Text: Malachi 3:7-12 (HCSB)
7 “Since the days of your fathers, you have turned from My statutes; you have not kept (them). Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of Hosts. But you ask: “How can we return?” 8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me!” You ask: “How do we rob You?” “(By not making the payments) of the tenth and the contributions. 9 You are suffering under a curse, yet you—the whole nation—are (still) robbing Me. 10 Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this way,” says the LORD of Hosts. “See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your land and your vine in your field will not fail to produce fruit,” says the LORD of Hosts. 12 “Then all the nations will consider you fortunate, for you will be a delightful land,” says the LORD of Hosts.
Intro: Imagine believing God left you, that He hasn’t been there for you and you don’t feel like you need to return to Him because He is the one who needs to return to you! Sound strange? That is exactly the way the Israelites felt about God. They felt God had abandoned them and there was no need to repent.
Application: Are you robbing God and need to repent?
WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW
A favorite story is of a man of substance approached to contribute to a major financial campaign. The urgent need and compelling case were stated, and the call was made for his support. The man responded: "I understand why you think I can give fifty thousand dollars. I am a man with my own business and, it is true, I have all the signs of affluence. But there are some things you don't know. Did you know that my mother is in an expensive nursing home?" Well, no, we didn't know. "Did you know also that my brother died, and left a family of five and had almost no insurance?" No, we didn't. "Did you know my son is deeply religious, has gone into social work, and makes less than the national poverty level to meet the needs of his family?" No, we hadn't realized. "Well, then, if I don't give any of them a penny, why do you think I'll give it to you?" Donald E. Messer
I want to make this statement and I believe some of you will probably not appreciate it: there are a lot of people in this world even amongst the Christian world that have a little Messer in them! God says take the test and see if you’re really a good giver or maybe you have a Messer in you.
1. Robbing: “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me!”
“Will a man rob God?” it is one of those thoughts where we look around and just assume you’re not talking about me it’s got to be someone else! Well guess what we all rob God, some of us just don’t see it!
When we hear or talk about robbing we think of the person who broke in someone’s house and stole something, but what makes that any different in the spiritual realm we are stealing when we rob God? If the land and its produce belonged to God, then all the more so did the tithe. Therefore to withhold it amounted to robbing not only the poor but also God. Think of the question that is being asked: “Is it right rather than “Is it possible?” or “Is it conceivable?” for a man to rob God?” then the next thought is “yet” surely. “It is not right to rob God, yet you are robbing me?”
This store house is really God’s house.
Which kind of giver are you?
There are three kinds of givers—the flint, the sponge, and the honeycomb. To get anything out of a flint you must hammer it. And then you get only chips and sparks. To get water out of a sponge you must squeeze it, and the more you use pressure, the more you will get. But the honeycomb just overflows with its own sweetness. Which kind of giver are you?
THE SEVEN LEVELS OF GIVING
1. Giving to the poor, but with bad grace
2. Giving with a good grace, but not enough
3. Giving enough, but only after being asked
4. Giving without being asked
5. Giving without knowing who will benefit from the gift
6. Giving without the beneficiary of the gift knowing who is helping him
7. Fighting poverty by giving the poor person the means to escape from his condition
We had this discussion on repentance Wednesday at the Baptist men’s meeting. What does it mean to repent? First of all it means to turn. Turn from your sinful ways, from sin and self toward something or in this case someone. This someone is Jesus Christ and it’s by faith we turn. Faith” Forsaking All I Trust Him!
Israel’s existence was due only to the Lord’s unchanging character and unswerving commitment to His covenant promise with the patriarchs, James 1:17 (HCSB) “Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.”
Here is the simplicity of the scripture the Israelites as well as us today may experience God’s goodness again, and be blessed when we repent. Malachi presents a powerful challenge to repent!
Contrary to the normal biblical pattern, the people were invited to put God to the test. If they would honor Him by reversing their robbery and in a show of true repentance bring what He required, He would shower them with excessive abundance: Proverbs 11:24-25 “One person gives freely, yet gains more; another withholds what is right, only to become poor. 25 A generous person will be enriched, and the one who gives a drink of water will receive water.” What is the answer for this question on the test, what was required? I am glad you asked: “making the payments of the tenth and the contributions.”
3. Return: “So tell the people: This is what the LORD of Hosts says: Return to Me”— (this is) the declaration of the LORD of Hosts—“and I will return to you, says the LORD of Hosts.” Zechariah 1:3
The mind set at this time in history with the Israelites was they complained that obedience to God’s law brought no reward. Only the proud and wicked prospered, they said. I have often driven down the road and seen the nice house and vehicles parked in the driveway or big boat by the dock and wished I could have that, that’s not fair! The word shouldn’t be fair it should be focus, Christians need to focus on God’s plan and He will bless accordingly. You can’t take it with you!
What the believer needs to read or understand here is a command from the Lord Return and Remember. You return by giving Him what is His. To return you remember by Faith all that He has given you is a gift.
There is so much we can learn from a childlike faith: John 6:9 “There’s a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish—but what are they for so many?”
I believe the boy gave and God gave back more! You can’t out give God! Take the test try it see what God can do.
We make a living by what we get out of life, but we make a life by what we give. What are you giving?
“Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38
Conclusion: The people had disobeyed God by robbing Him of tithes and offerings. Actually, when God’s people are not faithful in their giving, they not only rob God, but they also rob themselves. God had shut off the rain and spoiled the crops because of their selfishness. Tithing, of course, is not “making a bargain with God”; but God does promise to bless and care for those who are faithful in their stewardship. Certainly God is not bankrupt; He wants our tithes and offerings as expressions of our faith and love. When a believer’s love for Christ grows cold, it usually shows up in the area of stewardship. If every church member would bring the Lord His due (10 percent of the income, the tithe), and then add offerings (as an expression of gratitude), our local churches would have more than enough for their ministries. And they would be able to share generously with the many other good ministries that deserve support.
In chapter 4 of Philippians Paul makes the statement rejoice in the Lord, he also says: “I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret (of being content) – whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 (HCSB)
“Remember this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. 9 As it is written: He scattered; He gave to the poor; His righteousness endures forever. 10 Now the One who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us.”
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