February 13, 2023
God’s Provision for the Poor
In their writings, the Bible’s authors included many of God’s provisions for the poor, the strangers, the widows, and the fatherless. We have records of this that go all the way back to Mount Sinai.
“Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove” (Exodus 23:10-11).
It generally is understood that “brother” here refers to fellow Israelites or fellow believers. We also think of them as the worthy poor or “the least of these My brethren.” The psalms give direction on how we should treat those in need. “Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3-4).
This passage indicates our involvement in ways beyond just providing food. Then there are promises to those who help the needy. “He who gives to the poor will not lack” (Proverbs 28:27). “The king who judges the poor with truth, his throne will be established forever” (Proverbs 29:14).
And King David noted, “Blessed is he who considers the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble” (Psalm. 41:1). This, then, always had been a priority in ancient Israel even if, at times, the people lost sight of it.
In contrast, even in more modern times, particularly in England, under the impact of what has been known as “Social Darwinism,” many thought that not only was there no moral imperative to help the poor but also that it was, in fact, wrong to do so.
Instead, following the forces of nature, in which the strong survive at the expense of the weak, “Social Darwinists” believed that it would be detrimental to society to help the poor, the sickly, and the indigent because, if they multiplied, they would only weaken the social fabric of the nation as a whole. However cruel, this thinking was the logical outgrowth of belief in evolution and the false narrative it proclaims.
Related Memory Texts: Leviticus 23:22; Deuteronomy 15:11; Exodus 23:10-11; Psalm 82:3-4; Proverbs 28:27; Proverbs 29:14; Psalm. 41:1
February 12, 2023
The Life and Ministry of Yeshua [Jesus]
Early in His public ministry, Yeshua [Jesus] traveled to Nazareth, in the region of Galilee. This was His hometown, and the local people already had heard of His work and miracles. As His custom was, Yeshua [Jesus] attended Sabbath services in the synagogue.
The religious leaders apparently had overlooked the prophecies that spoke of a suffering Messiah and had misapplied those that pointed to the glory of His second coming (which should serve as a reminder to us of how important understanding prophecy really is), most of the people believed the false idea that the Messiah’s mission was to free Israel from its conquerors and oppressors, the Romans.
To think that the Messiah’s mission statement came from Isaiah 61:1, 2 must have been a real shock. The poor usually were looked down upon by unscrupulous officials such as tax collectors, those in business, and even their own neighbors.
It commonly was thought that poverty was the curse of God and that their unfortunate condition must have been their own fault. With this mindset, few people had any concern for the poor and their unhappy plight.
Yet, Yeshua’s love for the poor was one of the greatest evidences of His Messiahship, as seen in how Yeshua answered John the Baptist’s question about Him as the Messiah (see Matthew 11:1–6). “Like the Saviour’s disciples, John the Baptist did not understand the nature of Messiah’s kingdom.
He expected Yeshua to take the throne of David; and as time passed, and the Saviour made no claim to kingly authority, John became perplexed and troubled.
Related Memory Texts: Isaiah 61:1-2; Matthew 11:1–6; Luke 4:16–19; Luke 7:19–23; James 1:27
February 09, 2023
Moses in Egypt
The character of Moses dominated the early years of sacred history. He was kept alive in the providence of God, who worked through an enterprising mother and a caring sister. When Pharaoh’s daughter found baby Moses in the ark of bulrushes, she asked his Hebrew mother to care for him and paid her to do so.
What a blessed challenge for a young mother who was an exile and slave! Jochebed had only 12 years to teach her child to pray, to trust and honor God, and shape his character for a life of service. For years, Moses was trained in the royal courts of Egypt.
“And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds’ ” (Acts 7:22). As Moses matured as a man, he made a conscious decision that changed his life and the course of history.
Egypt was one of the greatest powers in the ancient world at the time, if not the greatest. The Nile River created such fertile land that Egypt, flush with crops, was a wealthy and powerful nation, and Moses himself would have been at the top of this kingdom.
It’s hard to imagine how tempting the lure of the world, the world of Egypt and all its treasures, must have been to him in his early years. Surely, he must have found the adoration, the pleasures, and the riches tempting.
No doubt he probably very easily could have justified staying rather than throwing in his lot with a bunch of despised slaves. And yet, what? As Scripture says, he chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews. 11:25).
And talk about afflictions: a major part of the book of Exodus deals with the struggles and trials of Moses, who, even after all he went through, was still not able to cross over to the Promised Land (see Numbers 20:12). Yet, in the end, we all know that Moses made the right choice, even if at times he must have wondered himself if he really had.
Related Memory Texts: Acts 7:22; Hebrews 11:24–29; Numbers 20:12
February 08, 2023
From Deceiver to Prince
As a young man who loved and feared God, Jacob nevertheless stooped to conspire with his mother, Rebekah, to deceive his father and gain his blessing. As a consequence, he started his adult life on the wrong path, having to flee or, perhaps, face an early death.
Rebekah told Jacob to “flee thou to Laban . . . ; and tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away; . . . then I will send, and fetch thee” (Genesis 27:43–45). Jacob was actually gone for 20 years, and he never saw his mother’s face again.
Through humiliation, repentance, and self-surrender, this sinful, erring mortal prevailed with the Majesty of heaven. He had fastened his trembling grasp upon the promises of God, and the heart of Infinite Love could not turn away the sinner’s plea.
The error that had led to Jacob’s sin in obtaining the birthright by fraud was now clearly set before him. He had not trusted God’s promises, but had sought by his own efforts to bring about that which God would have accomplished in His own time and way.
Jacob had received the blessing for which his soul had longed. His sin as a supplanter and deceiver had been pardoned. The Bible informs us that all three of the patriarchs and their wives are buried in the same cave.
Jacob’s trust in God was strong, and he considered himself a stranger and pilgrim on the earth (see Hebrews 11:13). Despite mistakes, he left home with nothing but came back to Canaan a wealthy man.
Related Memory Texts: Genesis 27:43–45; Genesis 32:22–31; Genesis 49:29–33; Hebrews 11:13
February 07, 2023
Lot’s Bad Decisions
When Abram left his homeland in response to God’s call, his nephew Lot chose to go with him on his pilgrimage. Genesis 13 records that God blessed Abram to the point that he “was very rich in cattle [the primary measure of wealth in that culture], in silver, and in gold” (Genesis 13:2).
Lot also “had flocks, and herds, and tents” (Genesis 13:5). They both became so wealthy with their extensive livestock herds that they could not dwell close together. In order to avoid strife between their herdsmen, Abram offered Lot the choice of where he would like to live.
Of course, Lot should have deferred to Abram, his senior, and because he owed his own prosperity to his connection to him. However, he showed no gratitude to his benefactor and selfishly wanted what he considered the best land available.
However easily Lot could have justified his decision to move to the city, things didn’t turn out so great for him there, and when Abram heard about what happened to him, he didn’t say, “Well, too bad, Lot. You reap what you sow.”
Instead, he came to his rescue (see Genesis 14). Sometimes in our quest for more stuff, we don’t learn our lessons well. Lot moved right back into Sodom! But in His great mercy, God sent messengers of warning to Lot and his family, letting them know of the pending destruction of these cities
Because of Abraham’s concern for Lot and his family, he bargained with God to spare the cities if righteous people could be found in them. He started with 50 and went down to 10. In harmony with His character of love, God never stopped granting mercy until Abraham stopped asking!
God and the two angels personally delivered Lot, his wife, and their two daughters. But his wife looked back and became a pillar of salt. Lot entered Sodom a wealthy man and came out with almost nothing.
How careful we need to be about the kind of decisions that we make, especially thinking only of short-term gains in contrast to the big picture (see Mark 8:36, 37)
Related Memory Texts: Genesis 13:2; Genesis 13:5; Genesis 13:10–12; Genesis 14; Genesis 18:20–33; Mark 8:36, 37
February 06, 2023
Abram, the Father of the Faithful
God called Abram to leave his homeland and his kinfolk and go to a land that He would show him. Thus began the bloodline of the Messiah. Though details aren’t given, Abram had to leave the land of his birth and early years. Surely, it wasn’t an easy decision, and no doubt he gave up some earthly pleasure and conveniences to do it.
This was a major life-changing event for Abram and his family. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).
Abraham’s unquestioning obedience is one of the most striking evidences of faith to be found in all the Bible. Most of us would not be eager to leave our homeland and our friends and family members. But Abram did so. Abram was satisfied to be where God wanted him to be. As strange as this may seem, Abram, Isaac, and Jacob never received that land in their lifetimes. Yet, they remained faithful to God anyway.
Abram was known as a prince by those living around him. He was known to be generous, brave, hospitable, and a servant of the Most High God. His witness for God was exemplary. By the grace of God, we are heirs with Abraham.
“Just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham” (Galatians 3:6, 7). “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). With Abraham, as with Noah, we see someone making a major lifechanging decision as a result of obeying God.
Related Memory Texts: Genesis 12:1–3; Hebrews 11:8-13; Galatians 3:6, 7; Galatians 3:29; 2 Corinthians 4:18
February 05, 2023
Noah Found Grace
It is noteworthy to consider that those who are seeking heavenly treasure are frequently called by God to make major life alterations here on earth. Be prepared to face the same thing, if need be.
Noah could have spent his time and resources building a home for himself, but he chose to make a drastic change in his life and to spend 120 years of that life in following the call of God to build the ark.
Many skeptics today dismiss the story of the Flood as a myth, often based on scientific speculations about the known laws of nature. This is nothing new. The world before the Flood reasoned that for centuries the laws of nature had been fixed. The recurring seasons had come in their order.
Heretofore rain had never fallen; the earth had been watered by a mist or dew. The rivers had never yet passed their boundaries, but had borne their waters safely to the sea. Fixed decrees had kept the waters from overflowing their banks.
Before the Flood, people argued that a flood could never come based on a faulty understanding of reality; after the Flood, based on a faulty understanding of reality, they argue that it never came to begin with. As the Bible says: “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastic 1:9).
Meanwhile, the Bible also says that people will be skeptical of endtime events, as they were of the Flood (see 2 Peter 3:3–7). How can we, then, prepare for the coming destruction? There is a conscious decision called “delayed gratification.”
This basically means that we should patiently do the work God has called us to do in the hope of a more glorious future reward. We don’t know when Messiah [Christ] will return. In one sense, it doesn’t matter. What matters instead is that, like Noah, we do what God asks of us in the meantime, even if, as with Noah, it means some radical life changes.
How ready would you be to make a major change in your life for God if, like Noah, you were called to do just that?
Related Memory Texts: Genesis 6:5–14; Ecclesiastic 1:9; Luke 16:10; 2 Peter 3:3–7
February 04, 2023
Laying Up Treasure in Heaven
Yeshua [Jesus] gave us the world’s best investment strategy when He said: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19, 20).
Yeshua [Jesus] concludes His investment strategy by saying, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). In other words: show Me what you spend your money on, and I will show you where your heart is, because wherever you put your money, your heart is sure to follow, if it’s not there already.
Do you want a heart for the kingdom of God? If so, then put your money where it will reap eternal rewards. Put your time and your money and prayer into God’s work. If you do, you will soon become even more interested in that work, and your heart will follow, as well.
Related Memory Texts: Matthew 6:19, 20; Matthew 6:21; Mark 8:36, 37
February 02, 2023
Term Limits and Borrowing Points
In harmony with other seven-year statutes (Exodus 21:2; Leviticus 25:3, 4), not only were the slaves or servants and the land regulated but also the lenders. Because the lenders did not want to forgive any debts, the longest anyone could be in debt was seven years.
Whatever else we can take from these verses, they do show that the Lord cares about these kinds of financial issues, especially when, at that time, they concerned fellow Israelites. These verses also show that the Lord acknowledged the reality of debt, no matter how bad it generally was. He also emphasized that it was to be avoided as much as possible.
Today, by contrast, people in many parts of the world have loans for 30 and 40 years for home purchases. It seems that one reason houses cost so much is that credit is available to provide loans to purchase them.
Meanwhile, many people—parents and students—wonder about borrowing money for an education. As a rule, getting a college degree will enhance a person’s income capability for the rest of his or her life. Some people might have to borrow some money to pay for their education, but keep in mind these factors.
You have to pay it back with interest. Try to get all of the grants and scholarships that you can qualify for. Work and save all you can for school. Take only courses that will lead to a job. Have parents help. In Bible times, parents gave their children farmland so that they could make a living.
Today that “inheritance” should likely be an education so that they can become independent adults. In an ideal world, there would be no borrowing and no debt. But because we don’t live in an ideal world, there might be times when it is necessary to borrow.
Just make sure that you have the best deal possible and the best interest rate available. Then borrow the very minimum that you need and pay it off as quickly as possible to save on interest costs.
In principle, however, to whatever degree humanly possible, we should seek to avoid debt, and by following biblical financial principles in our everyday lives, we can go a long way toward avoiding unnecessary debt and the terrible strain it can put on us and our families.
Related Memory Texts: Deuteronomy 15:1–5; Exodus 21:2; Leviticus 25:3, 4; Ecclesiastic. 12:14
February 01, 2023
Surety and Get-Rich-Quick Schemes
The Bible is very clear that God does not want His children to become responsible for the debt obligations of others. In the book of Proverbs, the Lord has warned us against surety—that is, cosigning or being guarantor for another person.
Surety usually occurs when a person with poor credit seeks a loan from a lending institution and does not qualify for the loan. The loan officer will tell the unqualified person that if he or she will get a friend with good credit to cosign with him or her, then the bank will grant the loan and hold the cosigner responsible in the event of a default.
Sometimes a fellow church member will come to you and ask you to cosign. Your response should be: “The Bible says I should never do that.” Please understand that the Bible encourages us to be helpful to those in need, but we should not become responsible for their debts.
Parents are sometimes asked by teenagers to cosign for the purchase of their first car. Or older adult children will ask parents to cosign for a business loan. The same answer applies. It is appropriate to help others if there is a real need, but do not become surety for the debts of others. Studies show that 75 percent of those who cosigned end up making the payments!
Related Memory Texts: Proverbs 6:1–5; Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 22:26; Proverbs 6:1–5; Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 22:26
January 31, 2023
How to Get Out of Debt
What can be done to escape from this unfortunate phenomenon? If you are in debt, the following outline will help you begin a debt elimination process. The plan is simple. It has a premise and three steps. The premise is a commitment to God to be faithful in returning His holy tithe to access His wisdom and blessing. He is eager to bless those who obey Him.
Step 1 is to declare a moratorium on additional debt: no more credit spending. If you don’t borrow money, you can’t get into debt. If you don’t borrow any more money, you can’t get further into debt.
Step 2 is to make a covenant with God that from this point on, as He blesses, you will pay off your debts as quickly as possible. When God blesses you financially, use the money to reduce debt—not to purchase more things. This step is probably the most crucial. When most folks receive unexpected money, they simply spend it. Don’t; instead apply it to your debt-reduction plan.
Step 3 is the hands-on practical part. Make a list of all your debts, from the largest to the smallest, in descending order. For most families, the home mortgage is at the top of the list, and a credit card or personal debt is at the bottom.
Begin by making at least the minimum payment due on each of your debts on a monthly basis. Next, double up or increase your payments in any way you can on the debt at the bottom of the list. You’ll be happily surprised how quickly you can eliminate that smallest debt.
Then use the money that you were paying on the bottom debt to add to the basic payment on the next debt as you work your way up the list. As you eliminate your smaller high-interest debts, you’ll free up a surprising amount of money to place on the next-higher debts.
God clearly doesn’t want us in debt. Once the covenant is made, many families find that God blesses them in unexpected ways, and the debt is reduced faster than they had anticipated.
By following these three simple steps, many families have become debt-free. You can too! By putting God first, you’ll receive His wisdom and blessing for managing what He has entrusted to you.
Related Memory Texts: Proverbs 22:7; Hebrews 13:5
January 30, 2023
Following Godly Counsel
We are material beings, and we live in a material world, a world that, at times, can be very alluring. You’d have to be made out of steel and synthetic oil, not flesh and blood, not to feel, at times, the lure of material possessions and the desire for wealth.
At one time or another, who hasn’t fantasized about being rich or winning the lottery? Though we all face it, and there is nothing wrong in and of itself in working hard to earn a good living or even being wealthy, none of us has to succumb to the trap of making idols out of money, wealth, and material possessions.
We are promised divine power to stay faithful to what we know is right. This is important, because the temptation of wealth and material possessions has led to the ruin of many souls.
What do your choices tell you about how well you deal with the lure of the world? Why is working hard to earn a good living not necessarily the same thing as making an idol of wealth or money? How can we learn the difference?
Related Memory Texts: Matthew 6:24; 1 John 2:15; Ecclesiastes 4:8; Psalm 50:14, 15
January 29, 2023
The Debt Problems
Studies show that there are three primary reasons that people get into financial difficulty. They are listed here in the order of greatest frequency.
The first is ignorance. Many people, even the educated, are financially illiterate. They were simply never exposed to the biblical or even secular principles of money management. There is hope, however! This lesson will provide a simple outline of these principles and how to apply them.
The second reason for financial difficulties is greed, or selfishness. In response to advertising and personal desire, people simply live beyond their means. They aren’t willing to live in, drive, or wear what they can really afford. Many of these same people also feel that they are just too poor to tithe. As a consequence, they live their lives without God’s promised wisdom and blessing (see Malachi 3:10, 11; Matthew 6:33). There’s hope for these people, as well, but it requires a change of heart—and a spirit of contentment.
The third reason people find themselves in financial difficulty is personal misfortune. They may have experienced a serious illness without adequate health insurance. They may have been abandoned by a spendthrift marriage partner. A natural disaster may have wiped out their possessions.
Or they may have been born and raised in abject poverty. There is hope for these people too. Though their path is more difficult, their troubles can be overcome. Change may come with the support of Christian friends, the counsel and/or assistance of godly counselors, hard work coupled with a good education, and the blessing and providence of God.
Whatever the reason, even if it’s a person’s own fault, debt can be alleviated. However, those in debt will need to make some changes in their lives, their spending, and their financial priorities.
Related Memory Texts: Malachi 3:10, 11; Matthew 6:33; 1 Timothy 6:6–9
January 28, 2023
Dealing With Debt
One definition of debt is “living today on what you expect to earn in the future.” Today debt seems to be a way of life, but it should not be the norm for Christians. The Bible discourages debt. In the Scriptures there are at least 26 references to debt, and all are negative. The Bible does not say that it is a sin to borrow money, but it does talk about the often-bad consequences of doing so.
When considering financial obligations, Paul counseled: “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. Owe no one anything except to love one another” (Romans 13:7, 8).
Why is debt an almost international scourge at every level— personal, corporate, and government? Every society has always had at least a small percentage who were in debt. But today a much larger portion of the people are in debt, and it’s almost never to their benefit.
“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7)
Related Memory Texts: Romans 13:7, 8; Proverbs 22:7
January 26, 2023
Special Projects: “Big Jar” Giving
Research has shown that only about 9 percent of people’s assets are liquid and could be contributed as an offering on a moment’s notice. Cash, checking, savings, money market funds, and so on are generally considered liquid assets, at least for those possessing things like this.
Most of our assets, about 91 percent, are “invested” in real estate, such as our homes, our livestock (if we are rural), or other nonliquid items.
The differences in the percentages of liquid and nonliquid assets can be illustrated by putting 1,000 pennies in two different glass jars, with 10 pennies representing each percentage point. So, you would have 90 pennies in a small jar representing the 9 percent liquid assets and 910 pennies in a large quart-size jar representing the 91 percent of nonliquid assets.
Most people give their offerings or contributions from the small jar—from their liquid assets. This is what they have in their checking account or pocketbook. But when someone really gets excited about something, they give from the big jar. The Bible tells many such stories.
Why is sacrificial giving as important for the givers as for the recipients?
Related Memory Texts: Mark 14:3–9; John 12:2–8; Matthew 26:15; Acts 4:36, 37; Matthew 6:21
January 25, 2023
God Takes Note of Our Offerings
Yeshua [Jesus] and His disciples were in the temple courtyard where the treasury chests were located, and He watched those who were bringing their gifts. He was close enough to see that a widow had given two copper coins. She had put in all that she had.
But Yeshua [Jesus] understood her motive. She believed the service of the temple to be of God’s appointment, and she was anxious to do her utmost to sustain it. She did what she could, and her act was to be a monument to her memory through all time, and her joy in eternity.
Her heart went with her gift; its value was estimated, not by the worth of the coin, but by the love to God and the interest in His work that had prompted the deed. Another very significant point is that this is the only gift Yeshua [Jesus] ever commended—a gift to a church that was just about to reject Him, a church that greatly deviated from its calling and mission.
Why did a Roman centurion receive a visit from a heavenly angel? Which of his two actions were noted in heaven?
Related Memory Texts: Mark 12:41–44; Acts 10:1–4; Matthew 6:21; Luke 10:27
January 24, 2023
Offerings and Worship
The Bible does not give us an order of service for worship. But it appears that at least four things are present in worship services. In the New Testament this list includes study / preaching, prayer, music, and tithes and offerings.
Three times each year, the men (and families) of Israel were all to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem. And “ ‘they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed’ ” (Deuteronomy 16:16).
In other words, part of the worship experience was the returning of tithe and giving offerings. It was at Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles that God’s children brought their tithes and offerings.
It’s hard to imagine someone coming to those feasts empty-handed. In other words, for ancient Israel the giving of their tithes and offerings was a central part of their worship experience.
Worship, true worship, isn’t just expressing in words and songs and prayer our thankfulness and gratitude to God, but also expressing that thankfulness and gratitude to God by the bringing of our offerings to the house of the Lord.
They brought it to the temple; we bring it to the church on Sabbath (at least as one way to return our tithe and offerings), an act of worship.
What has been your own experience with the role of returning tithe and offerings as part of worship? How does the practice impact your relationship with God?
Related Memory Texts: Deuteronomy 16:16; 1 Chronicles 16:29; Psalm 96:8, 9; Psalm 116:16–18
January 23, 2023
What Portion for Offerings?
Our offerings are an acknowledgment and expression of our gratitude to God for His abundant gifts of life, redemption, sustenance, and constant blessings of many kinds. So, the amount of our offerings is based on what we have been blessed with. “ ‘For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required’ ” (Luke 12:48).
How could we ever repay God for all His blessings to us? The simple answer is that we never could. It seems that the best we can do is be generous with the cause of God and in helping our fellow human beings.
When Yeshua [Jesus] sent out His disciples on a missionary trip, He told them, Freely you have received, freely give (Matthew 10:8). Our offerings contribute to the development of Messiah like [Christlike] character.
We are thereby changed from selfishness to love; we are to be concerned for others and the cause of God as Messiah [Christ] was. Let us always remember that “ ‘God so loved . . . , that He gave’ ” (John 3:16).
In contrast—as sure as day follows night—the more we hoard for ourselves, the more selfish in our own hearts we will become, and the more miserable we will feel, as well.
It is up to us to determine what amount we give and what entity receives our gifts. But bringing an offering to the Lord is a Christian duty with spiritual and moral implications. To neglect this is to do spiritual damage to ourselves, perhaps more than we realize too
What do your offerings, and your attitude about giving them, say about your relationship with God?
Related Memory Texts: Deuteronomy 16:17; Psalm 116:12–14; Matthew 10:8; Luke 12:48; John 3:16
January 22, 2023
Motivation for Giving
We love God because He first loved us. Our giving is in response to His amazing gift of Yeshua [Jesus] to us. In fact, we are told, “The Lord does not need our offerings. We cannot enrich Him by our gifts. Says the psalmist: ‘All things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee.’
Yet God permits us to show our appreciation of His mercies by self-sacrificing efforts to extend the same to others. This is the only way in which it is possible for us to manifest our gratitude and love to God. He has provided no other.”
When we surrender “our” resources to Yeshua [Jesus], it actually strengthens our love for Him and for others. Therefore, resources can be a real power for good. Yeshua [Jesus] spent more time talking about money and wealth than just about any other subject.
One verse in every six in Matthew, Mark, and Luke is about money. The gospel’s good news is that God can deliver us from the misuse and love of money.
What does God promise to do for us if we obey Him? Is it selfishness on our part to claim the promises of God?
Related Memory Texts: Matthew 6:31–34; Deuteronomy 28:1–14; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
January 19, 2023
An Honest or Faithful Tithe
So, what does it mean to be faithful with our tithe? This week we have reviewed several of the constituent elements of the tithe:
1. The amount—which is a tenth, or 10 percent, of our income or increase.
2. Taken to the storehouse—the place from which the gospel ministers are paid.
3. Honoring God with the first part of our income.
4. Used for the right purpose—the support of the ministry.
It is our responsibility as church members to uphold the first three items; it is the responsibility of the storehouse managers to make sure that the tithe funds are used properly. And, unlike our offerings, the tithe is not discretionary on our part.
The tenth and the storehouse are both part of our responsibility. We don’t set the parameters; God does. If I don’t return a full 10 percent of my “increase,” I’m not really tithing; and if I don’t bring that 10 percent to the “storehouse,” I’m not really tithing either.
Some argue that they don’t like how their tithe money is used and, hence, either don’t tithe or send their money somewhere else. Yet, where did God say, “Bring the tithe to the storehouse, but only if you are sure that the storehouse is using it right”?
Related Memory Texts: 1 Corinthians 4:1, 2; Matthew 25:19–21; Malachi 3:10
January 18, 2023
Tithing on the Gross or the Net Income?
We calculate our tithe on our “income” if we are paid by the hour or by a salary, and we pay on our “increase” or profit if we are self-employed and have our own business. In many countries, the government takes out taxes from the worker’s pay to cover the cost of services done for the people, such as security, roads and bridges, unemployment benefits, and so on.
The question of gross or net primarily involves whether we return tithe on our income before or after such taxes are taken out. Those who are self-employed can legitimately deduct the cost of doing business in order to determine their actual profit before their personal taxes are deducted.
It is practiced that the majority of tithe givers believe on the gross income; that is, before taxes are taken out. Tithe should be computed on the gross amount of a wage or salary earner’s income before legally required or other employee authorized deductions. This includes federal and state income taxes which provide for services and other benefits of responsible citizenship.
How do you explain to someone who has never given tithe the blessings that come from giving it? What are those blessings, and how does returning tithe strengthen your faith?
Related Memory Texts: 1 Kings 17:9–16
January 17, 2023
The Purpose of Tithing
Because God is the owner of everything (Psalms 24:1), He obviously doesn’t need the money. But because the tithe is His, He tells us what to do with it, and that is to use His tithe for the support of the gospel ministry. And, therefore, the needs of the ministers are taken care of with God’s tithe.
The tribe of Levi—the ministerial force in the Old Testament—was not given large properties, as were the rest of the tribes. Levi was given certain cities, including the cities of refuge, with enough land around them for personal gardens. They were supported by the tithes of the others, and they themselves also tithed their income.
In what ways have you experienced the great truth that it is, indeed, “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35)?
Related Memory Texts: Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:21, 24; Psalms 24:1; Acts 20:35; Revelation 13, 14
January 16, 2023
Where Is the Storehouse?
Though specific directions are not given in the text, it is nevertheless evident that God’s people knew what He meant by the word “storehouse.” God does include in His directions,“ ‘that there may be food in My house’ ”.
His people understood that God’s house initially was the sanctuary—the elaborate tent that was built by specific direction given to Moses at Mount Sinai. Later when Israel lived in the Promised Land, the central location was first in Shiloh and then more permanently at the temple in Jerusalem.
Imagine if everyone decided to give their tithe to whomever they wanted to, at the expense of the Church itself. What would happen to our church? Why is that practice, then, such a bad idea and contrary to Scripture?
Related Memory Texts: Malachi 3:10; Deuteronomy 12:5–14; Exodus 23:14–17; 2 Chronicles. 31:11–21, Nehemiah. 12:44–47, Nehemiah 13:8–14
January 15, 2023
Tithe Equals a Tenth
Dictionaries define tithe as “a tenth part of something” or “10 percent.” This definition is likely taken from the Bible narrative. Tithe is simply returning 10 percent of our income, or increase, to God. We understand that all we have belongs to Him in the first place.
The tithing legislation given to Israel at Mount Sinai points out that the tithe is holy and belongs to God (see Leviticus 27:30, 32). God asks only for His 10 percent. Our offerings of gratitude are separate from and in addition to the tithe.
The tithe is the minimum testimony of our Christian commitment. Nowhere in the Bible do we find any indication that God’s portion is less than a tenth.
Why is it important to understand that tithing, like the Sabbath, was not something that originated in the ancient Israelite legal or even religious system? What message should we, who live after the Cross, take from this truth?
Related Memory Texts: Leviticus 27:30, 32; Genesis 14:18–20; Hebrews 7:1–9; Genesis 28:13, 14, 20–22
January 12, 2023
Seek Ye First
It was said of Yeshua [Jesus] that “the common people heard him gladly” (Mark 12:37). Most of the people in the large crowds who followed and listened to Yeshua [Jesus] were members of this class, the common people. They were the ones who were fed on the mountainside and who heard the Sermon on the Mount.
Yeshua [Jesus] said to them, basically, I know you are concerned about providing for your families. You worry about the food and drink that you will need daily and the clothing that you need for warmth and protection. But here is what I propose . . .
Related Memory Texts: Matthew 6:25–33; Isaiah 26:3; 1 John 1:9; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Deuteronomy 30:19
January 11, 2023
The Tithe Contract
There is a close spiritual connection between the practice of tithing and our relationship to God. The Israelites prospered when they obeyed God and were faithful in tithing. In contrast, they fell on hard times when they didn’t.
They seemed to follow a cycle of obedience and prosperity, and then disobedience and problems. It was during one of these periods of unfaithfulness that God, through the prophet Malachi, proposed a bilateral contract with His people.
What does your tithing (or lack thereof) say about your own spirituality and relationship to God?
Related Memory Texts: Malachi 3:7–11; 2 Chronicles 31:5
January 10, 2023
Honor the Lord
God asks us to put Him first in the management of our possessions as an acknowledgment of His ownership of all things and as a demonstration of our faith in Him to provide for us. But even more than this, He says that if we will put Him first, then He will bless what’s left.
For us to do this—that is, to put Him first—is an act of faith, an act of trust, a manifestation of trusting in the Lord with all your heart and, indeed, not leaning on your own understanding (which is especially important, because so often things happen that we cannot understand and cannot make sense of).
Nothing, though, should spur us on more in trusting God and His love than does the Cross. When you realize what each one of us has been given in Jesus, not just as our Creator (John 1:1–4) and our Sustainer (Hebrews 1:3), but also as our Redeemer (Revelation 5:9), returning to God the firstfruits of whatever we have is, indeed, the least we could do.
“Not only does the Lord claim the tithe as His own, but He tells us how it should be reserved for Him. He says, ‘Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase.’ This does not teach that we are to spend our means on ourselves, and bring to the Lord the remnant, even though it should be otherwise an honest tithe. Let God’s portion be first set apart.”—Ellen G. White, Counsels on Stewardship, p. 81.
God says that if we put Him first, our “barns will be filled with plenty” (Proverbs 3:10). Yet, this is not going to happen by miracle; that is, you are not going to wake up one day and find your barns and vats suddenly full.
Instead, the Bible is filled with principles about good stewardship, careful planning, and financial responsibility, of which faithfulness to what God calls us to do is our first and foremost responsibility.
Related Memory Texts: Proverbs 3:1–10; John 1:1–4; Hebrews 1:3; Revelation 5:9
January 09, 2023
To Hearken Diligently
The book of Deuteronomy is the printed version of Moses’ farewell messages to the second generation of Israelites following the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. These messages were given on the plains of Moab just east of Jericho. Deuteronomy has been appropriately called “The Book of Remembrance.”
In this book, Moses reviews God’s faithful dealings with Israel. He recounts the travels from Mount Sinai to Kadesh Barnea on the edge of the Promised Land, as well as the rebellion and the 40 years of wilderness wandering. He restated the Ten Commandments, the requirements of the tithe and the central storehouse.
But the primary focus of Deuteronomy is the counsel to obey God and receive His blessings. Moses portrays God as One who has the ability, and the desire, to care for His people.
Related Memory Texts: Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Deuteronomy 30:1-14; Deuteronomy 28:15-68
January 08, 2023
The Salvation Covenant
The death of Yeshua the Messiah [Jesus Christ] on Calvary made salvation possible for every person who has ever lived or who will ever live. Unlike the promise of the seasons, salvation is not unilateral—it is not given to everyone, regardless of what they do. The belief that everyone will be saved is called “universalism.” Instead, Yeshua [Jesus] clearly taught that, though He died for all humanity, many people travel the broad way to destruction and eternal death [Matthew 7:13-14].
Related Memory Texts: 1 John 5:13; Matthew 10:22; John 6:29; 2 Peter 1:10-11; 2 Timothy 4:6-8