Giving From Poverty

“And He looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said,
‘Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: for all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.’” Luke 21:1-4 (KJB)

It seems that the wealthy; many of them; like to make much to do about their giving. Though any giving to aid those who are less fortunate, or are experiencing difficult financial times is generous. Being noticed for it, or seeking applause from the populace is not applauded by God.

Jesus, in the verses of Luke above, was sitting near by where the giving box was located, and He must have heard the jingling of the coins as they went into the metal receiving. Those who were more able to give wanted it to sound as though they were giving much, and Jesus noticed a poor widow who put in all that she had.

When it comes to giving who gives more the man with a million dollars who only gives a tenth of his wealth? or the one who lives from week to week on wages, whose take home pay maybe 400 dollars, and he/she tithes from that? I will let you answer that.

A few years ago there was two very well known billionaires who made the announcement, and quite publicly that they were going to give half of their wealth to aid the poor.  Now there is no doubt in my mind that that was a very noble act. Let us think about that for a moment.  At that time the younger one of the two had a net worth of over 50 billion dollars. Now let us think of that. If he was giving half of that to aid the poverty stricken, he still has a net worth of 25 billion. There is absolutely no sacrifice in the giving.

These people that were putting their money in the box were giving from their wealth; that is what Jesus said. The widow was giving all she had, and Jesus applauded this woman for doing so.

At this time of year many people get generous with giving. Giving gifts to family, friends, work associates, etc.  Organizations give food, clothing, and gifts because of the time of year it is.  That is wonderful. Why do we not make it a year round policy to give sacrificially to others in need? One month in a year. That is good.  Great giving would be doing it from January 1 through December 31.

Think of this. Genuine generous giving is when you give until it hurts; and you need to cut back on something for yourself  to give.

Jesus Christ gave us all He had. He gave His life, dying on the cross for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again. In Him and through His is life everlasting.

B F & M – Stewardship

Many people, and even some Baptists flinch at the word “Stewardship”.  A pastor stands behind the pulpit, and proclaims his subject as “Stewardship”, and the first thing that goes through many minds is, “Here comes a sermon on giving our money”.

Stewardship involves much more than money.  It entails the care of what has been given us for use.  I have lived in a rented house.  I am a steward of this house.  We now live in a house of our own [and the mortgage companies], along with a few acres of land.  It is the place God has provided my wife and I to live.  We have a 2000 and 2001 model Mercury Grand Marquis automobiles.  They too, were given us by God, to care for and maintain, and to keep in as good of care as we possibly can.  We are stewards of these things.

We are also all stewards of this planet called earth which we live on.  We are to give of our tithes and offerings.  Our Statement of Faith does not mention “Titheing” per se, but rather, “…binding stewardship in their possessions”.  We should count titheing as a privilege.  One hundred percent of our income is God’s, and all we are asked to return to acknowledge God’s ownership is 10% of it.  Gifts and offerings come above this.

Here is our Statement of Faith on the matter of Stewardship:

“XIII. Stewardship

God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him. Christians have a spiritual debtorship to the whole world, a holy trusteeship in the gospel, and a binding stewardship in their possessions. They are therefore under obligation to serve Him with their time, talents, and material possessions; and should recognize all these as entrusted to them to use for the glory of God and for helping others. 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.

Genesis 14:20; Leviticus 27:30-32; Deuteronomy 8:18; Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 6:1-4,19-21; 19:21; 23:23; 25:14-29; Luke 12:16-21,42; 16:1-13; Acts 2:44-47; 5:1-11; 17:24-25; 20:35; Romans 6:6-22; 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 6:19-20; 12; 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8-9; 12:15; Philippians 4:10-19; 1 Peter 1:18-19.”

The tithe shows our recognition of God’s ownership.  There are many who want to tell us that the tithe is an Old Testament principle.  Jesus has taught it in the New.  Jesus tells us:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”  Matthew 23:23 (KJV).

If you noticed He commends the tithe, but is condemning them for not practicing other matters of the law.  If Christians, and Baptists in particular would tithe to their local congregation, there is no church in the USA which would be hurting financially with the wise use of their resources, and missions and evangelism would be supported more effectively as well.

Be careful to take good care of the resources God has blessed you with.  Practice judgment, mercy, and faith, and take care of what God has blessed you with materially; and recognize God’s ownership of your income.

-T.A.

Man of Mystery

Man of Mystery

“And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.” Genesis 14:17-24 (KJV)

It is with fascination that I notice that when one has his treasure in this world he falls with its kings and is captured like all the possessions. However, if the heart is on the Lord you will never fall.

Lot, backsliden, his heart drawn away by the pleasures of the world, worshipped the material, and went into captivity with the material. Abraham worshipped the God of Heaven and delivered all the people and their possessions from the captivity.

It is also interesting to notice that when Bera, the king of Sodom shows up, that Melchizedek king of Salem, and priest of the Most High God [El Elyon] comes to Abraham’s aid. Bera comes offering Abraham great material wealth as a reward for his victory. Abraham has, however, vowed to God that he would not take any reward from these perverse and rebellious people, lest they claim they have made Abraham rich (vv. 22-23).

Mechizedek’s appearance is reward enough for the “Friend of God”. Who is this Melchizedek? He is only mentioned twice in the Old Testament – here in Genesis and in Psalm 110:4; and the most mentioned of him is in the New Testament book of Hebrews. This scarcity makes him somewhat of a mystery character. Who is he? This Old Testament account calls him the king of Salem [present day Jerusalem]. He is called “the priest of the most High God [El Elyon] = “Possessor of heaven and earth”.

It seems that we are given license in Scripture of Melchizedek as a “type” of the Christ. “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” is written in a messianic Psalm (110) prophesying of the throne at the Father’s right hand, and His judgment on the nations.

There are good and godly scholars and pastors who believe Melchizedek to be a pre-incarnate visitation of Jesus Christ. The problem with that is he appears as an earthly king to Abraham – a highly honored one to be sure – yet he is the king of an earthly city. Another problem is Paul spaks of him in Hebrews 7:3 as, “…Made like unto the Son of God”. This certainly implies “type” or “Shadow” rather than substance.

In understanding who Melchizedek is we must first realize the mystery involved. Understand also, that, Scriptures were “God breathed” inspired by the Holy Spirit, and sometimes what is missing is, or can be a clue to correct interpretation. In Melchizedek’s case we have no record of his genealogy; “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life”. Yet, the Holy Spirit gives us a genealogy of our Lord’s human birth.

Let’s compare the two. Melchizedek: “Without mother or father”; no birth, nor death; A gentile priest of God; King of righteousness; King of Salem; A priest continually. Now let’s look at the One who is the substance of the shadow – Jesus Christ: without mother or father – in his deity only; no birth, nor death – also in deity only; a priest of God from the tribe of Judah (Both Melchizedek – Gentile priest of God, and Jesus – are declared by God to be priests); King of righteousness; King of Jerusalem; a priest continually – “after the power of an endless life” (Hebrews 7:16).

The comparisons are many. The one, however, is a shadow of the substance.

Abraham worships the “Most High God” by giving “tithes of all”. A tithe is one tenth. It is encouraging to notice that the tithe was initiated before the law of Moses. Not being subject to the law makes it a wonderful starting place for giving. To give less would be to insult the grace of God. Giving God ten percent of all acknowledges Him as Lord of all. We are to give willingly, cheerfully, proportionately, and promptly. Ten percent is a good starting place, but as God blesses the one’s who have a giving spirit will want to increase their giving for the glory of our Lord (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). This is proportionate giving, “…as God has prospered him”.

The true worshipper of God gives all to God, and withholds nothing.