May 4, 2014    Malachi 3:6-12     Giving    


      I think this is a great passage of scripture.   It may be one that some do not like but as Christians we should embrace this passage.   God promises to bless those that give.  I think that is great news.   We should embrace giving.   God says prove me in this.  Try me prove me test me in this God says.  I will open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing.   If you really believe God and have faith you will give.   It seems to me that one of the highest goals in our life is to have God’s blessing upon us.   God says if you give I will bless you.    You cannot out give God.  

     If you don’t give you rob God according to this passage.  All scripture is profitable for us the bible says.    It is not good to rob God.   Many Christians are not where God wants them to be because they do not give or just give a token amount.     God would bless many Christians with more but they do not give.   Billy Graham stated, “One of the greatest sins in America today is the fact that we are robbing God of that which rightfully belongs to Him. When we don’t tithe, we shirk a just debt.   Actually we are not giving when we give God one-tenth, for it belongs to Him already (Lev. 27:30). This is a debt we owe. Not until we have given a tenth do we actually begin making an offering to the Lord! (From sermon: Partners with God)   Our greatest debt is to God.   It really bothers me that Christians give 20 % in the restaurant for the wait staff but then give God little or nothing.   That must be an insult to God.  Maybe there are different ways at looking at that but it troubles me.  

       Bishop J.C. Ryle wrote: "Zeal is a burning desire to please God, to do His will, and to advance His glory in the world in every possible way.   A zealous man is preeminently a man of one thing.   He is more than earnest, hearty, uncompromising, wholehearted, and fervent in spirit.    He sees only one thing, cares about one thing, lives for one thing, swallowed up in one thing, and that one thing is to please God.   Whether he lives or dies, has health or has sickness, whether he is rich or poor, pleases people or gives offense, whether he is thought wise or foolish, gets the blame or the praise, whether he receives honor or is given shame, He burns for one thing, and that one thing is to please God.   Such a one will always find a sphere for his zeal.   If he cannot preach, he will work and give money, he will cry and sigh and pray.    If he cannot fight in the valley with Joshua, he will hold up the hands of Moses until the battle is won." 

       I believe that people that have a passion for God do not argue about whether to tithe or not.   They do not argue that we are under grace and therefore do not have to tithe.   They do not get into discussions about giving on gross earnings or on net earnings.   They do not argue about whether we give before or after taxes.  They realize that everything belongs to God and they give sacrificially.  They have a passion to give and they know that it is more blessed to give than to receive.   We are not under the law but passionate Christians realize that grace is far better than the law and they give according to that rule.   It is interesting in Luke 11 where Jesus says Woe to you Pharisees because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue, and all other kinds of garden herbs but you neglect justice and the love of God.   You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.   In other words do not neglect justice and the love of God, start doing those things.   And yes continue to give.   Jesus noticed the woman who put in all of her earnings and said that she put in more than the others.   Her amount was far less but in God’s eyes it was more.  

     Here is an example that we are not doing very well in America in this area of giving.   According to a Gallup poll 17% say they tithe but only 3% actually do.  Forty per cent will give nothing in a year and 91% say they make more money than they ever have in their life and yet do not give.   Seventy one per cent of pastors believe that church members have changed from stewards into consumers.    Do you think it is OK for only 3% of Christians to tithe in America?    That is not good is it?   We will all answer for our lives some day.  

     Many Christians say that they trust the Lord but do not give.   How does that work?   That does not make sense to me.      God says if you give I will bless you.  In this passage God says prove me and see if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing for you.   God says you prove me.  Check me out in this.   I will come through.  Satan will fight you to give folks.  Why would Satan fight giving?   God blesses us when we give.   Satan does not want you to be blessed

        Paul said clearly that he did not want their money but Paul wanted them to be blessed by God.   Satan would short circuit God’s blessings.  Can a Christian say God has first place in their life if they do not give?   In Exodus 23:15 God says no man is to appear before him empty handed.   These people were poor but God said bring something.     

    One minister said Glenys and I were only married five years and in our second church.   Money was tight and our needs were overwhelming.   For a variety of reasons we were down to making an important decision – give our tithe or use it to buy groceries.   Our faith was simple but strong.    We decided our $20 would go to God as it should and we would trust him to somehow provide the other.    We had a little baby girl during this time so the decision was huge and the confidence that God would pull through for us was significant.   With that decision we headed out to look after some pastoral visitation.   Among those we went to see was an elderly member of our church.   After we sat with this soft-spoken, gentle-spirited man, we prayed with him and rose to leave.   As we neared the door he took Glenys’ hand and said, "I want you to have this." Glenys hugged him, I shook his hand and we went to the car.  When Glenys opened her hand there was a $20 bill. No, hold on a moment, it was two $20 bills. Would you believe it?  There were three $20 bills!   Sixty dollars in 1989 was not a small amount.   God rewarded our faith three-fold!  I believe this happened because we first sought the things of the God and his kingdom.  

     Sir John Templeton Chairman of Templeton Funds that manages over 15,000,000,000 (15 Billion) annually in investments said: "I have watched 100,000 families over my years of investment counseling. I always saw greater prosperity and happiness among those families who tithed than among those who didn't."   Do you believe that? 

     I remember when Sally and I could not pay our bills and it is tough to give in those circumstances.   We gave.   It was not 10% at that time but we gave and God pulled us out the hole we were in.  It took time but He blessed us.   I worked in Virginia at Advanced Space Age Products and my boss testified that he started giving and said that he added all of his bills up and they were more then all his net income but as he gave all the bills got paid.  He did not know how it happened.   God works miracles folks.  Has God given you a miracle testimony on giving?    It pays to walk in faith.  

     I wonder how much it holds a church back when the people of the church do not give.   What kind of an impact that does that have on a church.   It must impact the blessing of God.  Certainly the pastor must teach it.   It is a very important topic and Jesus certainly taught on giving and possessions a lot.  Jesus may have taught more on that then any other topic.  Christians that love the Lord and want to walk with him would welcome sermons on giving.  The Psalmist said search my heart O Lord.  It is not only giving your money but it is giving God everything.     God is involved and interested in all of our life.   God has plans for you and no detail is too small.   God does not over look anything. 

      God blesses us and blesses us and then Satan comes in and tests us.   Satan will tempt folks and make them think and tells them that they are giving too much.   W.A. Criswell tells of an ambitious young man who told his pastor he’d promised God a tithe of his income. They prayed for God to bless his career. At that time he was making $40.00 per week and tithing $4.00.   In a few years his income increased and he was tithing $500.00 per week.   He called on the pastor to see if he could be released from his tithing promise, it was too costly now.   The pastor replied, "I don’t see how you can be released from your promise, but we can ask God to reduce your income to $40.00 a week, then you’d have no problem tithing $4.00."   If you make 5K a week 500.00 is not too much to give.    God likes to bless with abundance. 

      I like the verses in this passage.   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.     How would you like God to open the floodgates of heaven and pour out His blessings on you?    Wow.   How would your life change?   Do you long for God to move upon you like that?   It seems to me that is what we need.   He promises to open the flood gates of heaven.   Think about floods.   Even this past week we have seen in the news where towns and roads have been flooded.   There is too much water.   It changes things.  What would it be like to be flooded with God’s spirit?   God’s supplies are not limited.   We need a flood of the Holy Spirit in the church.  God says I will open the flood gates of heaven.   I would like to see and experience that.      

    I think we forget and need to be reminded that God has opened the flood gates of heaven already in a sense.    In Hebrews 4 we read therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.    For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.   Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.   Remember that the veil was ripped in two pieces when Jesus hung on the cross?    God says come before my throne.   We need to remember that God is the one who has invited us in.   God says come on in.   The supply is not limited and God says come in.   Come in for what Lord?   God says come in for mercy, grace and help.   God says I am inviting you to ask for mercy grace and help from me.      God is not going to be critical because He justifies us.   He sent his son into the world not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved.    Jesus said come unto me and I will give you rest.   Are you resting in Him?  

     It is wide open right to the Father’s heart.  God has opened his heart to you.   It was Jesus on the cross.   God poured out his wrath on His son Jesus on the cross and now God wants to bless you.   He knows you and He knows you perfectly.   He knows your sin and failures and He says come in.   He says I am waiting for you.   I want to be with you and help you.   The blessings in the store house belong to us.   All the goodies in there are ours.  But we must be careful that we do not get so caught up with the goodies that we miss Him.   We can be guilty of seeking his hands and not his face.   We need to come in with an open heart.   We need to come in with empty hands.   We need to come with hands that do not hang on the things of this world

     My prayer is that all of us would pray and open our hands and hearts to give.  God does not tempt man but God does test us and some folks give up real easy on God.   If you give it will be tested.  God will prove your heart.   Can you imagine a person who gets a new job and quits in a week?   They say well things did not work out like I thought.  I had things to learn and it was tough so I quit.   Or think about a guy or gal and they start a relationship with someone and in a month or two they have a disagreement and so one of them breaks it off.  God prove me in this.  Test me and prove me in your giving.   I think that is a two way street.  I challenge you to pray about your giving.  Is it where God wants it to be?   If you are not giving I suggest that you start by praying and giving something and be faithful in it.  Walk and grow in this area of your Christian life and God will bless you.    It is exciting to bring a message that will bless God’s people.  If you apply this message God will bless you and God does not lie.