Sermon Date: September 8, 2019
Sermon By: Pastor Jon Hartmann
Scripture: Haggai 1:1-11
Giving to God Doesn't Make Sense
“Why them and not us? It doesn’t make sense.” Do you think anyone here on Florida’s east coast is asking these questions? Why the Bahama’s and not us? Why the Carolina’s and not us? Over 200,000 lose power to what, maybe 1,000 here? They get a foot of rain and flooding and we get less than ½ inch? It just doesn’t make sense.
God’s people must have been thinking the same thing 2,500 years ago. “This doesn’t make sense! We are God’s chosen people! And yet we were dragged away from our inheritance--the Promised Land! Our city wiped out. Homes destroyed. God’s house a heap of rubble? Why Lord? It just doesn’t make sense…
And then 70 years later when they returned from exile, they must have been thinking the same thing. Jerusalem was deserted, walls and gates destroyed, temple courts once full of people and singing were now full of weeds and silence. It just doesn’t make sense….
So God’s people did that which made sense. It was time to rebuild! And rebuild they did! They rebuilt the city walls. A new altar was installed on Temple Mount, and even began to lay the foundation for the new temple.
But soon the rebuilding of the temple and more attention was being given to building projects that made a lot more sense: Verses 2-3: This is what the LORD Almighty says, “These people(ouch). These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.’ Why? Was it opposition? No. Was it the Samaritans? Even though they did oppose the building plans, the problem wasn’t the Samaritans. The problem was sin. Verse 4: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house (the temple) remains a ruin?” They were more concerned about building their own houses than building the house of the LORD. 5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it. Verse 9: You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. It didn’t make sense! It’s like the child who on Easter morning is gathering eggs and putting them into his basket not knowing there is a whole in the basket. No matter how hard he tries to gather much he ends up with nothing. The Israelites were trying to gather up much. But the LORD, the giver of every good and perfect gift was making sure they had little. And why? The LORD Almighty tells us why. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.
The Israelites were preaching their own sermon on their priorities and what really mattered to them. It made sense to them to rebuild their houses! If anything had to wait it was God’s house and not momma’s house. Putting God first and giving to God first didn’t make a bit of sense.
You know what I was told this past week? That offerings are going to be way down now this week because of the hurricane. Maybe unpaid time away from work or supplies that needed to be bought, all of those essentials like Dorian size bags of Doritos or Dorian size packages of Oreo’s. But it does make sense, doesn’t it, that offerings may be down because of all we had to spend this past week?
You know what else makes sense? If we put ourselves first, if we pay ourselves first, if we save for ourselves first, invest it carefully, we will get more cents. Makes sense! But if I give money away, if I give money to church, if I give more of my money to the LORD in my offerings that I will have less money. That’s the way money works, right? Humanly speaking, it makes sense.
Do you know what also makes perfect sense to us? How our sinful nature works. How our sinful nature loves to keep stuff, store stuff, even stockpile stuff. We may even call it the good life. God calls it greed. We call it being sensible. God calls is it being sinful.
I have to be honest--I wasn’t all that excited to begin this 10 for 10 stewardship series. We hear the word Stewardship and we see dollar signs. That’s what we sometimes think but it’s not true. And many think all the church cares about it is money. And that is not true. I wasn’t excited to talk about giving to the LORD because of the old saying, “The last part of a man to be converted is his wallet.” That makes sense, doesn’t it? Why is it that we are afraid to talk about money? Jesus parables are loaded (pun intended) with talk about money and possessions. Why are we afraid to talk about money? Because when it comes to giving money it reveals our giving problem. The problem is the same as the people of Haggai’s day. The problem is our hearts. The problem is sin.
And yet at the same time I WAS excited to talk to you about giving. Does that make sense? It does when it comes to the giving of our God! It’s God’s giving that doesn’t make sense! That the sinless Son of God would give himself completely for selfish sinners like you and me makes no sense whatsoever. That’s why we sing Amazing Grace! It’s complete underserved and it is amazing! And Jesus didn’t give 10% of himself. He gave all of himself for us and our salvation. And think of all he gave up! Streets of gold for Bethlehem’s barn? He had no house! He had no home of his own. He had no place to lay his head! All that he gave up for you! But nothing as priceless and precious as what he gave to get you! He didn’t swipe a card for you. He shed he precious blood for you to redeem you and make you his own. The one who said: “I thirst” is the one who washed you clean in baptism! The one who cried out “Why have you forsaken me” is precisely the one who will never leave you or forsake you! The one who prayed “Give us this day our daily bread” is the same one who opens his hands and satisfies all your desires. Can you trust a God like that? Does that make any sense? Of course, it does! Thank God that you do trust a God like that!
And you will have an opportunity to demonstrate that trust in a real, tangible, meaningful way. In two weeks you will be given a commitment card that will give you that opportunity to do two things: 1--Ponder, pray and plan what you will give to your LORD with your offerings. What am I giving each week or month? What percentage am I giving? Am I giving regularly, generously and with a cheerful heart. That is our weekly/monthly offering.
2--But you will also be given the opportunity to accept the 10 for 10 challenge. This is above and beyond your regular offering. For 10 weeks give 10% to your LORD. Does that sound crazy? Doesn’t make any sense? Then listen to what the LORD Almighty says, Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. You see what the LORD says here? It doesn’t make sense! I give and the LORD will give me even more? Test him in this--even if it doesn’t make sense.
So, let me ask you again. Does it make any sense for our offerings to go down the week after a hurricane? It doesn’t make sense, does it! But if there was EVER a week for offerings to go up it would be now. Offerings of thanksgiving to our God who kept us and our families, our homes and our facilities safe! Offerings of thanksgiving to our God because aren’t busy rebuilding our own houses! We have every reason to give to him our prayers and praises and thanks and our offerings!
Brothers, sisters-- Jesus gave us his all. Our Father gave us his best. Let us gladly give to God our all, our best. Amen.
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