Giving: The Key to the Cell Door
Giving - The Key to The Cell Door
In Matthew 6:02 Jesus told us “When you give” and then He told us how, and how not to do it. “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
In Matthew 6:05 Jesus told us “When you pray” and then He told us how, and how not to do it. “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
In Matthew 6:16 Jesus told us “When you fast” and then He told us how, and how not to do it. “But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
In each case, Jesus promised that if we did these things properly, that the Father would reward us. In my previous teachings, I have covered the importance of praying, and fasting. Now I am going to discuss giving.
Giving is almost a taboo subject today because some of God’s people have abused their position and lived in excess, but I see so many people every day bound by poverty, and my heart goes out to them. We have lived there ourselves, and we see the heart wrenching prayer requests and emails that come into Refreshing Hope. There is such a financial need in the body of Christ. I feel like the enemy has slipped in and made giving such a taboo subject so that God’s people will remain bound in poverty forever.
The Lord told us “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).
Let me be very clear, I hate talking about money at all. I have seen the excess and begging from the pulpit, and it makes me nauseous. Too many times I have been told “Whatever you were planning to give, just double it.” I know that this will be a hard message for some, but I sincerely only want the best for you. I hope that you will listen to the entire message, then make your decision about it.
The moment that I mention “Give” people are going to think that we want their money, so let me clear that up right now:
I do not care if you give to us, but you need to learn to give to someone, somewhere, sometime and not spend 100% on yourself.
Jesus told us: (Matthew 6:24 NKJV) No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
When I mentioned in our newsletter that RHM needed more supporters, I received this email from a lady who had been happy to read my writing for the last two years:
U should be ashamed of urself for trying to use God to get money from me. I'm a 60 year old disabled woman and I'm so ashamed of this country for allowing people like u and ur kind to try to take advantage of people like me. I hope u burn in hell for using God to try to further ur scam.
Mammon is an evil spiritual force behind money that breeds greed, murders, envy, jealousy and more. Money itself is Amoral, it is neither good nor evil but merely a tool. Like a brick can build a hospital, or be used as a murder weapon. Now Jesus said that you cannot serve two masters, for you will cling to one and despise the other. Who do you think that this lady is clinging to?
The view of giving has been distorted, perverted, and something that God has intended for good to set people free, has now been made to look bad. I want to correct that today. As the saying goes “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” I want to teach you to fish for yourself today and I will share what God has taught us about handling our own finances.
God’s laws did not change because people abused the system and His blessings are still available for those that want them. We have to bring all areas of our life under God’s control, as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). Anything not surrendered to God will become a stumbling block in due course. Our habits, our attitudes, our sex life, our finances, He wants all of us. If You continue on with God, He will eventually put His finger on things that you wish that He would leave alone.
Everyone struggles in different areas, today we will discuss money. It is fine to have money, but it cannot have you. There is a law of sowing and reaping and it will continue as long as the earth stands (Gen. 8:22).
“While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22 NKJV).
The value of giving is something that every believer needs to learn in order to live a full and balanced life. The love of money is a root of all types of evil, and you do not have to have money, in order to love money. You can be in love with someone for years, and never actually have them.
So many people today are living under a financial curse and wonder why every time they get a little ahead, something comes up to take it away. When it looks like they may finally have a little extra money, the car breaks down, a water pipe breaks, the washing machine quits, the rent goes up, there is never enough. While living week to week, they cannot afford to give anything. That has “The Devourer” written all over it and there are Biblical examples for us to look at.
Listen to the following scriptures and compare it to what I wrote above. Yes, it is the Old Testament, and we will cover that later. Stick with me for now. This is what God told the people that neglected His house and were only concerned with their own:
(Haggai 1:5–11 NKJV) “Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! “You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”
Sound familiar? I have felt those holes in my pockets before.
Continuing on: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the Lord. “You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”
God says that He blew away what they brought home intentionally because they had neglected His house, His work, and only looked after their own. This is what God had to say about people that would not tithe:
(Malachi 3:8–11 NKJV) “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try 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. “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” Says the Lord of hosts;”
God says that if we will tithe and take care of His house, that He will reverse the situation. He will pour out a blessing that we do not have room enough to receive, and that He would rebuke the devourer off of our lives. It is not scriptural to try and rebuke the devourer ourselves or to pray about it. Scripture tells us that God Himself will rebuke it when we do what He tells us to. The devourer was allowed to come by God in the first place because of the people not tithing and for neglecting His house. It is worth noting that this is also the only place in the Bible where God dares us to test Him. He issued a dare with, “Test Me now with this, Try Me.”
The storehouse is the place where your spiritual food and seed the seeds that you sow comes from. In those days you stored up grain in a store house and ate from it the rest of the year. It is where you are getting fed. You do not eat at McDonalds and then pay the bill at Burger King.
Solomon was the wisest man that ever lived and He wrote: “Honor the Lord with your capital and sufficiency [from righteous labors] and with the first fruits of all your income; So shall your storage places be filled with plenty, and your vats shall be overflowing with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9–10 AMP)
Let us say that you do not believe in tithing, or for that matter, the Old Testament either and that everything that I have to written until now is garbage. That will still not exempt you from giving. If you are a Christian, then you should believe in Jesus and He said to give, and when you do, you will receive it back multiplied. It is an act of trust. By giving your money away, you are trusting God to give it back just as when you deposit your money in a bank, you expect them to give it back. You are trusting them to return it. Jesus said:
(Luke 6:38 NKJV) “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
Jesus said that it is more blessed to give, than to receive (Acts 20:35). He also spoke about a man that was not rich toward God, and instead stored up all of his treasures for himself. His sin was that he was not rich toward God, not in having the wealth.
(Luke 12:16–21 NKJV) “Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.And he thought within himself, saying, “What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
So Jesus wants us to give, and not hoard everything up for ourselves. He wants us to be rich toward God with our finances.
It is interesting that Jesus sometimes sat opposite the treasury in the temple and watched the people give. One of these times, a poor widow came along and only had two small coins, and she gave them both, all that she had to live on. Jesus estimated the value of their offerings based on what they kept for themselves. Then He said, “this widow has given more than all the others”, because she had literally given all that she had. Jesus noted how much they kept back. The widow did not say, “I cannot afford to give anything. I am on a fixed income.” but instead she trusted God to take care of her needs.
(Mark 12:41–44 NKJV) “Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”
God is a giver Himself. God loved, and then He gave. (John 3:16 NKJV) “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
God loves a cheerful (Hilarious) giver, one that is happy to give and not grudgingly. (2 Corinthians 9:6–7 NKJV) “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
If there is one thing that will kill the blessing of God on your life, it is being stingy towards God.
Paul wrote that everyone was supposed to set something aside according to their means. No one was exempt from giving. (1 Corinthians 16:1–3 NKJV) “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem.”
Exodus 23:14-15: Three times a year the people were to appear before God. No one is to ·come to worship [appear before] me without bringing an offering [empty-handed].
Psalm 96:8-9 Bring an offering and come into His courts...”
God has also decided that those who labor in the gospel, should get their living from the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:13–14 NKJV) “Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.”
So if say in a Newsletter that RHM needs more supporters, and you say “burn in hell” God will decide who is right.
Some people try and put tithing under the law of Moses and then say that Christians are exempt from the law, but tithing is not part of the law. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek about 400 years before the law was given. Jacob tithed as well before Moses was born. Jesus is our high priest after the order of Melchizedek. Well Melchizedek believed in tithing…
Scripture summary: In the Old Testament, God said “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 there will not be room enough to store it” (Malachi 3:10). In the New Testament, Jesus said “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be given to you. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38.
In both cases our action of giving something away, leads to His blessing us with more. We give, then we receive. The Old and New Testament both agree on this, and even if you disagree with tithing (which is giving the first 10% of your income), it does not exempt you from giving at all, and the percentage that you give will determine what will come back to you. 10% is merely the minimum.
So that is enough scripture on giving, I could add so much more but this is getting long. Now I will share some personal testimonies with you from my own life.
A One Hundred Fold Return: Once a visiting speaker came to our church. He was young, poor and rode in on a bus. The church that he was supposed to speak at, canceled him, so he connected with our pastor. I picked him up and brought him to our church. When he was done speaking, the church took up an offering for him.
I lived week to week and had already paid my tithes for that week, but I looked in my wallet and I had forty dollars. So I pulled that out and put it in his offering basket. They prayed that all the gifts would be returned one hundred fold.
In less than a month, someone came up to me and gave me a check for four thousand dollars. It was a person that I had met by working on their house and they only said “I feel that we should help you.” It was exactly 100 times 40 = 4,000. Give first, then it will be given to you.
A Christmas Story: One year as Christmas approached, we felt like doing something special. Looking back, I am sure that it was the Holy Spirit prompting us because He wanted to bless us, and He needed a reason. We needed to be givers for what was soon coming.
We owned a small computer business and it was really slow that year. We had a lot of spare parts and time, but very little money. So we came up with this idea that we would take all the spare parts that we could muster and build them into working computers. We then planned to find some widows without one and bless them. So we did just that. We pieced together three older systems and found then three widows in the church that did not have one.
We made some people happy and everyone had a great Christmas. Then in January a client contacted us and gave us over $10,000 worth of new computer equipment. We got things that we would not have dreamed of buying to use in our business. If you get the urge to bless someone, go with it. It is probably the Holy Spirit prompting you so He can in return bless you with something.
God could bless you anyway, but He did say give and it will be given to you. I didn’t write it, I just read it. The reverse could read: “Don’t give and it will not be given to you.” Sowing and reaping works just as surely as farmers plant and then harvest. If you don’t plant something, the only things that reliably come up are the weeds.
(2 Corinthians 9:6 NKJV) Paul wrote this while talking about money: “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”
Let’s cover some fundamentals about the types of giving and who, when, where, and why.
What is Tithing: The word tithe means “Tenth” and is considered the first ten percent of your income. (Proverbs 3:9–10 NKJV) “Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the first fruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.”
Abraham gave a tenth (Gen. 14:20). Jacob gave a tenth (Gen. 28:22).
We tithe ten percent of all our increase. In other words, if it comes into our house and increases our net worth, we tithe on it. We tithe after taxes. I know that some people tithe before taxes, but when the government takes 25% of my check away for taxes, I fail to see how that 25% increased my house at all. That said, if we were to ever get a refund, we will tithe on that because that would be an increase. So the tithe is 10% of all your increase. Alms is when you give above your tithe. It is smart to give a set percentage of your income or you will find yourself "tipping" God like He is a waiter. Make it intentional and disciplined, not a knee jerk reaction. This is a life style.
First Fruits (not the leftovers): The tithe is always the first tenth of your income, not the last. It is best portion, the first of the first fruits that we are to bring into the house of God (Ex. 23:19, Ex. 34:26, Prov. 3:9, Ezek. 44:30). Abel brought the firstborn of His flock (Gen. 4:4). God gave us His very best, His firstborn Son (John 3:16). The first fruits are holy to the Lord (Num. 18:7, Ezek. 48:14, Ezek. 20:40, Num. 28:26, Lev. 23:20).
The first city that the Israelites came to when entering the promised land was Jericho, and all the loot from that city was to go into the treasury in the house God (Joshua 6:19,24). They crossed through the river (baptism), the first city to attack was Jericho (tithing). Achan stole some things from the city of Jericho and caused God to leave the camp. The Israelites lost the next battle at Ai, until Achan was dealt with (Joshua 7:11). You will not go on with God until you get past tithing, for He will not trust you with the true riches, until He can first trust you with money.
(Luke 16:11 NKJV) “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?”
In the book of Malachi the people and priests were offering God sacrifices with lame, torn, blind, animals with blemishes that could not be sold, so they offered them to God. Then they entreated the favor of God, “oh that He might be gracious to us” (Malachi 1:9). They did not get a pleasant response. Instead of blessing them, He cursed their blessings.
(Malachi 1:14–2:2 NKJV) “But cursed be the deceiver Who has in his flock a male, And takes a vow, But sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished — For I am a great King,” Says the Lord of hosts, “And My name is to be feared among the nations. “And now, O priests, this commandment is for you. If you will not hear, And if you will not take it to heart, To give glory to My name,” Says the Lord of hosts, “I will send a curse upon you, And I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, Because you do not take it to heart.”
When you say that you cannot afford to give, that automatically means that you are putting God last in your list, instead of first. I have people who smoke tell me that they cannot afford to tithe. That tells me that their bad habits are more important to them than obeying God. Please don’t think I have no compassion for poverty or for those under dependency, on the contrary. I have been poor for most of my life, and I used to smoke. While it was a struggle, I still chose to honor God with my tithe and giving. It saddens me deeply to see people live under a curse unnecessarily. Don’t offer the Almighty God of the universe, your leftovers. You would be better off to give nothing than to treat Him with disrespect for He is not stupid.
When you place God first in your life as He demands, you will never miss the tithe. What you have left will be blessed in such a way that it will go so much farther. There will always be enough. Emergencies will come less and you will find that you have more than you did before because God will rebuke the devourer off of your finances.
The real truth is that if you will not tithe now with the little that you have, you would not tithe if you had one hundred times more. Jesus told us:
(Luke 16:10–11 NKJV) “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?”
If you will not be faithful where you are right now, then God will never trust you with a lot. Many say “oh if God would give me a great job then I would be glad to tithe”, but the truth is that if you will not tithe while sweeping the floor, you will not tithe as the manager.
Where: You really want to pray about this and put your seed into good ground that is making a difference in the kingdom of God. I used to give in every offering plate that passed until God corrected me one day. You do not just throw money to the wind. You ask Him where He wants you to plant your seed and He will guide you. I have found that when you involve Him in your finances, that He will help you make the right decisions concerning them.
We usually tithe where we are being fed spiritually, currently to our local church. When we did not have a church, we tithed to a missionary in Africa named Heidi Baker. I have heard it said that if you eat at McDonalds, you don’t pay Burger King. So if you attend a local church, they have to pay the electricity bill, also the pastor needs to eat now and then.
When: We tithed weekly for a long time, but now we often tithe monthly. You must discipline yourself so that when you set it aside, it is God’s and you do not spend it. If you have a problem tithing then you may want to do it right when you get paid so that it is over with and out of your hands.
A Giving Fund: Once I had five heavy duty but older computer servers that I no longer needed, so I put them on craigslist for some extra money. They sat there for a month and no one called about them.
My wife and I had been talking about establishing a giving fund for a while. Taking a set part of our income, after tithing, and using it to bless people. Our goal is tithing 10%, giving fund 10%. It is so nice when you come across people in need and you have stored up money exactly for that purpose, just to bless someone.
On the way to work that morning, we decided to commit to using a percentage of our income for a giving fund and then using it to bless others as God led us. When I got to work that day, someone called and bought all five servers. God rewarded our willingness to help others.
Financial Discipline: A difficult thing to learn for many is financial discipline. Delaying that purchase until you can pay cash for it. The Dave Ramsey course is one of the best financial courses that I have found and offers solid biblical advice on money. It covers setting up an emergency fund, getting out of debt, and much more in a good common sense way. Many churches offer this course today and it is a real eye opener.
We use a program called YNAB (You Need a Budget) to keep up with our finances and just love it. YNAB runs on our phones, tablets, computers and syncs everywhere. It allows you to set up categories to track separate expenses in and makes you live off what you have, instead of what you think is coming. You really only have what you have. What you think is coming, often does not.
So here is giving in a nutshell:
* God wants us to give, and whether you believe in tithing or not does not exempt you from giving. Jesus said give and it will be given back to you and God loves a cheerful giver. He will rebuke the devourer off of your life so that your money goes farther and is not eaten up by the little things. The measure that you give determines what will come back to you.
* Everyone can give something, no one is to come before Him empty handed, even the widow that only had two small coins was able to give. Saying that you cannot afford to give is agreeing with a lie from satan, because that is how he will keep you locked in a poverty prison as long as you believe that. You can agree with him, or you can agree with the word of God. We have tithed when we could not afford it and saw God bring in money from so many different sources to meet our needs.
* God measures what we give, by what we keep.
* Do not throw your seeds in the gutter. Do intentional giving and pray about where to give before you begin.
* Know that when you start tithing, you will absolutely face a test. The enemy is going to come and try and discourage you in order to get you to stop. You can count on it. If you stick it out for a couple of months, it will pass and your finances will dramatically improve.
* Giving is not a fix all and will not make up for years of bad spending habits instantly. If it took you ten years to get into that shape, give God some time to get you out of it. As you learn discipline, He will provide all that you have need of and you can begin to climb out of any situation. You really need to spend responsibly for God to be able to help you. Spending everything that you have coming before you even get it will keep you in a life of slavery. The borrower is a servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7).
* Sowing seed requires that you open your hand and let it go. It makes no sense when you could eat it now. Just like planting a potato, or corn in the ground when you could have eaten it. But there will be no harvest unless you first plant seeds. What you plant will be multiplied. There have been times when I would open my Bible and find a $100 bill in it. I have gone up to put my tithe in the basket at church and when I returned to my seat, find an envelope with $250 in cash in it. For a while, our pay was the smallest part of our income.Read more at: www.refreshinghope.org