Close Out 2021 Series (Day 2): Leveling Up Financially

by Rick

Yesterday I told you that we celebrate 24 years of Today’s Word this month.  When I think about the impact God has made, through me, a Dominican kid from Brooklyn, it often leaves me in awe of God’s goodness and His grace.  Before I get into the Word for this morning, I feel led to share a few more quick things about being faithful to your calling.

— We all have our individual callings from God, and we are each uniquely gifted, anointed, and graced to fulfill whatever we are called to do.  But all this means is that God has done His part.  Everyone is called, but most don’t answer the call.  And for those who do, there are levels of commitment, dedication, and faithfulness.

— I don’t claim to be anything or anyone special.  In many ways, the closer I get to God, the less I think of myself.  Now, to be clear, I do attempt to believe what God believes about me, and in that sense, I have all the confidence in the world.  My point is that my confidence is not in me.  My confidence is in God.  I have made more mistakes than I want to remember.  I have failed God more times than I want to admit.  I know I will get to heaven and find out that God had more in store for me that I missed out on.  But for the time I have left on this planet, my desire is to live every day in honor of God, in sync with His Spirit, becoming a conduit of His love and light in this world.

— I have been walking with God for 26 years.  During this time, I have seen countless people come and go.  I can’t tell you how many people I have seen claim their allegiance and then walk away when things get tough.  Jesus was hard on these type of people.  He was looking for consistently.  He even got on Peter for having just a short burst of faith when he walked on water.  

Jesus did not say, “Hey Peter, good job buddy!  You walked on water.  You took a few steps.  You will go down with me as the only humans to ever walk on water!”  No.  That’s not what Jesus said.  He said, “You of little faith.  Why did you doubt?”  

Peter literally walked on water.  This was a supernatural act of faith, but Jesus called it “little faith.”  The “little” in Jesus’ statement is not a reference to the amount or type of faith Peter had.  It was simply a reference to the duration of Peter’s faith.  This tells us something about God’s expectations of us.

— Not only does God expect us to operate and live by faith, He expects us to do it consistently.  

— Anyone can have a short burst of faith, but God is looking for believers who will literally live by faith every second of every day.

— Countless believers get excited when they hear a Word from God on Sunday, but by Tuesday, many have already forgotten what God said.  God is not looking for you to dibble and dabble in faith; He has called you to LIVE BY FAITH!

I pray you live a strong and consistent life in Christ.

That said, now let’s get into the Word for today.  This week I am providing you excerpts from my book, “Level Up Your Life.”  In the book, I provide you with Biblical principles designed to help you level up in five areas.  Yesterday I shared a few things from the book on leveling up spiritually.  Today I will do the same around leveling financially.

So what does this mean to you today?  Let’s get into it.

1.  God wants you to be in a position to give to the poor (less fortunate).

Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you always” (Matthew 26:11).

There are many reasons why some people seem less fortunate than others.  

Some were born into difficult circumstances.  I recently read an article that said that what qualifies as “poor” in the United States is 31 times higher than poverty in some other nations.  I can’t validate these numbers, but I believe you get the point.  

I was born in Brooklyn, NY, and raised on public assistance.  Thankfully, my mother ensured I never lacked a thing.  But my point is that while we may have been considered poor in this country (at the time), we were FAR from poor by the standards of other countries.  My wife, Isabella, can testify.  I told her that I was raised poor.  But after we got married and she saw that I had birthday parties growing up, I always had food, I had toys, electricity, an Atari, a computer, and the pictures to prove it, this all made it clear to her that I was far from the “poor” she grew up in.  

Not only did Isabella not have running water or electricity, and not only were there many days where she did not have food to eat, but she couldn’t show me pictures of her childhood because her family did not have a camera.  So, needless to say, some people are born into difficult financial situations, and as a young person, you have no control over it. 

Some have made poor financial decisions.  While many people are considered poor because of circumstances they had no control over, there are equally as many people in a financial bind because of the poor decisions they have made.  Financial literacy is not taught in our schools, and unfortunately, it is also not taught in many homes.  As a result, many young people grow up with bad financial habits, and before they know it, they are in a financial hole, and they spend years, sometimes all their lives, trying to get out.

I don’t share this to judge people or to try to figure out why some people have more than others.  Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you always” (Matthew 26:11).  So, for those of us who are not struggling financially, what are we supposed to do about it?  One of the things God wants us to do about it is minister to the needs of others.  God gives us more than enough, so we can give out of the overflow.

I run into people all the time who say things like, “I don’t need much.  I just want enough for me and my family.”  That sounds good.  You may even think that it sounds spiritual.  But that is not Biblical.  If you are only focused on yourself and your family, you are being selfish.  God wants you to make an impact BEYOND yourself, and you cannot make an impact BEYOND yourself if you are only focused on yourself and if you only have enough for yourself.  

The more you have, the more will have to manage, but if you are dedicated to doing what God has called you to do, you will walk in God’s grace and you will be fine.  Furthermore, ministering to others is extremely rewarding.  I believe this is the case because it is the heart of God.

2.  What was Jesus’ answer to poverty?

The real answer to poverty is NOT money.  The answer to poverty is the Word of God.  It is developing a prosperous soul!  

In Luke 7, John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, found himself in jail, and he was upset that Jesus was not coming to get him.  He sent his disciples to go and ask His cousin this question: “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”  This is obviously a question birthed out of frustration because John knew who Jesus was.  But let’s look at Jesus’ response.  Jesus said, “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.”  Did you see it?  Look again.  

Jesus always ministered the answers to life’s problems.  What did Jesus minister to the blind?  The ability to see.  

What did Jesus minister to the lame?  The ability to walk.  

What did Jesus minister to lepers?  Clean skin.  

What did Jesus minister to the deaf?  The ability to hear.  

What did Jesus minister to the dead?  Resurrection/life.  

Lastly, what did Jesus minister to the poor?  Your first response is probably to think it was money.  But Jesus never gave the poor money.  He ministered to their needs, but He did not give them money.  Jesus gave them the WORD!  He said, “The Good News is being preached to the poor!” 

You can give a person in need some money to meet their immediate needs, but if you don’t change their heart and mind, they will need the same hand out the next day.  Jesus’ answer to poverty is the Word.  If we can get the Word down inside a person, then they will find their divine purpose, and their purpose will lead them out of poverty.

3.  Tithing involves God in your finances.

Most believers have areas of their lives that are not fully submitted to God.  Some people don’t involve God in their work.  Others leave God out of their business.  Some don’t welcome God into their decision-making process.  Others leave God out of their marriage.  Whatever the case, if you have an area of your life where you have not actively invited God IN, then He will remain OUT.  

God will not force Himself upon you.  God’s involvement in your life, in whatever area, must be an act of your free will.  If God ever forced you to do something, then you would not be doing it out of your free will, and it would therefore NOT be an act of submission.  Understanding that point, I can tell you that many believers leave God out of their finances.

I know many good people, with good hearts and good intentions, who ask me to pray for them about a financial situation they find themselves in.  They want God to bless them financially.  They want God to “come through” for them.  But when I ask them if they are tithers, they go silent.  They don’t like the question because it is putting a spotlight on them and their decisions.  Whether they like the question or not, God has set up the earth to function on a system of sowing and reaping, cause and effect, and the free will of humans.  In this system, our decisions and actions matter.  God will allow whatever we allow.  God will permit whatever we permit.  If we don’t get God involved in our finances, He won’t get involved.

Tithing is about giving God FIRST PLACE.

(Proverbs 3:9.10 ERV)

9 Honor the Lord with your wealth and the first part of your harvest.

10 Then your barns will be full of grain, and your barrels will be overflowing with wine. 

— Tithing is not just about giving 10% of whatever comes into your hands, but it is about giving God the FIRST 10%.

— You give God the FIRST!

— You give God the BEST!

— Why?  Because you are doing it to HONOR HIM!

Everything you have came from God anyway!

(1 Chronicles 29:14 ERV)

All these things didn’t come from me and my people.  All these things come from you.  We are only giving back to you things that came from you.  

In 1 Chronicles 29, King David collected the resources required to build God’s temple.  The Lord had already told him that he would bring the resources together, and his son, Solomon, would oversee the building project.  While David was looking at everything the people gave as an offering to the Lord for the building project, he saw gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, precious stones in many colors, marble, and many other offerings.  David was overwhelmed with the magnitude of the offering.  But the king also knew that God Himself had blessed the people to be able to give.  This caused David to say to the Lord, “All these things didn’t come from me and my people.  All these things come from you.  We are only giving back to you things that came from you.”  This is the essence of our giving.  God blesses us richly, and we then get to participate in the blessing of giving back to God from the things He freely gave to us.

Tithing today.

The practice of tithing and giving offerings is documented in scripture both before and after the Old Covenant of The Law.  It is, therefore NOT limited to The Law.  As New Covenant believers, we give tithes and offerings as part of our spiritual covenant with the Father.

Under the Old Covenant, people were cursed unless they did everything just right, remembered every detail, and did not leave out any steps in the process of following the letter of The Law.  But thankfully, today, we are under grace, and Jesus’ blood delivers us from any curse (Galatians 3:13).  We are blessed to give as we are led by the Holy Spirit.  Not tithing will not cause God to place us under the curse. 

The concept of giving and tithing is not based on money itself; it is about trust.  When we give, it is no longer just giving money—we are authenticating our trust in God, and we are then in a position to experience God’s best in every area of our lives.

4.  We can learn about giving from the widow’s offering.

(Mark 12:41-44 NIV)

41 Jesus sat near the Temple collection box and watched as people put money into it. Many rich people put in a lot of money.

42 Then a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth less than a penny.

43 Jesus called his followers to him and said, “This poor widow put in only two small coins. But the truth is, she gave more than all those rich people

44 They have plenty, and they gave only what they did not need. This woman is very poor, but she gave all she had. It was money she needed to live on.”

Let’s think about this situation.  Here are a few things to consider:

— Jesus paid attention to what people gave.  Think about that for a moment.  

— Jesus was not happy with the people who ONLY GAVE what they DID NOT NEED!  

— If it does not mean much to you, it will not mean much to God.  

— This woman did not give 10%.  She gave 100%.  She gave what she needed to LIVE ON.  

— Notice that Jesus DID NOT give her the money back.

— Notice that Jesus DID NOT tell her that she did not need to give because she did not have much.

This woman could not afford to give.  So, from Jesus’ perspective, SHE COULD NOT AFFORD NOT TO!  Since the earth operates on a system of sowing and reaping, cause and effect, and the free will of humans, Jesus knew that this woman needed “seed in the ground” in order to get out of her financial situation.  Some people today would say that the church was taking advantage of her, by receiving her money when she obviously did not have much.  But people who think this way don’t understand God’s Kingdom.  

*** Jesus applauded what this lady did because He knew that her harvest would be greater than her seed!

*** This woman trusted God.  She believed God was her source.  And Jesus knew that The Father, who is the Lord of the Harvest, would not let her down!

Declaration of Faith:

  • Father, You have blessed me richly; everything I have came from You.  
  • Giving back is not something I’ve got to do; it is something I GET to do!  I am honored to be able to give back to You from what You have first given to me.
  • I honor You with the first tenth of ALL my increase.  Beyond that, I am led by Your Spirit to give financial offerings, and I do so with a cheerful heart.  
  • I don’t give because I am afraid of being cursed.  
  • I don’t give because I am obligated to give.  
  • I give because I love You.  I am thankful to be able to sow into Your Kingdom.  My giving authenticates my trust.  
  • My giving proves to You that I can be trusted to fund Your Kingdom projects.  
  • Therefore, Father, You are free to give to me in abundance.
  • I will do whatever You lead me to do with the abundance and overflow.   
  • The more I receive, the more I give, all for Your glory!  
  • Living this way, I LEVEL UP my life in this season.  
  • I declare this by faith, in Jesus’ name.  Amen!

I trust this message was a blessing to you.  This is just a small excerpt from my book, “Level Up Your Life.”  If you don’t have a copy of the book, here is a link to get yours.  It also makes for a good Christmas gift.

Level Up Your Life: 


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