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Keeping Heavens Windows Open Mal.3

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KEEPING HEAVEN’S WINDOWS OPEN

MAL. 3:7-12

INTRO: (EX: WEALTHY MAN & YOUNG WIFE) LAST WK WE LOOKED AT RICH FOOL IN LK12—HE HAD IT ALL—WEALTH/STRATEGY FOR FUTURE—HE STORED UP ALL HE COULD & WAS SET TO ENJOY LIFE—EXCEPT HIS ACCOUNT WITH GOD WAS EMPTY—NO ETERNAL INVESTMENTS. HIS THOUGHT WERE ONLY FOR HIMSELF. HE HAD NO CONCERN TO USE HIS MONEY OR HIS LIFE TO THE GLORY OF GOD.

   WESLEY—GET ALL YOU CAN, SAVE ALL YOU CAN & GIVE ALL YOU CAN (HE PRACTICED THIS). WE SAY: GET ALL YOU CAN, CAN ALL YOU GET AND SIT ON THE LID.

    LUTHER: I TRIED TO KEEP THINGS IN MY HANDS & LOST THEM ALL—BUT WHAT I GAVE INTO THE LORDS HANDS I STILL POSSESS

I.                  BACKGROUND OF MAL.3

THE BOOK OF MAL. IS LIKE A COURT CASE—CHARGES WERE MADE—THERE WAS DEFENSE (EXCUSES) AND EVIDENCE PRESENTED. NOW WE KNOW ISRAEL OFTEN BROKE COVENANT WITH GOD (CONSTANT FALL INTO IDOLATRY/IMMORALITY). YET GOD STILL LOVED THEM & PROVIDED FOR THEM. ISRAEL THEN WAS UNDER LAW SYSTEM.  THE PROBLEM (ACCUSATION) IN CH.3 WAS NATION WITHHOLDING TITHES & OFFERINGS.  THIS WOULD BE LIKE U.S. CITIZENS REFUSING TO PAY TAXES.  THE PROPHET SAID THAT ISRAEL WAS ROBBING GOD—SO PROPHET SAID “BRING WHOLE TITHE INTO STOREHOUSE” (THIS WAS A SPECIFIC CHAMBER IN THE TEMPLE—IN COURT OF WOMEN). THIS WAS SERIOUS BECAUSE THEY WERE NEGLECTING (IGNORING) THEIR GOD COMMANDED RESPONSIBILITY TO TAKE CARE OF PRIESTS/WIDOWS/ORPHANS (3:8-10)—THEY WERE (LIKE THE RICH MAN) THINKING ONLY OF THEMSELVES & HOARDING.  ISRAEL WAS IN TIME OF MORAL/SPIRITUAL DECLINE—THEIR OFFERINGS WERE THE BLIND/CRIPPPLED/DISEASED ANIMALS. THE PRIESTS WERE INDIFFERENT & SO PEOPLE STRAYED FROM GODS WORD. YET GOD INVITED THEM BACK INTO FELLOWSHIP—GIVING THE WHOLE TITHE WAS WAY TO RECOMMIT THEIR COVENANT WITH HIM.  THOUGH ISRAEL FAILED OVER & OVER GOD WAS ALWAYS FAITHFUL—MANY OF HIS BLESSINGS FALL ON JUST & UNJUST. GOD DESIRES TO BLESS HIS PEOPLE (AND BY OUR OWN ACTIONS/CHOICES WE MISS MANY OF THEM. BUT WE NEED TO DELIGHT IN HIM (PS. 1:1-3; 37:3,4) IF WE WILL DO THIS WE CAN HAVE A STABLE FOUNDATION—AND WHEN THINGS GET TOUGH WE WONT LOSE HEART UNDER PRESSURE. EVEN BEST ECONOMISTS CAT PREDICT ACCURATELY WHAT WILL HAPPEN. THERE ARE SO MANY VARIABLES/OPINIONS/IDEAS—SO ITS BEST TO TRUST GOD & HONOR HIM FIRST. WHAT CAN WE DO TO KEEP WINDOWS OF HEAVEN OPEN?

I.                  BELIEVE GOD’S WORD

IN THIS PASSAGE THERE IS AN UNUSUAL INVITATION FROM GOD TO TEST HIM—ONLY TIME WE FIND THIS IN SCRIPTURE. BUT THIS TITHE WAS REALLY LIKE OUR TAX SYSTEM. THIS BELONGED TO ISRAEL. THERE IS NOTHING ABOUT THE EARLY CHURCH TITHING IN N.T.  SO WHY WAS THIS NEEDED FOR ISRAEL?

1.     SUPPORT THE LEVITES (THEY COULD NOT OWN LAND)

2.     SUPPORT FESTIVALS—FOR THOSE TRAVELLING THEY COULD CONVERT CROPS TO MONEY

3.     EVERY 3RD YR FOR LEVITES/ORPHANS/WIDOWS.

NOW ALL THIS REALLY CAME TO ABOUT 23% EVERY YR.  NOW UNDER NEW COVENANT THE LAW HAS BEEN NAILED TO CROSS. CHRISTIANS ARE NO LONGER UNDER IT—NO MORE SACRIFICES OF ANIMALS—ALSO TITHING NOT PRACTICE IN N.T.  UNDER NEW COVENANT GIVING IS VOLUNTARY/CHEERFUL.  SOME USE ABRAM & MELCH. TO DEFEND TITHE (GEN.14:17-20) ABRAM’S TITHE WAS VOLUNTARY (NOT COMMANDED)—AND HE TITHED THE SPOILS OF BATTLE NOT HIS OWN INCOME. IT IS ALSO THE ONLY RECORDED TIME HE TITHED.  SO WHAT SHOULD WE DO?  AGAIN BELIEVE GODS WORD—UNDER THE LAW OF CHRIST (GRACE) GIVING IS NOT ABOUT LIMITS OR PERCENTAGES OR MINIMUMS—ITS TRUSTING GOD BELIEVING HE WILL PROVIDE AN WHATEVER WE CHOOSE TO GIVE. (EX: MAN IN DADE CO. FLA. WANTED TO FILE LAWSUIT)   JER.17:7 “BLESSED IS MAN WHO TRUSTS IN LORD & WHOSE CONFIDENCE IS IN HIM”

II.               GIVE TO KINGDOM WORK

DO I HAVE TO TITHE?  NO! BUT YOU DO NEED TO GIVE. TITHING WAS NOT PRACTICED IN CHURCH TILL 8TH CENT—BY 10TH CENT. IT BECAME LEGAL REQUIREMENT (DUE MAINLY TO LAND RENTAL) NO, GOD IS NOT GOING TO GET YOU IF YOU DON’T TITHE—WE DON’T GIVE TO EARN GODS BLESSINGS BUT WE CAN MISS BLESSINGS THROUGH OUR NEGLECT/DISOBEDIENCE. WE ARE UNDER GRACE (NOT LAW)—SO TITHING IS NOT OUR MODEL.  MANY BLESSINGS HAVE DIRECT BEARING ON OUR DECISIONS—THEY KEY IS FAITH. DO I BELIEVE GOD WILL PROVIDE IF I GIVE?  (EX: ANN  LANDERS STORY) DOES THAT MEAN GOD WILL AUTOMATICALLY BLESS IF I GIVE? YOU CANT OUTGIVE GOD & WHATEVER  % YOU CHOOSE TO GIVE YOU WILL DO BETTER ON WHAT IS LEFT THAN IF YOU KEPT ALL OF IT.  SO GODS PEOPLE (THOSE REDEEMED/MADE NEW IN CHRIST) ARE CALLED TO BE GENEROUS IN SUPPORTING KINGDOM WORK  (EX: J.L. KRAFT)

III.           THE LINK BETWEEN GIVING & RECEIVING

LOOK AT LK 6:38;  2 COR. 9:6-8  MAY WE LET HOLY SPIRIT DIRECT OUR HEARTS IN THIS ATTTIUDE.  IN LK 6 YOU CAN CHOOSE THE “MEASURE” YOU USE—UNDER LAW YOU COULDN’T DO THIS—BUT NOW (PRAISE GOD) WE WORSHIP IN SPIRIT & TRUTH. HOLY SPIRIT IS OUR MEDIATOR NOT THE LAW! GIVING WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE FORCED—GOD LOVES IT WHEN GIVER DELIGHTS IN GIVING!  AS WHOLY ISRAEL REJECTED GODS INVITATION TO TEST HIM & BRING WHOLE TITHE TO STOREHOUSE.  THOUGH GOD BROUGHT THEM OUT OF EXILE FROM BABYLON—TEMPLE WAS REBUILT—STILL ISRAEL FELT SELF-SUFFICIENT—TO MOST OF THEM SERVING GOD WAS VAIN/EMPTY (V.14).  LIKE THE RICH FOOL ISRAEL WAS CONCERNED ONLY FOR THEMSELVES—NOT FOR GODS GLORY OR FOR GODS KINGDOM—THEY COULD HAVE BEEN A GRAET WITNESS TO THE IDOALTROUS PEOPLE AROUND THEM BUT INSTEAD THEY CHOSE TO IMITATE THEM. 

IS THERE SOME SUPERANTURAL PROTECTION IF I GIVE? IF I GIVE WILL I NOT LOSE MY JOB/GET LAID OFF/LOSE BY BUSINESS/MISS PROMOTION.  NONE OF THIS IS THE ISSUE. THE QUESTION IS THIS: IS GOD FIRST IN MY HEART—ARE HIS CONCERNS FIRST ON MY CALENDAR—IN MY CHECKBOOK—IN MY INVESTMENTS?  IN AVG. CHRISTIANS GIVE 2 ½% TO LORDS WORK.  WE RELY MORE ON STATE OR FEDERAL PROGRAMS TO HELP US BECAUSE CHURCH HAS IN MANY WAYS FAILED TO WHAT SHE SHOULD DO.  IF YOU READ ACTS 2-4 YOU FIND PEOPLE REBORN IN JESUS WHO ARE SHARIING ALL THINGS & WILLINGLY GIVING TO THOSE IN NEED.  THERE IS NO MENTION OF TITHING OR PLEDGE CARDS OR ANY OF THAT WHICH HAS OFTEN BECOME PART OF OUR TRADITION.  ONE STUDY SHOWED IF AMERICANS TITHED WELFARE CHECKS CONTRIBUTIONS WOULD RISE 335%.  NO GOD DOSENT NEED US TO GIVE---BUT WE NEED IT!  LOOK AT WHAT GIVING REVEALS OR TESTIFIES TO:

1.     GIVING SHOWS I ACCEPT GODS RULE OVER MY LIFE

2.     GIVING SHOWS THAT PEOPLE ARE IMPORTANT TO GOD—ESPECIALLY THEIR ETERNAL DESTINY

3.     GIVING REVEALS THE PRINCIPLE OF SOWING/REAPING

4.     GIVING SHOWS THAT GOD IS ALWAYS FAITHFUL

 

CONCLUSION:  (EX: BOY 7CANDY STORE)  GODS HANDS ARE SO MUCH BIGGER—WE CANT BEGIN TO IMAGINE THE WONDERS GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM. WHEN WE GIVE UNDER THE NEW COVENANT OF GRACE TO CHRIST’S BODY (CHURCH) WE GIVE IN FAITH. WE RELEASE FUNDS TO CARE OF GODLY LEADERS & THAT RELEASES MINISTRY & GIFTS—AND YES EVERY GIFT MATTERS. WHAT IF MORE BELIEVERS REALLY TRUSTED GOD?  GOD DESIRES TO POUT OUT BLESSINGS---WE WILL LET HIM OR WILL WE HOLD THEM BACK?

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