THE GIFT OF A CHEERFUL HEART
Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
In these scriptures we find the basic law of God concerning sowing and reaping. I felt that now was the right time to bring this message to the church as a reminder of what God expects of us in the area of our sowing, or giving, to His kingdom. Too often, we as Christians, become lax in our obedience to the commandment of God to give to him what is rightfully His in the first place. Then we forget that we have disobeyed God and wonder why we find ourselves in difficulties.
How many of you want a bountiful harvest in your health? …In Your Home?…on your Job?…in all of your business affairs?… in your marriage?….in your income?…in all that you do? I’m sure that all of us would say AMEN to those questions. Who would not want God richest blessings in every area of our lives?
If we are to receive God’s blessing then we must obey God’s law first of all. God has given us so many great promises concerning the sowing and reaping of our increase into His kingdom. One such passage in the Bible is found in 2 Corinthians 9:6-11, “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.”
Giving to God of our tithes and offerings is directly related to our attitude toward God and our trust in His faithfulness to fulfill the promises that He has given to us!
Most of the time when a sermon goes forth concerning what we should give to the Lord, you can just look around the congregation and see the lights going off inside the heads of many people. We don’t like to hear these types of messages because, for the vast majority of Christians who go to our churches, their attitude toward giving to God is that they will only give to Him what is extra or what we might consider “leftovers” after we have used up as much as we needed first.
How many of you like to eat “leftovers”? I have been to some of your homes and looked in as you opened the door to your refrigerator and I have seen some scary sights! Sometimes the leftovers stay in the refrigerator long enough to evolve into a higher life form – that is if we believed in evolution in the first place, which we don’t. But when you look into the refrigerator and see your leftovers growing long green tentacles that come out from under the lid and down the sides of the pot then wrap around the wire mesh of the shelf, it’s time to kill it and get rid of it so we can start the process over again. Why do things grow in the refrigerator? They grow there because none of us really care for leftovers?
If we don’t like leftovers, I don’t think we should expect God to like them either! God expects our best and only our best.
Proverbs 3:9-10, “Honor the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”
What are those “firstfruits”? Just imagine that you went out to pick strawberries and you wanted to pick a 10 basket flat of berries. If you were to take the best berries in the row and put only those into a single basket and then when that basket is full, that is the tithe that you owe to the Lord. It’s the same with your time, your finances, and everything else that God blesses you with.
Leviticus 27:30, “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD.”
How many people I know that won’t give God what belongs to Him in the first place! In the giving of their time – they will work 8, 10 or 12 hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week and if you ask whether they took time to pray or thank God for the ability to work, they say that they are too tired. Too many of us try to give God our leftover time and, in this day and age, there aren’t very many leftover hours. Most of us give God the time right after we turn off the TV, lay back on our pillow and close our eyes and then fall asleep!
What about in the giving of the tithe of their labor or talent? We should realize that any talent, ability or knowledge that we have are the result of God’s blessing to us! What do we do those blessings? We give all our energy into producing things or doing things for the boss on the job, or the “boss at home” but so very little is really given to the Lord for Him to use us in building up the Kingdom of God. How much strength do we have left to give to God after we have worked for 40 or so hours on the job, then another 20 or 30 hours for our selves around the house? We come to God’s house on Sunday and/or Wednesday for about 2 hours a few times a week and then fight to keep ourselves awake long enough to hear a 45 minute message from God’s Word.
It’s no wonder that God can’t reach out and bless some of us! I believe that God wants to reach out and touch us but we can’t feel His touch because we are too worn out from doing our own thing!
God will accept nothing less than your best and your firstfruits. Anything less is an insult to God’s love, mercy and grace. Annanias and Sapphira died before the altar in the temple because they lied to the Holy Ghost and only brought forth a part of the price of the land that they had promised to God in its entirety. The next time the offering plate is passed or you are asked to do something for the Lord and you give half-heartedly or begrudgingly – you may want to make sure that you are wearing your rubber tennis shoes because a lightning bolt may just come down and strike you where you are. Our ushers may want to purchase rubber-soled shoes for receiving the tithes and offerings to avoid being “hit” by the power of God upon those who are giving!
The congregation of our church has always been generous and the needs of the church have been met, but there is always a need for more income to pay for new ministry. We cannot allow ourselves to grow too complacent with the status quo. We have to strive to be what God wants us to be.
I like the story I heard of 2 men who were marooned on a Desert Island. One of them paced back and forth because he was worried and afraid that he would die on that island while the other man was just laid back, relaxing and dozing while getting a good tan. The first man said, “Aren’t you worried?” The second answered, “No, I’m not worried at all. I make $100,000 week and I tithe faithfully to my church. My Pastor will find me!
Or maybe you will like the story of the Preacher who was attempting to break all records in the drive to raise money for Missions. He wired all the pews to an electric current and when he asked for people to stand who would be willing to donate at least $100 to missions, he hit the switch and almost everyone jumped up! (Now where is that switch I had a minute ago?) Notice that I said, “Almost everyone jumped up”. There were several tight fisted people who wouldn’t get up no matter what and were electrocuted rather than give in the offerings.
I hope that all of you know that we are far more interested in your spiritual well being than we are in getting your money. In all the time that Victory Temple has existed, I think that this is the first time that this type of sermon was ever preached. Perhaps we should do it more often – but there is always the fear of driving someone away in anger.
My greatest desire is to see all of you so greatly blessed that you cannot contain those blessings! I hope that God pours miracle after miracle into your life; miracles of healing; miracles of finances; miracles of peace, joy and happiness; and most of all, miracles of spiritual blessings! But I know that those types of miracles will never come unless we first give unto God with a Cheerful heart of our firstfruits and the best that we have to give.
The CHEERFUL HEART – that’s the heart with the right attitude! That’s the kind of heart that loves to give, not expecting anything in return but knows that God’s blessings are sure to come because God said that they would.
The Cheerful Heart does squeeze a penny until Lincoln bleeds copper! A Cheerful Heart doesn’t have tears in their eyes when they see their $5 bill go floating down the pew in the offering plate. A cheerful heart knows that giving to God is a privilege and an honor.
Some of us remind me of the story of the family that left the church a few weeks ago and the father started complaining about everything in the service. The music was too loud. He didn’t like the songs that were sung. He didn’t like the message he had heard. He didn’t get to hear the announcements. The sanctuary was too hot. On and on he went until his small son, sitting on the back seat, said, “Well Dad, you have to admit it wasn’t a bad show for only a dollar.”
A cheerful heart knows that God has blessed them already and given them the ability to get what they have so they can give back to God a portion of it. God lets us keep 90% of everything we have. I only wish the IRS would do the same. It was the singer Ray Stevens who wrote these lyrics into one of his songs, “If 10% is good enough for Jesus, then it ought to be enough for Uncle Sam!”
God help us to have a Cheerful Heart so that our giving may bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ! Don’t look for the accolades of man! If you give to God, then give to Him and let Him give you what you need! If you give to receive praise of men then that’s all you will get in return. God’s reward is so much greater than man’s recognition.
Malachi 3:6-12, “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.”
There is no doubt that some of us have robbed God! Have we stopped to consider that our theft of God’s property may be the reason that He has taken us to the “spiritual woodshed”?
It matters not how old or how young you are, we still owe God a tenth of all that He gives to us. Many of us will give time, but we won’t give a penny of our money. Many of us will give our money, but don’t ask for my time. Many of us won’t give either one because we don’t believe that we can!
God is telling us in Malachi to put Him to the test! Do you think that God has ever or will ever fail a test? I think not!
So what if you can’t pay your bills now. Don’t you know that God can stretch your 90% much farther than you can stretch your 100%?
I have proven this in my life over and again and God has never failed! We lost nearly ½ of our income about 9 months ago. Then, a few months ago, I lost about ¼ of the remaining half, but I’m not complaining. Of course we all would want more, but I want you to know that God has supplied every need and it comes from somewhere when we need it.
Others in the church have been faithful in giving their tithes and God has blessed them and provided their needs even when there was no job or income to count on at all!
God is faithful! Prove His faithfulness by being obedient to His commandments. Bring all your tithes into the House of God and watch God pour out a blessing that you can’t contain. He will give it back to you pressed down, shaken together and running over!
Understand this people of God – You can’t out give God and you can’t get away with not giving to God. God’s resources are greater than we can fathom. His eyes are always watching and He knows our heart.
Let’s have a CHEERFUL HEART and give to God what He requires. Not only should be give what we owe to Him but we should be willing to giving over and above our tithes in the form of an offering.
If we will learn to sow bountifully into the work of the Lord, then that’s when we will begin to reap bountifully also.