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> Malachi 3: 16

Contribution.
God set apart the tribe of Levi as priests to work in His sanctuary and a system of contributions to support His work and His priests. After the exodus all the tribes received an inheritance of land, except the tribe of Levi.
God Was Their Inheritance. Then the LORD said to Aaron, "You shall have no inheritance in their land nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel. (Numbers 18: 20)
God's property was theirs. They took the tithe and ate the food offerings.
Tithe. For the tithe of the sons of Israel, which they offer as an offering to the LORD, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance; therefore I have said concerning them, they shall have no inheritance among the sons of Israel. (Numbers 18: 24)
The support of God's work is based on a system of required and voluntary contributions called tithes and offerings. 1 Timothy 6: 17-18, Leviticus 19: 13 and Deuteronomy 24: 15 all indicate that anyone who works should be paid. If we work for the Lord we should be paid by those who claim to love God.

Why does God need money?
God is at war and He needs to support His volunteer army during this war. There are only a few ways that the messenger of the Gospel can be supported while he or she works.

Volunteers.
In my humble opinion, religious groups do a disservice to the ministry of God when they emphasize tithe and offering and neglect to organize their church based on the duty to volunteer their service. We have a system of collecting tithe and teaching about our financial duties to God. Yet our duty to physically work for God has not been as carefully articulated or managed. The fact is that we are all priests of God under the new covenant and are required to take turns to work for Him.
The Rule of Jesus Begins. The Lord says to my Lord, "sit at my right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet." The Lord will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying "Rule in the midst of your enemies".
Volunteers. Your people will volunteer freely in the day of your power. In holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew.
(Psalm 110: 2-3).

Questions About Tithing
Since we are all priests, the offerings belong to us and the work is required from us. Modern customs and the freedoms of the new covenant also give more opportunities to priests. This raises some interesting questions.

The Blessing
The most popular text used to prove God's blessings in return for money is this.
Test Me. "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,"
Overflowing Blessing. says the Lord of hosts, "If I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing so that there is not room to receive it."
(Malachi 3: 10)
God challenges us to test Him. This blessing is not simply based on the tithe. It is the terms of the covenant blessing in Leviticus 26: 1-13. If we keep the covenant, God will keep His promises.
Abundance. You will eat the old supply and clear out the old because of the new. (Leviticus 26:10)

So within this covenant relationship God tells us that we should know that He will provide for us.

Serving God
I wish leaders would appeal to the congregation on the basis of the love of God and their desire to see His name established on the earth. We are in a battle zone. Good and evil are fighting for ultimate supremacy. We should serve God because we love Him. Prosperity, blessings or favor should never enter the equation.

Lessons From The Afflicted
Horrendous Treatment. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated
Great People. (men of whom the world was not worthy),
Homeless People. wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
Broken Promises. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised
An Example of Faith. because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.
(Hebrews 11: 35-40)
The faithful teach us a lesson about waiting on the promises of God.

Prosperity Ministries And Modern Money Changers
At the beginning of His ministry and during the final week Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple. They had practically made the temple a shopping mall for their wares and the practice was offensive to the name, character and reputation of God. A shameful practice has become popular among the church which does the same damage to God.

Throw Out The Money Changers
Salvation will be indistinguishable from an act of prostitution if God only granted favors after we have paid Him. God grants favors either because we need it or deserve it.
A Gift Of Mercy. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. (Exodus 33: 19)
Man And Beast Need Mercy. And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle? (Jonah 4: 11)
Reward Deserved. "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done" (Revelation 22: 12)
God is good and merciful. There is nothing good or merciful about the mercenary God portrayed by the prosperity ministry.
They claim that "when you release the seed in your hand, God will release the harvest in his hand" and "Nothing leaves heaven until something leaves the earth."
God sent all the treasure of heaven when He sent Jesus Christ to a planet who hated Him and was willing to murder Him. This is the generosity of the God I know.

Led By The Wolf Pack
It does not surprise me that our enemies in the media are gleefully exposing many of these men. Some have become atheists who have no other career to fall back on, so they are not protective of the words of God because they are frauds who no longer believe. Some are homosexuals and serial adulterers, preying on your wives and sons. The worst are pedophiles preying on your children. However, the worst of it is that they are leading you into disobedience to God, a crime for which they will answer to God but for which you will also be made accountable because you enjoyed the fame of a mega-ministry and the entertainment more than the truth.
They can pretend to have evidence of the Holy Spirit by speaking in tongues that nobody understands because you are stupid enough to think that anybody who babbles like a fool has the gift. They can dance about and wriggle their bodies to the music because you want to be entertained because a preacher is a "good preacher" if he can perform on stage in a certain way and tell you the same soul-soothing message every Sunday. A message and performance that is soul condemning. All of you pretend to do such wonderful works and there is nothing to show for it but more expensive firewood. Evil keeps getting bolder and you keep getting richer.

Between The Pit And The Blessing
Languishing in the pit of despair for many years waiting for the Mount of Blessing is the typical child of God. Constantly bombarded with the subtle message that you are cursed because you are unfaithful, ungrateful and stingy with God. In addition, there is the insinuation that you must be guilty of unconfessed sin for which you are being punished.

Prosperity is not evidence of the favor of God. All of God's people will see prosperity in the world to come, but most will not see it in this life. God blesses us with knowledge and wisdom and He may even bless us by giving us adversity.
Perfection in Suffering. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. (Hebrews 2: 10)
A Disciple Bears A Cross. Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me". (Matthew 16: 24)
If you have suffered because of your greed and bad choices and wasteful spending, then that is not God's fault.
If you have suffered because of self-imposed torture then this is obscene. The suffering that perfects must be unjust and undeserved. You cannot be in control so that you can turn it on and off like a spigot.
In addition, if you have not suffered unjustly for the sake of the Gospel then you are an immature, untested Christian. Be very cautious if you appear to have the blessings without the struggle for the birthright.
Suffering Perfects. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. (1 Peter 5: 10)
There it is! The real blessings from God come after the struggle that proves that your character is gold. Now God has a man or woman on whom He can pour out obscence wealth because none of it will go to prosperous living. It will all go to fighting the battle to win souls and relieve the suffering caused by the presence of sin in the world.
So, for once in your life grow up!
» The Kingdom Is Not For Cowards. How can the kingdom of God win the battle if the soldiers are sleeping or lazy or stingy or not committed or want to be pampered? Appreciate the scope of the battle in which we are engaged and be a good soldier of God.

On The Road To The Promised Land
We are like Israel. On an exodus to the Promised Land and the blessings. Until then, we are homeless wanderers, strangers in a foreign land, living in temporary shelters and despised by the nations. God is our shield and protector. He provides the bare necessities of bread and water and ensures that our clothes will not wear out.

» Rebuilding The Temple. On the road to the Promised Land Israel built an important temple. When the call to donate went out the people brought so much that they had to be stopped! Imagine that! Imagine a time when the people are so generous towards the cause of God that the church leaders have to stop them.
Building The Temple. And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make. And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much. (Exodus 36: 5-7)
This is not the time to worry about gross or net tithe or what percentage should go to offering or wonder how much the average person is donating. Aren't you flying below your potential by striving to be average? Why not be above average!
Why not set an example instead of finding out what everybody else is doing. Be a trailblazer not the one who eats dust! It is only Satan who has been condemned to crawl in the dust.

» Leaving Babylon And Cleaving To God. We in the Seventh Day Adventist church have been called to rebuild and restore the sanctuary that is being cleansed in preparation for the time when the church will be fleeing from Babylon the Great. Like ancient Israel after the fall of Babylon we have been content to stay in Babylon and we have neglected the house of God and His priests and we have not returned from Babylon.
In those days a usurper had thrown out the priests and was living in the chamber of the house of God reserved as the treasury. The priests had to work because the tithe was not being paid so both the services and rebuilding were neglected. Then God sent Nehemiah who instituted reforms for Israel coming out of Babylon. These will also be issues of reform for those coming out of Babylon the great at the end of time.
A Usurper In The Treasury. And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied unto Tobiah: And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests. And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God.
Cleansing And Restoring The House Of God. And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff to Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.
Neglected Clergy Pursued Other Work. And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field.
Neglected Temple. Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place.
Tithe Reform. Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries.
Sabbath Reform. In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals.
Marriage Reform. In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab: And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves.
(Nehemiah 13: 4-12, 15,23,25)
I appeal to you, don't go to heaven wishing you had done more for God, wondering if that second television or upgraded phone or faster internet or concert featuring what's-his-name or football game or tenth pair of shoes were worth more than another dollar for the ministry or an extra hour helping the children's ministry. We are living as if we are empire builders not temporary occupiers. We cannot win if we are more generous to ourselves than to God.
How can we face ourselves in the kingdom if we consistently stuffed ourselves with all of our best years, more of our time, more of our talent and most of our money while the Gospel of Christ walks around in beggar's clothes and worn out shoes and stale bread?

Study to show yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.   2 Timothy 2: 15 Time: 70 minutes
Print: 14 pages
Copyright   First Created 26 January 2010.
Credits: The Holy Spirit and personal experience.
Author: Laverna Patterson. Editor: Patterson (January 2010)