If you've visited to this site a bit you've probably heard me talk some about giving. I've mentioned many times that Paul teaches giving, paying the teacher of God's word in all but two of his letters. Believers, and that's who I'm talking to, believe that the Bible writers were inspired by God to write what they did. Certainly, there could have been much more included in the Bible. Bunches of things are left out. Why? It has to be that what God wanted us to be sure to read and know was included; the rest was only good for egotistical argument and not important in confirming God's reality or His instruction.
All that goes for the whole Bible, but there are many things in the Bible that are repeated. Did Mom ever say things twice so you'd know she was really telling you something she thought was more important than "How was school today?" God's the same way.
God said at the mouth of two a thing is established. That tells us that when God repeats something we better pay attention, because He wants us to learn something from the repetition
I'm going to take you the long way around giving. Why did Paul AND JESUS make such a big deal out of giving? Because giving is the simplest way to trust God. And trusting God or faithing as you've heard me say, is the way to access God's promise of salvation. If you give God's way, He'll give you eternal life. Pretty good deal. That's why Paul and Jesus talk so much about giving.
There is a point that might be confusing to some. To others, it will be an excuse NOT to give. More than once Paul says that the offering he's collecting will go to the saints at Jerusalem.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that Paul was just taking up a collection for Jerusalem. Paul had the authority to "order" the collection from those people because he was their teacher. What He did with that money was his choice. He chose to use some of that money to support the work going on in the birthplace of Christianity. Remember what the Levites did in the Old Testament. They collected the tithes from the people and then tithed out of that money to the Priests, which furthered God's work.
I've said that the principle of giving is to support the one's who teach us about God. This principle was laid out all the way back in Abraham's time, when he tithed to his teacher Shem; who had the title of King of Righteousness. In Hebrew the title is Melchizedek. The Melchi means king and the zedek mean righteousness.
Then with Moses, God set up the regular giving for the people. How much, where it was to go, and who controlled the use of the money. It was the tithes, that went to the Temple work, with no strings attached. The tithers had no say in how the money was used.
I don't find anywhere in the New Testament where God has laid out a different schedule for giving. Nothing has changed about giving, even though the young church at Jerusalem gave everything. I'm sure that God doesn't ask us to give everything.
Of course, those who haven't enough belief in God to tithe will let their fear of loss take over and let them build a wall of denial and say that the tithe was only for the Old Testament. But can you see how that allows subjectivity to rule the use of the giving? Now, I can decide how much, even where the money will go, and even put restrictions on its use. I thought God was the Boss. He's the one who set up giving and tells us where and how much control we have over its use. We're not in charge here.
Bottom line is, if you're not tithing, the way God says, you're not making it.
OK. Here's the very long list of giving, starting with Jesus and moving on to Paul.
There are many places where Jesus talks about giving, but I'll only take three and use four of the parables he gave.
I've taught on the alabaster box accounts before, showing that there were actually three different events of Jesus anointing. Two of the four accounts of anointing included an alabaster box. Along with these accounts Jesus gives an express command to his disciples. It was something that you probably have never heard in church. He told them that wherever they preached his gospel of the Kingdom, they should tell what the woman had done. The ointment used was of great value. The women was giving like the Old Testament folks gave their best lamb for the sacrifice. She was giving the best she had. Jesus turns around and says, when you preach God's coming kingdom be sure to tell the listeners that giving is the way to be part of the kingdom.
Here are the two accounts:
Mat 26:7 There cameG4334 unto himG846 a womanG1135 havingG2192 an alabaster boxG211 of very preciousG927 ointment,G3464 andG2532 pouredG2708 it onG1909 hisG846 head,G2776 as he satG345 at meat.
We skip the res of the story and go to the command.
Mat 26:13 VerilyG281 I sayG3004 unto you,G5213 WheresoeverG3699 G1437 thisG5124 gospelG2098 shall be preachedG2784 inG1722 theG3588 wholeG3650 world,G2889 there shall alsoG2532 this,G3739 that this womanG3778 hath done,G4160 be toldG2980 forG1519 a memorialG3422 of her.G846
Doesn't "the whole world" include your church? Now God repeats Himself.
Mar 14:3 AndG2532 beingG5607 inG1722 BethanyG963 inG1722 theG3588 houseG3614 of SimonG4613 theG3588 leper,G3015 as heG846 sat at meat,G2621 there cameG2064 a womanG1135 havingG2192 an alabaster boxG211 of ointmentG3464 of spikenardG4101 G3487 very precious;G4185 andG2532 she brakeG4937 theG3588 box,G211 and pouredG2708 it onG2596 hisG846 head.G2776
Skip to the command:
Mar 14:9 VerilyG281 I sayG3004 unto you,G5213 WheresoeverG3699 G302 thisG5124 gospelG2098 shall be preachedG2784 throughoutG1519 theG3588 wholeG3650 world,G2889 this alsoG2532 thatG3739 sheG3778 hath doneG4160 shall be spoken ofG2980 forG1519 a memorialG3422 of her.G846
The message is, "tell how the woman gave her best."
The other two accounts don't have the command.
Luke 7:36-38 has an alabaster box, but no command to tell.
John 11:2 talks about Mary Magdalene but she didn't have an alabaster box and here is no command.
Another event I want to notice is the widow. Again, there are two mentions of this widow. How many people in the crowd did Jesus ever single out? Not many made it into the Bible. The ones that did had an important "message" for us. The widow was a giver. And again, the story is repeated.
Mar 12:41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
Mar 12:42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
Mar 12:43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
Mar 12:44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want(extreme poverty) did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
God repeats Himself:
Luk 21:1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
Luk 21:2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
Luk 21:3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
Luk 21:4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had. Penury means poverty.
Lastly, I want to cite where Jesus confirms that tithing didn't go away. Almost nothing the Pharisees did was OK with Jesus, but in Mat 23:23 he tells them that they were right to tithe.
Mat 23:23 WoeG3759 unto you,G5213 scribesG1122 andG2532 Pharisees,G5330 hypocrites!G5273 forG1063 ye pay titheG586 of mintG2238 andG2532 aniseG432 andG2532 cummin,G2951 andG2532 have omittedG863 theG3588 weightierG926 matters of theG3588 law,G3551 judgment,G2920 (G2532) mercy,G1656 andG2532 faith:G4102 theseG5023 oughtG1163 ye to have done,G4160 and notG3361 to leaveG863 the otherG2548 undone.G863
There's another passage where he tells them that they were stealing widow's houses.
Before we get to Paul, let's take a look at Acts.
Act 4:32 AndG1161 theG3588 multitudeG4128 of them that believedG4100 wereG2258 of oneG3391 heartG2588 andG2532 of one soul:G5590 neitherG2532 G3761 saidG3004 anyG1520 of them that oughtG5100 of the things which he possessedG5224 G846 wasG1511 his own;G2398 butG235 theyG846 hadG2258 all thingsG537 common.G2839
Act 4:33 AndG2532 with greatG3173 powerG1411 gaveG591 theG3588 apostlesG652 witnessG3142 of theG3588 resurrectionG386 of theG3588 LordG2962 Jesus:G2424 andG5037 greatG3173 graceG5485 wasG2258 uponG1909 themG846 all.G3956
They gave to their teachers.
Act 4:34 (G1063) NeitherG3761 wasG5225 there anyG5100 amongG1722 themG846 that lacked:G1729 forG1063 as many asG3745 wereG5225 possessorsG2935 of landsG5564 orG2228 housesG3614 soldG4453 them, and broughtG5342 theG3588 pricesG5092 of the things that were sold,G4097
Act 4:35 AndG2532 laid them downG5087 atG3844 theG3588 apostles'G652 feet:G4228 andG1161 distribution was madeG1239 unto every manG1538 according asG2530 G302 heG5100 hadG2192 need.G5532
Act 4:36 AndG1161 Joses,G2500 whoG3588 byG5259 theG3588 apostlesG652 was surnamedG1941 Barnabas,G921 (which is,G3603 being interpreted,G3177 The sonG5207 of consolation,) aG3874 Levite,G3019 and of the country of Cyprus,G1085 G2953
Act 4:37 HavingG5225 land,G68 soldG4453 it, and broughtG5342 theG3588 money,G5536 andG2532 laidG5087 it atG3844 theG3588 apostles'G652 feet.G4228
In the rest of the story, God shows us that we don't have any say in how much or what the money is used for. He does this through the back door, by telling how a couple lied abut their giving. God killed them both on the spot.
Now Paul. Some of these verses are a bit round-about in saying pay the teacher, but there's no real mistake in what Paul's teaching.
The Philippians gave money for the saints at Jerusalem. Paul tells why.
Rom 15:27 It hath pleasedG2106 them verily;G1063 andG2532 theirG848 debtorsG3781 they are.G1526 ForG1063 ifG1487 theG3588 GentilesG1484 have been made partakersG2841 of theirG848 spiritual things,G4152 their dutyG3784 is alsoG2532 to ministerG3008 unto themG846 in carnal things.G4559
They are paying for the Word of God. With material things, like money.
1Co 9:13 Do ye notG3756 knowG1492 thatG3754 they which ministerG2038 about holy thingsG2413 liveG2068 of the things ofG1537 theG3588 temple?G2411 and they which waitG4332 at theG3588 altarG2379 are partakers withG4829 theG3588 altar?G2379
In chapter 15 Paul talks about the resurrection, and immediately says in 1Co 16:1 NowG1161 concerningG4012 theG3588 collectionG3048 forG1519 theG3588 saints,G40 asG5618 I have given orderG1299 to theG3588 churchesG1577 of Galatia,G1053 evenG2532 soG3779 doG4160 ye.G5210 He's already commanded, ordered the church at Galatia to give this way.
1Co 16:2 Upon the firstG2596 G3391 day of the weekG4521 let every oneG1538 of youG5216 layG5087 byG3844 himG1438 in store,G2343 asG3748 G302 God hath prosperedG2137 him, thatG2443 there beG1096 noG3361 gatheringsG3048 when(G3752) I come.
"As God has prospered him", is a clear reference to the tithe used in the Old Testament. How often did Paul show up at Corinth? A couple times a year? But he tells them to tithe every week.
This next one is very important because it connects giving with salvation. Paul is telling the Corinthians that the Philippians demonstrated the implant of God's Sprit. He uses the English word grace. But you'll find that by grace he means the Spirit of God, not God's attitude toward a giver.
2Co 8:7 Therefore,G235 asG5618 ye aboundG4052 inG1722 everyG3956 thing, in faith,G4102 andG2532 utterance,G3056 andG2532 knowledge,G1108 andG2532 in allG3956 diligence,G4710 andG2532 in(G1537) yourG5216 loveG26 toG1722 us,G2254 see thatG2443 ye aboundG4052 inG1722 thisG5026 graceG5485 also.G2532
2Co 8:8 I speakG3004 notG3756 byG2596 commandment,G2003 butG235 by occasion ofG1223 theG3588 forwardnessG4710 of others,G2087 andG2532 to proveG1381 theG3588 sincerityG1103 of yourG5212 love.G26
The word love there is agape, which is he highest for of giving. No strings attached. Then he tells how Jesus gave.
2Co 8:9 ForG1063 ye knowG1097 theG3588 graceG5485 of ourG2257 LordG2962 JesusG2424 Christ,G5547 that,G3754 though he wasG5607 rich,G4145 yet for your sakesG1223 G5209 he became poor,G4433 thatG2443 yeG5210 through hisG1565 povertyG4432 might be rich.G4147
Gal 6:6 is the clearest example of giving for the church. (G1161) Let him that is taughtG2727 in theG3588 wordG3056 communicateG2841 unto him that teachethG2727 inG1722 allG3956 good things.G18
But communicate is a bad translation. In Greek it says "share materially", and Paul adds those "good things" In other words it's not, "good job Pastor." It's giving good things to him.
1Th 5:12 AndG1161 we beseechG2065 you,G5209 brethren,G80 to knowG1492 them which labourG2872 amongG1722 you,G5213 andG2532 are overG4291 youG5216 inG1722 the Lord,G2962 andG2532 admonishG3560 you;G5209
The word "know" is really acknowledge. A soft way of saying support.
The letters to Timothy are mainly instruction to him on how to conduct himself as pastor and what to require of his congregation.
1Ti 5:17 Let theG3588 eldersG4245 that ruleG4291 wellG2573 be counted worthyG515 of doubleG1362 honour,G5092 especiallyG3122 they who labourG2872 inG1722 the wordG3056 andG2532 doctrine.G1319
1Ti 5:18 ForG1063 theG3588 scriptureG1124 saith,G3004 Thou shalt notG3756 muzzleG5392 the oxG1016 that treadeth outG248 the corn. And,G2532 TheG3588 labourerG2040 is worthyG514 of hisG848 reward.G3408
Just as the Priest got to eat some of the sacrifices, the ox gets to eat some of the corn he's grinding, just as the teacher of the Word gets to be supported by the students.
Php 4:10 ButG1161 I rejoicedG5463 inG1722 the LordG2962 greatly,G3171 thatG3754 nowG2235 at the lastG4218 your careG5426 ofG5228 meG1700 hath flourished again;G330 whereinG1909 G3739 ye were alsoG2532 careful,G5426 butG1161 ye lacked opportunity.G170
Php 4:11 NotG3756 thatG3754 I speakG3004 in respect ofG2596 want:G5304 forG1063 IG1473 have learned,G3129 inG1722 whatsoever stateG3739 I am,G1510 therewith to beG1511 content.G842
Php 4:12 (G1161) I knowG1492 both how to be abased,G5013 andG2532 I knowG1492 how to abound:G4052 (G1722) every whereG3956 andG2532 inG1722 all thingsG3956 I am instructedG3453 bothG2532 to be fullG5526 andG2532 to be hungry,G3983 bothG2532 to aboundG4052 andG2532 to suffer need.G5302
Php 4:13 I can doG2480 all thingsG3956 throughG1722 ChristG5547 which strengthenethG1743 me.G3165
Php 4:14 NotwithstandingG4133 ye have wellG2573 done,G4160 that ye did communicate withG4790 myG3450 affliction.G2347
The Philippians sent Paul money for 11 years, without him even going there. Only the Holy Spirit can enable a person to give that way, as Paul told the Corinthians.
Php 4:15 NowG1161 yeG5210 PhilippiansG5374 knowG1492 also,G2532 thatG3754 inG1722 the beginningG746 of theG3588 gospel,G2098 whenG3753 I departedG1831 fromG575 Macedonia,G3109 noG3762 churchG1577 communicatedG2841 with meG3427 as concerningG1519 G3056 givingG1394 andG2532 receiving,G3028 butG1508 yeG5210 only.G3441
Php 4:16 ForG3754 evenG2532 inG1722 ThessalonicaG2332 ye sentG3992(G2532) once and againG530 G2532 G1364 untoG1519 myG3427 necessity.G5532
Here's the allusion to the implant of the Sprit, which he calls "fruit" .
Php 4:17 NotG3756 becauseG3754 I desireG1934 a gift:G1390 butG235 I desireG1934 fruitG2590 that may aboundG4121 toG1519 yourG5216 account.G3056
Php 4:18 ButG1161 I haveG568 all,G3956 andG2532 abound:G4052 I am full,G4137 having receivedG1209 ofG3844 EpaphroditusG1891 the thingsG3588 which were sent fromG3844 you,G5216 an odourG3744 of a sweet smell,G2175 a sacrificeG2378 acceptable,G1184 wellpleasingG2101 to God.G2316
The sweet smell refers to the Burnt offering. The burnt offering was the highest form of sacrifice. And Paul is equating giving with the burnt offering.
Php 4:19 ButG1161 myG3450 GodG2316 shall supplyG4137 allG3956 yourG5216 needG5532 accordingG2596 to hisG848 richesG4149 inG1722 gloryG1391 byG1722 ChristG5547 Jesus.G2424
Philemon was a slave owner. His slave Onesimus had run away and taken up with Paul. Paul says he'll pay for what it cost Philemon, but tells him that Philemon really owes Paul much more for the word of God that Paul gave him.
Phm 1:19 IG1473 PaulG3972 have writtenG1125 it with mine ownG1699 hand,G5495 IG1473 will repayG661 it: albeitG2443 I do notG3361 sayG3004 to theeG4671 howG3754 thou owestG4359 unto meG3427 evenG2532 thine own selfG4572 besides. "OK. I'll repay whatever Onesimus cost you, but I won't even bring up that you owe me your very soul for the teaching I gave you.
The Hebrews to whom Paul wrote gave out of their material goods to support him.
Heb 10:34 ForG1063 ye had compassionG4834 (G2532) of me in myG3450 bonds,G1199 andG2532 tookG4327 joyfullyG3326 G5479 theG3588 spoilingG724 of yourG5216 goods,G5224
That's the "hilarious giving" that we sometimes hear at offering time in church.
knowingG1097 inG1722 yourselvesG1438 that ye haveG2192 inG1722 heavenG3772 a betterG2909 andG2532 an enduringG3306 substance.G5223
What you gave me was nothing compared to what you get in heaven.
Heb 13:7 RememberG3421 them which have the rule overG2233 you,G5216 whoG3748 have spokenG2980 unto youG5213 theG3588 wordG3056 of God:G2316 whoseG3739 faithG4102 follow,G3401 consideringG333 theG3588 endG1545 of their conversation.G391
This is one of those back door references. After all the other letters by Paul, I'm sure you see that he means more by remember than just a memory.
Heb 13:16 ButG1161 to do goodG2140 andG2532 to communicateG2842 forgetG1950 not:G3361 forG1063 with suchG5108 sacrificesG2378 GodG2316 is well pleased.G2100
You know by now that communicate doesn't mean talk. It means support.
Now Titus and we're done.
Tit 3:13 Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journeyG4311 G2211 G3588 G3544 G2532 G625 diligently,G4709 thatG2443 nothingG3367 be wantingG3007 unto them.G846
Tit 3:14 AndG1161 let oursG2251 alsoG2532 learnG3129 to maintainG4291 goodG2570 worksG2041 forG1519 necessaryG316 uses,G5532 thatG2443 they beG5600 notG3361 unfruitful.G175
Supply all the needs of your teachers, Zenas and Apollos. And again, Paul uses the term fruitful. Somebody up there notes that on their account.
Stewardship parables: I've chosen out four parables that deal with stewardship, the use of money. First is the parable of the Pounds in Luke 19:12-17. The king mentioned is the type of Christ or God. He gives his servants money and tells them to use it in trade. This depicts God giving the Believer all he has and that the Believer is expected to use that substance for the good of God, the King. The servant that gained money for the king, who furthered God's program, was rewarded handsomely, rule over ten cities. The servant that did nothing for God with his portion forfeited even what he had. We as believers are supposed to further God's plan/message with what He has given us. We are to tithe for the dissemination of God's word. We are to support those who are doing that work.
The second parable is the one about the Talents, found in Matthew 25:14-30. This is pretty much the same story. The master expects the servants to use his money wisely so that the Master receives something from the servant's use. The servants who garnered a profit from what was given to them were rewarded. They are made "rulers over many things"; while the servant who buried his talent lost all he had. The story is the same. We are supposed to use what God has given us to gain more that what we are given, so as to further God's goals.
The last two have to do with money but show a different side of the picture.
In the parable of the workers in Matthew 20:1-16 the lesson is that we are not in charge of our money. God dictates the use of His money. Various workers are hired for work throughout the day, the last worker only one hour before the end of the day. All the workers agreed to work for one penny. In other words, they agreed to God's contract on what He wanted them to do. but the workers that worked all day were miffed because the late hirer workers got the same pay for working only one hour. We see by this that God is the Boss and dictates the reward before we work. We have nothing to say beyond that. When God gives us substance, we are to use it the way He dictates, not some way that we decide.
Lastly, the parable of the rich man in Luke 12:12-16 teaches again that we are not in charge of what God gives us. The man asked Jesus what he had to do to have eternal life. Jesus quotes a few of the Ten Commandments. The man pridefully claimed that he's been "good" since his youth. Jesus says, "give your wealth to the poor and follow me." The rich man was told, in essence, to give up his ego attachment to his wealth. That's why Jesus included taking up his cross. Our cross is our ego. But the man was stuck on his money and went away sorrowful. God was in charge of keeping him supplied and not his ability to gain wealth, which it says is also governed by God.
I said many times the Paul lays out the true function of the Church, the Body of Christ, in Ephesians four. The top ministers are to equip the saints for the walk of faithing. Why faithing? God implants a bit of His Spirit in our bodies when we act in trust of what He says. We are saved by faithing. And only in a saved condition can we participate in God's Kingdom.
How does that teacher equip the saints? By teaching them about God. By teaching them the Bible, God's word. Here's the basic formula. "By grace are ye saved(the implant of the Spirit), through faith(ing)" "Christ is formed in your heart by faith(ing)." "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." You learn about God enough to trust something He's said. You act on that trust in the face of negative circumstances. He sees that trust and implants His Spirit in your body. As long as that Spirit resides there, you are seen by God as Righteous (saved). No risk, no faithing. Faithing depends on God for help with he part we can't do ourselves. If we don't have to trust God, we don't get his Spirit. Even if we look like we're doing something Good, if we're doing it on our own, without any risk involved, God doesn't get involved. Many people do nice things for selfish reasons.
And this idea of equipping the saints doesn't only apply to the top level teachers, because it also applies to the saints themselves. Everyone in the Body of Christ is told to edify the others in the Body. It never says that they are to even make contact with unbelievers. CS Lewis put it this way. "Our job is to show off God to each other."
There are four very clear ways to faithe listed in the Bible. There is no mistaking or interpreting. Communion is a faith act. Jesus gave command that we do it. He said, "Do this, in remembrance of me." Now while the risk might be harder to see, it is God's word. And I can make the case for embarrassment. Some might feel embarrassed to be acting on a God no one else can see or hear. That's one way to act in faith. And again, God repeats Himself through Paul. Paul's outline of communion adds some important details, telling us that communion is for everybody, that we don't have to be worthy to take communion. This is important because of the common teaching that we have to apply some man-made rule to Communion. Some folks can't receive communion if they are in the hospital, unless the church board of elders gives their permission for the pastor to visit the hospital. Some aren't allowed to take communion unless they are a member of the church. And a lot of Catholics can only have the bread and not the wine. God didn't say any of that stuff. Also, Jesus didn't say anything about a pastor or priest being the one who must administer communion. The main type of communion in the Bible was the Passover in Egypt. Jesus did a redux of that Passover and it became communion. That first Passover was done in the homes, not the common room at the community center or at the neighbor's house. Communion is meant to be a home thing. You don't need a pastor.
In Matthew 6 Jesus list three things he says are acts of righteousness. So, he's God mouthpiece telling us how to be like God, Righteous. Of course, the first thing on the list will be the thing closest to God's heart. Giving.
Notice that first the act is given, with it's description and then a reward is attached. God says, "Do this, and you'll get this." And that reward has to include the implant of the Spirit. God doesn't sit up there and say, "Well, Jack tithed $20, let's let him find a $100 bill in a pile of leaves in the parking lot." He adds His Spirit. It starts out using the term "alms", but the proper translation is "righteous acts"
Mat 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms(dikaiosune¯n righteous acts) to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
Mat 6:2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms(elee¯mosune¯n), do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Mat 6:3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
Mat 6:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
Mat 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Mat 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
I'll skip the prayer he gives us. But I will notice that if you go out on the corner and pray, folks are going to laugh at you. Now fasting.
Mat 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Mat 6:17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
Mat 6:18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
There are four clear ways for us to faithe. Sometimes it's hard to say that we are faithing because we may not find some word of God that can found our action. And if we don't get hit with some crisis, we won't be forced to turn to God. We need something that we can work into our daily routine that will help us get next to God. There is absolutely no reason not to take communion every day. There is no reason not to pray every day. There is no reason not to tithe.
"Oh, but I can't afford to tithe." Then you need to do some more study to prove God is more real than you now believe. The amount of your giving will be directly proportional to the size of your belief in God and His faithfulness to do what He's said. Like reward you openly.
Let me throw in the last and hardest part of giving. You may have heard me say that the Believer's walk means using 25% of a person's life. 25% of your time. 25% of your energy. 25% of your output. And 25% of the money that comes in. Let me quickly say that this is the ideal. You may only be able to start out at 5% and work your way up, even if that takes the rest of your life. I would strongly recommend that you start with at least the first tithe. God is very clear on this. "The tithe is the Lord's" it says repeatedly. From there you can work on the other two tithes that God wants. Beside Matthew 6, you can use Malachi 3:10 as your base promise for giving.
Mal 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. This translation is very close to the Hebrew except that the last part says that sufficiency won't be found, instead of no room to receive it.
I feel it's necessary to outline the tithes and a few of the mandated offerings to confirm that 25% figure. The first tithe goes strictly to the teachers, while the second and third are used in God mandated actions.
The first tithe is 10% of everything that comes in and goes to the teachers/priests. No exceptions, no strings attached.
The second tithe comes out of the 90% that's left. This is to be used by the person/family to go to Jerusalem three times a year and worship God. So, it can be used for food, lodging and the purchase of sacrificial items. Now we've got 19%.
The third tithe doesn't add anything more to the total, because it is taken out of the second tithe every third year and used for the local Levite, God's representative/teacher, and some for charitable reasons in the local community. We are still at 19%.
Among the mandated offerings is Firstfruits. Every year at harvest, plants or animals, the first bushel of whatever or the first lamb, goat, ox, etc. was to be used for God. I figure that to be about 2% of what comes in. We're up to 21% now.
Then there's Corners. When they harvested their fields, they were to leave the corners of the field for the poor people to come and get a little food.
The people were told that every seventh year they were not to plant and leave the field fallow. That's a whole years' harvest that didn't come in. I'm not sure how to "percentize" that but it ain't just a couple bucks. And God told them that if they did that He would supply three years' harvest the sixth year and they'd have plenty left over, even at the harvest of the first year.
So, just these things get us up near 25%. The mandated sin offerings will do the rest.
Where did all the above go? To the teachers, or God-commanded use. We have nothing to say or decide in the matter. And considering that giving is one of the very few completely understandable ways to faithe, we'd be foolish to resist.
Using this as a guide, I conclude that the same figure should be used for time, energy and output. You've probably heard me talk about our output. You see, we aren't just to support our teachers. We are to be pro-active in our small way to get the word out to other Believers. Firstly, our study of God and Bible isn't confined to just looking up a couple verses at church on Sunday or at our group Bible study. Part of that 25% of time is to be used in individual study. We are to pass along what we know to other Believers. Maybe holding a Bible study at home, or putting our study up on the web. Some way that others can find what we've learned.
Now we've got a little time to go to the Table of the Lord. Do you have your elements there? You know it doesn't have to be wine or unleavened bread. It's symbolic and you can use juice or water, bread or even an animal cracker.
Why are there two elements at the Table? The wine symbolizes Jesus spilled blood and the read symbolizes his broken body. You've probably heard that the wine takes care of our shortcomings, so why have the bread? Even though they are both faith acts, they also have different objectives.
Isaiah is the clearest explanation. In chapter 53 he prophesies that Jesus blood will result in the removal of judgment for our sins.
At verse four it says,
Isa 53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs,( malady, anxiety, calamity:) and carried our sorrows:( anguish or affliction:) yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Isa 53:5 But he was wounded(bore, dissolved) for our transgressions, (revolt, rebellion)he was bruised for our iniquities:(perversity, moral evil) the chastisement of our peace(happiness, welfare) was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (mended, cured)
Again, God repeats Himself through Peter. In his first letter Peter says the same thing, but uses the past tense because it's after the resurrection, when the saving and healing had already taken place.
1Pe 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
We can get more confirmation of both these by looking at the Passover, which typified Jesus taking on our sins and sickness.
Briefly, the people in Egypt were told that the next plague was going to be a bad one. They would be saved from it by putting lamb's blood on their doors. As we know, it was going to be that the first born of every family in Egypt, including the Egyptians, would die that night. The blood on the door saved them from death. Jesus at the last supper changed that blood, which typified his blood that was about to be shed, into wine. But that wasn't all that happened that night in Egypt. They were also given many specific instructions about the lamb itself. We find out in Psalm 105 what happened by eating the lamb. They were all healed.
Psa 105:37 He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes. In Hebrew the word "feeble" means to totter or waver (through weakness of the legs, especially the ankle); to falter, stumble.
How appropriate that anyone who had leg ailments was healed. They had a three-month walk ahead of them. I like to believe that the healing was even more general than just legs.
At the super Jesus said that the bread now symbolized his body. That means that we receive healing also when we take communion. This all takes place because when we faithe God has promised to put a bit of His Spirit in our bodies. In that condition we are seen by God as Righteous, saved.
And remember Melchizedek? Well, not only did God show us at that time the principle of giving to our teachers, He also laid out communion. In three little verses, God set down two of the fundamental practices for Believers. What did Mechizedek bring to Abraham?
If you read the account as given by first century Jewish historian, Josephus, he says that Melchizedek brought Abraham supplies for him and his men. The list is long and it's clear that Melchizedek must have had a whole retinue of servants with him. Remember, that he wasn't some back alley prophet or rabbi. He was the king of Jerusalem. There is even evidence that he was the actual founder of the city. Kings don't travel 60-some miles from home without some kind of escort. And of course, that brings up the question. How did Melchizedek even know about Abraham, way over there across the river Jordan and down the other side of the Dead Sea? How did he know that Abraham had gone to war against some kings over there? Was he telepathic? Or maybe did God give him word to go to Abraham?
Anyway, what does the Bible record? I said earlier, the Bible doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. The Bible says only that Melchizedek brought bread and wine. Isn't it obvious that this is communion? God works long-term. So, He told us about giving and communion almost 2000 years before Jesus came on the scene. And He spent that 2000 years, setting out the details of Jesus' mission, life, death and resurrection, as told by many different Old Testament voices. And here we are today, 4000 years later, about to fulfill God's will. Is that neat or what?
Lets get some saving now. Take the wine and say it with me, Thank you your grace Lord. Have mercy on me, in Jesus name.
Now the bread. Say it with me, "By his stripes, I was healed, in Jesus' name.
Now look, giving can be pretty scary stuff, giving away your money. But who can deny that God commands us to give? It's necessary for the Believer's walk. It's the way God has set up for us to live. Why? So that, as a result, His word will get out to other believers. You know, those people whom you call your teachers? So they can get the word out.
God says, "Give and you get to heaven." Are you going to say, "No?" Will you change your mind when God says, "If you don't give, you don't get in?" Be careful what you decide. God is real and He does what He says.
Here's your chance to faithe.
Thanks for your support.
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