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Once a year I preach about MONEY. This is the Sunday. All through my ministry I

have been a little reluctant to preach about money. I need to do it more often, be-

cause we know that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ - in 2/3rds of His parables, deals

with money and material possessions. So unapologetically this morning, we will talk

about money - it makes many people nervous.
I'm beginning to get like Clovis Chappel was - he said that when he preached about

money he always enjoyed it because the generous people smiled and had a good time

and he said, "I just like to watch those selfish doods squirm in the pew."
In order for everybody to relax, we are going to pledge this morning in this service.

Under your pews are pledge cards. You don't have to look - they are there. On the

end of the pews are pencils that will be handed out - you don't have to look - they

will be there. So now, let's move through our service in a spirit of prayer, in a

spirit of expectation - as to what God is going to say to us and how we individually,

and collectively, are going to respond to His challenge for this fellowship at this

juncture in our history.
I'm going to read a passage of scripture that we've heard quoted several times during

our magnificient season of tithing testimonies. I'm going to read first of all in

Malachi 3:7-10; then I'm going to move over and read our text of the morning, which is

found in Matthew 6:19-21.

There is a traditional story that a sailor was shipwrecked on a South Sea island. He

was captured by some natives and they held him above their heads and took him to their

village; and to his amazement and surprise, they placed him on top of a rude throne.

And they put a crown on his head. Suddenly, even though there was a language bearer,

he was led to understand that he had been made KING OF THE NATION. Now he liked being

King. He sort of got accustomed to it and began to think, "You know, it's a shame

everybody can't be a King." Go there - and they went. Come here and they came. But

then he began to ask, "I wonder if I'm the only King they have ever had?" And finally

he discovered that they made different men KING for one year. And then he went a

little further and thought, "I wonder where the old kings are?" Those who had been made

kings for & year-? And hp- liaokeld around and there were none. And then he made furthur

exploration and discovered that what they would do - after you served as King of the

land - or tribe for a year - they would take the exiled - displaced King and put him

on a barren island. And all the other kings before had starved to death on that is-

land. But this sailor was a wise man. And he said, "You know, I'm king - and for

a year I can do anything I want to do." So he began to build boats and take them

over to this barren island. He took gardners over there and they began to farm and

to till the land and they began to plant fruit trees. He took builders over there and

they built a village. So when it came to the end of his time - when he was no longer

King - they took him to a island that was no longer barren. But instead, it was a

magnificience paradise. And so the story goes that he lived there the rest of his

days - happy and blessed and privileged in the midst of the splendors of that beauti-

ful world.

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

to make a commitment far and beyond that which I had thought about and prayed about before

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:


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

a budget.

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

going to give you so much money back - bread on the water - will come back in many

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
His storehouse.

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

Testament church."

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


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

of kilter.
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

with it?
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,

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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

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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'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


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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

but lay them up in Heaven." That's what we do when we are faithful to Him with our

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?
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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

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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

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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

behind the plow. And he said to the missionary, "You know, they must be poor people.

"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

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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

in Heaven."

"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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