Archive for the “Tithes & Offerings” Category

Living God's HeartLiving Gods Heart
In our last blog in the Living God’s Heart series, we looked at how very generous God is to us while we are here on earth. We focused on 2 Peter 1:3 –

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. (NLT)

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. (NLT)
2 Peter 1:3a (NLT)

There’s more to that verse and we’ll look at it in a future blog, but today I want to look more at the generous nature of our God.

He has given us everything we need to live lives that honor and glorify Him while we are here on this earth. What a gift!

But He didn’t stop giving there. His giving is not just for this life, but for all eternity.

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
Romans 5:2 (NLT)

Literally, God has brought us to “where we now stand” – He has given us the undeserved privilege of living in His presence, of receiving everything we need to live godly lives, of receiving His kingdom here on earth. “And” we will one day share in God’s glory.

There is not a word or series of words large and grand enough to convey the depths, the heights and the breadths of God’s giving. He will share His glory with us for all eternity. And we’ve done nothing to earn or deserve. It is an undeserved privilege for those who love the Lord.

God doesn’t hoard anything – not His love, not His Kingdom, and not His glory.

When we’re living God’s heart, our lives reflect His generous nature. When we’re living God’s heart we’re:

  • Giving to those that don’t deserve it.
  • Giving above and beyond.
  • Taking pleasure or joy in giving.

The Sacrifice of Giving
It would seem that there is no question that giving is a sacrifice. When I give, I must give up something. Even so, it is a sacrifice that reflects God’s heart. Hebrews tells us that it is a sacrifice that pleases Him:

And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.
Hebrews 13:16 (NLT)

Giving is a joyful sacrifice – one that brings joy to the Father, joy to the giver and joy to the one who receives.

In this way, giving is truly not a sacrifice – it brings us joy. It might be seen more appropriately as a trade – I will trade this thing that I am giving away for the joy I will receive! How wonderful for God to consider that a sacrifice! How wonderful that He rewards that sacrifice:

Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.
Deuteronomy 15:10 (NLT)

The Old Testament teaches that when we give generously and God will bless everything you do.

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
Luke 6:38 (NLT)

Jesus taught us that when we give generously, we will receive generously.

God’s very nature is to give generously. He gives for this life and for the life to come, going so far as to giving us the privilege of sharing in His glory! Whew! Honestly, I can’t imagine that.

I can’t imagine it, but I trust it! So I choose to give generously in this life. Sacrificially…because I know that any sacrificial giving – no, all sacrificial giving – is simply a downpayment on the joy I will bring to the Father, the recipient of my gifts, my family and myself.

Give and it will be given to you.

Give and you will receive.

Live God’s heart in your world today.

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Living God's HeartLiving Gods Heart

They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.
2 Corinthians 8:2 (NLT)

God’s very nature is one of generosity, the most significant act being the giving of His son:

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (NLT)

God gave. He didn’t stand back and offer advice. He didn’t point us to yet another verse of Scripture. He gave. By nature, He wants to share. He wants to share His Kingdom with us. He wants us to share in Christ’s glory. He wants us to live with Him in heaven.

When we reflect God’s heart, we become a person of generosity. Whether we have much or little.

I find that generosity springs out of a heart filled with joy. Yes, there are other characteristics that bring us to generosity. Compassion, for example, motivates us to action. Yet it is joy that motivates us to give generously and without anxiety or hesitancy. A heart overflowing with joy wants to share it.

Think back to a time when you were in the midst of great joy – perhaps when you were first in love or at the birth of your child. You wanted to share that joy with everyone. “Drinks are on me!” is the stereotypical worldly example. In response to some great thing in his life, the buyer wants to share his joy.

“Their abundant joy has overflowed in rich generosity” Paul wrote about the Macedonians. Their joyful heart – the joy they had found in knowing and serving God – was the impetus for great generosity…even in the midst of many troubles and poverty. It is not wealth that causes us to be generous. We can all probably think of someone who is wealthy but not at all generous. It is out of our joy that generosity springs forth without reservation.

Paul had more to say about the generosity of the Macedonians:

2They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. 3For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. 4They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. 5They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.
2 Corinthians 8:2-5 (NLT)

  • The Macedonians gave more than they could afford to give. Far more.
  • The Macedonians begged for the privilege of sharing.
  • The Macedonians gave themselves first to the Lord, then to others.

It is giving themselves to the Lord first that gave them the joy from which to give generously.

A joyful heart will lead to a generous heart and spirit. If you are giving sparingly or begrudgingly, give yourself first to the Lord. When you are experiencing the joy of the Lord – joy, despite your circumstances – act upon that joy and share it with others.

God’s heart is a joyful and giving one. He longs to share His joy with you and give you the joy of sharing it with others. Don’t resist him! To whom will you give joyfully today?

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But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
2 Samuel 24:24 (NIV)

If you’re Resting at the River’s Edge with us, you read this story late last week.

  • David sins
  • God gives David his choice of judgments
  • David chooses three days of plague
  • Near the end of the third day, God instructs David “Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” (2 Samuel 24:18)
  • When David arrives, Araunah makes him an offer: “Let my lord the king take whatever pleases him and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. O king, Araunah gives all this to the king.” (2 Samuel 24:22-23)
  • David’s response ought to give us all pause:

“No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
(2 Samuel 24:24)

David was King and Araunah was happy to give him his land and everything he needed for the offering. But David was making an offering and a sacrifice to his King. Taking the free gift from Araunah would not have been much of an offering/sacrifice from David. It is to David’s great credit that he didn’t take the easy way out here.

Matthew Henry’s English is a bit dated, he hits the nail on the head. In his Commentary on the Old Testament, he says this about the passage:

Note, Those know not what religion is whose chief care it is to make it cheap and easy to themselves, and who are best pleased with that which costs them least pains or money. What have we our substance for but to honour God with it? and how can it be better bestowed?
Matthew Henry Commentary on the Old Testament, 2 Samuel 24:24

Or put in modern English, he’s saying something like this:

Those whose primary goal is making things as cheap and easy on themselves as possible aren’t seeking God with all their hearts. What is the purpose of all we have, if not to honor God? Can there be a better use for our possessions, energy and time but to use them to serve Him?

I was convicted by David’s statement and doubly challenged by Matthew Henry’s. I wonder – am I serving God sacrificially? Do my offerings cost me something or is He getting the leftovers? Is He getting service in my spare time and with my spare energy and money?

Let’s look at some examples.

Tithing: If giving 10% is easy – if your income is such that you can easily live on 90% – would God be honored by you giving more? And is there any better thing you can do with the “more” than give it to God?

Ministry/Service: Have you said “yes” to so many opportunities to serve that perhaps your service is costing you time, but you have no effort or “overflow” to minister out of? Or maybe it’s not so many opportunities to serve that takes your time, but all the other activities in your life. Is God getting the dregs, last minute, jump in the car and go, then wing it when you get there service? If so, I would contend that your service isn’t costing you what it ought. Maybe you need to be involved in less activities, and perhaps even less ministry activities, so that your offerings of service are complete offerings of all that you are.

Time with God: Is your time with God filled with constant distractions of this world, shortened by earthly demands, and less consistent than your other commitments? The enemy is a master at distracting us during our quiet time, and I’m not here to bring condemnation about it. But there are distractions that are brought on by the enemy and there are distractions that come up simply because of our own lack of discipline or planning. I’m talking about the latter here. My time with God ought to cost me something – it ought to be a sacrifice of all I am to focus on Him. Sadly, often it is not.

This is not a word meant to bring condemnation, but it is a word that is meant to encourage you and me to do better. I want my offerings to the Lord to have value – that means they must cost me something – because that’s how we value things here on earth – and if it’s not of value to me, I haven’t given an appropriate offering to God.

Lord, forgive me when I have taken You for granted! Help me to change. Help me to love you more, and to demonstrate that love by giving honestly of my time, money, talents, energy, and love to You.

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21Aaron waved the breasts and the right thigh [of the sacrificed animals] before the LORD as a wave offering, as Moses commanded.

22Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. And having sacrificed the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, he stepped down.

23Moses and Aaron then went into the Tent of Meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. 24Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.
Leviticus 9:21-24

Wave offerings – I think we charismatics sometimes think that when we are waving our arms over our heads, we’re giving the Lord a wave offering. Do we realize that what constituted a wave offering in the Old Testament was the waving of the slaughtered animal sacrifice. In this case, the wave offering was immediately followed by the Lord bringing down fire and consuming the offering. When we wave our arms, are we willing to identify with the slaughtered animals and are we ready for the Lord to consume us with His purifying fire? (In other words, are we willing to change those things that are displeasing to the Lord? The first question is much easier to answer “yes” to than the second.)

I did a quick check of all the references to wave offerings in the Bible. Looking at all the references to wave offerings, I found that they were used in the following instances:

  • Wave offerings of gold and bronze that were given to the Lord was then hammered into pieces to be used in the Tabernacle
  • Wave offerings of sacrificed animals were burned on the altar
  • Wave offerings of pieces of the sacrificed animals were given to the Levites as food to be consumed
  • Wave offerings of bread, cake and wafer were burned on the altar

It seems that if the offering was not consumed by fire that it was totally consumed – used in its entirety as food or to make elements of the Tabernacle. In no case was any of the wave offering given back to the one making the offering.

So, the next time you wave your arms in worship, think about the wave offerings in the Old Testament – how they were totally consumed by the Lord. Perhaps you might think about the one in this passage of Leviticus – how Aaron offered it to the Lord and then the fire of the Lord came down and consumed the offering. Then shout for joy and fall on your face down in worship. Hallelujah!

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I’ve just been reading in Leviticus about all the offerings the Israelites were to offer to God and what (finally) struck me is that in every case, they use the word “offering.” It might have been a peace offering or a guilt offering or some other kind of offering, but they were always an “offering.” They may have been required offerings, but they were still offerings. That is, the Lord required these offerings as a way for them to receive forgiveness (albeit temporary forgiveness) for their sins or show their devotion to Him. And yet, they are called “offerings.”

What began to sink in was the attitude of humility that the word “offering” carries with it. An offering is something given in hopes that it will be accepted – the husband-to-be offers his hand in marriage to the woman in hopes that she will say “yes” or an offending co-worker brings a cup of coffee or donut in hopes that relationships can be restored and peace can returned to the office. An apology is an offering – it is given in humility and in the hopes that it will be accepted. The attitude of the heart in each case is humility and hopefulness. Of course with hopefulness there is anticipation of good things to come.

When I read in Leviticus 5 that a person is to bring a lamb or a goat, but if he cannot afford that he can bring two young doves or pigeons, and if he cannot afford that he is to bring a tenth of an ephah of fine flour, I am ashamed to admit that the thought that ran across my brain was “who’s to say what he can afford?” Immediately the Lord whispered in my ear – “It’s a heart issue.” In other words, our hearts ought to be so devoted to God and so sorry for our sin that we desire to bring the very best and most we can. It’s not a “how little can we get away with to make up for our sins?” Rather, it’s how much can I offer to the Lord to show Him how sorry I am and how much I love Him?

And that brought me to the question – “How do you view your offerings?” Are they obligations, or are they opportunities to express your love to God? Do you give them as a part of your Sunday morning routine, or with an attitude of humility? When you write out your check or search for the money in your wallet, is it just something you do out of duty, or is an act of worship? Don’t get me wrong. Obedience is a good thing. Bring your tithes into the storehouse (Malachi 3:10). But obedience that is not done with the right heart is its own form of rebellion. Think of the child who spits out his apology in obedience to his parent’s command. The child was being “obedient”, but not making a sincere offering from his heart. No, in his heart there was rebellion – “I’ll say I’m sorry, but I won’t mean it. So there!”

I doubt that you make your offerings with the same blatant attitude as that child, but I know that there are times when I unthinkingly offend God by giving my offerings with a heart that isn’t fully “in the moment” (that is, I’m not even thinking about it, I’m just on autopilot) or has a hidden agenda of expectations from God instead of humble anticipation of His acceptance of my offer. When we are “in the moment” and our attitude is humble anticipation, imagine the joy we can receive when we know that our offer has been accepted!

Scripture teaches that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). That doesn’t mean He loves the giver who is a cheerful person. That means he loves it when we give with a cheerful attitude – and that means we are in the moment – purposefully thinking about what we’re doing and doing it cheerfully.

Lord, forgive me for all the times I have spent the offering time on Sunday morning reading the bulletin instead of making my offering to You in humility and joy. Forgive me for the times I write out my check out of obligation instead of with joyful anticipation of bringing joy to the One I love the most.

The Offering God Gave
Notice that it was in this same attitude that God gave His offering – with His whole heart and in humble anticipation of the joy to come when His offering would be accepted by men and women. That offering, of course, was His Son Jesus, whom God gave as the sacrificial lamb – the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Do you see that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament system of sacrifices and offerings? That He is our sacrificial lamb, offered once for all?

Unlike the other high priests, [Jesus] does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
                Hebrews 7:27 (NIV)

The question is “will you accept His offering?” It is an offering consistent with those we’ve read about in Leviticus, but of such a higher degree that it issues in a new covenant. The new covenant holds the promise of an eternal inheritance – life forever more – even for those who have not kept the old covenant.

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
                Hebrews 9:13-15 (NIV)

Should you have any doubt, let me be clear. God is calling you. He is calling you to serve the living God. He is calling you in love.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
                1 John 4:9-10 (NIV)

Will you accept his offering? What will you offer back to him in response?

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 Leviticus 2:

4“When you present some kind of baked bread as a grain offering, it must be made of choice flour mixed with olive oil but without any yeast. It may be presented in the form of cakes mixed with olive oil or wafers spread with olive oil. 5If your grain offering is cooked on a griddle, it must be made of choice flour and olive oil, and it must contain no yeast. 6Break it into pieces and pour oil on it; it is a kind of grain offering. 7If your offering is prepared in a pan, it also must be made of choice flour and olive oil…

13Season all your grain offerings with salt, to remind you of God’s covenant. Never forget to add salt to your grain offerings.

What impresses me as I read this passage is that the people were involved in a process of preparing their offering for the Lord. It wasn’t an act of simply writing a check and signing it while the offering baskets are being passed, hoping that you finish your check-writing before the basket gets to you. It was something that took some time and required involvement. I can imagine creating the cakes or wafers of grain and olive oil, being careful to not put in any yeast and careful to include salt. I can imagine a child watching his or her mom making the offering, a process which would have been much like making the daily bread yet very different. The child brings the yeast over because, having watched momma make bread all week, he knows the yeast is next.

“Momma, here’s the yeast. It’s next.” He says earnestly, so proud to remember, so eager to show how well he has learned.

“No, child, not today. Today we are making an offering to give to the Lord. It must have no yeast in it. You remember the story we tell on Passover. Our ancestors left the slavery of Egypt in such a hurry that they did not have time to put yeast in their bread. This special bread reminds us of God’s goodness to us by freeing us from slavery. So we make carefully it, but then we give it back to God as a way of saying ‘Thank You.'”

“Child, bring the salt instead. The salt reminds us of the Covenant we have with God. That He is our Lord, that He is first in our lives, that He has delivered us and will deliver us. That He is good to us and that He is our God. We must never forget our covenant with the Lord. The salt in our offering reminds us of all this.”

And so the process of preparing the offering is a time with God and for God. A time of reflection, not just the rushed effort of completing a task.

I am challenged, and I offer the challenge to you…the next time you are preparing your tithe or offering to the Lord, don’t rush through it. Set aside a little time before you give your offering to prepare it (and yourself). Remember God’s goodness to you. Remember His covenant with you. Make it a holy time.

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