Tag: manipulate

Tithing Won’t Buy God

Snack Machine“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?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 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. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 3:7-12 ESV)

What a wonderful passage of scripture! However, it can be a bit challenging at times.

Many people take this passage as an automatic blessing for the tither; those who regularly give 10% of their income to their local church.

A lot of people “try” tithing and get frustrated because “it doesn’t work!” God gets blamed for holding out, running off with their money, and all sorts of other things.

What about the guy who tithes regularly but beats his wife, ignores his kids, cheats on his taxes, and sings off key? Does the fact he tithes automatically open the windows of Heaven for him? Can the blessings of God be purchased with only 10% of someone’s income? Not even for 100%!

Notice the Israelites were asking, “How shall we return?”, like they really didn’t know what they had done wrong. So God told them. “You’ve turned aside from My instructions, My commands.” They responded, “How, in what way? We’ve kept the Sabbath, welcomed the stranger, didn’t steal from anyone. Murder hasn’t even entered into our minds! What do You mean, ‘you’ve turned aside'”?

God answers, “tithes and offerings”. They had disobeyed by holding back their tithe. So God’s remedy, His instruction to the people, was “enter back through the door of obedience. You left Me by disobeying My instructions to tithe, so that is how you return, or reenter. Obedience, not sacrifice.”

It’s obedience to His known will that allows Him to open His windows and pour out the blessing. It’s obedience that promises the devourer will be rebuked and stopped!

God loves obedience!

A contemporary of Malachi’s, a prophet by the name of Haggai, had a message from God for this same group: “Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” (Haggai 1:5,6) Basically, the rebuke stemmed from the people’s disobedience in taking care of Kingdom issues before their own. Sort of like the Word Jesus spoke in Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things (food, clothing, shelter) will be given to you.”

God in NOT against the tither! I’ll say it again. GOD IS NOT AGAINST THE TITHER!

But He won’t be manipulated with it, either. He can’t be bought!

King Saul thought he was doing Samuel and God a huge favor. But Samuel and God saw things differently.

Samuel gave Saul the Word of the Lord: “Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” 1 Samuel 15:3

“And Saul attacked the Amalekites, from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is east of Egypt. He also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.” (verses 7-9)

Notice the “incomplete” obedience”. God calls it “disobedience”.

“Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” And Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.” …So Samuel said, “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel? Now the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the Lord?” And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected you from being king.” (verses 13-15, 17-23 NKJV

Words like “disobey” “rebellion” “witchcraft” “rejected” certainly don’t carry with them a sound of victory, do they? They are not the kinds of things that open “heaven’s windows”.

To obey is BETTER than sacrifice – and to obey is better than tithing!

I am NOT saying to quit tithing! Actually, I believe in tithing – it’s a great place to START exercising trust in the Lord. It’s a great tool to help each of us live a disciplined, Christ-like life.

What I AM saying is stop looking at the act of tithing as a special way to manipulate the hand of God. He desires to bless us, in spite of our self! “He sent Jesus to bless us by turning each of us from our sins”, Acts 3:26. We don’t tithe so He will bless us – we tithe because we want to honor Him, assist in the work of His kingdom, and guard against developing a love for money and things.

And, keep this thought in mind…one cannot regain through sacrifice what they have lost through disobedience.

Tithing is an awesome, spiritual discipline. God has wonderful promises for the tither such as – “Honor the Lord with your substance (what you already have) and with the first fruits of all your increase (what you receive). So shall your storehouses be overflowing and your vats, your presses, the fruit of your labor, shall spill over to those around you.” Proverbs 3:9,10

But tithing will not undo disobedience in other areas of life.

God’s blessing is upon those who will OBEY Him! Not just with their tithe, but with all their life! “We know that ALL THINGS work together for the good of those who love God and are the called according to His purpose(s).” Romans 8:28

Obey the big things, the little things, the Handwriting in the sky and the small, quiet voice of the Spirit.

“Prove Me, He says, in this (this obedience, this returning to the Lord); see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.”

The prophet Isaiah had a Word from the Lord, as well: “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 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 1:18-20 ESV)

The Lord wants us to take the discipline of tithing to a higher level, the level of obedience. We turn our hearts to Him to understand and do His will. And we rejoice, because He takes care of us according to His riches in glory, by Christ Jesus.

Reverse the Cycle

Cycle

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord .

Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”

Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:9-21 NLT)

Evil. Harmful. Wrong. Damaging. Injurious. Pernicious.

Life can be a vicious cycle, and can have a person running from issue to issue, crisis to crisis. I have known people, perhaps you have also, who aren’t “happy” unless they are fussing with someone, or not speaking with another; they seem to enjoy playing the victim. They carry on like they’ve been rejected by the last person on earth. Either someone has done them wrong, taken advantage of them, or they’ve been ignored completely. They show affection to loved ones but get mad when that affection isn’t reciprocated. They don’t know how to listen to someone’s pain or praise report; instead they feel the need to “one up them”. You know the ones. Your pain never is as bad as they’ve had. Blessings you’ve received never quite measure up to theirs. They can’t just say “thank you” for something you’ve done for them. No, they always have to pay you back, “get even”. They see themselves as real helpers, givers, lovers; but never recognize “giving” and “loving” with attached “strings” isn’t giving or loving at all. It’s “trading”; and with trading everything has to be even. Which means, someone may end up feeling cheated.

This kind of behavior isn’t cute, and it’s not just a nuisance. It is destructive to individuals, families, churches and the Kingdom of God. It is evil!

Evil. Harmful. Wrong. Damaging. Injurious. Pernicious.

We have a responsibility, a command, to NOT be overcome by evil, or evil ways. Instead, we are told to overcome evil with GOOD.

Okay, so what’s good? Where do we find the good to overcome evil?

Well, God is good, and His mercy endures forever! He has an abundance of good for whoever asks Him. “Every good and perfect gift comes from above”, and, “If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God…”, James wrote. Wisdom to handle any temptation, any desire for revenge, any urge to curse and retaliate. So the first part in overcoming evil with good is ask God for help and wisdom. Help and wisdom is good. I’ll put it another way.

We must RECOGNIZE the temptation to jump back into the vicious cycle.

The next part can be as easy as it is difficult. What I mean is, it may be hard to get started but can become easy the more you do it.

REVERSE the cycle, is the second part. Doing the opposite of what you feel like doing! For instance, someone slighted you, offended you, treated you dirty. Instead of cursing them, bless them in the Name of Jesus. Instead of showing them hatred, show them love. Go out of your way to give into their life, with no strings attached, and no record-keeping of wrongs. REVERSE the cycle of evil reaction and evil manipulation. REVERSE the urge to get even. REVERSE the desire to control others. REVERSE the cycle and live free!

God never instructed us to love sin or hate good. We should ALWAYS hate what He hates and love what He loves. Let love be without hypocrisy. Work hard and serve God with enthusiasm. Be patient when trouble comes, and keep on praying. Be ready to help anyone with a need, and practice good hospitality. All that is fairly easy to do, until someone does us wrong!

That’s when it’s important for us to RECOGNIZE and REVERSE!

Persecuted? Don’t try to get even. Get God involved by asking God to bless them.

REVERSE the cycle!

Has an “enemy” stolen from you, slandered you, embarrassed you? Invite them to dinner!

REVERSE the cycle!

This is exactly what Jesus did, and it’s exactly what we need to do!

RECOGNIZE the temptation and REVERSE the cycle.

“Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Christ.” 1 John 5

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