Next Steps

If you’re looking for a new way to pray, something more than praying for meals and traveling mercies, try spelling out the word PURPOSE when you pray. This will help you remember to pray for more meaningful things when you lift up your friends and family members.

P – God’s Presence. Pray that God would manifest His presence in real and tangible ways in this person’s life, that they would try sense and be overwhelmed by God’s presence.

U – Understanding. Pray that God would grant them understanding to truly comprehend how wide and deep is the love of Christ. Pray that they wouldn’t just know what the Bible says, but they’d understanding the deeper meaning behind why God wants us to live the way we do.

R – Relationships. Pray for the major relationships in this person’s life, that they would be filled with peace and love and unity. If your relationships are happy, you tend to be happy, so pray for relationships.

P – Power. Pray that the power of the Holy Spirit would rest on this person in a real and mighty way. Pray for the anointing, the filling and the movement of the Holy Spirit in this person’s life.

O – Overcome. Pray that God would give them strength (through the Holy Spirit) to overcome whatever difficult circumstances they are currently walking through.

S – Stewardship. Pray that they would be a good steward of the life, health, knowledge, energy and opportunities God has given them. Pray that they would make the most and make a difference every single day.

E – Evangelism. Pray that they would have opportunities this day to share the hope they have in Jesus with other people.

This holiday season, we’re all going to encounter that one family member. It’s the family member, maybe a cousin, maybe an aunt, maybe an uncle, that you’ve promised to yourself that you will never, ever, ever, under any circumstances, lend money to them. Does anyone have that relative? We have people in our lives, whether family members or close friends or maybe even co-workers that just don’t get it when it comes to money.

They’re always in debt. They’re always buying things they can’t afford. They’re always opening up new credit cards because their other credit cards are maxed out. They’re always taking trips they can’t afford and blowing money on stuff that’s absolutely useless. Everyone has a person that we know well in our minds, the person who has no clue when it comes to handling money.

Now, the problem is, this person thinks they know the answer to their problems. Since the problem is a lack of money, they think the answer is: more money! So they ask you. If this person just needs a couple of hundred bucks to make the next payment on the full-size pickup that they can’t afford, or if they need $200 for groceries because they spent all their money on clothes and jewelry, how motivated are you to give them money? Are you kidding? They can’t even handle the little money they have, what makes anyone think they’d be responsible if they got more money, right? 

they can’t be trusted with money. Because they blew the last loan you gave them. Because they’re complaining about how poor they are while driving a car that’s nicer than yours. They say they need money for their kids but they just bought the new Jordans that cost $300. Can I get an ‘amen’ somebody? If you give them money, you’re only enabling them. If they haven’t learned to be responsible with what they already have, then you might as well just throw $100 out the window on the way home, because that’s what you’d be doing if you gave more money to this person.

Now, here’s the twist, and for this blog to have ANY impact on you today, you need to be gut level honest with yourself. If you were God, and if you were looking at how you were handling God’s money from God’s perspective, would you look at yourself like you look at that cousin that can’t be trusted with money?

How do you handle the money you’ve already been given? Do you know where your money goes? Do you have a budget? Do you stick to it? Are in you debt? Are you investing anything in the Kingdom or are you blowing it all on toys for yourself?

Is that maybe why God hasn’t answered your prayers when you ask for more money? You can’t even handle the money you’ve already been given! If God gives you more, you’ll just blow it on yourself. Why in God’s green earth would God entrust you with greater riches if you can’t even steward the life you have now? How you handle money now is a trial run for greater riches. You want more money? You want the blessed life? The answer isn’t more money. The answer is to be a trusted and responsible steward with what God has already given you, then you can be trusted with more.

In my church I’m currently preaching through a sermon series on giving and stewardship. When it comes to giving, people often ask follow up questions. Here are four frequently asked questions about tithes and offerings.

1. What’s the difference between tithes and offerings? ‘Tithes’ refers to the 10% we’re supposed to give back to God as an act of worship from our income, and ‘offerings’ are anything above and beyond the tithe that we give to a church or other charity.

2. Why is a tithe 10%? ‘Tithe’ literally means ‘tenth,’ as introduced in the Old Testament when God commanded the Israelites to devote a tenth of their income to God as an act of worship and obedience. Why did God settle on 10%? We don’t know for sure, but I’m glad that it’s a percentage and not a dollar amount, because a percentage cuts across all sectors of the economic ladder. 10% feels the same, whether you’re making $100 a week or $1000 a day. 10% is just enough for you to pause and ask, “can I really trust God to meet my needs if I give to Him first?”, which is the whole point (to increase our trust in Him).

3. Is the tithe something simply commanded in the Old Testament? The tithe was something introduced in the Mosaic Law in Leviticus 27:30, but it’s also affirmed by Jesus in the New Testament when he says in Matthew 23:23, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” So the tithe is something introduced in the Old Testament but affirmed by Jesus in the New Testament, meaning it still holds validity for Christians today.

4. Should I tithe on my gross or my net? A final common question I’m asked is whether we should tithe on our gross income or our net income. I first heard another preacher give the best response, so I’ll share it here for your consideration. When someone asks, “Should I tithe on my gross or my net?”, I respond, “It depends. Do you want God to bless your gross or your net?”

I grew up in church. I knew the right things, I was taught the right things, and for awhile I did what I thought was right when it came to giving. I gave to God, like I thought I was supposed to, but I gave to God on my terms. As long as I had enough, I gave God from the leftovers. I didn’t trust Him first.

For awhile, that worked, or at least I thought it did. I’m naturally conservative with my money and there was usually money at the end of the month, and I gave to God out of that. And then I got married. And then I had kids. All of a sudden, I wasn’t just supporting myself, I was supporting a family, and all of a sudden I didn’t always have money at the end of the month.

I was a full-time minister, serving in youth ministry, and I still struggled with giving like I should. So, if giving is something that you’ve struggled with over the years, if it’s something that you’re convicted about and know you need to do but struggle, know that I literally have walked where you’ve walked. There have been too many times when I failed the Principle of the Test. I got paid, and I didn’t give back to God first like He’s told us to from the beginning of humanity.

But, and here’s the great news, I’ve figured out a secret, a life hack, a way that’s revolutionized the way I give and it’s been such an incredible blessing to me I want to share it with you. Once I resolved to start giving to God like I should (this was years and years ago) I still had a problem. Back years ago the only ways to give to the church was either through dropping cash in the plate or drop a check in the offering plate. Only problem was, I never carry cash and I don’t like carrying a checkbook (too bulky, don’t have a man purse to put it in). So every week the offering plate would come by and and I’d think, “I want to give, I really do, but I don’t have cash or a check on me. I’ll give next week.” And I really meant it. I was absolutely sincere.

The problem was, I’d let five or six weeks go by before I finally remembered to bring a check, and by that time, I was so far behind on my tithe that if I caught up the check would bounce. I wanted to do right but struggled with remembering every single week to bring a check.

And then, and then, an amazing thing happened: technology. Technology advanced enough that you could start giving online, and even better than that, you could automatically schedule your payments.

And so, I’ve figured out a way to nail the Principle of the Test (every time you get paid, you take a test on whether God is really first in your finances), every time. I started it years ago and when I recently moved here I automatically set up to give online to my church. I get paid on the 1st and the 15th, like many folks. My tithe gets withdrawn automatically from my account twice a month, on the 1st and 15th. Whether I miss a Sunday or not, whether I’m out of town or not, whether I’m sick or not, I’m still getting paid by my work so I’m still experiencing the Principle of the Test.

And so, through online recurring giving, I nail the Principle of the Test, every time.