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The Spiritual Adventure of Tithing -Proverbs 3, Malachi 3

The second of two worship service plans on the theme of stewardship. This service is planned around Proverbs 3 and Malachi 3.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

Free to Give

These worship services focus on the theme of stewardship.

Theme of the Service

This is the second of two services on the theme of stewardship. Treating the subject in a pair (or more) of services allows greater depth and reinforces its importance.


Prelude: "Hallelujah, Hallelujah", Burkhardt [organ]
"With Grateful Heart, My Thanks I Bring", Haan [organ]
or: "With Grateful Heart, My Thanks I Bring", Johnston or Morris [handbells]

The Call to Worship:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19, 20, NIV)

Come, let us worship the Lord of heaven!

*Song: "With Grateful Heart, My Thanks I Bring" Solid Rock: PsH183; St. Petersburg: TH88

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:

Congregation of Jesus Christ, in whom are you trusting?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

*Song: "For the Fruit(s) of All/Your/His Creation" East Acklam: PH553, PsH455, Ar hyd y nos: SFL235, TWC379, WOV760


The Hearing of God's Will for Obedience - Exodus 20:1-17

Our United Prayer of Confession

We confess, gracious Lord, that we are prone by nature and habit to make wrong choices. We choose independence instead of discipleship. We choose to go our way instead of your way. We choose wide roads instead of narrow ways. We choose to love ourselves more than you, and to serve ourselves more than others. Forgive us for our lack of obedience, and cover our sins for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Assurance of God's Pardon - 1 John 3:1

Song of Gratitude: "How Great Is the Love of the Father" (Anno Domini) PsH231, SFL59

God's Call to Grateful Living

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death -
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11, NIV)


The Children's Moment

*Song of Preparation: "What Shall I Render to the Lord" Rockingham: PsH 178, RN 116; Downs: TH 637

The Prayer for Illumination

Let us ask together that God's Spirit will illumine our minds and hearts as we hear his Word.

O living Spirit of God, illumine our minds and hearts today so that, though we are often slow to understand, we may hear you speaking clearly, and may be willing and eager to obey. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

The Reading of Scripture: Proverbs 3:9, 10 and Malachi 3:6-12

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: The Spiritual Adventure of Tithing
(Free to Give - #2)

The Prayer of Application


The Invitation to the Offering

Freely we have received, let us freely give. (adapted from Matthew 10:8b)

The Offertory Prayer

The Offertory: "Consecration", Beck [choral anthem]
or: "What Shall I Render to the Lord", Burkhardt [organ]

The Pastoral Prayer


*Song: "All Things Are Yours/Thine" Herr Jesu Christ: TH729, Germany: TWC657
or: "Lord of All Good" Morestead: PsH295, TH435, TWC645; Julius: RL430 (may be sung to Ellers)

*The Benediction with congregational Amen!

*Song: "Praise and Thanksgiving" Lobet und Preiset: PsH 631, SFL83; Bunessan: RL 20

Postlude: "Trumpet Tune", Young

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

The theme of stewardship began with the sermon last week. It would be well to briefly summarize the heart of last week's message, in order to build on it further.

The sermon for this week expounds on the words of two men who served as God's spokespersons - Solomon and Malachi.

Solomon's words in Proverbs 3:9, 10 should be seen in the context of the previous two and a half chapters. He calls for us to embrace wisdom in all our living. Here he is pointing to the ways in which wisdom will express itself. Wisdom will greatly influence how we handle our wealth. This message should explain the significance of giving the "first fruits" to honor the Lord. And then Solomon couples such an exhortation with a promise of God's willingness to bless those who honor him in this way.

Malachi speaks more directly - even with confrontation. Some six centuries later than Solomon, and because of the disobedience among God's children, he confronts them repeatedly in this short prophecy. One of those confrontations concerns the matter of tithing. He uses strong language to explain that they are guilty of robbing God because they have been unfaithful in tithing. This passage raises two critical considerations - how necessary is tithing for New Testament Christians? And how literally can we take this invitation and promise of God in v. 10 (notice its parallel to Proverbs 3:10!).

Whatever position you take on those matters (and it will require careful study and consideration), the matter of financial stewardship, particularly that of tithing, should be seen as part of our spiritual journey. When we are devoted to God's will in all of our life, we will listen to what God required of his children in the past, remember his gracious provisions for us today, trust that God is aiming to stretch us in our discipleship, and consider that God's invitations to "test" him allow us to exhibit the depth of our faith commitment. When we consider all those matters, we are left with a challenge - will we or won't we strive for greater intimacy with God? And, of course, the sermon should not end in the Old Testament. Hearers need to hear the message of grace, that the overwhelming generosity of Christ in his self-giving love (cf. the reading from Philippians 2 during the service) spills out in our lives as we respond with gratitude to his gifts.

A sermon like this can conclude with a challenge to evaluate our giving and our personal convictions about tithing.

Music Notes:

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church, Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Music Level Key: E = Easy, M = Medium, D = Difficult

  1. Notice that the majority of hymns focus on the themes of thanksgiving and stewardship.
  2. The suggestions for prelude come from the following sources:
    - "Hallelujah, Hallelujah", a setting of "In Babylone" by Michael Burkhardt in "Six General Hymn Improvisations" set 1, published by Morningstar MSM-10-846 [1992] (E-M)
    - "With Grateful Heart, My Thanks I Bring", a setting of "Solid Rock" by Raymond Haan in "Six Organ Preludes on Gospel Hymns", published by Morningstar MSM-10-884 [1993] (E-M)
    - "With Grateful Heart, My Thanks I Bring", under the title "The Solid Rock" by Kerry Johnston for 3 octaves handbell choir, published by Choristers Guild CGB-84 [1987] (E-M)
    - "With Grateful Heart, My Thanks I Bring", under the title "The Solid Rock" by Hart Morris for 3-5 octaves handbell choir, published by AGEHR AG35148 [1999] [level 4].
  3. "Consecration", an SATB anthem by John Ness Beck, uses as its text Frances Havergal's hymn text "Take My Life and Let It Be". It is published by Beckenhorst BP 1250 [1986] (E-M). The alternate suggestion for offertory music is a setting of "Rockingham" by Michael Burkhardt that can be found in "Four Hymn Improvisations for Holy Week", published by Morningstar MSM-10-318 [1995] (E). This setting could include a solo instrument/voice playing/singing the melody line.
  4. The postlude can be found in "Organ Album" by Gordon Young, published by SMP KK280 [1983] (E).

Liturgy Notes:

  1. The theme of stewardship is apparent from the beginning of the service, through the readings and songs selected.
  2. Most often the Law of God from Exodus 20 (or Deuteronomy 5) is used as a rule for our grateful living. However, it can also legitimately be used to point out God's holy standard so that we will recognize our sin. It is used in that way here, since the prayer of confession follows the reading of God's Law.
  3. A prayer of confession is taken on the lips of all worshipers so that it becomes a much more personal expression.
  4. We encourage you to continue efforts to teach children about Christian stewardship in the Children's Moment.