If you ask, "What Can You Do?" meaning "What Can I Do?" to help our church improve and accomplish what we are here to accomplish the first thing is #1 Connect in a small group - Life Group. #2 is "Serve on a team." #3 is "Give a percent" of God's financial blessing and income. Just so you'll now, we have the doors locked so you can't escape (kidding).
Let's talk about giving. Didn't it feel great to give all we gave during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons? We gave food to the hungry, all those boxes of Christmas to soldiers in Afghanistan, and all those animals, chickens, and ducks to people in 3rd world countries. You were extraordinary. You were amazing. I was very proud of our church. We all gave a little and it ended being so much.
Over the years when there's been a need our church has given. We've given when there was a disaster such as 2005 with Hurricane Katrina and 2011 with the tornado in Ringgold, GA. We've given when missionaries and evangelists presented needs in 3rd world countries showing us pictures of poverty and hunger. We've given to women's shelters. We are weekly, sometimes daily, giving benevolently to transits needing food and shelter, people needing groceries, paying utility bills so people won't lose their power, purchasing medication for people who can't afford it, you name it and our church helped people with it. You can be proud of your church when it comes to helping your neighbor financially, but how about your giving? Are you proud of your giving?
Here's what I want us to understand. Giving food and money for the hungry, giving to help people in 3rd world countries, giving to keep the utilities on for a single mom, buying groceries, giving to women shelters, those type things create a lot of passion and emotion. We've all given from our passion and emotions and our church always will. This is a spontaneous giving. It makes us feel good. We have a conscious and emotional giving that touches our conscious and should. This type giving is giving directly to something that will help immediately and INTERVENE in a situation - INTERVENTION giving.
The Bible certainly teaches us to do this type giving, but the Bible teaches a higher and better way to give. I want us to understand it. It's PREVENTION giving - when we biblically and consistently give a percentage of our income to avoid needing intervention.
We all understand intervention and prevention. Intervention is when we don't do what we need to do to prevent our marriages from going into crisis. When our marriage tanks, we cry out for someone to intervene and fix our crisis - marriage counseling etc. Finances go into crisis. We didn't do what we should to prevent financial crisis. Now we want someone to intervene - lend us money, refinance, etc. We don't do preventative care for our bodies, car, house, etc. We go into crisis. We need a doctor, mechanic, builder to intervene when we could have prevented it in the first place.
Intervention giving is giving when someone is in a crisis. Prevention giving is giving so a crisis doesn't happen to begin with. For example, many of you began coming to Life Gate while in a crisis. Your marriage was in crisis, or your children were crisis. Your life was in crisis. You're not in crisis now, or not as badly. Why? People over the years have given a percentage so you could find help in your crisis. That's great, but had you and your family come to Life Gate all the while, you likely would never experienced the crisis, or it would not have gotten as bad. The crisis would be prevented.
Let me ask you which is better: to (1) intervene and rescue a child from an abusive home, or (2) prevent the home from becoming abusive in the first place? With intervention, though the child was rescued, damage was done. The child was wounded and will deal with emotional and mental scars likely for the remainder of life. With prevent the scars were prevented. There was never abuse in the first place.
Which is better: to (1) intervene to help a single mom recovering from a divorce, or (2) prevent the divorce in the first place? Which is better: (1) intervene to help a person recover from drug addiction, or (2) prevent the person from becoming a drug addict in the first place?
Many of you, including me, have said after hearing God's word taught, "For goodness sakes I wish I had known this when I was younger. I would have prevented mistakes I made." Many of you sitting right here right now would testify if it had not been for this church your marriage likely would be over, your children would be a mess, and who knows where you would be as a person.
You send me emails, cards, and letters verifying what I just said. There is a young man who used to attend Life Gate, but moved due to business. For 20 years he's made it a point at least twice a year to tell me he knew he was heading for disaster, but because of our church he is a successful business man, has a beautiful family, and loves God. That's what prevention giving does.
Life Gate Church has touched your life and your family's life because people over the years decided to trust God and say, "You know what? I'm going to give a percentage to my church. I believe in my church. I don't care if it goes to help pay salaries, help pay electric bills, fix commodes, to buy projectors, cutting grass, or changing bulbs. I know it's not glamorous, feel good, emotional, intervention giving. I'm smart enough to know it's impossible to make every dollar sound spectacular. It cost money to have a good church. I want to participate with Jesus in the eternal. This church has touched my life and I want to pay it forward."
Here's the problem. We can see and measure intervention giving. I can tell you we gave x bags of groceries to the mission. We gave x flocks of chicken, x flocks of ducks, x goats, x lambs, x water buffalos, etc. We sent x boxes of Christmas to Afghanistan. We gave x dollars to the Women's Mission. We gave x dollars to evangelists. We can measure intervention giving. But I can't tell you how many marriages you prevented from divorce. I can't tell you how many children you prevented from destruction. I can't tell you how many people you prevented from going to hell. We can't measure prevention giving. You can see the results of the intervention for the child rescued from abuse, but I can't show you those you prevented from ever needing to be rescued.
Those of you who have purposefully given a percentage off the top have no idea what you have done. You have powerfully made a difference not because of horror stories that happened and someone told, but because of the horror stories that never happened at all. That's the power of purposeful percentage giving.
Crisis intervention giving is emotional and the results are measurable. Percentage giving is not emotional or measurable, but superior and preventative.
With that said, I want to show you what God says about giving knowing most Christ followers don't know. God doesn't talk about giving in specific amounts. He talks about it in math, i.e. the tithe.
The tithe was a term used in ancient times to refer to 10%. A tithe is 10% of anything - grain, corn, lambs, goats, cattle, gold, silver, etc representing 10% of a family's income. It's easier for us. We simply use currency. Every time I get $10, I give God $1. It's easy to take $1 from $10 and give it. We can all do that. What can you do with $1 anyway? But when $1 bills become $100 bills, we may balk. We balk more when $1 bills represent $1000 bills. However, actually there is no difference. It's still 10% and the identical percentage amount. God doesn't expect more from the person with $100,000 than from the person with $10.
Delbert, you're asking me to give thousands of dollars a year? No. I'm not. God is and you should be thankful you should give that much. I'm not asking you to do anything Judy and I haven't done for 30 years. We've given thousands of dollars every year toward intervention giving, called alms in the scriptures, and to prevention giving as have many of you.
I'm not a preacher who says, "If you'll give God $1 he'll give you $10. If you give God $100 he'll give you $1,000." That's not the Bible, but what the Bible does say is better. If you give to God with a cheerful heart, God will bless you exactly where you need a blessing.
Malachi 3:8-9 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "IN TITHES AND OFFERINGS. You are under a curse -- the whole nation of you -- because YOU ARE ROBBING ME.
(Notice it's tithes as in plural)Let's talk about this robbing thing first. We think it's our money because we acquired it. Wrong. It's God's money. You acquired it as God gave you skills and provided ways to acquire it. All he has to do is pull the plug and you will have nothing. Don't challenge God on this. I had someone say, "It's not God's. I earned it." Never say that, at least not out loud. He was a well off person in every way - business, finances, family. Within a few years the man lost everything including his family, beautiful house, business, reputation, and in jail several times. God actually wants you to test him, but test him in the other direction by giving. What you have God has "entrusted" to you (see parable of the talents - Mat 25:20 for correct understanding). The first thing Judy will ask me when things seem a little crazy is, "We are tithing like we should, right?" That's a good question for you to ask.
Malachi 3:10-11 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. TEST ME IN THIS," says the LORD Almighty, "AND SEE 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. I WILL PREVENT pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty.
If you give this tithe you don't know what God has prevented in your life. Can't measure what didn't happen. God will intervene, but he'd prefer to "PREVENT." Honestly, I much rather that God prevent pests and my being devoured than God having to intervene after the pests attacked or the devourer came. We don't know what God has prevented. I can't measure the pests that never came or the devouring that never took place, with no need of intervention.
God said he will bless you in supernatural ways - floodgates of heaven. He doesn't say give me one dollar and I'll give you ten. He does far greater. He said I will bless you in a flood of ways. Let me tell you from experience that's how it works and he challenges you to test him in this. That's why, if you give tithes and you're going through something heavy, I'll say to you, "I don't know how. I don't know when, but I know God will do something amazing for you." Many of you have heard me say this to you and God did. He blessed you exactly in the way you needed.
So, before I go on, don't raise your hands, but how many agree this is true? Just say out loud, "Yes it's true."
Years back, as I began studying the Bible and at that time specifically tithing, I began to see different tithes (plural). I was confused. Here's what I learned. There are three different tithes. I know. You're thinking, "Let me out of here." Just hear me out. You'll like it.
There is the tithe we bring to the storehouse (Mal 3:8-11). That's the first tithe. Here's the second. See how this reads to you.
Deuteronomy 14:22-26 Thou shalt truly TITHE all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. AND THOU SHALT EAT BEFORE THE LORD THY GOD, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, THE TITHE of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; THAT THOU MAYEST LEARN TO FEAR the LORD thy God always. And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: THEN SHALT THOU TURN IT INTO MONEY, and BIND UP THE MONEY IN THINE HAND, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: AND THOU SHALT BESTOW THAT MONEY FOR WHATSOEVER THY SOUL LUSTETH AFTER, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or FOR WHATSOEVER THY SOUL DESIRETH: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household
The second tithe - here singular - is for you. The first 10% goes to the place God has placed his name - church - for preventative giving. The second 10% goes to you. God says do this before him openly. He wants to see you enjoy your life. So, if I have $10, I give $1 to God. I give $1 to me leaving $8 to live on. I call this 8-1-1, but there is still one more tithe I need to show you. It's for intervention giving.
Deuteronomy 14:28 At the END OF THREE YEARS thou shalt bring forth all the TITHE of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; THAT THE LORD THY GOD MAY BLESS THEE in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.
This is the crisis intervention giving for the stranger [transient], orphans, widows, emergency, etc. Most do this in part. We're to lay it up separately and it brings a special blessing from God. In the New Testament it's called "alms" (Mat 6:1-4).
Let me show you how Judy and I have done this for years. We make certain we give $1 out of $10 to God through the church toward preventative giving. If Judy gets birthday money or Christmas money, she tithes on it. I say this so you will know how serious we are about our giving. We know it's not all glamorous and feel good giving. We know we will never know all it prevented, but we do know it does. Next, we give at least a 1/3 tithe - third year tithe - to alms. It goes to the "Alms/Missions" account here at church for crisis and intervention. Instead of doubling our tithe the third year, we do it this way. Lastly, we make certain at least $1 out of $10 goes to us. We're as serious about this as we are the other two. Why? I fear the Lord. The rest goes toward the expenses of life. God's financial plan is basically: (1) Give; (2) Save; (3) Spend. I'll make this clear next time.
God said, "Test me in this." Judy and I have and we've learned it's not if we can afford to give a percentage. It's we can't afford not to give a percentage.
Last point. Here is what Jesus said about giving a percentage.
Luke 11:42 "Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter WITHOUT LEAVING THE FORMER UNDONE.
I talked to you first about the later - connecting in a small group in love and helping others. A circle is better than rows. I talked to you about serving. Those things are important and should be practiced, but just as important is giving a percentage. Neither should be left undone.
"What Can You Do?" Give a percentage. If you can't give the tenth, begin with what you can. Make a way for God to open the floodgates of heaven. Test him. I did.
© Life Gate Ministries