Wait a minute, what is "tithing"?

It suddenly dawned on me that you may not know what tithing is.  A “tithe” is a tenth of what God gives you.  In the Old Testament God says that the tenth is His.  You may say, that is an Old Testament law and that you are not under law but grace.  That is true, we are under grace and are led by the Spirit of God.  And the Spirit of God has led me to tithe and receive God’s blessing by His grace.  The New Testament says to save up to give to God in proportion to the increase God has blessed you with.  So, ask God what He wants you to give.  And then give that and don’t worry whether it is a literal tithe or not.  In fact, one pastor suggested that you give anything but a tenth.  He said that this would force us to go to God and hear from Him to find out what He wants us to give.  Whatever you give, give with thanks and a grateful heart.  Gods best blessing is the “hilarity” we feel when we give out of love for Him.

God protects more than crops and fruit!

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!

Putting God to the test?

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.

Until you experience the blessing God gives in response to tithing you may be reluctant to give God back His ten percent of what He gives you.  At least that’s what I think my sons are experiencing.

Several years ago I challenged my older son when he was about 12 years old, to test God and see what God would do if my son tithed. My son tithed seven dollars and we watched what God would do.  God said to test Him in this and so we did.  Within a few days I was given four free tickets to a first run major kids’ movie.  God blessed not only my son, but his brother and mom and dad.

I didn’t stick with teaching this to my son and now, ten years later,  my son is not interested in tithing.  I don’t plan on giving up on teaching him and his younger brother though.  My wife and I are going to double tithe and ask God to bless my wife and I doubly (so that we doubly don’t have enough room for it) so that my sons will see that God can be tested and also see that God comes through on His promises.  This test will be for the month of September 2013.  I will report back with developments.

We can trust God’s Heart

Jeremiah 29 (NIV)

10 This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  
12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD,
 “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

God is always seeking our best.  And loving God, loving Agape Love, is the best thing for us.  God’s Word tells us how to do this.  Trust Jesus and obey Him.  But this is hard to do on our own.  I naturally want to take the quick and easy path of sin to meet my God-given needs.  Sin is fun for a little while, but the problem is that the fun doesn’t last long.  And the pain of sin is much greater than the pleasure and can last much longer.  And sin hurts me, others and God.  That’s why God calls it sin.  God wants us to meet our God-given needs His way.  And that takes patience for God’s timing and trust in His character and possibly some amount of effort.

The beautiful thing is that we don’t need to depend on our own strength to follow Him.  If we agree with God that we have had wrong attitudes and actions in the past (sin), if we believe that God the Father raised Jesus, God the Son, back from the dead, and if we surrender control of our lives to the One who loves us most, Jesus promises to meet our needs and give us strength.

And with Jesus in our heart, we will be able to love supernaturally, and God will give us joy.  The way may not always be easy though.  Satan used to ignore me but now that I follow Jesus, satan attacks me much more than before Jesus saved me.

But, Jesus said, “Take heart, for I have overcome [satan].

Let’s change the world

 Deuteronomy 8  (NIV)

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.  
11 Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.
12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down,
13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied,
14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God,
who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
15 He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock.
16 He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you.
17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”  
18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.
19 If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed.
20 Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.

Though my university selectively showed me facts that imply otherwise, I believe our nation was founded on Jesus and the Gospel.  (Other faiths enjoyed freedom of expression, and that is attributable to the characteristic of being a predominately Christian country).  Because Jesus permeated the new culture, God blessed this nation just as He blessed Israel when Israel obeyed God.  However, God did not spare Israel, His “treasured possession”, when they did not obey Him.  He sent droughts, floods. storms, and lastly, invading armies, to get their attention.

The parallels to what has been happening to the USA is striking.  America has suffered droughts, floods and storms in increasingly greater severity.  Why?  I believe because America has gone far from God and God is trying to get our attention.

God has a great heart for justice for the oppressed, for the helpless.

Racism causes great injustice: educationally, socially and economically.

Abortion literally chops up helpless living babies and sends them to the garbage.

And our money driven culture doesn’t care.

For a few brief moments American’s priorities were exposed by 9/11.  We suddenly saw that ball players were not the heroes that the commercial culture makes them out to be.  The real heroes were firefighters, police officers, and military personnel; and the countless ordinary citizens who have also sacrificed themselves by helping others.  Churches saw many new faces…briefly.  President George W. Bush said that the rest of America moved on from 9/11 but that he stayed there.  I wish all of America would have stayed there long enough to pay attention to God.

God said to Israel that if they obeyed Him they would be the head and foreigners would be the tail.  And if they did not obey Him foreigners would be the head and Israel would be the tail.  Similarly, hasn’t our own economic health paralleled our moral decline since the 1960’s?  We used to lend to other nations.  Now we are in massive debt to other nations.  And the debtor is servant to the lender.

What is next for God to use to get our attention?  As terrible as 9/11 was, it only woke up America for a few weeks, a few months at best.  Since then it has been no different than before.  When Israel refused to acknowledge the One that won their wars and gave them freedom from their enemies, God stopped helping them.  In time of war after 9/11 our nation prayed.  And we saw God help us using technology.  If we do not acknowledge the One who loves us and protects us, all our technology will be useless.

You may be asking, what can we do, the problems are so big and I am just one person?  God says one person praying is like a thousand and two like ten thousand.  Let’s ask God to first change us and offer ourselves to Him each day to do whatever He asks.  Then let Him lead us.  Margaret Mead is attributed as saying, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.

Why not judge others?

1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  
We are to judge actions but not motives.  We judge the what and not the why.  The Bible judges many actions: murder, adultery, theft.  But the person was created in the image of God and only God is all-wise and all-knowing enough to truly know why someone did something.

2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  
When you judge someone what you are really saying is that if you were in that person’s circumstances and you did what they did you would be thinking a certain evil.  This would be based on the fact that you had a similar experience in the past.  And so the measure you use for them is the measure you gave yourself.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  
Instead of looking at your brother’s fault, look at his need.

4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  
If you don’t see your brother’s need you cannot meet your brother’s need.

5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.  
Forgive your brother his fault, assess the need and address the need.

6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.
Unbelievers will reject God’s wisdom (and you) until they are ready to receive it.

(Jesus words from Matthew 5:1-6, NIV84)
(My imperfect understanding of the passage.)