Don’t just sing it, Bring it

 

 

For some reason I think money and finances, specifically tithing, are one of those topics that most churches are hesitant to address.  Maybe it’s the stigma talking about money brings; maybe it’s the thoughts among the congregation that the church is asking for money.  Thankfully, with Christian based financial management systems, like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace, the church is becoming more open to talk about monetary issues. 

 

When it comes to money, it’s easy for us to get caught up in the worldly view of “more is better” and “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.”  Just look at the greed and corruption sweeping through our society.  I Timothy 3:3 Large corporations and banks, elected officials taking bribes, financial advisors stealing billions, the list goes on and on.  Is it any wonder the Bible tells us the love of money is the root of all evil? I Timothy 6:10 Pay close attention, note that the Bible doesn’t say money itself is evil, but rather the Love of Money.  After all, God wants us to be successful and that includes financial success, so that we will freely bring our tithe and give Him the glory.  Proverbs 3:9-10 speaks to this very matter.  “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” 

 

Tithing isn’t biblical in origin.  It’s actually a mathematical term for 1/10 or 10%.  In Christian culture, or within the church, the context is known as freely giving 10% of our income to the Lord.  II Corinthians 9:7  However, there’s a different concept I want to touch on.  Instead of our 10% being our “gift”, think of it as actually bringing to God what is already His.  In fact, we are just stewards of God’s money and all he asks in return is His 10% back.  Let me explain further.  Anytime we go out to eat, most of us generally give the standard 15% tip to the wait staff – that’s really all they expect, right?  But in church most of us don’t even give 10% to God, which is all He expects.  Kinda messed up isn’t it?  We would probably only give our wait staff less than what’s expected if they provided poor service, but yet we try to justify giving only a percent or two to God.  Keep in mind our tithe isn’t about who gives the most or who gives out of abundance (or what’s left over), but rather bringing to God what is His.  Luke 21:1-4

 

Now think about this, the Lord asks us to bring His percentage back.  Anything we give above that is our offering.  Did you catch that?  In our restaurant analogy that would be like giving the “expected” 15%, plus an extra 5% for good service.  Does God deserve any less for the blessings He has given us?  One additional point I want to clarify is that your tithe should be made to your local church.  Giving to charity, missionaries, Christian organizations is great, but those should be counted toward your offering or gift above and beyond the 10% that is God’s.

 

I know what some of you are thinking, “You mean you’re saying give 10% right of the top of my salary, including any additional income?  I’ve got bills!  You don’t know what kind of debt I’m in!  I’m living paycheck to paycheck just bringing 1% to tithe!”  Really?  Well I’d ask, “Do you question sales tax when you purchase something?  Do you not also pay income tax?”  You’ve likely heard Matthew 22:21, “Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s and to God what is God’s”, but maybe you haven’t heard Malachi 3:8-12.  It’s here we read of God’s second usage of the word “floodgates” in the Bible.  The first concerned Noah and the flood, Genesis 7:11, NIV.  In this second example, God says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house.  Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room for it.” Malachi 3:10, NIV

 

You see, tithing is acknowledging that God is the source of our income, not our jobs, investments, etc.  God wants us to freely and willingly bring to Him what is His.  It’s not an obligation, not a tax, but a faithful declaration that God deserves the glory for the blessings He has given us.  The next time the “offering” plate passes you, truly think about to whom you’re giving, what you are giving for, and pray about what you have given, that all the Glory be given to God.  I want to leave you with the following verses, Deuteronomy 8:17-18, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’  But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth….”     

30 Day Challenge

 

            Here is a 30-day challenge I want to present to anyone that is having difficulty letting go of issues that may be holding them back from reaching the potential that God has for them.  It’s pretty simple, involves meeting once a week in a small group of friends, coworkers, relatives, etc. (preferably same sex).  It’s called an Accountability Group and it’s designed to rely on each other to overcome obstacles that you might not be able to let go of on your own.  Organize your group, set aside 30-40 minutes over lunch, coffee, or evening time and discuss the questions I’ll include below.  These are just a starting point to get you to think.  You can certainly modify them to meet your specific needs.  The goal is to draw on the strength of others through accountability.  I’ll bet after 30 days you’ll begin to see a positive change in your areas of struggle.  Remember the old adage of 1 stick is easily broken, but bundle together a group and their combined strength is nearly unbreakable.  Here are the questions:  

 

  1. Have you spent time with God on a regular basis? 
  2. Did you pray and read God’s word this week? How much time? What did you derive?
  3. Did you pray for others in this group? 
  4. Are you satisfied with the time you spent with the Lord this week? 
  5. Have you compromised your integrity in any way? 
  6. Has your thought life been pure? 
  7. Have you committed any sexual sin? 
  8. What was your biggest joy/disappointment of the week? 
  9. Did you control your tongue? 
  10. In what ways have you stepped out in faith since we last met? 
  11. Did you worship in church this week? 
  12. Have you lied about your answers to any of the above questions?

 I’d love to hear back from anyone who was willing to take this challenge and what impacts it has made, so feel free to share your comments or email me.

 

I’ll be praying for you.  God Bless! 

 

 

Reality Check

I feel like I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t at least mention the presidential inauguration. I don’t claim this to be a political blog, mostly because politics are too often the opposite of truth, but with a new direction for the country, I want to at least comment on a few reactions from yesterday. Despite your political views, a new administration is underway and it can be a little scary, as it’s filled with the unknown. However, each of us, from the far left to the far right, need to keep this in perspective, the president is after all, just a man. I know this might be a shock to someone of you (kidding), but apparently others who watched disagree. Take a look at some of these responses from yesterday:

http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=42227

Don King, “I would say he would be Joshua going across to the Promised Land.”

Denzell Washington’s mother, “I would say any one of the Biblical leaders, the apostle Paul, Moses, John the Baptist – any of them. Seriously, he is like one of those apostles for our day. He came to lead us to the original design of what we are supposed to do on this earth.”

Despite his mother’s view, I do respect Mr. Washington for his reluctance to parallel the Bible.

Denzell, “What Biblical character? As Mr. Obama has said, it’s not about him. It’s about us. It’s about what we do collectively.”

Jay-Z, “Obama has changed my life in the same way he has changed your life.”

Oprah, “He makes me want to be a better human being.”

Just listen to our mainstream media:
http://newsbusters.org/blogs/erin-brown/2009/01/21/pulpit-culprits-mainstream-media-compare-inauguration-spiritual-event

ABC ‘Nightline’ reporter Cynthia McFadden, “If today was the majesty, tonight is the magic.”

CBS Early Show host Harry Smith called the inauguration, “one of the sacraments of our national religion.”

And Finally, reporters in Kenya covering the celebrations there quote a man saying,

“This man is Jesus, when will he come to Kenya to save us.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/us_elections/article5556295.ece

Since when does presidential election become religious experience? I posted these not to be politically divisive, each of us are entitled to our beliefs, but rather to offer a reality check. There is only one man who has ever and will ever truly change our lives and that man is Jesus Christ. He offered His life on the cross for our sins. He gave us the bailout from eternal death and separation through his bloodshed on the cross. He is the Way, Truth, and Life. John 14:6

I don’t know what direction the country will go in and I don’t know the president’s heart, but I do know what the Bible says and we can use it as a measure of truth for everything. So I’ll leave you with 2 measuring sticks of Truth:

Proverbs 29:2 “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.”

Proverbs 16:12 “Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness.”

Have a Blessed Day!

Ephesians 4:15 "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ"