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Posts from the ‘Effective Stewardship’ Category

Effective Stewardship – October 2022 Theme

Our October 2022 Stewardship Theme:

Here’s a little true or false test. Be forewarned that the question is somewhat tricky. True or false: A Christian can expect to have all of his or her needs supplied by God.

On the surface, that would seem to be true. After all, Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” But what many people fail to realize is that this promise is a conditional promise. The reason God will supply all of our needs is based on Philippians 4:18 where the Apostle Paul describes how his needs were met by the Christians at Philippi through the sacrificial offering which they had sent to him.

In other words, although those first-century Christians gave to Paul with the desire of assisting him in his ministry to the early church, because of their giving, they earned the “right” to expect that God would fully meet all of their needs. Because of their willingness to share their resources with Paul, as he indicated in Philippians 4:17, fruit would abound to their account. They could then look to God to supply all of their needs. Although they did not “give to get,” they would “get” because they gave.

That same principle holds true today. As one person expressed it so well, “We do not give to get, but when we give, we get.” That’s what the Lord Jesus said in Luke 6:38. He indicated that by whatever measure we give, we will in turn receive.

Jack Hartman, a Christian businessman, said it this way: “ . . . the more we give to God, the more this opens the channel for Him to see that we receive abundantly in return. If we withhold our giving, we are actually withholding the blessing that God wants to give us.”

Someone described non-essentials in life as “ . . . playing Scrabble on the Hindenburg or rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.” Maybe that’s a picture of how you view giving — as a non-essential, something not very important in the totality of life. Could it be that is why your needs are not being met in full?

Think about this: What would happen if you began to place a rightful priority on your giving, even to the point of giving sacrificially? You see, you would then have the “right” to claim Philippians 4:19 with the expectation that in response to your giving, God would meet all of your needs. Your obedience to God’s direction in your life to give would then result in having Him meet your needs, even with the same “measure” that you give to Him.


Central Church

Effective Stewardship – September 2022 Theme

Our September 2022 Stewardship Theme:

One day, as you open the mail, you discover a letter from the credit card company which indicates that because you are such a valued customer, your credit limit is being raised to $5,000.  The next day, because you were late sending in a payment of $19.25, you receive another letter from the same company.  The second letter makes you feel like a terrible person and states rather emphatically that if you don’t pay up immediately, the company will take action against you.  What a mixed signal that would be!

God never sends mixed signals.  He is always consistently clear in providing direction to us, even when His instruction runs counter to our natural tendencies.  This is especially true when it comes to our giving.

Remember, giving to the Lord’s work at Central United Methodist Church is not to help “poor God” pay His bills.  Rather, giving is one of God’s ways of growing Christians and of causing us to be more like Christ.  That’s why God calls us to resist the natural tendency to hoard and to be stingy.  That’s why God calls us to give, not only out of our abundance, but also when our financial resources are limited.

John Templeton, founder of the Templeton group of mutual funds, concluded a speech to the International Association for Financial Planning by confiding that he had been asked by a financial planner at the convention to mention the name of the “very best opportunity” for investing in the world today.  Templeton said, “I told him that the most risk-free investment, the most rewarding investment was

. . . giving of your income to your church.

In my 46 years of experience, I have never known anyone who regretted that investment.  I have never known anyone who has made that investment for ten years without being rewarded with both happiness and prosperity.”

John Templeton was only echoing advice that God had given to Solomon centuries earlier. “ . . . the one who gives water will get water.”  As you consider your life and giving, will you be part of God’s eternal plan by giving in a refreshing manner to the Central United Methodist Church ministry today and in the months ahead?

Remember this:  No one ever went broke trying to outgive God.


Central Church

Effective Stewardship – August 2022 Theme

Our August 2022 Stewardship Theme:

“Coercion” is action which makes us do something, usually by force or threat or punishment. For example, the threat of a ticket or the fine which results causes us to regularly check our speed when driving. We are “coerced” into obeying the law, whether we want to or not.

Some people give to God because of coercion. They envision God as a glorified “bully” who is seeking to extract from them some of their hard-earned money. They reason, howbeit incorrectly, that if they fail to give to Him, then somehow, divine punishment will result.

That concept is totally foreign to the Scriptures. In fact, as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, God wants us to give not because we have to, out of fear, or because we are required to do so. Rather, His desire is for us to give because we want to, because we have decided in our hearts to give in a manner which makes our giving something to be richly enjoyed.

Search the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, and you will discover God’s universal principle concerning giving: Give willingly from the heart. Not because someone is “coercing” you to give. Not because in a moment of emotional duress you made a commitment to give. Not because you desire to avoid punishment or discipline. Give because you want to, because you’ve decided in your heart to give.

A gentleman known as “Chaplain McCabe” was seeking to raise a million dollars for missions. In his quest, he often struggled with discouragement and disappointment as he encountered tight-fisted Christians who refused to give to God. One day, while going through the mail, he came across a tattered note from a young boy. Written in a boyish scrawl and liberally punctuated with blots, the letter read: “I’m sure you’re going to get a million dollars for missions. And I’m going to help you get it, too. So here’s a nickel towards it. It’s all I’ve got right now, but if you need any more, just call on me.”

Chaplain McCabe told that wonderful story around the world, and it was greatly used by God to challenge people everywhere to give literally millions of dollars to missions. As far as we know, no one forced that young boy to give all he had or even to write a letter. No one pressured him to part with his nickel. He did so willingly because somewhere in the recesses of his heart, he had decided to do so.

As you consider the Central United Methodist Church ministry and all that takes place in and through our church for God’s glory, will you do the same? Will you give “not reluctantly or under compulsion,” but willingly from the heart, with the full realization that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7)?


Central Church

Effective Stewardship – July 2022 Theme

Our July 2022 Stewardship Theme:

Some people view principles of the Old Testament as ending with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. After all, this great event marked the end of the old era and the establishment of the new covenant. One area in which people think this way is that of tithing. They reason as follows: “When you can show me in the New Testament where it says, ‘Thou shalt tithe,’ then I will tithe.”

Although on the surface that reasoning sounds O.K., there are at least two major problems with it. First, nowhere does the New Testament state, “Thou shalt not tithe.” Second, the reason the New Testament does not contain that statement is that tithing was not a requirement that started when the law was given. The principle of tithing existed before the law and during the law; it has never been rescinded by God. Thus, even though the commands of the law came to an end when Christ was offered on Calvary as the perfect sacrifice, tithing did not.

In fact, tithing simply follows the pattern of “first fruits” giving by which we give to God the first part of our income, not the bits and pieces which might be left over. Tithing is putting our giving to God first rather than at the end of our spending after all of our bills are paid.

Tithing is an area of our Christianity that requires faith in God’s promises and in God’s provisions. Let’s face it — at first glance, tithing really isn’t very logical. After all, if you can’t make ends meet on 100%, how can you make ends meet on 90% or less?

In Malachi 3, God issues a serious indictment against His people. He says we have robbed Him. How have we done this? In tithes and offerings. Then He patiently instructs us to bring the whole tithe into His storehouse and offers a challenge to us. Concerning the tithe, God says, in essence, “Prove Me. Try Me. Put Me to the test. And see — in response to your obedience — if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

If you are one who tithes, you know how God keeps His promise. You have proved Him and settled this issue in your heart. If you are not one who tithes, why not take God at His Word. Here’s how: Take stock of your present financial situation, and then step out by faith. Put God to the test by tithing for six months or so. Then take stock again. You will find that God has kept His promise and provided specific, tangible blessings in your life in response to your obedience. Tithing, you see, is not God’s way of raising money to pay His bills. Tithing is God’s way of growing His children.

Stephen Olford wrote this: “Abraham gave tithes to God through Melchizedek, the king-priest. According to Hebrews 7, Melchizedek is a beautiful type of Christ in resurrection. Melchizedek gives Abraham bread and wine, symbols of sacrifice; and Abraham acknowledges his indebtedness to God by giving Him tithes of all his spoils. In other words, tithing is the scriptural way of saying ‘thank you’ to God for all that He has done for us.”

As you consider your giving and your offering to the Lord next Sunday at Central United Methodist Church, will you say “thank you” to Him and “move up to the tithe?”


Central Church

Stewardship Focus – Electric – Switch Now to the “Standard Offer Program” to Save Money for the Next 12 Months

Effective June 1, electric rates will increase substantially in PA.

  • Penn Power’s rate will increase 23%;
  • West Penn Power’s rate will increase 45%;
  • Duquesne Light’s rate increase has not yet been announced, but is forecasted to increase substantially as well from its current 98 cents per KwHr rate.  (For example, a 23% increase, like Penn Power’s increase, would move the Duquesne Light rate to 9.81 cents.); ;
  • The rates on papowerswitch.com currently being offered range from 8.99 cents to 19.8 cents.
  • The rate under the Standard Offer program today is 7.42 cents. 

That rate will remain fixed for 12 months and you can switch to another plan at any time without fee or penalty. Given the 23-45% rate increases taking effect on June 1, it is unlikely that any other plan will offer a lower rate in the next 12 months.

You will receive information in the mail 2 billing cycles before the end of the 12-month period as a reminder so you can select a new provider.  (Otherwise, the rate will transfer to a variable monthly rate.)

  • To start the process, get your last electric bill in your hand and call Duquesne Light at (412) 393-7100. After waiting on hold for about 30 minutes, tell them that you want to switch to the Standard Offer Program.  They will take information and transfer you to All Choice (the company Duquesne Light has outsourced this task to), who will complete the process in about 10 minutes.

To paraphrase the old J. G. Wentworth commercials, “It’s your money.  Why let the electric company take it when you can use it for extravagances, like buying food?”

Central Church

Stewardship Focus – Pennsylvania electric generation costs increasing up to 45% on June 1, 2022 – Use the “Standard Offer Program” to Lock in Your Current Low Rate

FYI – Substantial electric rate increases next month (see the May 9 article below from the Trib Review).

The PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) launched a special program in August 2013, called the “Standard Offer Program.”  A Duquesne Light customer can enroll in the Standard Offer Program by contacting their utility (at (412) 393-7100) and requesting enrollment.

Under the Special Offer Program, your electric Duquesne Light will assign you a randomly selected electric generation supplier. The supplier will provide a Standard Offer, which includes a fixed-rate price, 7 percent below the electric utility’s current Price to Compare (PTC, the price the utility pays for electricity), for a term of one year with no cancellation or termination fees. A Standard Offer customer can cancel the agreement at any time.

  • In other words, electric supply prices are going up substantially in 3 weeks. If you enroll in the Special Offer Program, your rate for the next year will be Duquesne Light’s current Price to Compare (currently $0.0798 per KwHr) less a 7% discount (or $0.0742).
  • If you look on papowerswitch.com for a listing of alternative electricity suppliers, Verde Energy USA, LLC is currently the lowest alternative supplier, with a rate of $0.089900. That’s 21% more than the Standard Offer Plan being offered in May 2022.

If you would like to explore enrolling in the Standard Offer Plan, your first step is to call Duquesne Light at (412) 393-7100 and make the request.  (Online enrollment is not an option, and, be warned that Duquesne Light hold times tend to be very long.)

After talking to a Duquesne Light representative, they will randomly transfer you to an independent electric supply company who has agreed to offer the Standard Offer Plan.  You then complete the sign-up process with them.

It can be a painful process, but the reward for completing it is that you will lock in a special low electric supply rate for the next year while everyone else is suffering under monthly electric bills that are over 20% higher for the same amount of electricity.  Why pay a price 20% higher when you can lock in a low rate today?


At:  https://triblive.com/local/regional/pennsylvania-electric-generation-costs-increasing-up-to-45-on-june-1/

Pennsylvania electric generation costs increasing up to 45% on June 1

Brian C. Rittmeyer | Monday, May 9, 2022 5:28 p.m.

Ask key questions

Pennsylvania residents shopping for electric generation supply rates should consider:

  • How do competitive suppliers’ rates compare with the utility’s price to compare?
    • Is the supplier contract for a fixed or variable rate and, if the rate is variable, what are the conditions of changes in the price for electricity?
    • Does the contract provide for additional fees, such as membership or early contract termination fees?
    • When will the contract expire and what are the options for consumers as the contract end date approaches?

Source: Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission

Pennsylvania regulators are warning consumers that most utilities will be increasing their prices for electric generation on June 1.

Energy supply costs will increase between 6% and 45% across the state for consumers who aren’t under contract with a supplier, according to the state’s Public Utility Commission.

Most electric utilities in Pennsylvania reset rates on June 1 and Dec. 1, commission spokesman Nils Hagen-Frederiksen said. First Energy, which includes West Penn Power and Penn Power, does so quarterly.

West Penn Power’s “price to compare” will increase by about 45%, from 5.667 cents to 8.198 cents per kilowatt hour.

For the typical West Penn customer using 750 kilowatt hours per month, the bill would increase by about 25%, from $74.91 to $93.89, spokesman Todd Meyers said.

Penn Power customers will see a nearly 23% increase, from 7.082 cents to 8.694 cents per kilowatt hour.

For a typical Penn Power residential customer using 750 kilowatt hours per month, the total bill would increase by about 12%, from $103.12 to $115.21, Meyers said.

For both, Meyers said about half of the bill is for the electricity itself, while half is the charge to deliver it.

Duquesne Light is among several utilities for which price changes are still being calculated but are expected to rise, according to the commission. Final prices will be available later in May.

According to the commission, higher wholesale market prices for electricity are being caused mostly by shifts in supply and demand for natural gas.

“The global energy market has been extremely volatile since the fall of last year,” Hagen-Frederiksen said. “There continues to be an upward movement in prices, and not just for electricity. Every form of energy is seeing an upward push in prices.”

By law, utilities can’t make a profit on electric generation. The cost is passed through to customers. The “price to compare” averages 40% to 60% of a customer’s total utility bill.

The commission does not regulate prices for the generation part of electric bills. Generation prices are separate from the regulated rates that utilities charge for delivering electricity to homes and businesses.

How to save

There are things consumers can do to save money, and that includes shopping for a supplier, Hagen-Frederiksen said.

The commission is encouraging consumers to review their electric bills to understand the rates they will be paying and explore its electric shopping website, papowerswitch.com.

In most parts of the state, consumers can choose their electric supplier.

“If you can find a good deal now and you want to go into the competitive electric market and remain diligent, you can probably save some money,” said Patrick Cicero, acting consumer advocate with the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate.

The office is an independent agency that is part of the state Office of Attorney General and represents consumers before the PUC, Cicero said.

To help consumers, the office provides an electric shopping guide on its website. It can be mailed upon request; the office can be reached at 717-783-5048 and by email at consumer@paoca.org.

Shopping for electric isn’t difficult, but consumers have to stay on top of it, Cicero said.

“Consumers need to be careful about the energy marketing that’s out there,” he said. “There are going to be deals and offers that may save consumers money. Our office’s view is that folks need to shop smart. They need to know what it is they are shopping for.”

The commission said consumers not shopping for a supplier might want to look into their utility’s Standard Offer Program. It gives customers the option of receiving service from a competitive supplier at a fixed price that is 7% below the utility’s current price to compare.

If available, consumers who sign up for that program before prices increase June 1 could realize a substantial savings, Hagen-Frederiksen said.

“It was designed as a way for consumers who hadn’t shopped or weren’t interested in doing a lot of comparison shopping to dip their toes into the shopping market,” he said.

Advantages of the program are that it’s good for a year with no early termination or cancellation fees, Cicero said.

But he cautioned that because of uncertainly in the wholesale markets, a supplier may not be able to honor a rate for a full 12 months, Cicero said. If that happens, customers would return to their utility’s default service rate.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@triblive.com or via Twitter .

 


Central Church

Effective Stewardship – May 2022 Theme

Our March 2022 Stewardship Theme:

When Samuel was seeking someone to succeed Saul as King of Israel, he examined the sons of Jesse. In that process, he considered their stature and physical characteristics in great detail, only to be told by God that people “ . . . look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

That modus operandi on God’s part has not changed over the centuries of time. He still looks at the hearts of men and women. He is not as interested in how things appear on the outside, but what they are really like on the inside. And God’s scrutiny extends to every area of our lives, including our giving.

Specifically, He wants to know not just what or when we are giving, but why. He is not so concerned about the amount or the percentage but with the reason or motive why we give. It’s not that amounts or percentages are not important, for they certainly are. But what is of greater importance is why we give.

If we only give out of a sense of duty, to impress someone, to keep a commitment we made, or to “do our part,” we’ve missed the point. If we only give a certain amount or percentage because we’ve always given that way, we’ve missed the point. If we parcel out money to help “poor ol’ God pay His bills,” we’ve missed the point.

God owns it all! He doesn’t need our money to pay His bills. He doesn’t want us to give out of a sense of obligation or duty or habit. Nor does He want us to give to impress someone else. He wants us to give out of hearts motivated by love for Him in response to His love for us. He wants us to give as part of our worship and praise to Him. He wants us to give because giving is part of His way of growing Christians.

There’s an old Indian fable about a mouse who, like all mice, was afraid of cats. A wizard felt sorry for him and offered to help him lose his fear. With the mouse’s approval, the wizard turned him into a cat. The cat, however, was afraid of dogs, so the wizard turned the cat into a dog. But the dog was afraid of tigers, so the wizard turned the dog into a tiger. When the wizard discovered the tiger was afraid of hunters, he exclaimed in disgust, “You’re hopeless. What you need is a change of heart. And that I cannot give you.”

If our giving is motivated by anything other than a heart of love for God, we need a change of heart. We need to realize afresh that God owns everything and that we are just managers and stewards. We need to realize that when we give, we are only giving back to God what was rightfully His in the first place. And we need to understand that when we give out of love for God and not out of habit or duty or obligation, we are giving in a way that truly honors and glorifies Him.


Central Church

Effective Stewardship – March 2022 Theme

Our March 2022 Stewardship Theme:

A few years ago, the world was thrown into confusion and chaos.  The Middle East had oil, and the rest of the world wanted that oil.  This was a crisis situation.  The perception was that we were running out of oil. In reality, that wasn’t the situation at all.  We were not running out of oil.  As Larry O’Nan described it, “The core problem was a matter of imbalance, greed, and selfishness.  Competition had created an environment where we thought we needed to get something before someone else got it.”

Just as perception created an illusion that the world was running out of oil, perception has created an illusion when it comes to giving to the work of the Lord and to His ministry at Central United Methodist Church.  The perception is that our financial resources are insufficient to enable us to give.  Some of us think that we simply cannot afford to give.

But that’s not the situation at all.  Even poverty is not a reason for not giving to the Lord.  The Christians in Macedonia were very poor.  As 2 Corinthians 8:2 describes them, they were in “extreme poverty.”  Yet, even in that situation, they were full of joy and gave as much as they were able — and more.  How could they do that?

The reason they gave abundantly, eagerly and willingly out of their “extreme poverty” was that they “gave themselves first to the Lord.”  That’s the secret of giving that honors God.  When we give ourselves to Him wholeheartedly, without reservation, then our financial resources will follow.

During the reign of Oliver Cromwell, the government ran out of silver with which to make coins.  Cromwell sent his men everywhere to see if they could find more of the precious metal.  They returned to report that the only silver they could find was in the statues of the saints which were on display in various cathedrals.  “Good,” replied Cromwell.  “We will melt down the saints and put them into circulation.”

As you consider the offering which will be received next Sunday at Central United Methodist Church, and as you consider the resources God has placed at your disposal, will you be “melted down” for His service and His glory?  Like the Macedonian Christians, will you — regardless of your financial situation — first give yourself to the Lord and then allow your financial resources to follow?


Central Church

COVID-19 – Do you still need to wear a mask? This chart by an infectious disease expert can help you decide as mask mandates tumble

Tired of dealing with COVID-19?      Who isn’t.

Will pretending that it’s gone protect you?      Nope.

What to do?      Look to the advice of health professionals as a good starting point.


  • Mask mandates and coronavirus restrictions are tumbling, as the Omicron variant continues to recede.
  • Infectious disease expert Katelyn Jetelina has created a framework for how to think smartly about when and where to wear a mask.
  • It gives us a framework for how to “ride the waves,” as she puts it, of any potential coronavirus surges from here on out.

Beaver County, Pennsylvania – February 17, 2022

  • Incidence Rate per 100,000 Residents – 212.3  (High)
  • PCR Percent Positivity – 13.9%  (Substantial)

According to Katelyn Jetelina’s chart, here’s where we in Beaver County should be right now:

  • Wear masks indoors in public;
  • Test if you develop symptoms;
  • No indoor dining; and
  • Indoor air filtration, (or open windows in February, if possible!).

For Sunday worship, please remember that Central Church:

 
** Disinfects prior to every worship service and feeding ministry event using EPA-registered products in compliance with CDC standards to kill germs and reduce the risk of spreading infection, and in compliance with EPA criteria for use against SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19; and
 
** As our community COVID-19 levels continue to deteriorate, we have significantly expanded our new medical-grade HEPA-13 air filtration equipment in our Sanctuary, which is rated to remove COVID-19 from the air, which now provides 10.7 complete air changes every hour in our Sanctuary (every 6 minutes)!
 
** In addition, our Parlor, Church Office, Pastor’s Office, UMYF Meeting Room, Fellowship Hall, and Nursery all offer even higher levels of air changes per hour using HEPA-13 or HEPA-14 filtration.
 
(5 air changes per hour is the EPA’s general recommended standard, and the EPA now recommends 8-15 air changes per hour in Churches.)  
 

Central Church

 

Effective Stewardship – February 2022 Theme

Our February 2022 Stewardship Theme:

One of the most familiar of all Bible passages is 1 Corinthians 13, which is known by many as the “Love Chapter.”  Many people — Christians and non-Christians alike — have committed part or all of these thirteen wonderful verses to memory.  But most people probably do not realize that one of the greatest truths concerning giving is taught in this passage.

The Apostle Paul, writing under the direct and divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said, “If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

In other words, according to this verse, our giving is to be motivated by love.  If it is not, then it has absolutely no value to us.

The question here is not how much we give, or how frequently we give, or the manner in which we give, but why we give.  And it is based on the principle taught so clearly in Romans 5:8, “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners, Christ died for us.”

When we were nothing but sinners, Christ died for us.

When we had nothing but the refuse of sin in our lives, Christ died for us.

When we were “strangers” to God’s promises, Christ died for us.

Long before we could ever love Him, He provided convincing evidence of His love for us by dying for us on Calvary.  And that’s why “We love  because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

One of the ways in which we demonstrate our love for God is through giving.

If we give out of a sense of obligation or because “the church needs the money” or because we feel we have to give, we miss the point of 1 Corinthians 13:3.

We also miss the blessing that comes from giving out of a heart motivated by our love for the Lord.  When we give because of that motivation, our giving provides a tangible expression of our love for Him as we give in response to His love and grace.

As the offering plate passes by you next Sunday at church, you might want to pray this prayer of thanksgiving and commitment:

“Lord, thank you for loving me before I could love you.  Thank you for demonstrating your love by dying on Calvary for me.  And thank you for the privilege of giving to you today as I worship you through this expression of my love for you.”

As you consider not only next Sunday’s offering, but equally important, your on-going financial support of the ministry at Central United Methodist Church, what is your response to God’s love for you?


Central Church

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.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

Central Church

Effective Stewardship – January 2022 Theme

Our January 2022 Stewardship Theme:

In 1935, Dr. R. A. Forrest, president of Toccoa Falls College in Georgia, embarked on a trip to visit former students who were serving the Lord on the mission field. R. G. LeTourneau, a prominent Christian businessman, heard him speak in Omaha and was very encouraged by what he heard.

The night before Dr. Forrest sailed to Japan, a letter arrived at his hotel containing a check from Mr. LeTourneau for $1,000. Mr. LeTourneau thought it would be nice if Dr. Forrest “had some money in his pocket as he went around the world to give to folks in a tough spot.”

Dr. Forrest was elated and kept a detailed accounting of how he used that money to minister to people in need. When he returned to New York, he mailed the records to Mr. LeTourneau. A few days later, a reply came from Mr. LeTourneau that simply read, “Come see me.”

When Dr. Forrest arrived at Mr. LeTourneau’s office in Peoria, he found a man who was deeply moved by Dr. Forrest’s record of changed lives. He said, “If you can be trusted with $1,000 and make that kind of impact, you can be trusted with $10,000” and gave him a check in that amount.

Dr. Forrest had received “without payment,” and he gave “without payment” (Matt. 10:8). He typified the kind of giving that God expects each of us to demonstrate as we respond to His good gifts by giving back to Him what was rightfully His in the first place.

Charles Stanley wrote this: “When God deals with us, it is always in abundant grace. He is lavish with His love and forgiveness. None of us can ever repay Christ for what He did for us at Calvary. He generously gave His life so we could enjoy eternal life.”

He went on to say, “There are two kinds of people: givers and keepers. . . .If you decide to be a keeper, you will miss God’s richest blessings. But when you give yourself away, you will reap the goodness of God.”

That’s because it is impossible to outgive God who has a unique accounting system. He never divides; He always multiplies.

Will you trust Him today by giving generously to Him who “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Tim. 6:17)?


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Effective Stewardship – December 2021 Theme

Our December 2021 Stewardship Theme:

Our theme this month is that Christian stewardship is an expression of the fruit of the Christian life by the power of the Holy Spirit within us. Through the use of our money, God wants us to demonstrate the “grace of giving.”

“Now as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you — so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking” (2 Cor. 8:7).

It’s one thing to excel in something we do or in our service for Christ, but how do we do excel in the “grace of giving”?

  • How do you define grace?
  • How does grace fits in with our giving.
  • What part of God’s grace has to do with our demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and with the grace of giving?
  • What would be practical, tangible ways that we can excel in the “grace of giving?”


Central Church

Effective Stewardship – November 2021 Theme

Our November 2021 Stewardship Theme:

How rich are you?  Most of us would respond to that question with a recitation of our material possessions. We would list bank accounts and their contents, stocks, bonds, houses, vehicles, and other so-called assets as tangible evidence of our wealth.

But is that how rich we are?  Not really.  Adrian Rogers said this, “If you want to know how rich you are, add up everything you have that money can’t buy and what you’ve sent on to heaven.  That’s how rich you really are.”

There are two ways to send money on to heaven, or as the Bible phrases it, to “lay up treasures in heaven.”

One is to give to the work of the Lord.  As we do that, particularly through giving our tithes and offerings here at Central United Methodist Church, we make deposits in what one writer described as the “Bank of Heaven.”

Another way to accomplish that goal is to give to meet the needs of other people.  That’s the admonition provided by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 when he instructed Timothy,  “As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their

hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God. . . .They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share.”

Compared to many people in the world, all of us — to one degree or another — have been richly blessed by God.  That’s why we need to apply Paul’s counsel to our lives.  As we follow his instruction, giving in the name of the Lord Jesus to meet the needs of others, we “lay up treasures” for the coming age.

One of the primary reasons God provides material blessings to us His children is that we might through those material provisions minister in His name to other people.  According to Matthew 25:40, when we do that, even to what Jesus described as the “least” of His brethren, it is as though we have done it unto Him.

As one writer expressed it so well,  “Investing in the lives of others and growing in our relationship with God are spiritual treasures. They are not subject to destruction or thievery.  They are fully protected.  Their value never diminishes.”

Or as an anonymous poet wrote,

“Shall the great Judge say, when my task is through,

that my soul had gathered some riches, too?

Or shall at the last it be mine to find

that all I had worked for was left behind?”

As you consider your true wealth and what really counts for eternity, think about this:  How much better to be a poor person who is spiritually rich than a rich person who is spiritually poor.

How rich are you?


Central Church

Effective Stewardship – September 2021 Theme

Our September 2021 Stewardship Theme:

“Coercion” is action which makes us do something, usually by force or threat or punishment. For example, the threat of a ticket or the fine which results causes us to regularly check our speed when driving. We are “coerced” into obeying the law, whether we want to or not.

Some people give to God because of coercion. They envision God as a glorified “bully” who is seeking to extract from them some of their hard-earned money. They reason, howbeit incorrectly, that if they fail to give to Him, then somehow, divine punishment will result.

That concept is totally foreign to the Scriptures. In fact, as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, God wants us to give not because we have to, out of fear, or because we are required to do so. Rather, His desire is for us to give because we want to, because we have decided in our hearts to give in a manner which makes our giving something to be richly enjoyed.

Search the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, and you will discover God’s universal principle concerning giving: Give willingly from the heart. Not because someone is “coercing” you to give. Not because in a moment of emotional duress you made a commitment to give. Not because you desire to avoid punishment or discipline. Give because you want to, because you’ve decided in your heart to give.

A gentleman known as “Chaplain McCabe” was seeking to raise a million dollars for missions. In his quest, he often struggled with discouragement and disappointment as he encountered tight-fisted Christians who refused to give to God. One day, while going through the mail, he came across a tattered note from a young boy. Written in a boyish scrawl and liberally punctuated with blots, the letter read: “I’m sure you’re going to get a million dollars for missions. And I’m going to help you get it, too. So here’s a nickel towards it. It’s all I’ve got right now, but if you need any more, just call on me.”

Chaplain McCabe told that wonderful story around the world, and it was greatly used by God to challenge people everywhere to give literally millions of dollars to missions. As far as we know, no one forced that young boy to give all he had or even to write a letter. No one pressured him to part with his nickel. He did so willingly because somewhere in the recesses of his heart, he had decided to do so.

As you consider the Central United Methodist Church ministry and all that takes place in and through our church for God’s glory, will you do the same? Will you give “not reluctantly or under compulsion,” but willingly from the heart, with the full realization that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7)?


Central Church

Effective Stewardship – August 2021 Theme

Some people view principles of the Old Testament as ending with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. After all, this great event marked the end of the old era and the establishment of the new covenant.  One area in which people think this way is that of tithing.  They reason as follows: “When you can show me in the New Testament where it says, ‘Thou shalt tithe,’ then I will tithe.”

Although on the surface that reasoning sounds O.K., there are at least two major problems with it.  

First, nowhere does the New Testament state, “Thou shalt not tithe.”

Second, the reason the New Testament does not contain that statement is that tithing was not a requirement that started when the law was given.  The principle of tithing existed before the law and during the law; it has never been rescinded by God.  Thus, even though the commands of the law came to an end when Christ was offered on Calvary as the perfect sacrifice, tithing did not.

In fact, tithing simply follows the pattern of “first fruits” giving by which we give to God the first part of our income, not the bits and pieces which might be left over.  Tithing is putting our giving to God first rather than at the end of our spending after all of our bills are paid.

Tithing is an area of our Christianity that requires faith in God’s promises and in God’s provisions.  Let’s face it — at first glance, tithing really isn’t very logical.  After all, if you can’t make ends meet on 100%, how can you make ends meet on 90% or less?

In Malachi 3, God issues a serious indictment against His people.  He says we have robbed Him.  How have we done this?  In tithes and offerings.  Then He patiently instructs us to bring the whole tithe into His storehouse and offers a challenge to us.  Concerning the tithe, God says, in essence, Prove Me.  Try Me.  Put Me to the test. And see — in response to your obedience — if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

If you are one who tithes, you know how God keeps His promise.  You have proved Him and settled this issue in your heart.  If you are not one who tithes, why not take God at His Word.  Here’s how: Take stock of your present financial situation, and then step out by faith.  Put God to the test by tithing for six months or so.  Then take stock again.  You will find that God has kept His promise and provided specific, tangible blessings in your life in response to your obedience.  Tithing, you see, is not God’s way of raising money to pay His bills.  Tithing is God’s way of growing His children.

Stephen Olford wrote this: “Abraham gave tithes to God through Melchizedek, the king-priest.  According to Hebrews 7, Melchizedek is a beautiful type of Christ in resurrection.  Melchizedek gives Abraham bread and wine, symbols of sacrifice; and Abraham acknowledges his indebtedness to God by giving Him tithes of all his spoils. In other words, tithing is the scriptural way of saying ‘thank you’ to God for all that He has done for us.”

  • As you consider your giving and your offering to the Lord next Sunday at Central United Methodist Church, will you say “thank you” to Him and “move up to the tithe?”

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2020: Year-End Charitable Giving

What is your tax year looking like in 2020? 

There are just a few days left to make a charitable gift and reduce your taxes. 

If you make a year-end gift to Central United Methodist Church, did you know:

 

1.  You can take a deduction even if you don’t itemize.

For 2020, you can deduct cash contributions up to $300 if you claim the standard deduction instead of itemizing. This deduction will not apply after 2020 unless Congress extends it.

2.  Last minute donations can be made by credit card or check.

All gifts postdated December 2020 will be receipted for tax year 2020. 

You can give online to Central Church at:  https://www.centralumchurch.org   or mail your check to Central United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 311, Beaver Falls, Pa 15010.

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The Time Is Now to Take Advantage of Tax Provisions Expiring December 31, 2020

If you itemize deductions:

For one year only, the cap on charitable cash donations is lifted from 60% of adjusted gross income to 100%, making 2020 a great year to make a larger-than-normal, one-time cash gift to Central Church or the charity of your choice.

If you take the standard deduction:

Filers can take an additional $300 off their income for cash gifts to a qualified charitable organization, including Central United Methodist Church, made before the end of 2020.

Thank you!

Charitable Giving “Nonitemizer” Deduction included in CARES Act

While many in our community are navigating the CARES act for reasons pertaining to their local churches or other small business or for income assistance during this time of uncertainty, there is also a charitable contribution provision that is worth noting for members of our community looking to support COVID-19 relief efforts as well as continuing the efforts of their local churches and other other non-profits.

The CARES Act creates a $300 “nonitemizer” deduction for 2020.  For the nine out of ten individuals who do not itemize deductions on their federal income tax returns, this is a new incentive for increased charitable giving.

Married-filing-jointly taxpayers will get an above-the-line deduction of up to $600.

The deduction:

  • Will apply to donations made for all of 2020
  • Only for people who do not itemize their taxes
  • Donors who itemize their taxes are eligible for the existing charitable deduction
  • Only for cash donations (not property in kind)
  • Can be used by the charity for any purpose (not limited to COVID-19 relief efforts)

Effective Stewardship – Month #18

God expects Christians to pay their taxes,

since the government is ordained and authorized by God.

“Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s,

and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21).

 

Under the Old Testament economy, people were required to give to God because this was also the means of providing the government.  A theocracy was in place then, which meant that government was actually operating under the direct authority and leadership of God Himself.

Today, we are under a different economy.  However, we are still required to support the government.  We may not like the way government operates.  We may not agree with the policies of our governmental leaders.  We may not even like the political process or the individuals involved in it.

But God says that is not the issue.  The issue is one of obedience.  He says we are to pay our taxes to whom “taxes are due” (Romans 13:7).  In spite of all the ills of government, God says that governmental agencies and government leaders are His “servants” and that they operate for our ultimate “good.”

So the question is not whether we agree with or even support the work and activities of our governments at the local, state and national levels.  The question is one of whether or not we will obey God.  You see, it’s relatively easy to sing, “Oh, How I Love Jesus.”  It’s far more difficult to demonstrate our love for Him by yielding to Him in full and complete obedience, especially when His commands are ones we do not care for — like paying our taxes.

If He is in charge, if He is Lord of our lives, then we will do what He tells us to do.  As the little chorus states it so clearly, “I’ll say, ‘Yes,’ Lord, ‘Yes,’ to Your will and to Your way; ‘Yes,’ Lord, ‘Yes,’ I will trust You and obey.”

Even when it comes to paying my taxes?  Even when it comes to paying my taxes!

“Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21).

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #17

God expects us to provide for our families.

“And whoever does not provide for relatives,

and especially for family members,

has denied the faith and is worse

than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8).

 

One of the most striking accusations the Lord Jesus made when He was on earth was to label someone a hypocrite. Time and time again, He criticized the Pharisees and others for their hypocrisy. They said one thing but did something entirely different. They fit the description used by Zig Ziglar who said, “A hypocrite is one who is not himself on Sunday.”

That’s perhaps what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote to Timothy: “And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” In other words, to give credence to Christianity, to give lip service to following Christ and to trusting in Him as Savior and Lord, and then to fail to provide for our own family, is hypocrisy. To do so, in reality, is to deny our faith and to be considered as someone who has no faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and no interest in spiritual matters.

It seems like such a small thing — relatively speaking (pun intended) — that Paul is exhorting Timothy to do. Provide for your own household, your own relatives. Take care of those under your care. Minister to those closest to you as a demonstration of your Christian faith.

Yes, we are to give to His ministry here at Central United Methodist Church. Yes, we are to be involved in ministering to others “on our own” and as part of the outreach of this church. But we are also to provide for our own families. We are also to minister to them and to care for them, for by doing so, we demonstrate the practical reality of our Christian faith. We thereby avoid the label of hypocrite since what we say is what we do.

How’s the balance in your life? Are you providing for the needs of this ministry and those of your household? As a result, do others (especially your family) see Jesus in you?

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #16

God expects us to pay our debts.

“The wicked borrow, and do not pay back,

but the righteous are generous and keep giving” (Psalm 37:21).

 

The Scripture does not forbid debt or borrowing. Nor does it in any way encourage us to borrow or to go into debt. In fact, debt in the Bible is frequently referred to in a negative connotation.

But the Bible is very clear in describing how we should deal with debt. Simply stated, we are to pay our debts. Psalm 37:21 uses an old-fashioned word to describe borrowing money or creating a debt and then failing to repay it. The Psalmist describes such behavior as “wicked.”

One of the most important questions to ask when considering creating a debt is whether or not we have the ability to repay it. To go into debt without the ability to repay or a plan for repayment is actually presuming upon the grace and goodness of God.

Honesty and integrity — especially concerning our debts — should be the hallmark of every Christian. How we handle our financial obligations can and does speak volumes to our family, friends, and business associates. There is simply no way we can expect to receive God’s full hand of blessing in our lives when we have failed to show His love to others by paying what we owe them. That’s why the Psalmist added this striking contrast to his description of the wicked man who borrows and fails to repay: “ . . . the righteous are generous and keep giving.”

In his instructions to Christians at Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul urged them to walk in an honest manner, especially with respect to those outside the church. When we pay our debts, when we live lives marked by integrity and honesty, then we literally fulfill Matthew 5:16. Our good works (including paying our debts) shine as lights in the world, which men see and in turn glorify our Father who is in heaven.

Or as Larry Burkett put it, “Money merely reflects to the outside world what is going on inside each of us.” And that is nowhere more apparent than in how we deal with our debts.

Annie Johnson Flint wrote:

            Christ has no hands but our hands

                        To do His work today;

            He has no feet but our feet

                        To lead men in His way;

            He has no tongue but our tongues

                        To tell men how He died;

            He has no help but our help

                        To bring them to His side.

            We are the only Bible

                        The careless world will read;

            We are the sinner’s Gospel,

                        We are the scoffer’s creed;

            We are the Lord’s last message

                        Written in deed and word.

            What if the line is crooked?

                        What if the type is blurred.

John Wesley summed it up this way: “Earn all you can; save all you can; give all you can.”

As you give to the ministry here at Central United Methodist Church this morning, is your giving to God in any way in conflict with how you pay your bills?

Or, stated another way, do people know you’re a child of God by how you handle your debts?

Effective Stewardship – Month #15

God wants us to know the state of our finances.

“Know well the condition of your flocks,

and give attention to your herds;

for riches do not last forever,

nor a crown for all generations” (Prov. 27:23-24).

 

Many people — including Christians — sometimes end up in serious financial difficulty because they ignore this basic principle from God’s Word: God wants us to know the state of our finances. Proverbs 27:23-24 instruct us, “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds; for riches do not last forever, nor a crown for all generations.”

In Old Testament times, livestock were one of the primary measures of a person’s wealth. Today, we might be admonished, “Be diligent to know the state of your bank accounts and your possessions.” Or as Proverbs 24:3-4 says in a contemporary version, “Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.”

Why is this so important? As managers, we are responsible for what God has entrusted to us. Part of that responsibility includes monitoring the status of our possessions and making wise investments.

One of the best investments we can make is to send deposits to the “Bank of Heaven” by giving to the Lord’s work here at Central United Methodist Church. When we do that, we are not only exercising good stewardship, but we are also earning God’s approval. There’s no better return on an investment than that!

As you think about your life today, do you have a good picture of where you are financially? Are you keeping the commitments concerning giving which you have made to God?

Think about it: A dollar spent for lunch lasts about five hours. A dollar spent for a necktie lasts about five weeks. A dollar spent for an automobile lasts about five years. A dollar spent in the service of God lasts for eternity.

Effective Stewardship – Month #14

The primary way we are to obtain money is to work for it.

“ . . . to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs,

and to work with your hands” (1 Thes. 4:11).

 

What comes to mind when someone mentions “work”? Is your initial tendency to moan and groan, wishing you could avoid work?

It might surprise you to learn that God described His creative acts as “work” and that he brought “work” into being shortly after He created man. Adam worked in the Garden before and after his fall due to his sin. Cain worked by raising vegetables. Abel worked by tending sheep. Throughout Scripture, people worked. Even the Lord Jesus worked while He was on earth, and He described God the Father as having worked. Work has always been part of God’s nature and eternal plan for mankind.

Wait a minute — If God created and owns everything, why should we His children have to work? Couldn’t He just provide for us in some supernatural way that would enable us not to have to work? Surely, God could do that, but He doesn’t do so. According to the admonition in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, one of the primary benefits from working and providing for our needs is to be able to lead lives marked by integrity and a healthy self respect. And God’s plan is that we are best able to accomplish these worthy goals by working.

God also knows that by utilizing our talents and abilities through work, He will be able to minister to others through us in an effective way. Work, then, is one of the primary avenues by which we can demonstrate our Christian faith, particularly as we do our tasks to God’s glory. Work is also the primary way through which we obtain money to give to God.

What should be the Christian’s response to work? First, thank God for work and for the ability to work. As Solomon observed, this is a “gift of God.” Second, view your work as a means of bringing glory to God. Third, whatever you do — no matter what your vocation or occupation — do it “with your might,” as unto the Lord. And finally, remember that by providing work for us to do, God enables us to give to Him and to His ministry at Central United Methodist Church.

Effective Stewardship – Month #13

Money is a means to the greater end of glorifying God

as we demonstrate practical Christianity in our lives.

 

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,

do everything for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

We’ve all heard the expression, “Money talks.”

That’s true. Money does talk.  Oh, not in words or phrases that constitute a language, but money talks.

Because it is valuable to us, how we use it communicates volumes to those about us.  People tend to spend their money on things that are important to them.  With the exception perhaps of taxes, all of us vote with the contents of our purses, wallets and checkbooks concerning what means the most to us.

In fact, we could even go so far as to say that a person who does not spend money on something which is supposedly very important in his or her life really does not place much value on that item or activity.

Suppose for a moment that you think “little league” baseball for kids is very important.  You talk about it wherever you go.  You attend the games.  You enroll your own children in the program.  But when someone calls you to ask you to be a sponsor of a team, or when someone “passes the hat” at a game to pay for equipment, you refuse to participate.

Would you not agree that an impartial observer of such behavior would conclude correctly that little league baseball really does not mean much to you?  Your lack of financial support would outweigh the other positive aspects of your attendance, enthusiasm and participation.

The same thing is true in the spiritual realm.  It is one thing to talk about Christianity.  It is yet another to demonstrate our faith by how we use the money which God has entrusted to us.  And that is especially true in our support of the ministry of Central United Methodist Church.  As someone said recently in one church just before the offering was received, “Lord, in spite of all we say and do, this is what we think of you.”

Or as the Lord Jesus put it, “ . . . let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

 

 

 

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #13

Money is a means to the greater end of glorifying God

as we demonstrate practical Christianity in our lives.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,

do everything for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

 

Shortly after World War II came to a close, Europe began picking up the pieces. Much of the Old Country had been ravaged by war and was in ruins. Perhaps the saddest sight of all was that of little orphaned children starving in the streets of those war-torn cities.

Early one chilly morning, an American soldier was making his way back to his barracks in London. As he turned the corner in his jeep, he spotted a little lad with his nose pressed to the window of a pastry shop. Inside, the cook was kneading dough for a fresh batch of doughnuts. The hungry boy stared in silence, watching every move.

The soldier pulled his jeep to the curb, stopped, got out, and walked quietly over to where the little fellow was standing. Through the steamed-up window, he could see the mouth-watering morsels as they were being pulled from the oven, piping hot. The boy salivated and released a slight groan as he watched the cook place them ever so carefully into the glass-enclosed case.

The soldier’s heart went out to the nameless orphan as he stood beside him.

“Son, would you like some of those?”

The boy was startled. “Well, yes, I would.”

The American stepped inside and bought a dozen doughnuts, put them in a bag, and walked back to where the lad was standing in the foggy cold of the London morning. He smiled, held out the bag, and said simply, “Here you are.”

As he turned to walk away, he felt a tug on his coat. He looked back and heard the child ask quietly, “Mister, are you God?”

There’s an old saying that says, “Money talks.” It does, you know. It speaks volumes about our priorities, about the things we think are most important, about our values. Money never speaks more clearly than when we use it to minister to someone in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. When that happens, money sends forth a radiant, powerful message about the love of Christ as we demonstrate our Christian faith in action.

The admonition from God’s Word is clear: Whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, we are to do it for the glory of God. As you consider what God would have you give to your Church, and as you consider the commitments about money and giving you have made to Him, are you doing what you are doing for His glory?

Remember the young boy’s question of a man who befriended him: “Mister, are you God?” It’s just possible, you know, that someone may experience your faith in action by how you use your money today and ask the very same question about you.

Effective Stewardship – Month #12

We are to be content with what we have.

“Keep your lives free from the love of money,

and be content with what you have; for he has said,

‘I will never leave you or forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5).

 

Suppose that God allowed you to have one wish. Without limit, you could have anything you desire. You could have unlimited wealth. You could have perfect health and live 1,000 years — or more. You could — like Solomon — have great wisdom. Whatever you want, you may have it. But you only get one wish.

What would you choose?

Sad to say, many people would choose great wealth and material possessions. Unfortunately, that would not be a good choice. Listen to the counsel of God as expressed in this contemporary translation of Proverbs 27:20 through Solomon, one of the richest people who ever lived — “The eyes of man are never satisfied.”

The behavior and attitude which always wants more has a name: Greed, and it demonstrates itself in our lives as though we were at an auction. If we have $5, we want $10; if we have $10, we want $20; if we have $20 we want $30. Solomon went on to say in Ecclesiastes 5:10, “The lover of money will not be satisfied with money; nor the lover of wealth, with gain.”

A better choice would be to ask for God’s perspective on life and all that life entails. When we see life as God does, we realize that everything belongs to Him, that we are just managers and stewards, and that only what is done for Him will endure for eternity. When we have God’s perspective, we will be able to say with the Apostle Paul, “ . . . I have learned to be content with whatever I have.”

When we have God’s perspective, we will accept with a spirit of peace and restfulness whatever He entrusts to us. And when we have God’s perspective, we will put into practice the truth of Hebrews 13:5“Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’”

 

 

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #11

Money can be a blessing or a curse,

depending on our attitude towards it.

“For the love of money is a root

of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10).

 

 

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10).

How would people describe you?  Are you one who “loves” money?  Is your life marked by a continual inordinate concern about and striving for money?  If so, then perhaps you are one who truly “loves” money.

Money is neutral. It is neither good nor bad.  What matters is our attitude towards it.  If we view it as a means to an end, a means of exchange, and something God can use in our lives to bring glory to Himself, then we probably do not love money.

On the other hand, if we are always wanting more and more money, if we will do just about anything to obtain it, and if we think about money more than anything or anyone else, we likely are guilty of loving money.  In that situation, it has become a “god” to us, and we bow at its altar in continuing service in order to obtain more of it.

If you are determined to get rich, no matter what, before you continue that lifestyle, read Paul’s admonition to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:9-10.  Consider Solomon’s counsel in Proverbs 11:28 and Ecclesiastes 5:10-11.

And think about the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 6:24, who said, “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Or as Jesus would say, “Let anyone with ears listen.”

 

 

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #10

God uses money as a testimony in the lives of His people.

“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness,

and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).

 

“ . . . if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away . . . everything has become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).  Christians should have a different outlook on life, including money and material possessions.  They realize that they own nothing, that everything they have belongs to God, and that they are only managers and stewards of what God has entrusted to them.  Because of that, Christians should have a different attitude towards “things.”

That attitude demonstrates itself in many different ways.

For example, Christians show mercy and give, in contrast to the those who borrow and do not repay (Psalm 37:21).

Christians should hold possessions with an open hand, and “refresh” others with their bounty (Proverbs 11:24-25).

They are honest and demonstrate their faith by their work and integrity (1 Thes. 4:11-12).

They give to those in need and thereby demonstrate to a watching world the love of God (1 John 3:17).

When this kind of lifestyle is present in our lives, Jesus said that people will see our good works — our different attitude and perspective — and will glorify our heavenly Father (Matt. 5:16).  And as we seek His kingdom first and foremost, we have His promise that He will provide what we need (Matt. 6:33).

As others observe you and your lifestyle, do they see any difference because of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?

As they observe your relationship to “things,” especially to money, do they realize you are a manager, a steward, and not an owner?

Or stated another way, is the manner in which you handle money and material possessions a testimony to your faith in Christ?

 

 

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #9

God uses money as a test to help us grow.

“If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth,

who will entrust to you the true riches?” (Luke 16:11)

 

Someone once said, “Experience is a good teacher, but she gives the test first and then the lesson.” That’s certainly true, and based on many of life’s experiences, we frequently fail the test before we can benefit from the lesson.

The formula “e equals mc2” is familiar to many college students but understood by very few people. Most of us know it had something to do with Einstein and was the formula that led to the release of enormous power and to the nuclear age. Similarly, in funding the local church, “e” might stand for every, “m” for member, “c” for commitment, and the “2” for the effort multiplied by itself. The fruit of that kind of effort is much more powerful than what Einstein discovered, even as Jesus described it in Matthew 21:22 — “Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.”

Right now, as we consider the opportunity to support the ministries here at Central United Methodist Church, God is putting us to the test. As Gordon Moyes stated, “Responsible giving or stewardship is not man’s way of raising money, but God’s way of raising people. . . .The church’s budget is not a list of its expenses, but a record of its vision. It is not a list of bills to be met, but a program of ministry to be achieved.”

As each of us prayerfully considers what God would have us give, and as we obey what God asks of us, we can trust Him to provide the resources. That’s a test — a test of where we are spiritually much more than where we are financially. It’s a test of us as individuals and of us as a church. The question is whether or not we really believe that God has the power and ability to bless our obedience “far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20).

How are you doing concerning God’s tests regarding money in your life? If God’s provision in your life in the days ahead depends on how you obey His leading now concerning your giving, what will the future be like for you?

It just might, you know. . . .

 

 

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #8

God uses money as a tool to help us grow.

“Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed;

for one’s life does not consist in the

abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15).

 

A wise person once observed, “Half of any task is having the right tool, and the other half is knowing what to do with it.” Although we don’t often consider it as such, money is a tool which God uses in our lives as a means of spiritual growth.

You see, money is not an end in and of itself. It is a means to an end. And in God’s hands, one of its primary “ends” is to instruct us and to help us grow spiritually. God especially wants us to avoid our natural tendency which is a bent toward selfishness, greed, and hoarding. That’s why the Lord Jesus said, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15).

Well, if an individual’s life does not consist in having a lot of possessions, in what does it consist?  Jesus provided an insightful answer to that question in Matthew 6:20-21, where He said, “ . . . store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Now, according to Jesus’ teaching in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25), there is nothing wrong with saving. There is nothing wrong with investing or earning interest on investments. There is nothing wrong with being a wise steward by planning for the future.

In fact, Jesus taught that those who do so are to be commended.  But our primary emphasis as God’s children is to make our investments in the “Bank of Heaven.”  When we do that, our investments are secure.  They are not affected by inflation, by theft, by wear and tear, or anything of the kind.

There is only one way to make deposits in this special “bank”:  By giving to the Lord’s work.  Although the money is used here, it is credited to your eternal account.

Each time you give your tithes and offerings at Central United Methodist Church, you are giving to the Lord by investing for eternity.  You are storing up “treasures in heaven” that will glorify God forever.

 

 

 

Tithe: Four Spheres That Need Your Financial Gifts

A conscientious young couple feels obligated to tithe (10 percent) to their local church, but they also want to support a friend doing missionary work in Rwanda.

On their tight budget, they can’t tithe to their church and significantly support their missionary friend.  They are frustrated and ask you for advice.

What would you say?

These New Testament passages illustrate giving to four groups to advance the gospel—the local church, family, the poor, and missions.

The Local Church

Galatians 6:6: The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.

Paul instructs the new believers in Galatia (Antioch of Pisidia, Derbe, Lystra, Iconium) to share all good things with their teachers. Does sharing all good things mean merely sharing the spiritual truths they have been taught? No. Galatians 6 is about doing good—especially to the “household of the faith” (6:10). Paul is boldly saying, “Financially support those who teach you!”

In America, studies find that 2 percent of churchgoers give nothing to their church[1], and 34 percent of churchgoers give to four or more organizations [besides their church].[2] Church leaders sadly admit that the Pareto 80/20 principle (law of the vital few) is at work in church giving—80 percent comes from 20 percent of the people.

If those who attend a local church don’t support it, who will? If you receive significant spiritual teaching from your local church, shouldn’t a significant part of your giving go there?

Your Family

1 Timothy 5:8: But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

The Old Testament had laws to protect widows, but what is our role today in caring for widows and family? Paul says the head of the family must provide for his own. Don’t abdicate your responsibility for the care of your widowed mother or aunt to the church—or the government.

But aren’t you responsible for supporting your family anyway, apart from your giving? Of course, but sometimes, family members need an extra boost. If your extra help for needy family members advances the gospel, you may consider that as part of your giving. However, supporting family can be never-ending! Set a boundary. Helping family members does not excuse you from generously supporting your church, the poor or missions.

The Poor

Galatians 2:10: They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do.

In this passage, Paul recounts how the Apostles asked him to remember the poor as he preached to the Gentiles, and he is eager to help the poor—not reluctant.

At the Last Supper, the disciples mistakenly thought Jesus had instructed Judas to leave the feast and “give something to the poor” (John 13:29). This reveals that Jesus habitually gave to the poor.

Praying for the poor is not enough. Preaching to the poor is not enough. The old saying is true: An empty stomach has no ears.

Missions

3 John 7-8: For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.

The early church sent gospel proclaimers all over the Eastern Mediterranean. By supporting gospel travelers, the believers were fellow workers with the truth—true giving partners. As you support gospel workers, you are not “just a donor.” You are a fellow worker with the truth!

So we have four places to give to advance the gospel. How much should we allocate to each one? The New Testament doesn’t say. However, regarding the tithe, the New Testament does not teach giving 10 percent to the local church. Jesus mentions tithing twice, but neither time does He command it for His followers. Paul taught much about giving, but he was silent on tithing.

In your giving, are these four groups represented?  How much should you give to each one?  Ask the Lord for His guidance about His money.

Prayer:  Father of all, sometimes I don’t know where to give.  I must help my family, but I need boundaries.  I want to be generous with my church too, but I often neglect the poor and missions.  Help me honor You in my giving.  Give me an idea!  Amen.

 

Effective Stewardship – Month #7

We are personally accountable to God for

how we use the money He has entrusted to us.

“For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ,

so that each may receive recompense for what has been

done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor. 5:10).

 

If you read annual reports from publicly held companies or banks, you will frequently see the word “fiduciary.” Fiduciary is used as an adjective to describe something which is held in trust. It is also used as a noun to describe the one who is a trustee who must account for that which is held in trust.

For example, a bank president has a fiduciary responsibility to stockholders in the bank and to depositors who place their money in the bank. A company treasurer has a fiduciary responsibility to the owners of the company. A payroll clerk has a fiduciary responsibility to pay people what they have earned.

You may never have considered yourself a fiduciary, and you may never have acted officially in a fiduciary capacity, but in reality, you are a fiduciary. All of us are. That applies both to Christians and to those who are not part of God’s family through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We who are Christians will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. There, we will not be judged for salvation, since the penalty and judgment for sin was settled once and for all on the cross of Calvary when the Lord Jesus paid the price for our sin. Instead, when we stand before Christ, we will give an account of how we have used what God has entrusted to us.

Just as a bank president must account to stockholders and depositors on how their funds are used, we must account to Christ for how we have used what God has entrusted to us. Since everything we have rightfully belongs to Him, we will need to report on how we have managed His assets!

As you consider how you have used what God has entrusted to your care and keeping during the past few months, what kind of job have you done? And more importantly, as a “fiduciary” of what God has placed in your hands, will you stand before Him with joy, eager to report on your giving and management of His assets?

 

 

 

7 Promises God Gives People Who Tithe

7 Promises God Gives People Who TitheThese promises come from my primary passage Malachi 3:8-12, during which God makes this request, “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of  hosts. This is what God says He will do if you test Him:

  1. “I will not open for you the windows of heaven” – This indicates a sudden deluge of activity. It is important to note God used this same verbiage in Genesis 7:11-12 when referring to Noah’s flood.
  2. “and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” – Rather than being a destructive form of judgement as in Noah’s day, this sudden deluge of activity will be blessings which cannot be contained.  
  3. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you” – Many feel that there was also a physical drought during Malachi’s day in addition to the spiritual drought. The caterpillars and locusts which devoured crops were under God’s mighty hand. So are the devourers in your life.
  4. “so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground” – It has been my experience things just last longer for those who put God first with their finances. The cars last longer. The appliances last longer. The HVAC seems to keep working.
  5. “nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts. – Back to farming, you will no longer be a barren land. You will live a fruitful and joyful life. While God may directly bless your finances, He may choose to bless other areas of your life such as your family, health, career or spiritual condition of those you love.
  6. “All the nations will call you blessed” – Wikipedia states there are 195 countries in the world today. Google Analytics says the leadership content from this site has been read in 198 countries since the beginning of the year. Literally, every nation in the world has benefited from this site’s content.  
  7. “for you shall be a delightful land,” says the Lord of hosts. – A revival of generosity and the love of people will be an attractive quality for all who know you.

I tested God in the area of tithing and He delivered on all seven of these promises. He honored my faithfulness, but more importantly, He honored His everlasting Word.

This article originally appeared here.

Effective Stewardship – Month #6

Money is one of God’s gifts to people.

“Likewise all to whom God gives wealth and

possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them,

and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil —

this is the gift of God” (Eccl. 5:19).

 

“Likewise all to whom God gives wealth and possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them, and to accept their lot and find enjoyment in their toil — this is the gift of God” (Eccl. 5:19).

Don’t you just love gifts?  There is great satisfaction both in getting gifts and in giving them. Since we are created in the image of God, it stands to reason that He also must take great delight in giving and receiving gifts.

All that we have comes from His hand, but in particular, Solomon indicated that money and riches and the ability to enjoy them are gifts from God. In other words, God gives us that which is rightfully His, and then He allows us the enjoyment of wealth and money. As we enjoy what He has entrusted to us, no doubt He takes great pleasure in our enjoyment if our actions are in conformity to His Word and His will.

How can we be sure that our enjoyment of money and wealth is according to God’s plan? The Bible contains a great deal of specific instruction as to how we are to use money, but this guiding principle is to motivate our entire lives, including the use and enjoyment of wealth: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

There’s nothing wrong with money. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the things that money can buy. Solomon was correct when he said that both are gifts from God. The key is to use money in such a way that our enjoyment will bring glory to God. One of the primary ways to do that is to give to the Lord and His work here at Central United Methodist Church.

During the past few months, have you kept God’s glory as the number one priority in your use of money?  Or have other things taken the place of your giving to God?

 

 

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.”

 

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.