Thursday, April 30, 2015

Giving To God The Part He Asks

Tithing today is thought of only as money, but the Lord asks for one-tenth of All we have.
The time He gives us is not our own.
The blessings we have should be shared, that others might know, our blessings come from the Lord.
The Lord is God and He owns All.
He allows us to use the things we have, but He asks for one-tenth part back for Himself.
Not that He needs it, we understand. It's only to show us that He's in command.
Give to God the part He asks, and He will bless you more.
If you are in need, but you give to God all your needs shall be met.

         Economic situations impact everyone. None of us are exempt from financial entanglements which pull us in any number of directions (Mostly away from God.) But, His answer to our economic struggles is a promise of provision. For me, independence has always been a source of pride. The best way to get me to do something was telling me I could not. Right now I am considering major life changes that bring to mind the question: “Who is really providing for me.” Walking along this journey of rediscovery has brought me face-to-face again and again with my responsibility to give to God what He asks and trust Him for the ultimate outcome. — Leviticus 27:30-34

         Yet, even after recounting the provisions God has made for my daily needs, and striving to grow in the fullness of the knowledge of God; I have discovered, I need to submit to the Lord in the area of generosity. God, in the books of the law, gave strict commands concerning the portion of income He required for Himself, and the servants who fulfilled the duties of His household. I realize that what follows may be some uncomfortable reading, but I ask that you stick with me on this topic because I think we all need to be a little more faithful in this area.

            There is a distinct attitude prevailing in contemporary American society with regard to giving. We seem to think it is appropriate to give — as long as we can claim our giving on our tax from. Our giving seems to be all about the deduction. Today’s economic situation is making it increasingly difficult for non-profit organizations to benefit from the tax structure.  A small church in Southwestern Arizona for example, provides food boxes for needy families year round. Although the church is composed of  “Winter Visitors” or “Snow Birds” (Retired couples who travel to Arizona to escape the harsh winters in other parts of the U.S.), the Pastor and his wife are permanent residents of Arizona. They do not receive compensation from the church, in effect, pouring any income generated by the ministry back into meeting needs in the community. The church provides in the neighborhood of 45 families basic necessity food items. This is accomplished with very minimal (some would say non-existent) assistance from any governmental agency; however, the church is burdened with unnecessary paperwork to report who is being helped. Why? — Malachi 3:6-10

         Generosity should never be based on the blessing we receive. It is simply obedience to God’s Word. Many congregation members seem to believe the contributions placed in the offering plate are their weekly vote of confidence or support for the ministry. I have heard people say, “I’m not giving because I do not agree with how the church spends the money.” Or, on the other end of the spectrum, “I cannot afford to tithe. Do you know how much money that is?” Unfortunately, in matters of obedience God does not ask for our approval He waits for our submission. — Numbers 18:24

         As I see it, God uses the tithe for three purposes. First, it is used to prove both our faithfulness to His command and our trust in His ability to provide. Jesus taught it is important to keep both the laws regarding the tithe and the law of love for our fellowman. In giving our tithe, I feel that we are serving one another. In the New Testament the poor were cared for from what was in the storehouse. In the Old Testament the Priesthood was given an inheritance from the tithe. Today we see both uses of the tithe being fulfilled. As the people of God we therefore have a responsibility to tithe regardless of any tax benefit or our approval of how the funds are apportioned from the “storehouse.” — Matthew 23:23 (KJV)

         From the book of Proverbs I understand that as we honor God in our giving God promises to pour out on us an even greater blessing. These verses also tell us we are blessed with more than money and God expects a tithe of all our increase.
— Proverbs 3:9-10

         I hope I haven't turned too many people off by what I've said. I understand many Christians today believe what they give to the church is between themselves, and God. I accept that and appreciate that view; I am only saying that as we calculate what we will give to the work of the Lord we must take care to give God the part He asks.

      Will we respond honestly in our giving? There is an account of one who did not respond honestly in the New Testament. In Acts chapter five we find the story of Ananias and Sapphira. Who, following the trend at the time, saw others selling their possessions and giving everything to the church. This couple wanted to be seen as generous and sold a piece of property but decided to keep part of the money for themselves. When they took their offering to the church they lied and were dishonest before God. As a result, both dropped dead. Please remember to exercise caution when making any type of vow in the area of personal finances (or for that matter any other area with God). The three most important attributes in the area of giving are faith, wisdom, and obedience. Faith — to believe what we give will be used to honor God. Wisdom — weighing the consequences of not giving. Obedience — answering God’s call to discipleship.

         When it comes to our relationship with God "Honesty is the best policy"; in fact, it's the only policy that will insure our continued blessings. Our lack of honesty with God can forfeit our vary lives. (It's been known to happen.) The attitude we take toward giving will undoubtedly affect our ability to receive what God has for us. In my own life I have noticed that if I hold back money to serve a selfish desire, there soon is no money to hold back. The blessings stop. If I refuse to help others when I have the knowledge or skills they need, the help I need does not arrive. If my time is too precious to give up a few minutes, I end up wasting days. — Luke 6:38 (KJV)

            When we begin to understand giving and live the life of faith in generosity we can move on toward understanding what has been given to us. We can receive the grace that God has shown us through Christ. The cross, the communion cup, the bread, an empty tomb — What do all these symbols mean?

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