The Rev. Herbert G. Hand

Faith Anglican Church

Cordova, Tennessee

October 30, 2005

 

Title: Trusting God to Open the Floodgates of Heaven

Series: Trusting in God’s Provision

Text: Malachi 3:6-12, 2 Corinthians 9:6-12, & Matthew 23:13-24

 

I. The Tithe (Drama at 10:30 service only)

After the drama, the pastor picks up one of the boxes and says:

What you have just seen is not:

Ten steps to becoming a millionaire

Or a hidden agenda to get your money.

It’s about:

Truly trusting God for your provision.

And obedience to His command.

From our reading in Malachi chapter three, God says:

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 (NIV)

II. The Grain Elevator (Both Services)

A priest asked one of his parishioners to serve as the finance chairman of his parish.

The church was in a farming community. The man he selected managed a grain elevator.

The man agreed to serve as finance chairman on two unusual conditions:

1) No report would be due until the end of the year.

2) No one would ask any questions until the annual parish meeting.

Both the priest and the church board agreed to his unusual conditions.

 

At the end of the year the finance chairman made his report.

He had paid off the church debt of $200,000.

He had redecorated the church.

He had sent $1,000 to missions.

He had $5,000 in the bank.

 

The people were thrilled. But they wanted to know how he= d done it.

 

He quietly answered,

A You people brought your grain to my elevator.

As you did business with me, I simply withheld 10 percent and gave it to the church.

You never missed it.@

James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 460.

I’ve found this to be true in my life, when I give God his portion first, I never miss it.

Unfortunately, those farmers who did not realize they were tithing, missed the thrill and joy of truly trusting God through tithing.

 

III. Trusting God Through Tithing

From our reading in Malachi chapter three, God commands us,

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 (NIV)

When you tithe, when you give 10% of your income to God, you are doing two things:

1) You are being obedient to God’s command.

2) You are taking a leap of faith. You are tangibly trusting God for your needs.

God promises that when you express your trust in Him through tithing, he will,

"throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."

Do you believe Him? Do you believe that if you give 10% of your income to God, He will provide for your needs abundantly?

Mary and I tithe:

1) Out of obedience and love for God.

2) As a conscious tangible expression of our trust in God to provide for our financial needs. Each Sunday morning before church, Mary and I lay our tithe checks on the breakfast table between us and pray.

We give thanks to God for his provision.

We offer our checks back to God, and ask Him to use them to expand His kingdom.

We express our trust to God, for Him to continue to provide for our financial needs.

I know many of you could share similar stories.

 

IV. The More We Have, the Harder it is to Give

In our October edition of the Messenger, Carl Pfountz quoted a very revealing IRS statistic.

The sad statistic is that the more people earn, the less they give. It should be the other way around. Yet, it seems, the more we have, the more we want, the more we are tempted to hold onto.

Here are the stats:

Taxpayers with income between $35,000 and $40,000 [typically] give 5% of their income in charitable contributions.

Taxpayers with incomes between $200,000 and $500,000 [typically] give less than 2.5% of their income in charitable contributions.

 

Maybe that’s why in Matthew chapter 19, Jesus said,

23…"I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Matthew 19:23-24 (NIV)

A Letter to Father Stephens

Several years ago, I went to visit Fr. Stephens.

Fr. Stephens is an elderly monk who always wears a white robe, has long white hair, and a long white beard.

He’s bent over with age. He shuffles slowly around his house. He no longer has much strength in his limbs, but the there is still a fiery spark in his sky-blue eyes.

He a wise old monk, who in his younger years was a passionate preacher.

I went to visit him, to pray with him, and to seek his counsel.

He asked me what I was working on in the parish. I told him I was preparing for teachings and sermons on financial stewardship.

He had a stack of about 50 letters on the table next to him. He immediately started sorting through the stack in search of a story someone had sent him.

After about five minutes, he finally found the letter which had an article from the Church of the Nativity in Lewiston, Idaho.

Help Me to Tithe

It was about a man who came to his priest and said,

A I want to tithe. When my income was $50 a week, I gave $5 to the church every week.

When I was successful in business and my income rose to $500 a week, I gave $50 to my church every Sunday.

But now my income is $5,000 a week, and I just can= t bring myself to give $500 to the church every week.@

The priest thought about his struggle and suggested that they pray. The parishioner gladly agreed. The priest prayed:

A Dear God, please make this man= s income to $500 a week so that he can tithe.@

 

V. Tithing Joyfully

Most Christians would love to be able to give 10% of their income to their church, but they don’t feel they could afford it.

Yet, for some Christians, when their income grows, the percentage of their income given to God’s work actually decreases.

They have failed to "strive to tithe."

 

More money doesn’t necessarily mean we will become more generous.

Generosity is a decision.

Generosity is the decision to gratefully give to God in response to His generosity. After all, all we have is from God.

When your giving is divorced from a trust relationship with God, it becomes a drudgery, it becomes a chore.

 

The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:7:

"…God loves a cheerful giver."
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)

When you are guilted into giving, you will not be cheerful.

When you simply give out of obligation, you will not be cheerful.

The Greek word used here for cheerful is "hilaros." It means to be merry or hilarious.

God loves a hilarious giver.

God loves it when you sit down to write a check for His work:

When you get giddy.

When you get excited about what God will do with those funds.

When you truly trust God with joyful expectation to provide abundantly for your needs.

 

VI. Objections to Tithing

Some people object to tithing.

They say that it’s not New Testament, that it’s under the Law.

Actually, tithing is not mentioned in the Ten Commandments.

Tithing is pre-law. It was first mentioned in Scripture 646 years before the Law was given through Moses. Abraham gave a tenth of all he had received to Melchizedek, the priest of God Most High (Genesis 14).

From our reading in Matthew chapter 23, Jesus affirms tithing as something we should practice.

 

In Matthew chapter 23, Jesus was criticizing the religious hypocrites. He said,

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin…"

In other words, not only do you tithe your income (which is good), but you are so legalistic that you even tithe your herb garden. That’s like you or me tithing our rose garden or our flowerbed.

He goes on to say:

"…But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness…"

They followed God’s command to tithe, to make themselves look holy to their neighbors, but they couldn’t care less about them. They refused to show them "justice, mercy, [or] faithfulness"

Finally, Jesus says:

"…You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former."
Matthew 23:23 (NIV)

In other words, you should show justice, mercy and faithfulness without neglecting tithing.

 

Conclusion

Tithing, giving God 10% of your income, is about:

Obedience.

But most of all, it’s about trusting God to provide for your needs.

At this time, I’d like to ask Greg Follis to share his experience in trusting God through giving.

 

VII. Trusting God Through Tithing – A Testimony by Greg Follis

Greg shares his experience of giving.