Tag: Breaking the Spirit of Poverty

If God blesses the tither, why am I still broke?

imageTithing is not the magic key that unlocks all of God’s riches in glory.

Tithing by itself does not test, or prove, God.

Tithing is not a special lever connected to God’s giant slot machine in the sky.

Do I have your attention?

Sure, I’ve heard it, as well as taught it: “Tithing is the only thing we’re to prove God with.” But just because I taught it doesn’t make it right.

(By the way, you can find out a lot more about this subject from my book, “Breaking the Spirit of Poverty with the Spirit of Generosity”. Go to “Our Books” page and click on the appropriate link.)

I didn’t say we shouldn’t tithe. I did say it isn’t something magic. Supernatural yes, magical no.

But a lot people preach it, and believe it, like it’s something mystical.

We’ll get to Malachi three in a moment, but let’s first look at something Paul wrote to Timothy.

“…people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (1 Timothy 6:5 – 6:8 ESV)

Tithing isn’t a fruit of holiness or godliness. Just because someone tithes doesn’t automatically mean they are godly.

They could be a tither and meaner than snot.

Besides, godliness isn’t a means of gain. Neither is tithing.

Sorry if your spiritual bubble is falling apart.

Think about this: if tithing was the key to financial blessing, what would that do to the grace and favor of God?

Okay, on to Malachi three…

“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (Malachi 3:10 ESV)

“See? The prophet said to bring the full tithe…”

Yes, but he said some other things before that.

“From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’” (Malachi 3:7 ESV)

God reminded them they had “turned aside” from His statutes. His word to them was “return”, which raised the question in their minds, “How?”.

God responded with a specific. Your tithe.

Why? That’s how they turned aside.

In other words, the Lord was telling them, “Look folks, you’ve stopped obeying My Word and it is not going well with you.”

It may be good to note who the contemporaries of Malachi were: Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah. All of them had a role to play in the reestablishment of Jerusalem and Israel after returning from seventy years of exile.

Haggai focused on a different area, but the main focus was the same as Malachi’s word.

Haggai spoke to the people about ignoring the House of God; building and repairing their own homes while the House of God lay in shambles.

“Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.

“Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.” (Haggai 1:5 – 1:11ESV)

Looks somewhat like Malachi’s word, doesn’t it?

It would have meant the same if Haggai had said, “You have have turned from God by focusing on YOUR needs rather than God’s glory!”

Read the rest of Haggai one, and you’ll notice the governor, priest, and a remnant of the people obeyed the prophet, and God turned things around.

Funny how Haggai’s word isn’t as popular as Malachi’s. Maybe it’s because Malachi’s word looks a little more exciting, and can appeal to our carnal side.

But the focus of both prophets was plain, ordinary, OBEDIENCE.

Obedience opens the windows of heaven. Remember reading Matthew’s account of Jesus’ water baptism?

“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.'” (Matthew 3:16 – 3:17 ESV)

Remember this passage?

“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.” (Proverbs 3:9 – 3:10 ESV)

Honor God with what you have, who you are, and what you get. Then He’ll make certain you are taken care of.

God doesn’t need our money, or anything else we may have. He did quite well before we came along.

But obedience to His will releases our grip on things which hinder our relationship with Him and our trust in His ability to provide.

The clenched fist of greed and selfishness receives nothing from the hand of God. An open hand is in position to be filled by God.

Obedience to God’s word, His will, is the key to understanding Malachi three.

Because it’s obedience to God, obedience born out of a love relationship with God, that opens doors no man can open, and shuts what man can’t shut.

From Genesis, and the Garden of Eden, to Revelation and the church in Philadelphia, obedience has always been the key.

And maybe it’s the key for you. Maybe you’re a very generous person but disobedient in another part of your life.

Like Isaiah wrote, “‘If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword,’ for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:19 – 1:20 ESV)

Willingness is a start, but obedience is the key. Obedience is the natural response to faith.

Believe? Then act like it.

And watch God do what He said He would!

God’s Economy

Well, those Chinese are at it again. Messing with our stock market. Dow closed some 300-400 points down. 

Again!

It’s kind of nerve wracking, isn’t it? 

Up, down, buy, sell, trade; good grief! 

There are so many things which affect the stock market. Economies of other nations, friend or foe, can directly or indirectly have a bearing on how our stocks are traded. 

I’m not an economist, nor do I pretend to be a wise trader. Other people do that stuff for me. I’m no where near the likes of Warren Buffet, Dave Ramsey, or anyone else who’s known for their expertise in the realm of finances. 

But I have learned a few things. 

God’s economy does not depend upon the NYSE. It’s not governed by the Federal Reserve Board. Neither threats of war nor promises of peace affect the flow of God’s resources. 

Sure, like everyone else, I want to see the stock market do well. And I hate to see others lose lots of money when things take a dive. 

But Jesus warned us about the craziness of trusting in the uncertainty of riches. Paul told those who would listen that the love of money is the root of all evil. Peter reminded us that everything we see will one day be destroyed by a fantastic fire. 

So what about God’s economy? How can I live in this world, with its ups and downs, yet still tap into the blessings of God?

First thing to understand: God is not a counterfeiter! Nor is He stingy. He’s also not a hoarder, or a person who thinks only about His own wants and needs. 

God is RICH to ALL who call upon Him! (Romans 10:12)

Even if all 7 billion people cried out to God for the exact same thing, at the exact same time, He would have more than enough to meet everyone’s need; with gobs to spare!

He is RICH!

The number one way to connect to God’s economy is to nurture your heart until it becomes like His. In other words, learn how to release your grip on money and things, and become a giver like God.

A person who is tight fisted will never open their hand wide enough to receive from God, or anyone else. 

When your arms are wrapped tightly around your possessions, whether it be stuff, family, money, or whatever; you’ll never be in position to embrace God’s provision.

Giving is how the kingdom of God operates. Giving by faith, and as the Lord directs. 

Here are a few passages which will help explain what I’ve just said:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)

Very familiar passage, but look down the page just a few short verses.

“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” (Proverbs 3:9-10 ESV)

I’m not even going to mention the principle of tithing. Honor the Lord with what you have and what you get. Honor? Well, how would the Lord use your stuff? What would Jesus do with your paychecks, and with your savings account?

“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11:24-25 ESV)

“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” (Proverbs 19:17 ESV)

The Lord will repay, and He NEVER reneges on a promise.

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-10 ESV)

I’ve written a book, available in both eBook and paperback versions, titled “Breaking the Spirit of Poverty with the Spirit of Generosity.” It’s not a get rich quick, or at all, kind of book; but it’s loaded with principles and examples of how to live according to God’s economy, even when the world around you is going insane. 

It’s available at Amazon.com, or you can go to the “Our Books” page, click the picture of the book, and be ushered to the exact product page. For a quick easy connection, click the “Link To Amazon” link below.

There are several reasons why Jesus said, “It’s more blessed to give than receive.” I believe the main one is that it’s the doorway for you and I to participate in His economy.

Here’s what the book cover looks like:

Link to Amazon

  

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