Rick Warren - God's Promises About Giving
Now if you pull out your message notes, today, we're gonna begin a new series for the summer that I'm very excited about. And I wanna begin by telling you that the words promise and promises are actually used over 1,000 times in different English translations of the Scripture. One scholar did a study and he counted over 8000 different promises of God in the Bible. The Bible tells us that God is a promise-making and a promise-keeping God. He makes promises in the Bible to literally everybody. Now, God's promises are like a divine insurance policy, and then an insurance policy, when you know what's covered, then you don't sweat it when you got, circumstance happens in your life, for that illness, or that accident, when you know what's covered in the policy you relax. On the other hand, if you don't know what's covered in the insurance policy, if you're ignorant of it, you worry. And one of the problems that we have today is people don't know the promises of God, so they spend a lot of time worrying.
Today, we're gonna begin a new series that I'm calling God's amazing promises. And each week, we're gonna look at a different set of God's promises to you. We'll look at promises of God's help, promises of wisdom of power, promises of forgiveness and guidance, promises of salvation, and blessing and heaven. Promises of guidance and salvation, of success, of victory, and many, many other benefits. You can't afford to miss this series on God's amazing promises. Now, I wanna begin the series by explaining three fundamental facts about the promises of God. The first one is this. God wants me to build my life on his promises. God doesn't want you to live a life built on petty rules. He wants you to live a life built on great promise. And we're gonna look at many of these 8,000 promises in God's word to you, God's insurance policy to you.
Number two, God makes two kinds of promises in Scripture. And we're gonna look at both. First he makes unconditional promises. And then he makes conditional promises, the unconditional promises, there are no strings attached. And no matter what you do, when God promises something unconditionally, it's going to happen. For instance, God has made an unconditional promise about the second coming of Jesus Christ. It's not gonna be dependent on anything that you or I do. That's an unconditional promise. And we'll look at many of those. But God also makes conditional promises. And these promises are based on your faith and your obedience. And God says, if you do this, then I will do this. It's not automatic. These promises aren't automatically yours, you have to meet a requirement, or a circumstance or a condition. And if you don't meet that requirement, then you forfeit the promise.
In other words, there's a premise to every promise that's conditional. And we'll look at what some of those conditions are. The third thing I wanna say about God's promises is that God makes promises for us for two different reasons. The first reason God gives us all these 8,000 promises in the Bible is to teach us to trust him, in difficult times, to teach us to trust him in difficult times. The Bible says in Psalm 119, verse 50, when I'm hurting, I find comfort in your promises that lead to life. If you weren't in ever bad circumstances, you wouldn't need the promises God. If everything went great in your life, you wouldn't need the promises of God. Psalm 119:114 says this, you, God, you're my refuge and shield. And your promises are my only source of hope. So as I said, if things always went great in your life, and if everything always looked great, you wouldn't need any promises. It's when the situation looks hopeless. That's when you need a promise of God. It's when situations seem like they're all falling apart. That's when you need a promise of God.
So God first gives us promises to help us get us through the tough times in life, the difficult times, the times when we're hurting, or it just looks like maybe he's not even around, we hold on to his promises. The second reason God gives us promises is to make us more like him. We've talked about this many times that God's number one goal in your life is to make you like Jesus. One of the ways that he does that is through the promises in this book. The Bible says that God, and first, excuse me, Second Peter, chapter one, verse four, God has made great and marvelous promises, so that his nature would become part of us. Look at that verse again. God has made great and marvelous promises.
Okay, all of these promises that are in the Bible, so that, here's the reason, his nature would become part of us. The more you trust in God's promises, the more it's gonna change your life. That's what we're gonna do in this series on God's amazing promises. You grow more like Jesus through God's promises. In fact, I'll just be real frank, you can't become like Jesus, without trusting God's promises. The Bible tells us that God works in our lives through promises. Now, let me give you a quiz. Can you guess what subject in the Bible God makes more promises about than anything else? Can you guess what subject in the Bible God makes more promises about than anything else? It's not faith, it's not prayer, it's not love, it's not patience. It may surprise you that God makes more promises in the Bible about generosity, or giving than any thing else.
Now, why is that? Why does God make more promises about being generous and being giving? Well, the there's a couple reasons, first, because God is generous. And he wants us to become like him. God wants his children to take on his qualities. Everything we have in life is because of the generosity and grace and giving of God. In John chapter one, verse 16, I love this and the message is paraphrased, look up on the screen. It says, we live off his generous bounty, gift, after gift, after gift. Everything you and I have in life, is because of God's generosity. So God just wants us to become like him. He wants his children to be like father, like son. Like father, like daughter.
Second reason God wants us to learn generosity is because giving is hard. And the reason giving is hard, 'cause it challenges our selfishness. I don't wanna give anything to anybody else, or to God, I want to spend it all on me. So it's hard. So God gives rewards for us learning to be like him. God is a generous God. Everything you have in life, is because of the generosity of God, and he wants us to become like him. So to kick off this series on God's amazing promises, we're gonna start with the most frequent promises in the Bible, the promises about generosity.
In fact, there are so many of them, we couldn't possibly cover the hundreds and hundreds of promises about this. So I've just picked out nine categories. That's all we have time for, we're gonna go through this fairly quickly anyway. But let me give you nine rewards that God promises to me and promises to you. If we learn to be generous with our money, right? Let's look at nine different rewards that God promises to us if we learn to be generous with our money. As I said, I could give you hundreds of promises about generosity, but we only have time for these nine, we're gonna go through them pretty quickly.
All right, so write these down fast. Number one, God promises good things will happen to me. When I'm generous, when I learn to give, like God gives. God promises that good things will happen to me, Psalm 112 verse five says, good will come to him who is generous. Good, good things come to him who is generous. Proverbs 22 verse nine, generous people will be blessed. That's a promise of God. So if you want God's blessing in your life, and you want God's goodness in your life, and you want good things to happen to you, the Bible says, giving, generosity unlocks the key. God promises that good things will happen to me, when I'm generous.
Number two, God promises my children will be blessed if I learn how to give like God gives. That's covered in Psalm 37, verse 26. It says there in the in NIV translation, the godly are always generous, that's a mark of godliness. If you're not generous, you're not godly, because God is generous, the godly are always generous, and notice, their children will be blessed. Now I want you to notice that when you learn to be generous, when you learn to give the way God gives, that blessing not only blesses you now, good comes into your life. But God's says, it gets passed on to the next generation. Now, do you want your kids to be blessed by God? Do you want the next generation in your family to be blessed? Then you need to learn how to be generous. I'm expecting God's blessing on my kids and on my grandkids, because Kay and I have been generous all of our lives. We learned generosity early on. God says, I will bless your kids if you are generous.
Third promise of God, God promises he will bless my work and my business if I learn to be generous. Not just my family, but also my business. Let me show you a couple of verses about this. Proverbs three, verse nine says this, honor the Lord by giving him the first part of all your income. We honor God by giving him the first part of our income. That's called tithing, we'll talk about that later. But he says, then, that was the premise, here's the promise, then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will overflow with the finest wines.
Now, I doubt any of you have a barn to fill, or vats to fill with the finest wine. But let's put this in a cultural context. In the Bible times, everybody was a farmer. Almost everybody was a farmer. So when you looked inside a person's barn, and you looked inside their vats, that represented their business, it represented their investments, it represented their livelihood. And what God is saying here is if you learn to be generous, God says, I will bless your business. I will bless your work, I will bless your career, I will bless your investments, I will bless how you make a living. A verse that goes right along with that is proverbs 11:25 that says, a generous man will prosper. Will prosper, a generous man will prosper. And he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
Question, those of you who have your own business, or your own store or your own shop, do you want your career, your business to prosper? Well, of course you do. Do you want your business to be more profitable? Of course you do. Well, if you want God's help in your business, not just your family, but in your business, you have to fulfill the premise of his promise. And God says, the person who is generous will profit, will be blessed in what he does. Let me show you another verse here on the screen, Deuteronomy chapter 15, verse 10, I love this and the message. It says this, give freely and give spontaneously, okay? That's the premise. Don't have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God's blessing.
Look at that on the screen, the way you handle matters, if you're generous with your money, you're not a stingy heart, it triggers God's blessing in everything you do. In all your work, that's your job, that's your business, and ventures. Some of you are venture capitalists, some of you are serial entrepreneurs. Do you want God's blessing to be triggered in your work in your ventures, in everything you do? Well, the Bible says generosity triggers God's blessing on your work. These are amazing promises. God says good will come to you, your kids will be blessed, and your work, your career, your job will be blessed. Generosity triggers God's blessing on your job.
Let me give you a fourth promise. God promises that if I learned to give like he does, I'll be happier. Now, everybody knows this except people with a stingy heart. You already know this already. Jesus said, In Acts chapter 20, verse 35, Paul, Luke is talking here and he says, remember the words of our Lord Jesus himself, who said, there is more happiness in giving, than in receiving? You know, when I was little kid, I honestly didn't believe that verse. Because I'd rather get Christmas gifts when I was a little kid. Then when I was older, I didn't wanna give them I wanted to get them. But that's a marked of maturity. And maturity comes when you realize that there's actually more happiness in giving, than in receiving. So here's the fourth promise, if you learn to give generously, God says, you'll be happier. You'll be happier, you get your business blessed, you get your family blessed, your children blessed, and you get blessed, good will come to your life.
Number five, God promises that if I learn to give like he does, generously, my influence will increase. My influence will increase. Here's another promise, Proverbs 11:24. The message says this, the world of the generous gets larger and larger. The world of the stingy gets smaller, and smaller. If you want your world to get larger, learn to be generous. If you want your world to get smaller and more compact, and harder heart and build walls around it, then just be a stingy person. But if you learn to be generous, the Bible says, the more generous you are, the larger and larger your world will get, I could give a personal testimony about this one, how God teaching me generosity in my life, actually expanded my influence in the areas I never, ever thought would be possible. Into fields and into countries and around the world. Simply before I was faithful in little things, then God gave me more. I was faithful and that God gave me more. And I was generous with that, and more and more. And I could tell you a personal testimony that this promise is true. Your world expands, the more generous you become.
All right, number six, God promises that if I learn to give, like he gives, and if I learn to be generous, I will end up with more. This is part of the economy of God. Now we don't give to get, I don't give to get a blessing. I actually give to be a blessing. But the truth is, you can't outgive God. And God plays this little game and says, let's see who can outgive the other person. You give to me, and I'll give to you and you give to other people and I'll give you, we'll see who wins. God says, I promise you and he says this over and over and over in scripture that I will end up with more, if I learned to be generous. Let me show you some verses, Luke six, verse 38. These are the words of Jesus himself. Jesus says, give and it will be given back to you. And notice, in full measure, you don't get a little back, you get it all back and more. Give and it will be given back to you in full measure.
God's gonna make sure he outgives you give and it will be given to you in full measure. And what you receive will need to be pressed down and shaken together. What's that talking about? Well, let's say if you're getting grain, and people are pouring grain in your sack, and you've paid for a whole sack, you're gonna shake it like this. And then you're gonna press it down. So you can get the maximum amount of grain or coins or anything else into that sack. And he's saying God wants to give you so much, you have to press it down, you have to shake it together to make more room because God wants to give you more than your sack can hold. He says what you receive will need to be pressed down and shaken together. But it will still, notice, it will still run over and be poured into your lap.
I don't know, that makes me think of a lottery. It's just pouring and it's pouring into your lap. And then he summarizes it, Jesus summarizes this this way. The way you give to others, is the way God will give to you. Whoa, we could just stop right there in the message. And have you go home and think about this. That the way I give to others is the way God will give to me. God is waiting for me to be generous. He wants me to prime the pump, why? Because he wants me to learn to be like him. I can't be like Christ, without giving. God so loved the world that he gave. You've heard me say this many times, you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. You spell love G-I-V-E, God so loved the world that he gave. And so if we're gonna be loving, then we've gotta learn to be giving. We've gotta learn to be generous. So he says, give and will be given to you. And the way you give to others is the way God will give to you, that's a promise. And he says if you're generous, God will give you more than you can handle.
Let me show you some other verses about this. I'll get back more than I actually gave out. Proverbs 11:24 says this, Some people give generously and end up with more, while other people don't give what they should and end up poor, that actually rhymes. Some people give generously and end up with more. And while others don't give what they should, they end up with being poor. He's saying you are determining how much I can bless your life. Proverbs 19 verse 17 says this. If you're a businessman, you need to star and circle this verse, being generous to the poor is like lending to the Lord. And God will pay you back for what you've done. He's saying the giving is an investment, that when you try to give it away, God says I'm gonna pay you back. He says, you see a homeless person on the street, and you give him some money, or you support the PEACE Plan.
When you support the PEACE Plan, you're helping poor people all around the world, because that's one of our caring for the sick and assisting the poor are two of the key principles of the PEACE Plan. He says when you're generous to the poor, it's like lending to the Lord and God will pay you back. In one of the translations of this verse it says, and God pays great interest on your loan. It's like loaning to the Lord. So you're not really given that money away? Because God says I'm gonna pay you back with interest. Giving is an investment.
Number seven, in this promises of God about giving and generosity. God promises that if I learn to give like God tells me to give, God promises to meet all my needs. Now that just sounds too good to believe. It just sounds too good to be true. But over and over and over in Scripture God says, if you'll put me first in your money, and if you'll learn to be generous and not tight-fisted, not tightwad, open-handed, open-hearted, I will meet all your needs. Philippians chapter four, verse 17, and 19. Paul says this, I want you to have the good that comes from giving, circle that. I want you to have the good that comes from giving. The whole reason I'm teaching this message is because I love you. And I want you to have the good that comes from giving. I know the good that comes from giving. I've been doing it all my life. I've been blessed all my life, because I've learned the good that comes from giving.
Most of you know Kay and I are revered tithers. We give away 91% of our income. And we live on 9%, now we didn't start there. But how are we able to live that way? Because the good that comes from giving God just says I'm not gonna let you outgive me. And the Bible says this, I want you to have the good that comes from giving. My God will use his wonderful riches in Christ Jesus to give you everything you need. Wow, do you believe that verse? If you don't you got to just take an X-Acto knife and cut it out of your Bible. Jesus said, I will make sure you get everything you need. Now notice he didn't say I'll give you all your greed. He says I'll give you everything you need.
There are some things I think I need that I really don't need. God says all your needs would be met, doesn't say all your greed, all your desires, all your lust will be met. It's not like well, I want a Rolls Royce, but that's not a need. But he said I will give you everything you need if you learn to be generous. Look at a couple other verses, again, there's so many of these verses. I had to cram them on your outline, and still left out so many. Proverbs 28 verse 27 says this, he who gives to the poor will lack nothing. Circle that, will lack nothing. If you wanna lack nothing in your life, emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally, then you need to learn how to give to the poor. You can do that through your church, we help the poor all the time, we have the PEACE Center, we have the PEACE Plan, we help the poor every day of your life. But he gives to the poor will lack nothing. But he closes his eyes to their need, will receive, their needs, will receive curses.
When you're driving along and you come up to a stoplight and there's a homeless person on the side do you just kind of keep looking forward and you close your eyes to what is on your side? The other night Kay and I took our eldest grandchild, Kaylee, for her 16th birthday up to see Phantom of the Opera in LA. And we turned under, an underpass bridge. And I believe there were probably 20 people camped out in tents living under that. Every bone in my body wanted to stop right there. There were cars behind this so we couldn't, because I'm going, I can't turn my eye to this and I know that Kay every time she sees a homeless person, she stops she rolls down her window and she helps them out. That's one of the reasons God has blessed us. Is because he says you'll lack nothing. But if you close your eyes to the needs of the poor, your life is cursed.
Here's another verse about the same thing. Second Corinthians chapter nine, verses seven and eight. You should give as you have decided in your heart to give. In other words, nobody can tell you what to give. What's generous for you is your decision based on how much income you have. But he says you should decide what you've decided in your heart to give. Never give reluctantly, or under pressure. Because God loves the person who gives cheerfully. Now you've heard me say this if you've been at Saddleback for years, if you ever feel pressured by anybody, including me on giving, don't do it. Don't give, why? Because you don't get any credit for it. You don't get any blessing out of it. God doesn't want stingy givers. God doesn't want grouchy givers. God wants people who give cheerfully. That Greek word there is the word... It means hilariously, I enjoy it. People often, you'll hear say, well I'll give till it hurts. No, no, give till it feels good. Give till it becomes joyful. Don't give reluctantly don't give under pressure because God loves a cheerful giver.
Now, that's the premise. Here's the promise, then here's the promise, God will generously provide for you. So that, here's the promise in all things at all times, you'll have all that you need. And plenty leftover to give more to every good work. You might circle all the alls in that I mean, it's like there's no wiggle room. God has not allowed any wiggle room for himself in this promise. He said, if you learn to give generously, cheerfully, generously, spontaneously, not out of neglect, not out of regret, not out of pressure, not out of compulsion, but cheerfully and just generously, he says, you're gonna have all you need at all times, in all things, in all places. There's no wiggle room there, God says, I am guaranteeing I will meet your needs. Do you believe that verse? Let's go to a couple more promises.
Number eight. God says that if I learned to give like he gives, he will multiply what I give him. He'll take what I give him and he will multiply it and make it go even further. Now there's so many examples of this in Scripture that I don't even know which one to choose from, I could tell you about the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. Where he took a few loaves and a fish, a bread and fish, one boy's lunch, and he fed 5,000 people with it. He took it, he broke it, he blessed it, and he multiplied it. And throughout the Bible, God does this principle of multiplication, the miracle of multiplication, many, many times. He takes a little and what you, whatever you give God, he turns into a lot. So whatever you need more of give it to God.
Let me say that again. Whatever you need more of give it to God, you need more time, give your time to God, put him first in your time. You need more money, give your money to God put him first in your money. You need more energy, give your first energy to God. And he'll multiply it, you'll have more energy. Throughout the Bible, God compares giving and generosity to planting seeds. Let me show you a couple verses. This is a very common metaphor. He says, every time you're generous, every time I give to God or to other people in need whatever he says, it's like planting a seed. Second Corinthians chapter nine, verses 10 and 11 says this, just as God gives seed to farmers, and bread for food, God gives you a supply of seed, in other words to plant. He gives you a supply of seed to plant, and then he makes it grow.
So there's a great harvest from your generosity. And here's the rest of the promise, God will make you rich enough to be generous at all times. You might wanna write this down. Giving is not a debt I owe, it's a seed I sow. Giving is not a debt I owe, it's a seed I sow, and I sow it in faith. God doesn't need your money, he doesn't need my money, then why does God wanna teach me giving? To teach me to trust him and so I become more like him. And to become more generous, giving is not a debt I owe, it's a seed I sow. Now when you plant a seed, do you get one seed back? No, you get a whole plant with a lot of fruit. And in those fruits, there's a multiplication of seed. No one has ever planted one seed and got back one seed. If I take a kernel of corn, and I plant that corn in the ground, I don't get one kernel of corn back, I get a stock with three or four ears of corn with literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of kernels on that corn.
This is the principle of multiplication. He says that, if you'll take, when you give to people, if you'll take your money and use it to help others, God says, I'll multiply it so that when it comes back, it's multiplied. You don't get one seed back when you plant it, you get 100 or 1,000 seeds out of that one blessing. Now here's the important part that I want you to get. God says you can plant, I'm giving you just like I give a farmer seed to plant. I'm giving money for you to use for good. Money is a tool money is neither good nor bad, it's just a tool. And you should use money for good rather than bad. Any money I just spent on myself, it's gone. Any money I use for good is actually building an investment and it's multiplying in heaven. But when you plant a seed, you reap a harvest.
Now God lets you decide the size of your harvest. It just all depends on how much seed you plant. Here's what the Bible says, Second Corinthians chapter nine, verse six. Remember this, okay, now anytime the Bible says remember this, God wants you to remember it. Remember this, whoever sows sparingly, will also reap sparingly. And whoever sows generously will also reap generously. That means God says I, you get to the side, I get to decide how much God blesses my life. And how do I decide how much God blesses my life? By my giving. If I sow just a few seeds, then I'm gonna reap a small harvest. If I sow a lot of seed, if I give a lot away, then I'm gonna reap generously. The size of the harvest is determined by the size of sowing, God leaves it up to you. If you have little faith, then you get a little result. If you have a lot of faith, you get a lot of result. If you sow extravagantly, you get an extravagant result back. Now, in planting seed, and waiting for the harvest, the harvest is never immediate.
Now I want you to get this 'cause a lot of people don't understand this. The harvest is never immediate. Seeds take time to grow. So you plant in one season, in the planting season. And you harvest in another season, maybe six months later. It's not instant. This is true in your generosity and your giving. It's not like I give something to somebody else or give something to God today. And this afternoon, God makes up for it, God is not a slot machine. Where you put in the coin and pull the one-armed bandit and all sudden you hit the jackpot. God is not a gambling man like a slot machine. No, he is like a farmer. He says you plant in one season and you reap in another. Look at this verse on the screen. Ecclesiastes, these 11 verse one says this, be generous and instantly you'll be rewarded. No, it doesn't say that does it? Be generous and what? One day, one day, one day you will be rewarded.
There's always a time delay between sowing and reaping, between planting and harvest, between giving and receiving. Why is there always that delay? Because God wants you to trust him? Are you gonna do the right thing? If you saw immediate results every time you gave? There'd be no faith needed? It's like it's a jackpot. I put in this I get this. I put in this I get this this week. I remember one time I was out on the patio after service and a guy came up to me after a message that I taught on tithing. And he came up to me said, "Pastor Rick, tithing didn't work for me. I saw no return on it". I said, "Well, when did you start"? He said, "Last Sunday". Last Sunday, that's not like a season away. God says, have you developed the habit of being generous? I wanna see if you've developed this habit before, I'm not interested in playing games with you.
Now, let me just pause right here and share my personal testimony because most of you know it but some of you are new to Saddleback Church, I learned generosity at a very early age. As a child, my parents gave me three little envelopes, and later three little piggy banks. And they would, if my allowance was three dimes or three nickels or three quarters and then later it was $3 as I got older. One envelopes was marked tithing, one envelope was marked saving, and one envelope was marked spending. And if I got that money, I was taught from an early age, you don't get to go out and just spend it all on yourself. You have to learn to save. You need to pay God first, that's tithing. Okay, then you pay yourself second, that's saving. And then you spend the rest. But if you're not paying God first and if you're not paying yourself second, you're not saving anything. You're not getting God's blessing in your life, you're gonna be in constant debt, all your life.
So I learned easy now, obviously, when I had, making $3 and $1 went to tithing, one to saving, one spending, I was actually tithing 33%, not 10%. But I've tithed all whole my life and God has blessed me. Then when I got to college, I started learning how to give in faith. And I remember specific time when I had a $500 college bill. And I also owed a friend $10 for gas that he had loaned me. And I only had $50 in the bank. And I knew that that $50 was not gonna pay my $500 college bill or the $10 that I owed a friend. So I remember reading the verse talked about give and it will be given to you. And I read the verse about sow and reap and I read all of these promises you talked about. So I went and I withdrew that $50 out of the bank. And I decided that I was gonna give it to the American Bible Society.
Why I chose them, I don't know. But I just thought that they're creating Bibles to give away to people around the world. So I sent the $50 donation to the American Bible Society. And I sent a little handwritten note said, I'm a starving college student, and I've got a couple bills, but this money wasn't gonna pay off that bill. So I thought I might as well give it away. And I'm trusting God to keep his promises of give and it will be given unto you. And if anybody happens to read this letter, would you pray for this college student? It was about a month later that I got invited to speak at a church up in, in downtown LA. And I spoke Friday night and a Saturday night and a Sunday morning and a Sunday night to their youth group. And when we finished that night, the pastor of that church stood up and said, "Well, we're gonna take a love offering for this young man, Rick Warren".
And I'm going, oh terrific. Because I wasn't planning on getting any of that if anything out of it I was just doing it, 'cause I wanted the experience and I cared about kids there. And so they took up an offering. And he put it in an envelope, actually gave me a check. And when I got back to my college dorm, I opened it up, and it was $565. Which meant I had $500 to pay off the college bill, $10 pay back to my friend, and $55 to pay the tithe on the gift. You think that made a believer of me of giving and faith. You see you can give by reason or you can give by revelation. When you give by reason you look at your bank account and go what kind of afford to give? Anybody can give by reason, you don't even have to be a believer, you don't have to be a Christian. Takes no faith to give a reason. This is how much I've got this is what I can afford to give.
But to get by revelation is go, God, how much do you wanna give through me? How much do you wanna give through... This is a test of faith. And many, many times, time after time, I've now done this literally hundreds of times where we would pray. And I would pray and God would give us a number to give that is so astronomical, we thought we don't have that to give. I remember in one of the early building programs of Saddleback Church, we committed to give an amount that was equal to my entire salary for three years. And I thought, how we gonna live for three years without my salary? But that's what we, God told us to give. And in a miraculous way God took care of that need, and met my needs. And he's done it so many times, I do it without thinking now. I know that God keeps his promises about giving.
And so when Kay I got married, we started tithing. This weekend was our 44th anniversary. And so we've been married 44 years, when we got married the first year we started tithing, tithe means 10%, we started giving 10% to God. At the end of the first year, we raised our giving to 11%. At the end of our second year, we raised our giving to 12%. At the end of our third year, we raised our giving 3%. So we were now given 15%. Now, why did we do this? I mean, we didn't tell anybody about it for nearly 30 years. So we weren't clearly weren't showing off. We weren't trying to impress God, or impress anybody. We didn't tell anybody about it for years and years and years. But every time I give it breaks the grip of materialism to my life, every time I give, my heart grows bigger, every time I give, I become more like Jesus. And I wanna be that way.
So every year, we would increase our giving to the Lord. And there were times when the cupboard was bare. And and the year was real tight and tough. But we'd still raise our giving like a quarter of a percent, because we always wanted to get more than last year. And another year, so when we had like, I wrote a book or got a salary raise or something like that, we would raise our giving four or 5%. So finally now for many years, and for the last at least 15 years, Kay I have given away 91% and live on 9%. And, people often ask me, why do you think God chose you to write a book, Purpose Driven Life, that has now sold in all of its editions, over 50 million copies. It's the best selling hardback nonfiction in history.
It's in Guinness Book of Records as one of the best selling books of all time, it's sold over 50 million copies, just an English and the different versions, and it has sold in 137 languages. Well, that brought in an awful lot of money, millions of dollars. And people say why do you think God chose you to write that book? And one of the things I know is because he knew what I do with the money. He knew we wouldn't spend it on ourselves. And people say well, if I had all those millions of dollars, I give it all away too, no you wouldn't, because you're not doing it now. I had a nearly 30 year track record of giving when we didn't have the money. When the cupboard was bare. When I was driving a truck, a car that I bought for $500 over in Leisure World instead of buying a new car so we could give more. And and the times that we said we didn't buy that TV because we wanted to give more. And God knew that I had a track record that he could trust me with all that money.
Now, let me give you one more that promises that God has made and it is this. God promises that my giving is stored up in heaven. This is a big, big thing. God promises that when I give, I'm not actually giving it away that God is actually storing it up in heaven. Let me show you some verses about this. First Timothy, chapter six, verse 18 and 19 says this. Use your money to do good. Use your money to do good and give generously. Always being ready to share with others. Whatever God has given you, okay, can you do that? That's the premise of the promise. Always be ready to give generously, always be ready to share with others, whatever God has given you. Here's the the promise, by doing this, you will be storing up real treasure for yourselves. It's talking about in heaven. It is the only safe investment for eternity.
Now, I want you to circle two words, for yourselves. It says you'll be storing up real treasure for yourself. God says that when you give to God, or you give to somebody need, you're storing up treasure for yourself. And there's nothing wrong with that. And where are you storing up for yourself? In heaven, circle that treasure for yourself. Treasure for yourself. What is that? Well, we know that God has set up a bank account for you in heaven. And he says you can store up treasure for yourself in that bank account. How do you do that? By giving it away. How do we know that God has a bank account for you and heaven? Because Jesus mentioned that five times, five times. Anytime God mentioned something five times he's saying I want you to get the message.
Jesus uses the phrase store up treasure in heaven. Five times, I wanna suggest to you that more important than your retirement account on earth is you need to start thinking about your eternal bank account in heaven because that one is gonna last trillions and trillions of years. Whereas your retirement account, maybe just a few years. You say well, Rick, how do I fund that eternal investment? How do I start treasure in heaven? Well, you can't take it with you. But you can send it on ahead through giving. And Jesus tells us this way. Luke chapter 16, verse nine. Jesus says, use your worldly wealth, your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. He's talking about eternal friends make friends in heaven. In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven.
And wait a minute, let's look at that verse again. Go back and look at that. It says use your worldly resources to benefit others, got that that part, and use it to make eternal friends. What does that mean? It means when you invest in people who are going there, that when if you use money to help people come to Christ, if you use money to be converted, if you use funds to help like the PEACE Plan, or Saddleback Church, or Daily Hope, or any of our outreaches you're actually, you're actually making an investment in eternity. Any money that you give away, you're actually investing in eternity. And he says, when you invest in other people, when you help people come to Christ, they're gonna go to heaven.
And when you get to heaven, can you imagine bunch of people come up to you and say, thank you, I'm here because of you. I'm here because you gave to support Daily Hope radio program, or the PEACE Plan, or any other ministry or outreach that's doing a good job. God says, people will say to you, I'm your friend for eternity. Thank you for caring for me. As I said, you can't take it with you, but you can send it on ahead. Now, let's review these nine promises of God. The premise is this, if I put God first in my money, first by tithing, 10% back in, the first 10% goes back to God. And I start learning to be generous with my money, with others, and investing in good things, and helping people come to Christ, help people grow, then I can count on God to do these nine things.
1. God promises that if I learn to be generous, good things will happen to me, and he'll bless me.
Number two, my children will be blessed.
I don't just get blessed they do next, He will bless my work and my business, he will make it profitable.
Number four, I will be happier. God says it's a promise you will be happier when you learn to be generous.
Number five, my influence will increase, your world goes larger and larger.
Number six, I will end up with more. You can't outgive God.
Number seven, God will meet all my needs.
Number eight, God will multiply whatever I give to him, like the seed.
And number nine, my giving is actually being stored up in heaven as a bank account and treasure in heaven for me to use when I get there.
So really, it just comes down to this. Do I believe these promises? Really it just comes down to do I really trust God to keep his promises? You see, you only actually believe the part of the Bible you actually do. And so if you say, well, I believe the Bible, but God's given you all these promises and you're not tithing or you're not being generous, you don't really believe in the promises of God. Now why would you believe God and trust him enough to save you, but you wouldn't believe and trust him enough for all the other things he's promised? That doesn't make sense. You say, okay, well, if I really wanna trust God, what's my starting point? Well, my starting point is I said tithing. God says over and over again, that if I make $10, right off the top, the first dollar goes back to him. It's called tithing, tithing means a 10th. It's not 1%, it's not 5%, tithing means 10%.
If you're not tithing the first part of your income back to God, that's where you need to start with generosity. Because you're not, you can't be generous if you're robbing from God. You know that at least 10 times in Scripture God says, the first part of everything you make belongs to me. The tithe is mine, it's holy to me. And you're not, God says you're not to use my part of the income I give you on yourself. You can use the other 90%. But he says, if you use my part on yourself, you're cheating me. God gets really specific about this in the book of Malachi. And he actually starts negative, and then he goes positive. He starts actually with a rebuke of his people for not trusting him, and for not tithing. And then he challenges us with a promise of reward.
Let's wrap it up with this verse, Malachi 3:8 to 12 says this, is God talking. Is it right to rob God? Pretty important question. God says, is it right to rob me? Yet you are robbing me, says the Lord. But you ask, how are we robbing you? And God answers, by not returning your tithes and offerings. He says, you're using my money on yourself. Bring your whole tithe, that's the full 10%, into my storehouse notice where he brings it. It's an act of worship given as an act of worship at the house of worship. Bring your tithe, giving to a charity is not tithing. Giving to your sister in need is not tithing, bring your tithe into my storehouse, it's undesignated giving. He said that there may be food in my house.
Now notice, he says, test me in this, I call this the Pepsi challenge verse. This is the only place in the Bible where God says you can prove he exists. He says test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing, that there's not enough room for you to store it. That's like, press down, fully measured, running over into your lap. See if I will throw open the floodgates of heaven. Here's the reward. The rebuke was you're not tithing. The reward is test me, try it, you'll like it? See, if you throw open the floodgates of heaven pour out so much blessing that there will not be enough room for you to store it. And then he says, then God says, I will prevent the pests from devouring your crops.
Did you know that any money you don't give back to God in tithe God allows other things to take. They're pests in your life. And it can be everything from the refrigerator breaking down to the car needing repairs, and on and on. God allows that, he says you're not gonna spend my money. I'm gonna, you're gonna have to give it away. Now, why is tithing so important to your spiritual growth? Well, because first place it unlocks all these promises we've looked at. Deuteronomy 14:23 on the screen says this. The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your lives. If you're not tithing, God is not first in your life. Show me your calendar, show me your money and I'll show you what's first in your life. Where he says we give the first part of our income on the first day of the week. Another thing is that tithing draws us closer to God. Jesus said, your heart will be wherever your treasure is.
Now, let me just say to everybody who's listening right now, whether you're listening on Daily Hope or one of the campuses, if you're not a part of this church family, or part of our Daily Hope family, just kind of stick cotton in your ears right now, for the next couple of minutes 'cause I'm not talking to you. I'm talking to our ministry family. You know, I've said many times that Saddleback is the single most generous church in the world. I have no fear of contradiction of that. Our church is the most generous church, I've never seen anything like it. We have more tithers probably in this church than I've ever heard of than in any other church. And everything that we've done in 39 years all around the world, going to 197 countries and starting Celebrate Recovery and starting the Daniel Plan and AIDS and mental health initiatives and Purpose Driven and all the things we've done, everything we've done 39 years has been funded by the regular tithes and sacrificial offerings of our people. We've never ever done, quote, a fundraiser, like a bake contest and a car wash and all those things.
Now, today, as we begin this series on God's amazing promises, I had to start with the most common promise, which is about generosity. I want us all to reaffirm our commitment to God's promises about giving. So I want you in your bulletin, in your program to pull out this card that says God's guarantee. Will you pull that out right now? Pull out the card, it says God's guarantee. Now for most of us, it's just gonna be a reaffirmation of our trust in God's promises. But for some of you, who've you've never trusted God's promises about money, or you've stopped trusting him, this next moment, could be the second most significant moment of your life next to come into Christ. Because if you will begin to trust God in this area, it will open up the door to God's blessings on literally every area of your life.
Do I need to give you 100 more promises? Are the ones that I've given you are those enough? When you start trusting God with your money, and doing what God says to do like tithing, you move from a scarcity mentality. Like there isn't enough, there isn't enough, you're always worrying, to a generosity mentality of my God will supply all your needs. So I wanna do two things. First, I want us to read and sign this covenant together. I want you to take this home with you. Okay, this is not for me, this is for you. I want you to take it home as a reminder of God's promises. So let's do this together. The Bible says God's guarantee, Malachi 3:10, bring the whole tithe into my storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the LORD, this is God's challenge to you.
And see if I won't open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough for you to store it. Now God's either true or he is a liar. This is the test. Are you going to trust what God says? If you can trust him for salvation, can you trust Him for his promises? Here's what the Bible says, because he is the source of all I have. I accept God's tithe challenge to give him back the first 10% of all that he gives me as I trust him to bless my faith in his promises. I want you to sign your name there and I want you to date it today. And I want you to take this home and put it up. As I said, For most of us, this is a recommitment. It's a reaffirmation, you're already doing this. But for those of you who are new, this is a big step of faith. Might feel a little scary to you. You can trust the God who forgives you to the God who will protect you and meet your needs.
Now, the second thing I want you to, I want you to take this home. Second thing I want you to do is take out the connection card that's either in your program, or in front of you in the seat in front of you, depending on what campus you're at. Take out that connection card, would you do that? And I want you to just write your name on it, okay. Print your name and then I want you to write one of two words. If it is, if you're already reaffirming your commitment to God to tithe, you're already a tither, I want you to write the word continue.
I want you to write the word continue, you're already tithing, you're gonna keep doing it. Or if you're saying I stopped doing it, or I've never done it, you write the word start if you're just starting to tithe. And why do I want you to do that? Because I'm going to guarantee you that as your spiritual coach, as your pastor, I promise you that I will pray for you by name. I wanna go through these cards, I wanna pray for you by name, and pray for God to bless you with all nine of these promises. And I will call your name out. I commit to do that to you as your pastor. And then together we'll watch God, keep his word and do some miracles. All right, let's bow our heads for prayer.
God, I know this is a scary time for some people, because they just have never trusted you and your promises. So help them realize that the same God who died for them, and the same God who loves them and saves them and is gonna keep his promise to take them to heaven is the same God who says I'll do these nine things if you'll learn to be like me. If you'll learn to be as generous as I am.
Now you pray, say:
God I want these promises in my life. say God, I want good things to happen to me. I want my children to be blessed. I want my work or business to be blessed, I wanna be happier. Lord, I want my influence to increase and I wanna end up with more than I've got. And Lord, I wanna trust you to meet all my needs. And I wanna believe that you will multiply what I give you. And I want to trust that whatever I give in tithes and offerings and in charity, that my giving is being stored up in heaven. So the day I commit, or recommit, to giving the first 10% back to you, I'm gonna trust your promises. I'm going to believe your word. And I know that is pleasing to you. Lord, I can't do this on my own. So I need you to keep your promises. I'm gonna test you, I'm gonna accept your challenge to see if you won't bless me in return. And that it will be a blessing that I can't even handle. Lord, I look forward to this in faith and in confidence and in expectation.
If you've never invited Jesus into your heart, Jesus is the answer to all of our promises. Say:
Jesus Christ, come in into my heart and life and fill me with your love. I wanna follow you the rest of my life. We humbly pray this prayer together in your name, amen.