Sermon delivered April 26, 1997

by Pastor Don J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

God's Almoner

God's Almoner. You've read that sermon title in the bulletin. You might think: What in the world is that all about?

Paul Harvey usually says something interesting. The other day he said, "Americans, are you aware that over this last weekend we spent fifteen million dollars going to the Movies?" I thought: Fifteen million dollars! Wow! That's a lot of money! And then I thought: What do we do with our funds? I mean, they wasted theirs, watching a anaconda and all sorts of things. I hate snakes. What do we do with our money? I believe that we as Christians ought to invest our money in spiritual things; we ought to invest our money in Jesus and anything that exalts Jesus.

If the widow's mite (Mark 12) had been invested in a Bank drawing just 4% interest, the fund would total $5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. (5 Million Trillion Dollars or in other words 5 hexillion dollars) If an earthly bank could calculate the widow's mite to such an astronomical figure, think what treasures this woman might have in heaven. Think what God can do with what you invest in heavenly pursuits!

Mark 12:42 - Jesus sat down (You know, that's one of the rare times He ever sat down.) opposite the place where the offerings were put an watched the crowd putting in their money into the temple treasury. I suppose He still does that. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Do you think she was smart to do that? 43 - Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 - They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on." Do you think that was smart? Do you think God blessed her for her loving generosity? I do. I believe God rewards his liberal people.

One day the manager of an orphanage was desperate for funds to carry on. A destitute, hungry Christian widow came to his door begging for one ducat. Because of his situation, he politely refused. Disheartened, the woman sat down and began to weep.

Moved by her tears, Francke asked her to wait while he went to his room to pray about it. Seeking God's guidance, he felt that the Holy Spirit wanted him to grant the request. Trusting the Lord to meet his own pressing needs, he gave her the money.

Two mornings later he received a warm letter of thanks from the widow. That same day he received 12 ducats from a rich lady and two from a friend in Sweden. Shortly afterward he was informed that Prince Van Wurtenburg had died, and in his will had directed that 500 gold pieces be given to the orphanage! Then Francke wept in gratitude. In sacrificially giving for that needs of another, he had not been impoverished but enriched. And that's the way that it works with God. (August H. Francke, the well-known German preacher of the 17th century.)

Of course we should give unselfishly, "hoping for nothing again" -Luke 6:35. Yet God does promise: "He who gives to the poor shall not lack!" -Prov 28:27 In Luke 6:38 - "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Let's use a big measure. Do you really believe what Jesus says? If we give generously we will be given to----generously. Jesus is saying that God rewards generous givers.

A hot hitch-hiker was thirsty for a drink, but could not find water, until he came to an abandoned farm-house. There he found a pump, and proceeded to pump with all the strength he had remaining. No water came forth. Then he saw a small jug with a cork at the top and a penciled note, directing that all the water in the jug be poured into the pump to prime it.

At first the thirsty man questioned this, but when he followed directions he obtained cool satisfying water: more than he possibly could use. Before going his way, he filled the jug with water so the next thirsty person could get water. He added to the note, "Believe me, it really works. You have to give it all away before you can get anything back."

This story reminds us of the principle stated by the Apostle Paul, "he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully" (2 Cor. 9:6). God rewards generous givers. Giving primes God's blessing pump.

Do you think it is wrong to stand here and preach a sermon and say that If you give, God will reward you? Does He? YES! Would we keep giving if He did not bless us? Does He keep giving even if we stop loving Him? Yes! So we should be like Him, shouldn't we?

The lesson of the pump is true in spiritual matters. You are going to be blessed to the extent that you get involved spiritually. To really become rich in Jesus we must completely give everything we have to Jesus. Full Surrender. If at the end of the month, and you're paying the bills, and you see there's not enough money in there to go around, and you think, "I'd better hold part of the offering, I'd better cut that back. I will, of course, pay my tithe, but I can cut back on the offering. That one thing I can cut on." Are you really trusting in your check-book or are you trusting in God at that moment? To get a rich blessing we need to surrender everything we have to God. Only then do we obtain a rich deep spiritual life. When you prime the pump of life with Jesus the water of life, you tap into an unlimited blessing.

One day a man came up to me with a prayer request. He had purchased a Georgia lottery ticket that would pay him $12,000,000 if he won. "Pastor, pray that my ticket will win. (Can I pray for that???) I intend to give $2 Million to the McDonald Road church." I said, "Well, first let me ask: Are you giving God the same percentage of your present income?"

The fellow looked surprised and dismayed. "No, I can't. I have to live on that" he stammered. Actually, the man's heart wasn't right with God. His seemingly spiritual request seemed to be a cover-up for selfishness. How poor do we have to be to be exempted from Malachi 3:8-10. If you only made a dollar a year would you be exempted?

It is funny how a $10.00 bill looks so big when you consider putting it in the offering plate and yet looks so tiny when you are standing in the supermarket.

God is so generous with me, and I want to be liberal with God.

A little girl watched her mother put the finishing touches on a newly baked cake. "Mother, your cake would look like the pictures in the magazines if you would cut a piece out of it." (And she could eat that slice.)

Giving would be a piece of cake and our Christian life would look more like that pictured in the Bible, if we would take a slice out of it, and give it to somebody else. If we were truly generous with God, He will be generous with us. What we keep grows stale. What we give nourishes others. In faithful giving, you can have your cake and you eat it too. That's what happens when we give.

Look at Matthew 16. Another beautiful statement, beginning in verse 25. "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." Verse 26: "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?"

C.S. Lewis said, "We are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures exclude them."

Proverbs 11:24,25 (a neat statement) "One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." That's just the nature of life. The difference between the sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The difference between a vibrant Christian and a dead Christian.

Test God by stretching your giving. Give more than you did last year. He will stretch His blessings so you will feel the difference.

Turn to 2 Corinthians 8. Remember the MACEDONIAN PEOPLE: "Come to Macedonia and help us." These were very poor people: ready for a Maranatha project to come and help them or welfare. But notice something: II Corinthians 8:1-4 "And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints." My, those Macedonian people! Weren't they great! They really went beyond their means, and I believe that God blessed them, I want to be that type of Christian. I want to give BEYOND my ability and then I'm in the faith factor.

One day Jesus was lecturing to a large eager class. (LUKE 12:13,14) Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?"

He was about to get cheated. "Jesus, will you help in our family squabble?" Jesus refused. He recognized Greed. What is the main issue here? Wealth??? NO. Does Jesus not want us to have an inheritance? No. What is the major issue here? It is all about our attitude toward money and things. No where in the Bible does God condemn material things. It is the use of wealth that poses the danger. We have to be careful because our possessions can possess us. Things can get us. And we can consume it on ourselves. When we use the wealth that He gives us for ourselves we are in danger.

Luke 12:15 Then he said, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." I believe life consists in the abundance of Jesus Christ.

Possessions can possess us. They can become a threat to our spiritual life. Sometimes I secretly wish I could be threatened a little more with wealth. But God has trusted me with what is best.

We humans tend to hoard our goodies like pack rats. We load up with sooooo much "Stuff" we can hardly get through the house. The modern philosophy: "Grab all you can get, you only go around once". That's the guiding paradigm of many people. But Jesus urges accountability and proper use of our resources.

Are you saving for the future? You should be. Are you investing for your retirement? You should be. Are you investing a portion of your God-given means in spiritual pursuits? We should be. Am I generous? Do I leave the corners of my fields for the needy? Do I leave the corners of my checkbook for the poor and the needy?

Do you know what an ALMONER is? It is a dispenser of gifts. Let's say you were walking through the mall and came up to a vending machine that had all sorts of buttons across, you could just choose whatever you want, but there are no slots for your money, just buttons to select what you want: all free of charge! It's just simply a dispenser of gifts. That would be an Almoner. Notice what Christ's Object Lessons,(EG White) page 352 says: "It is a blessed opportunity to be God's Almoner." I want to be one of those vending machines dispensing the gifts that God loads into me to others. That's what Christians are all about.

Money is a test of the heart. The other day I was thinking about how I use my money, and I got to thinking about how God uses His wealth. He's the wealthiest person I know. I'm pleased to be related to Him. And I got to thinking, you know, He's pretty liberal with His wealth. He owns everything. And He shares it with us.

The disease cirrhosis of the giver was discovered in AD 34 by the husband and wife team of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1ff) It is a critical condition that renders the patient's hands immobile when he is called on to give an offering to God in Church.

Am I generous or am I a Hoarder? I could probably give more. There are times that my wife and I delay or decide to purchase a less expensive item so that we can not cut back on our giving to God's Work. The other day I got to thinking about how I use my resources and my mind got to thinking on How God uses His wealth.

A young man supposedly asked God how long a million years was to Him. God replied, "A million years to me is just like a second of your time." Then the youth asked God what a million dollars was to Him. And God said, "A million dollars is to me just like a single penny to you. And then the youth said, "Can I have just one of your pennies?" And God said, "Sure, just a second." God is generous with His assets, and I want you to know that when you get to heaven you will be handsomely rewarded with pocketfuls of God's pennies and hours of His time.

We serve a giving God. I believe that when we all get to heaven we will see that God has surrounded Himself with those who with Him, also have liberal hearts. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Deposit your money into the bank of Jesus Christ. Give Him your heart, your life. Surrender all to Jesus. He will bless you beyond your imagination.

Scripture: Luke 12:13
Closing Hymn: 322, Nothing Between

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