Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Effective Stewardship’ Category

Effective Stewardship – Month #5

God grants to people the ability to earn that

which is His already: money and wealth.

“Riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all.

In your hand are power and might;

and it is in your hand to make great

and to give strength to all” (1 Chron. 29:12).

 

An oxymoron is the use of two terms which are contradictory in nature. “Jumbo shrimp” is an oxymoron. “Ferocious lamb” is another. “Dumb scholar” is yet another.

One of the saddest and most contradictory is the oxymoron, “Stingy Christian.”

Because we have been redeemed through our faith in Christ, Christians should be the most generous of all people. We have been abundantly blessed of God, who has given us all things richly to enjoy (Rom. 8:32).

James 1:17 expresses this truth clearly: “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Think about some of God’s good gifts:

  • God gives the seed (Gen. 1:11).
  • God gives the rain (Job 5:10).
  • God gives health (Jer. 30:17).
  • God gives life (Acts 17:25).
  • God gives strength (Isa. 40:29).
  • God gives riches (1 Chron. 29:12).
  • God gives grace (2 Cor. 12:9).
  • God gives eternal life (Rom. 6:23).

And God gives us money and the ability to get wealth.  Solomon said that money is one of God’s gifts to people.  The purpose for which He gives us money is stated clearly in Ecclesiastes 5:19 — for our enjoyment.

Some of us make that the primary reason for money.  We major in pleasure and the things money can do for us.  But there is another major purpose God gives us money, something that also can bring great pleasure: To give it back to Him.

That’s why of all the oxymorons in existence, “Stingy Christian” is the most contradictory.  We who have been given the most from God should be the most generous people in the world.

As the tombstone in an old cemetery read, “What I spent, I had; what I saved, I lost; what I gave, I have.”

 

Advertisements

The Principle of the Test: Every Time You Get Paid, You Take a Test

Here is a short Stewardship meditation by Josh Daffern.


I enjoyed school growing up, but there was one fear that I had, and in fact it was a nightmare I had on more than one occasion. In fact, I’m willing to bet some of you have had a version of this same exact nightmare.

The nightmare is that you walk into school one morning, and everything seems normal. You walk into your first class, and you start to get bad vibes because you see everyone with their heads buried in their textbooks, frantically flipping pages and looking stressed.

And then (here’s where the horror comes in) one of your classmates looks up and says, “Are you ready for the test today?” And then you say the two words you never, ever, ever want to utter as a student: “What . . . test?” Isn’t that a horrible feeling?

As Christian adults, we all take a test multiple times a month, and most of us don’t even realize we’re taking one.

I believe in the Principle of First, that if God is first in your life, everything will come into order.

But if God is not first in your life, nothing will come into order.

I don’t think many Christians would disagree with this concept in theory. It’s the application that gets a bit tricky. This principle includes every area of our lives, including our finances. If God is first in every area of our life but not in our finances, then He’s still not first. That leads to another timeless principle (kudos to Robert Morris and his original sermon on this concept): the Principle of the Test.

The Principle of the Test: Every time you get paid, you take a test. Whether you get paid once a week, twice a month, once a month or at any other interval, every time you get paid, you take a test. The test is simply this: is God first in your finances? Where does the first portion of your income go? Does it go to God or somewhere else? In Matthew 23:23 Jesus affirms the old covenant concept of the tithe when he says,

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” Matthew 23:23

  • Do we trust God with the first portion, the first tenth (tithe) of our income?
  • Tithing is ultimately about trust: do you trust that if you give God your first portion, that He will provide for you and take care of your needs?
  • Do you trust that 90% of your income blessed by God will go farther than 100% of your income not blessed by God?

Whether you realize it or not, multiple times a month, every single time you get paid, you take a test on this critical decision of trust.

  • Is God really first in your life?  Your words may whisper an answer but your pocketbook screams the truth.

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #4

The amount of money we have is determined by God.

“But remember the Lord your God, for it is he

who gives you power to get wealth” (Deut. 8:18).

 

There are some wonderful principles in the Old Testament which apply to present-day Christians.

One of these is in Deuteronomy 8:10-18.  Stated in contemporary language, it says, “When you have eaten and are full, when your cars, houses and bank accounts multiply, don’t forget where it came from: Remember the Lord your God.”

In truth, all that we have comes from God.  He determines what we will receive, whether it be money, gold, silver, houses, land, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, etc.

It all belongs to Him in the first place, and He entrusts it to us.  According to David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 29, riches, honor, power, and wealth all come from God.

That’s why there is no such thing as a self-made man or woman.  Oh, we have to do our part.  God’s plan is not that we just sit around praying and reading the Bible all day long so that what we need to survive will miraculously drop into our hands.

We’re not just to pray for “our daily bread,” but we’re also to get up each day and work for it!   That’s why the Apostle Paul stated clearly, “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10).

But in reality, the amount of money and wealth which we receive is determined by God.  According to His divine will and knowledge, He entrusts to each of us the amounts which He knows will be best for us.

What should be our reaction to our financial state?

  • Some might pray, “Dear Lord, you must have made a mistake concerning me and my finances.  Please give me more money.”
  • Others might try to circumvent God’s design for their lives by trying to win the lottery or to obtain large sums of money through some other means.
  • Mature Christians, however, will realize God’s infinite wisdom far surpasses their limited perspective.  They will accept with a thankful spirit what God has entrusted to them and seek to honor God by their living and by their giving.

Effective Stewardship – Month #2

Because all that we have belongs to God, our goal in using that which belongs to Him is to glorify Him.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

When he was president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Gordon MacDonald said, “One of the greatest teachings missing in the American church today is the reminder to men and women that nothing we have belongs to us.”

We own nothing. We have been given material means to use, but not to own. All that we have belongs to God. He is our Source according to Psalm 62:5. We are only managers and stewards of what He has entrusted to us.

Because all that we have belongs to God, and because He gives us the ability to obtain wealth, every spending decision is in reality a spiritual decision. According to 1 Corinthians 10:31, our constant goal must be to glorify God in all of life, including how we use His resources.

Stephen Olford wrote this: “ . . . man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.’

  • We are to glorify God by our worshipful praise (Psalm 50:23). 
  • We are to glorify Him by our consistent fruitbearing (John 15:8). 
  • We are to glorify Him by our spiritual unity (Rom. 15:6).
  • We are to glorify Him by our entire dedication (1 Cor. 6:20).
  • And we are to glorify Him by our good works (Matt. 5:16). In this last category is included the matter of giving.

Only in this way can we provide for ‘honest things in the sight of the Lord.’ The glory of God should motivate us to give and to give our best.”

If our goals and ambitions are truly set on spiritual things, if our emphasis in life is to glorify God, we will use the funds He has “loaned” to us on a temporary basis to glorify Him. We will put His money and possessions to good use by giving to His work and by storing up “treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:19-21).

There are two key questions to be asked concerning money and possessions:

  • First, are you glorifying God in how you are using the money and possessions He has entrusted to you?
  • And second, are you viewing these things as yours or as His?

 

 

Top 10 Reasons People Don’t Tithe

TithingTithing is a spiritual discipline many Christians practice.

In its simplest form, it means giving back to God 10 percent of what you make.

I’ve practiced it for years as a regular part of my giving.  I tithe ‘plus’ to my local church and I give to other causes on top of that.

However, I’ve seen 10 common reasons that church people give for not tithing. I list them below with a counterpoint below each.

1. It’s all mine anyway. Why should I give?

2. I give elsewhere.

This is the person who counts his giving to secular causes, his time or paying for his child’s Christian school tuition as his tithe.

  • Counterpoint:  Do causes around the purposes of God get the lion’s share of your giving?

3. Tithing is not in the New Testament.

This is one of the most common.

  •         CounterpointWhen Jesus fulfilled the law, He didn’t revise spirituality downward.

4. God will provide through other people. 

This person believes that other people will give to support the cause of Christ in their church.

  •          Counterpoint: God chose to release His resources through all believers.

5. My gifts don’t really count. 

This person thinks that because he can’t give much, his giving really doesn’t matter.

  •         CounterpointDon’t minimize the size of any gift (recall the story of the poor widow in Mark 12.41-44).

Tithing Statistics6. I don’t trust preachers.

This is understandable due to the few high profile ministers who misuse God’s money.

  • CounterpointIf you lead a church, make sure you instill the highest standards of stewardship and accountability.

7. I only give to projects I like.

This is the control freak who only gives to projects he or she can designate funds to. Some people in this category even hold back their giving in their church because they haven’t gotten their way.

  • Counterpoint: Trust your church leadership to wisely manage God’s money.

8. I have no control over my finances. My husband does.

In this case (and it’s almost always a wife in this position) her husband controls the finances and although the wife wants to give, he prohibits it.

  •   CounterpointRest in the Lord, He knows your heart.

9. I will tithe when I can afford it.

  • CounterpointIf you wait, you probably never will. Research shows that contrary to what we might assume, the more money a person makes, the less percentage they give.

10. I’m afraid to. (These people honestly fear what might happen to them or their family if they give.)

  • CounterpointStep out in faith knowing that God promises to meet your needs.

 

Why Should We Give?

OfferingEvery day, we are given the opportunity to open our hearts to the many gifts we have been given by our God. We are asked at that time, to consider what we can give back to God, through our giving. We should remember that giving is not seasonal, but continual.

When considering our giving, there are several questions we need to ask ourselves.

 

• Are we giving for the right reasons?
• Are we giving to our Church to “keep the lights on” or to advance God’s word?
• Are we looking inward or outward?
• Are we giving for mortar or missions?
• Are we giving out of a feeling of begrudged obligation or out of gratitude?
• Do we give only to the ministries we agree with rather than to the overall mission of the church?

There are several reasons people don’t like to give to the church.

• Some may feel that they need to spend the money on themselves and their families.
• Some may have disagreements with church leaders over how the money is spent.
• Perhaps some fear the future – not knowing if they will have enough.

For all the reasons we may have for not being a faithful steward, the Bible gives us reasons why we should.

So, why should we give?

  • We give financially to God because he has given us everything.
  • When we give to God, we are expressing our love to him.
  • We should give to expand his Son’s church.
  • When we give financially to God, we will become rich in every way, but especially spiritually.
  • God gives to us so that we are able to give yet some more.
  • Every possession we have is through God.
  • He provides for us so that we can use His resources to bring Him glory and expand His kingdom.
  • God deserves and expects us to give to Him first before anything else.
  • He expects us to give cheerfully and to give regularly and in accordance with our income.

Please prayerfully consider all these principals today and every day when determining your level of giving.

Deuteronomy 15:10

10 Give generously to them 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.

 

Tithing – Why I Give

Shannon Meister, laywoman, talks about her faith in tithing.

Shannon Meister, laywoman, talks about her faith in tithing.

Recently, someone asked me to provide a testimony about why I give my resources and my gifts to the church. I grew up in The United Methodist Church and was always taught about giving and tithing. Yet, giving a testimony really made me think and reflect about why I truly give.

My parents always made a point to give money every Sunday we were in church, which was nearly every Sunday. My mom used to write the check and let me put it in the offering plate. That left an impression on me because of her faithfulness in this act.

When I was in middle school or high school, I remember having a conversation with our pastor about how and why she tithed 10 percent of her income before taxes. I remember as a young teenager how that simply blew my mind. That memorable conversation has stuck with me so much that as I have gone through various jobs and wages, I have strived to do the same.

One wise pastor often preached that giving is not about the church’s need for money but about our need to give. Isn’t that true of all of our gifts and resources in the church? It is about our need to be a part of something bigger than we are. It is about hope for a better world that we believe and know is possible.

Much too often, it is easy to be caught up in our consumer society where it is all about us. We want better, newer and faster everything. I find this especially true with the technological gadgets in my life. However, we, as Christians, know that this is not where our treasure lies. We know these things are not what is truly important. Yet, we are still tempted, aren’t we?

As I further reflect, I know I have friends who have a lot more time and money than I do. Some days, this bothers me. But when I think about it, I know they probably don’t tithe their resources; and they don’t have something bigger to believe in and live for.

“Crazy,” a song by Mercy Me, states, “Even though the world may think I’m losing touch with reality, it would be crazy to choose this world over eternity.” Even though the world often thinks of Christians as crazy for the things we do and the sacrifices we make, we know there is a bigger picture than just life on this earth, don’t we? That is why I give and why I believe. It is about something bigger than the hour I spend at a missions meeting or the check that I write. It is even about something bigger than a weekend with several thousand youth. It is about how we can pool our resources and change the world by the grace of God.

Adapted from a story by Shannon Meister, director of Culture & Connections at The Way

United Methodist Church Giving is about people working together to accomplish something bigger than themselves. In so doing, we effect change around the world, all in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #1

All that we have belongs to God.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it,

The world, and those who live in it”  (Psalm 24:1)

 

“God Owns It All” is the chapter heading in a book by a Christian author who presents this chapter first as the foundation for money management and giving.

God does own it all! That is the teaching of Psalm 24:1 which says, “The earth is the Lord’s.” Psalm 50:10 says that all of the beasts of the field belong to God, and that the cattle on a thousand hills are His. Haggai 2:8 says that God even owns the sil­ver and gold in all the mines.

Now, He allows us to use what rightfully belongs to Him, but God continues to retain the ownership. We are managers and stewards of what God has entrusted to us. Someday, when we stand before Him, we shall give an account of what kind of job we have done in managing the resources which God has allowed us to use.

That’s why every spending decision becomes a spiritual decision. Every time we use some of God’s money, we are making a decision which has eternal ramifications.

  • Are you using money and possessions as if they belong to you, or are you making spending deci­sions with the full realization that it all belongs to God?

 

Effective Stewardship

Most Christians have never been taught how to give.  The problem is not apathy, but rather, ignorance.  As a result, many Christians give God “left-overs,” i.e., what is left at the end of the month when all other financial obligations have been paid.

At Central Church, we are seeking to instill the principle that God is the owner of everything and that we are managers and stewards of what God has entrusted to us.  Once people come face to face with that principle, they either must change their lifestyle (how they live) or their conscience (what they believe).

We also believe that giving does not begin with the movement of the hand to the wallet, purse or checkbook.  Rather, as clearly taught in Exodus 25:2 and 2 Corinthians 9:7, spiritual giving begins when we give ourselves to the Lord.  When that happens, our financial resources will follow, and we will practice “first-fruits” giving, i.e., giving to God first.

The primary goal of our Effective Stewardship reflections is to help people to be better stewards of all that God has entrusted to them.