Friday, February 10, 2017
Deuteronomy 26:10-11 Now behold, I have brought the first of the produce of the ground which You, O Lord have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God; 11 and you and the Levite and the alien who is among you shall rejoice in all the good which the Lord your God has given you and your household.
Moses was a statesman, a prophet, a man who walked face-to-face with God, a shepherd, an administrator, a theologian and of course a preacher. The Book of Deuteronomy records the last three sermons he would preach in the 120th year of his life. As Moses prepared the people of God for what waited for them on the other side of Jordon River, He was instructing them on how they ought to handle the resources God provides for them. Each generation of God's people needs to learn, hear and apply what God has to say about how we handle the time, spiritual blessings and finances God provides. Today's post aims to introduce the subject of giving the God's work.
Five things the Lord has pledged His Personal Presence and Blessing to in His church
When we look to the Bible in general and the New Testament in particular, we understand God pledging His Personal involvement or blessing in five main areas:
1. The preaching/teaching of His word
2. The singing of His praises
The first four areas cover the major areas that comprise God's work. The first of these areas involves preaching and teaching. The Spirit Himself attends the preaching of the word, convicting sinners and strengthening saints (John 16:8-16). The second area, the singing of His praises, is described as the Lord inhabit the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). Thirdly, obedience to God's Word covers believers on both the individual and corporate church levels. God plainly promises to guide His people in their obedience to Him (Romans 12:2). The fourth main area we find God promising His blessing is that of missions. Jesus Himself promised His apostles and church in the Great Commission that "He would be with her always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).
Now let's think for just a moment of how those first four areas operate on a practical level. Could God in His Sovereignty operate all those areas without human intervention? Surely. Yet, God has included in His design of preaching, singing of praises, obedience and missions the involvement of His people. His work, as so designed by Him, is to be supported by the means of tithes and offerings. To put it plainly: ministry requires financial support from God's people, since the God that supplies the power has also supplied funds to His people to support His work.
Thus, when we think of that fifth area: tithing and stewardship, we find God pledging His special presence and blessing. It is that particular area which will occupy the remainder of today's post.
Why G.I.V.E to the Lord's work
As Moses is concluding his second sermon, he turns his attention to the area of stewardship and tithing. Deuteronomy 26 represents one of the most complete statements on the subject, giving principles whereby the child of God can look to when attempting to understanding the area of giving.
As we come into Deuteronomy 26, instructions are given to the people about what to do when they present the first portion of their harvest upon their entry into the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 26:1-10). What remains in Deuteronomy 26:10-19 are four reasons for giving to God's work.
God is a Giving God. Deuteronomy 26:10-11
Seven times in Deuteronomy 26 we find reference to God having given to the people the resources and strength. I would suggest this is the primary reason for giving to the Lord's work - because He gave. Now notice the second reason to give to God's work...
Invites God's Blessing. Deuteronomy 26:12-17
What do we mean by "God's Blessing"? Certainly we could include the notion of prosperity in the material and spiritual sense. However the chief idea behind "blessing" is the fact of God's presence, power and Person operating in our lives. God wants to bless us without question. How much of God do we want in our datebook and checkbook? As Jesus notes in Matthew 6:33 - "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." So giving to God's work is motivated by the fact that God gives and that by giving, we are inviting God's blessing on our labors and life. Now notice the third reason to give to God's work....
Verified throughout Scripture. Deuteronomy 26:18
I have often heard throughout my years of ministry, as well as heard myself say from time to time: "how much does the Bible have to say about tithing and stewardship?" Is tithing only an Old Testament teaching? Does only the Law of Moses (of which Deuteronomy is part) teach tithing? When the New Testament began, did Jesus and the Apostles do away with the practice? Can we as Christians decide how much or how little we want to give? I have heard pastors preach sermons on tithing and stewardship, whereas I have heard other Godly and well-studied men who love the Book of God proclaim that Christians are not obligated to tithe. I believe as you study scripture, you will be surprised by what you find it saying - and not saying - about tithing and stewardship. This particular matter has been covered in previous posts, but we must hasten on to the fourth reason for giving to God's work....
Expresses Worship to God. Deuteronomy 26:19
Moses' entire life was about beholding and promoting the glory of God (Exodus 33:16-17; Psalm 90). Whenever God's people give as they should and would desire, God's name and work is promoted. Giving leads to missions, and missions aims to turn (by the Spirit's gifting and conviction) wicked people into worshippers of God. The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 in Article 13 has this to say about stewardship: "According to the Scriptures, Christians should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the Redeemer's cause on earth."
Today we introduced four reasons why you and I should give to God's work:
1. God is a giving God
2. Invites God blessing
3. Verified throughout scripture
4. Expresses worship to God