Last week, we worked on updating our thinking around money. Because the truth is, our behavior won’t change until we change our thinking. In other words, our thoughts produce our behaviors.
So if we want better behavior, we don’t try to change our behavior. Instead, we need to change the way we think.
For example, let’s say you find yourself thinking that someone who has more money than you should give you money. This kind of thinking will stall your financial progress. You’ll sit at a standstill.
To improve your financial situation, you have to kick that thinking to the curb and instead be grateful for what you have and stop comparing your financial situation to someone else’s.
Because here’s the deal. If you make $32,400 per year, you are among the top 1% of earners in the world. That breaks down to about $15.60 per hour.
Another thing we learned last week is that, if we want to be generous, we have to lead with generosity. We have to be generous first or we’ll get to the end of our paycheck with nothing left over even though we intended to be generous all along.
And finally, we discovered never to put our hope in money. Our culture tries to sell us this idea that the more money you have, the more secure you’ll be. It sounds right, but it simply doesn’t work.
If you need proof, just take a look at all the professional athletes who make hundreds of millions of dollars during their career and then go broke in just a few years after retiring.
Why would we put our hope in the provision when we can put our hope in the provider?
God is the one who richly provides everything we need for our enjoyment. He even gives us more than we need so we can be generous. Let’s put our hope in Him and never put our hope in the size of our bank account.
If those things are sparking something on the inside of you and you want to dig in more, listen to last week’s message: Think Right, Do Right.
Now, let me show you our theme verse for this series. And what’s interesting about this verse is, it was actually written to a pastor. This was a letter from the Apostle Paul to a pastor named Timothy:
1 Timothy 6:17-19 NIV – Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain,
So, this wasn’t just a passive request. He wasn’t saying, “Hey, if it’s convenient, go ahead and tell the rich people about this.” No, this was a command. Like, “Go and tell the rich people, right now, these two things:
Don’t be arrogant about your wealth. And don’t trust your wealth.
In other words, when you become rich, there’s going to be this gravitational pull to think you are better than everyone else. And you are also going to start thinking you’re untouchable.
So, how do you make sure this wrong thinking doesn’t happen to you?
1 Timothy 6:17-19 NIV – but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
So, the way to keep right thinking around money is to put your hope in God. Don’t look to money to keep you safe. Look to God to provide everything you need.
And notice that God is okay with you enjoying what He’s given you. There’s this idea out there that if someone lives in a nice house or goes on a nice vacation that they are spending money that should have been used for a greater purpose.
This should never be a part of your thinking. God is never going to ask you about how someone else spent their money. But He does care about what you do with yours and that you even enjoy it along the way.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 NIV – Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
I highlighted the word “willing” because that one word is going to set the pace of today’s message. In other words, “I don’t have to be generous. I want to be generous.” And that’s the attitude I want to help you grab ahold of today.
My hope for today is that the truth from God’s Word will plant a desire on the inside of you. That way, giving is no longer a stressor in our lives but it becomes something that lights us up and produces great joy.
I told you guys last week that as a kid, my parents made me tithe on birthday money. So, for me, giving started out as an obligation.
But, somewhere along the way, I was filled with the desire to be generous. So now when I tithe and when I give, I no longer have a hard time letting it go. I send it off gladly knowing that it is going to accomplish a great purpose.
So here at NoLimits, we will never try to guilt you into giving. I don’t even want you giving out of obligation. No, I want you to give because you have the desire to give. So how do we get this desire?
Philippians 2:13 NLT – For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
In other words, it’s God who gives you the ‘want to’ and the ability to be rich in generosity. Isn’t that a relief? You don’t have to come up with this on your own.
Actually, you’ll find in the Word that God is more interested in the heart behind your giving than the fact that you actually gave. He wants you to give because you’re excited to be a part of something bigger than you, not because you feel like you have to.
So today, let’s let God take this whole idea of giving from something we have to do, to something we want to do.
And we don’t have to guess as to whether or not God will help us with this. Because we just read the scripture that tells us He won’t only give us the ‘want to’, but He’ll also give us the power and ability to do it.
There’s a story in the Bible that documents what historians believe to be the largest offering of all time. There’s never been anything that exceeds the amount that was given during this offering.
This was back when the people of God met in a tent. It was kind of like one of those churches that set up and tear down every week, like we used to do in a hotel conference room.
Then God moved on King David’s heart that it was time to build a building. And David decided to set an example by being the first to make an offering. He didn’t ask anyone else to contribute. He just led the charge.
Here’s how it went down:
I Chronicles 29:3,5 NKJV – Moreover, because I have set my affection on the house of my God,
If David would have been on Instagram, this would have been #ilovemychurch. He was doing this from his heart, not because he felt like he had to.
I Chronicles 29:3,5 NKJV – I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, my own special treasure of gold and silver…
In other words, David was giving more than he was required to. Back then, the tithe was a law. They were required to give the first 10% of their income. But in this instance, David was giving far beyond what was required.
You may be wondering, how much did he give? Well, it would be equivalent today of about $8 billion dollars. Yeah, he gave an offering of $8 billion dollars which is the largest recorded single gift from an individual ever.
Here’s what King David says next:
I Chronicles 29:3,5 NKJV – Who then is willing to consecrate himself this day to the Lord?
Notice he didn’t say, “Now, y’all better chip in. I can’t be the only one that gives around here.” No, he simply invited people in on this opportunity. He was asking, “Does anybody have the desire to be a part of this?”
What was their response?
1 Chronicles 29:6 NLT – Then the family leaders, the leaders of the tribes of Israel, the generals and captains of the army, and the king’s administrative officers all gave willingly.
They didn’t have to. They wanted to. They gave willingly because they wanted to be a part of what was going on.
Here’s what happened as a result:
1 Chronicles 29:9 NLT – The people rejoiced over the offerings, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord.
This. This is what giving is supposed to be like. I give because I love my church and I want to be a part of the amazing things happening here. I give because I want to make a difference in the lives of others.
How did King David feel after all of this?
1 Chronicles 29:17 NIV – All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.
This is the spirit of giving we cultivate here at NoLimits Church. We will never ask you for money. We will never guilt you into giving. We simply invite you to be a part of what’s going on here, but only if you have the desire to do it.
We want your giving to come from a heart that wants to see this church grow and wants to be a part of our outreach in the community, in Mexico and in the Philippines.
When we give, we should be thinking, “I can’t believe I get to be a part of this.”
Let me show it to you in the New Testament:
2 Corinthians 8:12 NIV – For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable…
God’s not looking at what you give. He’s looking at the heart behind your giving.
So today is all about reminding ourselves not what to do, but why we do it. We need to remind ourselves of the why behind the commitments we make and the things we do. Here’s why the ‘why’ is so important:
When you lose your why, you lose your way.
Now, I can’t teach you your ‘why’. That’s something that you have to figure out own your own. But I can tell you why I choose to be generous.
My goal is not to put any of these on you. I want you to determine your own whys. But my hope is that by sharing why I give, it will help you discover those desires on the inside of you.
This first one might throw you off a little because we just talked about how giving shouldn’t come out of obligation. But here’s the first reason I give:
The thing is, obedience to God’s Word isn’t an obligation for me. It’s something that a love to do. It’s something that I want to do.
Sure, there was a time in my life where obeying the Word of God seemed like a chore and even seemed impossible. But then I went on this journey of discovering how much God loves me and my whole perspective changed.
I found out that God loves me even when I’m messing up. I found out that there’s nothing I can do to keep God from loving me. And no matter how many times I backtrack, God is still there waiting for me when I get back.
When you have this revelation about God’s love, obedience becomes this thing that’s an honor. Like, I get the privilege of reading God’s Word and then relying on His power to help me apply it to my life.
So, this is one of the reasons I give: because I want to be obedient to God by being obedient to His Word. And the crazy thing is, God rewards obedience. That’s just another tangible way that shows us how much He loves us.
Here’s another reason I give:
I used to let money control my life. I’d give up time with my family to work extra hours. I’d stress myself out with budgeting and spend a ton of time searching for the best price and go to three or four grocery stores to get the best deal.
I remember one time, when Beth and I were out at a Mexican restaurant after church with my family, she asked for a side of sour cream. And when I got the bill, I found that they charged us a dollar for that side of sour cream.
I hate to admit it, but I threw a fit over that wasted dollar right there in front of my entire family for the entire restaurant to see. Yeah, they still make fun of me for it today.
This is how in bondage I was to money. But, as I allowed God to upgrade my thinking, I found freedom and my behaviors started to change. I no longer spend an hour searching for the best deal just to save a dollar.
I found out that time is more valuable than money. And it’s never worth it to overwork because it never produces a positive result. Yes, I may make a little more money, but it never seemed like it. It just disappeared.
So, I give to maintain my freedom. Because I know that if I give before I do anything else with my income, it keeps money from becoming my boss. Instead, I get to call the shots. I don’t have to consult with Mr. Dollar before I make decisions.
To all my free spirits, don’t take this home and tell your spouse that they can take their budget and shove it. No, budgeting has its place. We should all have a plan for our money. But you should be in charge. Not the almighty dollar.
Here’s another reason I give. And again, these are just my reasons, they don’t have to be yours. I’m just hoping that by sharing mine, it will help yours come to the surface.
It’s simply fun to give. It’s a joy to see how giving can impact someone else’s life in a positive way.
Most of you know Brandon here at church. He’s been a part of our family for almost a year now. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to help him get his driver’s license.
I asked him to schedule his drivers test and told him I would take him and let him use my car to take the test. Lo and behold, he scheduled the test in Bartlesville of all places.
So, we loaded up and headed north. When we got there, the door was locked and there was a signed that said it was closed. I look at Brandon and say, “Really?” And he swore he made an appointment.
Well, someone finally came to the door. Turns out, they were only taking appointments today and he was on the list. So we go in, wait a little while, only to find out he needs to take a written test first. And they were not offering written tests that day.
Okay. I didn’t make the drive for nothing. So we hopped back in the car and headed to East Tulsa so he could take his written test. He got to take the test and… didn’t pass.
Luckily, you can take the written test once per day, so we went back the next day. I’ll never forget the look on Brandon’s face when he walked out after taking his test. He passed, and he was beyond excited.
Next up, the driving test which was just an hour away. We head out to the parking lot and wait for the lady to come out and give him his test. Brandon practices parallel parking, he asks a complete stranger for a cigarette. He invites another stranger to come sit in the car with us.
This disrupted my little quiet world, but I loved it. I found myself in Brandon’s world, which was quite a bit different than mine, but Brandon was teaching me how to connect with people who are different than me.
It comes time for the test. So they head off and leave me in the parking lot. And I am just praying that he passes. When they get back, I watch as the instructor has a serious conversation with him that lasted a couple of minutes.
I was thinking, “Dang it.” But, all of a sudden, I see Brandon’s face turn from scared to relieved. He drops his head on the steering wheel and starts crying. He passed!
The instructor just kind of looked at me dumbfounded and stated, “I’m used to be people crying when I tell them they don’t pass. But I’m not sure why he is crying…”
This is something Brandon had been looking forward to for years. He passed his test, I took him to get his licence and we went to lunch. The whole time he was just ecstatic to the point of tears.
I can’t even express in words how much joy I felt that day to be a part of it. And that’s how fun it is to give. You just never know the impact you’ll have on someone else’s life.
Here’s another reason I give:
In other words, I really believe that my giving is making a difference. Sure, there are times when it is immediately evident like the story I just told you about Brandon. But most of the time, you don’t see immediate results.
There’s been times that God puts it on my heart to leave a $100 tip at a restaurant. I never got to see their reaction. I don’t know what happened as a result of them receiving that tip. But I do know it made a difference.
The reason I know is because God put it on my heart to be generous.
God revealed to me in His Word that I should give the first 10% of my income. God connected me with the outreaches I give to every month on top of my tithe. God has called me and equipped me to be generous.
And I know that anything God asks me to do is going to make a difference, whether I see it or not.
That’s exactly why I encourage you guys every Sunday to thank God for using your giving to make a difference in the lives of others, here at church and in all the outreaches we support. Because that’s exactly what He is doing.
Here’s another reason I give:
Blessing + Protection
God’s Word says that when I give the first 10% of my income, He will open the windows of Heaven and pour out such a big blessing I can’t even contain it. And not only that, but He will rebuke those things that try to steal my blessing.
In other words, when you give, it brings blessing and protection into you life. And you don’t have to feel guilty for wanting that. It’s something that God wants you to have.
Let me show you in scripture:
Deuteronomy 15:10 NIV – Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.
How many of you want some of that? That’s exactly what God wants for you. He wants to bless everything you put your hand to. But He knows in order for the blessing not to overtake you, it all has to start with generosity.
Here’s another reason I give. And again, these don’t have to be your reasons. I’m just sharing mine to inspire your own.
Did you know that one day people are going to talk about you? Actually, they’re talking about you right now. And they characterize you based on your behaviors and how you do things.
Here’s a powerful question to ask yourself: “What do I want people to say about me at my funeral?”
“Well, he liked to sit in his recliner and watch football.” or “He was a really hard worker but I didn’t get to see him much.”
Nah, I bet you’d rather be known for how well you loved people and how generous you were and how you made a positive impact in the lives of those around you.
And since that’s what you want, it’s time to start cultivating it now.
That’s one of the reasons I give. I want to be an example of generosity to my church, to my kids and to everyone I come in contact with. Because a generous life is how you take hold of life that is truly life.
I could probably keep giving you the reasons that I give, but I don’t want to bore you. So let’s wrap it up with this one:
I know that one day, when I die, I’m going to stand before Jesus. I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, but I imagine that I’m going to be so overcome with His love that I won’t be able to say anything. He’ll have to do the talking.
And I want it to go something like this, “Kade, I’ve been waiting a long time to tell you this. You did good. Like, you did really well. I gave you stuff on Earth, I gave you responsibility, I gave you some talents, I gave you those incredible good looks, I gave that to you…”
“I gave you the perfect wife, I gave you incredible children, I gave you NoLimits Church and the city of Owasso, I gave you influence… And you know what, you did something with it.”
That’s what I want to hear when I get to Heaven. I want to hear Jesus say, well done my good and faithful son. Enter into the joy of the Lord that has been prepared for you.
So the point I want to get across is that we all need to take time to think about the why. Why are we giving? What is it that stirs up the desire to be generous?
We read in Philippians earlier that God not only gives us these desires, but He also gives us the ability to be generous.
We just talked about the why, which is so important. Now let’s button it up by talking about the how. Because our culture has fallen into this idea that giving should be spontaneous and when I’m moved with emotion.
But if that’s what we’re waiting for, we’re going to miss some incredible opportunities to be generous.
Take a look at this scripture:
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NLT – Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give.
Well, this doesn’t sound emotional at all. We’re not waiting to hear someone’s emotional story that moves us to give. We’re not waiting to see videos that show us the human suffering around the world.
No, we all need to make our own decision to be generous even before we even see those videos or hear about someone who needs our help.
That’s why the stories I tell you each Sunday are about what your giving has already accomplished. I’m not presenting a need and trying to move you into some kind of emotional giving.
I want you to decide, in advance, how much to give. You don’t have to give right now. Go home and think about it if you need to. Let this be a decision that comes from your heart, not because you were moved by emotion.
The scripture goes on to say:
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NLT – And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
If you feel pressured, or if you feel obligated, here’s your out. Don’t give when you feel this way. Instead, take time to find your why and then make a decision from your heart. That’s what God wants.
And when we give simply because we have the ‘want to’, here’s how God responds:
2 Corinthians 9:11 NLT – Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.
This isn’t for the emotional givers. This isn’t for those who are giving because they feel pressured or obligated. No, this is for those who know why they are giving and made a decision in their heart how much to give.
With this in mind, I want to give you three things to guide your giving.
#1 Intentional giving
In other words, have a plan for your giving. Think through it and be intentional about how much you give.
There’s an interesting story about Jesus that I want to show you:
Mark 12:41-44 NLT – Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money.
This is a pretty funny thing to imagine. Jesus sitting near the offering plate watching to see what people were going to put in there. If I did that, you all would throw a fit.
Mark 12:41-44 NLT – Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”
Wait a minute. She didn’t give more. It said that the rich people dropped in large sums of money, but she only dropped in two cents.
Remember when we talked earlier about how God is more concerned with the heart behind your giving than the amount of your giving? That’s exactly why he said this woman had given more.
She gave all she had. In other words, she gave 100%. The others, even though they have a large amount of money, it was only a small percentage of what they had. And that’s why this next one is so important:
#2 Percentage giving
You may be thinking to yourself right now, “Why does he keep talking about this?” And the reason is because of the stat I shared with you last week:
The more Americans make, the less they give.
This is statistically proven. If you look across America, people who have less money actually give a bigger percentage than those who make more. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
The tithe, or giving the first 10% of your income to God through the church is so important for so many reasons. One of those being so that your giving increases alongside your income, keeping you from becoming an American statistic.
And you may even want to go beyond that and set aside an additional percentage of your income for other giving opportunities, like supporting local outreaches or helping families in need or whatever God puts on your heart.
Now, let me give you the last thing to guide your giving. Take a look at this scripture:
1 Corinthians 3:12-15 NLT – Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw.
So, this is just painting an image to let you know that you’re going to work hard while here on the earth. But not everything you do is going to last.
1 Corinthians 3:12-14 NLT – But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.
Survives what? Eternity. Which gives us the third guideline for our giving:
#3 Eternal giving
In other words, not all giving is the same. If you give to something that helps somebody but they didn’t end up going to heaven, you didn’t really help them. Let’s look at it this way:
Social justice without spiritual justice is not justice.
If you only care about their immediate needs but you didn’t help them find Jesus, you didn’t really care about them.
Yes, we should feed and clothe people and meet their immediate needs. But we gotta do it in Jesus name. We not only bring them food, but we bring them Jesus. And we walk alongside them as they find the life God created for them.
And that’s why I believe, the best place for you to give is not a charity, but in a place that’s making an eternal difference in the lives of others.
So, let’s sum all of this up in one simple statement:
God has blessed me with more than I need so I can make an eternal difference in the lives of others.
We’ve covered a lot of ground today. And now, one of the most important things we can do is let the Holy Spirit reveal the next step for each of us individually.
So, I encourage you to take just a moment to quiet your mind and let God speak.
Throughout this message, maybe the one thing that stood out to you is that you need to give your heart to Jesus. Maybe you’ve been close to Jesus before and drifted away, or maybe you’ve never given your heart to Jesus. Well, that’s what salvation is all about. And it’s not complicated.
Salvation is as simple as believing that Jesus died to set you free from all that bondage. There’s nothing you can do to earn it. It’s all Jesus. And all you have to do is recognize that and receive the gift of new life in Jesus.
When you give your life to Jesus, you immediately transition your eternity from hell to heaven. Jesus takes you in as His own and begins to walk with you as you take that journey into the amazing life He created for you.
If this is you, I encourage you to say the following prayer out loud:
“Jesus, I’ve been living without you and I don’t want to do that anymore. I’ve done a lot of things wrong and I need your forgiveness. I accept Your love and grace for me and ask that You would be my Lord. Thank you for making me new. Thank you for washing away my past. I hand my life over to you and ask that you’d help me walk out your plan for my life.”