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Tithing (by Mary)

Well I can't imagine anyone voluntarily selecting to read an article about tithing, but it was on my heart, and so I sent it out as part of one of my Newsletters. If you are about to read it, then I know that God is speaking to you, so I pray that you will be blessed. 

ON MY HEART 

Very often people ask how God can allow such poverty in the world. I have long had the dream that if I ever had big money, my mission would be to at least provide clean water to all of God's children. It is just such a basic need. Of course there are so many needs around the world, including within our own cities, for affordable housing and even for sufficient food and health care for all. 

Well I was blessed to go to my daughter's church on Sunday and I learned something that truly astounded me. I have always heard that there is enough money in the world to provide a comfortable living for every person on earth if it were divided evenly, but we have such extremes of the very rich and the desperately poor - the first world and the third world countries - such a dichotomy. Many of us are doing what we can by supporting ministries that work to make the world a better place for those less fortunate, but what I heard on Sunday broke my heart. 

According to Barna Research Group (U.S.) Surveys, 

"Born again adults, who represent 38% of the nation's population, also sustained a decline in generosity during the past couple of years. In 2000, 12% of all born again adults tithed. The percentage rose to 14% in 2001, but dropped to only 6% in 2002." 

(See The Barna Group for details.) 

Read that again and grasp it! Only 6% of people who claim to be born again Christians are tithing! 

If all the born again Christians in North America just tithed, there would be an extra 143 BILLION DOLLARS to feed, provide health care and house the poor! What is wrong with this picture!!!!! 

Understand that God does not need our money. Tithing is not to meet God's needs, or the church's needs, but to worship God - to put Him in His rightful place - FIRST! Everything we have is from God. It is not our own. Money is an opportunity that God gives us to express tangibly our love for God and God's creation. Now it's my nature to go off on a tangent here and talk about the preservation of our earth as well, but I'll try to stick to the point. 

Old Testament suggests that a tithe is 10%, however, the Jews were to tithe for other things as well, and their tithe could be as much as 30%. A person's attitude toward tithing really reflects their attitude about God. Tithing is just a starting place - not a maximum limit. How much do you love Jesus? Do your tithing habits indicate that much love? 

Many of us are on limited budgets, and we think that there isn't enough money left over to tithe, but we need to stop that thinking right now! God doesn't want our leftovers. He wants our first fruits! He wants that top tenth (or more) from EVERY paycheque that comes into our houses. Our tithe must be the first "bill" that gets paid! 

Why Christians Do Not Tithe 

1. Unbelief 
2. Fear 
3. Greed, Selfishness 
4. Lack Of Right Teaching 

There is not much direct teaching in the New Testament concerning tithing. One reason may be because the Lord wants a love relationship with us, not just a legal obligation from us. However, that surely does not mean we should do less in a love relationship than they did in the Old Testament under the Law. 

The money and time you give to Jesus are the best indicators of how much you love and trust Him to provide for your needs. One of my daughters was advised that if you are on welfare or unemployment insurance or social assistance, that you are not obliged to tithe. Well, I'm no authority on tithing so I will leave that with you, but my sole income is Old Age Pension, and if I didn't tithe that, I would have no money to tithe, so I choose to tithe everything that comes into my house, because I love Jesus, and I want to express that love. It is with great joy that I tithe. 

I will tell you from personal experience that no matter how poor we have been - and I'm talking to the point of not having enough food the next day for my four little children, I have still tithed whatever came into the house, and I have had the most blessed, miraculous experiences as a result. God has NEVER allowed us to go hungry or without shelter, and truly, the most miracles have happened in my life when I was really down and out. It was then, that I had no choice but to trust, and God came through every time! 

My income last year was about $12,000, but I live like it was $50,000! I have no debt and God provided two wonderful (all expenses paid) holidays, babysitting my grandson, first for a month in British Columbia and then for a month in Alberta. I am going back for the month of July to Alberta again this year. My brother bought me an (almost) new iBook (Mac laptop computer) for Christmas, and I have just bought myself a new 7.1 megapixel camera with my income tax refund. A person on $12,000 would not normally be blessed with these wonderful toys and holidays that I get such enjoyment from, but God says: 

"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now in this," says the Lord of hosts. "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it." Malachi 3:10 

God has proven to me that my faithfulness in tithing to Him over the years has not gone unnoticed. God blesses me in so many practical ways. You will have to read my biography (once it's published) to grasp even a portion of the miracles that have happened in my life. 

I do not suggest that you tithe for what you will get from it. That's wrong thinking, but I do suggest that you tithe because you will be blessed beyond imagination by the loving relationship that you will develop with Christ as a result. Put God first in ALL things and God will open the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it." 

I urge you today to commit to tithing to your church. If you don't have a church, find another ministry and commit to it. I am not blessed to have a church, so I tithe to Marsha Stevens' ministry, a very worthwhile cause specifically ministering to our GLBT family. If you are not familiar with Marsha's ministry, please view the BALM Ministries (Born Again Lesbian Music) website. I'm sure she would really appreciate the financial support if you feel so led. 

I have also supported a foster child for many years through World Vision, another ministry which I can recommend for helping with world hunger. If you want more ideas of where you can send your money, please visit the pages at Gay Links and/or pray about what God would have you do with His first fruits, and of course, the ChristianGays.com ministry is always most appreciative of any Donations

The point is not so much who you are tithing to, but that you ARE tithing with a loving heart to God's children, that you are making a difference in the world and in yourself. I can absolutely guarantee you that your heart will be blessed with happiness and inner joy, miracles will abound, and your trust and faith will increase to a much deeper level! 

Jesus said, "Give, and it will be given to you.." (Luke 6:38). Only when your hand is open, can you receive more from God. The practice of giving on a regular basis prevents you from being owned by what you own. Money is called currency because it's supposed to flow through you. When you withhold out of fear or greed, you limit what God wants to give you. Want to keep the flow of blessing going in your life? Become a river, not a reservoir. 

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UPDATE ON MY TITHING "SERMON" 

I received feedback on my last newsletter about tithing from someone who has tithed to TV preachers who were multi-millionaires, and she says: 

"I have totally regretted it, for living in poverty all my life." 

This really saddens me because it sounds like she was tithing to have her money problems solved and it didn't work. I can't imagine that the amount that she tithed would have created the poverty, and so it sounds like God is getting blamed for not coming through when she did her part. If this is the situation, (and perhaps it is not), the problem here is that the tithing was not given out of love and worship, but out of need/greed for money and/or a desire for God to "fix the problem". 

It is a reality that many of these televangelists are living an exorbitant lifestyle while so many people live in poverty, and the evangelists are still crying "poor me". As much as I would love to be financially rich, I have asked God not to give me any more money than what I NEED (not want) IF it would, in any way, separate me from my First Love, Jesus Christ. I have such honourable desires for the use of lots of money if I had it, but only God knows what I would end up really doing with it. I would rather be poor WITH God than rich WITHOUT God. BUT, if He thinks I could handle it OK, then I'm perfectly willing to receive it. LOL 

Many people think that there is a scripture that says that money is the root of all evil. In reality, scripture says that the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. I believe that money is probably the largest factor on earth that can be used for good or evil, and that it is easier to tithe when you are poor than when you are rich. You may remember the story of the rich young ruler who told Jesus that he had obeyed all the commandments - i.e., he was a good guy - and he wanted to know what he had to do to get into heaven. I suspect in his heart, he was expecting Jesus to tell him he was a good guy and no prob, but Jesus told him to sell everything he had, and give it all to the poor, and the rich young ruler was unable to do it. I wonder, if I were the rich young ruler, if I would have been able to do it, and I consider myself blessed that it is not an issue for me. 😉 

Unfortunately there are people who abuse others in the name of Christianity - many even say that if you give to their ministry, God will give you riches, heal your ailments and solve all your problems. But just because these people exist and abuse, that is not an excuse to not tithe! 

First, if you have been hurt by these people, and your motive in giving was pure - let it go. God will judge them at the appropriate time. Allow yourself to heal from the pain of being "used", and start fresh. 

If your motive was to have your problems solved, then I don't believe that God will reward anyone who tithes with that motive. 

Tithing is our expression of love - of giving, not for the reward, but for the joy of giving, and as a form of worship. If you tithe with a heavy heart out of obligation, or expectation of reward, other than a closer walk with Christ, then I think it's better not to tithe at all. 

Remember that the act of tithing is to benefit your relationship with God - to say, "Yes God. You are First in my life. I love you God and I want to express my love to You by giving back a small portion of what You have given to me. Thank you Jesus!"

God may choose to reward you with wealth, but more likely, initially, He will reward you with a greater portion of Himself, and that is a treasure of untold value! He may then provide you with a new job or other means of solving your financial problems, including a more mature attitude toward spending and saving. God has ways that are beyond our imagination. He can certainly rescue you from your financial woes in the twinking of an eye, but in most cases, He will not rescue you until you have learned the lessons so that you won't get into the same problem again. 

Now find a ministry that needs your tithe. If you go to a church, you need to support it. If you don't have a church home, perhaps you will choose to help a women's shelter or a soup kitchen - and then give joyfully from EVERY paycheque. Remember from my last newsletter that: 

"If all the born again Christians in North America just tithed, there would be an extra 143 BILLION DOLLARS to feed, provide health care and house the poor!" 

We have an obligation to do our part to end world hunger - to end the disparity between the rich and poor - and I'm not talking about the poor of us who may live in low-income housing. I'm talking about the poor who are starving to death and don't have clean water to drink. 

Please consider your relationship with God and pray about how you wish to express it tangibly. Then make a commitment to God and DO IT faithfully! 


GOOD SAYINGS ABOUT MONEY AND GOD 

"The purpose of tithing is to secure not the tithe but the tither, not the gift but the giver, not the possession but the possessor, not your money but you for God."     Anonymous 

"Jesus Christ said more about money than about any other single thing because, when it comes to a man's real nature, money is of first importance. Money is an exact index to a man's true character. All through Scripture there is an intimate correlation between the development of a man's character and how he handles his money."    Richard C. Halverson 

"There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, mind, and the purse."    Martin Luther 

"Worship is giving God the best that He has given you. Be careful what you do with the best you have. Whenever you get a blessing from God, give it back to Him as a love gift. Take time to meditate before God, and offer the blessing back to Him in a deliberate act of worship. If you hoard a thing for yourself, it will turn into spiritual dry rot, as the manna did when it was hoarded. God will never let you hold a spiritual thing for yourself; it has to be given back to Him that He may make it a blessing to others."    Oswald Chambers 

"Theirs is an endless road, a hopeless maze, who seek for goods before they seek for God."    Bernard of Clairvaux 

"You're rich if you've had a meal today."    Billy Graham 


HUMOUROUS SAYINGS ABOUT MONEY AND GOD 

"When it comes to giving, some people stop at nothing." 

"With the price of everything else going up these days, aren't you glad the Lord hasn't increased the tithe to 15%?" 

"When it comes to giving until it hurts, most people have a very low threshold of pain." 


JOKE 

An elderly lady was well known for her faith and for her boldness and talking about it. She would stand on her front porch and shout, "Praise the Lord!" 

Next door to her lived an atheist who would get so angry at her proclamations he would shout, "There ain't no Lord!!" 

Hard times set in on the elderly lady and she prayed for God to send her some assistance. She stood on her porch and shouted, "Praise the Lord!! God, I need FOOD!! I am having a hard time. Please, Lord, send me some groceries!!" 

The next morning, the lady went out on her porch and saw a large bag of groceries and shouted, "Praise the Lord!!" 

The neighbor jumped from behind a bush and said, "Ha Ha!! I told you there was no Lord. I bought those groceries. God didn't." 

The lady started jumping up and down and clapping her hands and saying, "PRAISE THE LORD!!! He not only sent me groceries, but He made the devil pay for them!!"