Matthew 6:19-21
II Corinthians 8:1-9, 9:11b-15

Two men were stranded on a desert island. One, who seemed cheerful and upbeat was wealthy; the other was nervous and dispirited. He said to the first man, “Why are you so upbeat? Your money is not going to do you any good on this God-forsaken island. We’re both going to probably die here and you know darn well you can’t take it with you when you go!”

“Cheer up,” replied the first man, “We’ll be just fine.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“Because I tithe and I know it’s only a matter of time until my pastor finds me!”

Two weeks ago, my goal was to get us thinking about ‘money.’ I challenged all of us to consider whether or not money is, for us, an idol. We asked ourselves the question Jesus asked Simon Peter “Do you love Me more than these?” where we saw the ‘these’ referred to Peter’s friends, boats and nets, in other words, his ability to make money. I posed the question in the words of a song, “Do we love Jesus ‘more than anything, more than worldly wealth’?” We saw that Jesus gives us a clear choice in the matter: Who or what gets first place in our lives? God or money? We talked about the signs that indicate we might be in danger of putting money first over our relationship with God.

Last week: I began with the following three statements: “Money is a tool. Money is a tool that God has entrusted to us. Money is a tool that God has entrusted to us to use for His glory.”

I shared with the Biblical solution that brings peace to the Christian’s life because it also honors God: the 10/10/80 Plan; whereby we give the first 10% of our income to God, the second 10% goes into our own interest bearing savings account and then we live on the 80%.

And we saw in II Corinthians 9:7 that Paul encourages all of us to think these things through, make a decision about how much we want to give and then just do it, week in and week out.

If you missed either of those two messages, I highly encourage you to go to our website, plug in your headphones and give a listen.

With that as a reminder of where we have been, let’s hear the scripture reading for the day.

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.

So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish this ministry of giving. Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches. You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.

And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words! (II Corinthians 8:1-9; 9:11b-15)

As in today’s text, Paul thanked God for the churches in Macedonia and Corinth for participating in the ministry of giving, I wish to thank God for the way He has raised up folks in this congregation to faithfully and sacrificially give to this church.

But first, we can and should thank God that He made a way for His Kingdom to come to earth as it is in heaven. And that way is through Christ’s Church. Make no mistake about it; God’s kingdom comes to earth through His Church.

God knew that His children would need a place to gather on a regular basis; a place where we could worship Him, a place where we could be challenged to spiritually grow more faithful to Christ and His Kingdom, a place from which His people could then scatter into the world to be His representatives on earth.

God knew that His children would need a place to gather together for if we did not have a place to gather together to seek the Lord’s blessing it is not likely that any of us would be practicing the Christian faith at all.

And so, it is altogether fitting that we thank God for the gift of His Church.

We also thank God that He designed a practical plan for the Church’s support. Just as tithes and offerings supported the ministry of the Jewish Temple tithes and offerings have been undergirding the Christian Church since its first-century inception.

There is always a practical payoff to engaging in the Christian spiritual disciplines. The spiritual discipline of prayer not only yields peace and joy in our lives but also the practical payoff of answered prayers for those for whom we pray. The spiritual discipline of studying the Word not only yields peace in our lives but also the practical payoff of an increased measure of effectiveness in sharing God’s Word with others. The spiritual discipline of serving not only others yields peace and joy in our lives but also the practical payoff of providing help to those whom we serve. The spiritual discipline of giving not only yields peace and joy in our lives but also the practical payoff of helping to maintain Christ’s Church.

When we as an act of worship place our offering in the baskets we keep this ministry moving forward!

Thank God for you and for your generosity for if God had not motivated you to regularly give to this ministry we could not maintain this ministry.

We would not be able to pay our monthly mortgage, or the utilities and other costs associated with this building. We would not be able to hold Sunday morning worship services. We would not be able to support a pastor and administrative assistant to provide guidance, structure, oversight. We would not be able to offer the love of Christ to our community.

When we regularly and sacrificially participate in this ministry of giving, we are enabled to keep doing what we can to bring God’s Kingdom to earth as it already is in heaven.

When we regularly and sacrificially participate in this ministry of giving, we are enabled to keep doing what we can to bring God’s Kingdom to earth as it already is in heaven.

Even so, my friends, giving is not primarily God’s way of raising funds for His Church.

That’s just the practical payoff as I have already made clear. Giving is not primarily God’s way of raising funds; giving is God’s way of raising His children. What we are finally talking about here is discipleship. The bottom line is not the church budget, the bottom line is discipleship.

Paul reminds the Corinthians that the Macedonians gave so generously because “They first gave themselves to the Lord.”

There was a missionary preaching in the country of Chad, Africa, and when it came time to receive the offering he prayed passionately that God would lead the people to see their offering as an expression of faithfulness, discipleship, and love for God. In the congregation that day sat a woman who had absolutely nothing to give. When the plate came to her, she looked at it for a long time. Then she slowly rose from her seat and stepped into the aisle. Quietly, while everyone watched, she put the offering plate on the floor, then in a humble and beautiful act of devotion, she simply stepped into the plate!

In the end, God doesn’t want our money, it already belongs to Him anyway, He wants us. He knows that if we first give ourselves to Him whole-heartedly, as did the Macedonians, that not only our money but also our time and talents will fall into place right where they should be. And God will be well pleased as His Kingdom continues to come to earth as it is in heaven through CrossPointe Community Church.

One Sunday, John put $300 in the offering and as he passed it along, he softly said, “I’ll see you in heaven.”

Those nearby thought to themselves, “Old John must be off his rocker if he thinks he’s going to see that 300 bucks in heaven. He may see his maker when he gets there, but he certainly won’t see that money again. Doesn’t he know you can’t take it with you when you go?”

A few weeks later, old John died in his sleep and went to heaven. One of the first people he met was a young man he had never seen before. “I want to thank you, brother John, I was cold and lonely one dark night when I saw the light of the church, went inside, met some people who invited me to study the Bible and eventually I met Jesus.”

It wasn’t long before another stranger came up to him and said, “Thank you John, I met the preacher one evening down at the local saloon and he showed me how to trust Jesus.”

And then another who said, “Thank you, John, for helping to make it possible for that Recovery Ministry to reach out and help me get my life back, not too long before I died.”

And then he was greeted by an elderly couple who said, “We want to thank you, John, for supporting a church that offered us a free meal and another that gave us free food.”

Finally, he ran into an angel and John said, “I feel sorry for you angels. You not only don’t get to know what it means to be saved by grace through the blood of Jesus, but you also don’t get to experience the joy-giving and seeing it make a Kingdom impact for all eternity.

Who says you can’t take it with you when you go? I think someone called it heavenly treasure.