Friday, July 06, 2007

A New Fiscal Year (part 2)

A 10% increase over actual giving is a greater increase in our budget than we typically take. Giving for the last fiscal year was 4.4% over the previous fiscal year. To meet this budget, we will need all of our church family, members and regular attenders alike, to make this a daily matter of prayer and to evaluate their own stewardship and giving. I want to take this opportunity to ask you to pray through the following two questions.

Do you give regularly and systematically to the Lord’s work here at Grace? In Scripture (Proverbs 3:9-10, Malachi 3:10 and 2 Corinthians 9:6) we are taught clearly to give to God “first” of all that He provides for us. So many times we tend to simply give to God what I like to call, “leftover giving.” In other words, we pay our bills and put aside what we feel we will need for ourselves and then we give to God a portion of what we have “left over.” As a result, many Sundays come and go with our giving little or nothing to the Lord.

I want to challenge you to start this fiscal year by taking a step of obedience and faith and deciding in advance to give to God “first.” Take time to prayerfully consider how much God is leading you to give each and every week to His work here at Grace Church and then be faithful to that amount. Contact the church office and request giving envelopes if you don’t already have them. These will help you to give regularly and will allow us to give you a tax receipt at the end of the calendar year that you can use as a deduction on your income tax. The Bible doesn’t promise you riches if you will give to God first, but God does promise that He will bless you and meet your needs. In Malachi 3, He tells us to test Him by putting the Lord first in our giving and see if He does not open up the windows of heaven and bless us. Remember, God always rewards obedience.

If you are already giving regularly and systematically to the work of the Lord here at Grace, let me also ask you to prayerfully think through this second question. Are you giving to God your best? When it comes to our stewardship, God deserves not only our “first” rather than our “leftovers,” He also deserves our “best” rather than just our “norm.” As we entered this new fiscal year I have prayerfully evaluated my giving and have been able, starting this month, to raise my weekly giving 12.5% over last fiscal year. There is nothing magical or spiritual about that number, it simply is what I believe to be my best. I am not asking you to raise your weekly giving by 12.5%. I am simply challenging you to prayerfully consider if you are giving to God your best.

Because this is such an important year, I am planning to send out a letter at the start of each additional quarter of this fiscal year (October 1, January 1, and April 1) to our entire church family giving you an update on where we are financially as a church. This is going to be a great year. I am believing God to do superabundantly more than anything we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). I hope that you are as well. My prayer is that each of us will be faithful stewards, not just of our finances but more importantly, of our entire lives.

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