Weren’t you, as was I, blessed with the 1st Live Stream worship (3/22) by the focus Jared placed on the prayers of Jesus when He was in difficult times? Jesus depended on His Father as He dealt with the hunger of thousands, sought the participation of the apostles, his own calm and peace as well as theirs, and His lonely battle of facing personal sacrifice, even to the point of dying for us.
Speaking of “Live Stream Worship,” Kyle and Brielle Buckner were in Leominster and worshipped with all of us even though most of us did not get to see them face to face. It looks like at least 73 of us plus some Jared mentioned as being elsewhere were “assembled apart.” The Buckners brought some things from Arkansas and put them in the apartment in Fitchburg where they expect to be living after June. Please be praying for Kyle and Brielle as they transition.
And speaking of Kyle and Brielle coming our way, they are not coming in order to get a nursing or teaching job. They are seeking jobs in order to help God’s kingdom, and specifically to serve among and with all of us in sharing God’s love and truth within and outside this Christian family. We plan to help them with work funding as best we can. Of course this church is not able to support both a preaching minister and a youth/family team. I (HDC) have never placed a large focus on giving in my teaching. Rather, I’ve treated it as the same as and part of worship, or holy Christian living, and every other aspect of Biblical teaching. The mission of the Lord’s church is always souls and salvation. Yet this is as good a time as any to consider our stewardship because it should be taught at regular intervals, as should every Bible topic on which God has spoken.
Let’s remember that throughout the last 62 years this congregation has been growing with generous hearts and through the provision God has provided through us locally and from brethren in many places.
In starting the Scripture’s picture of giving please note in I Chronicles and the Corinthian letters that God’s people “offer willingly,” and that in II Corinthians 9:7 “God loves a cheerful giver.”
So let’s consider the full picture from Genesis to Christian giving (in a rather concise study).
After Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden because of their sin, the first event The Holy Spirit relates is that of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4) when Cain invites Abel to a field where he kills his brother because God was pleased with Abel’s offering but not with Cain’s. Here in the earliest stages of human beings interacting with The Almighty there are standards for being pleasing to our Creator. I hope we will see in this study that we are benefited when we learn and follow Biblical instructions concerning this and all Godly guidelines.
Next, let’s notice that in Genesis 14:17-24 Abram (later known as Abraham) gave a tenth of the spoils of war to Melchizedek who was priest of God Most High. The Hebrew writer in Christian acknowledgement of the priesthood, yes the high priesthood of Jesus, discusses this offering of Abraham to Melchizedek in great length. – (Hebrews 7)
Going through the Pentateuch (Five Books of Law) you find:
Animal sacrifices – as a type or forerunner of Jesus’ sacrifice.
Burnt animals – atonement for sin.
Freewill offerings – Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
Meat or Meal offerings
Peace offerings – Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers
Thank offerings – Leviticus 7, Deuteronomy 12
Trespass (Sin) offerings – Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers
Eaten by the priests, also offered in I Samuel 6
Sealing of Vows – Leviticus 7, Deuteronomy 23
Wave offerings – Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers
And closely tied to these offerings were the Jewish feasts that were even observed by Jesus. You’ll remember Passover, Pentecost, and perhaps Tabernacles (Harvest). Less known are the Feasts of Purim and Trumpets. Yet all involved sacrifices. Maybe you encountered these in reading the Bible through. Maybe you thought, “Perhaps I’ll get to investigate these sometime in the future.”
Yet we live in the time when God speaks to us by His Son. (Hebrews 1:1-3)
So let’s look at some New Testament guidelines concerning giving. Deeper study can certainly be beneficial, but I’ll simply give us some passages and observe some points in each that can challenge, encourage, and serve as pointers from God (His Word) for us.
Before doing this may I say that my understanding is that God recognizes we each have different circumstances: including costs, resources, management development, and even stages of faith. It is a difficult mindset to reach when we would put into the treasury the last two pennies we have, as did the widow Jesus spoke of in Mark 12.
Now let’s look at the New Testament:
(considering what challenges you, and yes, me)
I Corinthians 16:1-4
First day of every week.
Each one of you.
As we may prosper – based on income or productivity,
Not attendance or amount we have left over.
(Do we give as we have received or on some other basis?)
This passage is a contribution to help a need and will be carried from Corinth to Jerusalem.
II Corinthians 8:1ff (means 1 and following)
Others are helping also.
Gave as much as able, and then some.
First they gave themselves.
Their own free will and liberality.
As Jesus gave – leaving His heavenly home, dying sacrificially.
As we are able – later others may turn and help us when we have need.
Shows our love and proves our earnestness.
II Corinthians 9:1ff
Carries on until the task is completed.
God is the ultimate supply source.
Givers are obeying the Gospel.
Causes receivers to long for and appreciate givers.
Our generosity shows God is gracious.
Actually generosity, gracefulness, and the spirit of giving being a blessing to both receiver and giver is evident throughout the New Testament. Do you think this relates to how much Jesus talks about our “laying up treasures in heaven” throughout the Gospels?
So in conclusion, I ask myself (and you) why is Hebrews 7 in that discussion of the supremacy of Jesus in every way Hebrews discusses? We know tithing is not a law for Christians? Is it? If one can’t give a tenth that person is not disqualified. Right? Then again, is one tenth the limit of God’s expectation? Do we, as Christians provided for by our Father and His Son, our Redeemer, have the opportunity to become even more like The One (in 3) Who Gives us Life, both here and hereafter?
Would it be good for us, each one of us, regularly – perhaps at least once a year, to look at our material and financial resources and consider our management in regard to what we contribute to the work God is doing through Jesus’ body, the church?
I say, personally, to each of you a very sincere THANK YOU for what you have done until now and what you do because you are able as God continues to use His people in this place for His purposes.
Song: “We Give Thee But Thine Own”
I Chronicles 29:14(before & after), Romans 11:33-36