Rejoice Series Sermon #7

Rejoice Series Sermon 7
~ Giving ~
Tyson Graber, Herscher Christian Church
Oct 23, 2011
Philippians 4:10-23

Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: REJOICE! 

Rejoice about . . . . . Cardinals in the World Series, Tiffani’s Birthday, Casper and Finley getting baptized?  How about our finances?

How can we rejoice in our finances?

With unemployment stuck around 9% as a nation and our local unemployment now over 12% or how about the new stats that says 17% of those with jobs are underemployed ..., can we really rejoice? 

With the average family now owing almost $16,000 in credit card debt and paying almost $2,500 a year on that card in interest alone, can we really rejoice?

With our nation’s personal student loan debts now totally over 1 trillion dollars and with our total national debt set to be over 18 trillion by the end of the year.  That is 18 ... with 12 zeros after it. 
That translates to a debt  per American taxpayer of almost $133,000 each.  Can we really rejoice? 

The Word of God says Rejoice in the Lord always, but how can we, in light of all of these terrible economic indicators?  Let’s find out today through the Word.

Turn with me to Philippians - Read Philippians 4:10-23

1. Contentment

The first key to being able to ‘rejoice no matter what’ is found in the answer to this question.
“Are you content?”  “Are you financially content?” Are you?

Now, the opposite of being content is being covetous, which is a violation of one of the Ten Commandments. It’s a big deal. But in our culture, coveting is not something that most people are aware of as a sin, because much of our culture exists to get us to be discontent.  Have you shown contentment in recent years?

You might have said, “I liked my TV last year, but Hey wait..., their TV’s bigger than mine, their TV’s flatter than mine.”  “The TV guy said my LCD was so much better than my old plasma, but now there is the new LED one.  Its even bigger, flatter, lighter, and even cheaper than mine was when I bought it, and now I want one of those!”  Or how about this?   “I used to like my 2011 truck, but now I really like the new 2012 the one with heated leather seats more, the new head lights, and, Honey, the payment will only be $75 more a month....”

The world wants us to be content about nothing.  Commercials are created to make us covet, so we will become bad stewards of our resources, so we will spend money we don’t have on things we don’t really need but think we can’t live without.

How many of you actually pray over your purchases?  Not after they are made, “God, please help me pay that off.”   No, I mean in advance. “Jesus, do you want me to buy this? Am I being discontented?” How much junk do you get in your mailbox or emails this time of year, saying “Be discontent, you really need this, covet this. Covet that. Covet all of these other things.”

The world has become great at marketing things to make us think we really need something new when we really don’t. 

How many of you have bought an mp3 player a few years ago to replace your sony walkman and then Apple came out with the ‘better-than-everything-else’ (iPod).  That is now ten years ago and you bought it ..., and then an they made the iPod with video and you bought it ..., and then they made the iPhone and you bought it. Then it was the ‘2', and the ‘3', and now they have come out with the new iPhone 4 that you can talk to and it will answer you back....  But there will be an even better i-something out after the new year and you’re gonna think to yourself, “I should just poke my eye out and say, “I quit. I quit! I don’t need it!”    But, if you listen to the world you won’t, you will probably just a buy it.

Contentment, Paul says, is very important to be a good steward. And if you’re not content, you may actually find yourself inclined toward ‘false teachers’ who will say, “God wants you to not be content. You’re a child of the King! You deserve the best!”

I’ll give you an example of a false teacher from a televangelist who is all about money.

“See, there are some people that believe not in prosperity. They don’t want to hear about that God is a God who wants to put money in your hand. Well, you need to hear about money, because you ain’t gonna have no love, and joy, and peace until you get some money.”

No love, no joy, no peace? Apart from Jesus?   No. Apart from money. So, joy doesn’t come from Jesus?  “No,” this televangelist says, “it comes from money.”   Peace doesn’t come from Jesus?   No, it comes from money.    Love doesn’t come from Jesus?   No, it comes from money.

The Word of God says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. You know, you can have love for free. It comes from Jesus. You can have peace for free. It comes from Jesus. You can have joy for free. It comes from Jesus.  Our God is a giver, not a taker.

In addition, our God is sufficient, not insufficient. What a horrible thing to tell someone who has just lost their job and is having money problems, “Jesus loves you, your kids love you. Too bad you can’t have joy, love, and peace.”   You’re having a hard time paying your bills.   And then the lie is if you have enough faith, like a pagan, you can manipulate God with your faith, you can whack the piñata and all of the wealth of God falls out of heaven.

I’m not saying it’s a sin to work hard, invest smart, and have money. It’s not a sin to make money.  But you want to be a good steward.  It’s not about whether you’re rich or poor; it’s about whether or not you’re a good steward with whatever it is God has entrusted to you, and that begins with being content. Are you content? If not, for your own well-being, as well as the love of God and others, you need to repent of the sin that often follows discontentment that is coveting.

2.  Sharing

Paul goes on in verse 14. “Yet, it was good of you to share my trouble.”  Paul’s broke, he’s in prison. And, what he says about the Philippians is that they are an attentive and gracious people. Here’s my question to you. “Who have you helped this year? Who have you helped?” Do you have a list? Not a boasting list that you post on FACEBOOK and compete against your friends to see which of you was the most generous, but your own account - between you and God - of whom you were led to help.

Who has God laid on your heart to help and you did?   You served these people. You went to their house and served them practically or physically.  This person you lent your car to, or this person you gave money to, or this person you gave groceries to.

Are you a generous person? Do you help people?

And see .., what he’s saying is that he loves the Philippians because they are attentive. They didn’t wait to get begged for  Paul’s needs. They paid attention!

See, we have some people in our church that are like that, they see where we’re at financially, because they want to help and they do. We’ve had some people say in recent years, “I love to help people. If there’s ever a big need, you know, somebody’s sick, single mom needs help, whatever it might be, could you let me know? I would like to give to people. I like to help them because God has blessed me. It’s a way of showing that Jesus and I love them, because we help.”

See, that’s a steward. A steward is looking for good opportunities to take the resources that God has given and to use them in a way that helps people and honors Him.

You know, Jesus was a giver during his life. He served people.  He prayed for people. He cared for people. He fed people. And people also, likewise, fed, and housed, and cared for, and supported Jesus. Are you helping other people? Are you sharing in their trouble?

 Philippians 4:15- 16

 3. Generosity

What Paul says is that they’re generous, and they have been for eleven years. Ever since he started that church, any time he’s going to do ministry, they send him a gift.  Any time he’s planting a new church, they send him a gift.  Any time he’s on hard times, they send him a gift.  And this is wonderful.  These are people who love Jesus, love their  pastor, love the ministry, and they’re looking for opportunities to give.  Some of you would say,  “Well, that probably was easy for them.” If you read 2 Corinthians 11:8-9, it says that their “generosity welled up out of their poverty.” These weren’t rich people, these were good stewards.

See, the myth is, “God, once you make me rich, then I’ll be a good steward.” I would ask, “If you’re a bad steward, why would God make you rich?”   And I’m not saying that you give to God to get. I’m not saying that. That’s greed. I am saying that you give to God hoping that he would give you more, so you could give more. We’re not talking about prosperity; we’re talking about stewardship. We’re not talking about getting rich; we’re talking about helping a lot of people.

So, here’s my question to you. “Are you pleased with your giving this year to God? Are you pleased with your giving to God’s church?” Some of you are probably very encouraged because at the beginning of the year you set a goal and you are reaching it.   In fact, you’re increasing what you’re anticipating giving and you’ve been able to see your giving increase year after year.  So you’re feeling really encouraged, and you should be.   We would say thank you. There are faithful people that are a huge help to the ministry at HCC.

Ask yourself, “What do I really give to God?” And in that, that’s almost the wrong way to state it.  Try, “God gave to me – how much did I keep?”    How’s that for the question?
   
Philippians 4:17

He goes on,, “Not that I looking for a gift.” Right? Paul wasn’t a guy who was trying to manipulate people financially, but “I am looking for what may be credited to your account.”  another translation says “I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.”

READ Philippians 4:18

That sounds like worship. That’s the language of worship.

Now, here’s the question.   Do you worship your money, or do you worship with your money? Jesus said you can’t serve both God and money; you gotta pick one. If you worship money, you will be a bad steward.  Money can’t be the most important thing in your life or on any day.

The world is filled with two kinds of people. There are takers, and there are givers. Those who worship money are takers. They’re not givers. All of their decisions are based upon what will bring me the most money. I am not saying that it’s a sin to make money. There are holy people in the Bible who love God and make good money. But they don’t do it by being discontented, stealing, by not being gracious and good stewards. You’re not holy if your goal is to make as much money as possible. I would go further and say if all of your life’s decisions are based upon what is most profitable you won’t look much like Jesus.

Some will say “I can’t give to church.  I can’t feed the poor; I can’t help those in need; I can’t do anything to serve, help, love, anyone else because that would take away from my money and my chance to make more money.” If that’s the case, you worship money and not God.

You can’t be devoted to money and God. You must pick what is your priority. Do you use people for money? Or do you use money for people?

This is sad but true, I have seen husbands who make the money, control the money, and their wife stays home with the kids, and they have their wives bound by such a tight budget, not because they have to, financially, but because they love money more than their wife. She can’t go out with her friends, she really can’t do anything. There’s no liberty at all in spending because he loves money more than his wife.  It’s an evil thing to do and often ends in divorce.

How many of you have been to dinner with this person? They say, “Hey, I’ll pick up the check!” Great praise the Lord, what a great friend.

How many of you have been to dinner with this person, “Hey, who got the cheese on their burger? I didn’t get the cheese.  I am not splitting this bill.  That was and extra 87 cents.  Before we go, we gotta settle this. Who’s gonna claim the cheese, I am not paying for that?”

That person is controlled by money and is of the devil, nobody wants to have lunch with that person.  I am just joking, but the truth is they really know nothing of the New Testament grace of God.  Nothing.
Just rebuke them and say, “I am sorry for you,” give them 87 cents,  and pray for them? I mean, some people are like that, though. They’re just so money hungry it can drive you crazy. As God’s people, we’re not to be that way.      
Think about this.  You either worship money or you worship God with your money. When you go out to eat, if you talk about Jesus or pray over your meal, then tip really, really well.

And you may say, “But the service was bad.” Then tell them, “The service was really, really bad. And I tip good, because I’m a Christian and you’re lucky Jesus is alive.” Right? So, that’s what we’re talking about, using money to love people, not using people because you love money. It’s worshiping with your money, it’s not worshiping your money.

Philippians 4:19

Some prosperity teachers quote this verse and say, “See? God will give you whatever you want.  Just have enough faith and claim the promises!”   Is that what the Word means? Who’s this written by? Paul, who’s broke in prison ..., apparently a total hypocrite, telling us to worship the homeless Jesus.  I hate to say it, it just doesn’t seem to add up that all of God’s children will be rich in this life. Some will be, but not all. The mark of maturity is good stewardship, not a bunch of wealth.

Is he saying that God will give you everything you want?  No.   He says that God will meet your what? Your needs.   Just so you know, there’s a difference between your wants and your needs. This is a huge learning experience for all people. When we’re kids, we have no difference. Food, water, shelter, air, cookies, video games, juice, right? All the same.

See, one of the definitions of a child is they can’t distinguish want and need. Everything is at the same level. Part of what it means to grow and be an adult and mature is to be able to distinguish between want and need.  And I’m not saying it’s a sin to have things you want, but you need to distinguish between that and your needs.  You need food, but you don’t need to eat out all the time. You need something to drink, but you don’t need a ‘mocca-frappo-allota-whatever-they-ares’ 3 times a day. You don’t need it. Now, you think you do, ‘cause you start shaking if you don’t have one...

I’m not saying it’s a sin to have a cup of coffee.   I’m not saying it’s a sin to have a cell phone.  But some of you couldn’t even conceive of life without a cell phone or high speed Internet.  It’s at the place of being next to food, water, shelter, air and being connected is essential that’s what we need for survival, right?  Not necessarily.  Some things are nice, but not absolutely necessary.

So, here’s the question. In his declaration that God supplies our needs, we assume that we have what we need.  Here’s the question. “Are you living within your means?” As opposed to saying, “God, I need more,” saying “God, I need to be a better steward and live within my means. If I don’t have the money, I shouldn’t spend it.”

Are you living within your means, focused first on your needs.

Philippians 4:20, “To our God and Father,  be glory forever and ever.”

 Here’s my next question: “Do you glorify God in all that you do, including in this context here, your finances?”

Do you glorify God in your finances? If you don’t, you’re a hypocrite, because you say, “God is loving. God is good. God is a giver. God is gracious. God cares for you.” But if you don’t reflect that, then you’re actions contradict your doctrines, and that, by definition, is a hypocrite. And the truth is, with our non-Christian friends, or those who are marginal in their faith, they really learn much more about the depth of our commitment from what we do than what we say.

If you bring someone groceries, and then tell them that our God is a giver, that makes a lot of sense. That makes a lot of sense. When you tell them that God loves them, and you go and serve them, that makes a lot of sense because you’re reflecting the glory of God to that person. “God loves you. He sent me here to serve you. God cares for you. He sent me here to give you money. God is concerned about you, and he sent me here to give you groceries. God cares about this church. He sent me here to participate in the forward progress in the message of Jesus, as a giver and not a taker.”

Philippians 4:21-22.

He’s talking about the church, groups of people in the church, and the collective church. And here would be my question: “Christians, are you helping or hindering our church?”

Now, if you’re here and you’re not a Christian, let me be strongly clear on this point. We are not asking you for anything. We don’t want you to give. We want you to receive. Before you ever give, you need to receive from God, His Son, your Savior, Jesus Christ.

We love you but if you don’t know Jesus keep your money. Give the Christians around you today the blessed opportunity to fund for the ministry of this church so that we can share God’s love with you and serve you. I want to be emphatic that the burden to give is laid upon Christians, in no way is it  upon non-Christians.  Don’t feel guilty, bad, or uncomfortable if you do not give.  But the reason God brought you here is to receive, to receive Jesus as God and Savior  who died to take away your sins, and who lives to change your life. Receive Jesus.

But for those of you who are Christian, the question is, “Are you rejoicing in giving like the church did in Philippi? Are you helping or hindering the forward progress of our church?”  Some of you would think, “Well, I come, but I don’t give. I take. But that’s okay.  This church is big enough it doesn’t need me to give.”  You are wrong we need everyone who is a brother and sister in Christ to give.  Not always with money, but giving of yourself; your love, your leadership, your service.  God is a giving God and He has called us to give back and rejoice!

Philippians 4:23

Paul’s final point, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” If Paul had not concluded with that word grace, this all would be legalism and horrible religion. It would be “Give your money or God will be angry! Give your money or God won’t love you. Give your money or you won’t have a ticket to heaven.”

He’s not saying that at all. He’s saying that this will all be accomplished,  good stewardship, contentment, living as one who reflects the glory of God, helping your church, and your city, and your world..., all of that can be accomplished in one way, and that is by the grace of God.

Receive and share God’s grace and rejoice in it!