The very first human illustration of faith is Abel gave a greater sacrifice. Go to Genesis, read the story. Cain gave something, sometime, someone that when he gave it he could give it here, give it there, it grew here.
And what we know about Abel is he gave his first and he gave his best and what he gave, when he gave it, was gone. When you sacrifice a cow, it doesn’t come up and grow the next year.
And here’s what I want you to know. I don’t know where you’re at in your life. Until you learn to give God the first and best portion of your finances, you will never walk by faith. Never.
I mean, is He your resource or not? Do you believe God is real? He commands you, minimum, give a tenth or so. And if you want to be legalistic give 7.5 percent… I don’t want to go there.
But what I’m telling you is the average Christian doesn’t give, doesn’t give regularly, doesn’t give off the top, and doesn’t give their best. And they’re not experiencing supernatural power.
The way you learn to experience God is you give your first and your best off the top. Because you’re not in a third world country, you’re not saying, “Lord, give me a bowl of rice today,” and God does and you go, “Wow, You’re real.” If God took a nap for forty days, the average, American Christian wouldn’t know it because you’re not desperate.
But I’ll tell you what, you start giving off the top, it will create a situation in your finances, in your life, where you’ll be going, “Whoa, how are we going to take care of this?”
I don’t know where you’re at, but, now, it was, everyone was pretty fired up when we were talking about, “Yeah, you want faith, yeah, you want to see supernatural things? Yeah!” Got quiet when I talked about your wallet.
Didn’t it? Now, do you want faith or not? Do you think the Holy Spirit was just thinking, “Hey, you know, wonder what you…” This isn’t, these aren’t put here randomly. The very first illustration of faith is there is One who created all that there is, the invisible, from invisible to visible and He is the Author and source of all there is.
The second illustration is that someone believed Him to the point that he took the very best that he had and he gave his first and he said, “I worship You and I depend on You. All I have and all I am belongs to You. You are Lord; and so I give You my first and my best.”
And then you will see God work in your life. You know what? Otherwise, it’s intellectual, isn’t it? “Oh, I believe in God.” Oh, really? “I believe in God, yeah.” You believe in God when you take a step and He better come through for you. And that’s why finances are so important.
I hated to preach about money because I was desperately insecure. I’m still desperately insecure and I like to talk about money now. You know why? What I found was, I started talking about money, people took steps of faith and what I found, it was the lordship of Christ; it wasn’t about money, it was about their heart. They got their heart rightly connected and then I got stacks of letters and emails like this where people’s lives are changed.
And I thought, “Wow, when you talk about money, you’re really talking about lordship. And until people take that step, no real power happens.”
Third object lesson, are you ready? This is a baseball glove. Got it? How do you get faith? It starts by soaking your heart and your mind in the Word of God. It then begins to grow where you tangibly take your first and best finances and give them as an offering to God.
And third, faith is caught much more than taught. It’s caught. Here’s what I want to tell you. It’s a mystery. I don’t know how it works. But I can tell you this: I have gone to the Philippines and been on the back of a motorcycle with Tom Randall and three or four or five days with him you just start looking at life differently. You know? You just look at, “Yeah, they need a hundred thousand dollars,” and there’s a general with a machine gun over there and Tom goes, “Yeah! Man, I think God’s probably in this. What do you think, Chip?”
And you leave three weeks later and he gets a letter for fifty thousand, and someone pledges twenty-five, and another group comes and the general puts down his gun and becomes a Christian and you think… “And I know this guy!”
Now, I knew he could play basketball. And then Tom will tell you, “I’m still in the living Bible and I didn’t go to any of those seminaries and those Bible schools but seems to me all you have to do is just do what this says.”
You must get around people that have faith. There are three ways you catch faith: People, places, and books. People, places, and books. Dawson Trotman’s autobiography changed my life. Hudson Taylor’s biography changed my life.
Why? I read and I saw an uneducated eighteen year old on a motorcycle who dreamed a dream and prayed crazy dreams. George Müller’s book changed my life. He prayed and millions and millions of dollars… “God…” here are his orphans. They don’t have food, here’s a man, he prays before God; here’s a promise, “God, You said You would do it. If You’ll give it…” “I’ll give it.” And God did.
George Müller is an ordinary guy, John Wesley is an ordinary guy, Hudson Taylor is an ordinary guy. God did extraordinary things because they had faith.
Often, faith is a way of looking at things. God wants to do something through you that is so beyond your imagination but you, “Ooh, no, this is how, this is, how do you this? Because I don’t know. I know.”
Faith starts when you become a man or a woman of the Book, you give God your money, and you start going on a mission trip, a place where you get around a Tom Randall, or an elder, or you read a biography and you start to catch it.
Next, are you ready for this? 3x5 cards. But down a 3x5 card. I’m getting fired up, I have to watch my time. Someone is saying, “Like, what else is new?” Under this, will you write, “Sanctified dreaming”? Psalm 37:4, it’s a habit I picked up probably about eight years ago.
Psalm 37:4 says, “God delights to give us the desires of our hearts.” That is, we delight in Him, He wants to give us the desires of our hearts.
Now, passages like this have been twisted. I don’t mean the desire of your heart is for a Rolex and Lexus and a third home and a huge bank account. If God happens to do some of that and use it for His glory, okay. That’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about when you have desires in your heart that you know for sure are right out of Scripture. I know for sure that God will honor the desire of my heart to be a loving, understanding, faithful husband.
I know for sure from Scripture that a desire of my heart that I prayed this week that I would be bolder and share my faith and really care about people who are lost. I know He wants to fulfill that desire.
And so I sat down and I thought about my kids and about my wife and about ministry and my job and I began to write down some desires of my heart. And I said, “God,” I didn’t try and memorize them, I wasn’t trying to produce anything. “But I just want to keep, I want You to know, these are my desires.”
Because what your desires do, you always gravitate toward where they are. And so I wrote down, I’ve got a number of them, but, for example, first couple of years here, I knew I needed to work on my preaching. And about eight years ago I wrote down, “I’d like to preach great messages for the glory of God that are used to transform multitudes of people’s lives.”
It was so hard to write that down. You know why? Did you hear what I said. I want to preach great messages. I mean, do you want to hear okay messages? Do you want to hear, like, nice messages? Above average, barely messages?
See, there’s all this false humility. What’s God want preached? I want to preach great messages, biblically sound, relevant, transformational. And I began to put that as a desire.
And then I did a Saturday service and an elder reviewed me and a staff member reviewed me and people gave feedback and I went home and worked for three or four hours and then I realized that killed me the next day so I got up for two or three hours and I kept revising the messages and learning and learning and learning and learning and learning and learning and learning and growing.
I am an ordinary guy but God put a desire on my heart and I put the desire before God and over time, little by little, He’s been giving me the desire of my heart.
I put one, we were on two stations, I would like to see the radio ministry explode and become a tool in God’s hand that would bless and be used in the lives of millions of people in the next decade and beyond.
Now, you know what? It sounds arrogant, doesn’t it? I mean, you check your motives but isn’t someone going to do that? Isn’t God looking for someone? Aren’t His eyes going to and fro throughout the whole earth that He could find a man or a woman that He could strongly support?
I thought, “I don’t know what’s going to happen, and we’re on two stations. This is just what I’d like to see, God, if You don’t do it, it’s okay. It’s fine. Doesn’t have anything to do with my identity or my ego or whether I’m a good person or a bad person. But, you know what? It’s a lot of work and it takes just as much energy to produce the material for two stations as two hundred or three hundred or five hundred or five thousand.”
Here’s a desire. It’s just a desire. See, you give Him… what are your desires? “I’d like to see each one of my children hunger and thirst for righteousness and know deep in their souls how loved, significant, and valuable they are in Christ, totally apart from anything or anyone. It’s just a desire. God, if You could give me anything, I’d like to see Eric and Jason and Ryan and Annie grow up and thirst for You and be so secure and feel so loved that it wouldn’t matter what other people think.” It’s just a desire.
What’s your desire? What are you asking God for? What’s the Scripture say? He longs to do what? He wants to reward those… He wants to give us… we have to believe that He’s a rewarder.
When is the last time you really asked God for something? Have you done any sanctified dreaming? You start with the Word, you give Him your money, you decide how you’re going to catch some faith, and then ask yourself, you’re only going to go through it once, well, what do you, I mean, have you ever even asked God for anything?
What would you long to see happen in your life, your family, your marriage, your singleness, your ministry? What would you really like to see happen? God wants to get behind someone.
That’s faith. It’ll grow your faith.
The next thing, you ready for this? This is very complex. This looks just like a spiral notebook. And this looks like a pen. And it’s object lesson, one, two, three, four, five.
And what I would say to you is under this one you can jot down, “Earnestly seek Him.” I don’t know about you, if at this point in time you’re thinking, “You get up every day, you have long, deep seasons of time with God in prayer, you love to pray, your mind never wanders, you pray very specific things, and He answers on a regular basis,” you are excused. The rest of us will stay in the room.
Verse 6 says what? “He’s a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him.” What’s it mean? It means you seek God like you seek the stock market, it means you seek God in the same way when you’re single and you’re looking for a mate, it means you seek God the same way when you’re young and you want to be a great musician or great athlete.
You go for broke, you get your schedule, you track it, you have a passion. And the reason I gave you this, and I don’t think everyone needs to keep a journal.
But I just decided that my mind wanders so much, and my life keeps going and I’m pulled in a zillion different directions, so I get up and I spend time and the first thing I do is read and then I ask God to speak to me and then I write down, “This is where I’m at and this is what I’m feeling,” and then I put all these little boxes, like today. And I wrote a box and prayer for my wife and a prayer for one of my kids and a prayer for tonight and a prayer for a meeting I had and a prayer and a prayer and a prayer.
And I asked God specifically, this is what I’m asking Him for today. And then tomorrow morning I’m going to get up and I’m going to look at those boxes and I’m going to put check marks. And I’m going to write dates next to them.
I mean, you’ve got to track your walk with God. You’ve got to earnestly seek Him. How many people just have money but they have no idea where it is and what interest it’s making and what’s going…
How many of you have kids and just say, “You know, I don’t know where they live, I don’t know what they’re doing, don’t know what time they come in. You know, they just come…”
Right? You track it, you know what’s going on. That’s what I’m saying. When you begin to get in the Word, give Him your money, catch faith, dream some dreams, and then earnestly seek Him, and track and think and ponder and evaluate and ask God to show you who you are, where you’re at, how’s He speaking to you?
He’ll speak. He’ll speak. He wants to speak! And that’s just been a tool that has been very helpful for me to get there.
The sixth way to grow your faith is remember Abraham? Abraham got a call, “Abraham, this is God.” “Yes?” “Yes, we’ve got a little committee of three up here and we got a great plan for your life.” “Yes?” “We want you to leave everybody and everyone you know.” “Yes.” “Great plan, tremendous reward, unbelievable benefits.” “Right.” “We’ll let you know that later. No, we don’t know that yet either. We know but you don’t. Just go.”
What did he get? He got a call. He got direction. I’d like to talk to mature Christians right now. I’d like to talk to people and you’re sitting in this room and you’re saying, “Oh, yeah, I could do a little better in the Bible but you know what? I’m in the Bible. Of course I could stretch my money but I read the Scriptures.”
You know what? I’ve been, you know a great place to catch, you want to catch faith? Catch it here. You get connected in one of those small groups, you’ll catch faith. And you know, maybe you’re keeping a journal, maybe you have your own way of doing it. But here’s what I want to say to you mature Christians: So what are you here for?
I mean, what are you here for? What’s God’s call on your life? What’s your vision, what’s your mission? I know the basics: walk with God, care about people, read…”
But, I mean, your role. What’s your niche? Why did He place you on the planet? And you say, “Well, I mean, I don’t know. I’m just kind of doing these things and it’s, I’m just sort of weaving my way…” Why don’t you ask Him? Why don’t you say, “Lord, I want to know.”
Now, He may just unfold it, He might not give you some big, clear way to go. But start asking and listening for a call from God. He wants to show you.
Now, if you want to grow your faith, I’m going to challenge you to get this thing and get in the Scriptures. I don’t know where you’re at.
If you’re not giving your money and if you think there are ulterior motives, give to World Vision. Our elders have blessed that. But start giving first and best, off the top, tonight. Talk with your wife before you get in trouble and start next week if it’s a real problem.
Third, catch faith. Get around some people, get connected, get in a group. Write down some desires. You want to end up seventy, eighty, ninety years old and think, “You know, I really wish I would have done something.” Write down what you long to do that you know is true and ask God to do it. And He’ll scare you and He’ll do it.
And then track what’s going on, learn how to pray, learn to process what’s going on and say to God, “I don’t know Your calling on my life.”
Final, number seven, are you ready? You know what you, you know, here’s the key. The last one? These are dice. These are dice. You really want your faith to grow, God will take you through that, and all along the way then He’ll bring you to a point and you know what you do with dice? You roll them.
And you know why you roll them? Because whatever they come up, they come up. Where there is no risk there is no faith. If there is no risk, you’re not even in the game!
At some point in time, He’s going to speak to you and your money, and He’ll say, “Go on this trip.” And you’ll pray about a desire and He’ll get you right to the threshold but it’ll mean you’ll have to relocate!
Or you’ll have to change jobs or He’ll speak to you and He’ll have it all lined up and He’ll say, “Hey, baby, are you in or are you out?” And you take all the white chips and you put the blue chips and the red chips and you take them and you throw them.
And there are a lot of people that know all of this up to here, whose lives are used about that much, instead of this much, because they just won’t throw the dice.
At some point in time you say, “God, I’m in,” and you take a radical step and He catches you. How about you? Where does He want you to roll the dice?