During the last couple of weeks in Australia, we have heard much about the new budget which was delivered by the current Treasurer. Everyone is interested in how this will affect their life, their children’s lives and so on, generating much talk about the pros and cons of the financial plans made for the future.
Whenever the subject of money is brought up, it seems to get the attention of people from all walks of life, some in a positive and some in a negative way.
As Christians, have we given enough thought to our money matters and how to budget having in mind what the Lord requires from us?
I would like to share a study by Br Joe Voncina, which I believe will give you some insight about our financial commitments to God’s treasury, and also some informative notes so you can be enlightened as to where God’s money is directed and how each one of us can make a difference by the amounts we contribute to the Lord’s treasury.
~ Lidia Voncina
Tithes & Offerings
In the Bible we find many challenges coming from God directed to his people, to you and to me. We want to look at a specific challenge found in Malachi chapter three. By the way how is your financial situation? Are you struggling a bit, finding it hard to make ends meet? Well then this challenge is for you. God says in Malachi 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”. Yes it is true, you are not seeing things, God is saying “prove Me”, I want to pour My blessings upon you, what are you waiting for? Try Me, test Me, haven’t I blessed My people in the past? I will do it again for I change not, it’s a promise, and I always keep My promises”.
Can God keep His promise? Yes, because everything belongs to Him. David writes in Psalms 24:1 “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” Psalms 50:10-11“For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine”. God assures us in Haggai 2:8 “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.”
The first part of the test in Malachi 3:10 deals with tithe. What is “tithe”? It’s an old English word meaning “tenth”. The Bible fully agrees with this. We read in Leviticus 27:32 “And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.” An interesting point in God’s challenge is that He is asking for something that already belongs to Him, Leviticus 27:30 “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD.” If I decide to keep what belongs to God, what am I doing? Malachi 3:8 “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” Testimonies for the Church Vol. 9, p. 249.1 “The tithe is sacred, reserved by God for Himself. It is to be brought into His treasury to be used to sustain the gospel laborers in their work. For a long time the Lord has been robbed because there are those who do not realize that the tithe is God’s reserved portion”.
“The tithe was to be exclusively devoted to the use of the Levites, the tribe that had been set apart for the service of the sanctuary.” Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 526.1
Did you notice in Malachi 3:8 that you can rob God not only in tithes but also in offerings? This is where the real test comes in. Am I giving to the Lord only what already belong to Him (tithe) which is my duty to do anyway, or am I doing more, (offerings) which involves faith and love? Proverbs 3:9 “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:” “This tribute He demands as a token of our loyalty to Him.” Counsels on Stewardship, p. 72.1
Look carefully at the following statement from Counsels on Stewardship, p. 71.3 “God requires no less of us than He required of His people anciently.”
How did they respond to Gods challenge? Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 527.1“The contributions required of the Hebrews for religious and charitable purposes amounted to fully one fourth (25%) of their income. So heavy a tax upon the resources of the people might be expected to reduce them to poverty; but, on the contrary, the faithful observance of these regulations was one of the conditions of their prosperity. On condition of their obedience God made them this promise: “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. . . . And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:11.
Are you ready to take up the challenge? God is waiting for you, He loves you, He is testing you today. He will not fail you.
To make this challenge easier for you here is a brief description of the offerings you can contribute to:
Union Conference Funds
Tithe – 10% of all your increase belongs to God, it is holy. (Used to support the ministry) Before the Jewish Nation – Abraham tithed Gen.14:18-20 “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.”
Heb.7:1-2 “For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;” Jacob Gen. 28:22 “And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.”
Missionary Offering (Union Administration) – A free-will offering used for the expenses of operating and administering mission work on the Union level. This fund is always struggling and needs your special attention.
First Fruit – Proverbs 3:9 “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase”: Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 526.2 “The first that ripened of every product of the land was consecrated to Him. The first of the wool when the sheep were shorn, of the grain when the wheat was threshed, the first of the oil and the wine, was set apart for God. So also were the first-born of all animals; and a redemption price was paid for the first-born son. The first fruits were to be presented before the Lord at the sanctuary, and were then devoted to the use of the priests.” (Used in a similar way to the Missionary Offering)
First Day – Offering for the worthy poor established by Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 16:1-3“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. (Used for worthy poor)
Publishing Department – Offering to support publishing work and literature ministry.
Foreign Missions (South Pacific Union Mission) – Unless specially designated this offering is used to help and support the ever growing, relatively new Pacific Union Missions.
Elim Heights Youth Camp – Used for the ever increasing running expenses of the youth camp.
Union Building Fund – An offering for extensions and building of new churches.
Week of Prayer Offering – Offering taken at the close of the Week of Prayer Readings, and is forwarded to the General Conference to be used for the furtherance of overseas missions.
Sabbath School Offering – This is an offering of gratitude for the wonderful truths which we enjoy through the study of the Sabbath School Lessons. Used for the literature ministry.
Field Funds (Do not forget to support your local field)
Missionary fund – General fund for the running costs of the field.
Literature Fund – Pays for the literature given out.
Regular Church Offerings
Sabbath School Offering – Goes to Union as per above.
Divine Service (Church) Offering – Used by the local church to establish and maintain its own organized body. (Stays in the local church unless specially directed for a special purpose)
Young People’s offering – Used to develop and train Young People in their Christian experience. Half goes to Union, quarter to the Field, and a quarter stays in the Local Church.
Local Church Offerings
Local Poor Fund – used to help those in need locally.
Church Improvement Fund – for the improvement of the Local Church.
Prayer Meeting Offering – Used for the church expenses.
Literature Department – Used for local literature ministry.
Ordinance Offering – Collected after Lord’s Supper and used for the expenses associated with this sacred service. It may also be used for paying rent, buying furniture for the church, and all local church expenses.
Therefore, keep this in mind – God loves you and wants to bless you. Jesus is coming soon and it is our generation that may finish the work.
Once again I repeat the challenge in 2 Cor.9:6 “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”.
~ Joe Voncina