Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Money Stuff from Sunday

Several conversations and questions surfaced as a result of Sunday's teaching in Malachi 3.  I thought it would be helpful to post some Q & A from the money booklet we offer online.

Seven Common Questions About Tithing

 1.  What should I do if my spouse doesn't believe in tithing?

        First of all, pray for your spouse's understanding of the scriptures.  Explain why you believe in tithing and how you see it affecting your family and finances.  See if you can do a three-month test.  And finally, if possible, do what you can by tithing on the part of the money you control.

2.  Does God promise a financial return for our faithful tithing?     

Yes.  The Hebrew language used here implies prosperity, which is more that just finances, but also includes finances.

 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.   Malachi 3:10

 3.  Why does God call someone in the church that doesn’t tithe, a "robber"?  Isn't that kind of harsh?

 In the same way that our government has the right to levy taxes to support our country, God has an even greater right to institute a means to support His church on the earth.  He has chosen tithes and offerings as this means.  God understands that we grow spiritually and this takes time. 

He is patient with us.  Once we clearly know the truth about His financial plan from his word, we are responsible to be obedient.

4.  I want to tithe, but if I paid 10% now, I'm afraid I'd go broke.  What should I do?

Obedience to the Lord is the key here.  Jesus said only those who love Him will obey Him (John 14:23-24).  God knows it may be hard to begin and that's why He offers us a test (Mal. 3:10).  In a practical way, the 90-day challenge complies with this principle.  Here's how the 90-day challenge works. 

 Follow the eight key principles of tithing for 90 days.  If at the end of that time you feel you have made a mistake, or God is wrong, or you have not been blessed, we will refund the amount you gave.  It is important that you make a decision to honor the Lord with your obedience.  After obedience, attitude is key. 

5.  Should I tithe on net or gross earnings?

 Do you want a gross blessing or a net blessing? The Bible tells us to tithe on the increase of what God has blessed us with (Duet. 14:22).  If you are a business person, for example, you may have spent $100 to make $20 profit, then your gross total would be $120, but your “increase” would be $20.  That is what we are to tithe on.

6.    Is my local church really the storehouse mentioned in Malachi 3:10?

 The Hebrew word for “storehouse” literally means, "treasure depository".  It is clear from Malachi 3:10, we are not to divide our tithe (Bring the whole tithe) and give a little here and a little there.  It is to all go to one place.  It is also clear that the purpose of the tithe is to provide provision for God's house (that there may be food in my house). 

 Finally, the scripture does not say to bring the tithe into “a” storehouse, but “the” storehouse.  Each of us has a specific storehouse that we draw from spiritually.  That is our local church and that’s where the tithe goes

7.  If tithing is an Old Testament teaching, why should we hold to it?

 Jesus confirmed many Old Testament teachings in the New Testament.  Tithing is just one Old Testament principle that Jesus supported in the New Testament. 

 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-- mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-- justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.  Matthew 23:23

The Old Testament is valid for our day as well.  Galatians 3:24 tells us that the law (Old Testament) was given to bring us to faith.  Jesus also told us the commands of the New are greater than the Old in His Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:20-48).  If tithing is emphasized in the Old Testament, then it is only a starting place in the New.  Beyond tithing, the New Testament teaches proportional giving (I Cor. 16:1-2, II Cor. 9:6-11).

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Malachi Questions

This week we conclude a three week series on Malachi.  At the same time that King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans held off the entire army of Xerxes, God sent a man named Malachi to his people in Israel.  As in all series, we entertain questions texted in during the teaching.

Q. Is ambition in ministry inherently sinful?  Where is the line between righteous and selfish ambition?

A. Ambition in ministry is not inherently sinful.  Jesus was ambitious.  Paul was ambitious.  In fact zeal (righteous ambition) is spoken about in both Psalms and Romans.  The primary difference between righteous and selfish ambition is motive, which is a heart issue.  Only God knows your heart, so what could appear as selfish or righteous may be the opposite, but the person doing it knows, and sooner or later so does everyone else.

If you are doing something to bring attention or glory to yourself, then the ambition is selfish.  If our genuine concern is expanding Christ's kingdom, then our motive and actions will be pure. That is why the Bible talks so clearly about guarding our heart.

Q. Don, what is your Bible reading plan? 

A. My Bible reading plan has been the same for several years, to read a book in the Old Testament and then a book in the New Testament.  I am currently reading in Romans.  I addition to this I read daily through the passage to be taught on Sunday.

QIn comparing teaching methods, how does Levi & Malachi's methods compare and contrast to those of pastors in modern times?

A. This is an interesting question.  Although Levi was a priest and Malachi was a prophet they had the same purpose as a pastor, to bring people to God.  Although Levi and Malachi had no modern teaching tools like computers and P.A. systems, the primary method then was the same as now . . . his mouth.  It is about speaking the word of God.

Regardless of the generation, whether it was Levi, Moses, Jesus, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards or Billy Graham, God has decreed that the primary teaching method is speaking.  It is nice to know that some things never change.