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Pastor Jerry Locke
NEW SERMON SERIES
by Pastor Jerry Locke

5 Sermons On Stewardship
LAKE WORTH BAPTIST CHURCH
4445 Hodgkins Rd. Fort Worth, TX 76135
Sermon 1 - The Exhortation On Giving
Sermon 2 - The Example of Giving
Sermon 3 - The Excuses for Not Giving
Sermon 4 - The Eminent Giver of All
Sermon 5 - The Elements of Giving

Sermon 1 -- THE EXHORTATION ON GIVING

(A Verse In Reverse)
I Corinthians 16:1-4

Do you believe you are doing all you can do in the area of giving? What do you think hinders you from doing more? Some would say...

* If I had a better job, Iíd be able to give more.

* If old aunt Bessie would kick the bucket, Iíd have some money to give.

* If I could get out of debt, I would give more.

Actually, what most people need is not more money, but more motivation! I have been praying that God will use our gathering today to provide all of us some new motivation.

The University of Oklahoma is quite proud of its wrestling team. They were going down to wrestle at Memphis State.

Coach: Guys, Memphis State has developed a hold called the double reverse. They take a guy and bend him in two once, then they bend in two a second time, turn him upside down, get him where he canít move his arms or his legs and theyíll pen him and it's over.

Guys, whatever you do, donít let them get you in that double reverse.

Guys: OK, coach. But the first five guys were defeated by the double reverse. The coach went to their little flyweight and said, Son, if you get caught in the double reverse we wonít even place in this meet. Whatever you do donít get caught in the double reverse.

The kid said, Coach, Iíll do my very best.

Well, he went out and got caught in the double reverse, bent in two once, twice, turned him upside down and the coach groaned and covered his eyes. And when he did, he heard a scream and a shout and applause. For the first time in history the infamous double reverse had been broken.

Coach, "What did you do?" He bent me over. "I know." "He turned me." "I know." "I couldnít move." "I know, I know, what did you do?"

"Coach, as I was going down I remembered what you said, ĎDo whatever you have to do!í And I looked out there and this guys big toe was right out in front of my mouth. So I reached out there and plumb nearly bit that thing off. You know something coach, its an amazing thing what a guy can do when he nearly bites off his own big toe. Now thatís motivation!"

I Corinthians 16:1-4 is a strategic stewardship scripture. May I give you a little background. A severe famine had hit Judaea. It would have filled the evening news night after night.

* Another record-setting high temperature.

* No rain for 200 straight days.

* Water supplies at an all-time low.

* Local crops have been destroyed.

* The economy is a bust.

This condition had been prophesied in Acts 11:27-30. Turn there. Josephus, the Jewish historian, in Antiquities XX.ii.5, affirms the occurance of the great famine in Israel - A. D. 45-46.

Now, pay attention. The Apostle Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in A.D. 56. Do you hear those dates? Famine: A. D. 46. Letter appealing for relief help for those in Jerusalem: A.D. 56. Ten years after and they are still hurting. Now, that is the mother of all famines!

Paul felt the burden to issue a call to the Gentile churches to help the poor saitns in the Jerusalem church. Romans 15:25-27 indicates it was looked upon as the repaying of a spiritual debt the Gentiles churches owed to the Jerusalem church as the first of all churches.

In 1 Corinthiasn 16 there is An Exhortation - a command, a call to get believers involved in giving. Giving is a Christian responsibility and privilege like prayer and worship and fellowship. Those whoa re serious about their walk ith God know generous giving is a truth straight from Godís Word.

I Corinthiasn 16:2 is one of those verses that sums up in a few words Godís eternal principles about giving.

I want to study with you today I Corinthians 16:2 from the Reverse Standard Vision. Now, donít get up and leave and say Brother Jerry has taken up some liberal Bible. I am sticking with my old King James Bible. Today I want to look at this verse in reverse.

Letís break into this verse toward the end and move backward - a verse in reverse. Notice the phrase...

1. As God hath prospered you...

In the reverse standard vision this verse begins with As God. Do you understand that is how all giving on our part begins --- it begins with the presumption that God has blessed our lives! If you believe that is true, say a heartily "amen"! Your "amen" has just been a verbal testimony of the goodness and generosity of God toward you. God is our ultimate provider - not your education, not your resume, not your company, not your personality - but God.

And this God that you have come to know through Jesus Christ our Savior is a good and generous God! For in the reverse standard vision it says, "As God hath prospered you..."

Calls for Reflection. The song says, "Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your blessings, see what God hath done." Hey, we need to slow down and smell the coffee. God has given us health, a job, a salary, a retirement, friends . . . see what God hath done! This verse doesnít say our giving starts when we become prosperous. It says our giving should immediately begin because God has prospered us. I Timothy 6:17 declares it is God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.

Some people are always "going to, someday, be able to give". I want to announce to you that your someday has arrived and you are able to give based on what God has already done for you.

You donít have to wait to give. It says we need to take in inventory of what God has done for us and on that basis give.

Calls for Rejoicing (celebration). Giving is a means of celebrating the goodness and generosity of God. The Bible says in II Corinthians 9:7 that "God loveth a cheerful giver." The word "cheerful" there is from the Greek word hilaros which sounds almost like its English counterpart "hilarious." Why does God love a hilarious giver? Because the hilarious giver has figured out his real source (God) and his real status (blessed).

Since we have been blessed we need to be a blessing. So there is, then, a call for Release. Look at the next phrase in the reverse standard vision.

2. Lay by him in store...

We are to lay aside a percentage amount -10%. This is what everyone can and should give. There is not a person too rich or a person too poor who cannot at least give a tithe - 10% to the Lord.

Sir John Templeton, chairman of Templeton Fund that manages $15 billion dollar annually said, ďI have watched 100,000 families over my years of investment counseling. I always saw greater prosperity and happiness among the families who tithed than among those who didnít,Ē Plus Magazine.

And we are to lay aside a proportionate amount - as God has prospered you. No exact amount or percentage is given here. The matter is determined by two things:

(1) The blessings of God upon a person.

(2) The love and obedience of the blessed believer.

Everyone should give what they can give, thatís the tithe. But those who have experienced a greater material prosperity are expected to participate to a greater extent than those who have less. If you have more, you should want to give more because you are able to give more.

Some are stuck on a strict 10% and say they cannot give more. Yet they will spend $100 on a football game or a concert, eat out regularly, hunt, fish or play golf ó all at the expense of honoring God by giving more.

Where do we lay this aside? A cartoon in the funnies a while back "Do you tithe?" "Yeah, in my own way." "Whereís that?" "I play bingo."

Where do we lay our giving in store?

* Old Testament... God has only one place - the tabernacle and then the Temple.

* New Testament...God has only one place - His churches.

3. Let every one of you...

Calls for responsibility. This message by the Apostle Paul was originally addressed to the church at Corinth. This is to Christians, like ourselves, who had been baptized and joined one of the Lordís churches. To all of us this scripture says, "Let every one of you..."

No member is excluded. This is for young and old, rich and poor - all have a responsibility to give to the Lord through the church.

* Our Lord commended the widowís two mites to teach us that no one could be too poor to give.

* And He also received the wealth of Barnabas to demonstrate that no one could be too rich to sacrifice for God!

Someone might ask, Am I to give if I donít feel like it? Well, let me say your life is or would be a mess if you lived it my your feelings. You would not be married if you determined your marriage by your feelings.

You know what I am talking about! You donít always have that warm, fuzzy feeling about your mate. Sometimes it is a sick, nasty feeling. We are like the man who said that when he was first married he loved his wife so much he could have eaten her and now he wished he had! Where is the feeling when your honey rolls over in the early morning and you can see the words as they come out because their breath is so bad. Ouch!

There are three (3) levels of giving.

1. I have to...law.

2. I need to...obligation.

3. I want to...love.

Meaningful giving comes from the heart, not just the checkbook or pocketbook. Giving is not just an obligation to get God off my back; it is an opportunity to get God in my life.

4. Upon the first day of the week...

Now, this calls for regularity. What is behind this phrase, "Upon the first day of the week..." Well, on every Lordís day you are to gather with the Lordís people in the Lordís house to hear the Lordís Word and bring the Lordís offering.

God wants us to take time to look back over the last seven days and record a testimony by our giving that He has provided for us, even causing us to prosper in many ways. On the first day of the week you need to take time to settle your account with God.

Deuteronomy 16:16 says of those in the Old Testament that "they shall not appear before the Lord empty."

I Chronicles 16:29 --- "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before Him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."

Now you might ask, "Well, what If I am not able to attend on a given Sunday?" Mail your tithes and offerings in if you are not able to gather on a Sunday.

I like the motto I recently read that was on the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Kansas City. "Wake up, pray up, sing up, preach up, pay up, and never give up, let up, back up or shut up, until the cause of Christ is built up!" Now, thatís the kind of commitment Iím talking about that we need to move forward this year.