1 COR 16:2 & 2 COR 9:7
INTRO: Recently, I preached two lessons which I was asked to preach by our men who are seeking to raise our awareness of needs and to increase our giving to meet increasing challenges. Following them, one of our fine young families mentioned to me a problem which may be shared by a number of families ... young and old. The problem is this. We know what we should be giving to the Lord. And we would like very much to be doing that. But because of bad decisions we have made in the past, we simply cannot give what we would like to give now. I know the feeling. I have a strong suspicion many of us have been right there at some point in our lives. So, what should we do when we are confronted with this giving dilemma? I would like to try to give some help in this public way in the belief that this is not an isolated problem.
I THE UNWISE DECISIONS OF THE PAST?
A. Most of us can remember some unwise decisions which were costly
1. we had extravagant tastes and poor pocketbooks ... but!
2. credit is so easy to obtain (you are pre-approved) - buy now, pay later
3. before we knew it, we were over our heads in debt
B. And some costly decisions we thought were wise at the time
1. who has not made an almost sure thing investment?
2. who has not, on an impulse, made a large purchase - without thinking through the impact on the family resources
3. but the commitment is made and the bill must be paid
II SO, WHAT TO DO? HOW TO GET TO MY SPIRITUAL OBJECTIVE?
A. First, we must learn from our mistakes, unwise decisions
1. Ps 119:59a - I thought on my ways...
2. Prov 8:33 - ...and be wise
3. I know that I have learned some of these lessons the hard way - but I like to believe that the lessons have been well learned
4. and it is important not to argue, fuss, etc. about the money problem - the strain that puts on your marriage can be very hurtful - be patient
B. Establishing a family budget will help you get to your objective more quickly
1. you may need to do some strict accounting for all your money spent
2. then, you can establish a realistic budget - and be ruthless about sticking with it until you have gotten out of economic strain, distress
3. if you do not have a budget, you will probably continue to be in trouble!
C. Decide what you want your giving objective to be
1. 1 Cor 16:2 - 2 Cor 9:6,7 - 2 Cor 7,8
2. with all of that said, we still must decide on the amount which we believe should be our target - what help can we get to do this?
3. under the old covenant tithing was commanded ... no such commandment is found in the new covenant ... but could this be at least a starting place for us to make some decisions? (ultimately, we may find our situation to be one in which we exceed that by a considerable amount)
D. Get help, advice to correct & work through those mistakes
1. Prov 11:14 - ...in the multitude of counselors there is safety
2. professional advisers? successful business people? elders? (because your goal involves the Lord, I suggest a faithful Christian should be your choice)
3. once you have been through this exercise, follow through with actions!
E. Pay your bills - meet your obligations
1. perhaps you will need to contact creditors for help, etc. - but if you are going to have a problem meeting an obligation, contact that creditor
2. people who try to meet obligations usually get more understanding from creditors than others do!
3. Let no debt remain outstanding... - Rom 13:8 (NIV)
F. Save something from every paycheck
1. I call this paying myself - this was Benjamin Franklins advice
2. you must be diligent and regular about this - again, a small amount over a period of time builds to a large amount
3. this fund may at first be for emergencies - but after a while, it permits security, cash purchases, etc.
G. Increase your giving by some amount now
1. start toward your spiritual giving objective now
2. periodically, make reasonable increases - when obligations are fulfilled, remember that your objective was to increase your giving for the Lords work
3. increasing incrementally will lead you to your goal!
CLOSE: A verse of scripture which I have kept with me for many years is this one: 1 Cor 4:2 - Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. I have the deepest sympathy for folks who find themselves in the sort of financial bind to which we are referring here. And I believe that with patience, discipline and a bit of time we can get through this kind of difficulty and be better for having done so.
Cecil A. Hutson
12 September 2004
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)