October is here!
It seems crazy to think that we are already entering the final quarter of the year. However, it is here!
October always brings excitement. College football, cooler weather (sometimes!), hayrides, harvests, and fall festivals abound. Plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas are in the works. And the seasonal aromas begin to fill the air.
This year, October brings another challenge to our church. It is a challenge to take the Lord at His Word. It is a challenge to prove ourselves faithful beyond measure to Him. It is challenge straight from Scripture.
This year has been difficult on many fronts for many of us. From soaring gas prices (which have thankfully come down a little) to grocery carts that have less food for the same amount of money, many factors have contributed to a little less free spending cash to go around. This also affects the church, unfortunately. That is where the challenge comes in. But, as with the way that God operates, the challenge is rooted in a promise…from Him!
“’Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so that there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test.’” Malachi 3.10, NLT
Let’s look at a couple of things that God says through Malachi here.
- He makes the imperative statement that we are to bring the FULL tithe to Him. Yes, the context here is bound to the agricultural society of Ancient Israel. However, the principle of bringing the first and the best to God saturates the Scriptures as the mode of operation for those who claim to be His people.
- The local congregation becomes the focal target for where this tithe is applied. Charitable giving is to be held in high esteem. The Bible speaks repeatedly about giving to the needy. However, that is always in addition to the tithe, not in place of. Notice it specifically points out in this verse the Temple. This really brings the local assembly to the forefront. Yes, it was a different set up and circumstance than what know of as church. That does not change the collective focus of who we are together and God’s direction for us to give to Him through the church first.
- God promises a blessing. I am not a prosperity preacher, but I do believe in putting faith in the promises God makes. He explicitly states that there is bountiful blessing in obeying Him. This is a faith exercise. Do we take God at His Word?
- The blessing is conditional. He states, “If you do”. If you do what? Bring the fullness of the tithe. Not just a little of your extra. Not just what you have left over. But, the full first fruits of what He has already given you. Most of the time, we miss on God’s blessing because we are operating our giving on the margin of what we have and not out of the best He has provided.
Okay, so what is the challenge? Well, I have two challenges for you and I am rooting them both in the command of God and the promise of God. I want you to start with prayer as you read these. You ready? Here they are:
- Challenge #1: October will be a huge focus for us to catch up on our budget. Specifically, we are prayerfully looking at October 23 as the day to give above and beyond in order to honor God from our hearts and from our finances. I have thought about putting a specific dollar amount to target for that day, but it seems best to issue the challenge for us all to prayerfully give above and beyond as we believe God has directed us.
- Challenge #2: Make a long term commitment to regular tithing. Yes, this may be a bigger step for you. But, I encourage you to consider it this way: God has made a strong promise about tithing to us. It may be hard to see exactly where the money comes from and I am not urging you to be unwise. I am, however, asking you to consider the statement of faith that it would make for you to begin tithing: “God, I don’t have the money to do this, but I am taking You at Your Word.” Try it for three months (October through December) and literally live out Malachi 3.10 in putting Him to the test! I would love to talk to you more about this one on one, if you like!
Now, with the challenge and the decision to take God at His Word comes our responsibility in the matter. While we are praying for Oct. 23 to be a monumental day and a turning point for the year, I do want to ask you to be sure to continue the commitment to give beyond that day as well! This day of giving is aimed to help us catch up, but we also want to prevent ourselves from falling behind in November and December.
Many of you have been faithful to give throughout the years, and I want to say that I personally appreciate you and our church appreciates you. Thank you for modeling faithfulness! Some have not been able to give for various reasons. The challenge is geared to help us all stand firm on what the Lord has called us to do. That may be demonstrated in remaining faithful or it may be in becoming faithful from this point forward. The reminder is that God is faithful and He will carry us all through as we lean into Him.
Church, hear my heart. I believe God is doing something in Fairburn and our church is in a pivotal position to see His hand at work. My hope for each of you is to see God’s faithfulness playing out in your life as you walk with Him in this. Yes, we have big needs at our church, but we serve a BIG GOD! Join me in the challenge and let’s see what God will do!