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True Ministry Freedom is found in Biblical Generosity

Many times in the past when I am teaching a financial training session for Pastors or church leaders, they are amazed that I list as my first Financial Best Practice “having a biblically-sound basis for giving”.  I am a CPA and of course, the expectation is that I will focus on tax and financial methods and advise, but I’m a Believer first and foremost.  As I am given opportunities across the U.S. to train church leaders, God has mandated that I first lift Him up and make clear that His way is still the only way.  The Internal Revenue Service has established rules for financial that we are required to adhere to or face the possibility of substantial fines.  But, if we adhere first to the words found in II Corinthians 9:7; Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver., we would find that much of the anxiety facing many churches would be addressed.  I find many churches constantly looking for their next fundraising campaign to provide funds.  There is a lot a work, time and effort that goes into these campaigns.  The basic truth is each of us has a basic responsibility to give and give generously to God’s work here on earth simply in response to what we have been given – eternal life through Jesus the Christ.  We must teach generosity directly from the Bible and trust God when He says that if we lift Him up, He will draw all unto Him.  No gimmicks or fundraising campaigns are needed.

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Oops! We’ve got this tithing thing good and wrong!

It’s amazing when you start to actually study – I mean really seek Him through studying – the Word of God, how He will continue to reveal Himself to you.  I’ve been a tither for many years and teach on it frequently but as I have delved into the Word more for a clear understanding of all the things that I speak to others, I have found that this tithing idea really needs a lot of further clarification.  It is clear from the Word of God that we are no longer under The Law of Moses where tithing was commanded and all of the instances in the Old Testament where givers showed their reverence for God with a gift of 10% or by offering a tithe of 10% accompanied by a 5th (20%) as an atonement for their sins from their increase. It is also clear that while the law is confirmed in the New Testament, we are now under Grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ which atoned for our many sins.  That debt is paid in full.  Yet we still give just a tithe as if it is the requirement and therefore meaningful.  I know many of you have heard me say that we know tithing won’t save us.  We are saved by believing what John 3:16 states.  The only examples in the New Testament where Jesus recognized any gifts as meaningful were sacrifices of 100%.  He gave His only Son so we are expected to sacrifice and do so cheerfully.  While I still believe that the practice of tithing is worthwhile simply for the reason that if we willingly give 10% consistently we are at least recognizing God as the giver of the 100% and we are giving to Him in appreciation for the gift.  But in these days where we are given an unmerited abundance of Grace even though we are a hot mess, 10% is just a bar minimum and almost a joke!  Until we give generously and cheerfully from our hearts 20%, 40%, 60% and even 100%, we are still falling far short of loving Him like we should.  I’m working on getting this type of true Love in my heart for God as I should.  I love Him dearly and serve Him each day but I’m not even close to loving Him like I should or being His totally devoted steward.  Are you?  I’m going to keep at it until I get it better and better each day!  I pray that you will as well. Loving Him Always and In Abundance!!!!!!!!

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When I think about His Favor……..

… the songwriter says that “His Favor is More Precious than Gold”!  How very true.  I was in two church services today and came away from both feeling “favored”.  Simply because how blessed I am just to know Him!  How blessed I am to be His Child.  How very favored I am yet I’m simply one of millions who love Him and feel favored too.  But I feel special, because He makes me feel special

.  My Stewardship is required.  How can someone be the recipient of so much unmerited favor yet be stingy with my time, my talents and my worldly treasures? As I get older, I’m finding it very difficult to deny His undeniable presence in everything that I do.  He covers my family and I constantly with His hedge of protection in a world full of pain and loss.  Each day is a gift.  I MUST treat each moment that He gives me as a gift to be shared.  Lord, help me reflect Your Love and Your Favor in my relationships with others.  My Stewardship is required as a living sacrifice for ALL that I’ve been given.

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Are you a “cheerful” giver?

Many of us choose to give charitably to those things that matter to us.  We have faithfully given to causes and to our churches where we are being spiritually fed.  My question today is regarding what is really in our hearts as we give to our church or ministry.  Are we really in a spirit of thanksgiving and worship as we render our gifts or are we simply acting out of routine?  Are we giving looking for Him to bless us in return? Are we giving because we are afraid not to?  Will He continue to bless me if I don’t give? I believe that we slip into each of these selfish attitudes at some point during our Christian walk.

Giving cheerfully starts with a clear understanding of where our gifts come from and who gave us the gift.  If we can accept and embrace that NOTHING BELONGS TO US, it becomes very easy to give cheerfully.  Why? Because its not ours anyway so why hold on so tightly to something that isn’t ours in the first place.  We are simply caretakers, or should I say “stewards” of what He chooses to bless us with.  And as the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 teaches us, not only are we caretakers but we are expected to invest and grow what we have been given so that we return more to the Master than we were initially given.  This requires us to get to work!

So, when you give your next gift, remember where it came from and that your first step in investing and growing your gifts for the Master is to cheerfully put a portion of it back into His hands.  You shouldn’t care what happens to it after you give it since you are simply expected to give it cheerfully.  I can’t think of a more lucrative investment opportunity on earth!