The Connections Between Faith and Finances and Fresh Starts

1390009_45620103On Sunday we looked at the topic of finances and how to have a fresh start. I began by acknowledging how badly the church has dealt with and discussed finances. We often berate people into giving, bribe them with promises of health and wealth, or beg people to give. And while I don’t believe any of these approaches is correct, I also acknowledged that we can’t pendulum swing to not discuss finances. Because finances can bring stress, money is a spiritual thing, and it’s a real life thing. 

So with that understanding we took a look at Malachi 3:7-11.

This passage in Malachi 3:7-11 is both challenging and full of promise at the same time. It has some bite to it, and can set you free. God challenges the Israelites with their lack of giving, he says that they have “robbed” him. That’s the challenge part.

But there is also this promise part in verse 10. We read this,

“Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams.”

God is essentially saying that if we put him to the test, he will come through on our trust. And that’s what this passage is actually all about, it’s about trust.

The truth is when we often stop giving, give reluctantly, or don’t give at all – at the root is often a lack of trust. At least I know that’s true in my life. When I want to pull back from giving, at the root is often that I don’t trust in God deep enough to get me through something. I’ll see a bill, and rather than give, I’ll hoard. That’s a trust issue, not a budgeting issue. 

The truth is, at least in my life, that as my trust grows so does my giving. And I think that’s exactly what God is getting at in this passage. He’s saying trust me, give, put me first and see what I will do in your life. God is challenging us to put our trust in him, and to see if he is trustworthy. That’s what he is asking – see if I’m not trustworthy.

And that’s a challenge I know I need to hear. Because giving is a spiritual thing, it’s a trust thing. And what I know is that I trust in God more, he will bless me more. And not in we all get rich way, but in a real life way. And this just makes sense, the more control God has over my life, the more opportunity he has to direct it and bless it.

The point is that this passage is really about trust and priorities. 

And so on Sunday I gave us all, myself included, the challenge to give. To give more if it’s already a habit, or to start if it isn’t. To put God’s challenge to the test, to see what he might do in our lives as we make him a priority and demonstrate it by our giving. For God giving is a central issue, because it’s a heart and priority issue. So my challenge is to put God first, give greater, and see what he does in your heart and through your life as you put him first.

I think it’s a challenge worth taking, and what’s the worst that happens, you were more generous for a few months. But imagine what might happen if God comes through and does abundantly bless you? Imagine not only how you would be blessed, but the world around you? So I think giving greater to start this year is a risk worth taking.

 

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: We need to put God and our trust to the test – by giving.

Teaching Points:

  • Churches shouldn’t berate, bribe, or beg for money – they should bless with money.
  • Giving is spiritual
  • God sees giving as intimately connected with us following him.
  • if we put him to the test, he will come through on our trust.
  • When we choose to not give, it’s a spiritual issue, because it’s a trust issue.
  • For God giving is a central issue, because it is a heart issue.
  • This is a promise tied to priorities

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? What were your first impressions to the topic for today? What were your first reactions to the passage from Malachi? How are finances and trust in God tied together? Are you willing to take a giving challenge the next 3 months? What ways might God bless you if you do take up His giving challenge?

Discussion Questions for Young Families

Talk to your kids about the importance of giving. Decide as a family on some ways to maybe serve and make money, and then give together. Maybe sell some toys, to give the money to kids across the world. Maybe shovel some drive-ways, and give to the food bank. Serve and give – it’s a great habit to get into at a young age.

Challenge for the Week: To start or increase your giving for the next 3 months.

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