Tithing...do we have a spirit of liberality

Tithe means “tenth.” In the Old Testament, The Israelites were commanded: “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord” (Leviticus 27:30).

In other words, tithe is a way of putting God first.

Tithe can either be:

The gatekeeper to a flood of blessings An ocean of frustration

3 Levels Of Giving:

  1. Tithe: Returning to God 10% of what He gave you in the first place

    1. If God gives you 10, you give Him 1 back

    2. 94% of evangelical Christians do not do this

    3. Don’t allow 10% to hold you back from a dynamic relationship with

      God

  2. Offerings: Anything you give over and above a tithe

    1. It’s an act of trust

    2. It’s an act of hope

  3. Extravagant Offerings: Giving well beyond 10% because you understand

    how blessed you already are

    1. You have the means

    2. You understand how blessed you are

    3. You understand your potential to bless others

    4. You know that you can’t outgive God’s ability to bless

But it’s about more than just the 10%. It’s about understanding that:

  • —  God owns it all. It all came from Him.

  • —  He provided the entire 100% in the first place

  • —  I am “giving” Him what is already His. We can never really give anything to God.

• •

Instead, we are to honor him with all that we have. It’s not 10%, it’s 100%.

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

2 Responses To Giving:

  1. Obligation: I give because it’s what God requires of me

    1. This robs us of our worship

    2. The position of your heart is as important as the proportion of

      your giving

    3. Turns us into consumers. We ask, “What am I getting for my

      giving?”

  2. Gratitude: I give because God has given to me

    1. Shows an understanding of what God has given us beyond

      monetary value.

    2. Instead of producing entitlement that leads to resentment, giving

      out of gratitude produces joy.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

We often think tithe is God wanting something FROM us rather than wanting something FOR us. But the truth is, you can’t become more like Jesus unless you are giving:

— God is a giver, not a taker
Takers are not more like Jesus, givers are

I am limited in my ability to give back. But God is unlimited in his ability to supply my needs. Giving is not a problem when we realize that without God, we wouldn’t have anything. We wouldn’t have a home, a job, or food to ear. We would have nothing if it weren’t for the grace and mercy of God.

So when it comes to tithing, God is not asking anything FROM you. He is simply asking you to give back a small percent of what He put in your hands in the first place.

Three Giving Challenges:

  1. Tithe: Try 10% for 90 days

  2. Offering: Go above and beyond as an act of worship

  3. Extravagant Offering: If you have the means, bless others in a big way

The Problem with Money

A problem we face in handling money is that it can lower the quality of life. Jesus asked a vitally important question: "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? (vs. 27...NKJV)

Someone has described this situation well.

Money can buy a bed…but it cannot buy sleep.
Money can buy amusements but it cannot buy  
happiness.
Money can buy companions but it cannot buy
friends.
Money can buy books but it cannot buy brains.
Money can buy a house but it cannot buy a home.
Money can buy medicine but it cannot buy health.
Money can buy flattery but it cannot buy respect.

A Gallup poll illustrated how money can detract from life. The poll revealed that: 64% of all couples argue over money issues….And … this is also the #1 cause for all divorces… 54% of all divorces are over money issues.

Another problem we face in handling money is that it can lead to bondage. Jesus said ``You cannot serve two masters: God and money.” (Mt. 6:24 NKJV)

God wants us to handle money with a right perspective. If you get your perspective of money out of order you will limp through life.

Jesus said "lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Mt. 6:20 NKJV)

Are you investing in eternity or investing in today? When you get eternity right other aspects of your life will fall into place!

Several years ago, construction workers happened upon a corpse outside the ancient city of Pompeii, where many people died when a volcano exploded. The evidence surrounding this corpse (a woman) was interesting. Apparently, she had been fleeing from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Overtaken by the molten lava, she died in the hot ashes. The corpses revealed hands that were clutched around jewels. The jewels had survived, but the woman had not. The same is true today. Death will overtake all of us and strip us of our earthly wealth. 

On another occasion Jesus spoke about life perspective. He said "For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mt. 16:26 NKJV) 

God wants us to handle money with a right purpose. In verse 33 Jesus states the purpose of life. The purpose in life is to live for “the kingdom of God”. (Mt. 6:33 NKJV) God wants us to live our lives in service to Him.
The apostle Paul describes this purpose “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward” (Col. 3:23-24 NKJV)

When I think about a man who understands life purpose I think about Truett Cathy, the founder of Chic-fil-a.  A place where my Granddaughter Annabel loves to eat. Over the years he has become known for his faith in Jesus Christ. He is also known for taking a stand that he would not open his restaurants on Sunday (even though it cost him millions of dollars), for being a Sunday School teacher and for helping many foster children. In 1982 Chick-fil-a faced a crisis as pressure from fast food chains caused their revenues to fall. Truett Cathy and company executives retreated to a resort at Georgia’s Lake Lanier to find an answer to their problem. That group of executives pondered the question, “Why are we in business?” Cathy said they came up with a corporate statement: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us, and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-a.” In six months, sales increased 40%. I understand that  Chick-fil-a is the largest privately owned restaurant chain in America.

God wants us to handle money with a right priority. Notice Jesus description in verse 33 “ seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” God should have top priority with your money, your time and your heart passion.

Some thoughts from Romans 7

Today we continue on our journey in the book of Romans as we look in at chapter seven. Pauls begins by using marriage as an example. When we marry we chose someone for better or for worse. We choose for life, for sickness and in health, for richer for poorer. When death comes, that bond is broken and a new bond can be formed. 

 

What Paul is saying is the we were once married to the Law of God. The Law is a demanding, irritating and exacting husband. The Law brought out all the worst in you. In Christ you have died to the Law. You have been set free in death ( baptism) and we are now married to Him. He is now our exclusive husband. We can no longer go flirting with sin. The Church is the Bride of Christ and Christ loves his Bride. He loves her, values her and he will bring her to himself without spot or wrinkle.

We are now finished with the law, we are dead to it. We have died in Christ and been raised up in newness of life in him. That old hold that the law had over us has been dissolved.

 

This is why Paul was so emphatic in Romans 6:1 that he challenges that silly thinking that now we are Christ we can go on sinning so that God’s love and grace can increase further in us. The only way to be freed from the law is to be in Christ and when one is in Christ your life now is no longer your own. 

 

When we were married to the law it brought out the worst in us, just like some married couples bring out the worst in each other. Now that we are married to Christ we have a new life in the Spirit and the fruit that comes forth from our lives Paul writes about in his letter to the Galatian Church. Out of this marriage to Christ comes the fruit of the Spirit…

 

love, joy peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such there is no law and those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with it’s passions and desires.”  ( Galatians 5:22-24 )

 

May you be encouraged as we continue our journey today in God’s word.

Praying in the storm from an eternal perspective......

Let us share with you a recent article from James Bates in Israel which is pertinent to the message this coming Sunday morning.

 

While praying for the safety of our families in the midst of the ongoing terror attacks here in Israel, two examples of prayer came to mind. The first was Yeshua's disciples waking Him up while He slept on the boat during a storm (Matt 8). The second was Yeshua praying in the Garden of Gethsemane while His disciples slept (Matt 26). 

What I saw through these moments was that the disciples were more mindful of the temporal things than the eternal. While it is not wrong for us to pray for safety and protection, it is wrong for us to operate out of fear, and become overwhelmed by natural circumstances. 

When the storm began overtaking the boat the disciples became fearful, woke Yeshua and said "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" (vs 25). Yeshua's response, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" (vs 26). They were all in the same boat, but Yeshua responded to the storm much differently. 

 In the Garden of Gethsemane however Yeshua was deeply distressed and asked the disciples to watch and pray with Him. Three times he came back and found them sleeping instead of praying.

So why were the disciples awake and fearful when Yeshua was sleeping, and then when He asked them to watch and pray with Him, they could not stay awake? Because, in the boat they could see and feel the wind and waves. They were overwhelmed by the natural circumstances, and operating in fear and not faith. In the Garden however, they did not understand what Yeshua was doing and the eternal significance of what was about to happen. 

 

Too often we pray according to the natural circumstances of the storms in life, and miss the invitation to watch and pray with Him concerning things of eternal significance.

So, let us, like Yeshua in the Garden of Gethsemane place the Father's will above our own, seek to see things from His perspective and pray from a place of faith to release His eternal purposes on earth.

Living a life of victory of defeat is a choice.....

In the fourteenth century two brothers fought for the right to rule over a dukedom in what is now Belgium. The elder brother's name was Raynald, but he was commonly called "Crassus," a Latin nickname meaning "fat," for he was horribly obese. After a heated battle, Raynald's younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him and assumed the title of Duke over his lands. But instead of killing Raynald, Edward devised a curious imprisonment. He had a room in the castle built around "Crassus," a room with only one door. The door was not locked, the windows were not barred, and Edward promised Raynald that he could regain his land and his title any time that he wanted to. All he would have to do is leave the room. The obstacle to freedom was not in the doors or the windows, but with Raynald himself. Being grossly overweight, he could not fit through the door, even though it was of near-normal size. All Raynald needed to do was diet down to a smaller size, then walk out a free man, with all he had before his fall. However, his younger brother kept sending him an assortment of tasty foods, and Raynald's desire to be free never won out over his desire to eat. Some would accuse Duke Edward of being cruel to his older brother, but he would simply reply, "My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills." But Raynald stayed in that room for ten years, until Edward himself was killed in battle.

 

This accurately illustrates the experience of many Christians. Jesus set them forever free legally, and they may walk in that freedom from sin whenever they choose. But since they keep yielding their bodily appetites to the service of sin, they live a life of defeat, discouragement, and imprisonment.

This Past Week

This week Jennifer and I attended the New Zealand Assembly of God Pastor’s Conference and 62nd General Council in New Plymouth. The theme was “Looking unto Jesus” and was a very inspirational and God glorifying week. There were about 500 Pastors and leaders from across the nation. I am able to report that we now have 280 churches in N.Z. and 70 missionaries across the nations.

Theconference speakers came from two very different worlds. Pastor Michael Dissanayeke comes from Sri Lanka and is the General Superintendent of the Sri Lankan Assemblies of God.This is a nation that has faced internal warfare for the past 30 years. Pastor Michael shared with us the heartbreak and joy of planting churches amidst great opposition, seeing Jesus triumphant in all things with many, many people coming to the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus and through prayer seeing hundreds of churches planted across the nation. Pastor Michael brought a prophetic word for N.Z. which will be on the church website in the next few days. He remembers coming to Gisborne some 15 years ago and identified us as part of the prophetic word. We hope he will be visiting with us some time in 2016.

Our other speaker was Dr. Sam Chand. Originally born in India, Dr Sam has lived in the U.S.A. for the past 40 years. He is an excellent communicator and spoke onleadership development. Everyone enjoyed his amazing humour and stories which always finished with a powerful challenge.

From sinking sand He lifted me

There is an old story about a man in China who was walking on a rain slick road. He lost his footing and fell into a ditch filled with mud. He kept sinking deeper and deeper in the mud. The more he struggled to get out of the ditch, the deeper he sank.

As he was sinking in the mud Buddha came by. Buddha looked at him and said, "My what a predicament you are in. Here is a paper that tells you ten ways to get out of ditches." The man started reading and he tried all ten ways to get out of the ditch, only to discover that the harder he tried the deeper he sank.

Then Confucius came along and looked at him, and said, "You are in a terrible condition, but I have good news for you. If you’ll take 5 steps toward me, I’ll take 5 steps down to meet you, and then together we will walk out of the ditch."

But the man said, "I couldn’t even take the 5 steps. The more I struggled the deeper I sink in the mud."

Then Jesus came by. Jesus looked at him, took off His crown and His royal robes, and got down in the ditch with him and He pushed him until his feet were on solid ground once again.

"From sinking sand He lifted me. With tender hands He lifted me. From shades of night to plains of light. Oh praise His name, He lifted me." 

That is what love means. It means that Jesus Christ has lifted us out of the muck and the mire of our sin, and He has put our feet on solid ground.

 

Feast of Tabernacles

This week we are celebrating The Feast of Tabernacles. A time when the Lord encourages His people to get together to feast and fellowship and enjoy His presence in their lives. We are encouraged by how many have signed up to “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” and pray you all enjoy a great meal and wonderful time of fellowship together. 

As we celebrate this “Appointed Time” let us remember that this Festival has a prophetic dimension awaiting fulfilment. As a “Time of Ingathering of the Harvest”, Tabernacles prefigures the gathering together of God’s people in the days of the Lord’s reign on earth. 

Isaiah 27:12-13, Jeremiah 23:7-8


The Bible makes it clear that all the nations of the earth that survive the Great Tribulation will
come together in Jerusalem to worship the Lord during the Feast of Tabernacles.

Zechariah 14:16-17

Jesus Christ our Messiah did indeed come to Tabernacles with us in order to cleanse us from our sin and redeem us to Himself. 

John 1:14

Jesus told the disciples that the ‘fields were white for the harvest” in John 4:35, He challenges them with a Jewish proverb. 

There are still four months, then comes the harvest.

The idea being there is no particular hurry for the task because these things take time. Jesus wanted us to think and act as if the harvest was ready now. The harvest is indeed ready and is being brought in across the nations. The harvest is ready and the wages are ready to be paid. Let no man hang back. The harvest will not wait. That is the message He brings us in His word. 

Just as we celebrate Tabernacles and we thank the Lord for the harvest of souls thus far but let us continue on knowing that the days are short. This season is a great reminder of our task and what the future holds. May you all be very blessed today.


Pastors Guthrie & Jennifer.