COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

A pathway to a more joyful and generous giving and living

By Brian Kluth

A number of years ago, I discovered a wonderful verse in I Corinthians 16:2, “On the first day of each week let each of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper.”

At first, I didn’t understand how the verse could apply to my life. But my wife and I began a Sunday evening practice of “looking back and writing down” how God provided for us in the previous seven days. Each week, we discovered there were many ways that God provided for us outside of our normal income. We began giving 10% of my main income to our local church and we then started a “Blessings Fund” that represented 10% or more of the myriad of blessings God creatively brought into our life week by week.

At the end of the first year, even though my main income only brought in $15,000; I discovered we had given $1500 to our local church and an additional $2500 out of our “Blessings Fund” to other Christian causes. This meant that God had blessed us with $25,000 of blessings during the past year that was over and above my $15,000 salary!

We did this for several more years and discovered that each year God doubled and tripled what we were able and willing to give to the Lord’s work because we counted our blessings. Here are the lessons we learned and practiced that helped us live a more joyful and generous life:

1. Plan a time each week where you will begin to write down God’s provisions from the previous week in a “Blessings Notebook.”

2. When you meet together, think back over the following areas and write down anything that comes to your remembrance:

Main Income

If you were paid during the week, write down that amount. For us, we gave 10% of this amount to our local church.

Additional Income or Unexpected Cash?

Write down any cash gifts, overtime pay, bonuses, second salary, moonlighting, investment returns, sale of any possession, refunds, inheritance, etc.

People’s Hospitality?

Meals, lodging, or entertainment that others gave to you or paid the cost.

Special Help or Assistance?

Help with car, house, equipment repairs, free babysitting, etc.

Discount or Sale Items?

Any money saved on discounted clothing or household items, garage sale/thrift shop savings, discounts on recreational activities, etc.

Purchase of New Possessions?

When my wife and I were buying a major item or a luxury item, we sometimes included the cost of these items in our blessings fund in order to give an additional 10% or more to the Lord’s work.

3. Write down the financial value for each item OR (very important) write down the amount you “WOULD HAVE BEEN WILLING TO SPEND” for the item. For example: A family member gave me a $1000 radial arm saw. I would have never been able or willing to afford a $1000 tool like this, but I might have “been willing to spend” $200 on a used radial arm saw at a garage sale. So, in this example, I put down the value of the blessing at $200 (not $1000). Therefore I ended up giving an extra $20 to the Lord’s work, not an extra $100.

4. Add up the value of the total number of blessing items for the week and take 10% or more of the total and decide where to give it OR set aside the week’s amount in your notebook or put the money in a special place or account and consider this your “BLESSINGS FUND.”

5. Faithfully give your church 10% or more of your main income. Then begin to joyfully and generously use your “Blessings Fund” to help support missions, missionaries, special projects and needs, building programs, the needy, Christian workers and organizations.

4-Week Challenge:

I am confident that the LORD has been blessing most people’s lives week by week. But most people don’t “see” the blessings because they don’t take time to “look back over the last seven days to see what God has done to provide for them.” Because of this, I challenge you to try this for at least four weeks to see what God is doing for you! I believe it will truly lead you to a more joyful and generous life!

Article by Brian Kluth. Used with permission. More stories and information on financial matters are available at www.fmfgiftplan.org.

 

10 Biblical Reasons
to Give 10% OR MORE of Your Income to the Lord’s Work
 

As materialism and consumerism have continually infiltrated our lives in recent decades, many people have drifted from any biblical moorings concerning their Christian giving. Here are 10 biblically based reasons to make giving 10% or more of your income your highest financial priority in life.

1. It is a proven pattern of giving done by Christ followers for many generations.

In 1899, a bibliography was compiled of books related to systematic Christian giving. There were over 500 books listed in this bibliography from over 100 years ago, and yet many Christians today do not understand the importance of faithful giving. Scriptures: Genesis 14:17-20, 28:16-22, Leviticus 27:30, Proverbs 3:9-10, Malachi 3:7-15, Matthew 23:23

2. It will help you reverence God more in your life.

If you showed me your checkbook records, I would be able to quickly tell you who or what you feel is important. By giving the best of what you have been given to God, you are expressing your allegiance to Him and you will grow in your respect for the Lord and His working in your life. Scriptures: Deuteronomy 14:23, Malachi 1:6-8

3. It will bring God’s wisdom and order to your finances.

If I get dressed in the morning and get the first button out of place on my shirt, all the rest of the buttons will be messed up. When it comes to finances, the first button to get in place is your giving. When you get this area in order, everything else follows. Giving is also the only known antidote for “affluenza” (the desire for more things) that permeates our world today. Scriptures: Matthew 6:19-21, 24-34; Luke 12:16-21, I Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19; Ecclesiastes 5:10

4. It will serve as a practical reminder that God is the Owner of everything in your life.

By faithfully giving the Lord 10% or more of all you ever receive, you are actively acknowledging His ownership in your life. As someone once told me, “God owns it all and God loans it all.” We are not owners, only temporary possessors and managers of what God entrusts to us during our lifetime. Scriptures: I Chronicles 29:11-18, Psalm 24:1-2, 50:10-12, Haggai 2:8

5. It will allow you to experience God’s creative provisions.

One of the most amazing things about learning to faithfully give to the Lord is the joy so many people have experienced in receiving unexpected blessings in their lives. When you acknowledge God’s ownership through your generous giving, you begin to experience His creative provisions in amazing ways. Scriptures: I Kings 17, Proverbs 3:9-10, Malachi 3:7-15, Haggai 1:4-11, 2:15-19; Luke 6:38, Deuteronomy 28, Philippians 4:15-19, Mark 12:41-44

6. It will encourage your spiritual growth and trust in God.

There will be times when you will decide to be a faithful giver of what is in your hand, even when you have no idea how you will make it through the coming day, week, or month. But by going ahead and giving to God, your trust in the Lord will grow and you will grow in your ability to see Him provide. Scriptures: Deuteronomy 14:23, Proverbs 3:5-6, Malachi 3:8-10, Haggai 1:4-11, 2:15-19; 2 Corinthians 8:5

7. It will ensure you of treasure in heaven.

Jesus encourages you to store up treasure in heaven. The only way to do this is to live generously now. Someone once said, “We can’t take it with us, but we can send it on ahead.” Scriptures: I Timothy 6:18-19, Matthew 6:19-21, Hebrews 6:10, III John 8, I Samuel 30:22

8. It will strengthen the work of your local church.

Many churches struggle for lack of finances. However, when people in a congregation gain a vision for being faithful givers to God at their local church, the whole spirit of a church begins to change -- needs are met, people are cared for, more outreach begins to take place, and long-awaited improvements start to happen. God-given momentum builds as people honor the Lord through their giving at church. Scriptures: Acts 2:42-47, 4:32; 2 Corinthians 9:12, 13

9. It will help provide the means to keep your pastor(s) and missionaries in full-time Christian service.

It has always been God’s plan that his servants are taken care of by his people. Across America and the world, many pastors and missionaries are struggling financially or are even leaving the ministry because of a lack of adequate finances. Your faithful giving can make sure this doesn’t happen among the pastors or missionaries you know. Scriptures: I Corinthians 9:9-11,14; I Timothy 5:17-18, III John 5-8, Philippians 4:15-19, Galatians 6:6, Luke 8:3, II Kings 4:8-10

10. It will help accomplish needed building projects and renovations.

Some of the most exciting times in the life of a church or ministry occur when facilities are being improved or expanded. But for building projects to succeed, large extraordinary gifts are needed. Building projects only happen well with special gifts that are “above and beyond” people’s normal giving. Scriptures: 2 Chronicles 24:4-14, Exodus 35, 36; II Kings 12:2-16, Ezra 1:4-6, I Chronicles 29:2-19
 
Article by Brian Kluth. Used with permission. More stories and information on financial matters are available at www.fmfgiftplan.org.