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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Finishing up my story

I gave away over $5,000.00 at church last weekend. I'm really sorry if you missed it. I was trying to illustrate how God is the One who actually provides the seed money for us. (See II Corinthians 9:6-11)

So I randomly picked someone from the congregation and gave them ten ONE DOLLAR bills and asked them, "If I gave this to you, would you be willing to put ONE dollar in the offering plate?"

I wanted to prove that if you KNEW that God was the One who gave you your resources, it would be EASY to tithe.

Then I called another parishioner forward and gave them ten TEN DOLLAR bills and asked them, "If I gave this to you, would you be willing to give ONE ten dollar bill back to God?"

Next, I called someone forward and was going to hand out ten ONE HUNDRED dollar bills (for those of you who are not very good at math, that is $1,000.00 cash). At this point in the sermon, I had everyone's attention. I then asked, "If I gave this to you, would you be willing to give ONE one hundred dollar bill from this one thousand dollars back to God?" Everyone answered YES to this question.

Then I asked each recipient of the $1000.00, "Before I give you this $1,000.00, I want to ask you, do you ALREADY TITHE? Do you currently give God a tithe of all you have?" One lady that was called up to receive the $1,000.00 responded, "No, but I'm willing to start."

It was VERY difficult for me, but I then took the thousand dollars away from her and gave it to a young man named Dustin, who had acknowledged that he was, in fact, a tither. I felt sooooooooo
bad taking the thousand dollars away from that lady, but if I was going to give a thousand dollars to someone, I wanted to make sure they were already a tither...

After church, Dustin came into my office and told me that he was having some difficult times and that he had literally put his LAST five dollars into buying gas so that he could drive to church. He then told me that before I started handing out the money, that if for SOME STRANGE REASON, I picked him out of the crowd, and if I were to give him any money, he promised the Lord that he would give 50% back to the Lord.

So in my office, he counted out FIVE ONE HUNDRED dollar bills and slid them across my desk. He then took the five remaining one hundred dollar bills, held them up, and told me that I had no idea how much this was going to make a difference in his life.

He was telling me this story with tears running down his face, and as he was talking, I was reminded of the many times that God has shown me His faithfulness. I pray that through our study of the ABC's of financial success, each of us will learn that it is impossible to out-give God.

Why not grab your Bible, and read through II Corinthians 9:6-11 again?



Vanessa said...

This story brought tears to my eyes. It is beautiful! I've learned God will always provide what I need when I am faithful to give generously as He leads. I am encouraged when I hear stories like this. Thanks for sharing it!

c.hanson said...

dear pastor dudley:
it's great to sense God's power in(sst/sun) service. since our "day of prayer",i notice it more every service i attend. it's wonderful to sense His power as well as His love. this series of messages will give us many blessings & challenges. We have been given much , much will be required on our knees.

Christin said...

When we left the service, I turned to my husband and said,"Maybe Dustin really needed that money." Boy, did he ever! Thanks for sharing the rest of the story. The Lord truly provides for those who diligently give back to him through tithing.

Christin Ritter

zferrer said...

You mentioned that the last time you had a sermon about money was 2005. Ironically that was the week my son's teacher asked me to come to church with her. I never attended sermons before this and always thought that all churches care about is how much money they got. You should have seen the look on my face when you spoke about receiving more tithing. As you can guess I didn't show up at your church again until July of 2006.

Chris Ray said...

Ok Pastor Dudley,

I know this is a book, but I finally have some time to write you. Though I missed out on "monetary blessing from the pulpit" Sunday, the Men's Encounter I was on was well worth the the absence. As a side note of advertisement, "anyone reading this post, you owe it to yourself and your family to attend a Men's or Women's Encounter; if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired in your spiritual walk, this is the retreat for you."

So to the issue at hand. I made a rare appearance at a Saturday night service tonight, and heard the Malachi 3:10 message. Now my wife and I have been reading the ABC book(sorry I haven't finished it), and through the book and reading the Word we have been getting convicted in a number of ways. Now we have been Tithers for years, but last week my heart was pricked about Tithing. All these years we had been tithing on our net. But with coming into the true understanding of giving God the first fruits, it clicked. The true tithe should go to God first. Even though the FICA, Social Security, and all the other government entities take their money of the top, that does not absolve us from giving what is owed to God. Consequently, I told my wife last week it was time to tithe off of our Gross. Now I was waiting for the opposition. But because God is so good, she just said, ok, let's do it. So last week, I wrote the first Tithe check based on our gross income. It was a bit tough adding those additional dollars, but then I remembered, it was never mine in the first place.

On top of my tithing revelation, the Lord also spoke to me about another financial situation. We recently have been looking for our first home. Not that it's at all a shocker, but on paper we can't really afford to buy in the Northwest Valley, where we currently live. So we've been taking freeway trips with our realtor and looking high and low. Nevertheless, just like I heard the word about more tithing in Malachi 3:10, I also saw the part about testing God. (I'm trying to shorten this story, but I just can't seemed to get it out without including the details.) This just gave me the second confirmation I needed about what God wants to do in this home purchase. So as crazy as I had to have sounded, I told our realtor that we would no longer be looking in the booneys, but would be changing the location and housing size to things I know without a miracle we can't afford. The Lord says if we tithe, he will pour us out blessings that we will not have room to hold. With this home purchase, he told me that it would not only bless us and stretch our faith, but it would be a testimony to his glory.

Just to bring it home. I'm a numbers guy. So this thought of looking at a homes that I can't even ask the bank about, in my natural mind seems plane stupid. The simple fact that I'm writing this down for public view is a huge leap of faith for me. God has seen my faith during unemployment and down personal times in my life. However, I think there is a different type or another level of faith that you need to have to truly believe God will give you those above and beyond blessings. Now just let me add, I'm not at all advocating or planning on buying a home we cannot afford. There will be no creative financing or paperwork to maneuver into a place we will be out of in six months, while claiming this was the Lord's will. If I'm hearing correctly, and this is God's will, then he will provide a legitimate avenue. I don't know if that means someone is going to offer us a house at half it's value, or if money is going to fall into our laps unexpectedly. But I do know, that I'm depending on the same God that formed the world, parted the Red Sea, and fed the Israelites with Manna; so what's is too hard for God.

Pastor, please keep being obedient and preaching these sermons that cut like a double-edged sword. You just don't know how many of us are getting free. Next step is freedom from debt. I’ll keep you posted.

We love you, and as usual will keep lifting you up in prayer.

Chris Ray

Proverbs 10:22
The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.