Sunday, February 2, 2014

P2 - God's lightning rod of blessing

Proverbs 3:9-10 "Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty And your vats will overflow with new wine."

Introduction & review: The beauty and purpose of lightning rods and God's lightning rod of blessing
I can recall when living in Pennsylvania the many farms that dotted the rolling hills and lush valleys.  On top of the farmhouses and red barns one could spy two, three or more ornate but functioning lightning rods.  Lightning rods function to take a lightning strike and direct the powerful current safely and quickly into the ground.  Much can be learned from considering the relationship between lightning rods and what they do to another type of lightning rod that God has prescribed to His people to direct the blessings He intends to the right areas of their lives. What is that lightning rod of blessing of which we speak? Tithing and stewardship.

Yesterday we considered the first two reasons from our acrostic r.o.d regarding as to why it is important to tithe to the Lord. 
Relevant to you today.
Opens you to God's supernatural power

Today we will consider the third and final reason why it is important to give of one's firstfruits or tithe to the Lord, namely it.....

Directs you to walk by faith, not by sight
Truly we will not hear or sense God's leading in the realm of finances and resources until we take Him at His Word. Whenever you survey the contexts in which God's people brought their tithes and offerings, you discover an interesting pattern that leads them to view everything by faith and not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 plainly states that we walk by faith and not by sight.  What benefits to our faith-walk occur from being directed in our tithing to walk by faith and not by sight. 

Willing faith. We find that we go from having to give to wanting to give.  Read the accounts of the building of the tabernacle in Exodus 25-40.  God through Moses told the people to bring various materials and to give to the work at hand.  As the people did so, their attitude toward giving changed and Moses had to tell them to stop giving, being that "much more than enough" had been brought for the construction of the tabernacle.  Truly when we do things God's way, He takes our "have to's" and transforms them into "want to's".

Christ-honoring faith.  In other words, we want to give because of seeing what God gave. One of the concepts associated with tithing and stewardship is the principle of "first-fruits". Simply put, a "first-fruit" represents the first portion of a harvest.  When a person brought that first-fruit of grain to the Lord, they were trusting God for the remainder of their fields to be blessed. Passages such as Deuteronomy 26:10 and 26:12 associate the principle of "first-fruits" with the "tithe". Paul describes Jesus Christ as the "first-fruit" from God in regards to His resurrection from the dead and being the Premier Preview of things to come. ( 1 Corinthians 15:20,23). Quite literally we can say that God gave Jesus as a "tithe". In tithing to the Lord, I give not out of grudging submission but because of the grace of God's most precious gift - Jesus Christ. As the old hymn says: "He gave His life, what more could He give". 

As we learn to view everything through the eyes of faith and not our circumstances, we are able to increasing our willingness because of faith and focus on Jesus who is the Author and Perfector of faith.  Yes - tithing can do all those things because of Him who has prescribed it for us. We go from having to give to wanting to give and we give because of thanksgiving for what God gave in Jesus Christ.  But notice a third way in which tithing and stewardship benefits out faith in walking by faith and not by sight, namely...

Visionary faith. The infusion of vision into our faith results from simply cooperating with God. Notice 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 & 10 7 "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; 10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness."  When we cooperate with God, his power of blessing will proceed to us like electricity down a wire from a lightning rod.  When there is a path of least resistance, God's power to bless is directed to the areas He desires to bless.  Soon we begin to envision things as He does.  We begin to see potential in people and in areas that at present may very well be barren. Truly stewardship is meant to support and forward the mission that God has given to reach a lost world for Christ and to promote His glory in worship.

Our cooperation is so important. As Jesus notes in Matthew 6:33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."  When we give to the Lord, when we cooperate, we will want for nothing. Visionary faith comes when we come to God with open hands rather than clinched fists. The resources needed for doing ministry in God's churches will never run low when God's people individually and together give of their tithes and offerings.  Why is it we make things so hard? We miss out on so much when we fail to cooperate with God.  If I can trust the living God for my eternal welfare, surely it is a small thing in comparison to trust Him with my general welfare. 

We have endeavored to answer the question regarding why it is so important to tithe to the Lord. We have used the imagery of a lightning rod to suggest that tithing and stewardship is God's prescribed lightning rod of blessing.  We noted the following three main thoughts by utilizing the acrostic r.o.d: Relevance of tithing for today; Opening of God's supernatural power to you and how tithing directs you to walk by faith and not by sight. 

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