days - happy and blessed and privileged in the midst of the splendors of that beauti-
Now folks - in a sense - everybody here is a King. We have the kingly, divine gift
of life and we can take our lives and the stuff that we have with our lives and pretty
much do what we want to with it! Wouldn't it be smart - just think about it - wouldn't
it be smart and wise and intelligent if we somehow could take the stuff of life and
invest it in something that would be valid beyond time and space - something that would
be worth something in eternity? Because we may live two-score, three-score, four-
score plus years - BUT one day there comes a time when all of us will graduate - will
die - will pass from this human life. Wouldn't it be logical or nice or we could send
it on ahead? We all know the saying - YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU. Is that true?
Jesus would say it's not so. And He gave us a formula, a secret, a genius of how we
can invest in eternity. In fact He says it in a straightforward way and it rolls
almost like poetry from our lips. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and dust doth corrupt and where thieves break through and steal; but lay
up for yourselves (doesn't it sound good?) treasures in heaven, where neither moth
or rust can corrupt and thieves cannot break in and steal." And then Jesus adds,
"Where your heart is -(NO)- where you treasure is, there will your heart be also."
You know for a long time I preached that in reverse. I use to say, "If you love
the Lord, if you have received Jesus Christ, if you are members of God's family, if
you've commited yourself to Him, then naturally you will be a steward, a tither, a
generous giver of your blessings of your material possessions - BUT it isn't so. Jesus
had the right order. He said, "Put your treasure there - what you value, what has
supreme significance for you - where your passion - your interests - your desires -
where your time is spent - where your treasure is - that which you love the most - there"
said Jesus"your heart will be."
As we think about material giving and material blessings, we need to come to recognize
that a pretty good sign that I beling to the Lord, that I'm laying treasures up in
Heaven is a simple and basic fact that I put my treasure where my heart is - if my heart
if with the Lord and my heart is in His Church - His Body - His institution in this
world - then naturally that's where my treasure is.
Now if you think this morning that I'm going to use some arm twisting, high pressured
methods - to get you to fill out an amount that you haven't already thought about - you
are in error. Now, I am praying that God will touch my life and my heart and cause me
I came to this service - - but not on any basis that is shabby and beneath the Christian's
standard of giving. Now we have a staggering budget before us. In fact, I know of no
church in the history of our denomination - that in one year has increased their
budget by the amount that we have in the Second Baptist Church of Houston. I know of
no church that has had this kind of basic budget increase, independent of any building.
Our budget - our basic budget needs for this year are $1,393,000,00 plus and I'm going
to tell you something, folks. Ordinary giving - ordinary pledging - ordinary steward-
sh'ip wi'l'i NOT do 'It. We have allways taliked about, "'let's attempt someh4,ng that humanly
speaking we cannot do unless God intervenes." I have before you a budget that is exactly
and precisely that. The Holy Spirit is going to have to touch literally, hundreds of
hearts in this congregation and change hundreds Gf givirtg pfattems, tf we a-re to lye
adequate with this challenge, that I believe firmly that God has placed before our con-
gregat4lon. The Lord has pl.&ced us herl- 4in th4is unique placl- - at th4is strat,-gic t4ime-
in history - if you were going to locate a church anywhere on the face of this earth in
Houston, Texas - where would you put it? Where is the strategic location? I say it
is on Woodway. We know that in 10 years, this church will be in the geographical heart
of the city of Houston, Texas. Right here where we are - about 2 miles up the way.
God has placed us here - God has surrounded us with hundreds and thousands of people
who do not know Him. We have a chance - the door of opportunity has swung open. We
have to be faithful to it , with our gifts, with our witness, with our time, with the
total commitment of our lives. Anything less - and the hand of God - mark it - the hand
of God just moves over a church. There comes these fleeting moments and then it passes
away. I've seen it happen all over this world - all my life. I'm convinced that God
has placed His hand on this fellowship. And He has given us an opportunity, a chance,
a possibility, a dream to do something unique, and profound and alive for HIM and for HIS
honor and for HIS glory. He has placed this challenge before us. The question is:
WILL WE BE FOUND FAITHFUL?
The Bible gives us a very clear understanding of biblical stewardship and anything less
than this will be beneath the standards our Lord has placed before us.
I know how to raise a budget! You can appeal to pride. We can take and post all the
big givers out there in the vestibule and say, "I want to list the 100 top givers in
this church." I'll tell you what - a lot of people will step to the line that have
never stepped up there before. Pure pride. I want my name on that list. I want to
be among the top 100 in that church. I know I can do it. That's one way to raise a
Another way is to appeal to self-interest. You could say, "You know you can't out-
give God - if you give to the Lord He is going to bless you so much in return - he's
days." Now that is biblically true, but regardless of how piously you phrase it -
still - the appeal is on self-interest. You can raise money like that.
Or you can use an emotional appeal and this will get some spasmodic giving. I know
some of the saddest stories about missions and needs that you've ever heard in your
life. When I tell them, I genuinely weep tears. And I could tell a few stories like
that and quote a few scriptures and boy we could fill out those pledge cards and all
weep and cry and that would be emotional giving and pledging.
Spur of the moment type of thing - I think that is beneath biblical standards of steward-
Or I could do it on a business basis. I could say, "look, this is a church, it is a
business - we run this business effectively and efficiently - we have order - we are
on a computer - we are moving it through scientifically - it has to be run like this.
We have a budget - a need before us that is for missions and expansion and growth and
lives and literature and children and outreach and evangelism - all around the world
and all through this city - in many media and many means; therefore, we are a business;
therefore give your money - pledge it - commit it ahead of the time - and appeal to your
business sensibility. Some people would give on that basis.
That also, is beneath, in my opinion the biblical appraoch to giving and to stewardship.
Now I'm not going to talk about bingo parties, door to door selling of cakes, knives
and goodness - napkin rings - not going to get into that, because I think we all know
that is a shabby way to try to get money to do God's work and God's business. We are
going to talk about biblical, biblical giving. There is a basis for giving in the
Bible. A biblical basis for giving and I think we find it here in the beginning of
this very familiar passage in Malachi. Did you hearf the first verses before I read
those familiar verses? You see - the situation in Malachi - in Malachi, you remember
was the last prophet. He lived 400 years before Jesus Christ. And the situation in the day
and the reign of Malachi was very much like today. The people were doing what was right
in their own eyes. They had turned from obeying God and his law. They were living in
sin. And we must recognize that sin is not only a departure from the law of God, but
when you see and when I sin, we actually leave God Himself. We not only leave His rules
and break His laws, we get away from God ..... that is sin. And this was the situation
in the day of Malachi. But Malachi says, quoting God, "Return unto me and I will return
unto you." "Return unto me," God says, "and I will return unto you." In other words,
He is saying, "Repent." Here is a message of repentance. Repent and become obedient.
Malachi says, "You are not being blessed. Your life is miserable because you are in
sin; because you are out of sync; you are out of harmony with me," and "therefore,"
Malachi says, "You are cursed with a curse." Did you know in the Bible in talks about
people who are cursed? Here it is.
I wonder if in your life things are not right, things are not straight, things are not
true - you can't find out exactly what it is. You say maybe there is a curse on my
life. There may be. And then Malachi says the problem with the people is basically this
they have turned from the law of God and now they are robbing God - they are stealing
from the Lord - in their tithes and in their offerings - in their tithes and in thier
And then He gives that familiar passage, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse,
that there may be meat in my house." And then He says, "Prove me, test me ... this is
a challenge.... see if this works .... bring your tithes into the storehouse and then see
I will open before you (literally) the windows of heaven," and God says, "I will pour
out a blessing unto you that you do not have the capacity to receive - to understand
and to hold in your life." Isn't that something? A blessing so tremendous, so stagger-
ing - so unbelievable - so phenomenal - so supernatural - that we don't have the capacity
to handle it. It's just too much God - you have blessed me too much - I can't stand
it, Lord. That's what He promises - for those - for those - who bring the tithe into
Now what is a tithe? Everybody knows that a tithe is one tenth - it is ten percent
of what you make. THAT'S NOT TRUE. A tithe is not one tenth of what you make. A tithe
is the first tenth of what you make. It's not the second tenth. It's not the fifth
tenth. It's the first tenth. We see a biblical principle all the way through the
scriptures that talks about first - we see it as Abel came and brought the first
fruits of all of his harvest, all of his flocks - he brought the first fruits to God -
before he had anything for himself - he brought first fruits to the Lord.
We see it there in the children of Israel, coming out of slavery. God says, "I want
you to take the first born son and make this son a priest. Make him holy and separate
unto God." The first son - a priest. We see it in the 10 commandments. What was
the first commandment? "Thous shalt have no other gods before me." The Lord is saying,
"I insist on being number one - I insist on being first."
Jesus Christ said, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness." So in
the Bible there is the principle of 'first' - the first tenth - the first son, the
first born - the first portion - the first fruits - the first commandment. The tithe
is one tenth of your TOTAL resources. Your total income .... annually ... weekly... daily ....
given unto God - one tenth of everything unto Him. That's the tithe.
Now where do you bring this tithe? "Bring ye all the tithe into the storehouse!"
Beginning with Hezakiah there was a storehouse in the temple that was set aside - the
temple treasury - God's money - God's gifts - used for God's business.
In Nehemiah - in the second temple there was a stroehouse built exclusively for God's
In the New Testament we see the storehouse was the church - the New Testament Church -
the body of Christ - and in Corinthians, we read we ought to bring our offerings and
our tithes - the first of the week - on Sunday - to the Body of Christ - to the church.
The storehouse IS the church.
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in My house - there
may be life in my body - there may be outreach and ministry and discipleship - is what
I'm doing in my kingdom enterprises, through my body - in the world- which is the New
This is the basis - the basis - of giving. But also - there are barriers to giving.
ALL kinds of barriers - you know - when I come up here I feel a little defensive. I
can see all the sales resistance swelling Up in some of your expressions. We are going
to talk about money. Whey are we talking about money? It upsets a lot of people for
the church to talk about money - when we know that Jesus talked more about money than
he did about Heaven - about Hell - about the Second Coming or about salvation - - ALL
put together. That seems to tell us that our Lord - incisively - divinely - saw that
WHERE OUR TREASURE IS ... THERE WILL BE OUR HEARTS AND OUR INTERESTS. So you show me
someone who is NOT committed as a tither to the storehouse of God and I will show you
who has got some heart difficulties - who's got their priorities out of shape and out
The storehouse - the church. Now I know that there are a lot of t church or-
ganizations. Many of them are Christian - many of them are fine- - many of them are
blessed by God - BUT the church organizations and charities are just like the
circus that comes to town and pitches a big tent...... crowds go and they gather all
sorts of things..... and then they pull that tent up and they are gone..... where are
the converts? where are those who would be discipled and grow in faith and under-
standing of thelord?
So we are to give to these - BUT it is over and above that BASIC beginning tenth! The
first tenth!!! Goes to the church - to the body of Christ. His storehouse.
Barriers come up to our giving. And we start thinking about all the pressures that
are on us financially - all the hassleing we have to do and we have all sorts of ex-
cuses and reasons and we being to think - I wonder how little I can give and get by
Like the wife who asked her husband - she said, "Honey, give me a little money." He
said, "How little?"
Just how little? I think perhaps it would be a good idea if I would do what one pastor
did - an old hard working fellow came and joined his church - unlettered, tough as steel,
mean as a snake - but the grace of God had touched his life. And every day and every
hour.... every week. . . he was coming by and harrassing that pastor - saying, "Give me
something to do - I'm ready to go to work - boy, ain't it grand to be a Christian?" He
was just rah rah every day and worrying that preacher to death. Finally, in desperation,
the pastor got the names of 10 people off the church rolls that he hadn't seen or
heard of in years. He said, "Here are 10 people. You see if you can go and get
them active again in the support and ministry of this church. Here is some church
stationery - if you wnat to write them a letter - however you want to do it."
Well this new Christian took that seriously. He prayed about... he worried about it...
he went out and thought he would contact all those....and just deal with them as to
why they were no longer active in the life and the support of that church.
Three weeks went by and the pastor got a letter from a prominent physician in the
church and it went something like this: "Dear Pastor, enclosed is a check for $10,000
which should take care of my delinquent offering. You are right - I have been missing
the church and missing its worship services - but from now on, unless I'm providentially
hindered - you will find me in my place and my offering in that plate - every Sunday
morning. Sincerely, A. C. James, MD. (PS. Please tell your secretary that there is
only one 't' $dirty and no-,-'c' in skunk!)
Some times we have to break down some barriers that build up in stewardship.
McCartney preached a sermon - he had 3 points. His points were very clear and typical
of his preaching style. He said, "Make all you can - point 1. Save all you can -
point 2. Give all you can - point 3....... An elder deacon who thought he was suppose
to comment on every message of the pastor, said, "You know, those first 2 points were
grand....but that 3rd point messed up a might good sermon."
Somehow - people will talk about everything under sun - from who won the Southwestern
Conference title last night to what's going on at Nassa - and all the way to solving
the problems in the Far East. We will talk about domestic relations - we will talk
about oil and vocations - we will talk about population - we will talk about traffic -
we will talk about housing - we will talk about everything under the sun EXCEPT money
to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ!
And then I see some mighty strong masculine men who get some effeminate I want to ask
them their maiden name.
There are barriers to giving. And perhaps some of our barriers come - the very point
is....... that many of us do not know what money really is........ Do you know what
money is? It's a means of exchange but money is more than that..... my money represents
ME...it's my energy, my resources, my power, my strength, my earnings, my labor, my
vocation. Money is just sort of a 'crammed' into a piece of paper - you and me - and
we can take it and just plank it down on the counter and say, "I want this or that."
This is a part of me - this is what I have earned - I want to purchase that with this.
It's congealed YOU and ME - in a very materialistic sense. In a very materialistic
Now we have to understand what money is - in light of what stewardship is. First thing
we need to know about stewardship is that God owns everything in this world. Everything
in this world..... belongs to the Lord. And we are partners with God - but He owns
it. He has the deed. Totally it is His. The idea that one tenth belongs to God is
wrong! The idea that one day a week belongs to God - the other 6 days are our own -
that's wrong! The idea that one house is the Lord's house and the other houses belong
to the devils, the pagans or to you and me - that's wrong!!!! The idea that one area
of vocation if you are a preacher or work for a church or teach a Sunday School class,
or something that's God's business and everything else is secular business - THAT'S
God owns everything - the whole earth. He has the cattle on a thousand hills - everything
here - the air we breathe. Everything is of God. God owns it all. We are to be stewards;
we are partners of God's- in a sense that we are overseers of what He has.
Nobody here in this building has anything today. Not one thing. And the only thing
we can every have eternally, is what we send ahead. Can you imagine how the angels
of heaven are laughing at me right now? Saying, "Do you know what you are doing? You
are trying to get those people to invest in the only thing they can ever really keep.
And you are having to persuade them biblically - to do it." Isn't that ridiculous?
When we invest in God's kingdom - that is the only thing that is going to be eternally
valid - beyond time and beyond space. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth
tithes and with our offerings.
We are a part of God's business. Every business we have i-s God's business. The farmer
goes out and he says, "This isn't my farm - it is God's farm. He supplies the rain
and the sunshine and I work the soil." He doesn't go out and say, "I wonder how little
I can plant?" He has a little 10 acre tract and he has a little 5 pound sack of wheat
and he says, "I wonder how little I can plant to have a harvest?" You know anybody
that does that? NO. He says, "I want to know how much - I want a bountiful harvest."
Because all of it is Gods. Everything belongs to Him. This is what the New Testament
teaches us - the carpenter goes out in the shop - that's God's business. The shepherd
gore& (Yut iry ttre fie'id - that's God's bus-iness. The f-isherman out on the ll&ke - that's
God's business. Everything we do is God's business. God owns all of it. Wouldn't it
be something if the lawyer - as he went into the cou@room - he would recognize that
I am a co-laborer with God and with the Judge and with the lawvand try to establish
in this world - God's rule, God's way, God's business?
The physician, recognizing that everytime he spanks a baby on his seat - is saying,
"Lord, I'm participating with you - this is your hospital, your laboratory - as I
straighten these bones and seek to make this world a healty, whote place in which to
live." This is God's business. All of it is God's business.
In his concept, stewardship comes to have a whole new meaning. "The earth is the
Lord 's and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein." It's all
Gods. God's business.
The basis of giving - Malachi; Barriers to giving - our sin, our selfishness, our
secularism, our pride, our misunderstanding of biblical principles; The blessing of
giving - it's really something. The blessing.... the Lord says, "I will open up the
windows of heaven and I will pour you out a blessing that you just do not have the
capacity to receive."
You know .... we believe the Lord's promises for our salvation .... don't we? God's
going to save us - we receive Jesus Christ - we accept that - it's taught in the Bible.
We believe His promises as far as morality in life and forgiveness is concerned. We
accept that - it's in the Bible.
We are trusting God for all of these things but so many people are seeking to deceive .......
are confused ... are rebellious with God as far as their money is concerned. But here
He has a clear promise, restated many, many times - saying, "If you are faithful with
me in your tithes and offerings and your gifts - I will open you up windows of heaven
..... windows of heaven."
Now I can't give you an impressive financial statement at all. In fact, ladies and
gentlemen - today - I don't own one foot of ground anywhere in this world. I don't
own one share of anything - anywhere in this world. But I can tell you one thing -
if we are faithful to Him with our material possessions - God blesses you in many,,
many different ways .... physically, spiritually, psychologically ... with friendship,
with family ... on and on and on and on - and you really can t@eceive it. Just try
It always works. It always works.
Now, this morning I don't want anybody to give until it hurts - No. I want you to
give until it feels good.
The scripture says, "The Lord loveth a cheerful giver." I think Williams says,
"The Lord lave& a hilarious giver."
It should be a joy - an element of sacrifice. I'm praying this morning that God will
lay on my heart - an amount far beyond what I came here to do. And I'm open to the
Holy Spirit - to do that in my life - wherever He leads - I want Him to do it, as far
as my commitment - personally is concerned to Him; because I know one thing- you can't
outgive God. You can't do it.
Two stories - and we will make our commitment. The first one took place when I was
pastoring in a little North Carolina town. I'll never forget that gal. Sbe was in her
90's and it always did something for me to get to go see her. She lived in an old
worn out frame house - she had never married - had no immediate family that I knew
anything about - but had the glow of Jesus about her face. Remember I told you a while
back that the older you get you are becoming more and more what you have been becoming
all of your life? If you are mean and stingy and narrow and gossipy - look out when
you get old - it's just going to be more of the same and even worse. Well, this lady
was the reverse of that - she loved people, loved the Lord and loved her church. She
ministered to my heart. I went to see her early in my ministry there. While I was
leaving, she said, "Pastor, would you take this offering to the church?" She had a
little envelope there and handed it to me. I had already looked over and seen what
she was going to have for supper - vienna sausage and crackers over there on a little
table. Literally, you could hear the wind coming in through the cracks in the walls.
Her total income was a meager little social security thing she received because she
had worked as a seamstress all of her life. That's all the work she had done. In that
little mountain town. And I said, "Mrs. Bright - you know - I appreciate this - but
you know - we are doing good up there at the church. Why last Sunday we took in" and
I told her what the offering was. "We are just doing fine. I tell you what - you just
keep this offering - I know that up there at the church they would rather you would
have it and if we need it, we will know that you have it here." She looked at me as
stern as she could be and she said, "Preacher - would you keep me from knowing the
joy of giving to my Lord?" And I said, "Let me have that offering."
First fruits. First tenth. Joy and privilege of sharing with Him.
Second story. A business man was traveling in Korea. Missionary was showing him
around and he looked over there and he saw a man pulling a plow with another man be-
hind the plow, guiding it by the handles. And the missionary said, "Now there is a
real shot. I want to get a picture of that." So they went over and he got his camera
out and they started taking pictures of the man pulling the plow and the other man
"Yes," he said, "they are poor but last year they had an ox - but they became a
Christian and they were part of builidng a little Christian church here in Korea and
they didn't have any money to give so they sold their ox and gave that money to build
the church." This business man was moved - he said, "00h - that's really some sacri-
fice." The missionary said, "No. They didn't look at it as a sacrifice - they were
just so happy that they had an ox to sell, so that they could give the money to Jesus
That business man went back to his church and told his pastor the story and showed him
the picture. He said, "Preacher, I'm going to double my gifts. I'm going to double
my gifts, because, " he said, "I want to begin to do some plow work for the Lord ....
and I've got a lot of catching up to do."
God made the sun it gives
God made the moon it gives
God made the stars - they give
God made the clouds - they give
God made the earth - it gives
God made the trees - they give
God made the flowers - they give
God made the animals - they give
God made man ....... he.....
"Lay not up for yoursevles, treasures on earth - where moth and rust doth corrupt
and thieves break through and steal." Jesus said, "Lay up for yourselves, treasures
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse that there will be meat in my house.
Prove me herewith saith the Lord if I will not open up for you the windows of Heaven
and just rain and pour out a blessing that you will not have the capacity to receive."
I trust that as we make our pledge commitment to this body this year - we will just
take a chance that God means exactly what He says.
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