“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” – Matthew 6:33
So today I continue my story. Yesterday we talked about the appropriateness of asking God for money. If you recall, Don and I found ourselves in need, prayed and received exactly what we needed. – All to God’s glory.
There are several elements to that story that we firmly adhere to, and I thought I would share those too. They aren’t magic bullets that guarantee an answer, however, we believe that they do bring us closer to the heart of God, and that is important in it’s own right.
First, PERSISTENCE, we didn’t ask God once, we asked Him every day. I believe one of the keys to any kind of petitioning prayer is faithfulness in continuing to ask until God moves. Moses did it. David did it. Elijah did it. And so did many other heroes of the faith. I believe in entering into an ongoing dialogue with God about those things that are on our minds. This is the way our relationship with Him goes deeper and we begin to see the matter from His standpoint. We may even see answers that we never anticipated.
Second is ANTICIPATION. We prayed in faith and expected God to answer. And we acted accordingly. Prayers that are inconsistent with our actions are pretty weak in my opinion. It’s like that old saying, “Don’t pray for rain unless you are holding an umbrella.”
If we ask God for something, and our actions say we don’t really expect Him to answer, then what are we most likely going to get?
In our particular case, we held very strongly to this principle. I had said yesterday that we had cut our budget as much as we could. But that is not exactly true. There was still one area, that if eliminated would have solved all our problems: Our Tithe.
From the beginning of our marriage, we have always agreed that our money for God came first. Not giving is not an option for us, even if it means giving up our house or not having a vehicle. Everything else will be eliminated before our tithe is.
However, if you look at our budget, that amount can be amazingly tempting if you find yourself running short. It is 10% of our gross income, every month. The enemy can make some pretty convincing arguments: “God will understand that you needed the money,” “You can always go back and catch up later when things get better…”
Don’t believe it friends. Just think logically for a minute. We are praying. Telling God we trust Him to take care of our needs. By using His money to pay our bills, that is effectively telling God, “We trust You Lord. But just in case You don’t come through for us, we are going to use this money as our backup plan.” That is no faith at all.
Many people don’t understand why we feel so strongly about this. I have had several people (church people) make comments to me that leads me to believe they don’t understand the concept of tithing at all.
It appears to me that many people look at church giving the same way they see any charitable giving. – You give what you can, when you feel like it. Please don’t fall into that trap brothers and sisters. There are many things wrong with that belief.
First – Our tithe money is not given to the church. It is given to God, through the church. It is given with no strings – meaning we don’t designate what is done with it. We give it freely for the church leaders to do what they decide is best. (Malachi 3:6-12)
Second – It is not a gift or an offering. We believe that everything we have belongs to God in the first place. The money is not ours. He commands us to consecrate back to Him the first 10% of everything we receive. So, it is not a choice of “Do we give or not?” The question is, “Are we going to be obedient to His commands or not?”
Third – We don’t get to choose the amount. Many folks believe that they get to choose how much they give. Well, God is very clear about the first 10% part.
The only choice we have is how much to give over that amount as our offering. Don’t let the enemy fool you into thinking that 3% of you income is an acceptable tithe. Because it isn’t. Acceptable to who?? God, and only God. Acceptable why?? Because He said so. (Deuteronomy 14:22-23)
See the tithe is the physical symbol of our covenant with God. He promises to be our God, and we promise to always be His people. The tithe is not about money at all. It is about our heart. It is our act of true worship and our actions say, “You are God, we trust You, and we put our relationship with You above everything else.”
That is why we will give up all other material things before we will ever break that covenant. We always wanted to be recognized as His people, above everything else.
Now does that mean He will always give us what we want? No. We are always ready to give up whatever we have to (material wants and non-necessities like phones and cable, etc.) But this covenant does mean that He will always take care of our basic needs, and we have to live like we believe that.
Forgive my rambling. But my point is, that if we expect to see consistent answers to our prayers, there are many elements of our relationships with God that will contribute to that. Living faithfully inside the covenant is pretty fundamental.
Thank You for always keeping Your promises. Thank You for always providing for my needs. Please forgive me when I allow other influences to take Your place in my heart and priorities. Help me, Lord, to remain faithful to You in all I do, that my life and my witness might glorify You above all else.
Search my heart, my King, point out any places that offend You or block our relationship. Help me to live into this covenant with a clean heart and hands.
In the name of Jesus I pray,