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The Spirit of Mammon

Mike Connell

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The Spirit of Mammon

Spirit of Mammon (1 of 4)
The number of times Jesus talked about wealth and possessions, stewardship and accountability, far exceeded any discussion on any topic. In fact there's about 10 times the number of references to finances and stewardship and resources, than there are to faith and salvation, and yet all of these go together. Often the moment we start to talk about money, people freeze - and we will see why...

Put God First (2 of 4)
I've seen too many rich people who had miserable lives to believe that money can really make your life happy. It just can't. God can make you happy, money can't. Money is just a piece of paper. It's some numbers in the bank. It cannot make your life happy. What it does instead is it tends to create problems.

Generosity (3 of 4)
We have seen many people that have had much money and yet they didn't have what money seemed to promise, health and prosperity and every good thing. It seems like it still eludes them, so we looked at that and saw that Jesus taught very specifically about us placing God first. To be generous is to be liberal. It's an attitude of heart that shows up in every area of your life including finances. Generosity exposes selfishness!

Generosity (4 of 4)
There's something about generosity that creates a very sweet fragrance. When people give and there's nothing in it for themselves, they've just given unexpectedly to you, then there's something sweet about it. Generosity usually exposes greed. God is love and you can't love without giving. You can give without loving, but you can't love without giving, so the greatest way we express the love of God to people is when we can be generous and kind to them with no agenda. That's when people see God, because that's what God is like.

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Spirit of Mammon (1 of 4)  

Sun 12 Aug 2012 AM « Back to Top

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The number of times Jesus talked about wealth and possessions, stewardship and accountability, far exceeded any discussion on any topic. In fact there's about 10 times the number of references to finances and stewardship and resources, than there are to faith and salvation, and yet all of these go together. Often the moment we start to talk about money, people freeze - and we will see why...

Spirit of Mammon (1 of 4)

I want to speak today on the Spirit of Mammon.

I want to have a look in Matthew 6.

Jesus spoke a lot about many things, but the number of times He talked about wealth and possessions, stewardship and accountability, far exceeded any discussion on any other topic.

In fact there's about 10 times the number of references to finances and stewardship and resources, than there are to faith and salvation, and yet all of these go together.

Often the moment we start to talk about money, people freeze, and you'll see why just shortly. I'm not after anyone's money. I'm not trying to talk to anyone to give any money.

I want to help us gain understanding of the spiritual nature of money and what lies behind it, and how to be free, how to walk in freedom.

Matthew 6:20-21 says: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”.

So we ask the question: why did Jesus speak so much about stewardship, resources; being a steward or servant of God; managing resources, finance - why did he speak so much about that?

It says very clearly: where your treasure is, your heart is there too. Now there's a lot of things we teach on that, but let's just take the most simple thing is that: where your wealth is, where the things you value lie, that's where your heart is.

Wherever your treasure is, that's where your heart is; or: where your money and wealth is, that's where your heart will be.

For example, if you bought $1.00 worth of shares in a company and the company falls over, you're not even worried at all.

But if you put all your life savings in that company, now you'll be watching the paper every day to see how it's doing.

Where your treasure is, your heart will naturally flow there; and Jesus makes it very clear: God is concerned about our hearts, and what grips our heart.

God does not need our money. He doesn't need the silver and gold. Heaven's full of gold. Gold is like the paving stones of heaven, so therefore in heaven, gold has a different perspective to what it has on the earth.

God is interested in us. Gold and silver pass away, but people are eternal; so God is interested in you, and He's interested in your blessing, your welfare and your success in life.

He wants us, each of us to succeed in fulfilling our destiny in life. So as we look at this area on the Spirit of Mammon, we'll see that there's competition for your heart.

There are four references to Mammon in the Bible, and all of them are spoken by Jesus.

One of them is found in Matthew 6:24 - “No one can serve two masters, for either you'll hate one and love the other; he will be loyal to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon”. That's the first reference to it.

The second references is found in Luke 16:9-13 – “I say to you: make friends for yourselves of unrighteous Mammon, so when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. He who is faithful in what is least, is faithful also in much; he who is unjust in what is least, is unjust in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous Mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you've not been faithful in that which is another man's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; he will hate one and love the other, or he'll be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon”.

This is the only time that Jesus ever said that you can't do this and that - that it's impossible; so what He's saying very clearly: it's impossible to serve Mammon (whatever that means), and to serve God.

There is an antagonism, or they are opposed to one another, so we have to understand or look at what it means.

The first thing is to ask the question: what is the Spirit of Mammon?

The Bible is very clear that we live an actual world, but there's also a spiritual world around us; and that the spiritual world influences and controls the lives of people.

The Bible says in 1 John, that “all of the world lies in darkness”. All of the world lies under the influence of spiritual powers.

In Ephesians 6 it tells us also, “we wrestle not with flesh and blood”. Our problems are not with the people around us.

Problems lie with wicked spirits, who contend against us. “We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers…” So very clearly, the Bible over and over and over speaks of the invisible spirit realm.

So we're going to ask the question: what is the Spirit of Mammon?

The name or the word 'Mammon' literally means this: it means ‘riches’; or it also means ‘greed’, has a similar kind of meaning. It means: something that you put your trust in; something you are leaning your life upon; and it comes and dates way back.

Jesus used the word in Aramaic, He used the word Mammon. It was translated to Greek - they never could come up with a word for it, so they just called it Mammon in Greek. They called it Mammon in Hebrew, they called in Mammon in English.

In other words, there's been no attempt to change the name. The name is the original name, going right back to where it was originally used; and where it originates from of course, it comes from the Syrian God of Riches, and that originated out of the Tower of Babel.

Remember in the Old Testament, how there was a group of people wanted to find their own way to heaven, wanted to build themselves a tower, wanted to make their own way. They were full of pride and arrogance, and God came on them and confounded them; so the word 'Babel', or ‘Babylon’ means: confusion.

So this God of Mammon (God of Finances, God of Wealth), that they worshipped, called Mammon - right through history, that God dates right back to the Tower of Babel - it's rooted in confusion, and pride, and arrogance, and independence. That's the roots of the thing; it's just carried on.

If you were to watch or play some of our modern video games or DVD games, you'd be quite surprised how often Mammon is one of the great Gods that turns up in the video games, that you have to contend against. In the game Dungeons and Dragons, Mammon is the arch devil of hell, in one of the levels in the games.

This ‘Mammon’, everywhere through history, has been portrayed as (or is a representative of) a God. Since we understand that things which are worshipped in the Old Testament have spirit powers behind them.

If you track through the Old Testament, you find God's people continually contended with Idolatry; and that the idol of Baal continually was a problem for them.

Chemosh was another; or Molech, where they worshipped and sacrificed their children. The spirit behind that still works today in the area of abortion. So these ancient gods, that Israel fought, all had behind them spiritual power; and that spiritual power is still present today.

We read the Old Testament, we see the natural stories of worship of idols, but it was to try and teach us that behind idols is a spiritual power.

In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul writes: “Those that worship idols, or fellowship with idols, fellowship with demons”, and he says: “you can't fellowship with demons and with God”.

So consistently through history, and right through to today, Mammon refers to wealth and riches; but more particularly to greed.

Greed is an inordinate desire: I need more. I'm not satisfied with what I have, I need more.

You ask the question: how much is enough? The answer's always the same: a bit more. It wouldn't matter how wealthy you are - you ask how much is enough? A bit more. A bit more.

You could ask a poor person how much is enough? They need a bit more to get by. Ask a rich person how much is enough? They need a bit more - same thing, doesn't matter what level of society you work at; and so behind this, operates a spirit.

Key verse, Matthew 6:24 – “No man can serve two masters. He will hate one and love the other, or he'll be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon”.

God is a spirit. We know that God is invisible, but He's a spirit being. We are made in His image. We are spirit beings. We're made for intimacy with God. We're made for relationship with God. We're made to love God, enjoy Him, and then live a life that reflects Him and serves Him.

That's what we're designed for, so anything that competes with the place of God in our heart, is obviously going to have behind it some demonic spirit, some demonic power.

So it says: you can't serve God (God is a spirit) and Mammon (Mammon must be a spirit). He's contrasting one with the other; so Mammon is a spirit being. It's a very real spirit, a demonic spirit, associated again with wealth, riches and assets, or coveting more.

In Colossians 3:5, it warns us about coveting. Coveting is: I see what someone else has, that I don't have, and I want it. Coveting becomes idolatry when it starts to control our life.

So very clearly, when we're looking at this issue of Mammon, we're looking at a spirit which seeks to get hold of your life.

Of course we just love Jesus. We're here to worship God, so it would never occur that perhaps we might be serving this God.

I remember being in a Bible school, and teaching on the video games and how they open the door to the occult - some of them, in the role playing of occultic games; and 200 students came up.

They were committed to serving God, but actually in their private time they were bowing down to a demon - and we'll see that behind this thing always lies deception.

So the first thing to see then, is that there are two spirits that long for our heart. God longs for your heart - so He can bless you. Mammon longs for your heart - so he can control you; and so we see that there's a conflict goes on between the two. The first thing to recognise: there is a conflict.

Money itself has no power. See, this is just a piece of paper. Lovely piece of paper, $20 piece of paper; but it actually has no value at all, unless you can trade it for something. The value is what I put on it; and of course I could have hundreds and hundreds of these, and overnight they could lose their value.

If you watch what's happened to money over the last decade or so - it's lost its value. They've just printed more and more of them, they've just lost value; meaning by that: it takes more to buy the same thing than what it did a while ago.

We call it by a fancy name, 'inflation' but the reality is, it's just a piece of paper that lost its value. It takes more pieces of paper to buy the same thing - so the dollar lost its value; and for many years now there's been the spirit of greed operating through financial sectors. It has created huge problems globally in the financial area, and has eroded the value of money - and behind it has been greed.

Anyone who looked at the recent financial issues in America, and the world, you do understand, that the problem is greed – ‘not enough money’.

The issue's not the money; the issue is the greed, and the spirit power that manipulates and controls people through the money.

This is just a piece of paper, which is neither good nor bad. It can be used to bless someone; or it can be used for evil.

What really determines it, is the spirit that's on it - the spirit that motivates how it's used; so all money has a spirit associated with it, because money is a form of trading in the world.

This money, originally they used to trade gold - so real wealth was gold. If you had gold, you had real wealth; but then it was inconvenient, so they made the gold into coins, and so people traded gold coins. I've got a gold coin on this ring here, so that was a form of trade at one point.

Then it become inconvenient, so then they made paper money, pieces of paper that originally, if you're old enough (and my generation), you could redeem this for a pound of gold. Do you remember that?

Then they took away the pound of gold, and just made more pieces of paper - and the money lost all its value. So this is money - so the thing then is: money is just a way of trading.

The world system is one of trading: I give you something, wanting something back - I trade. I might trade my money, in order to receive something back; but the world system is a system of trading, buying and selling.

The kingdom of God runs on a different principle; but the problem is: we're so used to buying and selling and trading, that when we come to God, we start to think the same way about God:

“if I just give Him my offering, He will bless me”.

That's the principle of the world: trading, and buying/selling. It stops you coming into any kind of area of blessing, because it depends on your works.

“If I just tithe, then God has to bless me”. People think that, but actually that's not true. God blesses because He's a giver - He's generous and He loves to bless; and when you align your finances with His plan, then of course blessing starts to increase and flow - because you've actually brought it out of the power of Mammon.

So it helps us, if we understand that money, or finances, or wealth, or riches, have a spirit behind it, that seeks to use it.

I can have God on my money, and live in blessing in my money - a river of blessing in my finances; or I can have the Spirit of Mammon resting on it, and I will have many, many problems.

So the issue of money or wealth or riches, is really an issue of what controls your heart.

A person who has got a great heart with God, will be entrusted with a flow of resources to work through their life. Their money is good - it's got the blessing of God on it.

A person who's under the control of Mammon, will live with other problems on their life. We need to try and identify what they are.

We see then, that there is a spirit world; and there's a particular spirit called the Spirit of Mammon, which competes for your heart, your attention, your relationship with God.

Now you notice here it says: “No one can serve two masters…” So how does Mammon operate?

Is there any way I would know that Mammon has got a hold of my life? How could I know whether I'm under the influence of that spirit or not?

My assumption is: I'm not; but the problem is, that's the whole point of deception. You think you're one thing, and then it's something else; so we want to have a look at that.

So the first thing to realise is: Mammon's intention is to control your heart, your love and your loyalty.

Notice what it says here: “no one can serve two masters. He'll hate one and love the other. He'll be loyal to one and despise the other.” So here's the thing: Mammon desires - it's a spirit; behind this, is a spirit.

Here's the bait, and here's the spirit; and the spirit wants to use the bait to gain control over your life.

So how does it do it? What it's trying to do - its intention, is to have you love and serve and be loyal to it - and that's always the way of idolatry.

They wanted people to bow to them, to love them, to serve them - but all idolatry ended up in bondage, fear - terrible problems.

So Mammon is opposed to God. It's very clear in that scripture - you can't serve two masters. So Mammon is an ‘anti-christ spirit’. It's opposed to what God wants to do in your life.

In the last days, it will so control the world's financial system, that anyone who will not participate in that, will actually be marked out, and won't be able to trade - so it's a spirit.

Secondly: it is looking for slaves or servants.

Mammon is a spirit that seeks to control your life.

Don't think there's any neutrality in it - it's pushing on you all the time. It's talking on you all the time, so Mammon is the spirit that seeks - it's looking for a slave.

Here's the third thing: Mammon is looking to take the place of God in your life.

It's looking for slaves; it's looking to take God's place in your life. If it can succeed in taking God's place in your heart, then you will find yourself serving Mammon, not God; holding onto Mammon, not the Lord; despising the Lord when it comes to the area of God's provision for your finances, or your prosperity.

It operates by deception. Remember, a spirit talks to you - so money talks to you.

I'm using this, and holding it up; because some will be thinking: what am I going to do with it? I've already given one away - I wonder if he'll give the other one to me? That's what goes on - don't tell me you're not thinking that. That's why I'm holding it up wavering - because it will talk to you. What will I do with it?

Money talks. You know what it usually says? “There's not enough”. It says: “you can't do that, because there's won't be enough for you”!

One of the things the Spirit of Mammon does, when it talks to you: it reminds you that you ‘don't have enough’. Why? Because it wants you to know: ‘you need a bit more’.

But how much is ‘a bit more’? Probably, all your life, you'll need ‘a bit more’. At the end of the week, of every week, for all my life, I've needed a bit more, it would seem.

So it talks: you need a bit more. You can't give. If you give, there won't be enough; so it always talks, it's always saying to you: there's not enough.

Here's the second thing that Mammon says. It says this, often when you're in a shop: “you need this”. You need this! I need this. I need that.

I think I looked on a Commodore car, owned by someone in our church, and 'I need this' was on the back. I looked at it and I thought: I DO need this - this is a really nice car!

Very soon my mind was agreeing with what the spirit was saying: I need this. Lovely V8 with a hopped up motor: I did need it too, you know? No, not really. It's just a spirit that talks. It talks all the time.

Here's another way it'll talk to you. This talks to Christians: if I had a bit more money, then I'd really be able to give to poor people, and help them - if I had a bit more. So when I've got a bit more, I'll really be able to do a lot to help people - when I've got a bit more.

Now remember that the whole thing behind greed is: you always need a bit more; so it talks.

It promises you something; it's talking to you - and it's making promises. If you had enough, you'd be really free! If only I had enough, I'd be free - I need a bit more.

If I had enough, if I had more money, I'd be independent - I'd really be able to do some things then. I wouldn't have to go to that workplace. If I just won the lottery - man there's all these things I could do if I won the lottery.

I don't want to read about all the stories of people who won it, and their lives become ruined - I don't want to read that at all. I just want to think constantly: if I had a bit more, I'd be right.

So it always is talking, and it makes promises. It promises: you'll have freedom, financial freedom. You'll have security - everything will be right.

Jesus talked about a man who had everything - all the money. He said: oh, now I'm right! The guy said: what are you going to do tonight, your soul is required of you? Now what? Who are you going to leave it all to?

So money talks all the time, talks: “things are not enough” - it speaks to you, and continually tries to dominate your thinking; and if you'll agree with what it's saying, you'll end up following its leading.

Here's the other thing too, you'll notice, is that people are more valuable, if they've got more money. Automatically, we rank people: the one's who've got the wealth; and the one's who've got no wealth.

The Bible says very clearly: when people come into the church - treat them all the same. It doesn't matter if they're very wealthy people; or ordinary people - they're all people, and they ought to be treated of same value.

But even in our society, people automatically think: the one who's got more, is more valuable. To me, he's got more worries, and more problems you know; but people think: he's of more value.

So people think and believe that money has power; but money has no power. Demons have power; money doesn't have power. Money's just a piece of paper.

It's the demon, the spirit that controls the thing, that has the power; like God has power.

In Deuteronomy He says: “I give you power to get wealth”.

So God has power, demons have power. Money doesn't have power; but if you believe it's got power, then you're going to seek it - and you'll find yourself in a conflict, because it will seek your heart; your loyalty; your service. As you yield to it, then it starts to affect you.

People don't realise that as we give in to the voice of money (the voice of the Spirit of Mammon), we can find ourselves loving Mammon and hating God. You say: how could that be?

I can be holding onto Mammon; and despising, or in other words, thinking little of God's ways of doing life and managing money; and I can be loyal to money, and disloyal to God.

But it's actually not the money. It's not this. It's the spirit - that's the thing that gets you - it's the spirit.

So would there be any evidences in your life if the spirit had hold of you? There'd be heaps of them, because straight away Jesus said, in verse 25: “Don't be anxious”.

One of the first things that happens around money, is extreme anxiety and worry. If you're having extreme anxiety and worry around finances, then you’re under the influence of a spirit.

God has got no anxiety and worries to give you - He's got peace.

He tells you what to do about anxiety and worry: redirect your attention in certain ways.

Here's another one - I would think that one of the biggest evidences to me, that a person is under the spirit of bondage to Mammon, is very simply this: they just can't give. It just is impossible.

If I have some money in my hand here, here's the big question to ask: do I have the money, or does the money have me? Who's holding who?

If I'm holding the money, it's very simple - I'm able to then open it, and let go of it, and give it someone - which I did before.

If the money's holding me, I think: “ooh, there won't be enough”. I need a bit more.

One of the greatest ways that you can tell if money's got a hold of you, is the ability to give.

I want to speak on another session, I want to talk about the whole issue of Generosity; and also what you do that brings the blessing of God around your money.

So anxiety and fear, inability to give, a poverty mentality (there's not enough) - if you continually live with this thinking dominating you - that I haven't got enough, then you are under bondage to a spirit - absolutely.

Another evidence would be: Impulse Buying. If you find you just can't stop buying - you are under the influence of that spirit. It's got control over you.

You're buying more than you can spend, more than you've got money. If you're in bondage to debt, so that you're paying so much back in interest, you've got no ability to do anything for God - this is a spirit. You're in bondage to a spirit. We need to find a way out of that.

If you continually find that you're discontented with what you have, and ungrateful for what you have… I'm sorry, you're under a spirit; because Paul said: “every state I find myself in, whether it's abundance or lack, I've learned to be content, grateful to God”.

So there are some very tangible evidences, if this thing is impacting our life.

I remember a particular season, when God showed me clearly the extent to which I was in bondage to this spirit; and looking back now, I'm very ashamed of it - but it was a horrendous bondage.

I was brought up of course, in an environment where security was everything; so my father come back - having been through the Depression, through the war - and coming back, having to rebuild; so having security - a secure job, secure income - it was everything.

So I was working for the government, and I had a government superannuation; then God spoke to me: I want you to let it all go, and I want you to go into ministry, and set up a Christian school.

Now I heard His voice, and responded to His voice. The fear that overtook my life - I can hardly describe it - just horrendous fear.

I remember when I made the decision, put in my resignation, made the decision to let go, and do what God wanted me to do - I was in tears, uncontrollable tears, for almost three days; with fear of what was going to happen to me, and my family. The spirit had such a grip around me.

I remember just weeping, and going through this dread, that I'd done something terrible to my family and to our future.

I had fears about how I'd provide, because the job that I picked up in ministry - my wage went down by 75%! I got 1/4 of what I'd been getting; so we had very little to go on.

What happened was, this overwhelming fear that: I'd not have enough, that I wouldn't be able to provide for my family's education, their clothing; and when it came later on to weddings, I wouldn't be able to provide for weddings.

It just come around me, and along with it, tremendous shame at not having much.

It wasn't helped by Christians, you know? They actually were incredibly unkind, and some of the worst difficulties I had were with Christians.

God was teaching me to break free of the control of money, and learn how to lean on Him, and depend on Him; but I had to make a change in lifestyle, and in heart attitude. I had to learn to let go of all of the things we had; and learn to be grateful for the little things we had.

So we couldn't buy meat; we would go and buy, with some other guys, six sheep. We'd kill them all, and do them all - and then we would have meat, and the rest of the time we didn't have meat, but I was thankful we could do that.

We would come up here (to Hastings), and I'd bring a trailer up, and we'd go round into the orchards, and we'd pick up apples off the ground and put them into boxes, take them back and store them right through winter. We had apples all winter.

There are many things that Joy did, over the years, because we just didn't have the income; but what God was dealing with was: the fear of not having enough; and teaching us: He can, and does, provide - and He is to be trusted.

Now the first time I ever had money for a wedding was when the first wedding came; but prior to that never had I any excess in my account, always I was on the edge all the way. But God made a way, and we never lacked.

We had holidays. I didn't have a car for a while. We just drove around on bikes, but we learnt - the biggest thing I learnt - was to be content to trust God; and to become generous with what we did have.

So it affected the way we bought a house - the way we did everything. Everything was affected, learning to break out of the Spirit of Mammon, and the dread and anxiety and fear it would bring around every aspect of life and provision.

If we didn't have much (we didn't have much), we thanked God, and we celebrated with what we had.

So we'll share with you some of the keys around that, but the big thing is: the spirit that was behind it; and to break free of that spirit was the major first step for me to get into ministry - the biggest obstacle of all, was the Spirit of Mammon. What will happen?

We've had to learn to develop a generous lifestyle; so you know, the fear of provision, and the embarrassment…

I remember one of the first times I went to my friends in Wellington. We had a reunion after being in university; and of course they're all highly skilled professionals.

We all came out of the same physics class, we were all graduates with honours or masters or doctorates, come to meet them for the first time; and they've all got everything that money can buy.

We just had a little humble car, we were struggling; and you could tell from the way they looked - just the despising of where we were at; and it took me a bit to get over the shame, to actually say: “No, God I thank you I've got six wonderful children, I have a wonderful wife, and we are serving you, and I'm content with that”.

I had to overcome the feelings. Later on in life, we've realised that all that glitters isn't gold. In fact actually, they're all in bondage, and they've all had problems of every kind ever since; not the least being marriages breaking up, and children that went off the rails; so I've learnt to be content.

So it's a spirit. There is a spirit behind that. Does that mean that money is evil? Not at all.

Some of you may understand that terrible dread and fear. You may know what that's like, you know; and when the next bill comes, how are you going to pay it; the sickening feeling, when they open them up, and there's all these unexpected expenses come; all of the fear of living like that…

1 Timothy 6:8 - “Having food and clothing, let's be content with these.” Contentment is a huge thing.

Verse 9 – “Those who desire to be rich (or who have greed), fall into temptation and a snare; many foolish and harmful lusts, which drown men in destructive perdition; for the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”.

Notice this: ‘the love of money’; not money itself.

Money is not evil, its just a form of exchange, that can either have God on it or something else on it. But it's the love of it, it's that greed, that desire, that longing for it, that in the end gets a hold of your life.

It says: the love of money, is the love of a substitute for God. When you love, or you have a substitute for God - that is the root of all many problems; and we don't realise just how much that gets a hold of us.

The love of money is a root.

If there's a love of money, it means: you have a fear of being without it; and: it controls all the decisions you make.

If a decision comes up: I can't afford to do that.

We made a decision we would never tell our kids we were poor, even though we felt it at times. We'd never say “we didn't have enough”; we'd just find a way to do the best with what we had.

So the love of money is a root that controls people; but money has no power. It's the spirit behind you, that makes you afraid; by telling you that: you may not have enough. That's the spirit.

It's a spirit that creates fear, anxiety, dread, lust, and greed in the heart.

Money has no power; it's ‘the love of it’ that creates it; and it says: “some have strayed from the faith in greed, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows”.

He's saying that some Christians, having started well, when God comes on their life, and they begin to prosper and get blessed - have a greed for more; and in the end, they lose what they have - they go off the rails. They lose it.

When they were in need, they prayed and sought God. When they were prosperous, they didn't need Him, and other things took over.

Luke 16:9 – “I say: make to yourself friends of the unrighteous Mammon, so when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. He who is faithful in what is least, is faithful in much; unjust in least, unjust in much. If you're not faithful in unrighteous Mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches”?

Jesus said: “make friends with unrighteous Mammon”.

That doesn't mean: “use your money to buy people”, because the key word here is: “when you fail” (or when you die) “they may welcome you”.

So what it's saying about Mammon, or money, or riches is: use your wealth to win people for Christ; because when you die, when you come into heaven, you will have people come to greet you, who will say: “thank you that you sacrificed, and I was saved, because the gospel went out”.

They will greet you with gratitude, with tears of thankfulness and joy; appreciation that you used money you had, to win people into the kingdom of God.

This is why, over the years as a church, we have had such an emphasis on missions - global missions.

That's why we've poured money into Cambodia, Uganda, and Philippines; and more recently of course, into Pakistan, into the television station; and it may seem at times like it's just another project that we have to give money to, but understand: we're taking money to win friends for eternity.

Maybe we go through lack, and there's not enough quite at the moment; but remember: there will be a day where you'll enter heaven; and on that day, for us as a church, there are going to be heaps of people who will say: “thank you Bay City - you were so generous”.

I'm amazed, that for this ministry that Anwar has, so few churches are involved with it. I'm staggered, that we are involved with it. I can't understand how something with global-reaching potential…

We're probably the only church that's stood up and said: “we're going to go with you and make this happen”.

We raised the money for the satellite TV; had missionaries go over; we've poured money in; and of all the money that's been received in New Zealand, about a half of it came from BayCity!

It's just extraordinary. So I want to thank you, and honour you, because this is what's called: “making friends out of unrighteous Mammon”.

This is about using wealth, to bring in the nations of the world, for when you fail.

So how can we break free of the Spirit of Mammon? I think the first thing is to recognise the signs that you're in bondage - and there can be many reasons.

There can be acute lack when you're younger. It can be going through hardship, and you make inner resolves: I'll never, never lack; or: I'll never have my family - you can do all this kind of stuff out of bitterness, hurts, pains and failures; or out of just straight being under the influence of the spirit - and we come into bondage.

The first thing to do, is just recognise: I'm in that place of bondage. The second thing is to come to the Lord and repent.

This is a spirit - it's not about the money. It's the spirit that gets a grip of your heart, so you can't access God's blessing and fruitfulness on your lives, as He wants you to.

I know there'll be some people here, and around the issue of money, there's immense bitterness, immense grief and pain, all kinds of injustices you've faced, and difficulties and hardships; but you don't have to be in bondage to that spirit.

You can instead let God heal your heart, bring you to a place of enlightenment.

#1 step is: acknowledge where I'm at.

#2, I need to come to the Lord with a repentant heart, and say: God, I'm sorry I put my trust in these things.

#3: I need to honour God. We won't go into that today, but I need to actually make a decision: that with my finances, I will give God a place of honour.

I've got to honour God with my finances, to bring His blessing over them; because otherwise there's another spirit that says: “not enough”.

Finally (#4), I need to learn how to be a good steward of what God has given me.

I need to recognise: there's a problem. I need to come to the one who can help in repentance and faith, expecting Him to help.

I need to make some changes, so I start to honour God with my giving - with the first of everything I have; and then finally: I need to become a great steward of what God has given me, so I actually then use well what God has given me; and that involves a whole range of things in our life.

Closing Prayer

Father, I just thank you for your presence here today, helping us to deal with this issue of money. Thank you Lord. Thank you Jesus.

I sense, even as I talk, people get a bit tense and uncomfortable; but I'm trying to help us to uncover the spirit that makes your life miserable; that brings you into bondage, and sabotages your relationship with God.

Remember: no one can serve two masters. We love one, and hate the other. We serve one, despise the other; loyal to one, and disloyal to the other.

It really does show up in: can I honour God with my finances? Am I managing them well; and do I have a spirit of generosity around me?

Holy Ghost, I just ask: if there's any person here today, that's in the grip of this spirit, that you would deeply convict them and help them today; that Lord as a church, we begin to journey into a place of great increase, and great blessing financially, great increase in our lives, in our finance, in our resources.

Father, I ask for a total breaking over our lives, of meanness and tightness and stinginess; and of every kind of bitterness, anger, and frustration around money.

Lord, I ask that you would unlock the hearts of every person here; and the finances of every person - may ever family here be blessed, every business be blessed, every person here be blessed in abundance in finances.

Just while our eyes are closed: I wonder if God spoke to you today, and you realised to your shame or embarrassment or fear or concern, that actually this spirit has got a hook into my life.

I'd love you just to acknowledge it today, just put your hand up and say: God, I know you're speaking to me today. I'm glad you're so honest.

We can't solve it all today, but we will pray for you, and believe God for a breakthrough in that thing.

For some of you, there'll be some issues in your past you'll have to address; but always it's fear, and your belief that: this thing is what I need to make my life safe.

I wonder if there's anyone else here today, and you're not yet a Christian, but you'd love to receive Jesus today, invite Jesus to become your saviour; to make a public declaration: I'm going to be a follower of Jesus.

Jesus said: “to everyone who received Him, He gave power to become a child of God” - everyone who believed on His name, trusted in Him.

So today, is there any person here at that place where you'd like to receive Jesus Christ as your saviour?

Father, I just thank you for each person that's responded here today. Father, I pray for the power of your spirit to come over their lives, to bring release in the might name of Jesus as we move forward into blessing, enlargement, increase and growth in every aspect of our life in Jesus' name. Everyone said... Amen!

Summary Notes

Formatted » Back to Top »

1. Introduction
· Jesus Teachings – 16/38 parables are about finances, stewardship; 10x verses on dollars as on faith and salvation.
· Why such emphasis on finances? Key issue is your heart.
· Mt.6:21 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”.
· Mammon is mentioned by Jesus four times – one of these is a repeat.
Mt.6:24 “No man can serve two masters – you cannot serve God and Mammon”.
Lk.16:9-13 “Make to yourselves friends of the Mammon of unrighteousness”.
· Only thing Jesus said you cannot serve this and serve God also.

2. What is the Spirit of Mammon?

(a) Origin
· Mammon =NT3126= of Chaldee Origin – Aramaic Word for riches = wealth, greed. Whatever you put your trust in.
· Came from the Syrian god of riches which came from Babylon.
· Babylon =OT894= confusion – God confused the language of the people.
· People of Babylon built their own system to get to heaven – pride, arrogance, self-confidence, independence.
· Babylon - rooted in pride, arrogance and independence.

(b) Key Verse
Mt.6:24 “No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon”.
· Mammon is a spirit that rests on money and controls people through money.
· God is a spirit being – a person we are called to love and serve. Mammon is a spirit being – a demonic spirit.
· Many modern video games mammon is an evil spirit being e.g. Dungeon’s and Dragons – Arch devil of hell.
· Mammon = wealth (assets, possessions, earnings).
= greed (coveting, desiring more, idolatry)
· Col. 3:5 “Covetousness which is idolatry”.
· OT – Warfare and conflict with false gods Baal, Malech, Ashteroth, Mammon. All demonic spirits had some form of representation in the physical world.
· Money has no power – the Spirit of Mammon has power – demonic power.
· All money has some spirit power on it – Spirit of Mammon (bondage) or Spirit of God (blessing).

3. How Does the Spirit of Mammon Operate?
· Mt.6:24 “No man can serve two masters!”
(a) Mammon’s intention – control your heart and loyalty
· Demonic Spirits all work to turn your heart away from God.
· Mammon desires to have you love, serve and be loyal to him.
· Mammon is opposed to God (antichrist)
Looking for servants – slaves
Seeking to take the place of God in your life
(b) Mammon’s operation - Deception
· Mammon is a spirit – it talks to you. If you listen and believe you will serve it.
· You won’t have enough! You need this! If I had more money I could help more people.
· Mammon promises what only God can give.
- security, freedom, respect, purpose, identity, happiness.
· Mammon entices you to place great value (honour) on money.
People are more valuable if they have more wealth.
· If you believe money has power – you will want to serve it!
· Money – God is a love/hate relationship.
· Many believers don’t realise it but they despise God – blame him when lose money/provision.
· Mammon is a demon – can never deliver what it promises or bring blessing.

(c) Evidences of Bondage to Mammon
Inability to Give Impulse buying
Anxiety – fear over money Bondage to debt
Poverty mentality – can’t afford it Greed – want more
Discontent and ingratitude

(d) Personal Testimony
· Biggest struggles over call to serve God in ministry – issue of money.
· Loss of security – government job, superannuation.
· Loss of income – reduction of wages by 75%.
· Had to deal with fear, shame and learn trust, contentment, generosity.
· Fear for future provision – children, education, clothing, schooling, weddings.

4. Is Money Evil?
· 1 Tim.6:10 Love of Money is the root of all evil = from faith, sorrows.
· Having something in place of God is root of all evil.
· Love of Money is a root that grows in the heart like bitterness and defiles.
· Love of Money = fear to be without money, controls decisions and activities.
· Money has no power – Mammon does.
· Lk.16:9-14 “Faithful in least – faithful in much”.
V9 Make friends of mammon of unrighteousness = seems to imply use money to make friends.
Key Word: When you “fail” = when you die.
Take unrighteous money, redeem it and use it to bring people into the Kingdom of God.
When you die – people from other nations meet you, welcome you, thank you.
God is able to turn money into souls – money is neutral.
· True Riches = people

5. How to Break Free of the Spirit of Mammon?
(a) Repentance
(b) Honour God with the first portion.
(c) Become a good steward of your money
· Faithful in little – God sees what you do with a little and gives you more.
· Faithful in another – first portion belongs to God either keep it or steal it.
· True riches = people. Should be using resources to steward people.



Put God First (2 of 4)  

Sun 19 Aug 2012 AM « Back to Top

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I've seen too many rich people who had miserable lives to believe that money can really make your life happy. It just can't. God can make you happy, money can't. Money is just a piece of paper. It's some numbers in the bank. It cannot make your life happy. What it does instead is it tends to create problems.

Put God First (2 of 4)

We're just talking on money at the moment - and that's enough to get anyone to freeze up; but I do not want to take any money from anyone, I want to help you.

So today I want to share a message called ‘Put God First’, and I encourage you to open your heart to let God speak to you today.

We don't want any person to be under law. Law puts you under a sense of duty: I have to do this; I have to do that, or whatever.

I want you to catch the heart and spirit of how you walk with God, and enjoy a blessed life. We certainly have a blessed life.

Last week we spoke on the ‘Spirit of Mammon’, so let's look at Matthew 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters...” - no one. It's just impossible. You've got one or the other. “...Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he'll be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon”.

No one can serve two masters, it's just impossible. You're either serving one or serving the other; you love one and hate the other; you're loyal to one and despise the other.

Jesus is laying this out very clear. This is the parable of the Blessed life; He's speaking in the Sermon on the Mount, and He's explaining the principles that lead to a life that's blessed; so He begins to address an issue of finances.

The first thing to see is that there is a battle for your heart that goes on every day - a battle for our heart. Every day I have a struggle and a battle for the loyalty of my heart - and you do too - no one is immune to it.

We live in a fallen world. It's under the rule of principalities and powers, so pressure from our culture comes on all of us. No one is exempt. We all face pressure, and so there's a battle for loyalty on your heart, and the Bible's very clear. It contrasts the word God and Mammon, so it's saying: God is a spirit; Mammon is also a spirit. It's a spiritual power that works and operates behind money, and wealth, and riches in the world. It's a spirit being, it's a spiritual power.

As we're well aware, whoever has a lot of money or has the accumulation, well he seems to have tremendous power; but money itself, we saw last week, has no power. It's the spirit behind it that has the power - the power to rule you, or power to rule your life, and cause you to have many difficulties.

So one of the things we know, from simple things about deliverance, is that if you are under the influence of a spirit, then it will be talking to you continually; so if you're under the influence of the spirit of Mammon, it will talk to you.

Now it doesn't sort of turn up and say: I'm an evil demon, and I'm talking to you. It's just: you have your mind gets full of thoughts, and if you listen to those thoughts, they can become so familiar and so natural to you, that they seem quite reasonable; but if a person is under the influence of the spirit of Mammon, then there'll be a number of things.

First it will speak to you. It will speak to you: “there's not enough, I need a bit more”. It'll always be talking to you, and it'll be talking about money, and the concern about money: “oh, they're just after my money”, or “people want my money”, or “I haven't got enough money”.

It'll promise you: if you just got a little bit more, you'll be really secure. If you just got set up, you'd be right. If you had enough money, then people would really notice you.

So it talks all the time, and it makes promises that it never delivers on. I've seen too many rich people, who had miserable lives, to believe that money can really make your life happy. It just can't. God can make you happy, money can't. Money is just a piece of paper. It's some numbers in the bank. It cannot make your life happy. What it does instead is, it tends to create problems.

I remember going to a man in Taiwan, and he was one of the wealthiest men I've ever met in my life - I never asked the amount, but he owned banks, and railroads, and he was extremely wealthy. He had guards everywhere he went. He couldn't even come to church; because it's just such a drama coming to church with armed guards around him all the time. He was in danger of kidnapping, and his family were in danger of kidnapping; so they used to live with security, and the first thing I saw when I go in the door is an armed guard, who checks me out before I can go. I passed three guys with guns before I got to the guy; then we sat and talked, and everything around him was very nice.

This guy has now become a Christian, but he's very, very young in his faith. So we got talking about his life, and he said to me: well, a lot of my friends don't see the need to go to church, because they see church is for needy people.

I said to him: well that's very true. I said people come, because they recognise their need for Jesus Christ, and they gather to be built, and to express His life.

I said: you actually have a need you're not aware of. He said: what's that? He was quite surprised. I said: well I look around, and I see all the wealth you have, and no one in their lifetime could spend it all, so here's the need. The number one need you have is: you have no purpose for your life; and so therefore money controls your life.

I said: I'm picking that most nights you won't sleep very well, and you'll have a lot of anxiety and fear, because you'll be fearful about losing all you've got; and not only that, you won't trust people around you, because you'll never know whether they're interested in you, or your money.

He was shocked, and he said: exactly true, I continually have trouble sleeping. Then I had a word of knowledge for his wife, and I looked at her and the Lord dropped a vision into me. I saw a vision of this beautiful bird, like one of these parakeets, beautiful colours and whatever - but inside a cage.

I said: you're a beautiful person, but you're trapped in a cage; and she began to break down and weep, and in front of her astonished husband - she broke down and wept.

She said: I hate all of this stuff - it controls my life. How about that? How about that ...and you thought they were all happy? It was quite a shock. He was shocked, so she got delivered and he got prayed for, he got delivered. Last time, I saw there was a complete difference in how they were handling themselves.

So money definitely has a spirit, money carries a spirit with it; and if the spirit of Mammon is pushing against you, you'll feel fear and anxiety over money.

Notice, straight away after this, that Jesus talks about ‘not worrying’. So in the context of talking about money, He then talks about worry, and anxiety, and fear. If anything creates anxiety and fear and dread in people, it's the issue of finances, because we don't manage well, we don't know how to get them so that they're blessed finances.

So finally, the thing about Mammon: Mammon is a spirit that desires to make you a slave; and to take the place of God in your life.

You have to understand, you're dealing with spiritual entities, and you're dealing with heart issues, so it's not just a matter about giving, or doing this or doing that. It is a battle for your heart, so you can be free - God wants you to be free from fear, free from dread and anxiety around the money area, and to live in a place of blessing, and a place of joy.

Associated spirit with the spirit of Mammon is the spirit of Pride. Pride says: I've got it all myself. I've worked hard, I deserve it – and it gives no honour to God.

Pride also says: I paid this much for it, and kind of flakes what everything's worth; and a Spirit of Poverty - you can have it whether you're rich or poor; a Spirit of Poverty will keep telling you: there's not enough, there's not enough, there's not enough.

With a Spirit of Poverty around your life, you can't even enjoy what you do have; so if someone says: how much did you pay for that? Oh, nothing much, I just got it down the road at this price - and you can't even just celebrate: actually God is generous, and gives us all things to richly enjoy. How about that? God gives us all things, richly, to enjoy - so whatever you've got, enjoy it! But you can't enjoy it when you're under the power of a spirit.

We saw last week that money was not evil; it's actually the love and the spirit that gets behind it.

Jesus talks about not being worried (verse 26): “I say to you: do not worry. Look at the birds of the air - they neither sow nor reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you more value than them?”

In that we see, that God doesn't require sowing and reaping, to be good to you. Many Christians think: if I just give this to God, then He'll have to do this to me - it doesn't work like that in the kingdom of God. Or if I sow, then I'm certain to reap - God will have to make sure I get something back.

Listen, God doesn't operate that way. God is generous. He gives to the birds, and they don't sow at all. God is just generous. This is hard for us to get a hold of, God is extravagantly generous. He is not mean. He does not withhold. It's the devil who withholds. The devil is the thief. It's the devil who's the robber. It's the devil who's the poor one. God is extravagantly generous, in every aspect - it's His nature to be extravagant and generous.

So He points it out: don't be anxious. God is so generous to the birds, and you're much more value than a bird, see? Then he goes on, and he said (verse 31): “Don't worry, saying: what will we eat? What are we going to drink? What do we wear? After these, all the Gentiles seek; and your Father knows you need these things.”

So he says: don't get anxious about how you're going to meet daily living requirements. God knows what you need. He said: the world worries like that. If you're a believer, God has a blessed life, where you don't live in anxiety and dread and fear about your provision.

God has become your provider. You're released from the burden of having to make it all happen, and to work under this dreaded spirit - this heavy task master - that drives and hurts people. We're called to live under the influence of the Spirit of God, under the blessing of God, in our financial and material area of our life.

So notice then it says: “but...” (it says what you should do). It says: “don't be anxious”. So it talks about firstly: here's the conflict, something is competing for your heart; and secondly: don't get anxious, because if you're anxious, you're not in the place of freedom; and then thirdly, it says here's what you do: Put the Lord first. Nothing could be clearer.

“Seek first the kingdom of God”, or seek God's rule or order around your life, and every aspect of it; and seek the way to live, or a right way before God to live, he said: “...then everything else will add to you”.

Now that's an extraordinary promise. Of course, it's not one that too many people see happen, because it requires of us: prioritising God in our heart.

It says: “seek first”, not seek second, or third, or add on a bit of God. It's not ‘add-on God’ - I'll run my life, and add God on. That's not what brings adding into your life.

Adding means God's power or God's blessing comes on your life, and around your life, and things start to attract into you; that before you had to work and stress and sweat to get.

So it says: “seek first the kingdom of God”, and I want to look at this area of putting God first, giving God the first place, giving God the first place; not the second or third, or a little add on.

In Exodus 13, you'll see this ‘Putting God First’; or this area of ‘First-Fruit”; or ‘first in your life’ – and you'll see this goes right through the Bible.

So what do I need to do with my money? Well I need to do two things at least: #1 I need to give God the first; and #2 – I need to steward, or manage the rest; and mismanagement is no substitute. You can't just expect God to meet everything, if you won't manage your part of it properly.

So notice here, the Lord spoke to Moses saying: “Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both man and beast - it is Mine”.

Consecrate, or set apart, the firstborn. Verse 12 – “You shall set apart to the Lord all that opens the womb, every firstborn that comes from every animal which you have, males shall be the Lord's. Every firstborn of a donkey, you shall redeem with a lamb. If you don't redeem it, then you'll break its neck, and it'll be sacrificed. The firstborn of your men among your sons you shall redeem”

“So it shall be, when you son asks you in the time to come, saying what is this”? Or in other words: why are you managing your money like this? Why are you managing your resources like this? You'll say: “It's because, by strength of hand, the Lord brought us out of Egypt, and out of bondage”.

So notice even here, at this first introduction of the law of first-fruits, or the first, giving the first to God, it says very clearly two things: #1, that we should give the first portion to God; and #2, it comes because we're grateful for what He has done.

This is not a matter of law, or obligation, or duty. This is an issue of gratitude, so when your children ask you: why is it, that you manage your finances by giving the first portion to the Lord? You say: because God delivered me out of bondage. I used to live in the world in anxiety and debt and dread; I used to live coveting; I used to live in bondage and fear.

I had all kinds of things going on, my money was in a mess, and now God has delivered me out of all of that bondage. Now I'm in a place of blessing, and here's why I'm in a blessing: I put the Lord first. This is a principle for how families should govern their finances.

Notice it said: “you have to set apart the first born of the womb”. Suppose I've got two sheep, a ram and a sheep; and now I have the first lamb. Now, this is the way we would think: I will wait until I have 10 lambs, and I'll give one to the Lord; but what the Bible says is: no, the very first one, you give that to the Lord.

Now here's the question that immediately would come, if you're under the power of Mammon. What if the ewe fails to bring forth any more lambs? What if it damages itself, when it has that first born, and can't produce any more lambs? Where will I be then? I know what I need to do: I'll keep this one, and I'll wait until I've got 10, and I'll give the tenth one to the Lord. That is not giving the first to the Lord.

Here an act of faith is required. The act of faith is this: I will give the first, and I expect all the rest to be really blessed; and you'll find consistently, whenever it talks about giving the first to the Lord, the purpose of it is to redeem all the rest, so that the rest is blessed.

The hard thing is to think that way, because we don't tend to think that way at all. We think: I'll wait until I've got a few more, then I'll do it. But this is the principle: when we offer the first to God, it puts all the rest under blessing.

That's it in a nutshell; so when you offer the first to God, all the rest of what you have is now blessed; and I'll show you some scriptures related to that, but if you would just take away this one thought: if I give my first to God, then the rest is blessed. There's a blessing on it.

What does that mean? It means: I don't suffer the devouring, by lots of things going wrong, that others suffer. I have opportunities come, that others don't have. It's: somehow, God makes the nine-tenths go further than the ten-tenths.

Now when you're living in bondage, if you can barely making it on ten-tenths, then surely in your mind you'll think: nine-tenths, I'm going to fall over.

What He's saying here is this: you have to act in faith. Your money is under the power of a spirit. Put it in God's hands. Okay, here it is, I give it to You God. He says: no, no, no, no, no. I only require the first portion - you give me the first portion, and all the rest is under blessing.

This principle follows everywhere. Romans 5:8 – “While we're yet sinners, Christ died for us. God in His generosity, gave His first born”.

Jesus Christ was called the lamb of God, the spotless lamb of God. He was called the Firstborn, from the dead; so Jesus Christ - God actually modelled it. God gave, or He gave of His Son.

He gave generously and extravagantly; He gave His Son, who was holy and spotless and clean? His Son, Jesus came to the earth, born of a human body.

Now here's the deal: we are unclean in sin, but God's offering of His first born, makes all of us clean. In other words, the blessing comes on all of humanity, because the first is given.

Jesus never had His life taken from Him - He gave His life. There's no duty, or taking - right through the Bible - when it comes around this area of this first portion to God. It's always an issue of Faith, of trusting that God's principles will work.

You see it from one end to the other. Even in the Garden of Eden, God gave them plenty, but He said: there's one that belongs to Me; you can't touch that one - touch that one and you die.

The first is always something God says ‘belongs to Him’. I don't have to give Him everything to prove that He's Lord of my life. What I need to do is, to show He's my Lord, by actually taking the first portion and giving it to Him.

He may ask me to give at various times, and He has done in all kinds of ways; but if the first is in His hands, then the rest is blessed. The big deal is to put the first in His hands.

You're all very happy today, everyone happy? There's something, a pressure comes around, every time we try and talk about this area.

Have a look in Leviticus 27:30 – “All the tithe of the land (all, all the tithe of the land), whether the seed of the land or the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's. It's holy to the Lord”. God is saying to people that He's provided for abundantly, He's given them all this wealth; and He's saying: the first portion or the tithe belongs to Me. It belongs to God.

Now here's an interesting thing. If my finance resources and life is under God, then I show it by giving the tenth. When I give Him the tenth, the rest is under the blessing. If I withhold the tenth, I'm withholding what belongs to God.

I used to think, when I started off giving a tithe, and started to give and tithe, I thought I was doing a big deal. It was a huge deal, because I was under a spirit of bondage.

After I gave for a while, I realised: actually, this is no big deal at all. I can't out-give God. How can I possibly show Him that I really honour Him, and love Him, and value Him? Well this is the way, I just give Him a portion of what I have, and we have done that faithfully since we first heard about this.

Notice that the first portion determines the rest. Have a look at this in Romans 11:16 - the first, the nature of the first portion, determines the rest. “If the first is holy, then the lump is holy. If the root is holy, so are all the branches”.

Notice what its saying: “If the first fruit is holy, then the root is holy”, or the rest of it is holy. Now we just saw that God has spoken to His people. He said: “Out of all the tithe, of all the trees (agricultural land)...”

He said of the tithe: the tithe belongs to the Lord, and it's holy. I'm going to show you something. Your money can be holy or cursed; and it all depends on the place you give God in your money - simple.

Notice He said: the tithe is ‘holy to the Lord’. In other words, it is sanctified. We were singing that this morning, holy to the Lord. So the tithe is holy to the Lord; and the Bible says: if the first fruit is holy, all the rest is holy, all the rest is blessed. So the principle is always the same. When you give your first to the Lord, the rest is always blessed. The blessing of God comes upon it, so let's have a look at a couple of things related to it.

So the first portion determines the nature of the rest. In Joshua 6, they went in to take the Promised Land; and we, as believers, would think of the Promised Land as being: the promises of God, the blessings of God.

The Promised Land was a land of promise. It was a land that came by promise, not by working hard, but they had their part in it. Notice what God says, when they go in there, and the first city they come to is Jericho.

When they come to Jericho, God said an interesting thing about Jericho. Joshua 6:18 – “By all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse and trouble it. All the silver, gold and bronze, vessels of bronze and iron are consecrated to the Lord, or devoted to the Lord. They will come into the treasury of the Lord.”

Now notice you see two words there: ‘devoted to God’; and ‘cursed.’ You can't have them both - its one or the other. He's saying: this city Jericho - I want you to touch none of it.

He said: I want you to conquer the city, and when you've conquered the city, whatever wealth you find there, it comes into the house of the Lord. It is the Lord's - it is the first fruit, the first portion.

Now you can understand, it's the same deal with the sheep. I've got all these battles, I'm going to have to fight to conquer all these cities; and here's the first city, and now I start to see gold and silver.

Maybe we're not going to win so much in the other cities. You know, there's a lot in this first city. Maybe we could just wait until we've conquered three or four cities, and then we'll take our portion and give it to the Lord then. We'll wait and sort of see how this goes.

No, He required them, by faith. He said: “the first belongs to Me”. He required them by faith to take what was the first, and give it to Him, and believe that if they did that, the rest would all be blessed.

So that first thing, the first portion, the tithe or whatever it is that belongs to the Lord - it either belongs to the Lord and it's devoted, or it's stolen from the Lord and it's a curse, so notice what happens here in Joshua 7.

“Now the children of Israel committed a trespass concerning the accursed things (or ‘devoted’ things), for Achan took of the devoted things (or the ‘accursed’ things), and the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel”.

Before he took it, it was devoted to the Lord. After he took it, it was a cursed object. Now this is extraordinary.

That means, I can have an object - take this bottle here. So God says: you give me the bottle, the first thing - and there's lots of water coming after this. I look at it thinking: I'm pretty thirsty, I wouldn't mind that you know? I've been fighting all these battles, I've got to fight this war, and here's all this treasure. I wouldn't mind that, you know? It'd be quite good for me to have that.

I've got to decide what to do with it. The choice is always mine; so the choice is: either I give it to God - in which case it's devoted; or I keep it - in which case it's cursed.

Isn't that interesting? That's what He's saying. He said: if you give it to Me, then it's devoted, and blessing is on the rest; but if you hold it back, it's cursed, and now everything else is cursed.

So the next thing that happened was: they had no power to stand in the battle. They were defeated by an inferior army at their next battle; and God's trying to teach us, that behind the natural, there is a spiritual power.

It wasn't that the army was any less, or they had fewer weapons. The problem was they lacked power. When Achan held back the thing that was devoted to God, and kept it for himself, he and everyone around him no longer had power to overcome. The power to overcome depended on the devoted thing belonging to the Lord.

It’s the same thing with our finances, and our resources. If we keep back from God what is owing to Him, it turns from being devoted to Him, to being a curse for us. When I give my first portion to the Lord, it ensures blessing on the rest. If I hold it back, I'm under the power of Mammon.

Now why did this guy go for it? The Bible makes it clear why he took it. Joshua 7:20 “They finally found him out”, he said: “I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: when I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels - here it is - I coveted them, and took them, and I hid them”.

The Bible says in the New Testament, that coveting is idolatry. So what happened is this. He went in, he fought the battle. When he fought the battle and they conquered the city, he comes into a place where there are these garments, in silver and gold.

Now the instructions were clear: this belongs to the Lord. Give it to the Lord. But he looked at it and thought: ooh man, I could do with these - this is good. He kept it for himself. He coveted what belonged to God; and so the sin of coveting, or greed, indicates he was under the power of the spirit of Mammon.

Mammon is a spirit that moves in greed, you just can't have enough - so a problem came. Notice this: before he took it, it's devoted; after he took it, it's cursed.

This is how it seems to me to work: I can either have 100 per cent of everything I have - and it's all under a cursing, and under the power of the spirit of Mammon; or I can have 90 per cent of what I have - and it's blessed.

I have found from years of experience, that 90 per cent with blessing, is better than the 100 per cent with trouble. I know at times it has been very difficult to uphold that commitment, but it was always about an issue of the heart. Will I put God first, and trust Him?

Now I want to just pick up four very simple heart issues that lie behind giving the first portion to the Lord. Remember Jesus said: “the battle is one for your heart”, there's a spirit that is seeking to conquer your heart, so here they are.

#1, the first one is the principle of Honour. The word honour means ‘to value’, or ‘to place a weight’ on something.

So will I honour God; and place value on His willingness and ability to bless me? What value will I put on that? Will I honour, God and put Him first in my finances? What value do I place on God, in the issue of managing money?

That's what it boils down to; and very similar in Proverbs 3:9 – “Honour the Lord with all your substance, and with the first fruits of all your increase”.

Now the way we have done it is: whatever we have done, we've always considered God's best, and how we would best advance His kingdom. So when we come to buy a house, it was never about what would look good, or be nice, or in the right area. It was always: what would help advance the kingdom of God? What kind of house do we need to have that would enable us to have people in and out, and show hospitality?

It was always going to be a factor. It was never just about: whether we could have a family. It was always about: what God had for us. We've always tried to put Him first around all these different kinds of areas, and God's kept us from all kinds of difficulties; and brought us into all kinds of blessing around this, that we could never have imagined. I don't even understand how it happens; that we have what we have now.

It can only be understood by Blessing. There's no tangible or visible sign, that we've been able to progress as we have. It is the blessing of God that's done it, and so you know, so we're blessed. We're blessed! I can't say I'm that smart on all this issue.

There's a second area, the area of Faith: will I trust God, that He is a generous provider? Will I trust Him, He will generously provide for my life? Think about that. It's an issue of Faith. Will I trust Him, by giving my first portion to Him?

How old was Abraham, when Abraham had his first son? About 100 wasn't he? His wife was probably in her 90s? Now remember, he got impatient waiting for that first son, and then finally he got the son - he got a mess with Ishmael, and then he still has to wait for the promise.

So finally the promise comes, he's got the first son. Now you've got to understand, if you're 100, and your wife is nearly 100, getting any son is a miracle. It is. Now - and this is the son of promise, this is the son he loved.

In Genesis 22, God says: “Take this son that you love, and offer him up to Me.” No! How could this be? She's so old! What if she doesn't have any more children?

Can you understand, that the same thing we talked about with the sheep, and with Joshua - it's exactly the same deal. Is she able to have any more?

It's not like: hey God, look, I'll tell you what. Can we put this deal off, wait until I've got a few more in the family, and then we'll bring #10, and give #10 to you?

No, it was an issue of: do you trust Me - that the promise stands, regardless of whether Isaac is here or not? He had the promise before he had Isaac; and when he offered up Isaac, he knew he still had the promise. God cannot lie.

This is why he's called a Man of Faith, because he trusted God over this issue. If he offered God his first and his best that he loved, then God would somehow restore him, raise him up; God would fulfil the promise that he'd be a father of nations. It's an issue of Faith, and that's why he's called the Father of Faith - because he made what is almost an ultimate sacrifice, and in doing so, showed us just the great love that God had.

Here's the third area: gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. So one is honour - placing value on God; the second is faith - trusting that He can actually provide, better than I can provide for myself; and if I put Him first, I can then expect the blessings on everything that I do.

The third thing is Gratitude: am I grateful to God for all He's given me? How grateful am I? Now think about this: Abraham, in Genesis 14, had been blessed, and become very wealthy; and he came after a great battle, where he rescued his nephew Lot, and he met with Melchizedek, the high priest. The Bible says: “he gave him a tithe of everything”. Now he wasn't required to. He gave it as an issue of gratitude.

Now get this: immediately, the King of Sodom came to him. He said: listen, you can have all the goods, but give me the people.

He said: I will not take anything of yours, lest you say you got me rich. I want my total blessing and source to be in the Lord.

Now it's no coincidence, that at the point where he gave this offering to the Lord, there was a choice between: negotiating with the King of Sodom (or the spirit of Mammon); or dealing with Melchizedek, which is a type (or a picture) of Jesus Christ. Will I put God first, or will I put Mammon first?

He said: no way - I'll enter no deals with you. I want to put God first. He will be the source of my supply.

So again, notice that the motivation is one of gratitude. Now how much would you pay to get your soul out of hell? What would you put on the line, if you had a vision of hell, and you saw what it would involve for eternity? What would you be willing to give up, in order to BUY freedom from that? The answer is: you'd put everything on the line. However you don't need to; we only need to put one-tenth.

We're not buying anything. We're actually saying: God, it was too expensive to save me. You have saved me. You have given Your Son to save me. The least I can do is acknowledge, with gratitude, your generosity; and honour you and trust you, and give to you. It's very, very simple isn't it?

You find even in the New Testament, there's the last one here: it has to be of a Willing Mind. So the last thing is: will you give out of a willing heart; or will you give out of duty and obligation: I have to do this?

We have never in this church, ever said: you have to tithe. I've always avoided saying anything like that. Do I believe that we should tithe? Of course I do. We do, and we do it diligently and regularly; and we give, and have offerings, and are grateful for all kinds of things, ourselves personally.

But the thing is, I don't want anyone to come under the law. It has to be of a willing heart. When they came to offer for the building of the tabernacle, the first question God says: every person who is of a willing heart.

Paul is writing at the Corinthian Church, in 2 Corinthians 8, he says: “It's required, first of all, a willing heart”; so it's not a compulsion, no arm-bending, no twisting, no manipulation, no pressure - it's a willing heart.

A willing heart comes because you have revelation that God is good, and generous, and I want to honour Him, I'm so grateful to Him. When I do that, and give Him that, it's now an issue of Honour and Faith, and this is what brings the blessing on the rest.

Now if I'm going to give God the first, it needs to be the first - so it comes right off the top; and it's not at the end, when everything else is paid - it's the first.

When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23, he said to them: You will tithe; and you tithe off this and this and this.

He said: these things you ought to have done; but the weightier (or bigger) matter, and bigger issues of Justice and Mercy and Faith, you've forgotten about those altogether.

You got legalistic about tithing every carrot. One carrot in 10 goes to God. You've got into all that kind of legalism; and he said: what you've missed is the bigger issues of justice, treating people rightly, mercy, showing people kindness; and faith, trusting God. Those are the biggies. Those are the big issues.

So I need to make a decision then, what I'm going to do. I do not want to live under pressure, stress and bondage.

I must make a decision to bring my finances out of this place of pressure under the spirit world, and into a place of an open heaven with blessing; and God says that very clearly in Malachi.

He says: why don't you just check me out on this one? See that I want to open up the windows of heaven, bring what you have into the storehouse”.

So I want to encourage us in this. Go through the scriptures yourself, and then begin to ask yourself: I wonder what is happening in my financial world.

Remember, I'm required first to honour God with the first part, then I have to manage the rest; and we're not dealing with how to manage the rest at the moment.

We're just looking at bringing the whole financial area under God; and the first part of it, is to take my first portion, and give it to the Lord; to take my tenth, and to take it off the top, and give it into the house of God. That's where it goes.

Now people have got all kinds of ideas, and they do all sorts of things, but it's not what the Bible says. Listen: the tithe, or the first fruit, is the only part that's got the power to redeem the rest.

I need to make sure I treat it as a holy thing, and I need to put it where God says to put it. Then I can believe consistently for the best.

So I believe God wants to help us in this area, and I'm speaking this in order to bring just some clarity around our heart; so we actually see how to respond out of a good heart.

Now the world has criticised the church on this thing of tithing; but let me just finish you with this. I was watching a program on Oprah (I don't watch Oprah very often, but I watched this particular one), and I was absolutely astonished what I heard.

The special guest was a financial manager, who helped people who were in distress and debt, to get out of their distress and debt. So they had a few people of course, who had credit cards maxed up to the maximum height, everything like this, and they were totally in bondage.

They got this woman to come, and she spoke with her; and they got people to describe their problems; and she said: what would you advise them?

She said: it's really quite simple - they need to tithe. Now she was not a saved person; she's not a Christian person. She said: I've done a study of money and wealth, and people who have it and people who don't, and I've noticed something quite interesting, when I've observed all these different people.

She said: I've studied the people who've got it, people who haven't; and I've noticed that for some people, money is attracted into them. I've noticed with other people, money seems to be repelled away from them; and when it's repelled away from them, they seem to go from difficulty to difficulty to difficulty; but the others just seem to from blessing to blessing to blessing.

She said: so I've realised that there's a power involved; and she said: either you have power over money, or money has power over you.

She said: I've also learned, the only way that you can know whether you have power over money is if you can open your hand and give.

She said: consistently I have seen that some of the wealthiest people also give no less than ten percent. They just practice it, as a part of maintaining power over money.

Most people, money's got power of them, and they're in fear of it; so the moment it comes to giving anything to anyone, immediately there's conflict in the heart; and she's saying that actually, generosity or giving is the only way you can demonstrate and maintain your power over money.

Now that's a secular person, in a secular program, talking about the whole issue of money, and a power behind money. She couldn't give it the language we can give (didn't have the Bible connections with it), but did understand this: that there is a power behind it; and that the only way I can be free of that is if I start to learn how to open my hand, and to direct giving.

We see from reading the Bible, that if I put the first fruits to God, then I have blessing come around the rest. Things start to come towards me, instead of going away from me. I come into a place where there's a river of blessing.

Another time I want to talk about generosity, which was touched on today, the whole area of having a generous spirit. This is the Christian spirit, it's a generous spirit.

I want to just ask you this, to consider: where am I, in this whole area? Am I in problems? Am I giving God the honour and the glory?

Closing Prayer

If you're here today and you don't know Jesus: you know one of the greatest things to understand, is the generosity of God.

I know we've talked a little bit about finances, but we're talking about coming into a blessed life; and the first step of coming to a blessed life, has nothing to do with money.

It’s to acknowledge Jesus Christ. God gave His Son to love you, and bless you, and to bring you out of sin; Jesus died on the cross to redeem from sin. He gave His life as the offering, so you could become clean and blessed, but what it requires is that you identify with that, and that Jesus becomes your offering.

Instead of trying hard to be a better person, you come to the cross and say: Jesus, I accept what You have done on my behalf. This is my offering, on my behalf, and I thank You my life is sanctified and made whole, and I'm free from sin, because You are my first fruit.

You are my offering. I take what You have done, and I say: God, accept this offering of Jesus Christ. What an amazing deal. What a great thing.

The first step of course is: you need to make a decision to receive Jesus. How much more could He give you? He doesn't want you to suffer. He wants you to be blessed; and the first step is to receive what Jesus did for you, and invite Him to come into your heart.

In a moment, we'll all stand together, and we're going to rejoice; because God in heaven rejoices when a sinner comes to Christ. We'll all hold hands together, and church, let's reach your hands out to them, and let's all pray this simple prayer together.

Prayer is just talking to God. When we talk to Him, He'll hear you; He'll hear us when we talk. Let's just follow us in this prayer, all just listen to the words; and pray this prayer, reaching out to give your life to Jesus.

“Father in heaven, I come to you in Jesus' name. Thank You for loving me. Thank You for accepting me. Thank You for sending Jesus to die on the cross for my sins.”

“Jesus, I ask You to forgive me. I turn away from all my sins today. I receive You as my Saviour. I give You my life today. I receive Your spirit into my heart and today before heaven and earth I declare Jesus Christ is my Saviour and Lord and my friend forever. I am blessed. Amen.”

With all our pain and hurting, He understands us and He forgives us. You know today, the Bible says that God wipes away all your sins, all your failures; and sees you as His Son, His Daughter - clean, acceptable inside. You belong to Him. He loves you. God is a God of fresh starts, always fresh starts.

Last decision, just in your own heart, here's the questions to ask:

How do I honour God in my finances?

Do I have faith that He will provide?

How grateful am I for what He's done for me?

Do I have a willing heart? Or do I get niggly when someone asks me for anything?

I just pray blessing upon every person here. Father, we pray increased blessing, that not only as we are blessed, but all our finances will be blessed as well. We pray blessing on each household, each family, each person represented here today.

Father, let today be a day of decision, and a day of new beginnings in Jesus' name, and we give You all the honour, we can never out give You!

Summary Notes

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1. Introduction
· Mt.6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other or else he will be loyal to one and despise the other”.
· There is a battle for your heart over the issue of money – a daily on-going battle.
· Mammon is a spirit that seeks to capture your heart, loyalty and love.
· Mammon = Aramaic word = “riches”, wealth (assets, possessions, earnings).
· Spirit of Mammon:
Speaks to you Overwhelms people with fear and anxiety
Promises you much Desires to take place of God in your life
Seeks to enslave you
· Money has a spirit power operating behind it – Spirit Mammon – or Spirit of God.
· Associated Spirits
Spirit of Pride – I worked hard to get all this, I am entitled to these things.
Spirit of Poverty – Not enough, why should you have those things and not me.
· V26 - God is generous – He is a giver – it is His nature – He is extravagant.
· V33 – “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you”.
Put God first in your heart and financial matters – faith not fear (anxiety).

2. The First Portion belongs to God
· What should I do with money? – Give the first portion to God and steward the rest.

(a) Ex.13:2 “Consecrate to me all the first born”
- Every first born animal was either sacrificed or redeemed with a lamb
- This was an act of faith – did not know whether animal would produce more
- Didn’t want to give until had 10 lambs and give one – gave the first born in faith
- The offering of the first born redeemed the rest – all others are now blessed.

(b) Rom. 5:8,18 God demonstrates His own love towards us in that while we were still sinners – Christ died for us
- Jesus was referred to by John the Baptist as the “Lamb of God”
- No one took Jesus’ life He offered it up – He is the first born
- God gave the first born so the rest could be blessed

(c) Lev. 27:30 “All the tithe of the land is the Lord’s”
The first portion belongs to the Lord – it is the Lord’s
The first portion is devoted – set apart for the Lord

3. The First Portion determines the nature of the rest

(a) Rom. 11:16 “If the first fruit is holy, the lump also is holy; when we give the first to the Lord all the rest is blessed. When we withhold the first from the Lord the rest is cursed.
(b) Josh 6:18-19 Jericho – all the silver and gold and vessels of bronze and iron are consecrated to the Lord – they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.

· Jericho – was the first city. All its contents were first fruits to the Lord.
· It took faith to give the silver and gold to God – what if they win no other battle?
· They did not wait to conquer other cities and then give tithe to the Lord.
· Achan took what was devoted to the Lord
Money: Devoted before he took it Choice 100% kept all cursed
Cursed after he took it Choice 90% kept all blessed
Result was no spiritual power to prevail in warfare
V2 Key sin: Covetous – greed and deception.

4. Giving the First Portion is an Issue of the Heart
· Giving the tithe, the first portion to God is a heart issue.
· Is God going to be first in my life, have my love and loyalty?
· Key Heart Issues
(i) Honour - Will I honour God and place Him first? (Prov.3:19)
- What value do I place on God and my relationship?
(ii) Faith - Will I trust God with who He is – a generous provider
- Will I trust God by giving my first 10th – tithe?
e.g. Gen.22:1 Abraham gave his first born son
Gen 4:4 Abel gave his first born animal
(iii) Gratitude - Am I grateful to God for all that He has given to me?
e.g. Gen.14:18 Abraham gave tithe out of gratitude to blessing
(iv) Willing - Will I give out of a willing heart or out of duty, fear
e.g. Ex. 35,5 Israel brought with a willing heart
1 Cor.8:12 First a willing mind
· Without exception tithers say – I am blessed God has blessed me
· Without exception non tithers say – I cannot afford to tithe
· The first portion carries the blessing that redeems the rest
· Mt.23:23 “These things (tithe) ought to have done and not neglected the weightier matters of the law justice, mercy, faith”
· Mal.3:8-9 “Prove me in this – bring the whole tithe into the storehouse”



Generosity (3 of 4)  

Sun 26 Aug 2012 AM « Back to Top

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We have seen many people that have had much money and yet they didn't have what money seemed to promise, health and prosperity and every good thing. It seems like it still eludes them, so we looked at that and saw that Jesus taught very specifically about us placing God first. To be generous is to be liberal. It's an attitude of heart that shows up in every area of your life including finances. Generosity exposes selfishness!

Generosity (3 of 4)

I want to speak today on Generosity. I've been learning as I've been going, you know, I haven't spoken on money for years really; and yet Jesus spoke on it so much, so many times.

A large percentage of what Jesus taught and spoke about was stewardship, and managing natural things; but when we start to talk money, immediately people tend to freeze up.

So let's go back where we started in Matthew 6:24; and it's talking about laying up treasures in heaven. “No one can serve two masters. He will hate one and love the other; or he'll be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon”.

So we see God is a spirit, Mammon is a spiritual power, and we looked through and talked that money itself doesn't have power, but the spirit behind it does.

So the Bible's very clear, in Jesus teaching, that it's impossible to serve both; but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have money. In fact actually, you could be a great blessing if you have money.

You can have a lot of money, and be no blessing to anyone; or you can have very little money, and be a great blessing to people. It's not the amount of money; it always has to do with the heart.

As we learn about the spirit of Mammon, we saw that there is a battle, a spiritual battle, for your heart. There is a conflict between money, and the values placed on money, and what money seems to be able to do.

We saw that that is like an illusion; because we have seen many people that have had much money, and yet they didn't have what money seemed to promised: health and prosperity, and every good thing. It seems like it still eludes them; so we looked at that, and saw that Jesus taught very specifically about us placing God First.

Last session we talked about seeking first the kingdom of God; putting God first in our money; and that as we honour God first in our finances, then the rest is set apart.

Matthew 5:17 - Jesus said: “Do not think I came to destroy the Law, or the Prophets. I didn't come to destroy, but fulfil”.

So Jesus is saying to people, who thought He was going to do away with the Old Testament (do away with the Bible), and He's saying: don't think that I'm going to do away with it.

He said: I'm not going to destroy what was in the Old Testament. There are many things in the Old Testament, but He said: what I'm going to do is - I'm going to fulfil them.

He's saying this: you have the Old Testament. I'm not going to take it away. I'm going to teach you, and show you what it's true intent was; and I'm going to show you how you work it out in your life, so you don't live under law, but you live in a new realm of the spirit - under the grace and favor of God.

Now the dilemma for us, as Christians, of course is: we tend to pick up a bit of the law, and the bits that suit us; and we'll apply it and say: I'm going to live under that; but we're called to live in a different dimension now, we're in the new covenant.

For example Jesus didn't do away with law. He said, notice His statement: “I come, not to do away with it, but to fulfil it”.

Then He begins to talk. In verse 21 He says: “you have heard it said to those of old: you shall not murder” - so don't kill, or don't murder was an Old Testament commandment.

How many people have killed someone here? Okay, so we're doing pretty well, but Jesus said: I want you to understand that it's not a matter of the letter of this thing. Actually there's a heart motive behind it.

He said: I'm raising the standard; I'm telling you what this really means: it's not about whether you've murdered someone; it's a matter whether you keep your heart free of anger and hate against people. He said: I want to lift you to a different dimension.

Then He talked about the area of Adultery, verse 27 - Adultery of the heart, He's talking about. “You've heard it said to those of old: you shall not commit adultery…”

One of the Ten Commandments: “Do not commit adultery”. I won't put that question out, because there may be one or two have; but He's talking about the act of adultery.

He's saying: I'm telling you something different. He said: I am raising it up, and showing you how God intended this to be fulfilled - that you'd not have lust in your heart (lust after someone), because if you've got lust operating in your heart, then adultery is already present.

So you notice now, He hasn't done away with the law. He's lifted up an understanding of what it really means.

Now we have to understand that when you look at the Old Testament, some of the laws were moral laws; some of them civil laws; and so on. The dilemma for us is: what do we do, and how do we handle it; but you see here Jesus lifted the level of expectation up.

So for example, concerning circumcision, in the Old Testament all the children, descendants of Abraham were to be circumcised. Now in the New Testament, in Galatians, it tells us that circumcision is of the heart and spirit, it's not a physical circumcision - otherwise the moment you become a Christian, we've got to circumcise you.

So He said: we're not under that. There's a fulfillment that comes by the spirit; and that fulfillment is a circumcision of the heart, where you have a heart change; because people cannot murder someone without hate in their heart; people cannot commit adultery without lust in their heart. People can be physically circumcised, but still have no faith in Christ. You getting the idea of what it means: the fulfillment of the law?

So then we start to look then at the issue of tithing. In the Old Testament - and we won't go into all the details, I just want to catch the spirit of this - the Old Testament said: give a tithe to the Lord. Why would we come back just under the letter of that, when we come under the letter in no other area?

You see, what He's really saying in the New Testament is: I don't want your heart to be in conflict with God over the issue of money; I want you to be free. So in the New Testament He raises it up: tithing was the letter of the law. He says: “I want you to have a generous heart”, and almost all New Testament teaching concerning giving, has to do with the heart attitude, generosity, willing heart, free will.

When we talked on this area of Mammon, and giving, we said: it required that it came out of a heart that honored God, had faith in God, was thankful to God, and was willing.

Whatever you give then is acceptable to God, if the heart is right; because it's possible for people to tithe diligently like the Pharisees did; but have no heart for God, nor trust Him in any financial area. In fact, the Pharisees were quite covetous, yet they tithed.

So when it comes to the area of tithing, it's not just a matter of physically, or literally, tithing every carrot and every turnip and every apple. It's actually: having a heart free from greed; and being full of thanksgiving, and generous; because I know many Christians who will diligently tithe, but generosity isn't in their life.

It's like saying: well, I haven't murdered anyone, but I've a little hate sitting in my heart, and that's okay; or: I haven't committed adultery yet (or haven't been caught out), but I've got all this lust going on in my heart, but that's okay.

No, no, no, no, Jesus lifts it all in the New Testament to say: we're under a new covenant, and it has to do with the heart and the spirit, so we're not caught with the letter of the law. That's why I've never commanded, or demanded and told people: they must tithe. Instead we talk about honor, and first-fruits, and giving to God; and being generous is the thing that flows. It must come from the spirit.

Now clearly, tithing was in the Old Testament; and every other realm of Old Testament law was lifted to a higher level; so clearly our giving is going to come to a different level, than it was in the Old Testament. We won't be stuck with the letter of the law; we have a new realm, that's a realm of generosity and giving. It's a lifestyle.

I want to talk about Generosity, John 12:1. Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus, who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. That's where Lazarus was.

They made Him a supper and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Mary took a pound of costly (that word costly - you can underline that) oil of spikenard; she anointed the feet of Jesus, wiped His feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

One of the disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said: “Why isn't this fragrant oil sold for 300 denarii, and given to the poor”? He said that, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and he had the money box; and he used to steal.

Jesus said: “Leave her alone, she has kept this day, for the day of My burial. The poor you will always have with you, but Me, you do not always have.”

Firstly we just need to have an understanding of the word generous. Generous means literally: ‘to be liberal in your giving’. It means: ‘to be unselfish'. It means: to be free from any kind of meanness, or smallness; that is to be generous. To be generous, is to be liberal. It's an attitude of the heart that shows up in every area of your life, including finances.

The word that is the opposite of ‘generous’, is the word ‘selfish’. Other words that mean the same as selfish: you could say mean, stingy, withholding, those kinds of words. Do you know some people like that? What's in their heart flows over their money, and it's always mean; stingy; reluctant to give.

Another word we use is tight. Some Christians are so tight - and it's in every area of their life. It's never just in the money, but it shows up in the money first. It's an issue of heart.

Now think about this: we're born selfish, not generous. Notice with children, they're not born generous? Parents who've got little children they’re: mine! It's mine! You don't hear them saying: oh, I'd love to give it to you - you never hear a child saying that. Mine! Mine! Mine!

It's a shame if you're a Christian for a few years, and it's still: Mine! Mine! You come in, and someone sat in your seat: that's mine! This is what goes on! Someone parked in your car park - that's mine! Mine!

So ‘mine’ is what we're born with. It takes a work of the spirit to be generous; it takes the work of the spirit to stop us being selfish. That's the whole deal; so we've got a battle against selfishness and meanness all the time.

The first thing you think: there's not enough for me, I need to hold onto it. That's what goes on, you see it with children, and sometimes we grow up and we're still the same. It's still about me and mine.

Now selfishness originated with Satan. It's a trait in human nature that has demonic origin, demonic roots. Satan (or Lucifer) saw what God had, and he wanted it to become his. He said: It's mine - it's going to be mine! I will arise, I will... It'll be mine!

Then after he fell, everyone that's connected with him - it's the same thing, mine! Mine! And it's all about me and mine. We understand that. We learn to live with that see?

Notice here that generosity has exposed the heart of the mean person. I remember a funny situation that happened to me years ago. I was part of a leadership team (I was pastoring), and there were three people on the team, and one of the guys felt God leading him to go to Australia on a speaking engagement.

Anyway he said: “I must feel God doing that”, and I felt God say: “donate to him”. So I said: “oh, that's wonderful that God's put it in your heart, you're going there. I'd love to give you $100 towards your fare”. There was a stunned silence, and then an angry reaction, from someone who coveted what was happening, and was angry – “why should he have that?” Isn't that interesting?

So generosity exposes selfishness.

Now you notice that Mary does the totally unexpected: she comes in there, breaks that alabaster box of oil (we'll come into that, and how costly that is in a moment) breaks it, pours it over Jesus. Now she's extravagant - not with just her money. Notice that she's on her knees, and she's washing with her hair, wiping the hair and the oil and the dirt - and she's weeping. That is extravagant!

And the mean person, selfish person: We shouldn't waste so much money on this kind of thing. We should really sell that sort of thing, and give it to the poor. Ever heard people say that?

I remember I was trying to get a school facility going, and I had one of those (this is the principal's office, where everyone comes in) Chinese-Hat lights, you know, just a little wee light bulb thing. I thought: we need to get something; so I went around looking.

I spent a lot of time to try and find something that would be attractive, and represent the Lord and what we're doing well; and yet wouldn't be excessively expensive. I got something that was $35, how about that?

The same person that erupted over the giving, erupted over that - and I'd actually given it. Generosity exposes meanness; and the kind of comments that mean people usually say is: oh, it shouldn't be wasted on that. It shouldn't be wasted on something that honours God, it shouldn't be wasted on... shouldn't be wasted on…, shouldn't be wasted on... You know what? “We should give it to this person who's in need”.

Now when people start to talk like that, you know what? Ask the question: how much are you giving? Because inevitably, coming out of a selfish heart, a heart that's mean, a heart that's not generous - it's a heart that's locked up.

It says: “he said that, not because he cared for the poor, but because…” he was missing out on an opportunity to put his finger in, and get a little bit for himself. Selfishness; greed; coveting; that's what was in his heart. Isn't it interesting: the extravagant generosity of one person, exposed immediately how tight the other one was.

He should have just thought: wow, that's great. Man, I need to learn from that, and be inspired to be more generous. Instead of that, he had to attack the generosity, and say: that is a waste, it shouldn't be done.

You notice how the world continually attacks the church over the issue of tithing. Whether tithing is right or wrong is irrelevant. They attack it; because they can't handle that someone would give so much.

Why are you doing it? This is a poor person, why should they be doing this, and this, and this? Well, because it's actually an issue of the heart, and of generosity, and you're just flushing up your own meanness.

I remember when Brian Tamaki was interviewed, and they were going on about his car, and about his house and whatever. He said: I've worked all my life, I've invested, I've saved, I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't gamble. Wouldn't I expect to have something for all of that? I've been generous and giving, wouldn't I expect to have something to show for all of that?

It was hard for them to concede. It's just that meanness, and selfishness, hates generosity. It reacts, and that's what this guy did. He just reacted in the presence of the generous giving; and the thing is: he was a thief, and he had the money box.

Here's the most amazing thing: he had the money box. Jesus gave him the money box. Did Jesus know he was a thief? Yes!

Why did He give him the money box then? To give him a chance to walk through temptation, and come out the other side victorious.

God will always place things in our path that will give us an opportunity to reveal what's in our heart; and He, with it, will never allow us to be tempted above what we're able; and will make a way for you through it.

So I can tell you now, every one of us face temptations around this area. It's just a matter of what we're showing up; and if we are faithful with money, we can be trusted with true riches.

Now the next thing you notice about it is that generosity is extremely extravagant. I did the math on this (I don't know whether I got them right). You notice it says: she gave oil of spikenard, worth three hundred denarii.

One denarius is a day's wage, so what would today's wage be worth in New Zealand? Maybe $100, something like that, so $100. So that means she gave 300 day's wages - almost a whole year's wages!

Now what would you think if someone gave a whole year's wages to the Lord? You'd [inhales sharply] – “you shouldn't do that!” But you see: she had a heart that was just abounding in generosity, and gratitude to the Lord. No one told her to do it - she just did it, because she wanted to express her love. She was extravagant.

Now when you look through the Bible, you'd be surprised how many extravagant people there are in the Bible, for example David. In 1 Chronicles 29, it says that when David came to prepare for the house of God, out of his own money, his own purse, he gave 3,000 talents of gold; and he gave 7,000 talents of silver.

A talent of gold is just over a thousand ounces of gold; and gold today is just over $2,000 an ounce. So he gave: 3,000(oz) * 1,000(oz/talent) * $2,000 (per/oz) = $6 billion!

So we're talking big money here, billions of dollars, out of his own wealth, he gave to the house of God; and he said: “of your own, we have given to you”.

Now here's a man who walked in grace. There's no tithing thing for him. He's a man of generosity, a man of a big heart, a man who knew God - he had in his heart to build God a house.

You know what? God didn't even tell him to build the house. God said: you're not even going to build it. He said: nevertheless, I did so great, I've got to do something - and he gave. He gave billions to the work of God.

What about Solomon (his son), at the dedication of the temple. The required offering was one oxen. Instead he gave a thousand oxen.

You can imagine people saying: what! The law only requires one. How come you gave more than one? Oh, I am so glad - bring a thousand of these bullocks on! Bring it all on! I'm going to give God the greatest offering! He asked for one, you watch this. I've given Him a thousand, because I can't out-give God. Look at what He's given me.

That that same night, God appeared, and said: “ask what you want, and I'll give it to you”.

Now if he was like a lot of Christians, he'll probably say: well, I've given to God, now I've got to get something back. I gave him a 1,000, let's see… a hundredfold? Ok, 100,000 oxen back.

No, he didn't do anything like that. He said: “I want a hearing heart; and an understanding heart; and the ability with wisdom to lead people”. And heaven was silent, because his value is on true riches.

Then God spoke. He said: “because you've asked this thing, I'll give you not only that, I'll add to you all the riches, all the wealth that you could ever possibly want”.

So his heart was set on true riches, and it was revealed by his generosity. God just said: oh, I just can't help it, I've got to add all this stuff in. Remember what it says, seek first the kingdom of God, and the rest is added in? It frees the life from anxiety, and stress, and law and how much is... We don't want to get into that kind of thing.

Of course there are heaps of other people. There's the widow in 1 Kings 17, who gave the last meal. Now that would make a great story for the media wouldn't it aye? A prophet come and asked the last meal of this poor widow. How horrible!

But God had already given her direction, and as a result of her responding prophetically to what God said, she came into an abundant supply for a whole year, so it goes on.

Think about Abraham, who gave up his only son. Can you imagine what that meant? Imagine giving up your only son. I mean he's nearly a hundred years old; he's given up his own son; but he had faith and confidence in God. He gave, because God spoke to him about that giving; and he doesn't speak to us that way, not like that.

What about Jesus? God gave His own Son. God so loved the world. You can hardly love the person next to you, let alone love the world.

In India, you look at the millions of people; you see the crowd, and hope they'll all go by; but God says: every one, I know them by name. I love them.

God is so generous - what's the best thing I could give in heaven? So I know what, I'll send a legion of angels to save the world. No, no, no, no, that may not be enough. I'll send a few more angels. No, no, I know what I'll do: I send what's the most precious and dear to me. I'll give the most extravagant, expensive gift, My Son.

You can never out give God - He is so generous. It's the nature of the kingdom to be giving. The problem is: we get caught up with this thing of the law - if I just do this, then God must do that. So if I just do this, God will do that.

I did this; and He didn't do it - what! He didn't do it? Why did He not come through for me? I sowed, I gave, I did this, I did that - God didn't come through for me. Why?

You get angry at God, and resentful, and all that kind of stuff. I want to show you this is not the spirit of giving that the Bible talks about. Let's just go through and look at one more, in John 12:1.

Firstly, notice the motivation for gratitude. Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had been dead. Her brother was dead, not only dead, he was dead-dead. He was buried, and in the grave four days, and they said: he will be stinking by now, totally corrupted.

All hope of anything is gone, and Jesus came, and raised him from the dead. Now she's been without her brother, in mourning for four days; and suddenly her brother's restored. Whoa Jesus! My whole perspective has shifted.

So what can I do? Aah, that alabaster box, I'll take that, and she extravagantly gave. Why did she give? Gratitude! No one told her to do that.

If you were there, we'd tell her: take a tenth of it and give it to Him. Come on now, this is about gratitude; this about someone who has been blessed by God, and is responding to being blessed - by living and acting as a blessed person. That's what it's about.

See, we get the thing: if I do this, God will bless me. Let me ask where you get that theology from? Where did you get to hear that? It's the law. The law says: if I just do this, then God will do that.

Ephesians 1 it says: “God has already blessed us, with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places”. I'm not required to perform or do anything to get God's blessing.

I am required, though, to believe; and in believing, my faith will be expressed through actions; otherwise you move out of a place of faith and trust in God, and into a place of trying to manipulate Him: I'll do this, and you've got to do that; I'll give you this, and you've got to give me that…this is not going to work. She was full of gratitude.

Notice in 2 Corinthians 9:5, it talks about giving and He says: “now brethren, I thought to exhort you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity, and not grudging obligation”.

He's saying: sort out your giving before I come. I don't want there to be any pressure and grudging obligation.

He says: “I tell you this: who sows sparingly, will reap sparingly; he who sows bountifully, will reap bountifully. Let anyone give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or reluctantly” - or with his hand bent up his back, it means.

God loves you to give out of a cheerful, glad and grateful heart. He wants us to give that way.

God is able to make all grace abound to you, because this is the nature of grace. It just gives, because that's what it is, “…and having all sufficiency in all things, you may have abundance for every good work”.

So God makes it very clear, that the motivation of all our giving needs to be generosity and gratitude: I love God; I want to give; what can I give?

Many people come to church on Sunday thinking: what can we get out of this service? Get out of the service? Oh, you're already beaten before you start - because you're coming to get.

I come every Sunday to give. I come to give God something; oh, I love to give to Him, and worship Him, and give myself to Him; and I get blessed by this wonderful worship team we have, they can lead and bring us into the presence of God; and sometimes I think: I'd just like to stay there. I know people want a message, but might as well stay loving God, I'm enjoying this. It's giving something to God.

The last thing is: generosity is rewarded. God will always reward you if you're a generous person; but it's not the motivation for giving.

Have a look in Luke 6:31. It's interesting when Judas and the others (not only Judas, but the others too), all bothered Mary. They all were critical of her - it says in Mark's version of that same story; and Jesus said: leave her alone, leave her alone.

He said you know what? You're all having a whinge about generosity. He said: I'm going to make sure that when the gospels are written, her name is recorded - what she did, and how much she gave - so everyone everywhere can read it.

That's not very many times in the Bible that someone's name, and what they gave is recorded, so everyone reading could read it.

She's rewarded with true riches. She's given honour by Jesus, which extends into every nation of the earth, wherever the gospel's preached. In every nation, it'll be proclaimed: this was a great woman with a great heart, and a generous heart - and Jesus liked what she did. Not only that, He was not impressed with the miserable thief!

Luke 6:31, in Jesus' teaching, there's the Parables of the Kingdom. He's teaching the Sermon on the Mount, about how the kingdom operates. Now look at this, just watch this.

He said: “and just as you want men to do to you, do also to them likewise”. Just as you want people to do to you, you do that to them. We call that the golden rule.

Let me ask you this: do you want people to give to you - and they've got a hidden hook in it, so that after they've given, you're now manipulated and have to give something back?

Is that what you want? Nobody likes that! You feel ripped off. You thought it was a gift, but then it turns out it was a trade. The world system operates on trading: I give you something, you give me something back; and hopefully it's better than what I had, or at least it's worth the same amount.

So the world system works on trading. The world system is so embedded in trading, that if you were to operate on a different system, and say: “I want to give to you”; the first thing you would say is: “what's in it for you?”

Now if I say to him: “nothing”, he says: “it can't be true”. There must be something in it for you. Now why is he talking like that, and saying it like that? Because he's so filled with the world system - that no one gives anything for nothing, there's always a reason and a motive and an agenda.

That's called trading. Trading: you give one thing; and you receive something back. The kingdom principle, as Jesus demonstrates, is very simple.

He said: you wouldn't like people to do that for you. Do you think God likes it, when it's done that way?

I'm going to be nice to you today, and pray… because I need something. That's not relationship; it's mean, selfish, and manipulative.

I remember someone I knew, and once in a while this person would come and give us a gift. In the end I cottoned on, because always two days after the gift, was a request which I couldn't turn down.

I didn't twig to it, because I never give with that kind of expectation. It kind of caught me by surprise - and every time I'd get caught. I'd think: that's nice, so kind of you, thank you very much.

What I thought was just a gift, she was thinking was a trade: I'll give you this, but tomorrow I'll be back for something, and you'll have to do for me.

What can you do? Now you're kind of - ooh. You feel that manipulative thing get around your soul. It's horrible, I hate it. I've learnt now to say no.

Here's the principle: if you love those who love you, what grace is upon you? Sinners love those who love them.

He's saying: if the only people you extend love and kindness to, are those who've already given it to you - then there's no grace; no kingdom life on that. An unsaved person will do that.

The second thing He tells us then: “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit (or grace) is that to you? For even sinners do the same.

What He's saying is: if you do good, but you only do good to the people who are doing good to you (or you want to get something back), there's no grace in that. There's no kingdom in that.

He said: “If you lend to those from whom you hope to get something back, what grace is on your life?” Even sinners lend to get something back.

Now He's saying: but you, if you love your enemies, do good, and lend… “hoping for nothing in return”. This is what defiles things - when you give, hoping for something in return.

If I just do this, I'll get this in return; that sets you up for resentment, disappointment, anger - and you'd be amazed how many Christians who eventually gave up, stopped walking with God; because at the core of their serving and giving was: I'm giving to get something back; and in doing that they set themselves up. When what they expected never came, it hurt them. Of course it hurt them, but rather than just dealing with a heart attitude, people take offence.

Now notice what it says here: “love, do good”, He says, and: “hoping for nothing in return”. So He said: this is how you operate in the kingdom. You actually become a generous person, giving with no agenda.

You sow, you give, you're kind, you do good and there's no agenda whatsoever - including no agenda that: I'm going to now talk you into coming to Jesus. No agenda, full stop. No agenda.

Notice what He says, two things… #1: “your reward will be great”. Giving with no agenda qualifies you for God to reward you greatly.

If I do something with an intention of getting a return, then you give me a return, then I've had my reward. But if I can give; and operate in the way Jesus gave, where He gave without trying to get anything back out of anyone; then I'm qualifying myself for God's reward - and it may come in eternity; it may come here and now.

Some of it comes now, a lot of it comes in eternity. That's why Jesus said: “lay up treasures in heaven”.

Second thing he said: you will be the sons of your Father. In other words, when you can give without an agenda for yourself, you are acting like God. You truly are one of His Sons, because you know, notice this - He's kind to the just and the unjust.

I don't know whether you read that scripture, because the Christian thinking often goes along the line: God blesses the Christians; He doesn't bless the non-Christians.

But that's not what the Bible says. It says: He blesses all people; causes the rain to come on all people. So why does God do that?

Under the law, we think: that's not fair. I've been coming to church, I've been doing good, and I've been serving, I've given my tithe - and see, I'm like the older brother - and you never gave me an option to celebrate with my friends!

Many Christians are caught in an ‘older brother’ thinking; rather than actually: extravagant grace; that God gives because He's a giver, and He wants us to become like that - giving because we're givers.

I give because I'm a giver. I love to give, I want to give; I'm feeling right now like giving - feeling very generous right now. I actually am committed to generosity.

Now it wasn't how I grew up, and it wasn't what I saw modeled; but it's something that my wife and I have come to embrace, when we learned how to trust God, and lay everything down, and just lean upon Him.

Then we learned how to be content, how to celebrate what we had, even though if it was little, then as we got things, how to be generous.

[Alter Call]

We just love to be generous; so listen, I just believe God wants to set people free today. Why don't we just have a great time now, where the Holy Ghost comes, and starts to touch us.

You see, I can feel the tension around talking in this area. That's because there's devils of poverty; and hurt, pain, and grief, over finance. Wouldn't it be great if we could just get free of all of that, just let God touch us and help us today?

If there are any single parents in the church today, I'd like to pray for you first. Single parents in the church today, if you are struggling financially right now, would you like to just come right up to the front now? We just want to bless you in a moment.

Won't you come, single parents, and you're struggling financially, there's just a pressure on you. It worries you, it's stressing you out and whatever, and you know, we want you to be free of some of that. Come on, let's come on up.

We want blessing to come. How many want blessing to come? We know it's a very hard time… I said that we wanted you to come up, and that's not easy for you to do that, so I honour you for responding today.

We said we wanted to pray for you and bless you. Now praying for you and blessing you can be two different things - so the first thing I want to do is bless you; then we'll all pray for you.

Whenever I talk about generosity, I can't ‘not be generous’; so what you didn't know, when I asked you to come up, was that I was going to be generous to you. We want to bless you, so I'll just get my wallet out; we just raided the savings today.

I think this couple here, I want to bless you, there you go, have $50. Bless you. Do something for your family aye.

We've got another couple here, God bless you. God loves you. God's a generous God, He wants to bless you, in not only financial ways. He wants to really help you and touch you and bless your life; and you're a great person, I know you go through so much, that we've got one for you too, there you go. Bless you.

There you go, there you go. It must be difficult being a single dad? Challenges! God wants to bless you, and help you with that; it won't solve all your problems, but it'll be a great start just to bless you, and I want you to know that God is generous, God loves you.

There you go, you're facing all these battles and challenges but you know God loves you. Here it is, $50 for you, bless you.

God bless you, hey, and all those boys to look after. I hope you make them all work and do something. I know it's been a great challenge for you. God loves you, He wants to bless you too. There you go, there you go, there's $50 for you.

Hello. God loves you. He understands the pressure you've been under. He just wants you to know today: He loves you. He's a generous God.

Hey, you're a great person. I see you at church, and you're just so full of joy, and so full of serving God, and I love you, and we just appreciate what you do. Anyway here's a blessing, $50 for you too aye, how about that? God loves you, wants to bless you, teenage girl. There we go.

[Ian Clayton] I really (in the spirit world) I can feel the angelic, very much, in what's going on here. I really feel like there's a platform opening up, for our creation and our people to sow into these people here.

I really feel like the generosity that Mike and Joy have shown has opened up a door that needs to be followed by people, and what I want to do is: I just want to invite you, if you have some cash on you, I want to invite you to come up and just put it on the floor over here.

What we will do is, as a leadership, we will distribute it to these people. I real feel like we need to do something here, in the Holy Spirit. This is something God's sitting on, and we need to be doing this, so I just want to open it up for you - there's a platform, just come and put it before Mike and Joy.

Let's just lay this before the Lord. I really feel like the platform that God wants to bring, from the body of Christ to these people, is to bring blessing to them, and to release the glory of God in the middle of this thing.

Father, we want to receive this today. If you want to write out something, an IOU and you don't have cash on you, then please do that. If you don't honour it I will.

See, this is what, in the spirit world, in the kingdom world, this is called trading - where you take something of your life, and you give it to God as an honorarium; and as an offering to Him, to sow into the lives of people who have been struggling.

The Bible says, you know, we're less than an imbecile, if we don't take care of those, even in our body, that are suffering like this.

I really feel, in times like this, that it's important to do what's needful from the house to engage the kingdom; and if you've given, what I would really love you to do, is just to come and stand behind and beside one of these people - we just need to get around them, because this is body ministry. Just come and get around them, I just want some of you folks who have given just to come and get around some of these people.

[Mike Connell] Thank you Lord, praise the Lord. We should have a fund in the church, which is specifically for this purpose: for helping people when there's stress and pressure; helping them in time of need.

We've just got these ones here that have come up, and they'll be overwhelmed with the love of God. All you feel like you want to do is just cry, because you feel the heart of God when we give to those around us; and those that particularly are among us who desperately have need, so let's just reach our hands out to them all, right now. Let's bless them. Thank you Lord.

Closing Prayer

Father, we just thank You for the generosity of people in the house, for the generosity that's in this church.

Lord, we just ask You that You would pour Your blessing on each couple, each person that's come out; that Lord today there'll be some bills paid, power bills paid, food supplied, that each one will have an abundance.

Lord, we thank You that You've enabled us to give like this; thank You Lord for Your goodness to us. We can never out-give Your generosity. We can never out-give Your generosity; and so Lord today we thank You, and Father, we just pray release of financial blessing to each one of these ones here.

If each of the people that came up and responded to the altar call today, please come over and give him your name and a contact, so after we add it up and work out what we've got here, we can make sure that it's divided equally and goes to you. Amen. Indicate if you've got a child (or how many children you've got), and we'll take that into account as we do it as well. Amen.

It is something else isn't it? Come to church and they're giving money away! That's unusual isn't it aye? Who ever heard of such a thing? But we have to break this thing that gets around our mind, that: all God wants to do is take.

God wants to give. God is an abundant giver, God is a generous God. Angels rejoice when we show kindness on those who are in need.

Why don't we just give a generous worship to God, as we finish with this last song. We love the Lord, and we want to honour Him today, and just express our gratitude.

Summary Notes

Formatted » Back to Top »

1. Introduction
· Mt. 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon”.
· There is a battle for your heart over the issue of money. It is a daily on-going battle.
· We need to bring our finances into position of divine blessing by honouring the Lord first.
· Mt.5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law of the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil (reveal their true intent and application).
· Jesus raised the standard – He revealed the true intent and application.
· V21 e.g. OT = You shall not murder – but I say that whosever is angry …
e.g. OT = You shall not commit adultery – But I say to you whosever looks at women to lust …
e.g. OT = circumcise children – NT circumcision is of the heart (Rom.2:29)
e.g. OT = tithing – give 1/10th – NT Generosity 2 Cor. 9:5-11
You can tithe and not be generous – generosity is an issue of the heart.

2. Generosity is a Heart Issue
· Jn.12:1-8 “The house was filled with the fragrance of the oil”.
· Definition = Generous = liberal in giving or sharing, unselfish, free from meanness or
smallness.
= willing to give of money, time, resources.
· Opposite = Selfish = mean, miserable, stingy, reluctant to give, tight, withholding.
· Generosity and selfishness are a daily battle.
· We are not born generous – we are born selfish e.g. children – “mine, mine”
· Selfishness originated with Satan and was imparted into the human race.
· Generosity exposes and reveals selfishness.
· Vs5-6 Why was this fragrant oil not sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor?
· Judas became agitated, critical, judgemental – “ought to give to the poor”.
· He manifested heart attitude of greed, selfishness, envy, jealousy. He did not care for the poor – he cared for himself.
· Selfishness always criticizes the generosity or blessings of others to conceal “itself”. Selfishness – cares for self, protects self, and provides excuses not to be generous.
· V6 He was a thief – and had the money box (entrusted with Jesus finances). He was unfaithful in unrighteous mammon – lacked generosity.
(Eph.4:28 “Let him that stole steal no more – rather work with his hands what is good that he may have something to give to him that is in need”.)

3. Generosity is Extravagant
· Jn.12:3-5 very costly oil – 300 denarii cf Mk. 14:4
· Extravagant = exceeds the bounds of reason, goes beyond what is deserved.
· Generosity is never a waste! It is an issue of heart – expressing the nature of God.
· It is not the amount given that counts but what is in your heart as you give:
e.g. Mary: 1 denarii = 1x days wage – gave 1x years wages
David: 3000 talents of gold 7000 talents of silver – 6+ billion dollars
(1 talent = 1050 per oz) (1 Chron.29:2-5)
· Solomon (1 K. 4:3-13) 1000 burnt offerings (God’s response - ??
· Widow’s meal (1 K. 7:13) Widow gave her last meal.
· Widow’s mite (Mt. 12:47) Gave more than all.
· Abraham (Gen.22:2) Gave his only son.
· Jesus (Jn.3:16) Gave His life for the world.

4. Generosity flows from Gratitude
· Jn.12:1 “Lazarus who had been dead, whom He raised from the dead”.
· Mary’s perspective totally altered by the resurrection from the dead of her brother.
· Heart was filled with gratitude and appreciation and honour for Jesus.
· (v7) When you give to God you do not know the impact it will have, how God uses.
· God always has a purpose for the gift that you give.
· Generosity to the Lord and people is the overflow of a grateful heart.
2 Cor. 9:7-8
· David was grateful – gave
· Solomon was grateful - gave

5. Generosity is Rewarded
· Mk.4:6 “Leave her alone – what she has done will be told as a memorial to her”.
She did not give to be rewarded – but she was rewarded.
· Lk.6:31-35 “Your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High”.
- Jesus teaches on giving with no hidden agenda of personal gain.
- World: operates on trading – buy and sell – I give you and I expect from you.
- Kingdom: operates on giving and receiving – I give to you without any expectations from you.
· This is what astonishes people – when we give without expecting return.
· It is contrary to the trading they experience in the world – “giving with hooks”.
· Will we be rewarded? Certainly – God sees to that in His time and way.
· Is.32:8 “The generous man devises generous things and by his generosity he will stand” NKJ
· Good men will be generous to others and will be blessed of God for all they do” LIVING BIBLE.
· How intentional are you in planning to be generous?
· How could you grow in generosity with money? Time? Resources?
· How readily available are you and your resources for the Kingdom of God?



Generosity (4 of 4)  

Sun 9 Sep 2012 AM « Back to Top

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There's something about generosity that creates a very sweet fragrance. When people give and there's nothing in it for themselves, they've just given unexpectedly to you, then there's something sweet about it. Generosity usually exposes greed. God is love and you can't love without giving. You can give without loving, but you can't love without giving, so the greatest way we express the love of God to people is when we can be generous and kind to them with no agenda. That's when people see God, because that's what God is like.

Generosity (4 of 4)

John 12. “Six days before the Feast of Passover, Jesus came to Bethany; where Lazarus had been dead, whom He raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper and Martha served, but Lazarus was one who sat at the table with Him.”

“Then Mary took a pound of costly ointment of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, wiped His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the oil, and one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said: why didn't they sell this fragrant oil for three hundred denarii (a denarii is a day's wage) and given it to the poor? And he said this, not because he cared for the poor…”

He implied he cared for the poor, but he didn't. Rather he was a thief, but he gave out that he cared for the poor, but he was really a thief, and he had the money box. He used to steal what was put in it. The offerings that were put in, he was stealing them.

Jesus said: “Leave her alone, she has kept this day for the day of My burial”. Jesus commended her.

So we saw that generosity is unlimited. You can be as generous, or as mean, as you choose. It's a choice. Mary was deeply grateful; her brother had died, they'd gone to the burial service, they'd buried him, mourned, had the wake. He was dead and buried. Four days had gone by - there's no show of him ever coming back again, and she was still in a stage of grieving.

Jesus came and brought life into a desperate and hopeless situation: Lazarus rose from the dead, much to everyone's amazement. No one can do that except God, and so her heart was deeply touched. Now the gratitude: just what can I give for all He's given to me?

So she took out something worth thousands and thousands of dollars - you imagine 300 day's wages. I don't know what you earn in a day, so just multiply that by a $100 a day:

300*$100/day = $30,000. We're talking very expensive offering here. She just extravagantly put it out all over Jesus.

You notice that when people give extravagantly, a number of things happen. The first thing that happened was: the house was filled with the atmosphere. There's something about generosity that creates a very sweet fragrance. There's something about generosity - with no agendas - that is very sweet.

When people give, and there's nothing in it for them, they've just given unexpectedly to you - then there's something sweet about it. Giving; generous giving.

You know, we come into church, and if we come and just drag ourselves in, and then it takes us half an hour to get warmed up - that's not a very nice atmosphere.

But when we come in and: oh God, you're so good to me! I just want to give something, and we begin to give them something - oh, there's a lovely atmosphere. It's a great atmosphere when people give God the best - and so that's what she did. So generosity usually flows out of a heart of gratitude.

The next thing about generosity: Generosity usually exposes Greed.

Coveting is when: I don't have something, and I want something I haven't got.

Greed is when: I've got something, and I want more of it. Judas was greedy, and he wanted more money; and so generosity often exposes greed.

I can remember we were in a situation where one of our friends had made the decision to go on a mission trip; and I just decided straight away: we would give him some money. We didn't have much money at that stage, but I felt God giving me a figure to give to him. I gave it to him.

I said: look, I'd love to sow this into you. Well there was this deathly silence in the room, and then suddenly someone else erupted. I thought: whoa! What is that?

Actually, what was happening was: he did not think it was fair that he should be given the money. It was my money to give. I just gave, because I felt God tell me to; but this guy thought: it's not fair (or right) for him to get it. He doesn't deserve it. What kind of thing is that?

Actually what he's thinking is: I deserve that; so generosity flushes out heart attitudes. I'm sure, before the end of it today, that someone's heart attitude will be flushed!

Generosity is a reward in unexpected ways. When Mary came out, and she brought out this thing, I bet she wasn't thinking this: I want to become famous in history. I want to become the woman that everyone in every nation of the earth for all time remembers, and knows: I'm generous. I don't think there was any of that in her heart at all. It wasn't there at all was it?

She just gave because she loved, she was grateful. You know what happened? The unexpected reward is: everywhere you preach the gospel, her name is mentioned; and what she did is mentioned. Her prayers are not mentioned, what's mentioned is her generosity; and He said: her generosity be remembered. Why is this? Why am I on about this generosity thing?

Let me put it very simply. The Bible tells us: God is love. It doesn't say: He's power. God is love; and you can't love, without giving.

You can give without loving; but you can't love, without giving. So the greatest way we express the love of God to people, is when we can be generous and kind to them with no agenda.

That's when people see God, because that's what God is like. Do you see the power? Yes, and that's great too; but the love of God gives something to people, that's just touched by God.

Generosity is the practical outworking of being right with God.

How many people here know: that you are made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ? Now here's the thing: for most of us, our thinking is, this is about a legal stand with God.

We think that ‘righteous’ means: I'm in right standing with God, by the work that Jesus did for me. If you think that you're correct; however, if you only think that, then that's very limiting on what biblical righteousness means.

So yes, it's true that we are ‘in right standing with God’ by what Jesus did - His gift to us that brings us to right standing. But for the Hebrews, and the whole nature of covenantal relationship with God: to be ‘right with God’ didn’t just mean that you didn't have any sins currently going with Him.

It meant: you were living out your covenantal relationship with God. In other words, it always had an overflow in your life some way. In other words, for a Hebrew, and the Hebrew thinking about being righteous, was not that: “I have a legal position with God, now I can live my life the way I like”.

It means: “I have a standing with God that now overflows, in a way of living that is different to before.”

We tend to just focus that: I've made right with God; and now I've got no responsibilities in this covenant - and that's not really true. I am made right with God by faith, and by faith alone; but ‘being right with God’ - there now needs to be an overflow, that demonstrates the rightness with God is real. The way that shows is generosity.

Psalm 112:9; I want you to see the connection between being right with God, and being generous (first in the OT, then in the NT).

“He has dispersed to the poor abroad. He has given to the poor. His righteousness endures forever”. Notice the connection between: giving to the poor; and being a righteous person.

Psalm 37:21. “The wicked borrows, and doesn't pay back; but the righteous show mercy and give.

You can actually tell a righteous person; not because they go to church, and carry a Bible, and pray long prayers, or speak in tongues. A righteous person actually does something else: shows mercy, and gives.

Matthew 25, when Jesus separates the nation out, in a day to come. “The king shall say to those on his right hand (He's gathered the nations together, sifted them out): Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you, from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, you gave Me to drink; I was a stranger, you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick, you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”

“The righteous will say: oh, when did we see You hungry, feed You; and thirsty, and give You drink? When did we see You stranger, and take You in; and naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick in prison, and come to You?”

“And He said: assuredly I say to you, as much as you did it to one of the least of My brethren, you did it to Me”. Notice the connection between being righteous, and being kind to the poor. They go hand in hand.

Would you consider the people of our city are: blessed; or are they really struggling? Not in the blessing of God; but from a spiritual perspective, extremely poor?

They are. The whole region is extremely poor. It shows up in a whole number of ways; but one of the things that God puts in us very clearly to see, is that if we are in right standing with Him, the way we express it… What does a right man live like? How does a righteous man live?

Now that I'm made right, by what Jesus did for me, and I'm trusting in it; now how will I live out that being right with God? What would it look like?

I'll go to prayer meetings? I'll go to Bible Study? I'll speak in tongues? Heaps of things are great; but the thing the Bible consistently says is: show mercy; and become generous to those who are in need.

It's something the church has forgotten, and yet needs to awaken to it; because this is something that's part of every one of us.

So when we look at the word righteous, we tend to think of just: ‘our standing with God’; but the Hebrew thinking is righteous means: ‘a lifestyle outworked’, because of my standing with God.

Wikipedia: the word for ‘Righteous’ (in the OT) is Tzedak; and the word generosity (or charity, or ‘giving to the poor’), is the word Tzedakah (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzedakah).

So the Hebrew word ‘to be right’, or ‘righteous’, or ‘right with God’ (in the OT) – ‘Tzedak’, and that means: to be right with God.

The word generous; giving to the poor; being charitable; being concerned (or having compassion), and demonstrating it to people in need - is the word Tzedakah; which means: ‘Righteousness Revealed’ is Generosity.

You can't separate the two from one another; so Hebrews considered that all our resources belong to God; and God has therefore the right to direct our resources. So when I think about the tithe, or the first portion of my finances, I always think: it doesn't really belong to me anyway, that’s God's.

There's another part of our finances which doesn't belong to us either. It's the part that needs to be given to people in need; and so we allocate and worked our finances, such that we have:

A first portion always set aside for the Lord; a portion for us; and a portion for people in need.

That means we can be generous at any time, because we pre-plan generosity, according to: this is how a righteous man lives.

We have a portion of our resources, which I consider to be ‘not mine’. I call that the tithe, that doesn't belong to me; I can't spend it on me, or mine. I believe that it ‘belongs to God’, and therefore I should put it for whatever the Lord directs me to - into the house of God; into the work of God; into advancing the kingdom of God.

We've got another part that doesn't belong to us either: the part set aside for people who are poor. It's God's provision for them; that's why it's not mine. I'm free to: be a steward of it; and I can just give it to myself; or I can give it to people who are poor.

It's just a choice; so all of us have a choice with the resources we have, how we manage them; and it's all to do with: what you believe about it, and how you handle it. Now I'm not getting into legalism of how much, and any of these things; but this is always an issue of the heart. My wife and I find it a huge joy to be able to be generous, because a righteous person is a generous person.

1 John 3:16 – “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren”.

Because of the example of Jesus, and our gratitude, the outworking of that is we give ourselves to people.

“Now whoever has this world's goods…” (its not talking to the poor, but to someone who's got something) “…and sees his brother in need…” So it's talking about you having some provision, for when you see someone in need.

What you could do, is say: well - the church ought to do something about that! The Government ought to do something about that! No, actually you're the one who ought to do something; because you've got the goods, and you saw the need - simple.

And so he said: “…who sees his brother in need, and he shuts up his heart from him…” How can you say the love of God is in that person?

He said: “however, let us not love in word nor in tongue, but in deed, and in truth”.

That's how you know you're of the truth, and that's how your heart becomes assured. Why? Because when you see people in need, there's a sense of feeling moved to want to help; and then getting engaged in helping - that's how you can assure your heart that you are in the love of God, and walking with God; because you're a person of generosity and compassion and kindness, and you give where there's needs.

It's your lifestyle, and if I want to abide in the love of God, I've got to abide in loving people. You see if we try to separate that: I just have a stand with God; but no responsibilities to live my life; I become just religiously disconnected from everything that is really important to God.

If I think that I can love God, but have no expression to people I can see, I'm actually fooling myself. The outworking of my love of God is an overflow towards people.

The people next to you, you can see; God, you can't see; so the overflow of loving God, is that when I meet people in need, my heart is moved with compassion to reach them. In reaching them, I am demonstrating the love of God, and staying in the flow of the love of God.

#1, generosity is a practical way you express that you're right with God.

If you want to know how to express that you're right with God - make a decision, and begin to put into practice generosity to people in need - in every kind of way, and you'll find yourself walking with God. You can't help but find yourself walking with God. God always seems to be on it somehow. He's just on generosity somehow.

#2, Generosity is a lifestyle.

Generosity is not just: well it was great, we had an offering, took up some money, and there it is, I've done my bit. No, actually the church has done amazingly.

A couple of Sundays ago, God put it in our heart, when I preached on generosity, to demonstrate generosity; and it wasn't church money - it was our personal money, which we had put aside.

Some of it we put aside for this purpose, some of it we hadn't put aside - it was just our money, full stop; but God gave the amount, and so I wanted to demonstrate that when we listen to God in the handling of resources, you can't just talk about it without living it out. You just have to live it out.

So I felt the Lord give me a specific sum, and a specific thing to talk to people about. I made an undertaking that we would pray for and bless people.

Now it took humility for people to come forward. It's not easy to do that; and there were others in need, that didn't come forward. I know that, because they had money left over.

It's just because we couldn't admit that we really did have a need. It's real hard to do that - it takes humility; and so what happened was, Ian stood up and encouraged the church; because we could sense that just God was suddenly coming in. His presence just filled the place when we did that, in an extraordinary way.

I always notice what brings God's presence: that suddenly in a moment of time, all the worship, the intensity, when we started to give to people in need, was far greater than anything we had right through the service. Notice that? I thought: ooh, God liked our worship; but boy, He loved the giving even more - He came even stronger!

The church just suddenly responded, and I am very, very, very delighted to be able to say that over $6,000 came up to bless those people!

Come on, give yourself a clap, that was amazing. Who has that kind of money? I had to go specially to get some, so I'd have some. Usually if I have some - it's gone, you know?

Find someone in need, and bless them with it; but this was just brilliant. Our giving needs to be a test; so that was a one-off thing, but actually generosity is a lifestyle, and God has always intended it be a lifestyle.

Deuteronomy 24:18. “But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this thing”.

You were in bondage to sin, and God redeemed you. Do you remember what it was like, when your life was miserable in sin, and you were tormented and troubled, down and wretched, and then God redeemed?

God generously paid the price to get you free. It cost you nothing, because it cost Him everything. Then he said: “therefore I command you to do this”

He said: remember what it was like to be unsaved, when your life was in turmoil? Remember how God paid the price to get you free. He says: now I command you to do this. Why? Out of gratitude! Whenever God gives a command in the Old Testament, it's because He knows we tend to forget it; but it's a principle that'll bring success in life.

“When you reap the harvest of your field…” They were an agricultural community, so to ‘reap the harvest of your field’, meant they were getting their income for the year out of their harvest; and they'd have a harvest in certain seasons. They'd get an income at that time.

For us today, we're not out there harvesting the fields; we go to work and we receive a wage. So when it says: “when you harvest your field”, today's equivalent would be: when you get a wage; an income; something coming in.

He says: “When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, don't go back for the sheaf to get it. It's for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow; that the Lord your God may bless you, in all the work of your hands.”

“When you beat your olive trees, don't go over it again. Just do it once, because the others that are left on the tree are for the stranger, the fatherless, the widow. When you gather the grapes from your vineyard, don't glean it afterwards. It'll be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.”

Three times, He said that God is concerned about: firstly the stranger. The stranger is an unsaved person; so He's saying to His people: make sure you put aside resources from your life, to reach the needs of people who don't know Christ.

We'll just look at what that could mean, but it's not just money; it's more than money. He's talking about your field; in other words, He's saying: don't take everything in your field; leave the corners, leave a part of your harvest, deliberately and intentionally available for these people.

#1, the unsaved - that's the stranger; #2, the fatherless. That's the solo-parent families, people who are orphaned in various places in our nation, or in the world.

#3, “for the widows” – that’s the person who has no husband, no provider; the person in dire-straights; or under immense pressure.

God's saying: care for the widows, the fatherless and the stranger; and God has never changed. He's still concerned about the unsaved. He's concerned about those who have no father (and we live in a fatherless generation, we’ve got a whole generation like that); and He's saying to His church (to His people): be intentional about this - this is a lifestyle.

They only had two harvests a year. We get a harvest every week (of fortnight, or month); so this is, for us, all about a lifestyle of: considering unsaved people; and being willing to take what you have in some way, and show kindness to people who are unsaved.

The stranger was someone from another nation, and the reason we're to show kindness is very simple: because you yourself were a stranger once; because we're so grateful to God.

We talk about the need to go witnessing to someone, to share the gospel etc. The church has a responsibility to do that; but firstly, it needs to get the motivation.

The motivation of sharing the goodness of God, is that we have been blessed by God; so when you continue to stay in a place of gratitude and thankfulness, you can intentionally set aside some of your resources for this work of the poor, and the unsaved. What that means, effectively is: sowing into the work of evangelism; and sowing into areas of needs.

Now this could be organised by someone else, and you sow into that; it could be part of the church's work, and we sow into that. It could be something we're doing overseas; or it could be there are people around you, that you can work for and sow into.

That's where God brings strangers to you – you’re surrounded by strangers. What portion of your life is available to them?

Putting it another way: don't spend up to the max, so you've got no money left to give out, to be generous to people at appropriate times.

Don't fill up your diary and your schedule so much that you've got no time to build connections with people, and relate to them.

Don't fill up your own household with so much busyness, you've got no room to show hospitality to people and bring them into your home.

Every part of our life, we can leave a portion of it, so unsaved people or those in need can share it.

When we've bought houses, the first question we always asked was: how will this help us, in the work of the Lord? Will it meet all the needs of our kids?

We've been amazed how God led us to places; everyone had this in common. They were big and had plenty of room, and we could have lots of people in. I love it. I'm so glad we did it. I've never regretted that.

At times it's difficult and challenging, but that doesn't matter, because it's part of a lifestyle. Bigness has to do with your heart; and your lifestyle. You may have a very little house, but you can have a big heart; and have someone in there.

You may have very little money coming in, but you can have a big heart and include someone in what you've got. You may not have anything very much nice in your home, but you can open your home, and have someone come in; and what I’ve found is: the poorest people, with so little, are so generous! In fact some of the most generous people I've found, are in third worlds; they have very little, but they've got a big heart - and what they have got they share with you.

The more materialistic we get, the less generous we often get. Something's wrong; and its because the spirit of Mammon can get a hold of your heart; so it becomes more about me, and what I've got, than about actually God's desire and heart to reach the world.

If you've got a house, bring someone unsaved into it. Get them over for a meal, have a barbeque, bring some Christian friends. Find some ways that you can make portions in your life available to those who don't know Jesus, or those who are in need.

He's saying: “Don't consume everything”. Two things about it here: #1 is the motive. Remember that you were once a slave, and I redeemed you; or putting it another way: remember you were totally in bondage, you were on your way to hell; and I paid a full price, the most expensive price, to pull you out of that state and get you where you are. That's why you do it... Gratitude! Being thankful!

Here's the other reason you could do it too (#2), and that is because: God promises He will bless you. Most of us think: if I give something away, I won't have enough left - and that's fear – “there won't be enough for me”.

So He says: Deuteronomy 24:19 - “I command you to do this thing, that the Lord may bless you in all of the work of your hands”.

So God says: if you'll make this a lifestyle, then everything you do will be touched (or blessed) by God.

Deuteronomy 14:28-29 – “At the end of every third year, you'll bring out the tithe of your produce for that year, and store it up within your gates. And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance; and the stranger, the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied; so the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand.”

Notice again, they were commanded, that on every third year, one of the tithes… They had more than one tithe. They had a tithe for the house of God; they had a tithe for themselves; and from that tithe for themselves, every third year, was given to the poor. In other words, that amounts to 1/3 of 1/10, so 1/30th.

So if you got a wage this week, say $100; then one-thirtieth of it ($3.33) you give (put aside specially) for the blessing of those who are poor. Isn't that wonderful?

That's how we've done it. We've just opened up an account, a thirtieth of everything we get goes in there, sometimes more. Quite simple; then it begins to accumulate and grow up; and there are some other things we've received, and it all goes there, so we can do this.

Notice that this was actually scheduled into the lifestyle of the people of God (in the OT). Why would it not be in the New Testament? It would be even more in the New Testament, wouldn't you think? It would be even larger, in the New Testament?

2 Corinthians 9:5; and it's the same sort of principle: Intentional! “I thought it necessary to exhort you, to go ahead of time, to prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously undertaken to give, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity, not some kind of duty or obligation”.

He's saying: I don't want to come up and take up an offering, and have you under emotional pressure. I want you just to have a think about how God is speaking to you, and how generous you want to be.

An interesting thing with generosity: there's no limit to generosity. You can choose how generous you are. It's something you choose to become.

Of course, you can also hear the voice of God; and you can also be moved by compassion; so I've found that for us, the movers (motivation) that we have, when it comes to generosity, are very simple:

#1, we Hear the Voice of God. Whenever we have anything big, we always hear the voice of God; and here's the one thing I know: I don't hear the Lord clearly on a lot of matters, but when it comes to giving, we just click like that. Joy and I both get the same amount every time - every time!

#2, Compassion; sometimes I just see someone, and I feel my heart move. If I feel my heart move, I don't need any more.

Now I'm not foolish in that, because I remember the Lord speaking to me one time, when I was overseas, about: professional beggars, and the manipulation of emotions; and He said: “in those situations, you need to hear from Me” - so I learnt how to say: no; as well as say: yes.

So one is: hearing the voice of God; and then the other is: the decision to practice generosity, to practice enlarging. If you have a meal, put an extra bit out, and have someone else in; it’s really quite simple. If you have a celebration, bring a few extra people in; have a barbeque, put a few more sausages in, and bring some more people in.

If you go to the beach, then get someone in your car with you. That's why we always have big cars: big family; but we could always bring someone with us as well. Jam them in!

In those days you didn't need all these car seats; however can't do that today. It's a bit more difficult. We used to just jam them - jam them in! It was loaded with people!

So #1, it's a practical expression of being right with God. #2, it's a lifestyle. #3, it has no selfish agenda.

Luke 6:38 – “Give, and it shall be given to you! Pressed down; shaken together; and running over; will be put in your bosom. Same as you use, it'll be measured back to you”.

Often this is preached in the area of money; but actually it's not just referring to money; and secondly, it's not referring to: doing something, so you can get something.

God wants us to understand that generosity is to be a part of our life. Generosity is the evidence of God's grace on your life. Grace is goodness, His love, His empowerment, His blessing.

Just before that one, in Luke 6:31 – “As you want men to do to you, do likewise to them”. Treat people as you'd like to be treated.

“If you love those who love you, what credit…” Now the word ‘credit’ is a poor translation. The word is grace. If you love those who love you, then what grace is on your life? If you're good to those who do good to you, what grace is on your life?

Many people give because they feel they have an obligation to: someone's done something for them, and now they've got to do something back, so they give out of obligation. There's no grace when there's obligation.

“…but if you lend to those, from whom you receive nothing back (and you hope to receive something back) - what grace is on your life? Even sinners do that.

Sinners lend to sinners; do good to sinners; and love those who love them. He says: look, there's no grace.

We're not under law, we're under grace; the goodness, the kindness, the generosity, the abundant extravagance of God. Oh, how we need grace. You need so much grace; because without that, you live under laws.

God wants you to understand the fullness of His grace. He's saying: if I just give, and I want something back out of that; then I'm giving, expecting in return. He said: there's no generosity or grace on your life for that. Sinners will do that.

“If I lend, and I want to get something back…” He said: there's something in this for me, a self-centered agenda; there's no grace when there's a selfish agenda.

There's no grace, when there's duty or obligation. If you do it because you have to (which the law requires), you have no grace on your life. So you've got to make a decision: whatever giving I give; whatever good I'm doing; and whatever else I'm doing; I've got to make a decision inside, about my heart in doing this thing.

Either do it, and do it gladly, and do it 110%; or don't do it at all. Funny thing, when I tell people that, they often say: “I won't do it at all then”, because their heart wasn't right in the first place.

I think it's still better to do good (and then let God help you on your motivation); than to not do good (and have a bad motivation) - but it's better if we have a great motivation.

I've just learned, if you're going to give: give and put your heart into it - put 110% into it; then the 10% extra you put in, is what brings grace into it.

That's why He said: “if they tell you to go a mile, go two miles”. Why? The one mile was required by the law; the second mile (the Roman soldiers were not to make you go a second mile, so if you went a second mile), you are now putting them in debt to you.

Grace was in it, so if someone makes you do something for this much, do a little extra, and the grace has gone into it now, and you're totally empowered, because you have put something in that wasn't required.

Ever notice how, when you ask someone to do something, and they do it reluctantly, they only do about 80% of it? The way to change 80%, into 110% is: put in a little bit extra, that you weren't required to do; now you are fully empowered, and you've become a generous giver. It's a matter of decision; so Jesus, very clearly, He reinforced this much into giving.

It’s not only about money. Notice here - He extends it. He says: Give mercy to people! Didn't God give you some mercy? Give mercy to people.

Don't judge them. If they said: don't judge; He said: don't condemn people. Now it's clear: show mercy to people; don't judge them, condemn them, put them down, write them off, speak about them, criticise them… don't do those things!

Forgive people. Sow out mercy and forgiveness; get over all this stuff of looking at what's wrong in people's lives. In other words: be a generous person.

A generous person gives when people don't deserve it - that's what makes it generous. If you deserved it, then you've worked for it, you're entitled to it; but if you don't deserve it, and you get it - that's what grace is.

That's what grace is, and so God wants us to have grace on our heart, so we can give to people whether they deserve it or not.

It says: here's the consequence of it - two things: #1, there is a reward. You don't have to be afraid that: if you're generous to people, you're too generous.

“I think you were too generous”. How can you be too generous? Too mean maybe, but too generous! How can you be too generous?

Too fearful, maybe? He said: don't be fearful, if you're generous, because you can be sure of this: that God will abundantly reward you.

So when He says: “give, and it'll be given to you”, it's to take away the fear of giving; not to create a motive of giving so you can get something.

God wants us just to learn how to be generous givers, and give not wanting anything, because He said: “if I'm giving without getting anything back…”

I remember doing that: giving for a while… and waiting. I'd seen that scripture: give, and it'll be given to you. Okay, I'll give it; now let's see it! And it didn't happen! I got ticked off… Well that's it- it doesn't work! But I realized, and God spoke, saying “your motive is completely wrong”.

You're just giving trying to get something. You were like that before you were saved. Now you're saved, He said: I want you to learn how to give, and give generously, and give lovingly, give out of a glad heart, give out of a thankful heart.

What if they don't deserve it? Does it matter? Because He's kind to the just and the unjust.

You see, we've got this measuring system, whereby if someone deserves it, then we'll bless them and help them; but if they don't deserve it, we won't. That's the world system by the way.

God is kind to everyone. When you were a sinner, He was kind to you, and sent Jesus to die on the cross. I

Look at a few of the people that are under blessing - there are lots of things going good in their life. Now think about it: God's grace is abundant grace. It's a generous grace.

We need to get out of meanness and smallness, and start to learn how to give. Give kindness, give compliments, give praise, give your time, give your talent. Learn how to become generous with people, generous with people. When you're generous with people your reward will be great.

Here’s the second thing: You will be the sons of the most-high God, sons of your Father.

Most people see Christians as hypocrites. Have any heard that one? There's hypocrites outside the church, as well as ones in it; nothing new about being a hypocrite.

But here's one thing you can't mistake. He said: when you give, and there's no agenda in it, you're not a hypocrite. You're so sincere that people can't work you out.

There's got to be a hitch. There's got to be a string, got to be some test. No, no, no, no. Actually that's what the kingdom is like: God's good to everyone, whether they're good or not.

If we're going to move towards engaging our community, the first thing we have to do is enlarge our hearts and become generous, to be able to give.

What if they don't come to Christ? Was that a waste of time? No, it wasn't! You gave, and sowed the time’ and God knows how to restore it and redeem it to you.

The issue is not what happened in them. The issue is: you doing something God wants you to do - being kind to people; and sowing time into people; connecting with people; investing in people; encouraging people; showing hospitality to people - it's about us doing that.

If we haven't got enough for ourselves, there's no overflow; and if we think people need to deserve it before we'll give it, there's no overflow either.

We need to come into a place of grace: God is good to us. Can w say amen to that? God is good to us!

Summary Notes

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1. Introduction (Review)
Jn.12:1-7 “Mary took a pound of very costly oil of Spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil”.
· Generosity is unlimited – you choose how generous you are.
· Generosity that is extravagant is like a sweet fragrance – very noticeable.
· Generosity flows out of a heart of gratitude – Mary grateful Lazarus is alive.
· Generosity exposes greed (vs5-6)
· Generosity is rewarded in unexpected ways (Mt.26:13 – a memorial to her).

2. Generosity is the Practical Expression of being Right with God
· Ps.112:9 “..He has given to the poor, his righteousness endures forever”
· Ps.37:21 “…The righteous shows mercy and gives (Also vs 25-26)
· Mt.25:31-40 “Come you blessed of thy Father … for I was hungry and you gave me food”.
· Wikipedia Definition
· Tzedek = righteous
· Tzedakah = charity, generosity to the poor
· Shane Willard (Hebrew meanings)
Tsidag = righteous Tsidagah = generous ‘h = to reveal
Righteousness revealed = generosity
· Hebrews considered that your resources/finances all belonged to God who entrusts you with it – your responsibility is to steward and be generous.
· 1 Jn.4:17 “Whoever has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”
· The practical outworking of being in right relationship with God is generosity – especially to the poor. (Jm.1:27 – Pure Religion)

3. Generosity is a Lifestyle
· God intends that generosity overflow from our life continually.
· Generosity is both intentional (you plan it) and spontaneous.

OT Examples
(a) Dt. 24:19-22 – Law of Harvesting
- The people were agricultural based; the fields were their source of income.
- Consumerism – pressures people to spend more on themselves.
- God is against consumerism – selfishness and greed
· Don’t consume everything – create margins in life for compassion to the poor.
· Set aside : Money – time – talents for the benefit of others.
· No quantity specified – it is the principle of intentional generosity.
· Give to the stranger (unsaved/gospel), fatherless and the widow.
· Note: Motive v 22 – Gratitude
Re3ward v 19 – God will bless you in every work of your hand.
(b) Dt.14:28-29 – At end of every third year – a tithe for stranger, fatherless and widows within your gates
· Principle of intentional generosity setting aside 1/3 >1/10 = 1/30th

(c) 2 Cor.9:5 – Prepare your generous gift beforehand - generosity
· Principle of intentional generosity – not grudging obligation.
· Plan to set aside a portion intentionally so have provision to give.

4. Generosity has no Selfish Agenda
· Lk.6:38 “Give and it shall be given to you”.
· Most people focus on getting – the motive is to get something for self.
· God’s desire is for us to love being a giver, being generous without an agenda.
· Lk.6:30-38 Context of giving – Grace
- People assume Jesus on speaking about money
- Jesus also speaking about mercy, judgement, condemnation, forgiveness.
- He is talking about the principle of giving and its motivation.
- God weighs the heart motives Prov.16:2
- Principle: whatever you give will come back to you increased.
- World system = trading – I give you something and I expect in return.
e.g. (v32-33) (i) repay someone ) What grace is on your life?
(v34) (ii) hoping for personal gain ) This is just trading
· There is no evidence of grace (true generosity) when give with agendas

5. Generosity is rewarded
· Jesus Directive: Love, do good, lend with no personal agenda of gain.
· Outcome: (i) You establish your identity – son of God. (righteous revealed)
Lk.6:35,38 (ii) You receive great reward from God. (This promise removes fear or
regret in giving).
· God is generous and will ensure a return that is generous. May come in unexpected form, may be delayed, and may be in eternity.
· Example Acts10:2 Cornelius – gave alms generously and rewarded by God.
· Example Acts 4:36 Barnabus – gave generously = apostle.



http://mikeconnellministries.com

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