Date: June 15, 2016 (Training)
Bible Text: | Betty Swann
Series: Pillar One
So much of the time, God asks you to give something first. Later He gives back to you in a much greater way than you would ever think of. About a year ago, I was saving some money for something I really wanted. People were giving a lot of money into my ministry, but I did not want to spend any of it on my needs. I wanted to spend it on what God wanted it to go for. I wanted to have a different kind of ministry. I asked the Lord for this, “Could I have a ministry that I do on a very small budget? Then all the money that comes in, I would put it where you wanted it to go.” I heard a pastor say, “When God tests you and finds out that he can send money through your hands, and you will not spend it on houses and boats and cars, He will send millions through you.” I said, “God, I want to be somebody like that. I want to be somebody trustworthy. You take care of my needs anyway, Lord.” When I have saved money, I have seen the Lord come to me and say, “Will you give that? It will be a sacrifice. Will you give it?”
For the last two years of my ministry, most of what has been sent in has gone out to feed orphans or fund a man who is trying to get a television station going for a nation. I have helped send people to school, college and even orphans to school. Right now, I am trying to get the money together to help a pastor buy a car. I have been in that car and know that thing is held together by baling wire. It falls apart or dies just when we need it. There are bad ruts on all the roads in Africa. It bounces along and tears that car up. There is also a man over there who needs an arm. He was in a wreck and he lost his arm. I want to try to help him get an artificial arm. The money that has come in, the money that a lot of you send me, I want to be a really good steward of that money, and I want to give it where God wants it. God says in Luke 6:38, “Give and it will be given back to you.” I have prayed for the last couple of years, “Make me a bigger giver than I have been. Make me a bigger giver,” and I see God making me a bigger giver. He gives me more money to give away. He says, “You’re not going to spend it on yourself, are you?” “Nope, Lord, I am going to give it where You want it to go.”
Knowing what I know through 35 years of giving and understanding God’s plan and his purpose for giving, I knew God was going to bless me. I did not doubt it. I have seen him do it too many times. I knew it would come in a way that I was sure it was God. It would be a desire of my heart. It would be better than I ever thought it could be. However, I really thought in the last two years, “I have you now, Lord. I am giving more than ever. I do not see how you could possibly give me anything I want, because I am happy. I am happy. I do not, I cannot, even think of anything I want.” Now, I am a woman, so come on, let’s get real. I could sit down and start naming stuff I wanted, but I am not going to say that. What I am talking about is, is there anything you really want? No. Nope. I just want to give His money away. I know that. “But how in the world are You going to pay me back, Lord. I cannot even imagine.” You know how he paid me back? I got this television show on God’s Learning Channel. This is the most amazing thing that has happened in my life up to this point. I am looking at you and you may live in another country. You are watching by the Internet, you are watching by satellite, you’re watching at a friend’s house, you just happen to flip the channels and turn on to this show, and God wants to speak to you, and God is using me to speak to you. It is amazing to me. I am just in awe of it. I am telling you this is the 60th show I have done. God is amazing. You cannot out give Him. In fact, I think He delights in saying, “Just see if you can. Just see if you can.”
Today, we are going to discuss God’s purpose and God’s plan for giving. What is the purpose of giving? Is God just trying to get your money? No, He has all the money in the world. He has the cattle on a thousand hills. He is the one that thought up money. Do you not think He knows where money is? He is not trying to get all your money, to get it into the church to do this and do that. He is trying to get your heart. So much of the time our hearts are tied up in our money. Jesus talked about money more than anything in the Bible, more than Heaven He understood that we have to have money to live in this world. He understood that it was His job to teach us to trust Him that God could supply. Think about what he did with Peter. “How are we going to pay our taxes, Lord? We have got to pay our taxes.” Have you ever been there? Oh boy, we have been there. How are we going to pay our taxes? Jesus said to Peter, “Peter, go down to the lake, pick up that fish. There is going to be a coin in its mouth. Use that to pay. Just pay with that.” God has all kinds of ways of getting money to you. He uses supernatural ways. I call it supernatural giving and supernatural receiving because God has amazing ways to give you things and it does not always take actual money out of your pocket.
What is God doing with giving? What is His purpose? One is to make you more like Him. God is a giver. He is not a taker. He is not a user. He is not an exploiter. He is a giver. And He always gives from a heart of love. He has nothing but a good motive when He gives to you. It brings Him joy to give to you. It brings Him joy to answer your prayers. It brings Him joy to supply money for your finances. It brings Him joy. When you become the kind of giver that God is trying so hard to help you develop into, you become more like God. You get the God kind of giving, the God kind of love. What else does it do? It helps you break the grip of selfishness. I hate to admit it, but we are all selfish. We try not to be, but we are. So when God says give, you say, “Lord, if I do that I will have less.” And I am not just talking about money: time, love, material things, possessions, acts of kindness and deeds. There are all kinds of ways God want us to give. Every time when God ask us to give, it is more than we think we ought to give. Why does He do that? Because you do not realize how much selfishness is wrapped up in what you own and possess. He is trying to break that grip.
If you have a Bible, look at 1 Timothy 6:17. He is trying to break that lust for things, the desire for riches that overwhelms people. Have you ever noticed that when you go after just getting rich, an emptiness starts hitting you. It is not the answer. There are so many people chasing it. I was talking to somebody today and I said, “Heaven is paved with gold, and so when humans spend their whole life trying to get a lot of gold, they are only getting pavement.” And if they go to Heaven and they try to take it up there, Saint Peter would say, ‘What do we need that for? That is pavement. We do not need any pavement. Come look at what we have got.’” So do not spend your life chasing the all-mighty dollar and end up with nothing but pavement in your hands. Giving is an investment in eternity.
What do you really believe about eternity? What do you understand about eternity? Are you aware that there is a life after this life which is so long that this life is like a breath? It is like (whistle sound), there is your life. What did you do with it? (whistle sound) Just like that. Eternity is so long. We do not think about it because we are so caught up in living with this world and what is going on in this life, but there is all of eternity. If you took a little tiny dot and then you tried to fill the world up with dots how many would there be? Think about it this way. One dot is your life. All these dots you filled in was eternity. God says when you give money into My kingdom you are making an investment for all of eternity. It is going to pay off for all of eternity. Think about the interest on a loan, a gift, a bank investment or a stock investment. In eternity it pays and pays and pays and pays and grows and grows and grows and grows. It is never going to quit.
How much have you invested in the First National Bank of Heaven? How much? I gave a dollar one time. Another time I gave five dollars. I think you are going to be sorry. I think you are going to say someday, “Boy, I messed that up, didn’t I. And I was told, too.” Now what if you are poor? Does God say, “You only gave five dollars and this guy over here is rich and he gave fifty thousand?” No, it is all proportional. It is how much you give out of what you actually have that you want to invest in eternity. You are going to be so glad if you did. It is the best investment. We are all interested in growing our money. It is wise to do that and the Bible says to do it. You save money make wise investments. You learn how to make wise investments. But God says, “Some of that money needs to be invested in the kingdom of God.” And when you do that, especially in ministry, let me give you some advice: be sure you know who you are investing that money with. Be sure you know what they are doing with that money, even if you give to organizations that are not necessarily Christian but they help worldwide humanitarian causes. I go online and find out who gives the greatest amount of their dollar. I went online and found ten charitable organizations that gave at least ninety-three cents out of a dollar. I thought that is pretty high. They are in the top ten.
What is another reason that God has in mind about giving? He wants to bless you in return. You have to give first. Do you know the Bible verse in Luke 6:38? Give and it will be given to you. What do we say? “Give to me first, God, then I will give to you.” God says, “No. You give, and then I will give back and it will be more than you ever thought of.”
Does God want to bless people financially? Yes, He really does. Are there always going to be poor people? Yes. Are there going to be really good Christians who are poor? Yes. I have met them all over the world. God is not primarily about how rich you can get. He is about prospering you in every area of your life. Have you read 3 John 2? “Beloved, I wish above all else that you might prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” So, think about it. Of course, God wants you to prosper. I mean, as a daddy, do you not want your children to prosper? Of course you do. Does that mean there is something wrong with them or something wrong with you? No. And it says it in the Word. I wish above everything that you might prosper, be healthy and have a soul that is prosperous. There are all kinds of people that have a lot of money and their soul is skinny. It is not prospering. It is miserable and they are unhappy. But there are other people that are very wealthy who use that money for the Kingdom of God They use it to bless people, educate people, and help people do great things. It is just wonderful how they use their money. So do not ever think, “Oh, rich people, they are all just unhappy.” No, they are not. Some of them are real happy. Life is good, yet not everybody is going to be rich. All you have to do is look around and see that is not going to happen. But God can still bless your soul. He can still prosper you right where you are. You can tell that I am the richest man on earth because I have a happy family, a good life, my needs are taken care of and I like my life.
Another reason God has for you to give, and it is part of His purpose for us, is that you will learn how to share. Share with everybody around you. You do not have to have it all. Sometimes people say, “Well, I want it all because I want the record for being the richest.” I do not know if that is a good enough reason to do it. So you get there, so what have you got? There is a little saying, “When you have a need, plant a seed.” We have done that before. When our finances were tight, we thought, “Oh, what are we going to do? We need some help.” We would go find somebody to give money to. Go find somebody that is worse off than you. You think, “There is not anybody worse off than me, Betty. You do not know how poor I am.” There is always somebody worse off. And if it is not in America, it is in another country, I can tell you that. When I went to Belarus for eight years, I would come home every time embarrassed at how wealthy America is. The poorest person in America is rich compared to the rest of the world. I have friends that are homeless. I was talking to one of them and I said, “You know, Victor, people in other countries that are homeless, they look at you and you stay at the Salvation Army or you stay at Faith City Mission. You can get your eyes taken care of, free medical care, clothes anytime you need them and you always have a place to sleep. Victor, did you know homeless people in other countries sleep in the woods? They have nobody to care for them. People do not care if they live or die. They could not care less and certainly are not interested in feeding them. They can barely feed themselves. And if they saw you and you said, ‘Well, I am homeless and I am in America.’ They would say, ‘Well, really, tell me how you live.’ And you told them, they would say, ‘Man, you are rich. You are not poor. You are rich.’” It is really like that in the rest of the world.
If you have never traveled outside the United States, you do not know what I am talking about. But if you have been to other countries, you know exactly. The first time I came home from Belarus I thought to myself, “Americans are so stinking rich, they have paper towels.” Think about that. They have paper towels. They did not have paper towels in Belarus. They did not have napkins. And they do not have toilet paper when you go in all the places. And the truth is, God has blessed America. It does not mean we are all living like we ought to live. It does not mean that we are all serving God. But God has blessed you, and you know it. You need to share with people who do not have what you have. When you have a need, remember to plant a seed.
How does God give back to you? He usually uses other people. Sometimes I guess you could be walking down the sidewalk and there is a twenty-dollar bill lying on the ground and you go, “Whoo, look there. Thank you Lord.” It can happen like that. Before I went to Belarus one time, a friend gave me a hundred dollars and said, “Betty, give this anywhere you want to give it.” So I broke it up into ten-dollar bills and a couple of twenties and I said, “Lord, where do you want me to give this money for Jimmy? It is from Jimmy to them. Tell me where to put it.” I have forgotten where all I gave it, but I gave it all away. But what I remember is that retired people in Belarus live on fifteen dollars a month. Working people make about forty to sixty dollars a month, maybe eighty. I was walking in downtown Minsk, and I saw an elderly lady walking along toward me. She did not notice me and was just walking down the sidewalk. I had this twenty dollars, and I knew I was supposed to give it to her. I did not know why, but I knew she was it. As she walked past, I just put it in her hand and kept walking. I never looked at her. I never looked back. I do not know what she thought. I do not know what she did with it, but I know God told me, “Give that money to that lady.” If for no other reason, twenty dollars is more than she made in a month as a retiree.
When God gives back to you, listen to what he says it will be. Good measure. You people that cook, whether you are a man or a woman, if you like to cook--I will take this cup. Now watch this. Give and it will be given back to you. Good measure. What does that mean? Well, you take some flour, put it in there. More flour, you put in there. Some more flour. Shake it a little bit. You know, let it settle in. Put a little more. That is a good measure. Then what does God say? Oh, press it down. So you get a spoon and you press it down. You press it down. Put a little more in. Press it down. Shake it a little bit more. Press it down real well. Now it is really getting full. Shaken together. Okay, shake it really good now. Really, really, really good. And there it is sure to settle down now. Running over. God says, “Put some more in. Put some more in. Put some more in.” “More Lord?” “Yep, more. Give them more. Give them more.” Says that to the angels, “Give them more. Give them more. Give them more.” “More Lord?” “Yep, give them more. Give them more.” They had a good heart. They were cheerful about giving it. It made them happy to give. Give them more. Let it run over. The next thing you know flour is running all over everywhere. It says, “It will be poured into your lap.” How about that! Did you ever think about that? And then it says something so important. Look at this little, tiny cup. For the measure that you use is the measure that will be used to give back to you. So you may say, “I give a dollar. I get five dollars and let me do more than that.” And God says, “Okay. But that is all I have to measure back to you.” Somebody else comes along and says, “Lord, I will give whatever you want me to give. Help me, Lord. How much do you want me to give? That much? Okay.” And God says, “Good. I will pour it back even more to you.”
Sometimes I like to squirrel money away. Are you a person that likes to do that? Kind of hide it away and maybe someday you might need it? Then I began to notice that right before God wanted me to give some money away, He gave me money to use to give to Him. All of a sudden money would just start coming to me. I would think, “Where is all of this money coming from?” So I would stick it away and think, “There is something that is going to be happening. Maybe I am going to save up for something. Maybe I am going use it on a trip. Maybe something like that.” I am thinking me, me, me. The next thing I know, there is a big offering at church. Right now, we are getting ready to have an offering to pay for a building for children. That is money for eternity. Kids will come, get saved, get their lives changed, their families will come, their families will get together for all of eternity. Somebody had owed me two hundred dollars for about ten years paid me back recently. I thought, “Lord, I want to give all of it. I want to give it all.” Then I got a little job doing make-up. I do production make-up on the side. I got this little make-up job and made some good money at it. I said, “Lord, I want to give that too. I just want to give it all.” Humans are selfish by nature and there is that little temptation inside us, “What if I wanted to keep it?” I thought, “Betty, you want to give to God. Just give it. God will give back to you. Let Him do it. Let him pick how he does it.” And so I am expecting God to do it. That is what His Word says. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over into my lap. I cannot wait to see what God does.
What are some questions Christians ask about all of this? Why God did not bless me? I gave and it did not come back. I did what you said and it did not come back. There are two answers to that. One is that you did not give with a cheerful heart or had wrong motives. And two, it is not time yet. God is not chintzy. God means what He says. If He says He will do something, He will do it. But He has own time. There may be a time in the future that you think, “Lord, thank you that you did not give me this back ahead of time. I might even have blown it. Thank you that you waited until I really needed it and there was this great thing in my life.” James 4:3 says that sometimes you give with wrong motives, “You say, ‘Why don’t we get?’ He says, ‘It is because you spent it on the wrong thing and you have the wrong motive’.”
There are many areas that you can give in God’s plan for giving. Where all does God want you to give? First, consider the areas that are not financial:
- Time. “I do not have time I am busy, Lord.” Psalms 31:15 says, “My times are in your hands.”
- Talents. Do you use them in the Kingdom of God or only in the world? That is Matthew 25:15.
- Friendship. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man that has friends must show himself friendly first.”
- Mercy. Oh, that is hard. Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful for they may obtain mercy.” Right now there is someone watching this show and you need to show mercy to another person. You think I do not want to show mercy to them. Do you need mercy? No. Will you maybe in the future? Yes, probably. Then show mercy so that you can obtain mercy.
- Love. Go out. People loved David so much because the Bible says, “He went in and out among the people.” What does that mean? He fit in with everybody. He loved everybody. Hospitality. Give hospitality. Do not forget to entertain strangers it says. And then also give money.
What are the ways God wants you to give money?
1. First is tithing. That is ten percent of your income.
2. Other Offerings are above that. That means I love you so much I am going to give you some more.
3. A “thank offering” is just to thank God for what he has done for you.
4. Giving to the poor. That is what I am doing with Pennies From Heaven. We are giving all of those pennies to help people.
5. Sacrificial giving. That is where you give until it hurts. Have you ever given the Lord so much it made you cry? I have. Cried, but I was happy when it was all done.
I wish I could sit down and tell you what God did for me. Be a big giver. Be like God. Have his heart. He loves you.
QUIET TIME QUESTIONS
1. Why does God ask you to give?
2. How is investing in kingdom work different than other investments?
3. What is the importance of giving with the right motive?
4. What is the scripture reference about giving with good measure and what does it mean to you?
5. What are the areas, other than financial, from which God calls us to give?
6, Consider the areas listed that God asks us to give financially. Are there any of these areas you feel led to begin giving?
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Topics: Basic Discipleship