Thanksgiving is this week, what are you thankful for? This week we explore how our input and output can affect one another as we measure what we give in this life. When you give at Harmony, you are investing in life change and are Advancing the Kingdom! GIVE TODAY, text any amount to (859) 459-0316 to get started (or give online @ my.harmonychurch.cc/give .
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Several years back we were at Jenni’s family for Thanksgiving. It was a big year because it was the first year Jenni’s mom really started entrusting others to do some of the cooking. Jenni comes from a family of 6 kids and when you start adding grandkids in, it’s like feeding an army. So, her mom had finally given up trying to do it all herself. The men took on one of the turkeys, Jenni baked some delicious pies and her sisters said they would make the green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole (both of which things they had no clue how to make).
Now here’s the deal there are 2 important things to know about this: 1. I can be pretty convincing when I want to be and 2. I don’t like either of those two things. So, of course, I did what everyone would do in that situation. I started telling them how much of everything to put in. I kept being like, “oh yeah, add more of that…” “Put a little cinnamon in”. I had no clue what I was saying… it was terrible… The sweet potato casserole tasted like sugary gooey goodness to me and was overflowing out of the pan… The green beans were an oniony mess
I was like, “maybe next time ask someone who likes those things!”
Here was the problem, my measurements were all wrong… It’s one thing to get your measurements wrong with something like green bean casserole – no one’s going to eat it anyway 🙂
But what about with things that matter?
The question is, what happens when your inputs and outputs get all messed up?
WE:-You’ve seen this happen with all kinds of things- You’ve seen when a teacher gets tired of putting in the extra and just does the bare minimum -you’ve had those times when you get home from work and just don’t want to give to your kids – don’t want to play catch, or get down and wrestle on the floor
These are all those points where our inputs and outputs, our measurements, get messed up.
I want to take you into a passage from the Old Testament where God is going to address an input & output issue
I want you to pay attention to 2 things
- How important God makes this issue
- Why He thinks it so important
Malachi 3:6-10 6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.
I love this, it takes a little bit of parsing, but God is saying, the reason that Jacob (this means the Israelites – God is using Jacob’s fleshly name, I think to signify how far they have retreated from what they were supposed to be). He’s saying, “the only reason y’all are still around is that I’m faithful and I made promises…” Listen, 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
I love the heart of God…“You have always run away from me, but if you would just return to me, I’d return to you…” This is still God’s call
Someone in here today, you’ve been running from God – He is speaking directly into your heart. “return to me, I will return to you!”
I hear the heart of a father here. It’s me with my kids when they feel like they’ve messed up in the worst way possible and they finally come back to me with tears in their eyes saying, “Dad, I’m sorry” I embrace them and tell them how much I love them and forgive them.
God is offering to bring them back.“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’They want to know how they come back… Not a bad question…It’s clear, right, we all know the answer…Read your bible more. Go to church more? Listen to what God is going to say to them… This is the importance and the why we were looking for: 8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.“ But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 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 there will not be room enough to store it.
The path to returning to God, for these people, was to stop robbing Him-Stop robbing Him of the tithe (10% of everything they had)
Do you know why this was a problem? God designed His system that there would be people who would devote themselves to the service of his people – in the old testament they were called Priests.
These people didn’t work normal jobs – they stepped out on faith and they were provided for by the rest of the people giving their tithes and offerings.
God is saying, “you are hoarding for yourself and starving my priests.”
Don’t believe me? listen to vs. 10 again… 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.
One of my heroes of faith is a man named Tony Kafka. Tony was a pastor in a small church in a small town in Kansas for years. He knew the scripture better than just about anyone I’ve ever known. I worked for Tony early on in ministry and he told me this story about how when he arrived at this church he had been just simply preaching the gospel of Jesus. He said some people didn’t like it so and they were people with money. They stopped giving to try and control the church. Tony said he prayed and didn’t feel God had released them from the church so he kept preaching. He said, they even tithed to the church when they weren’t making a paycheck – they tithed out of their savings. I’ll never forget sitting there listening to this man I respected so much tell me about the pain of watching people in his congregation driving brand new vehicles while he had to look in the cupboards to try and find enough food to feed his children.
There is a reason God gets upset when his people withhold the tithe
Because they hinder ministry for their own pleasure
Get this, God thinks this is a big enough deal that He withholds blessing to those who withhold the tithe.
But He also desires to pour out His blessing on those who are generous.
did you hear it? It’s literally the only place where God says you can test him 10 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 there will not be room enough to store it.
Test me in this…I believe this so much that at our church, we give a 6-month guarantee. If you tithe for 6 months and don’t see the blessing of God in your life, then we will give every dollar back that you tithe…
But maybe you think, Kent, that’s just a sneaky ploy to get us to pad your pocket. First, I’d tell you, I don’t set my salary, so if you give more or not, only means more ministry for our church.
But here’s the other deal…I’m preaching this because I want something FOR you not FROM you.
See, I believe if you are withholding from God that He is withholding from you…
God told the people in Malachi’s day that they were all under a curse because they were withholding…
Jesus said it this way in LukeLuke 6:3838 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
I want you to experience the FULL measure of God’s generosity! that’s what I want for you…
So, if you don’t believe me, then take this challenge – get on google and search for a good church in Georgetown – just don’t pick a cult. Pick that church and mail THEM your tithe check.
I promise you, if you give here, we will use those resources for the Kingdom, but I believe God’s pain with people is when we withhold resources from ministry.
His blessing isn’t tied to Harmony. What I want is for you to experience what it’s like when God unleashes his blessing on you.
I need to tell you, I’m not sure I believe that tithing is a Christian principle anymore – it was part of what the Jewish law demanded. 10% was actually pretty easy compared to what Christ calls us to. His call was regularly to 100%. Listen, every day, I walk through the halls of this church praying over you all, and my prayer is the same – it’s that God would start to raise up from our church people who would leave everything to go be missionaries, to become pastors and church planters, that we would have teens that would give up the money they could make in the world to go be pastors and do ministry. But let me tell you something, It’s pretty hard to be willing to give 100% when you haven’t been able to give 10% or 5% or 1%. Giving starts somewhere. Here’s what I’ve found – and God will bless when you start to bless. Because with the measure you use, it will be measured to you… It will be like that sweet potato casserole, overflowing…