"Our Daily Bread" (Part 4 of 4)
From the fifth lecture in the audio seminar Praying Biblically
Our consumer culture has you and me by the throat. It is squeezing the very light and life of God out of us. The early church was noted for its generosity, for its love and for its concern for one another. I praise the Lord that this congregation has been giving over 20% of its income to the needs of those within the congregation—it is a giving church. I am saying this to you not because we have a special need for an offering today or because I am trying to put compulsion on you about being obedient to the principles of tithing. I am saying this to you out of spiritual concern for you as a teacher: what is your generosity quotient? That is your reality check.
You may dance as glorious as anybody, you may preach better than anybody, you may appear to be impressive, but if you are not a generous giving person Jesus says: “there is darkness in you where there should be light." The one who wins is not the one who gets the most toys—the one who wins in the kingdom of God, is the one who gives the most. The world wants you to get, to get, to get; Jesus asks you to give, to give, to give. You see, the kingdom of God is always a paradox—it is always opposite to what your natural flesh and the world would tell you.
You want to have life? Prepare to die.
You want to receive much? Give up everything.
You want to be exalted? Humble yourselves.
You try to exalt yourself? Beware. God will abase you.
You try to hold on to what you have? It will be taken from you.
Nobody can go to a funeral and not be reminded that in the end it is all vanity, it is emptiness, it is hollowness. Then why are you grasping, grasping for the wind? Why not lay hold of God, let him be your sufficiency, let him give you the emotional stability that you need. Let the community that you are a part of help you go through difficult times. When you are in good times, may you be known as someone full of light, someone who gives of themselves, of their time, of their gifts and of their income to meet the needs of the people of God—someone who tastes the manna.
Have you tasted the manna; have I? For myself, I fear not. Psalm 68 says: “Bless the Lord day by day, for our God is a God who saves.” Jesus says: “I have bread to eat that you know not of.” Anybody want to taste the bread of life? How would you like to taste the bread that Jesus consumed? What is this bread? To do the will of our Father in heaven.
Our Father in heaven, you are holy and you desire us to conduct ourselves in such a way as to sanctify your holy name. You desire to rule and reign in us as King and we pray that your will be done in us, but Lord when it comes to this test, too many of us stumble. We do not know the sweet manna that Jesus ate—of doing your will when it comes to matters of money. Teach us Lord to enter into the fullness of the light of God by being generous people, by giving not under compulsion. Not legalistically on the one hand nor reluctantly on the other hand. But when the need arises, when the duty demands, may we give cheerfully and joyfully—may we do so with a heart that overflows with thanksgiving unto God. May we have enough confidence in you as our Father that we can readily share what we have because we know you will provide our needs in every measure of sufficiency.
And Father, in Jesus’ name I come against every spirit of greed that is within me or within any member of this body. The world tries its best to program us, to demonize us with consumerism, with greed, with acquisition, with desire for more and more—yet it is a desire that is insatiable, it can never be satisfied. Father, may the Spirit of Christ and the power of his blood break any bonds of mammon, of idolatry with respect to money that binds us. May it be broken that we may be set free to understand that it is not by our might or power that we earn our wealth, it is a gift from you Father—we are but stewards. And as good stewards Father, may we be sensitive to those in need; may we be generous in giving; may we be disciplined in the precepts and principles of tithing. Father, if any of us have checked our generosity quotient, and we find that we are low or maybe even running on an empty tank, O gracious abundant Father, fill us up to overflowing, with good measure, pressed down. May you fill us with the same spirit of generosity that so propelled our Lord in everything he did, even to the point of giving up his life for every member of this congregation. Amen
Jesus gave it up, so do not hold out on him. Give it up for Jesus, with all your heart, soul and mind. With all your might, may you worship God Most High, for he will give you the sufficiency for this day.
* This is an audio transcript, listen to the original message here.