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Archive for the ‘treasure’ Category

Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 
Malachi 3:8 (KJV)
 
 
Recently, I took some serious devotional and Bible study time to read Malachi. That’s a major undertaking when you consider what the Lord has to say through Malachi and to whom He is directing His words. The primary points of the biblical book are an accusation and warning to God’s people to act like people of God. Whew! That’s heavy stuff, even for seminary students, Sunday school teachers and simple, set apart and sanctified saints.
 
 
Old school Baptists sum up the prophetic book with quasi-biblical phrases such as: robbing God, opening up the windows of heaven, and bring all of the tithes into the storehouse.  These are certainly not verbatim and definitely not theologically sound when used in convenient contextual arenas.  Tithers hold fast to Malachi chapter 3, primarily verses 8-10, but this has nothing to do with introducing or ordaining the tithe.  It is about trusting God and upholding the practice of tithing as means of seeing that God is true to His promises
 
 
People have been utilizing such passages of the Bible to bully and beat up those who do not tithe for years.  Unfortunately, this is due to a failure to maintain a contextual view of the biblical passage and explore an expository and exhaustive explanation of the text in light of audience, intent and culture and history.  Some things may be lost in translation, but one has to keep in mind what type of Bible or study tools one uses.  A paraphrase will not give you an accurate translation since its main goal is to translate thought for thought, while a literal translation seeks to translate and interpret word for word. 
 
 
I would also like to add a warning about commentaries, especially when one is seeking a clear understanding of the text and its surrounding passages.  Understand what type of tool you have and how to use it.  The root word of commentary is comment.  When you read Matthew Henry’s commentary, it is just a comment by Matthew Henry on that book of the Bible or the entire Bible itself.  What you get is an insight into that particular person’s views on it.  If i use Matthew Henry, I am limited to the depths of Matthew Henry and the prevailing theology of his time.  Ever hear about the Dead Sea Scrolls? Were they discovered before or after Mathew Henry’s commentary? How about Martin Luther’s? Commentary usage requires careful steps to avoid slippery slopes.
 
 
Clearly, once one reads Malachi as an entire study, it becomes as glaring as Jeremiah or Isaiah, even Hosea.  The message is about God’s relationship with His people.  God desires a restored relationship with His people, but if they keep going the way that they have been going there’s no redemption or reconciliation.  God has to stop the nonsense and put the challenge before the people about testing and trying Him to see if He is faithful in delivering His promises.

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For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. . . Mark 14:39 (ESV)

Things are out of balance. The poor seem to continue to get poorer. Look at what the government is telling us about our national deficit and bailouts as well as restructuring organizations such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Even Ben Bernanke can’t seem to explain what is going on.  Don’t seek any insights from Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet either.  Look at what the Lord says.

The poor will be in our midst always.  Jesus put in real simple terms for us: “…whenever you want, you can do good for them…” That’s what we have to focus on today.  Those of us who can make a difference will need to step up and make a difference as the Lord directs us.  It came about in the days of Micah, men doing whatever they pleased while their neighbors suffered and struggled.   Haggai preached against such selfishness.  Many of the prophets spoke against it.  Let us do what we can based upon God’s leading and directing us.  Let us live like vessels that He pours into with His Spirit and pours out upon those in need of a spiritual uplift as we seek to meet their needs.

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8 (NLT)

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For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:21
Where have you placed your “treasure?” Have you laid your treasure up in heaven as directed by the Lord? Or, like many others, have you stored up “treasures on earth?” (v. 19) It’s a serious question that serves as a barometer of our stewardship and servanthood. Where is your treasure?
As stewards, we understand that all of what we have is from God and by the grace of God. Thus, the true owner of what we have is actually God Himself. We are to simply care for what has been bestowed upon us as wise stewards and servants, following the lead of our Master and fulfilling His wishes. It is unwise for a steward and servant to do what is opposite of the Master’s will and desire. In essence, such simple things can become complex when we venture outside of God’s guidance and rely upon our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). A wise steward does as the Master instructs him or her to do, for he serves the Lord and seeks to please Him.
Keep tabs of where your treasure is directed. Identify what you do with your “treasure” from day to day in order to be certain that God is first and foremost when it comes to your livelihood. Living under grace, we should be more than available and able to understand that a tithe is not all that is required of us. Paul shares it by simply saying: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously (2 Corinthians 9:6, NIV).
Make it your business to know where your treasure goes. Track your spending habits by reviewing your bank statements and checkbook register monthly. Are you giving to God first? How often do you give to charity for the poor and needy? Is there a special program you support for the underprivileged in your community? Check out where your treasure is going.
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“Let us long to be used in the onversion of sinners.”-C.H. Spurgeon
I have found it necessary to say some things to church leaders and laity from time to time with regards to evangelism. My heart’s desire is that the body of Christ would become more engaged in evangelizing, sharing the gospel message of Jesus Christ with others. Whether it is passing out tracts or door-to-door evangelism, I believe that the church must take this matter to heart and make some serious moves to spread the Word throughout local communities. Naturally, a debate tends to rise from such a suggestion as to whether we should evangelize locally or send forth missionaries to the uttermost parts of the world. My viewpoint is rather simple but strategic when it comes to this debate. There really should be no debate about it. There is work to do on both fronts, but you must sincerely look at where and how God has blessed your congregation with spiritual gifts among the people. You’ll have very little impact in South America if you can’t even get started in South Central. Your words will fall short on foreign soil when you haven’t even shared the Word in your neighborhood. Look at how God used people to influence and impact their immediate surroundings as well as people far and wide. Prayer is essential for guidance with such matters. The Holy Spirit will reveal where you need to start, and then you need to get started there first. the harvest is truly plentiful and we need more laborers to tend to this harvest, but we need people in the right places where they can be effective as led by the Spirit.

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