Jesus reign as Lord on this earth. I’m hungry for it. Do you know that everything you hunger for, everything that you desire and have a passion for in life that is right and ordained of God is there because He planted in you a sovereign passion for the Kingdom of God? The Kingdom of God is established in the hearts of anyone who walks under the Lordship of Jesus.
When it comes to the subject of finances, we’ve got to walk somewhat carefully, but I’m not going to. I’m not a very careful person so I’m just going to stomp on everybody’s toes, including my own. So, you might just want to curl them under and get them out of the way a little bit because I’m just going to go for it like a bull in a china shop. But I want to take a look at something here and I’ll tell you the reason and the motivation. First of all, in obedience to the Lord, I do believe real strongly that God spoke to my heart a couple months ago before ever coming here. In fact, before I ever knew I was coming here, or before you knew it. Or that we would be dealing with this subject so close to the beginning of our time together. I’m going to share with you a scripture here to kind of launch us into this subject. I want you to understand my heart and the reason why.
Spiritual Kindergarten—How We Handle Finances
The way that we treat the finances in our own life biblically is the kindergarten of our spiritual life. You can’t get on to first, second, third grade until you do what He says with finances. It’s a very critical thing. It really has nothing to do with the dollar. It has to do with the Lordship of Jesus Christ. God is not broke. He owns everything. Psalms 24 verse 1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (KJV). He owns all the cattle on a thousand hills. The Bible tells us the gold is His. Everything is His. God is not somehow wringing His hands wondering if He can pay PG&E tomorrow. He’s not nervous about this at all. God has a very good power plant going for Himself and there is no nervousness. There is no sense of need on His behalf, but I tell you what. Everything that God has ever commanded you and me to walk in has come because of His great love for us. Does that make sense to you?
Whenever God commands me to do something, it’s because of His love for me. Commandments, if we come to the scriptures from a worldly mind, we look at as restrictive. Commandments, the things that God commands me to do, are actually liberating. It’s hard to comprehend how living within the commandments of the Lord, there’s more room to live than there is outside the commandments of the Lord. It’s a difficult thing to comprehend that inside is bigger than the outside. But that’s the reality of following after God, because in walking in obedience to God in all the different aspects and areas of our life, it releases His blessing. There’s not a person in this room who has truly met God that does not have a passion for the supernatural. It comes instinctively. It’s birthed in us. We read the stories in here of the multiplying of the loaves and the fishes. Anybody hungry for that kind of thing? For that kind of a day where the miraculous is not the exception but it’s the rule? Anybody else hungry for that?
Everybody has that desire instinctively. It’s there. It’s there because it came with that new nature. It came when we were born again, that passion for the supernatural. But here’s our problem, most of us want the supernatural but we do one of two things wrong. Number one, many of us want the supernatural but we want to control it. Right? We want to be, so don’t give me that religious look. We like to be in control of things, right? Who wants to be a part of something where we lose control? We like to be in control of those kinds of things and so if the miraculous could just happen, say before 10:30, it would be great, wouldn’t it?
We like to be in control, number one. Number two, here’s the other error that we tend to fall into when it comes to the supernatural—we would like for it to just happen. I’m going to attend church and if God wants to heal me, He’ll just heal me because then I’ll believe that’s His will. Now, a lot of people fall into that category and forgive me, but that’s really a screwy way to think. Most often God does whatever He wants. He visits people and brings healing to them. This over here, He can do whatever He wants. He even works sometimes when I’m grabbing for control. He says, “Hey, I’ll humor you, Bill. I’m going to give you what you ask for, but I’m going to call for it later.” He tends to work with us that way. Most of the time, the supernatural is released through our obedience.
The Test for the Release of God’s Blessings
We hunger for Heaven to break forth into this life, but most of the time, it breaks through in response to radical obedience surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus. Luke 16. We’re going to take a couple verses here that I love. I’m not going to read the whole chapter. It’s certainly a wonderful lesson on the Lordship of Jesus bringing our economics, if you will, under His control, but there are two verses here that seem to summarize things for me. So, I’m going to share them with you. Verse 11 and 12. “Therefore, if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? If you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?” (NKJV). Now, let’s read those two verses again. “Therefore, if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, and the way you use it, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” Verse 12. “If you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?”
These two verses essentially say the exact same thing. This first verse, verse 11, tells us that we are being tested in the way we take care of the finances, the resources that He gives us. We need to broaden the subject of resources to certainly more than the dollar. It’s our time, it’s our giftings, it’s what we do with what He’s given to us. At another time, I’m going to come back to this term “mammon” because it says that we cannot serve both God and mammon. It’s interesting to note that when Jesus makes reference to mammon in that context, He refers to it as a personality because there is a spirit of mammon.
Now, I’m not one that tends to preach what many have called the “health and wealth gospel,” but I don’t preach the “disease and poverty” gospel either. I believe that God is very interested in every one of us being taken care of and walking in health, divine health. I mean, prosperity financially is having what you need to take care of stuff and being able to be generous to the ministry of God and on the face of the earth. Jack Hayford put it this way. He says, “Prosperity is not measured by what you have. It’s measured by what you’ve given away.” In this passage in Luke 16 Jesus says, “If you’ve not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust true riches to you?” The test for the release of the blessing of God on people’s lives is the way we handle money. That is the scripture. If I’m not faithful with what God has given me in the dollar, then who is going to entrust true riches to me? True riches is not more money.
If you examine scripture, and we don’t have time on a Sunday morning to do this, but if you examine scripture and look at what He describes as true riches, you’ll find what is number one. In one of the epistles of John, I believe it’s 3 John, it says, “May you prosper… and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 3:1). Take that phrase, “soul prospers.” Prosperity of soul is one of the Kingdom blessings. The Kingdom of God is not meat or drink, but what? Righteousness, peace and joy. There is prosperity of soul. Peace of mind. Joy that affects the emotions and the thought life of an individual. God has for every person prosperity of soul.
The Bible declares to us that he who is not faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, money, cannot be entrusted with what isn’t the true riches of God. It begins with prosperity of soul. We know in scripture that prosperity is referred to in the book of Proverbs. The great gift of prosperity in Proverbs is wisdom. It’s the spiritual blessings of God. Could I extend it a point and even say that the gifts of the Spirit could be a part of the prosperity of God and His blessings in our life. That the gifts of the Spirit are operative as we move in the supernatural—we take His gifts, His blessings and we bring them to people. We impart them to people. There’s not a person in this room that doesn’t desire to increase in your ability to take that which belongs to God and impart it to somebody else to change their life forever.
That is instinctively a part of our life. Yet the Bible is very clear there’s a test for us to be fully released into what God’s called us to be. The test is very simple. “He who is not faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon will not be considered trustworthy to release the full blessing of God.” Interesting. The second verse is really the same thing. It says the exact same thing. “He who is not able to handle that which is another person’s will not be given what is his own.” That essentially is saying the same thing. This is why: The Bible tells us first of all, we’ve been bought with a price. Amen? We’ve been bought with a price.
Who Has Ownership Over My Life?
I am a slave. I’m a servant. I own nothing. Do you understand that? I own nothing. I am owned. Everything under my charge does not belong to me, but it belongs to the one who owns me. The Bible says that we are slaves of the one we obey. Every one of us, we’re servants or slaves of sin and we’re the devil’s possession. When the gospel message came to you, you believed in this wonderful truth that salvation was made available to all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus. When you believed, the ownership over your life was changed from the prince of the power of the air, he who brings darkness and damnation to people, to you being a descendant and heir of God Himself. All that belonged to you went from belonging to Satan to now God being the master and owner of everything in your life. All the gifts, the abilities. Everything that we have. Every dollar. Everything now belongs to God.
We as believers are called stewards in the Bible. A steward is one who oversees another person’s possessions. It would be like somebody who oversees somebody’s estate. They would help them invest their money. They would oversee their property. They would make sure that all the other servants were doing what they’re supposed to do. They are someone who is in charge of overseeing that which belongs to another. That’s what a steward is. Every born-again believer is a steward. We are stewards of what belongs to God. Every car you drive. Every house that is lived in by the people in this room, it belongs to God. It is all His. Everything is His.
I’m a steward. I am given the responsibility to oversee that which belongs to another. What is the lesson here? He says if I cannot take care of that which belongs to another, which is every physical thing I own, then how will I be given that which is to be my own, which is the spiritual blessing from God? The spiritual blessings from God actually become my own because they become a part of my very being. I am not just a steward now of another man’s possession when wisdom has been given to me for a decision or healing for my body. It is something that I possess because it belongs to me. God has given it to me as a gift and yet the Bible says that if I do not know how to take care of that which belongs to another, how could I ever be trusted to oversee that which is my own?
Now in God’s mercy, everybody in this room has disobeyed God at some point in time in life and aren’t we thankful that He didn’t rip up our birth certificate into the Kingdom of God? I’m so glad that we live in blessings even though sometimes we live as jerks. That God still knows how to bless His people. But I’ll tell you what. There’s not a person in this room who has disobeyed God in this area that has become what God has intended them to be. It’s true. There’s not a person in the Body of Christ that has become all that God wants them to be who has disobeyed God in this particular area, in the area of finances. It is the starting point in the race of the gospel.
The Lordship of Jesus must be demonstrated in every believer’s life as we work to oversee that part of our life that is not ours. It belongs to Him. I prove my faithfulness day after day after day with the way I give oversight to that which belongs to another. I don’t know what you do with that. To me, anytime I see a responsibility like this in scripture, I find it to be encouraging. This is not restrictive. Because whenever God sets before me a door where there is an opportunity for me to meet Him in a new way, it means that if I will obey, I will enter into something that is greater than I ever could have imagined. That’s the way the Kingdom works. It’s beyond my comprehension. Anybody say amen to that?
God has laid before us opportunities in life. This is going to sound strange, especially in a period of time when the church is so gun shy because of the sins of leaders in the body of Christ financially. There have been blatant sins. They’ve been published in our newspapers, our Christian magazines, all these things. These sins have been reported of great Christian leaders who have done absolutely stupid things financially. Listen to me. Does somebody else’s sin release me from obeying God and the scriptures? I never have that luxury to say I am now justified to disobey God because so and so fell or so and so sinned. That is never the case. I am still held accountable to live under the Lordship of Jesus. Listen, these are wonderful times. They are also turbulent times. And because they are turbulent times, it is critical that we as the Body of Christ covenant together that no matter who falls, we continue walking.
David said one thousand may fall at my right and ten thousand at my right, and ten thousand at my left … I got up early and I’m not really sure which hand is which, but you know what I mean. Yet David confesses, “I’m going to stand firm.” I’d like to hear that kind of a confession from you and me: “No matter what happens I have committed myself to not base my success on the obedience of somebody around me. I’m going to receive. I’m going to be accountable. I walk with Jesus.” Now, time does not permit us to do all that I would like to do. I keep coming back to that statement and forgive me for doing so, but I have so much to tell you here because this is such wonderful news for me. I honestly love and get excited when I have an opportunity to teach on finances. It’s not because I have my act together in every aspect of finances.
The Tithe and the Offering Brings the Release of the Miraculous
I know how to give and I’ve seen God use that in my life in the tithe, in the offering to bring the release of the miraculous. This does not mean that somehow with my dollar I can buy a miracle. But with my dollar I bring myself under His leadership, and under His Lordship there is all kinds of stuff that I really want in my life. Turn with me if you would to Malachi chapter three. It’s the most famous passage in the scriptures on the tithe. It’s the last book of the Old Testament, the third chapter. In fact, some people have never read the rest of the book just because of this part that’s in here, but we’re going to read it anyway. One of these days I’m going to surprise you perhaps with a series on Malachi. Malachi is a wonderful exhortative prophesy to priests about giving God their best.
But we’re going to read this passage of scripture here. Malachi chapter three. Last book in the Old Testament. We’re going to begin with verse six. “For I am the Lord, I do not change.” Old Testament or New Testament. I do not change. “’Therefore you are not consumed, oh sons of Jacob. Yet from the days of your fathers, you have gone away from my ordinances and have not kept them. Return to me and I will return to you says,’ the Lord of hosts. ‘But you said, “In what way shall we return?” Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, “In what way have we robbed You?”’” God’s answer? “In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse for you have robbed Me. Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and try me now in this.” Test me now in this and see, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:6-10 NKJV).
Is there anyone that has had so much blessing of the Lord come into your life that you just don’t have any more room to receive it? You’ve been begging Him, “Stop God. Stop. I can’t handle anymore.” Anybody? Rats. I was going to have you preach the rest of the sermon. This is not theory. This is the Word of God. The same Word of God that said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” It’s the same scriptures that gave us the opportunity for salvation. We believed; we received and have become born again. This same Word has presented to us a challenge. It’s like God is saying, “Over here is this area, is this world, is this realm of blessing and you can’t handle all the blessing I’ve got set aside for you.”
You just simply can’t handle it, but to get there you’ve got to walk into this realm of the tithe and the offering. Now, He’s real specific. God is not worried about hurting our feelings. Anybody ever notice that before? He’s not insecure at all. He’s real secure in who He is and He’s not worried if I’m going to react to something that He might say. He says, “You’ve robbed me. You’ve stolen.” Do you understand that if we had people in the church that had been robbing banks, we would confront that, wouldn’t we? We would call that sin, we would nail it. We would send people to talk with them. We would try to restore them, get them to walk in repentance, but when it comes to the tithe and the offering…“it’s everybody’s personal decision.”
No, the decision has been made by the Father. The Father says you rob me or you do what I say. What is the tithe? The tithe means 10%. You can’t tithe 5%. I saw a cartoon once about the generic church—home of the 15-minute devotional and the 5% tithe. You can’t tithe 20%. Tithe means tenth. That’s what it means. Tithe is 10%. He says you have robbed me because you have not brought the tithe into the storehouse. Now, I can’t take you through this book of Malachi but it’s a wonderful lesson on how the people of God, the priests of God were bringing to God lame sacrifices. They were not giving Him their best. Do you understand that God makes serving Him real simple? He says give me your first, give me your best. That’s it.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse. Try me now in this.” There is no area of life where God has said, “I now give you permission to test me.” It’s the only place in scripture. Every other area God teaches us in the Bible, “Don’t test God. Don’t test God. Don’t test God.” There’s this line drawn in the cement. Don’t you dare cross over. You don’t test God. Satan came to tempt Jesus and Jesus came back with the answer, “Man, you just don’t test God. You don’t tempt God.” But now God speaks to His people and He says, “There’s one area where I will give you access and opportunity to test me.” That’s in finances. That’s in our giving. That’s in the tithe and the offering. It’s the only area that we have not only been given opportunity, but we’ve been given a divine invitation by God, “Come. See if you can out-give me. I challenge you. See if you can out-give me.”
The Tithe Belongs to God
The tithe is not a gift. What do we do with the tithe? Can we take the tithe and send it to a missionary friend over here? Can we take the tithe and send it to the church down the road? Can I feed the poor with the tithe? No. No. God is very clear. Leviticus 27 says you cannot consecrate or dedicate the tithe, that which belongs to God. Why? It’s already dedicated. He already said, “It’s to go here.” So, if I take it and rededicate it, I’ve taken what belongs to Him and I do not have the authority to redirect it. He said it belongs in the storehouse. Why? Because when we tithe in the storehouse of God, which is the place for the people of God to come together for food, there is the release of full and complete ministry to touch and change and transform people’s lives.
That’s what it’s there for. It’s not mine to redirect. The offering I can give to the Cancer Society. I can give for public TV. I can give for the missionary friend that’s overseas. I can give to whoever I want. The guy sitting next to me that doesn’t have enough for his car payment tomorrow. The offering is mine to direct any place that I want to because it’s mine. The tithe has been already directed by God and it must be released where He says to release it. Alright? “Test me now in this,” He says. The Bible also gives us something interesting. There’s a whole bunch of standards that the Bible gives us on the tithe. I find them kind of humorous. Do you mind if I just read through some of them for us?
Some people have stated that the tithe is the law. We’re now under grace, which basically means under the law God can make you do something hard and under grace you get to do what you want. Hebrews chapter seven, verses one and two. It says, “Melchizedek, king of Salem … to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all” (NASB). Four hundred years before the law, Abraham tithed. Jacob, one of his descendants says, “Of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee,” we have in Genesis 28:22 (KJV). Then comes the law. Leviticus 27:30, “All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree. It is holy to the Lord” (NKJV). The law ratified what was already written.
May I suggest the tithe, the concept of the tithe is written in the heart of people. There are people who don’t know Jesus that tithe. Why? It’s instinctively the right thing to do. We take a portion of our income, 10% for some reason is the one that people fall to, and they make that donation. John and Yoko Lennon tithed. Jesus after the law in Matthew 23 verse 23 says, “You tithe of mint and cumin and these things you should have done without neglecting the rest.” What is Jesus saying there? He ratifies what was established in the heart of men before the law. It was ratified by the law. Jesus comes along and He says, “This tithe, you should have done but don’t do it at the cost of neglecting true compassion for people.” How many of you know it’s not either or? If I tithe, I now get to be rude. Right? It’s not like, “Well, tithing is the real test of maturity and now that I tithe I can do anything I want.” No. It’s your tithe. You take what belongs to God, you give it to Him and in light of that, walk in compassion for people because that’s the real heart of the law. Amen? It’s loving people, alright?
The Consequences of Withholding the Tithe
Let me move through some of these. I find some of these interesting. Our church fathers practiced the tithe. After Jesus, the early church fathers practiced and taught the tithe. There’s a list of them I have here. Let me just read a quote to you from Augustine. How many of you heard of a man named St. Augustine? Some of you have. Okay. Others of you are wondering whose books I read. He said, “Our ancestors used to abound in wealth of every kind for this reason. They used to give tithes and pay their tax to Caesar. …We have been unwilling to share the tithes with God, and now the whole is taken away.” We’ve got before the law, we’ve got the law, we’ve got Jesus, we’ve got the early church fathers. They make this strong declaration to us: The tithe is not yours. I’ve got some interesting news for you, and you all know this but you need to be reminded: We never get to keep the tithe.
If I don’t give it to God, then God gives it to the devourer. You never get to keep it. That’s the bummer. You withhold it and what happens? A car breaks down again. Washing machine, amazing how many times that thing can break. Hello. Storm comes, a fence blows over, this happens. It’s amazing how many crazy things happen for people who just withhold the tithe. Why? Because you’ve become a legal target to the devourer. Does that scare anybody at all? A legal target. God says, “Yep it’s legal. He’s got a bull’s-eye right on his chest. Go for it. Just don’t take his life.”
Then He says, “But if we bring the tithe into the storehouse and move in tithes and offerings, listen, you take 90% of your income. You can live further on 90% when it’s submitted to God than you can 100% when you got the devourer working in your life. How many of you know the devourer doesn’t always stop at 10% loss? Now, I like the idea of obeying God, having God showing up, thrashing the devourer on my behalf and then turning and blessing me beyond my comprehension. I get thrilled with this idea. You know why? It builds my dependency on Him.
Do you know what? Many in this room have become dependent on Christian culture and not God. Christian culture. We meet every week. We do the same stuff. We sing certain songs. We have certain methods and programs to our life. We have all these activities. In fact, you could get swept up in what we’re doing and never, ever meet Jesus. People who have met Jesus can get involved in the religious system and completely lose sight of why we’re here. That’s why obedience releases God, the supernatural into our life, to bring supernatural demonstration of how He still is the provider. It’s never changed. The One who multiplied the loaves and the fishes, the One who caused Peter’s shadow to heal the sick. That Jesus is living here in me and in you and is resonant in this house today. The same One. The One and Only. He is alive today and He waits for His people to break forth into radical obedience so that He can radically demonstrate His love and power. That’s what He waits for.
Most of the supernatural demonstrations of God on behalf of mankind are in response to obedient people and I’m hungry for it. I’m hungry for it. Years ago a man I know of, as a result of his pastor’s teaching, prayed and committed himself to God to tithe. It’s quite a few years ago. His first week’s pay was $10…quite a few years ago. His tithe was $1. As he grew older, he became more and more prosperous. His tithe became $7.50 a week, then $10. He moved to another city and his tithe was $100 a week, then $200. Then $500. He sent his pastor friend a wire. “Come see me. Urgent.” The pastor arrived at the man’s beautiful home. They had a good time talking over old times. Finally the man came to the point. “You remember that promise I made years ago to tithe. How can I get released? When I made the promise, I only had to give $1 but now it’s $500. I can’t afford to give away money like that.” The old pastor looked at his friend and said, “I’m afraid we cannot get a release from the promise, but there’s something we can do. We can kneel down and ask God to shrink your income so you can afford to give $1 again.” Oh. I love that story.
There’s a funny verse in Leviticus 27. God says, “You can borrow the tithe.” Did you know that? You can borrow it but He charges 20% interest. He does. You read it. It’s there. He said, “You can borrow it, just add a fifth part which is 20% interest” (see Lev. 27:31). Boy, He runs a high-interest loaning operation here. It would be better to owe anybody else than to owe God.
The Test Is Before Us
Here we are, we are a people who have sung and demonstrated our praise to a God we cannot see. Yet every one of us has been transformed by His love. We’ve come together, and we do so week after week, to celebrate the goodness of God and we pray and serve to see the gospel spread throughout all the earth. We’ve tasted so much of His blessings. We hear together of the testimony of miracles, of healings. Certainly, we’ve seen conversions. We’ve seen so many things happen and we’re blessed. Church, you need to understand, God has put a test before us and I speak to you this morning with real sincere conviction of heart. What I want to see requires us to pass this test. It’s the thing that I really am hungry for. What you do in response to my message has nothing to do with my income, because I get my income from God. What you do with your life, with what God has given to you, determines the real depth of the supernatural that this body of believers is going to enter in to.
Because never does sin only affect you. Never. That’s never the case. The city of Jericho… how much time do I have? Oops. Not enough time to go into Jericho. Trust me, you’ll have to take my word for it. I’ll just jump right to the conclusion of this illustration—one man’s sin brought about the death of 36 innocent, obedient people. The thing that every one of us must come to grips with is that when we choose individually to do what we want over what God has commanded for us in our life, we bring something into the Body of self-determination and self-will that affects everybody around is. It’s the reason why we are exhorted in scripture to walk with a sober heart, to walk circumspectly. It doesn’t mean to walk depressed. It doesn’t mean to walk in a non-joyful manner at all. Quite the opposite. To handle this thing, we must realize that God has put something divine and supernatural in our hands, and the passion of my life is to prove to be faithful.
That’s the real goal. Gifts come. Some people get a lot, some people get few. Matters not to me. That’s not the test. The test is that I take what He’s given to me and I use it faithfully. There are people in this room that I know who have debated this issue of the tithe and have come to the conclusion that the tithe is a part of the Old Testament law. I’d like for you to turn to one more scripture. Matthew chapter five. Matthew chapter five, verse 21 and 22. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of judgment.” We’ll leave that story. Let’s go to another, verse 27. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28 NKJV).
Let’s assume for a moment that the tithe is completely based in the law. How does Jesus treat the law? See, living under grace does not mean that we are free from commandments. “In the law,” Jesus said, “You were told don’t murder. But I say to you…” and He is the author of grace… “and I say to you that it’s not just murder, but it’s those who are angry in their heart toward their brother without a cause.” What does He do? Does He weaken the commandment under the law or does He take it deeper still, requiring more of the human heart? “Adultery,” He says, “You heard the law said, ‘Don’t commit adultery,’ but I’m taking it a step further.” Grace will always drive deeper than the law could ever hope to drive. He says, “Whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery.”
For those of you who say the tithe is under law, then I say take a look at the way Jesus treated the law. Would He not much more come to us, instead of using such a thing as an excuse for not giving our funds to support the ministry of God on the planet? Instead of creating such an excuse, would He not say then, “Everything that you own is mine, and the tithe is absolutely just the bare-minimum beginning place.” There is no giving with the tithe. The tithe is my rent for breathing His air, living on His planet.
As I obey God in a simple area and learn to test Him with offerings beyond what I can afford, I have seen the demonstration of the supernatural. I’m going to be sharing miracles with you. I know that I’ve heard of miracles already in this room of how God repeatedly over and over again shows up and does a miracle because somebody obeyed in this area. This is my passion, to see the Lordship of Jesus established in His house and see the release of the blessing of God in full measure. That’s my Christ.
Stand with me please. I’m going to ask you to do something. I’m not going to take an offering. Don’t get nervous. But I do want you to take your purse out, your wallet, whatever you have that seems to represent for you your earning power. I want us to pray a prayer of dedication. It was quite a few weeks ago that the Lord began to stir my heart for this Sunday.
I know from my own practice the miracles of God and how He has shown up in my life over and over and over again when I have dared to obey, in spite of how things looked. I want us to pray a prayer of dedication and consecration. Now obviously this requires a surrender on your part for it to be meaningful at all. But I believe many of you have heard the word of the Lord and God is wanting to make adjustments. Some of you tithe and give offerings and yet God has just put a word of faith in your heart to go beyond what you’ve ever done. Test Him. Be free to do so. Some of you thought you were giving all you had when you just showed up on Sunday, and this is brand-new news to you and it scares you to death.
Most of us can relate. The miracle of God is released through simple obedience. I have no desire for your money. It’s not useful to me. But I tell you what, to be walking shoulder to shoulder with people who are completely surrendered to the King, that is of great use and delight to me. Would you join with me from the heart? Put that which is in your hand before you. Lay a hand on it and let’s pray together. Father, it’s not much. It seems almost silly to even have to pray about such a thing. God, we confess you own it all. It’s all Yours in the first place. It’s all Yours. We are only what You’ve made us to be and we rejoice in that. We pray now in the name of the Lord Jesus, help us walk in obedience in this part of our life that we may be a people who are released into Your blessing, in a way that we’ve never seen or known before. I pray this in Jesus’ name.
I’m going to ask you right where you are, nobody needs to show any hands or anything, but you need to covenant with God. If you’ve not been walking in obedience, don’t leave the way you came in. Confess it, deal with it, and ask God to give you the grace to walk in obedience. You make your commitment to Him to walk in obedience to God. It’s critical that we leave this moment with a confession of faith: God, I will obey. Father, I pray that for everybody in this room. That we would be a people who know what it is to walk in obedience to You and everybody said…Amen.