Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!
Well, today – April 30th – is tax day in Canada. Therefore, it just seemed like the perfect time to connect our stewardship to our treasures for this week’s devotion.
Let’s top up our coffees and peel away this last layer for our final devotion on Stewardship…
Budgeting is a Thanksgiving Necessity
He ordered the people living in Jerusalem to give the portion due the priests and Levites so they could devote themselves to the Law of the Lord. As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the first fruits of their grain, new wine, olive oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything. The people of Israel and Judah who lived in the towns of Judah also brought a tithe of their herds and flocks and a tithe of the holy things dedicated to the Lord their God, and they piled them in heaps. 2 Chronicles 31:4-7
“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. … Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Malachi 3:8-10
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
I am the budgeter and bill payer in our family. Looking after a home and family financially is a constant task. I am thankful for the employment of both myself and my husband to be able to cover all the bills and expenses. On occasions, I need to review our spending pattern and consider how we can cut back or change bad habits we have been displaying. We need to prioritize renovations and maintenance activities according to our available income. However, in all financial seasons, I give thanks to God for a warm/cool home we can come to at the end of a day.
A church home is no different. It has bills it needs to pay. It has expenses no different than your home whether you pay rent or a mortgage and taxes. It has to be able to pay for utilities, maintenance, cleaners, office supplies, the church staff that serve their members, and any activities in which the church members desire to participate, in order to further the gospel. Just like your home and my home, no one is going to pay those bills except you and me.
Like most of God’s laws, tithing is a very practical rule for the people of God to follow. In fact, tithing was given by God to the Israelites which assisted in the care of the Temple and the Levites, who served and maintained the temple. Offerings were not invented by man, but instituted by God himself as a means of thanksgiving back to him from his children, and as a result, it cared for his church. Do you, your family and your congregation view your offerings in this way? If not, perhaps it would be a good time to start considering such a thing.
Think about it, if all families/households of a congregation willingly tithed – gave 10 percent of their income – the needs of the church, the outreach of the Gospel and the spiritual care of those who come through its doors would be amply supplied. Even if it was 10 percent of our net incomes, as opposed to our gross incomes, I would bet that all expenses would be paid. Unfortunately, I would bet most families do not tithe. (To be honest, we do not give quite a full tithe either at this point in time, but it is something I am striving for.) We can come up with many excuses not to tithe. Let’s be honest; they are excuses, because whatever the reason, we are putting a greater priority on something else financially than giving back to God what He first entrusted to us.
With that in mind, the Lord does not want our financial gift of thanksgiving to be one of bitter begrudging or complaint, but one of willingness and joy. Therefore, give with a joyful heart what you have set apart for the Lord. This takes practical steps in order to be aware of returning to the Lord with what he has blessed you, and then including it as part of your household budget. Just like budgets don’t just happen, neither does tithing. Be aware. Be diligent. Satan, the world, and our sinful selves will easily keep that money spent if we are not diligent in setting it aside.
Once you have calculated an amount, make a commitment to put that amount in your offering envelope every pay period, right away. It may help to keep in mind that your offering is a very important part in keeping your church home operational, at the least. I would bet that many church closures now-a-days are not just due to the lack of people, but due to the lack of financial offerings that are required to keep a church home operational, even though we are living in a time of plenty. We are so comfortable in our lives of excess, that it is hard to give up the extras. But I challenge you to challenge yourself, get a bit out of your comfort zone, just as Christ did for you that day on Calvary. Remember, you can never out give the Lord.
Prayer: Dear Lord, you have blessed me in so many ways. All I have is from you. Stir my heart to be joyful in giving back to you the first fruits of what you have given me with my treasures. Being a good steward first means acknowledging your bounty and giving thanks to you through my offering. As a result, just like the offerings of the Israelites were to support the care of the temple and those serving you through its work, I know, like any home, my church home needs to be cared for and requires the means to be able to cover its expenses. I also know that I am an important part in helping to make that happen. My church home, your holy house, is a blessing to me and I thank You for it and the work we do to proclaim Your Gospel of love and salvation. Lord, help me to be a good steward of the financial resources You have blessed me with so that I may proclaim my thanksgiving to you, and be a blessing to my congregation. Guide my heart and mind to make my gift-giving a priority and to set an amount as a priority in my own budget as the first fruits of my financial blessing. Thank-you for your love and patience! In Jesus’ name I pray! AMEN!
Reflection: Do you have a set amount that you offer on a regular basis? Commit to give greater attention to your gift giving. Turn your response to God through your offering and make it a priority, not the left over. To do this you may wish to follow these steps:
- Calculate your annual offering amount to be 10 percent of your net annual income, or 5% or 3%, or any percent you feel comfortable with. (To do this multiply your net (after tax) income by .10 for 10%, or .05 for 5%, or .03 for 3%, etc.
- Divide that annual offering amount by the number of pay cheques you get each year. This will be your offering amount per pay.
- Once you have your offering amount per pay, then divide it up how you wish to cover the number of Sundays until next pay.
- JOYFULLY return this thanksgiving offering back to the Lord.
- Watch as God fulfills his promise in Malachi 3:10, Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”