Michael Youssef - Treasure That Lasts - Part 16
Anyone who've experienced the grace of God but never responds to that grace in a tangible thanksgiving, that is, of giving of themselves, that person denies, by their action, the very words of their lips. There are so many professing Christians who deny, by their activities and by their action, the very faith they profess with their mouths. One of the saddest statistics that persist, not just for years but for decades, that most Christians in America give about less than 2 1/2% back to the Lord. Something has to be terribly wrong when Christians give to God less under grace than a Jew did under the law.
In fact, the people of God in the Old Testament gave 23 1/3% of their... I'm gonna show it to you in a minute, okay? And then, on top of that, they gave freewill offering. Too many churchgoers in America give simply out of impulse or when the preacher guilts them into giving. That is a sad way to give. I lift this message from the series "Giving Up the World's Gold for God's Glory," and this is number 16, if you're counting. This is the last message from the life of Moses. Turn with me, please, to Exodus, chapter 35: "Moses said to the whole Israelite community, 'This is what the Lord has commanded: From what you have...'" if you have your Bible, you can underline "have". "From what you have, take an offering for the Lord. Everyone who is willing", here's the key word, "willing".
You can underline that too. "Everyone who is willing is to bring to the Lord an offering of gold, silver, bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skin dyed red and hides of sea cows", now, don't do that next Sunday, "acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrance incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastplate". Chapter 36, verse 6, "Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: Stop the offering". That's exactly literally what it says. "'No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.' And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because of what they already had was more than enough to do all of the work".
Moses makes it very clear here that it's the motive of giving, not what you give but the motive in giving, that is God looking for. Look with me at the text, please, verses 4 and 5 of chapter 35: "This is what the Lord commanded: Let everyone who is willing", can you say, "willing... to bring to the Lord an offering", it is the willing heart that God is looking for. It is the joyful heart in giving that the Lord is looking for, and Jesus affirms the same attitude and motive of giving when he said, "Where your treasure is, there is your heart also". A lot of people confuse that, and they actually reverse 'em and say, "Where your heart is, there's your treasure". No, that's not what he said. "Where your treasure is, there's your heart also".
Please hear me right. This is important. There is no greater way to demonstrate my loyalty to God than through my tangible giving. There is no greater expression of gratitude to God for his grace and mercy that he poured out on me than of my giving. There is no greater way to show my thankfulness for the cross than in my giving. There is no greater avenue to demonstrate my commitment to Christ than my tangible giving. Someone said, "Well, Michael, Michael, Michael, just wait a minute, wait a minute. How can this be"? Listen carefully. Jesus did not say, "Where your singing is, there's your heart also," right? This is for me. He did not say, "Where your preaching and teaching is, there's your heart also". No, he did not say, "Whatever you talk about or whatever your reputation is, that's your heart". No, no, no, no, no, he doesn't say that.
Where is your treasure? That's where you're gonna find your heart. I wanna confess to you, many of you know this, I've written about it in my books, but it's my testimony, and I've been doing this throughout the series of messages. I was ordained into the gospel ministry by the laying on of hands of the church leaders. I was ordained to the ministry, and I was unfaithful in my giving to God. It's the absolute truth. And I can testify to you, as the Lord my witness, I would never go back to that deception that I used to be in, for the whole world. Now, back then, I rationalized my unfaithfulness.
Oh, let me tell you something. If you think you can rationalize sin, you do not hold a candle to a preacher. Theologians and preachers can rationalize better than any of you. We know the Bible, and we can really figure it out in a way that we can argue with God and I'll start bargaining with God. I realize that I thought I'm from the Middle East and that I know how to bargain. I had forgotten that Jesus grew up in the same neighborhood, and he will out-bargain you every time. God commanded Moses to build a tabernacle, that is, a huge tent, and it symbolized the presence of God among his people. That's really the purpose of it.
That was the purpose of it, and I want you to imagine this: Imagine a huge stadium at the highest point of your town where you live, and all the houses, whether it be in the valley or on the hills or wherever they are, wherever they looked, they saw that big Stadium. You can't miss it. That's how the idea was so that, when people look up, they see the presence of God and be assured of him tabernacling with them in wherever they are, and that's why they carried the ark of the covenant wherever they went. This was, of course, the foreshadowing of the coming of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, whom the Bible said he, Immanuel, "God with us," he tabernacled with us. He pitched his tent and be with us. And that's why the Gospel of John says, "He tabernacled with us".
The Bible said that God inhabits, tabernacles, the praises of his people. Does it mean singing? No, no, no, praise is a whole lot more than just singing. Singing is only one way to express praise because praising God includes sacrifice. That's why it's called in the Bible, the sacrifice of praise, not just empty words. Empty words and empty praises and empty talk, all of that does not really bless God, nor God blesses that person, and that is why the Bible again speaks of the sacrifice of praise. I want you to focus on God's invitation for those willing hearts to make a freewill offering to the tabernacle.
So far, in the journey of salvation from the slavery of Egypt, the grace of God provided them with everything. Everything. They didn't have to do anything for it. Then you have to ask yourself, "Why on God's earth, why didn't God just click his finger, and the tabernacle would've come down from heaven exactly as he described for them to do"? I mean, gosh, when you read the details about this thing, my mind just goes, as a non-detail-minded person, oh, my goodness, I mean, I'm glad he didn't ask me to do any of this. It would've been a mess. Why didn't he click his finger, and the tabernacle just come down exactly as he wanted it? "The Lord our God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything".
God gave and gave and gave, and then gave some more. He gave them when they praised him. He gave them when they complained and murmured and whined and cried, and he gave them when they demanded that he gives them. He gave them when they threw tantrums, but why he kept on giving? Ah, it's because of his faithfulness, not theirs. Think about this with me, okay? Suppose there is a father who gave his son everything, I mean everything, and that son grows up to be a teenager, and the father keeps on giving him everything, everything he wants, everything he needs. The son never lifts a finger to do anything around the house, never do any type of chores in the house, never helps anybody else except himself.
Then that boy grows up and be a man, and father still gives him everything. Nothing, I mean, what he wants, what he needs, he keeps getting and getting and getting. What kind of a husband would he make? What kind of a employee would he make? What kind of a citizen would he make? What kind of a church member would he make? Would anyone in his right mind say that this son is healthy, both emotionally and spiritually? You see, that's the same with Israel, whom the Bible calls God's son. Remember, the Bible said, "Out of Egypt I called my son". And then the Gospel of Matthew compares Israel with Jesus, that Israel was the son who was disobedient, but Jesus is the Son who's obedient. You see it throughout the Gospel of Matthew.
You see, that's his son that he's calling out of Egypt, he called the apple of his eye. He wants his people to be healthy emotionally and spiritually. He wants them to be imitators of God. He wants them to have and exhibit the same spirit and generous heart that the heavenly Father has. In the same way, he wants all those who named the name of Christ, who are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, to be emotionally and spiritually healthy, how? By sacrificially giving of their substance. Listen to me, please. You have received salvation by grace. You have received provision by grace. You have received protection by grace. You have received your daily needs met by grace. You have received his guidance from one stage to the other by grace, and on and on and on.
What kind of a redeemed sons and daughters would have been if we blessed so much like that, and we didn't see it in our hearts to at least give back 10% and then freewill offering on top? What kind of a redeemed son or daughter, who takes and takes and takes, and then he takes some more? Gets and gets and gets and gets some more, but then only give the crumbs that falls off the table? Here's what God established in the Old Testament. I told you I'm gonna come back to that. Here's what he established in the Old Testament. He said the first 10%, the first 10% was to the Levites. These are the priests who are in the temple. The second is the firstfruit of their labor. That is, when they bring the harvest in, they'll take 10% of that, and they give it to the Lord. The third 10% was given every third year. I told you there's 23 1/3%. You can test me on this. And then, on top of that, a freewill offering.
What in the world God is doing here? Is he trying to make them miserable? 'Cause I think that's how our culture would've seen it. He just want 'em to suffer? What is he doing? Is he trying to impoverish them? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. He wants to remind them that he is the owner. Can I get an amen? He's the owner. He wants to teach them to know that the secret of blessing is in giving. He wants them to know that the secret of receiving is in giving. He wanted them to know that he and he alone gives them everything, everything, not your employer, not your boss, not their government, nothing.
God is the one who gives you everything. But there's more. Giving God the firstfruit is a demonstration, it's a clear demonstration of God's ownership. This is why you're saying to God, "Oh, Lord, not only that I'm being obedient, but also I trust you to provide for my tomorrow. I trust you to provide for my future and the future of my children and even children's children. God, I trust you to provide whatever I might need down the road because you have been faithful in the past, you are faithful now, you will be faithful in the future". That's why it's called the firstfruit. So "firstfruit" means it comes off the top, not the bottom. Because sometimes you get down to the bottom, and nothing left, right? It comes from the top, not the leftover. It comes from your best, not the inferior.
This remind me of a farmer who had two cows, one brown and one white, and he kept saying to his family and telling his friends, "One of those cows belong to the Lord. One of those cows belongs to the Lord. One of those cows belongs to the Lord". He never told them which one, and sure enough, one cow died. The man shook his head and said, "Oh, my, my, the Lord just lost his cow". Listen, you need to know that this kind of attitude, this is the kind of attitude, if you haven't studied the Old Testament, you need to go and read it. This type of attitude, when it was later practiced by God's people, it brought about the judgment of God on them. The apple of his eye was taken into exile by the Babylonians 'cause God said, "I had enough". He said to Isaiah, he said, "These people are worshiping with lips only. Their heart is so far from me".
And you don't have to go to seminary to realize that that's an insult to God. That's why Malachi 3, he said, "'Will man rob God? Yet you robbed me.' And then they ask, 'How can we rob you?' He said, 'In the tithes and offerings, that you are cursed with a curse because you robbed me.'" Anyone who comes to you and says, "Oh, tithing, that belongs to the Old Testament," well, agree with them, just go along and say, "Yeah, but in the New Testament, it's the beginning, not the end". That was our beginning back then, and God has led us to give a whole lot more than the tithe, and he has given us blessings that I can't even imagine. These people here in Exodus 35 and 36, have been so overwhelmed with God's blessings and with God's grace and with God's generosity, that they gave and they gave and they gave until the Lord said through Moses, "Stop the offering". He said, "Stop, we don't need anymore".
Imagine a preacher standing up, saying to the congregation, "You've given more than enough for the ministry and the missions and the poor and everything else. Stop giving". Listen, the Bible said everyone freely participated. This is the issue: "freely participated". Hear me right, tithing is the first tangible test in their obedience to God, but the freewill offering, that was the first tangible test and demonstration of their love for God and their joy that began to flow through them. That spirit of giving became so contagious. Everyone gave, and they only gave what they're capable of giving. Nobody asked to give, because, listen to me, the tithe of nothing is what? When they got swept off their feet by the spirit of giving and generosity, they were transformed. They really were. Transformed from what to what? They were transformed from being gripers and complainers, into being joyful worshipers.
Listen to me, nothing will make you more joyful than the spirit of giving. Everyone gave what they could. The same thing happened 400 years later exactly, when David challenged the people of Israel to give a freewill offering in addition to all of their tithing and the firstfruit, to give a freewill offering to build the temple, when you go home, read the whole passage. It's 1 Chronicles 29, but particularly verses 14, 16, 17, and 18. But let me tell you very quickly what David said. Let that be imprinted on your mind and your heart: "Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand".
See, David measured their loyalty to God by their willingness to be set free from the love of money and give to the Lord. We give the tithe because God commands it, but then we experience untold joy, we experience untold blessings, and so we give freewill offering on top, not because just obedience but out of sheer love, and that's why the Bible said he has a soft spot for a cheerful giver, why? Because that cheerful giver is like God, and he likes those who mirror himself, or generous. But I'm aware of the fact that this message is premature to someone here today who have never given his or her life to Jesus Christ. You see, here's the thing about our God. He wants you before he wants you to give of what he's given you. He wants you, and so if you've never surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, this is a great time to say, "Lord Jesus, I come to you. I receive you into my life. Forgive my sins". That's the first step.