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Category Archives: Finances

Tozer on Money

“As base a thing as money often is, yet it can be transmuted into everlasting treasure. It can be converted into food for the hungry and clothing for the poor. It can keep a missionary actively winning lost men to the light of the gospel and thus transmute itself into heavenly values. Any temporal possession can be turned into everlasting wealth. Whatever is given to Christ is immediately touched with immortality.”

A. W. Tozer

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2020 in A. W. Tozer, Finances, Ministry, Quotes

 

Grace Giving – summary

Here is a visual summary of the cycle of grace giving in 2 Corinthians 9:6-15.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2020 in Finances, Generosity, Scripture

 

Grace Giving

Pastor John Piper began a sermon on money by saying,

Richard Halverson, the chaplain of the U.S. Senate, pointed out something that bothers a lot of people and excites a few. He said,

Jesus Christ said more about money than about any other single thing because, when it comes to a man’s real nature, money is of first importance. Money is an exact index to a man’s true character. All through Scripture there is an intimate correlation between the development of a man’s character and how he handles his money.

That is a good paraphrase of Matthew 6:21 where Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” In other words, what your money goes after is a signal of what your heart goes after. And Jesus cares more than anything about what your heart is going after.

What our hands do with our money shows what our hearts are doing with God. Or to get right at the heart of the matter: what we do with our money shows what we believe God is doing with us. What money is to us shows what God is to us.

2 Corinthians 9:6-15 is the culmination of Paul’s teaching on the subject of giving. In 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, he explained the principles of giving. In 2 Corinthians 8, he presented the church in Macedonia as an example of generous giving. In 2 Corinthians 8:7, he challenged the church in Corinth to excel in the act of generosity. In 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, Paul explains the cycle of grace giving. We have been blessed in order to be a blessing.

Give generously (6-7). Each one of us has the responsibility and privilege of giving. Giving is to be planned (“decided”), kept private (“in his heart”), done willingly (“not reluctantly or under compulsion”), and joyfully (“cheerful”).

As we contemplate how much to give, we need to keep in mind two facts. (1) The law of the harvest. If we sow sparingly, we receive a rather thin harvest. If we sow generously, we receive a bountiful harvest. (2) God weighs our motives. He loves sincere (not reluctantly), willing (not under compulsion), cheerful givers.

God’s grace abounds to us (8a). When we give, God responds by pouring out his grace to us. Paul heaps four words together to make his point—“all grace,” “all sufficiency,” “all things,” and “all times.” God will give us all we need, not necessarily all we want.

We give even more to God (8b). God doesn’t bless us so we can be blessed. He doesn’t reward us for our own benefit. God pours out his grace so we can abound in every good work. We have been blessed in order to be a blessing.

God blesses us even more (10-11). God will multiply our seed and increase our harvest. We will be enriched in every way so we can be generous in every way. The cycle begins all over again. The more we give, the more we will be given by God to share with others.

There is a three-fold result to the cycle of grace giving. People’s needs are met (12a). God is praised and glorified (11b, 12b-13, 15). The giver is appreciated and prayed for (14). The cycle of generosity results in more and more people giving thanks to God.

Based on this passage, Christ followers should:

  • Obey God’s command to give
  • Be generous
  • Trust the law of the harvest
  • Have a proper view of God
  • Give joyfully
  • Trust God to keep his promise
  • Seek God’s glory

We have been blessed in order to be a blessing.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on February 23, 2020. It is part of a series on Generosity. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

What does your money say about your relationship with God?

This Sunday, I will begin a five-part sermon series on Genero$ity at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA. Here’s is a video preview of the first message and the series. Please join us.

 

Are you living in poverty?

Tax season is upon us. W-2 forms. 1099 forms. Deductions. Charitable contributions. You gather all your necessary paperwork and take them to the tax preparer of your choice or enter them into your financial software and file the forms yourself.

How much did you give to charitable causes last year? How many goods or services are you claiming as a charitable deduction? How much did you contribute to a church, ministry, or missionary last year? Did you contribute more than $20K? $10-20K? $7-10K? $4-7K? $2-4K? Less than $2K?

As I was contemplating this question about my level of giving, I wondered how it compared to the federal poverty level.  I looked up the “2020 Federal Poverty Guidelines Chart” and discovered the following chart.

Number of people

in household

48 States & DC Alaska Hawaii
1 $12,760 $15,950 $14,680
2 $17,240 $21,550 $19,830
3 $21,720 $27,150 $24,980
4 $26,200 $32,750 $30,130
5 $30,680 $38,380 $35,280

The chart continues to a household of nine or more.

Many churches teach that a Christ follower should give a tithe, or 10 percent, of their income back to God as a thank offering. Some argue that the tithe was part of the Old Testament Law and does not apply since we are under grace. However, the principle of the tithe existed 600 years before the Law was given (Genesis 14:17-20). Whether it is required or not, a tithe is a good guideline.

If you compare the amount of your giving with the federal poverty level, where would you land? If your giving represents 10 percent of your income, are you living in spiritual poverty? Are you miserly by keeping everything for yourself? Are you afraid to trust God to provide if you give 10 percent back to him?

For many people, giving is not a money issue. Giving is a heart issue. In Matthew 6:21, Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The amount of your charitable giving is a key indicator of your values. It reveals where your heart lies. The amount of your giving demonstrates the depth and quality of your faith.

What does your giving say about you?

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2020 in Finances

 

Marriage & Money

When our enemy wants to defeat a church, he generally attacks in the area of doctrine or practice. Within the area of practice, he often zeros in on marriage and/or money. The author of the book of Hebrews prescribes a preventative defense in Hebrews 13. He addresses a number of specific issues of practice and lifestyle that are often the target of the enemy. In verses 4-6, he encourages us to have a high view of marriage and a right perspective of money. He encourages us to hold marriage in honor and to hold money loosely.

Hold marriage in honor (4). In the first century, marriage was dishonored through one of two ways. One approach was from those who believed it was more spiritual to stay single. The other position was held by those who saw marriage as irrelevant and pursued unbridled sexual fulfillment. In our culture, we have dishonored marriage by redefining it, making it easy to get out of, and rejecting it altogether.

We need to get back to having a high view of marriage. Marriage was established by God (Genesis 2:24-25). It is a covenant relationship between one man and one woman that should not be broken. Scripture indicates that there are two circumstances in which divorce is permissible after all attempts at reconciliation have been exhausted. First, an innocent person may divorce his/her partner if the latter has been guilty of sexual immorality (Matthew 5:31-32). Second, if an unbeliever refuses to remain in the marriage with a believer and chooses to desert the marriage, the believer is therefore free (1 Corinthians 7:12-16). Only in these cases or after the death of a spouse (1 Corinthians 7:39) is remarriage allowed.

All Christians are called to maintain a radical moral purity. Any form and/or practice of sex outside the marriage covenant is sin and deserving of God’s judgment. God will bring judgment on those who violate this command. It might be in this life—physical, mental, relational, societal—or it might be in the final judgment. God’s judgment should not be taken lightly.

Commit yourself to a high view of marriage. If you are engaged or married, commit yourself to building and maintaining a strong marriage. Whether married or single, commit yourself to sexual purity. Commit yourself to living a holy life.

Hold Money Loosely (5-6). Since some of these believers had lost possessions due to persecution (10:32-34), they may have sought greater material security.

We need to have a right perspective about money. Money itself is not the problem. It is the love of money that is the problem. The lure of money has led many people astray.

We must cultivate a spirit of contentment. Contentment has nothing to do with amount. It has everything to do with attitude. Contentment is the ability to be satisfied with what God provides. Contentment comes from knowing that we have God and that he will never leave or abandon us. Knowing God’s promises, we can face the future with confidence, regardless of how much or how little we have.

Commit yourself to trusting in God’s presence and his provision. Commit yourself to being content with what God provides.

Hold marriage with honor. Hold money with an open palm.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on January 12, 2020. It is part of a series of expository sermons on the book of Hebrews. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Money, Money, Money

In an essay entitled, “How Am I Going to Make it Financially?” in the book, Faithful Endurance: The Joy of Shepherding People for a Lifetime, edited by Collin Hansen & Jeff Robinson Sr, pastor Brandon Shields makes some insightful comments about money.

Financial anxiety is an ancient problem. In Matthew 6:19-34, Jesus identifies our compulsively anxious relationship to money as one of the barriers that hinders our ability to experience the good life of the kingdom: “You cannot serve God and money. Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life” (Matt. 6:24-25). Jesus invites us to see that money is not some commodity we make to secure goods and services—it’s a primal power that can also make us insecure.

Money functions like a narrator or storyteller—it excavates the hidden motivations, values, myths, and longings that unconsciously drive our patterns of feeling, thinking, and behaving. In other words, how we relate to money reveals more that our financial principles; it uncovers our true ambitions. Money shines a bright light into our inner world, illuminating a complex ecosystem of spiritual and emotional narratives: fear, guilt, shame, joy, godly desire, selfish ambition, security, comfort, scarcity, abundance, and a legion of others.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2019 in Books, Finances, Quotes

 

Accounting humor

The comic, Non-Sequitur, certainly provides a familiar refrain. Every church I’ve served in had at least one staff or budget meeting that ended with the instruction, “Go your way and spend no more.” 

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2018 in Finances, Non-Sequitur

 

Prayerfully planning a church budget

At a recent elders’ meeting, our church administrator and the chair of our finance board joined the council to discuss how to prepare our 2019 budget. The finance chair said he was praying about four questions. He encouraged the elders and the congregation to join him in seeking God’s face regarding these issues.

Here are the questions if you would like to pray with us, or adapt them for your church’s use.

  • What do we believe will be our level of giving in 2019? How much do we think God will provide?
  • How should our budget be distributed? How much of the budget should go to staff, missions, ministries, maintenance, etc?
  • How aggressive should we be in next year’s budget? How do we find the appropriate balance between self-reliance and faith-stretching?
  • How can we best use the remaining funds in the parsonage proceeds account?
 

Building Renovation – June update

Below is a letter sent to the congregation of First Central Bible Church providing an update on the progress of our building renovation project. We’re getting closer.