4 Will evildoers never learn— those who devour my people as men eat bread and who do not call on the LORD?
5 There they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous.
6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge.
Isaiah chapter 14, NIV84
Those with money many times prey upon the poor – check cashing charges, fees for “plastic” money and money orders, cash advance charges, ever rising rent when the costs to the owner stay the same, higher prices for those trapped in the inner city without transportation for the same goods that cost less in neighborhoods that have customers that can shop around, lack of the volume discounts the rich enjoy, higher interest rates for loans to those who have the least money to pay for it.
Satan’s kingdom (fear-based, selfishness-based and money-based) is founded on “what can I get out of you?” Jesus’ kingdom (love-based) is founded on “what can I give to you?”
I believe heaven’s economy will be the opposite of ours. We will dream of what we can do for others, ask Jesus for the resources to do it, work with those resources in His strength and give away what we make, our only payment is the joy we receive when we give joy to others.
What would happen if we stopped giving hand-outs that are barely enough to survive on, and we made helping the poor become self-sustaining the same priority President John F. Kennedy gave making the United States the first on the moon? What about asking those who are challenged what they thought we could do to help them? What if we stopped being prejudice and gave jobs to those who would otherwise end up in jail because they can’t find someone who will hire them for honest work?
What would happen if I actually went about tangibly demonstrating the actions of the love of Jesus instead of just singing about it in my church or car?
I invite you to discover how you and I can allow Jesus to lift our challenged brothers and sisters. I invite you to discover: The Open Table http://www.theopentable.org/
I just got done watching InTouch with Dr. Charles F. Stanley. I was convicted that I may have been sending the message that once you are rightly related to God, through faith in His Son Jesus’ death on the cross paying for your sins, that everything after is peace, joy and love. Dr. Stanley said that some things we can only learn as we experience pain and suffering; suffering from obeying God, and suffering from not obeying God.
Suffering from not obeying God makes sense. God has the best planned for us. If we don’t do what He says we can suffer the natural consequences of not positioning ourselves for His best.
But what about when we obey God and there is pain and suffering? Does that mean God has abandoned us? Does that mean it is pointless to serve God? God says through Jesus in the Bible that when we suffer for doing good there is blessing.
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Jesus, Matthew 5:11-12, NKJV
I have personal experience of this being true. When I first became a Christian I told a person close to me about Jesus and what He had done for me. They hurled their vehement anger towards God, at me. Later, they told me a very sad cynical sexually-themed joke and when I didn’t laugh they accused me of thinking the joke was funny but being a hypocrite and not laughing. They continued to insult me personally and Christians in general as evil, self-righteous, holier-than-thou, hypocrites. The experience was painful, God insulated me from the worst of it by taking it upon Himself, and I didn’t say anything negative back to this person. (I wasn’t strong enough at that time to return good for evil, the best I could do was not retaliate).
What was my reward? Many years later I was thinking about what happened and I realized, that by obeying Jesus, and doing what did not come naturally, I had loved this person. I had done what was in their best interest. I had told them about the love of God and demonstrated it by not returning evil for evil. And that was worth more to me than gold or homes or cars. That truly was a “great reward”.
It can be very painful following God, but God always works everything out for our good. And He also works out everything so that the world can know who He truly is. As Dr. Charles F. Stanley says, “Obey God, and leave all the consequences to Him.”
Malachi 3 NIV
6 “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.
7 Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings.
9 You are under a curse —the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me.
10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit, ” says the LORD Almighty.
12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.
I interpret Malachi 3:11 to mean that God is interested in protecting more than just my crops and fruit (I don’t have either). I interpret the verse to mean that if I honor God with my tithe He will protect, among other things, my cars from rusting and wearing out. I know they won’t last forever but they each are over ten years old, each have over 120,000 miles, and each have very little, if any, rust. The 2002 Pontiac Montana needs a perennial repair of the heater core thermostat (or something like that, I’m not a mechanic) and may need an engine gasket replacement in 40,000 miles. The 2003 Toyota Camry has only had the tires, windshield wipers and battery replaced; (but soon needs something like a timing cover gasket replaced).
What I think is most significant is that God has protected ME! God has kept me safe and free from accidents that were my fault. I have been in two accidents that were not my fault since I gave my self to Jesus, and He saved me from much harm in both.
You will only find out how God will bless you if you accept His challenge and put Him to the test by tithing. Try it and see!