There comes a time when we are all faced with hard truths. They say that the truth is bitter. Christians say that the truth will set you free. Well, today’s message was all that and more! The speaker unapologetically forced us to face the truth; forcing us to re-examine our concept of giving; ultimately forcing us to question how much we really love God. He did this by using the following anchor passages:
Genesis 22:1-4; 2 Samuel 7:1-13; Exodus 23:14-20; Mark 12:40-44 and Malachi 3:6-12
MEANING OF SACRIFICE
He started by assuring us that we are always rewarded when we sacrifice in our work for God and referred us to Peter’s question in Matthew 19:27 when he said to Jesus “You see we have given up everything to follow you. What will be our lot?” It sounds almost audacious, right? I mean, Peter asking Jesus, the Son of God, basically, “What’s in it for me?” Well, perhaps we are all guilty of this, albeit on a subconscious level. Do I freely give or am I expecting a reward? To be honest, I must admit that I would like to maintain that I freely give but my eye really is on the prize which is heaven. The word “freely” is questionable and this is what the speaker was to expose in his message.
He stated that humans are distinguished by the level of sacrifice they give to God. He explained that the word “sacrifice” was derived from the Hebrew word “korban” which means to draw closer or drawing near. Sacrifices draw you closer to God. He cited Ezekiel 22:30 to stress that God constantly seeks givers and intercessors.
Then he mentioned something that had never hit home although I knew that God always rewarded the giver. We all know that song during harvest time all so well – “God rewards the cheerful giver. Give him all you’ve got…” The speaker said that the reward of God is trans-generational and eternal unlike the reward of man that is finite and ceases to be appreciated upon death.
He used 1Kings 3:3-14 to illustrate this eternal reward and the level of giving which we must attain. Therein, Solomon offered 1000 burnt offerings on a high place (Gibeon) to God and Yahweh himself appeared to him in a dream. He stressed that the smell of the sacrificial giving caused a standing ovation in heaven that made God himself come down to give Solomon a blank cheque to ask for whatever he wanted. Wow!! A blank cheque from God. Solomon’s sacrifice was extraordinary and the reward he sought was not proportional to the sacrifice which he had made. He merely sought for wisdom to govern God’s people and because of this meek request, God gave him that and more by showering him with such wisdom that “no one has had before you nor anyone after you shall ever have.” Amazing eternal blessings.
The speaker explained that these blessings were given because God recognizes that givers are few as seen in Mark 12:44 where he praised the widow since “all of them gave from their plenty but she gave from her poverty and put in everything she had, her very living.” Whenever, I hear this rendition of the widow’s mite, I always feel uncomfortable – I mean EVERYTHING? Seriously? Yes, we all know that nobody can outdo God in generosity, but to give her very living? Now, THAT is sacrifice and that is exactly what the speaker was getting at! He stated that our separated brethren often mock Catholics because we don’t seem to grasp the blessings that flow when we give to the point that it hurts; when we sacrificially give.
He referred to the sacrificial giving of Abraham in Genesis 22 which stressed the need to be shaken when you give. He stated that Abraham knew the omniscience of God, the Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides and he reminded us that God tests the level of our love for Him, in the level of our giving. We need to prove to God that we belong to Him and that we love Him in deep reverence as Abraham did, which caused God to recognize Abraham’s love and in turn shower him with blessings. Indeed the reward for the sacrificial giving that Abraham made is what we are all enjoying today as seen in Galatians 3:14-15 and the song we often sing “Abraham’s blessings are mine.” These blessings show the trans-generational and eternal nature of God’s reward to those who sacrificially give.
DIMENSIONS/LEVELS OF GIVING
The speaker mentioned that there were 3 dimensions of giving which are the natural dimension, the supernatural dimension and the super supernatural dimension.
He referred to 2Kings 4:8 wherein the sacrificial giving of the Shunamite woman Elisha encountered, led him to prophesy that she would be blessed with her heart’s desire of a child. Just as God gave Abraham a blank cheque, so did Elisha when he said to her in 2Kings 4:13 “You have taken all this trouble for us. Tell me: what then can we do for you.” She got her reward. She got her blessing but then her son died. He pointed out that upon the death of her son, she was unshaken and answered with confidence when asked by Elisha if all was well. She replied, “Everything is all right” because she was confident of the sacrifice she had made. He stressed that satan can not take away your reward when it has been given out of sacrifice. This is seen when Elisha revived her son in 2Kings 4:35. He then explained the practice of calling out the names at petitions before mass which I found insightful by saying that this was done so the angels could recognize the names and take the names to the altar in heaven. Now the question is, when God weighs your petition with the level of sacrifice you give, will you be found wanting?
Now, if we were feeling uncomfortable so far in the message, his delving into Malachi 3:6-12 made us squirm even more in the pews. He bluntly mentioned that if we were not giving tithes to God then we were a huge disappointment. I think I blinked twice when he said that, as if to take in what I already knew deep down; what we all knew. A disappointment to God? No blank cheque? No cheque at all sef! He explained that God’s principles are inviolable, as God says what He means and means what He says. Exodus 23:19 refers to God’s instruction to provide the “first fruits of your soil” and Malachi 3:9-10 hits it on the head when it says “Cursed be you who cheat me…Turn over into the temple treasury the tenth part of all…”
Now, I have heard so much stuff about giving or not giving tithes but didn’t see it from the perspective of my tithing being in the supernatural dimension. He stressed that if we do not tithe, then we will remain stagnant and someone once told me that if you are not growing spiritually, then you are regressing. so stagnancy is not a good thing by any means. He explained that tithing activates the supernatural and showers blessings upon you.
Now, I have heard those opposing tithes say that God does not withhold his blessings or protection from you simply because you don’t tithe and that He does not operate that way. Um… how do you know, prithee tell? What I do know is what I have read in Scripture and what he stressed -that God attends to His people to the level of deference you have given Him. There is fasting, prayer and then there is tithing and all three combined activate the supernatural and bring you into that dimension. Fasting and prayer will not suffice if you wish to attain the blessings of Abraham and the blessings of Solomon.
I mean, tithing is the absolute minimum God requires you to give as seen in His Word and some people still have a problem doing that. It is even more bizarre to me because a blessing and reward is attached to so doing, as seen in Proverbs 3:9 “Honor Yahweh giving him from what you have, the first fruits of all your produce. then you barns will be filled to overflowing…” He stressed that those who did not tithe were robbers and a disappointment to God. I agree. Well, you can choose to agree or not – I choose to enter the supernatural dimension and make that sacrificial giving to tithe.
Super Supernatural Dimension
He explained that herein, people understand how to press to heaven for heaven to react. He stated that our problem is that we do not appreciate how very close God is to us and that the presence of God surrounds us. He stressed that the angels surround us and take record of our prayers ready to take it to God. He ridiculed those who would enter into communication with God and answer their mobile phones when it rings. Divine communication with the Eternal Being versus picking up a telephone call from a mere mortal? Such people who would answer their phones do not appreciate the level of sacrificial giving and reference that is needed to press to heaven for heaven to positively react on their behalf.
He stated that those in the super supernatural dimension are always ready to give and in turn they receive supernatural protection because they are assured of God’s presence always around them with the angels. Such people are the “apple of God’s eye” as seen in Genesis 31:29 when God preserved Jacob from Laban by coming down Himself and appearing to him in a dream –“..and I have power to harm you but last night the God of your father warned me saying ‘Be careful not to say anything good or evil to Jacob’. “
He concluded by asking us whether we could sell our house to make heaven? That is the level of sacrifice to which we must attain. If we give and are not shaken then we have not started. He stated that the two greatest covenants that we can make to God are the covenant of purity and the covenant of giving and that we should become men and women of sacrifice.
May God cause us to overflow with so much love for Him to the point that giving is no longer a sacrifice but a pleasure; in Jesus name we pray. Amen