I have always been one of these people that love to give to God. I have always gotten excited about tithing, so writing my tithe check is one thing I really enjoy doing. However one Sunday morning I was setting at my desk and was just beginning to make out my check to the church. And then, my wife Mauri stopped me and said, “You might want to balance the check book before you write your tithe check this morning.” I said, “What? I just got paid Friday, how can all of our money be gone two days later?” She kind of shrugged her shoulders as she said; “I think I might have made a small mistake in the checkbook.” Well, we weren’t broke, but seven dollars sure wasn’t going to cover the check I was planning to write that morning. And I had three dollars in my billfold. Whew, I felt like a rat. I told the Lord I would give Him everything I had in my billfold that morning and I was sorry because it was all I had to give.
I felt horrible. We went to church that morning and I just was not feeling like I was being a good steward of my resources, and thus I was a failure to God. And then one of those things happens that compound our misery. I was asked to say the blessing over the tithes and offerings that morning in church. Now I had participated in many ways in the church, had taught Sunday school, spoke, sang, prayed, etc., but I had never once in my entire life been asked to say the blessing over the tithes and offerings during the church service. As I walked to the front of the church to say the prayer over the morning tithes and offerings, I felt smaller than you can imagine. The prayer I offered that morning was probably the shortest prayer in the history of praying before the tithes and offerings to God, because I felt absolutely unworthy to be praying that morning. As I went back to my seat, God spoke to my spirit. He said, “Thank you. On a morning when you had nothing else to give to Me, you gave Me prayer. Thank you.” My gratitude to God for the kindness He showed to me in my torment that morning could fill volumes. But little did I know there was a much larger message He would soon share with me.
Two Sundays later was Father’s Day. I went to bed about two in the morning and God awakened me promptly at four. God has always been very consistent in awakening me at four in the morning when He wants to share something with me. I’ve sometimes wondered if this is the time He gets up in the morning and He just wants to pick on me at four in the morning because no one else is up, or maybe no one else wants to listen at four in the morning, but anyway I got up to hear what the Lord was going to share with me. I opened my Bible to the scripture the Lord wanted to share with me that Sunday morning.
The Bible I was using at the time had Malachi 3 on the left page and Malachi 4 on the right page. As I opened the Bible I was sure the Lord was turning me to Malachi 4, because Malachi 4 is often used as the basis for Father’s Day sermons. I love Malachi 4 because God had shared understanding into this scripture when I was in Europe looking for my three oldest children, after they had gone to Germany. I asked the Lord why He had awakened me to share this scripture with me again. But I didn’t receive an answer. As I sitting there quietly before the Lord, it was Malachi 3:8-12 He illuminated for me. It reads:
Mal 3:8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
In what way have we robbed You?”
In tithes and offerings.
Mal 3:9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation.
Bring all of 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 a blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. Mal 3:11 “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;
Mal 3:12 “And all nations will call you blessed,
For you will be a delightful land,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
I have probably seen and heard this scripture quoted more than any ten scriptures put together. It probably is a message that is preached twice a year and prayed about every Sunday, but God shared with me a little more than I had ever heard spoken about. I will try my best to share with you what the Lord shared with me this particular morning.
Now I totally believe God wants us to give freely and wholeheartedly to the maintenance of the churches that minister to us. However, I think we sometimes put the cart before the horse. I think this scripture is being properly preached, however certain things could be expanded upon, and therefore limits have been placed on the income to the church. The way this scripture is preached is for us to give to God so that blessings will follow. This scripture is explained that if we first give to God our money, bring our tithes into the storehouse, then God will open for us the windows of heaven and pour out such a blessing, there will not be room enough to receive it.
Now God explained this scripture to me a little differently. Some of you may agree or disagree, but this is the way He explained it to me. He said that we are His body and therefore we are the church. We are the storehouses of God. We are to fill our house with the Word of God, and there are various ways we can accomplish this task. We are to read our Bible, sing praises to God, worship God, witness to others about God and pray continuously as just some of the ways that we fill our storehouse. These are but some of the ways we tithe into our storehouse. He said then He opens the windows of heaven and pours out such blessings that there will not be room enough to receive it. And these are the blessings of love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, etc., etc., etc. By filling our own storehouses, we have a heart changing experience. These overflowing blessings God pours out upon us changes us, from the selfish desires of our own possessions, to the desire of wanting to serve the Kingdom of God. Now the ability to give to the church is made possible because our storehouse has been filled with the love of God. As our storehouse has been filled, our desire to turn and give to the church has increased. As we experience a change in our spirit, it changes our spirit of giving. Therefore, as we individually change and increase in blessings, the church is benefited by the change in our spirit of giving.
We leaders of the body of Christ must first focus on building up the spirits of their followers. If we feed our followers with the nourishment that will bless their souls, then I believe the church will benefit from the financial blessings that will follow. So instead of preaching about giving to the church, we should prepare our followers to receive the blessings of God individually. After they have filled their storehouses with the glory of God, I believe a natural progression will result in an increased giving to the church. Even in the unlikely circumstance that this does not occur, your followers will gain in spiritual blessings and draw closer to God. As they draw closer to God, their spirit will be blessed. As a pastor or leader of the saints of God, can there be anything more fulfilling than to increase the awareness of your flock to the glory of God.
This knowledge God shared with me this Father’s Day morning brought a little understanding into my spirit about what He had told me two weeks before. On a morning when I had nothing to give to God, I gave Him prayer. And He had said, “Thank you.” Hmm? Maybe God doesn’t need our stuff, things, money, etc. at all. Maybe all He wants is to draw us into a closer walk with Him. Perhaps it is a little like many parents do with their children. Many parents feel guilty about not spending enough time with their children, so they have a tendency to spend more on fancy toys, gifts and money to appease their children. I guess the parents feel they have to buy their children’s love. I wonder if many people in the church do the same thing. They will give when asked but you better not ask them to spend any time with God. Maybe God is much like these children who look for love. These children don’t want any more of their parents guilt laden gifts, they just want their parents love. Maybe God would rather have our wholehearted love than just our guilt money; maybe that is what He wants most. I know for a fact, He sure deserves more love than I have the ability to give Him. I thank You God for opening my heart to this understanding. Holy Spirit, I pray that you will open the eyes of the readers of this message to understanding, beyond what I was able to humbly put into words. I love You Holy Father God, I love You glorious Lord Jesus and I love You wondrous Holy Spirit. Thank You for loving me too.