“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.
Test me in this, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and
pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
Those of you that know me know that 1994 was a critical year in my life and ministry. It was the year of God’s visitation for thousands of people. For those that embraced and continued in that outpouring, their lives have never been the same. One of the impacts that took place right away is described in today’s verse. Our church began to see the profound connection between our tithing, God’s provision, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The prophetic word given by Malachi describes this phenomenon as an open heaven. Could it be that there is an intimate connection between the outpouring of the Spirit and supernatural provision? Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on that very point.
“This last promise in the Old Testament tells us how abundant God’s blessing will be. Pentecost was only the beginning of what God was willing to do. The promise of the Father, as Christ gave it, still waits for its perfect fulfillment.
What is it that we have to ask for, and what should we expect? Christ’s great command to go and preach the gospel was not only meant for the disciples, but for us, too. Christ’s last promise to His disciples, that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit, was also meant for us. It is the grounds for the confident assurance that our prayers will be heard”
In Malachi’s prophesy, he is speaking about returning to the Lord. He says that one of the signs of a heart turning from the Lord is the withholding of their tithe. His passionate word is for Israel to turn back to the Lord, bring the tithe into the storehouse, and the Lord will open the windows of heaven. Malachi ends his prophesy with quite an amazing prediction. He said that the days are coming when the Spirit of God would turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children and the hearts of the children back to the fathers. Come on Lord! Think about it; open heaven, supernatural outpouring of the Spirit, supernatural financial provision, our families coming to Christ; sounds like a Great Awakening to me!!!
Heb. 7:8 Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives.
One of the first tests we all have to pass in our Christian walk is the decision to tithe. I am grateful to God that I was taught about the importance and sacredness of the tithe as a new Christian. In my interview at Bible School (I had been saved two weeks when I enrolled) the director asked me if I was a tither (I had no idea what he was talking about). As he picked up on my greenness, he graciously taught me about the tithe. I love that story. My wife and I had just gotten married with seven hundred dollars to our name. As I sat in the director’s office learning about the tithe, I realized I had seventy dollars left after I paid my school tuition. I joyfully (with a little fear and trembling) deposited my first tithe in the tithe box that afternoon. My adventure had started, I was yielding my self to God, He began delivering on all the promises I inherited as His son. He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ. Andrew Murray talks about the connection to these promises to the tithe.
“These are indeed the spiritual blessings in the heavenlies with which God hath blessed us in Christ and which, as High Priest, Christ dispenses. He brings us to the Father, and we learn to know that He blesses and keep us. In Him, the Son, God’s face shines upon us, and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is our portion. In Him God lifts up His countenance upon us, and, by the Holy Spirit, give His peace unto our hearts. Christ the High Priest makes every part of this blessing a divine reality, a living experience in the power of a life that abides continually. Christ gives us the blessing, we give Him the tithes. The tithes to God are an acknowledgement of His right to all. Our High Priest has a right to the surrender of all we have, as belonging to Him, to the willing sacrifice of all He asks or needs for His service. The connection between the tithes and the blessing is closer than we know. The more unreservedly we place all that we have at His disposal, the more we in very deed forsake all for His sake, the richer will our experience be of the fulness and the power which our High Priest can bless.”
Parris and I have been tithers for forty years this coming August. The Lord has truly opened up the windows of heaven over our lives again, again, and again. As ministers of the gospel we not only tithe but we live off of the tithe. The Lord has surrounded us with faithful believers who love The Lord and love His work. Their commitment to The Lord through the tithe enable us to fulfill our calling. We are grateful.
MONEY AND THE JEALOUS GOD
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Matt.6:24
I have come to the conclusion that our “Jealous God” is after our heart. He goes at it in very diverse, sometimes seemingly random ways, but it is our affection that He is after. When we understand this, we understand why idolatry is such a serious offense to God. God is passionate about His Glory and wants a people who value Him and the Glory of His presence. In my first interview to be enrolled in Bible School (I had been a Christian about two weeks) I was told about the tithe for the first time. Parris and I had gotten married with seven hundred dollars to our name. After traveling to California, paying our rent on a trailer, payment on first semester of school, and buying some groceries, I had seventy dollars in my wallet. As the director told me about the tithe I knew that seventy dollars in my wallet belonged to The Lord. He was after my heart, my trust, not my seventy dollars. As I gladly put my seventy dollars in the tithe box that afternoon I had passed my first test. I loved The Lord more than my money. The Lord was winning my heart. Martin Luther spoke about this truth five hundred years ago, check this out.
“Remember what people say about kind and generous individuals: “They are masters of their money.” Money doesn’t control them, unlike a greedy miser who ignores God’s Word and everything else God wants. A miser would rather withhold a helping hand than let go of money. This kind of greed is the mark of tightfisted, childish, and insensitive individuals. That type of person doesn’t put resources to good use or even enjoy them. They ignore eternal treasures for the sake of money. They pursue their own selfish goals and neglect God’s Word, thinking they can get around to it at a more convenient time. Meanwhile, they scramble to get everything they can, without a penny to spare for the work of God. If left unchecked, they will sink deeper and deeper into greed and jealousy, moving further and further away from God’s Word. Eventually their hearts will be filled with cynicism, and they will become enemies of God. Augustine came right to the point when he said: “Whatever I love is my god.”
The Lord has used offerings to deal with man for thousands of years. One of the greatest examples was when God asked Abraham to offer his son Isaac as an offering to The Lord. Obviously The Lord wasn’t after the life of Abraham’s son, He was after Abraham, He was after Abraham’s heart. At the end of the day that is all He is after, He is after your heart. So if you have been struggling with the tithe and the offerings remember this, He is after your love. Once He has it, provision from The Lord is guaranteed.
MESSAGE FROM MRS. LAMB
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.
I will never forget the lessons I learned and experiences that I had as a new Christian in the fall of 1973. Parris and I were newly married, moved to California, and enrolled in Bible School. Those first days there were a struggle, getting enrolled, locating housing, just getting settled. Like everyone else I needed a job, quick. I put in several applications and worked in the vineyards for several days but we were running out of money. My appointment with the Bible School director arrived and I went in for my interview. As my appointment was coming to a close he prayed for me and then he asked me a strange question, “Have you tithed yet?” I had never heard that word, tithe, “What is a tithe?” The director gently answered me, “The tithe is the first tenth of our income, it belongs to the Lord”. Suddenly I was doing calculations in my head. Parris and I got married with a total of seven hundred dollars between us, I knew I had three twenties and a ten in my wallet. What a strange coincidence. Parris and I had a quick conversation after the appointment, and our life of tithing began. We gave our last seventy dollars and began to walk across campus. We had an empty wallet but our hearts were full, we were waiting to see the provision of God. Halfway back to our trailer, someone cried out to me “Are you Frank Bailey? I think there is a message from Mrs. Lamb waiting for you in the office.” For a new Christian, this had to be a sign from God. I had heard about the Lamb of God and I knew this message was from Him. We headed to the office, called Mrs. Lamb, and found out I could start work tomorrow at K- Mart. Jehovah Jireh had begun to reveal Himself to me.
It has been a long time since that first tithe and the message from Mrs. Lamb. This event was a major lesson in my life as a Christian. The lesson was this, the lord is directing my path, He owns everything and my tithing acknowledges that, and He is faithful and waiting to supply all of my need. Have you learned the lesson from Mrs. Lamb? In uncertain times, tithing is more critical than ever, it put us in a place of safety and dependence on the Lord.