This week, the Clearview Church staff sit down and discuss the #iamtheneighbor project and the importance of generosity. If you have any questions or have a recommendation for a topic, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you like this episode, leave us a rating and share it with your friends!
NEIGHBOR by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Introduction: How many of y’all grew up on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood? The show ran from 1968 to 2001 with just a couple of years missing in between. It became a hit with many children and parents. Fred Rogers who was also a pastor had a unique and a gentle way of talking to children. He understood how they felt and he got down to their level without becoming silly necessarily. The show dealt with issues like why kids shouldn’t be afraid of a haircut, how to deal with the death of a family pet, what to do when going to a new school, and even issues like divorce, racism, and disabilities. Anybody remember the song? “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood. A beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?” Then it ended with “Won’t you please, Won’t you please? Please won’t you be my neighbor?” Mr. Rogers didn’t come up with the idea of a neighbor. It has been around for over 2000 years ago. In fact, Jesus gave its true definition in his famous parable of the Good Samaritan. Here’s the definition: A true neighbor is one who shows mercy. Mercy is a distinguishing mark of those who have eternal life. If you need proof that you have eternal life, ask yourself, “Are you a neighbor?” “Do you show mercy to others?” “When was the last time you showed mercy to someone?” In our series on the parables of Jesus, we come now to the famous parable of the Good Samaritan and the message is titled “NEIGHBOR.”
Luke 10 30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” 37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Question: Parables are like mirror. They reflect who we are. Are you the priest who passed by the other side? Are you the Levite who also passed by the other side? Or, are you the Good Samaritan who stopped and showed mercy? Are you a merciful person? Are you saved? If you need proof of eternal life, check your mercy record.
Background: The parable of the Good Samaritan is right up there with the parable of the Prodigal Son as the most popular parable of Jesus. It has been the subject of numerous paintings, stories, movies, and the name of many charities and hospitals all over the world. In fact, we are about to start our annual Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child Shoebox ministry. Having said that, unfortunately, this parable is often misunderstood. To interpret it correctly, we need to examine the context in which Jesus gave this parable. Typically, people begin with verse 25 where the lawyer asks Jesus “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” and Jesus asks him “What is in the law?” He replies, “‘Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Jesus tells him to go do this and he will live but seeking to justify himself he asks, “Who is my neighbor?” Although that is true and we will come to that, that’s not the whole context. In order to get the whole context, you have to begin in Luke 9 51 “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him.”
Who were the Samaritans? If you were to ask the Samaritans (only about a 1000 exist in Israel today), they would tell you that they are the true descendants of ancient Israel. They claim that the worship center was wrongfully moved from Gerizim to Shiloh and that’s when things went downhill. But, if you read the Bible, you will see a different account. In 2 Kings 17 we find out that when God sent Assyria against the Northern Kingdom, they not only defeated them but they also implemented their policy of resettling conquered peoples. Under this strategy, they would move the conquered people to another part of the world, and take people from that part and resettle them into the conquered territory. Samaritans were people who had been settled in the land of Israel by the Assyrians. They somewhat adopted the Israelite faith but they retained their original gods as well. They even intermarried some of the local people who were left behind. The Jewish people did not accept them as full-fledged children of Israel. To make matters worse, the Samaritans even tried to sabotage their building projects when they returned from the second exile in Babylon. Needless to say, there was bad blood between the Jewish people and the Samaritans. Each saw the other as neighbors they wished they did not have. What happened when Jesus came by the Samaritan village? 52 “…And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village. Can you imagine the disciples’ reaction?
Application: What would you have done? What do you when people mistreat you? Who is your neighbor? How do you treat them?
For time’s sake, let me condense the account. In Luke 10, Jesus commissioned 70 of his disciples to go out saying 2 “…The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.” In other words, “You are going out in a cruel and a harsh world. Remember to be kind and merciful.” What if they were rejected? They were only to shake the dust off their feet and go to the next village. They were given a simple promise by Jesus—16 “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” In the very next verse 17 the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” On hearing this, Jesus said something very important for our message—23 “…Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; 24 for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.” What was Jesus talking about? He was talking about the Kingdom of God. He was talking about Eternal Life. By the way, Eternal Life is not going to heaven when you die. It begins now through Jesus Christ. It means having a portion in what God is doing and what God will do one day. You see and hear things that prophets and kings have desired but couldn’t. But, to do that you need MERCY.
Now comes the account of the lawyer asking the question 25 “…Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” His answer was correct—Love God and Love your neighbor. 29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Why did he ask that question? He was hoping to prove that he had extended the typical boundaries of neighborhood. To the contrary, Jesus removed all boundaries. Then he gave the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho and thieves beat him up and left him for dead. Both the priest and the Levite walked by because they had to be somewhere on time or they didn’t want to defile themselves or they didn’t want to get involved. Then here comes a Samaritan. What a twist! In other words, the Samaritan saw no boundary but the lawyer was wanting to know the limits. Instead, he had compassion, lit. splagchnizomai, “to have the insides feel bad.” He bandaged him, poured oil and wine on him, set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, he gave 2 denarii and gave to the pandocheus (inn keeper) and said “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.” Here comes the big question—6 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” 37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” The question is not “Who is my neighbor?” but “Whose neighbor am I?” In other words, you cannot have boundaries if you want eternal life.
Don’t miss this: People who have mercy don’t ask “Who is my neighbor?” but “Whose neighbor am I?” A true neighbor is one who shows mercy. It is a distinguishing mark of those who have eternal life. If you need proof that you have eternal life, ask yourself, “Are you a neighbor?” “Do you show mercy to others?” “When was the last time you showed mercy to someone?”
Mercy is not a requirement for eternal life but a verification of eternal life.
NOW THE BIG REVEAL!
A MIND TO WORK by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Introduction: Have you heard the expression “busy as a bee?” Do you know someone who is always “busy as a bee?” We get that expression from the worker honeybees who work nonstop, foraging nectar and pollen for their colony. Researchers have found that these hardworking bees don’t live very long. In fact, one biologist from the University of Illinois said, “The harder a bee forages, the shorter its lifespan is.” They literally work themselves to death. In the same hive, there are other bees who just sit around and do nothing. They are the slacker bees. They let the other bees do everything. In our human realm, we call this the “80-20 rule” or “the law of the vital few,” where 20% of people do all the work and the remaining 80% just sit back and watch. Unfortunately, the church is a prime example of this behavior. There are people who are working themselves to death and there are those who are sitting back and taking it easy. We’re more than a hive. We are a body where every member should have a mind to work.
Nehemiah 4 3Now Tobiah the Ammonitewasbeside him, and he said, “Whatever they build, if even a fox goes upon it,he will break down their stone wall.” 4 Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! 5Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked Youto anger before the builders. 6 So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height,for the people had a mind to work.
Question: Do you have a mind to work? What is your contribution to what is happening here? Are you part of the body at Clearview? Are you saved?
Context: The Book of Nehemiah is one of my favorite books in the Old Testament. It’s about a man named Nehemiah, who was not priest or a prophet but just a lay person who answered God’s call to help his people. He left his high position in Persia and came to his ancestral homeland to help rebuild the walls around the city of Jerusalem. If you know history, in 587 BC, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had destroyed the city of Jerusalem, the temple, and the city walls. Everything lay in ruins. But, fifty years later, as promised, God brought his people back from exile and commanded them to rebuild. They finished the temple by 516 BC but the city walls still lay in ruins a 100 years later. Many reasons for that – lack of right leadership, lack of motivation, lack of unity, opposition from the neighbors. The result was that there was no security, no stability, but hopelessness, apathy, and worst of all, a gradual loss of identity. By much prayer, Nehemiah rallied the people to begin the work but it wasn’t easy. In the face of incredible opposition and little skill and few resources, they finished the wall in only 52 days! It was an incredible feat! A major reason for that was as Nehemiah 4:6 says, “the people had a mind to work.”How do people get a mind to work?4 reasons:
1. CARING LEADERS
Before you think that I’m trying to beat on my own drum, remember, Nehemiah was not a priest or a prophet. He was a cup bearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia. That sounds like a bar tender but that’s a title for someone who was responsible for the life of the king. He was like a secret service agent but much more. Historians tell us that more than likely he was also the keeper of the signet and in charge of the administration of the accounts. He was a very influential person. Nehemiah also tells us that he was in the palace at Shushan. This was a gorgeous palace. The walls were decorated with bright colored enameled tiles. Carved on the walls were the images of the Immortal Guards, wearing colorful clothing decorated with tiny stars. Their bows, arrows, and spears were made out of gold and silver. When Alexander the Great marched into Shushan, he took 1200 tons of gold. Bottom Line: Nehemiah had it made.
Listen to what happens when he hears that his people back home were in trouble – Nehemiah 1 3And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the provincearethere in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalemisalso broken down, and its gatesare burned with fire.”4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mournedfor many days. . .” People don’t just join a cause. But, when they see leaders who actually care about them, they are inspired to work.
Application:Leaders, how do you see ministry? Is it a chore to work with children? Is it a chore to help out with the youth? Is it a burden to help with Kindle?
2. CONSTANT PRAYER
How did Nehemiah react when he heard the bad news back home? Other than weeping, listen to Nehemiah 1:4“. . .I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” When the king asked him what was wrong? Listen to Nehemiah 2:4“Then the king said to me, ‘What do you request?’ So I prayedto the God of heaven.” What happened when there was opposition from their neighbors? Instead of getting frustrated, he prayed – Nehemiah 4:4 “Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity!” Instead of getting better, things actually got worse – Nehemiah 4 7“Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, 8and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. 9Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.” In other words, every step of the way, Nehemiah led the people to pray. No wonder the people did not give up. Prayer is the antidote to fear and apathy.
Application: Leaders, do you pray for the ministry? Awana leaders, do you pray for your teachers? Joy leaders, do you pray for your people?
3. UNWAVERING DETERMINATION
Nehemiah 2:19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?”
Background: Just when you’d think that everyone would be happy about this, there was opposition. Who was Sanballat? Archaeologists tell us that he was the governor of Samaria to the north of Jerusalem. He was Nehemiah’s chief enemy. The wall was a threat to him. Listen to what he says in Nehemiah 4:2And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, “What are these feeble Jews doing? (He mocked them physically.) Will they fortify themselves? (He mocked their military ability.) Will they offer sacrifices? (He mocked their faith) Will they complete it in a day? (He mocked their determination.) Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish—stonesthat are burned?” (He mocked their resources).Ridicule or mockery is Satan’s choice weapon to discourage and dishearten God’s people.Shakespearecalled ridicule “paper bullets of the brain.” Scottish PhilosopherThomas Carlyle once called ridicule “the language of the devil.” 3Now Tobiah the Ammonitewasbeside him…” Who was Tobiah? He was the governor of Ammon to the east of Jerusalem. He came from a family of very powerful Jewish aristocrats. He wasn’t happy either because the wall was also a threat to him.“And he said, ‘Whatever they build, if even a fox goes upon it,he will break down their stone wall.’”Chuck Swindoll remarked – “Critics run with critics.” Who was Geshem?Some archaeological discoveries describe him as the governor of Dedan; others describe him as the king of Kedar. That being the case, Geshem controlled the eastern desert region of Syria, northern Arabia, Sinai, and northern Egypt. He was a very powerful ruler and he was afraid that rebuilding the wall and empowering the people would interfere with his lucrative trade in myrrh and frankincense, besides many other things.
Application: Have you ever had to deal with Satan’s mockery? I’ve had to. Sometimes he uses people who appear very close to you. You would think that it would be easy to brush it off but it’s not. Warren Wiersbe said, “Some people who can stand bravely when they are shot at will collapse when they are laughed at.”
4. FIGHTING FAITH
Nehemiah 4 14And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”20Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”
Ultimately, we have to remember that we are fighting for our families and God is fighting for us. Translated: We are serving for our children and our grandchildren and God will take care of the problems.
Application:How do you see your role at Clearview? Is it “I got to teach Sunday School. I have to keep nursery. I have practice tonight. Is it Kindle again this week?” Or do you look at what you do as fighting for your brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, wives, and husbands? Do you see the mighty hand of God in the rebuilding of his kingdom?
Do you have the mind to work? Are you saved?
LEARNING TO GIVE SACRIFICIALLY by Pastor Shah
God used Nehemiah to lead the Jewish people to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. The whole project was nothing short of supernatural! Nonetheless, the people had to give financially to the work. Why? Because God does not violate natural laws and human laws. The mortar still had to be purchased – it did not just fall out of the sky. The stones still had to be ordered – they did not just chisel themselves. The tools still had to be bought – they did not just appear out of thin air. The people had to give money towards the cost and expenses of the project.
This is very important for us to understand at Clearview. Even though God is doing a great work in our church, it doesn’t mean that the concrete, bricks, and lumber will fall out of the sky; it doesn’t mean the trusses will build themselves and the roof will grow on it. It requires our financial support.
Some of us have the wrong idea that someone else is going to pay for this. Praise God for those who are giving faithfully. But God’s order has not changed. Everyone should give according to what He has given to us. Here are a list of common excuses:
– “Tithing is Old Testament” – Remember, Abraham gave a tithe way before Moses ever gave the Ten Commandments. In fact, in the NT, tithing is just the starting point!
– “Just cause I don’t give doesn’t mean I don’t love Jesus or the church” – When John Wesley would visit his congregations he would ask his assistants if their Christianity had affected their pockets. That is the real test of what we believe. I love the bumper sticker: “Honk if you love Jesus.” But I like this one better: “Tithe if you love Jesus. Any fool can honk.”
– “I would if I had some extra”—God instituted tithing to teach us that it all belongs to Him and that we are to give back a portion of what He has given us. It’s like the father who buys French Fries for his son. Then just like fathers do—he reaches over to take one and the little boy slaps his father’s hand. “Don’t touch my French fries!” Now the father knows that he bought the fries. He could take all of them. He could get angry with his son. He could throw them in a trashcan. He could do anything he wanted to with those fries. The problem is that his son is selfish. That is the same way with us when we refuse to give God our tithe. We slap God’s hand and say, “Don’t touch my money!”
– “I give what I can”—You are to tithe on your gross not on your net. When you tithe on your net, you are in essence saying that the government not God gets the “first fruit” of our increase. If you are giving only $5, ask yourself—are you only making $50 per month? If you are giving $50, are you only making $500 a month? Young people—if you are getting paid, you should be giving your tithes and offerings. Single people—if you are working, you should be giving your tithes and offerings. Married Couples – if each of you is working, each of you should tithe. If you are on a fixed income – you should still tithe. If you are on a retirement, you should still tithe. I’ve heard people say – “I’m not a member so I don’t have to give.” Ask yourself—“Has this church changed your life?” “Has the preaching, ministry, and friendships at Clearview helped you and your family, then you should give.”
Growing up both Nicole and I saw our mom and dad giving their tithes and offerings to the Lord. We saw them struggling but still giving faithfully. They set an example for us to follow. The first check that Nicole writes in our home is the tithe check. Does it get tight sometimes? Yes it does. It is a reminder of the pain that the Father felt when He gave His Only Son to die on the cross for our sins. When we give faithfully, God does things with our tithes and offerings that are way beyond our imagination. We get much more than we bargained for.
Corrie Ten Boom said, “I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”
GETTING A HANDLE ON MONEY by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson
Nehemiah 7:70-73 70 And some of the heads of the fathers’ houses gave to the work. The governor gave to the treasury one thousand gold drachmas, fifty basins, and five hundred and thirty priestly garments. 71 Some of the heads of the fathers’ houses gave to the treasury of the work twenty thousand gold drachmas, and two thousand two hundred silver minas. 72 And that which the rest of the people gave was twenty thousand gold drachmas, two thousand silver minas, and sixty-seven priestly garments. 73 So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the Nethinim, and all Israel dwelt in their cities. When the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities.
Overall Background: Nehemiah led the Jewish people to rebuild the wall around the city of Jerusalem. To this day, you can see the remains of that old wall and it is nothing short of a miracle! How could these people do all that and that too in only 52 days! Clearly, it was a work of God. God brought them together, protected them, guided them, and gave them the strength to work together to finish the wall in record time. No doubt it was the work of God. But if we just stop there, we will have an incomplete picture of what really happened. In chapter 7, Nehemiah gives us a report of the number of people who were involved in the project and the amount of money they gave to the building project. Meaning: Even though the whole building project was a work of God,
- The mortar had to be purchased. It did not just fall out of the sky.
- The stones had to be ordered. They did not just chisel themselves.
- The tools had to be bought. They did not just appear out of thin air.
The people had to work together and give money towards the cost and expenses of the project. This is very important to understand. Just because God did a powerful work does not mean He violated natural laws and human laws. Even though God was ultimately doing the work, the people also had to do their part.
Just because God is behind all that is happening at Clearview, it doesn’t mean that the concrete, bricks, and lumber will fall out of the sky; it doesn’t mean the trusses will build themselves and the roof will grow on it. It requires our financial support.
I titled this message – “Getting a Handle on Money” because how we give money towards God’s work has a direct impact on what happens to money in our own hands. In other words, how you give is how you keep.
Three important observations in this text:
I. EVERYONE WAS EXPECTED TO GIVE.
70 And some of the heads of the fathers’ houses gave to the work.
Background: Who were the “heads of the fathers’ houses?” The father’s house is the extended family unit between the larger tribe and the individual family unit. The larger tribes would be the tribe of Judah, Benjamin and Levi. Under each tribe would be many extended families – the family of Arah, Elam, and Azgad. Under each extended family there were hundreds of individual family units of husband, wife, and their children. The heads of the fathers’ houses set the tone for their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren to give.
For e.g. Growing up mom and dad would always talk about giving our tithes and offerings in church. We saw them struggling but still giving faithfully. They set an example for us to give. Not like the guy who came to church with his family? As they were driving home, he was complaining about everything: “The music was too loud. The sermon was too long. The announcements were unclear. The building was hot. The people were unfriendly.” He went on and on, complaining about everything. Finally, his little boy in the back seat piped up, “Dad, but you’ve got to admit—It wasn’t a bad show for a buck.”
So the heads of the extended families gave but it doesn’t stop there. “The governor gave to the treasury” – Some translations have the word “Tirshatah” which in Hebrew literally means “the one to be feared or respected.” It was the title for the governor. Who was the governor? I believe the governor was none other than Nehemiah. He was not there just barking orders but he invested his own money.
At Clearview, we believe that leaders should lead in giving. That does not mean that you should be the largest giver in the church but you should give proportionately to your income. Someone here makes $10,000 a month and they give $200 but another person makes $1000 and gives $100. Who is giving more? The one who is giving $100.
So the heads of the extended families and the governor gave but it doesn’t stop there.
72 And that which the rest of the people gave – Who are they? Everybody else.
Application: How is your giving at Clearview? Many of us have this idea – the rich guys are going to pay for this. I don’t have to give anything. Praise God for those who are wealthy and are giving so faithfully. But God’s order has not changed. Everyone should give according to what He has given to us. Young people—if you are getting paid, you should be giving your tithes and offerings. Single people—if you are working, you should be giving your tithes and offerings. Married Couples – if each of you is working, each of you should tithe. If you are on a fixed income – you should still tithe. If you are on a retirement, you should still tithe. I’ve heard people say – “I’m not a member so I don’t have to give.” Let me ask you—“Has this church changed your life?” “Has the preaching, ministry, and friendships at Clearview helped you and your family, then you should give.”
II. EVERYONE GAVE ABOVE AND BEYOND.
How much did the governor give? Verse 70 The governor gave to the treasury one thousand gold drachmas, What is a “drachma?” It was actually aPersian gold coin called “daric.” The word “dari” was an Old Persian word for gold. It was 98% gold and 2% alloy for hardness. It weighed about 1/3 of an ounce. One Daric could buy you an ox or pay a soldier’s salary for a month. That is a lot of money!
How much did Governor Nehemiah give? 1000 gold drachmas = 20 pounds of gold besides fifty basins, and five hundred and thirty priestly garments.
How much did the heads of the fathers’ houses give? Verse 71 twenty thousand gold drachmas, and two thousand two hundred silver minas. What is a “mina?” It was a Babylonian silver coin. One mina = 60 shekels. One shekel was the average monthly wage and so one mina would pay an average worker for 5 years. That is a lot of money!
How much did the rest of the people give? Verse 72 twenty thousand gold drachmas, two thousand silver minas, and sixty-seven priestly garments. These people gave above and beyond what was expected of them. They had plenty of reasons not to give:
– We have just returned from Babylon. We are just getting settled. We don’t have a stable job.
– There is no guarantee if this project is going to work. What if it all fails?
– We don’t live in Jerusalem. It’s not going to benefit us.
– We are helping out at the building. We don’t have to give any money.
– Nehemiah’s got all the money. Let him give. The heads of the families have all the money. Let them give.
These people could have made every excuse in the book but they didn’t. They gave above and beyond. They gave sacrificially. They gave overwhelmingly.
Listen carefully: I believe that Clearview is a loving church, praying church, singing church, going church but we have yet to be a giving church. I hear all kinds of excuses:
– “Tithing is Old Testament” – Abraham gave a tithe way before Moses ever gave the Ten Commandments. In fact, in the NT, tithing is just the starting point!
– “Just cause I don’t give doesn’t mean I don’t love Jesus”—Like the bumper sticker: “Honk if you love Jesus.” I heard of another one—“Tithe if you love Jesus. Any fool can honk.” When John Wesley would visit his congregations he would often ask his assistants about their progress in the faith. He would often ask if their Christianity had affected their pockets. That is the real test of what we believe. We have yet to love God with our wallets.
– “I would if I had some extra”—God instituted tithing to teach us that it all belongs to Him and that we are to give back a portion of what He has given us. It’s like the father who buys French Fries for his son. Then just like fathers do. He reaches over to take one and the little boy slaps his father’s hand. “Don’t touch my French fries!” Now the father knows that he bought the fries. He could take all of them. He could get angry with his son. He could throw them in a trashcan. He could do anything he wanted to with those fries. The problem is that his son is selfish. That is the same way with us when we refuse to give God our tithe. We slap God’s hand and say, “Don’t touch my money!”
– “I give what I can”—You are to tithe on your gross not on your net. When you tithe on your net, you are in essence saying that the government not God gets the “first fruit” of our increase. If you are throwing in $5—are you only making $50 per month? I give $50; are you only making $500 a month?
Application: This is a tough message but it is desperately needed. Are we stealing from God? Are we playing safe? Are you hiding behind someone else’s giving?
III. EVERYONE BENEFITED FROM GIVING.
73 So the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the Nethinim, and all Israel dwelt in their cities.
Background: Because the people gave financially, the wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt. Stability, peace, security, and prosperity returned to the nation. Their enemies realized that the Jewish people were back in control and they were afraid to attack them and vandalize their cities and their properties. What’s more? “When the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities.” Not only did they build the wall in record time but they also repopulated their original cities in record time! Just in time for the Feast of the Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of the Tabernacles. Isn’t that amazing?! Everything was a testimony to the hand of God upon His people.
When we give faithfully, God does things with our tithes and offerings that are way beyond our imagination. We get much more than we bargained for.
For e.g. The first check that Nicole writes in our home is the tithe check. Does it get tight sometimes? Yes it does. It is a sacrifice but God wants us to feel the pain when we give to Him. It is a reminder of the pain that the Father felt when He gave His Only Son to die on the cross for our sins. But every month God meets our needs in amazing ways. He always has. Not only that but He takes what we give back to Him and He multiplies it much much more.
How awesome it is to see God turning our community around and changing the hearts and minds of men and women, boys and girls!
1. Is Jesus Christ your Savior?
2. Is in charge of your finances?
Corrie Ten Boom said, “I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”