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(STOP THIEF) SCRIPTURE - Mal 3:8 - 9                                                  September, 1997

Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

SUBJECT - STOP!!! THIEF!!!! YOU JUST ROBBED GOD!!!!

By looking at the title of this message, you would think that this has to be some kind of a joke, right??? After all, can you see a person, going up to God, and putting a gun to His head, or a knife to His throat, and saying, 'This is a stickup. Give me all your money.' Well, as silly as that scenario is, nevertheless, it happens all the time. The robbing part, that is.

Look at the subject verses closely. Who is it that is speaking??? If you think it is God, you are absolutely right. And if anyone knows what it is to be robbed, God knows.

Now, just so we know where I will be going, let's look at what the dictionary says about robbery. Among the definitions of 'ROB', is to take something from someone by force, or other means, without that person's permission, it also means to deprive of something due, expected, or desired b: to withhold unjustly or injuriously ~ vi: to commit robbery.

Take note of the italicized part of the definition above. Notice the terms, 'deprive of something due, expected, or desired' and to 'withhold unjustly.' It is in this area, that man robs God.

God says that man has robbed Him in the area of 'tithes and offerings.'

Well, now you may be saying, "but I never borrowed anything from God, that I have to owe Him, or pay Him back??" And that is true, if you want to look at it from the viewpoint of man. However, if you look at it from God's eyes, you will see things a lot different.

First, God created man, in His image. He breathed the breath of life in to man, and he became a living soul. So, man, owes his existence to God.

Next, after man sinned in the garden, God put in to operation, a plan, that would restore man, back to the position that God had for him. In the mean time, man, realizing that he had offended, and betrayed God, wanted to do something to show God that he was sorry for what he had done. He started offering blood sacrifices to God.

However, there was a need for money, that back then, and even today, is a means of survival, and for the furtherance of those that are carrying the message of God's Word, around the world. Back then, those men, that were responsible for delivering God's Word to man, were the priests, from the family of Aaron, known as 'Levites.' God directed His people, to give tithes to these priests, as a means for their livelihood, since that was all they did ( NUM. 18:26-31). They not only used the money for buying food, and clothing, they also used it to buy materials, which they used strictly to further the message of God, by means of print, and travel.

The word 'tithe', means 'tenth.' Abraham, was the first one to give tithes to God. He did it voluntarily (Gen. 14:20, Heb. 7:2-6). He appreciated what God had done for him. Now, when I say He gave it to God, what I mean, is that he used it, for things, that God directed him to use it for.

In (LEV. 27:30-33), God instituted the tithe, as part of the law. He even mentions, that if a person didn't pay his tithes as he should, then he would have to pay an extra 20% on to what he owed (v. 31). This, was sort of a late fee. The tithe, not only was for money, but for everything that a person acquired. It was for land, herds, crops and whatever a person gained.

(PROV. 3:9-10) reveals two things. The first is, that God is to receive the 'first fruits of a persons increase. That means before they spent, ate, traded, plowed, or in any way, used any of what they gained, God was to get His tenth first (EZEK. 48:14) . The second thing is, when a person did this, then God would bless them so much, that they would be literally overrun with more increase in wealth. This was God's main plan for prosperity back then, and it is today.

If you think of it like this, 'everything that we have, including our breath, belongs to God, and we are, in a sense, borrowing it from Him, then you see why we owe Him. 'For the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof' (PROV. 24: 1-2).

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. This was an old testament law, and we are no longer under the law. True, but so are the ten commandments. Should we then start killing, stealing, coveting and such, because of the dispensation we are now in??? God forbid. Even in the New testament, we have to follow the direction of God, as revealed through Jesus Christ. And, the first, greatest commandment that was back then, and is today, is, (MT 22:37-38) Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. Shall we abandon this one also??? No. Now, the point is, if we, call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ, then we need to be doing everything we can, to please God. And since God, is only asking for a tenth of our increase, what is that, compared to the 100% that He gave us, when He gave His only begotten Son, to die for us, so that we could be saved???

Now, another question pops up sometimes and I want to address it briefly. Some of you, have the impression that giving money to the church, is in effect, giving it to the preacher. Well, you are. But, the preacher, is duty bound by God, just as the Levites were, to use it, for the spreading of the Gospel, and other things that God directs him, or her to do. God says that the preacher could have a tenth of the tithe for their own use, but today, many preachers abuse this. This is why you need to make sure that your pastor, is truly dedicated to the Lord, and not to getting rich, off of you. Many churches, use a special collection for the preacher's salary. That is the best way to go. Lu. 10:7.... for the labourer is worthy of his hire.

Now, one thing many of you don't realize is, that the tithing of the firstfruits of your increase, means tithing on your gross earnings, and not on your net. If you make $500.00 a week, and take home is $375.00, then your tithe is $50.00, not $37.50. The fact that the government, gets its hands on your money first, means nothing. You owe God, $50.00. If you were working at a job where they didn't take out taxes, you would pay it, right?? So, what is the difference?? Many of you want to pay your bills first, then give God what is left, and call it tithes. That is not what it is. It is leftovers. How many of you would like to go to a restaurant, and be served leftover food??? You wouldn't like it. Especially when you have to pay for it. Well, that is what you are doing to God. Firstfruits, means the first pick. This is what God commands. One other thing. Your tithes, should be going to your local church, the one you are a member of. The one where you are being spiritually fed. If you are not being fed there, then find a church where they preach, and believe the entire bible, and join it, then start paying your tithes there. Your offerings, on the other hand, can go there, or to any other ministry, you would like to support . But, by all means, seek God first.

Now, let's look at the other part that God says we are robbing Him. The offering.

The offering, is what is given, as a show of your appreciation for what God has been, and is doing in your life. This is over and above the tithe. The more you give, the more of a blessing, God will bestow on you.

It's like this. Say for instance, you leave for work, and your child is at home alone, and you tell them to clean up the dishes in the sink. And, when you come back, you find them washed. 'You tell the child. You are a good obedient child', and you appreciate them doing what you told them to do. But, let's look at the same thing, except, in this instance, when you get home, you find not only did the child do the dishes, but he(she), put them up, they cleaned up the entire kitchen, vacuumed the living room, and just cleaned up the entire house, and even prepared dinner for you. What would you do, and say then??? I'm pretty sure, you would give them something extra special, as soon as you could.

Well, the same thing is more true with God. Giving tithes, is our obligation, it is His commandment to us. Doing so, is an act of obedience. However, giving an offering, is an act of showing our appreciation for what God has done, as well as wanting to please Him. And what do you think God's response will be??

(Mal 3:10) Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (Mal 3:11) And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.

Notice the italicized phrase in the second and third lines above. God is saying to you, "Try Me, now." He is saying that He will bless you so much, that you won't be able to handle it. Wow!!! I like that. But He doesn't stop there. He goes on to say, He, not you, will turn back the devourer, that would come to take away, what God has blessed you with.

Have you ever wondered, that no matter how much money you make, there just doesn't seem to be any way out of your financial difficulties? Everytime you get a bonus, vacation, or profit sharing check, some emergency comes up, it could be an accident, sickness, or worse, and you have to not only spend it, but borrow money to pay to fix the problem?? You take one step forward, and get knocked back two?? That, my friends, is the devourer, coming to destroy what you have (ST. JOHN 10:10). That's right my friends. Many of your health problems, and such, are directly the result of your failure to honor God, in the area of tithes and offerings. It is all tied in together. If you figure like this, in order to get money, you have to work. Well, if you are sick, you can't work, so you lose money, and possibly have to pay out a lot of money to get well, if you get well at all. That's all part of God's blessings and curse.

You need God's blessing and protection, over you, your household, and your finances. And notice, this is just for being obedient, and paying your tithes. But, when you give an offering, over and above your tithes....... WATCH OUT!!!!!!! You've hit the mother load then. (Lu 6:38) Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Notice, God will cause all sorts of things to come your way. Your needs will be met, and you will have an abundance left over. And these blessings, will come by way of 'men.' That's right, God uses people, to be a blessing to those of us, that follow His directions. You can be blessed out of your socks, or you can try to make something out of your life, without God's help.

Now, as God said in the second subject verse, because the people weren't doing what He told them, they were 'cursed with a curse.' That means, that God was no longer going to protect them. They were on their own. If you read their history, they lost all they had. They became sickly, were put in to slavery, they died early, due to starvation and disease. God didn't put these things on them, but without His protection, they were literally at the mecry of the enemy. The enemy being the devil. It's just like when it is raining, and you are in your house, the rain can't touch you, right? However, if you go outside, then you have no protection, and you will most likely get wet, right??? Well, as long as you are obedient to God, and doing things to please Him, you are under the roof of His protection. But, if you disobey, and go against Him, you, in effect, walk out from under His protection, and are subject to whatever comes your way.

Isn't it nice to know that God is your protection, all the time, when you are
doing right? Those of you, that continue to 'do your own thing' should be worried. Especially in the climate we live in today. All sorts of things are happening with the economy, jobs and crime. What are you going to do?? Take care of it yourself, and get destroyed?? Or Trust in God's protection.

The combination of giving tithes and offerings, is God's perfect will for your life. It is, as I said earlier, an act of obedience, and appreciation. The size of the offering, is not as important as the state of mind you are giving it in. (2Co 9:6-7) But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

If you will notice, there are conditions to receiving and amount of blessings from God. They have to do with whether or not you are giving with a truly obedient and appreciative heart. We sometimes use the word hilarious, meaning, that we love giving to God. We just bubble over. The reason being, that we know that it pleases God. That is the first and foremost thing. Then, we also know, that we will be getting something back from Him, for our giving.. Or if you are moaning and groaning about having to give any thing to God. You would do better, keeping your money, than giving to God, with the mindset that you wish there was a way to get around it. Remember, God, doesn't need your money, it is you, that needs His blessing in your life. If you could grasp this one thing, 'THE MORE YOU GIVE, THE MORE YOU WILL RECEIVE', you will be well on your way to God's blessing.

Most of you, have no problem giving your money to people, and things, that, in the long run, can't, or won't do a thing for you, but make you feel good, for a minute. The numbers man, the lottery, slot machines, bookies, and such. But, when your money is all gone, see if they will give you money to feed your families, or put a roof over your head, or pay a medical bills.

In (1 KI.17:10-16), there is an interesting story, about a widow woman, and her son, who were just abut to eat their last meal, and were getting ready to die, when a man of God came along, and asked for some of their food. Now, as the story says, God had directed the man of God, to go to her place. He also directed the woman, to give this man some of her food. Let me ask you this. If this had been you, what would you have done???

Well anyway, she did what the man asked her to do, and gave him some of her Last food. Not only that, she gave it to him, before her and her son had any. In a sense, she gave him the firstfruits, of what she had. And for her obedience, God blessed her so, that the little food she had left, stretched out and multiplied enough, so they never went hungry. Not only that, but, when her son died, he was raised from the dead by God. Quite a blessing, for just a little obedience, isn't it????? How many blessings have you missed, for your disobedience?? My point is, many of you, will hold on to your money for dear life, when it comes to God. Some of you, that are Christians, need to learn this. Many people that aren't christians, get blessings from God, simply because they believe in tithing, and giving to God, and they get blessed, while you sit around rebuking the devil, and wondering why. God blesses their obedience. You should learn from them. It's funny, God has more trouble with some of His own children, than He does with the world's children. For those of you that aren't saved, you need to get saved, so you can enjoy all the benefits, that God has to offer, to those that love Him.

If you are not saved, then you need to get saved. All you have to do, is pray, Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, in need of salvation. Come in to my heart, and cleanse me of my sin. Be Lord of my life. I believe that you died on the cross for my sin, and arose from the dead, and now, you are at the right hand of God the Father. And according to your Word, I am now saved. Thank you Jesus. If you prayed that from the heart, you are now saved. Congratulations!!!!
NEXT MONTH'S MESSAGE - LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX, BABY!!
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