GIVING IT ALL YOU’VE GOT SERMON SERIES
OCTOBER 23, 1994
When I was fifteen years old, I had one focus in mind. And my focus was to get a car. I wanted a new car because we lived about 15 miles outside the city where I worked, plus I was dating Lisa who is now my wife. I walked up to my father and told him that I wanted a new set of wheels. Dad said that my Mom and he were thinking about buying me a new car but that he wanted to watch me over the summer and see if I was responsible enough to own my own automobile. He said that he wanted to ask me to do certain things and that if I did them, the car would be mine at the end of the summer.
I thought that would be OK, just fine. He would request that I do certain things and I would do them. One day, though, he bought me a unique gift. I opened it up and it was a book. The book was entitled The Raven, The Life Story of Sam Houston. You see, my father is a big history buff. He told me to read the book over the summer and to make sure that I had finished it by the end of the summer. So I began to read the book. After a couple of pages it became a little bit boring. Every so often he would ask me how far I had read in the 552-page book. I would answer, “About 400 pages left, and how about the car, Dad.” Weeks go by. “What about the car, Dad.” “How far are you in the book, Ed.” “Well, I got about 200 pages left now, Dad.” “OK, keep going.” The final day of our summer vacation, he walks in and there I am on the Lazyboy chair watching Green Acres. “Son, have you finished the book yet?” “Dad, I am almost there. I have about 70 pages left.”
He said, “Ed, I asked you three months ago to read the book and you didn’t do what I told you to do.” I said, “Dad, you are right. But with work and basketball league and dating, I didn’t quite have the time.” He said, “Ed, turn to the last page in the book.” So I did and on the last page is a note written in his handwriting and it said this: Dear Son, if you are responsible enough to read this book, then you are responsible enough to own a new car. If you get to this page, tell me and I will give you the keys to a brand new automobile. Love Dad. I said, “Dad, I almost finished it. Come on, a new car.” He replied, “Ed, I am sorry.”
You see, I learned something that day. Where there is a promise, there is always a premise. When someone makes you a promise, there are always conditions that we need to meet before we can claim the promise. It is also true in God’s economy, isn’t it? Throughout the Bible, God gives us promise after promise after promise and He says, you can claim the promises of the Word of God if you meet the premises.
I want you to prepare yourself for something. Right now, I am going to read to you the first verse on your outline, which is the greatest promise in all the Bible. Philippians 4:19. Are you ready? “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Is that a spectacular, supernatural, motivational verse or what. Some of you, though, who are intelligent are saying, “Time out. I know Christians, I know non-Christians, I know members of this church and their needs aren’t being met. Their needs are not really being satisfied.” You know what. You are right. I know Christians and non-Christians alike and all their needs are not being met.
Is God lying? Is God stretching the truth? Is He speaking evangelasticly? Get it? Evangelasticly. OK. No, He is not. This promise, ladies and gentlemen, is not for everyone. It is for a limited few. You cannot claim the promise, you cannot jump on this scriptural surfboard unless you have met the premise. You can’t claim verse 19 of Philippians 4, until you have obeyed verses 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18.
The great news is, though, that you can leave this place claiming Philippians 4:19, if you know how to meet the premise. And that is where I want to help you. There are five stipulations of God’s premise before we can even think about claiming the promise. Let’s jump right in.
The first stipulation is, give generously. We have a lot of scripture today. I am not going to read every single scripture verse, but the Bible says that the first stipulation is that I have to give generously. You see the book of Philippians was written by the Apostle Paul. It is a thank you letter because the Philippian church had been so generous to him. They had given a sacrificial gift to Paul and Paul writes a thank you letter back to them. Talk about a powerful thank you letter, it is the book of Philippians. The Philippians gave generously, and because they met the premise, they could claim the promise. Give generously. Proverbs 11:25. “A generous man will prosper….” In other words, if I am generous with others, God is going to be generous with me. “…he who refreshed others will himself be refreshed.”
I will say it again. God is not obligated to meet your needs, if you don’t give generously. And I see people running around all the time saying, “Well God is just not meeting my needs.” And I want to ask them. “Do you give generously?” “Well, I tip God now and then. I put in $5 from time to time.” Don’t expect Him to bless you or to really grow you deep spiritually until you give generously.
Three benefits of giving generously. First, giving is inspirational. When I am around givers, it inspires me. I know it inspires you to hear testimony like we heard from David Hardesy or testimony like we heard last week from Dennis Brewer. The best testimony I have heard during this Build The Vision campaign happened to me last week. It was from an 11-year-old boy. “Ed, I have some money saved up. I was going to by several things with my money, but I feel led to give all of my money to the Build The Vision campaign.” Wow. Is that strong, or what. Eleven years old. That inspired me, this old pastor of thirty-three years.
Here is what Paul says in Philippians 4:14-16. He says, “It was good of you to share in my troubles…” You see, the Philippians could share in Paul’s ministry, in his good times and his bad times because they gave. All of you can’t preach, but if when I am preaching you give, you can share the preaching with me. All of you cannot act, but if you give you share in a drama. All of you couldn’t go to the Mexico mission field three weeks ago with the twenty-five who went, but if you give you were there. Partners in ministry, Paul is talking about. “…as you Philippians know. In the early days not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you only. For even when I was in Thessolonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.” Now I want you to check this out. Here we are 2,000 years later hearing about the Philippian church and their generosity. What a great reputation. They had a reputation of giving. I wonder if our reputation here at this local body of Christ will last 2,000 years. I wonder if one day people will say they want to be like the Las Colinian church. What a model. Giving is inspiration.
Stipulation two. Giving is profitable. That woke up a couple of guys there. Profitable. Philippians 4:17. “But though I appreciate your gifts, what makes me happiest is the well earned reward.” Circle that final phrase. I want to give you a quick Greek lesson. The New Testament was penned in Greek. This term is literally rendered, accumulated interest. So it reads like this. Though I appreciate your gifts, what makes me happiest is the accumulated interest you will have. You see God pays interest because of your kindness. Jesus said that if you gave a cup of cold water in His name, if you give to the local body of Christ, it is recorded and rewarded in heaven. And Jesus also said He would give back 100 fold when you give. Do you know what 100 fold is? Ten thousand percent interest. That is a pretty good rate, isn’t it?
But you can’t collect this interest in your life until you deposit something. You don’t just arbitrarily walk into a bank and say, hey, how much interest have I gained or earned. The banker would ask how much you had deposited. He will think you are crazy if you expect to gain interest if you haven’t deposited anything. How can you expect God to bless your life, ladies and gentlemen, if you have not deposited anything financially into His church? You can’t. I can’t. It is a joke. We are playing games with God. Giving is profitable.
Also, I want you to notice that giving here is worshipful. Giving is an act of worship. What is worship? Worship is expressing love to God. You don’t just worship God on Saturday night or three times Sunday. Everything we do should be an act of worship, expressing love to God. Philippians 4:18. “I am amply supplied now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent.” Isn’t that a wonderful name, Epaphroditus? He definitely makes the Ed Young All Biblical Name Team. Epaphroditus was the messenger guy. You see, the Philippian church said OK, we want to give Paul an offering. The E man was quick. He rushed it to Paul and Paul said wonderful. Now Epaphroditus, you just rest for awhile and drink some Gatorade. Meanwhile he pens out the book of Philippians inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. He gives it to the E man and the E man rushes it back to the Philippian church and they dispersed it to all the Christians.
What a powerful word. What a great thank you note Paul wrote. Epaphroditus might be a good name for a son. What do you think? Paul said this. They are a fragrant offering. Wouldn’t you like to be a fragrant offering? If you are a giver, if you give generously, you are a fragrant offering.
I used to work with a guy I called the Temple of Groom. Hair, nothing every out of place. This guy used more cologne than any human being I have ever known. His name was Steve and he used this stuff called Old Spice. It is not my favorite, but anyway. He would just pour Old Spice all over his hands. He may have gargled with it. The man was unreal. I would shake hands with him and I couldn’t get the smell off. It was like when I fish for large mouth bass and pick one up, then I can hardly get the smell off. Likewise, I could smell wherever Steve had been. “Steve has been here, hasn’t he?” “He was here an hour ago.” If you are generous, that is the kind of fragrance that you will have. A fragrant offering.
Then listen to the rest of this verse, “an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” Have you ever wondered what would be the most pleasing thing you could do for God? Here is the answer. Give a sacrificial gift. Give a gift by faith. Why? Because that reflects the character and nature of God. God gave us the ultimate sacrifice in sending His own Son to spill His blood on the cross and to rise again. Those of us who have children, can you imagine giving up your son as a sacrifice for all of the sin of the world? Giving is worshipful.
Number two. Are you ready? This second stipulation is this. Ask for help. James 4:2. “You do not have because you do not ask.” Matthew 7:7. “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.” Underline the A in ask, the S in seek and the K in knock. What does that spell? Ask. It is used twenty times in the New Testament. I think this will happen in a lot of our lives. Ready? We die. We have a funeral. Tears from people who loved us. We graduate from this life to the next life. The Bible says that we will live in one of two places forever, either in heaven or in hell. Hell is a Christless eternity, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth the Bible says. For those of us who go to heaven, I think this might happen. We will meet St. Peter and he will greet us by name. He will escort most of us to a giant warehouse. This warehouse will be massive and will embarrass anything ever built or thought of by Sam Walton. Whoa, and it will have our name on it. Man, I didn’t realize. St. Peter will walk inside with us and show us all of the giant gifts and packages and blessings. St. Peter will say that God wanted to give this to us before we got to heaven but couldn’t. Then you begin to look closely at the packages and each one has a giant red tag. On the red tag, written in the handwriting of Jesus, are these words: Never Asked For. Never asked for. You do not have because you do not ask.
Those of us who are fathers, when our children ask us for something that they need, we will break our backs in order to give them that something. But this verse does not say, my God will supply all of your greeds. It says needs. And we have a way of confusing the greeds and the needs.
Stipulation number three. I have got to learn to be content. I like to say content with your content. See the word contentment in I Timothy 6:6-7. Contentment means my happiness is not dependent on circumstances. Really a better word is joy. Joy can be defined as the tranquility aspect of my soul. That is contentment. Happiness is based on happenings. But contentment comes from our relationship with Jesus Christ. I like this. “We brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it.” I have seen some babies born in my time, actually four. When our babies were born, especially the three girls, Lisa did not say, “Oh, look at the baby. She has beautiful diamond earrings on. And that watch is fabulous.” You don’t bring anything in and during a funeral you don’t see a U-Haul behind the hearse. We take nothing out. Everything we have is on loan. “Well, I own my business, you know. It is mine.” No, you don’t. It is on loan. We have to learn to be content. The key word is learn. Here is what Paul said. I call this the corn bread or caviar verse. “I know how to live on almost nothing or on everything. I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation.” For some reason, God uses money as an acid test for our faith. “You say you love Me, that I am number one. Well, I want to see it by your wallet and your purse. I want to know that I am number one and that you realize I have given you everything.” We shouldn’t begrudge the fact we are to give at least ten percent to the church. We should say thank you, God, for allowing me to live on ninety percent.
Now, naturally, we are not people full of contentment. We are not. We are full of discontent. I experienced this as I looked back on my life this past week. It is a natural thing not to be satisfied. The first thing I wanted was a Tiger Joe tank. I begged my parents for it. They gave it to me. Guess what? I wasn’t satisfied. I was still discontented. And then I wanted an Ambassador 5,000 fishing reel. I found it on sale at Kmart. They gave me that but it didn’t satisfy. Four years later leisure suits came in style. There was a lime green one in my favorite store, Fashions Unlimited. Lisa told me lime green was her favorite color. I got it, but it didn’t satisfy.
They asked Rockefeller one day how much it would take to satisfy him. He answered, just a little bit more. We have got to learn to be content. Paul learned the secret of contentment. Paul was not into the when and then thinking. A lot of us are into when and then thinking. When I get the job, then I will be happy. When I get the raise, then I will be happy. When I get the house, then I will be happy. When I get married, then I will be happy. Learn to be content.
Number four. Practice giving in faith. Here is what it says in Proverbs 3:9 & 10. “Honor the Lord by giving Him the first part of all your income and He will fill your barns.” This is the principle of multiplication. The Bible says that if you give God the first part of your income, He will multiply your finances. You give God the first part of your day, spending time with Him, He will multiply your time. We still say to God, though, that when He meets our needs, then we will give. God tells us that is backwards. We give and then He will meet our needs. Practice giving in faith.
Number five. Trust Him with my financial life. It always blows me away how people will trust God with their eternity but they won’t trust Him with their finances. The Bible says that your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well what you need. And He will give it to you if, and here is the premise, you give Him first place in your life and live as He wants you to. People who are having sex outside of marriage or people who are disobeying God in other ways and are expecting to claim Philippians 4:19, I’m sorry, it won’t work. If Jesus Christ is Lord, He is to be Lord in all areas. You have got to live a pure and holy life, not in some legalistic fashion but because you love Him so much and realize what He has done for you. So trust Him with your financial life.
Now, let’s jump down to the promise. Five stipulations of the premise, now the promise. The Relationship. We can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus called God, Abba Father. The word Abba means Daddy. That intimate. The Range. He will meet all of our needs. That does not refer to laziness. Some decide that if God will meet their needs, they will kind of chill out. I Thessalonians 3 says that if you don’t work and you are able physically to work that you shouldn’t eat. What does that say about our welfare system? Also, this does not have to do with our wants. We get our wants and our needs reversed, don’t we?
Look at the Resource. According to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. You know Ross Perrot, don’t you? Remember a couple of weeks ago I imitated him? I am going to do it again. I have to. Ross is a rich guy. What if Ross Perrot said this to you? “Hey, OK, I’ll write you a check for $1,000 out of my money.” We would say, “Whoa, I just got a check from Ross Perrot.” That would be out of his riches. But on the other hand, what if Ross did this. “Hey, come here. Blank check. I have signed it. Here you go.” You see, that would be according to his riches.
What does the word of God say? Not out of, but the resource according to His glorious riches. That is the kind of bank that we can spiritually draw on. Jesus has given us a blank check, signed by his blood 2,000 years ago and that if we meet the stipulations of the premise, we can claim the promise.
Last night something wild happened to me. We are having these advance commitment dinners. The leadership of our church has been meeting and we have been talking about the building program and where we are as a church. We have had some wonderful times. And every person who has been to one of the dinners is someone we know, someone who is a real difference maker in the church. Last night we had a dinner at Bob Pierce’s house. Bob Pierce lives across from an apartment complex in Irving. We were approaching the house when I saw another couple going our way. I turned to Paul and said I had never seen that couple before in my life. I wondered what they could be doing at an advance commitment dinner. I though that perhaps Dr. Pierce had invited them to entertain or something. We walk in. They were a real nice couple and I could tell they knew a couple of people.
We had a prayer and lasagna was served. There were about 20-30 people there, so they had tables everywhere. One of the tables was outside. I got my food and decided that I would sit at the biggest table since I don’t often get a chance to talk to many of the members. We have about 3,000. Well, Bob and Dana Pierce suggested, instead, that I go outside and sit. I didn’t really want to, but did. It was kind of dark out there. The couple I mentioned was sitting by themselves and I went to sit next to them. Then the table began to fill up. I kept wondering why they were at the dinner. So I asked them a direct question. I said that this was an advance commitment dinner for our building campaign, but I didn’t recognize either of them. They said they hadn’t been to the church in over a year but that they enjoyed it when they came.
They asked if we were getting ready to build a church. I said yes and then asked them to tell me about their lives, about their spiritual pilgrimages. They each gave me their story. The wife said that she had grown up Catholic but had gotten into Buddhism and into the New Age movement. The Holy Spirit nudged me and told me that this girl did not know Christ. And here we are at a large table. I then asked who had invited them to the dinner. They replied that they played golf with Dr. Pierce and that he had invited them.
I asked the woman what would happen if someone walked up to her and asked her how to become a Christian and how would they get to heaven. I asked her what she would tell them. She looked at me and said that if you live a good life and do good unto others, that will do it. I told her that those were good things but that the Bible says all of us, even on our best days, fall miserably short. I told her that I wanted to share some spiritual laws concerning what the Bible says about having peace with God. I went through the plan of salvation with her. I told her that God loves her, that He has a wonderful plan for her life. I told her about man’s sin and that our sins have separated us from God. I told her that God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross and rise again. And fourthly, I told her that it was her option to receive Christ or not. She began to cry. She asked how she could know Christ. Right there at the table. I led her in a prayer and she broke down. At an advance commitment dinner! Are you ready for that? Talk about the sovereignty of God. Dr. Pierce inviting these golf friends to an advance commitment dinner. Then our sitting together at the table. I am kind of clueless but the Holy Spirit nudges me. And the name of another person is written in the lamb’s book of life. That is what our church is about.
You know, money is great. It is fine. But it is just a vehicle to build God’s church. But there are thousands and thousands of people like the couple that I talked to last night who don’t know the answer. As we held that dinner, we met the premise. We talked about giving last night. And because we met the premise, we were able to claim the promise. Talk about meeting her needs. Jesus did it.
I want to close down by asking you one simple question the same one I ask that lady last night. If someone tapped you on the shoulder and asked you how do you get to heaven, what would you say to them? Would you answer as she did? If so, if you were to die tonight, you would not spend eternity in heaven. You would spend eternity in hell. You see, religion is a man-made system of dos and don’ts in order to appease God. You cannot appease a holy God. God in His love sent Jesus to take care of all of our sins and rise again. Christianity is spelled DONE. It has been done. The work has been completed and your option is either you receive it or you don’t. What is the premise? You receive Christ. What is the promise? Peace, purpose and life eternal.