Get Blessed

Exodus 22: 29             NIV

Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats.

I have a couple of questions for you today. First, why did Father God command us to tithe? Second, why do we hate hearing messages about tithing? What about offerings? You see, I think those questions demonstrate how little we understand about Kingdom dynamics and Kingdom finances. There are preachers all over this country who are afraid to teach on tithing because their congregations eat them alive when they talk about giving. However, when you understand about giving to God, you realize that those preachers are almost stealing from their parishioners by not teaching tithing and offerings. So, let’s look at this and see if we can resolve some questions. Why tithe and why did Father command it here?

Do you see this verse as a command? I do. It doesn’t strike fear in our hearts as if an angry God is berating us, but it does sound like an imperative. Therefore, for me, it is enough that God said do it, but why do you think God told us to give? It’s not that He needs our money, right? I mean, after all, His streets are paved with gold. I mean, he walks on gold pavers. He doesn’t worship it like people do, so why does He want us to give? Actually, He doesn’t want us to give, He requires us to give, so let’s take a look at this.

First, is this God speaking to us, because it is important to figure out if it is God or man who gives this directive. When you are sitting in church, you might not be clear on this. Does the preacher just want to get in your pocket or is God speaking? Let’s look at the leading scripture on tithing, Malachi 3: 10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and put Me to the test now in this,” says the Lord of armies, “if I do not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” How do people not love this verse? I love it. Some, I guess, hear that they have to give away their money. I hear, God is blessing me until it overflows. And, what a deal, I only have to give Him back 10% of what He gave me in the first place. That is a financially sound deal. Not only that, but He actually gives me the seed to sow. I could teach on this for days, but can’t you see right here that the reason God requires the tithe is twofold? First, it is our duty to pay for the ministers. Don’t you see that? Tithing is meant to provide bread for God’s servants.

Second, God devised this means of getting the blessing to us. Essentially, He tells us that if we will provide for His ministers, He will pour out His treasury for us. Paul taught this too. He said, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4: 19). Why did he use the conjunction “and” here? Because of what went before, “Now that Epaphroditus has brought me your gifts, you have filled my needs,” (Philippians 4: 18 GW). You see, this is just scriptural. You provide for the ministers and God provides for you. This is how Kingdom Finances works.

Tithes and offerings are part of our covenant with God. We ask Him for a lot, and He wants us to, but we have some obligations too. The tithe is 10% of your gross income and it is to be given to the church for the support of the church and the ministers. It is not for the Humane Society or even the MS Foundation, which I support. Those are called charitable gifts and are to be encouraged. They do not, however, qualify as part of your tithe. The entire 10% of gross income goes to the church. If you are a member of a congregation, then you would sow your tithe there. Offerings, then, are a good opportunity to support the other ministries which feed you. Ministers provide a lot of content for free, but it’s not free to them. It costs much and your offerings are the means by which you honor what you feed on from them (us). It is how they feed their families and it is how you support the work of the gospel. If you are not a member of a local congregation, then you should give the 10% to the ministries which are supporting you.

We are so tight fisted and selfish that we rob ourselves. It’s crazy, but when we begin to understand God’s benevolence and how He created His Kingdom to operate, then we can live in unlimited blessing all the time. Then you won’t have to squabble with God about giving 10%. You will have more than enough for yourself, your tithe, offerings, charitable gifts and a full life. It is all in the Kingdom, just waiting for you. Open your hand. Tight fists cannot receive. Just sayin’.

Open the Window

Malachi 3: 10

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”

There is much talk about giving to the church, but it seems to me that there is little understanding. I suppose it is just one of those uncomfortable subjects. Well, let’s just look at God’s words and see what He says about it.

This one little verse says quite a bit. It contains both a command and a promise. God would that you would pay attention to both parts. The “tithe” is one tenth of your income which was supposed to be given to the church for the maintenance of those who minister: ministers, priests, etc. This tenth part is also used to minister to the needs of others. So in old times, as now, it is used to support the ministry so that the ministry can continue to perform its function. Now this ten percent was a command of God, not a suggestion.

The part of this verse that I wish to bring your attention to, though, is the part which contains the promise. God promises to pour out the substance of heaven on to you. He promises to pour out a blessing so huge that you cannot even contain it. That is what overflow is; more than you can contain. Now what do you suppose you might do with that overflow? You are probably going to bless others. So God has great interest in keeping you overflowing so that all may be blessed. Eventually those who have been blessed abundantly by your giving also mature in Christ and they begin to give. First they begin with their tithe. Then as the blessings of God overflow, they also become great givers in the Kingdom. Then their giving allows other people to be reached and blessed. I guess you see how this works.

What I want you to see is that God has a vested interest in prospering you. If you have proved that you can be trusted with money, He wants to give you more so that you can continue to bless others. He is adamant on this point and here is where I think most American Christians lose God. He is so resolute that He invites, nay orders us to test Him in this. He commands us to hold Him accountable to His word regarding our giving. Many Christians want to give without any expectation of receiving. That sounds good and I think comes from a kind place in their hearts but it is just not biblical. Satan is the only one who does not want you to reap from your giving, not God. Satan doesn’t want you to reap a reward from your giving because He knows you are going to turn around and give some away again. He can’t have that. If you keep that up you are going to set people free. You are going to cause great damage in his kingdom.

God wants you to hold His feet to the fire and require a thirty, sixty or hundred fold return from Him. Look, even dirt gives you a return if you plant a seed. Isn’t God much more rewarding than a patch of dirt. I know that you give a gift out of the kindness of your heart. And that is a great thing. God wouldn’t change that. He just wants you to understand that what is a gift to you and probably to the recipient as well, is a seed to Him and He wants you to expect a yield. He wants you to sow your gifts towards greater gifts so that He can do more for you. No matter what we want to believe, He cannot give us what we will not receive. So keep up your generosity. Even increase your giving but in your giving expect God to do something great. Require Him to keep His word to you. In His own words, “test me now in this.” You will not lose your holiness by expecting a return from Him and you will gain a new level of obedience. As you reap, listen to Him and He will show you how you can continue to bless Him and His kingdom.

Manifested Life

2 Corinthians 4: 11

For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

As we have seen all week, death is life. In order to live, we must die. Scatter the ashes of your old self at the feet of Jesus and live the abundant life Jesus came here to give you. That was his mission, you know, to bring you abundant life. Consider John 10: 10, “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” What does abundantly mean but plentiful supply; more than sufficient; ample. Another definition says: abounding with, rich. This definition as well as Jesus’ use of the word abundant puts me in remembrance of the 23rd Psalm where our cup “overflows” or as it says in the King James version, “Our cup runneth over.” This is the picture of the life Jesus came to give us. Or I like what God said to tithers in Malachi 3: 10, “I will . . . pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it” (NIV).

My point is this, from the beginning God had a plan to pour out upon us abundant, rich life. When we couldn’t receive it through the old covenant, He sent Jesus to earth to gain that abundant life for us. Still, many of us, though we confess Jesus as Lord, fail to receive cup runneth over life. The reason why, perhaps, is that we have failed to die to self and live to Christ. We are trying to live to Christ, I appreciate that, but we cannot live in the newness of life until we crucify and bury the old life. So we try and try to live the saintly life; we pray for the abundance promised us but we never seem to move into the richness of life promised us. The reason is that although we are sincere in our endeavors, our reasoning is faulty. We can never receive the new life of Christ and the richness of blessing that come with it until we put our self-absorbed old man in the graveyard. When we do, though, all of the life of Christ is able to rush in and fill us. Then the life of Jesus will be manifested in us.

Food Stores

Malachi 3: 10

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this”, says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”

This is the leading scripture on tithing. There are different ways to give to the Lord, the most basic of which is the tithe. “Tithe” literally means 10%. The first ten percent of our income is given into the house of the Lord for its support. In the old days people actually gave food stuffs. This, then, was how the priests ate. You see that the verse says, “so that there may be food in My house.” Truth be told, this is still how the ministers eat. The tithe supports the ministers as well as supporting the work of the ministry. The theory is that the ministers feed you with what God has given them to sow and you feed them with what God has given you.

Father God is serious about this. He is serious about the blessing that He has appointed for the tithers. You can see this in His promise to open His storehouse for us and in His permission for us to hold His feet to the fire on this promise. He says, “Test me now in this.” That is an amazing statement for Him to make, that we should put God to the test!

So, the tithe is the first ten percent of our income and it is paid into the church for its support. God always has a reward attached to all of our giving and the opened storehouses of heaven are the reward for tithers. In addition, verse 11 says that He, God, “will rebuke the devourer” for our sakes if we are tithers. He protects our crop and all that we own so that the devourer does not diminish it in any way. That is a pretty big benefit by itself.

My advice, then, is to become a tither if you are not. It is just fiscal foolishness not to. In today’s economic climate, you really do need to be connected to God’s storehouse, to His provision. Then you will always know where your next meal ticket will come from. This is how we store up for ourselves, not by hoarding.