Michael Youssef - A Giving Heart
As I bring this series of messages to an end, this last message is going to be a challenging message, not to all of you, I know, but to some. But before I get there, I want to recap what we have been seeing throughout this series of messages. We have been seeing how God's blessings, God's peace, God's joy always follows a praise-filled life. If I succeed, under God, in communicating anything, anything, during this whole series of messages, it would be the following. Listen carefully. The praise-filled life is a lifelong practice. The praise-filled life is a lifestyle. The praise-filled life is a daily experience. The praise-filled life is a permanent, permanent habit. Then and only then you will discover the enormous blessings of God that only is a byproduct of that lifestyle.
But there's more that I want to emphasize, at least one more thing. Our heavenly Father is not motivated to bless us just because we utter some words that we know he likes to hear, you see, but rather our heavenly Father is motivated to bless us because praise and thanksgiving places us in the posture of receiving more of his blessings. Let me give you the deep connection between the praise-filled life and God's blessings. When you begin to learn how to do this on a daily basis, a lifestyle praising God, thanking God, lifting the name of God, blessing the name of God, there's one thing sure is gonna happen, absolutely sure, I promise you. You're gonna be convicted of sin, and then you're gonna be confessing of your sin, and then you're going to be repentant of your sin.
And when that happened, listen to me, because God knows everything... when you do that, what you are doing, you're coming in agreement with God. Then and only then you will joyfully seek to obey the Word of God. Then and only then you will joyfully seek to be more like Jesus every day and all that brings about the blessing of God. Hear me now, please. This is important. As much as praise leads to blessing, it is because it leads to repentance, and that brings about God's blessing, God's favor, God's joy, and God's smile. Let me illustrate this from a Semitic languages point of view. When Psalm 103 said, "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!" the root word for that word "Bless O Lord," baraka in the Semitic languages. Bless, baraka, it has its root in kneeling. Baraka, which means blessing, it also means kneeling.
Think about this, think about this with me. The same word "blessing" as "kneeling". When you want God's baraka, you have to barak on your knees. Question, how do we bless God? If we bless the name of God only in words, no, with the totality of our being. We bless God by submitting to him in every area of our life. We bless God by pouring out our love on him and on others. And when that happens, you can be assured of the fact that God will never say to you, "Atta boy, atta girl, that's what... keep doing it, keep doing it, keep just doing it until you're empty". No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, that's not God works. God would say to you, "Keep on pouring it, and then I'm gonna keep pouring more on you. As you pour it out, I'll pour it in. As you pour it out, I'll pour it in".
When you give to God as an act of praise, when you give to God as an act of obedience, as he gives to God as an act of thanksgiving, what are you actually doing? You are kneeling so that you might receive more blessings. You place yourself in a position of receiving more blessings. Today, I want to tell you that praise living and self-giving are the Siamese twins of a praise-filled life. You see, praising God just with our lips is hollow. We have to praise God with our substance because praising with lips and praising with substance are inseparable. Praising God in words alone can be empty praise, but praising God with our substance confirm the praise-filled life. Praising God with our mouth can be hollow unless we... and it is accompanied by self-giving.
Perhaps there is no greater example of what I'm trying to tell you than in the life of the greatest singer on the face of the earth in history, the greatest singer. King David wrote some of the most magnificent songs. He wrote some of the most magnificent songs. He knew what it means to enter into the presence of God in praise and in worship. David wrote and composed many of the magnificent psalms that are blessing us now 3,000 years later. In fact, no one understood the importance of the praise-filled life like David, and we've seen him before. But David did not praise God in words only, but he praised God with his substance.
Let me tell you about it. Remember that King David was so overwhelmed in thanksgiving to God of what God has done for him, where God has... that all the struggles of life that he brought him through and where he placed him, he was so indebted to God, he was so grateful his heart was flowing. He said, "God, I want to build a temple for your glory. So far, we have a tent that is housing the ark of the covenant". And he said, "God, it's the longing of my heart to build you a permanent place for your glory, for your honor, so people can come and praise you, and glorify your name, and thank you". And God said, "No".
David was not put off by that. He was not put off by that. God said, "No, no, no, not you, David. Your son Solomon is going to build it for me". "I'm not going to be put off by that. That's fine, Lord. You're sovereign. My gratitude to you knows no bounds". And so, he gives his net worth, everything he has, piles it up, and he says, "I'm going to leave it here so that Solomon can build the temple". Some people estimate that net worth was, in equivalent to our money, probably a billion dollars of today's money. Question, what was David's motivation for praising God with his substance?
The answer actually is found in 1 Chronicles 29, and you can turn there, to 1 Chronicles 29, in verses 3 and 4. He's basically saying in those two verses, is, "Lord, this is my tangible expression of my personal gratitude to you. I've been praising you all of my life or writing psalms. Now, this is my tangible way of saying thank you". David writing psalms and singing psalms were not enough. To David, mere words, even those magnificent words that have emanated from a praise-filled life were not enough. His praise had to be confirmed by sacrificial giving.
Look with me at verses 14 all the way to 18. "Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are aliens and strangers in your sight, and as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow without hope. O LORD, as for all this abundance that we have provided for the building of your temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. I know, my God, that you test the heart, and you are pleased with integrity. All these things that I have given..."
It goes from the giving of the congregation to his personal giving, his personal sacrificial giving. He said, "All these things that I have willingly given with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in our hearts and in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you". And all of God's people said amen.
Beloved, here's what David is saying here. He's saying loyalty to God is expressed in giving and in praising. Loyalty to God is manifested when you give with all of your heart, and you praise with all of your might. Loyalty to God is expressed in words but also in action. The same principle operated in the New Testament. You see, don't let anybody mislead you of saying that we have two books: Old Testament and New Testament. We have only one book, two sections. One says he's coming; the other one says he's here. One book. We have one book. It's the Holy Bible. It's the Word of God, because the same principle operated in the New Testament.
The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, 58 verses, but it is a magnificent chapter, and the Apostle Paul is actually giving them intellectual proof and reasoning proof of the resurrection, our resurrection, because of the resurrection of Jesus, and how we're going to live forever with Jesus. Then he goes on and on and on. It takes us to the very portals of heaven. And then in verse 1 of chapter 16 he says, "Now as for the collection..." What? What? You just took us all the way to heaven, and then you come to the mundane thing as a collection? Yeah, Paul is saying that heaven and giving are interconnected, that giving and heaven are interrelated, that heaven and giving are intertwined. And here he tells us about the link between the joy of our resurrection in terms of sending on timber.
I know this is a figure of speech: sending on some timber for your mansion in heaven. Some are still unable to think about the distinction and the relationship between heaven and giving. So, I want to give you three things. First of all, giving back to God is an indication that you really believe that everything you have belongs to God. That's the first thing. The second thing I want to tell you is this: giving back to God is sowing seed for future blessings. You're sowing seed, you're sowing seed for future blessings. And the third thing is this: giving feeds on praising, and praising feeds on giving, and they both feed on each other. I'm going to show you in a minute.
Look at this very, very quickly, if you blink, you're going to miss it. First of all, when we praise God with our giving, we are testifying to the fact that we really believe that everything we have belongs to him, that he owns everything we have. We are affirming tangibly that every breath is a gift from God. Some would say, "God owns everything". And then God gets very precious little of what he owns. Let me tell you about a proven fact, a proven fact. The more you give, as Jesus said, not my words, the more you give, the more you are actually creating room for God to give more, to pile it back. See, some people think giving is like having a pie, and you slice it.
So, when you give you've got a few slices left. That's not biblical concept, it's not biblical concept. That's secular concept. God's concept is that your life is a silo, and you have the grain in that silo. And every time you open the faucet and get some grain, God has a key to the top lid of the silo. He has the key to it. So, he opens up and pours some more. And the more you use, the more he pours it out from the top. Everything we have is a loan from him. You remember when you guys went to the bank and you borrowed some money, you bought a house? And you moved into the house and said, "That's our house". That is not your house. You agree? It's not your house. It's the bank's house. It's the mortgage company's house. You don't believe me? Just try not to pay the monthly payment. Two, three months, just don't, you know, you'll see what I mean. I hope you don't do this, but soon you'll discover it's not your house. It's not your house.
Beloved, it's in the same way, everything we have, they are all on the loan from the great banker of the universe. Not only that giving proves that we actually believe that God owns everything, but secondly, giving is sowing seed for future blessings. Listen to me. God established the sowing and the reaping principle back in Genesis. The Lord Jesus Christ in Luke 6:38 affirmed this principle of sowing and reaping. The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians chapter 9, verses 6, 7, and 8, he affirms this biblical principle when he said, "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will reap generously". But do you know what? That would not be good to stop here. The apostle goes on, verses 7, 8, and 9, 2 Corinthians 9, "God is able to make all grace..." How many? How many? All grace abound to you.
Question, what is the result of that abounding grace? He continues, "so that in all things". How many things? "...and in all, at all times". How many times? "...having all that you need". How many? "...you will abound in generosity". Isn't it amazing, isn't it amazing? Just because some people misapply the Word of God and used it for their selfish purposes, it doesn't make it less the Word of God. And you're with me? God's desire for his children is abundance. God bless you. The Bible said God's desire, not for anyone to perish. It's his desire, his longing. He wish all of people saved, but what happened? They reject Jesus, so they didn't get saved.
So, God's desire for his children, his redeemed flock, it is his desire for them to abound in everything. In how many things? We're talking about all things, all things. Listen to me. We are the ones who can block his desire for our abundance. This is not works, congregation. I don't believe in works. If you listened to me long enough, you know that I believe in salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, through Christ alone. Sola Scriptura is what we teach in this church. But this is what the Word of God said. How do we block this abounding? I'm going to prove it to you from the Scripture, from what Jesus said. "By the measure you use it's going to be measured back to you".
Beloved, listen to me. My plea is for every one of you, do not block God's desire for your abundance by being chinchy with God. Listen, we can say all day long, "Everything we have belongs to God. God owns everything". And we can say that until we're blue in the face. We can intellectually believe that God will multiply the seeds for the sower. But until we actually sow some seeds, we are proving that our praise is hollow. Neither praise alone nor giving alone is enough to put you in a position of receiving of God's blessings. But consecrated praise and devoted giving places you directly under God's shower from the sky.
Giving and praising acknowledges God's ownership. Secondly, giving and praising is the seed for further blessing. And finally, giving feeds praising and praising feeds giving. They feed on each other. But not only that they feed on each other, but they encourage others to do the same. I have never met the generous person who was not filled with thanksgiving and praise in his/her life. I have never met one. By the same token, I've never met a person who's filled with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord and he's not generous in his giving or her giving.
When David, the great praising man of God, gave generously, others were motivated to do the same. When the Macedonians, Paul said they gave out of their poverty. They were not rich people. They gave out of their poverty. When they did, the Corinthians were motivated to give. Beloved, our praising and giving creates hunger for God in the lives of the lost. It really does. Our praise and our giving, our greatest impetus to reaching the world for Christ. And our Savior, our Savior is worthy. He's worthy of all the praise. He's worthy of all the giving. He's worthy of everything.