"AS YOU WELL KNOW, WHEN I FIRST BROUGHT THE GOSPEL TO YOU AND THEN WENT ON MY WAY...ONLY YOU PHILIPPIANS BECAME MY PARTNERS IN GIVING AND RECEIVING." (Phil. 4:15 TLB)
I am sick and tired of getting beat up by the heresy hunters on this question: Should we GIVE, expecting to RECEIVE from God? How they rant and rage against this so-called "prosperity gospel." After all, Jesus was poor and we should be like Jesus! We should give out of pure love for God in obedience to His word, never expecting anything but the barest of necessities until we get to heaven! They chew us up and spit us out on their radio programs, books, and newsletters.
So, let me ask you and them one eternal question: DID GOD GIVE HIS SON TO DIE, EXPECTING NOTHING IN RETURN? Well, the answer is so obvious it really does not need an answer!
GOD HAD A NEED—so what did He do? HE GAVE!
Yes, He gave and He gave the very thing He needed. His first family had sinned and betrayed Him—He lost his first son and daughter. Yes, "GOD SO LOVED…THAT HE GAVE." So, what did God RECEIVE? As we have shared many times—God received millions, no, billions of sons and daughters and you, dear Partner, are one of them! Praise the Lord! WE are God's reward for HIS GIVING! God lives by His own law—you HAVE TO GIVE to receive! Yes—
"FOR IT BECAME HIM [GOD]…IN BRINGING MANY SONS UNTO GLORY, TO MAKE THE CAPTAIN OF THEIR SALVATION PERFECT THROUGH SUFFERING." (Heb. 2:10)
In the old covenant, they gave to God simply because God said so—it was the law. In Exodus 34, God told Moses to command the people that:
"NO ONE SHALL APPEAR BEFORE ME WITHOUT A GIFT." (Ex. 34:20 TLB)
I have teased pastors by asking what their members would think if they stood at the front door of the church and required the tithe and offerings before letting the congregation in to worship! Well, in the Old Testament you did not even think about entering the temple of God without a gift.
Right here I think we ought to begin praising the Lord that now, under the NEW COVENANT, God's plan is to REWARD us in obedience to giving! I know, we'll have to scrape the heretic hunters off the ceiling, but I dare you to read on.
First, let me say MOTIVE has to enter here. I think we are all mature enough to know that we give first and foremost because we love the Lord and are saying "THANK YOU" for our salvation. Secondly, our motive must be our love for a lost world on their way to hell. But, thirdly, I will prove from God's word that it is perfectly RIGHT to give to God and His work, with a need, fully EXPECTING God to meet that need and to REWARD you for your giving!
Jan remarked one day that if we are all poor, sick, and broke how in heaven's name are we supposed to obey Jesus' command to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoners, care for the widows and orphans, etc., etc.?
Actually, Jesus said it best of all—I love the Living Bible account:
"FOR IF YOU GIVE, YOU WILL GET! YOUR GIFT WILL RETURN TO YOU IN FULL AND OVERFLOWING MEASURE, PRESSED DOWN, SHAKEN TOGETHER TO MAKE ROOM FOR MORE AND RUNNING OVER." (Luke 6:38)
Jesus even goes on to make it clear just how much to give:
"WHATEVER MEASURE YOU USE TO GIVE—LARGE OR SMALL—WILL BE USED TO MEASURE WHAT IS GIVEN BACK TO YOU." (Luke 6:38b)
Oh, I know, even the promises of God can be abused. I've heard stories of those who gave sort of like buying a lotto ticket! When their 100-fold did not come immediately, they wanted their gift back! If that's your motive, DON'T GIVE! It is dangerous to give to God and then ask for it back!
Ah, dear Partner, it is all through the Word—Jesus also said that if we will give to reap a harvest of souls that there would, indeed, be a reward.
"AND HE THAT REAPETH, RECEIVETH WAGES AND GATHERETH FRUIT ETERNAL…." (Matt. 4:35, 36)
As I have said before—WAGES means a paycheck! God is an equal opportunity employer—He pays GOOD WAGES! Of course, here come the heretic hunters again! According to them, the rewards are all relegated to the "sweet by and by." But, let's all read it again:
"NO MAN HATH LEFT HOUSE OR BRETHREN OR SISTERS OR FATHER, OR MOTHER OR WIFE OR CHILDREN OR LANDS, FOR MY SAKE…"
Okay, here it is heretic hunters—
"BUT SHALL RECEIVE AN HUNDREDFOLD NOW IN THIS TIME, HOUSES, BRETHREN…AND LANDS…" (Mark 10:29, 30)
How about the Apostle Paul? First he says:
"LET HIM THAT IS TAUGHT…COMMUNICATE [GIVE] UNTO HIM THAT TEACHETH…ALL GOOD THINGS." (Gal. 6:6)
I often ask, "Have you received anything good from TBN? Teaching, comfort, healing, salvation, answered prayer, 100-fold?" I am amazed and grieved that while millions watch TBN only a very few, comparatively, respond with a love gift of support. No wonder that some are sick, busted, and disgusted—YOU HAVE NOT GIVEN GOD ANY SEED—SO GUESS WHAT? YOU GET NO HARVEST!
Finally, Paul the apostle says—
"AND LET US NOT BE WEARY IN WELL DOING [GIVING] FOR IN DUE SEASON WE SHALL REAP A REWARD IF WE FAINT NOT." (Gal. 6:9)
As I have said a thousand times or more: "The heretic hunters have reached Jan and me too late." Let me tell you why with a final, little story.
In 1973, when TBN first began, the day came when we could buy our first TV station—Channel 40 here in southern California. The owner not only demanded a $100,000 down payment which God provided by a miracle (read my book), but also he demanded a personal guarantee from Jan and me. All we had was a little equity in our home for which we had paid $38,500. I can clearly remember my sweaty palms as I signed—everything we owned—on the dotted line. Jan had more faith than I—she says she had no fear at all. She was resigned to moving into the back of the TV studio as we pioneered Christian television. What a "personal guarantee" meant was simply this: if TBN was not successful the creditor had the right to come and take our house, car, furniture, and virtually all personal possessions! I remember leaving that meeting knowing that it was "all on the line." It was sink or swim, baby! And, yet, there was an inner peace and joy knowing we were in God's will.
Actually, I did not realize it at the time, but we had just put into motion Jesus' own promise from Luke chapter 10: "No one hath left house or…." As the work of TBN progressed, it was "touch and go"—good days and bad, many days when the bank account was empty, but I can tell you, nearly thirty years later, we never missed a payroll and, better yet, we never missed a payment on Channel 40! By the way, it was $9,333.33 a month till the full million was paid! Praise the Lord!
So, what did Paul and Jan RECEIVE for the gift of our home? Let me hasten to say that we did not, in fact, ever have to give up our home or possessions. I liken it to an Abraham-Isaac sacrifice. God provided a substitute. But, like Abraham, we were willing to give it all to God!
So does "Luke 10" work? Well, Jan and I still own that little home in Newport Beach, and our model is selling for up to one million dollars! Wow, it just hit me—that's what we paid for Channel 40! Not a bad return on our $38,500, wouldn't you say? That's more than 100-fold!
And, now, since we travel so much, we get to stay in lovely guest houses from coast-to-coast visiting the many TV stations. But, guess what—God has also given us thousands of new fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers, and I KNOW every one of you would give us a room and a dinner if we knocked on your door! We gave ONE HOUSE—God has given us a million houses or more—so ask Jan and me if God's promises are true. Yes, yes, yes—a million times yes!
Do you have a need? I've given you the KEY! Put it in the lock and turn it! GIVE GOD SOMETHING TO WORK WITH.
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