let the prophets speak

Malachi 3:10 ...Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there might be meat in My house, and try Me now in this says the Lord of hosts, If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.

Title: Show me the money

I have been saved for quite some time now, and lately I have become concern with what I see going on in our churches. I am not talking about what is going on in a few churches, but something that has reached epidemic proportions, especially from our pulpits.

I barely recognize the church anymore, we look like a conglomerate of every system of the world. Our evangelism strategies are from the advertising system, our financial plan is from the business marketing system, our singles ministry format is from the dating practices of the world, and our leadership structure is from catholicism.

We elevate our literature, (revelatory books), to the level of the Bible, just like any other “cult” in America, except our books are not free. You say, not so? Then what are we doing when we get in pulpits and promote our literature. When we will criticize people for always saying, “the Lord said”, and not for always saying what WE said. (Now I have no problem with writers, I am one myself, it’s the level of “placement” of these writings, that is troubling my spirit), Help us, Jesus!

True discernment is knowing the “spirit” behind a thing, whether it is the Lord, the devil, or “flesh”. Peter had a direct revelation from God, (Matt. 16:16-19), but a few verses later he errored greatly by making a statement that wasn’t even in his flesh, but directly from Satan because it was a directly against the will and plan of God. We can know where the Lord is going, and even where He wants us to go, at times, then grossly error in how He wants us to get there, just like Peter.

It seems that because we refuse to get in the Lord’s face, we don’t have His plan, so we pattern ourselves after the world, and after each other. So, while we are majoring in the minors, fighting over petty issues, “running promotions” to make us grow bigger, (bigger is not necessarily better. I heard a lady say once, some things are not growing, just swelling with infection), trying to out do each other, people are going to hell in a handbasket, no, on a freight train, express.

There are several areas that truly concern me, and one area in particular, the money system. The “fleecing of the flock”, the “merchandising of the gospel”, the “franchising of the gifts”, “the prostituting” of my Jesus. The church has become like some giant insatiable monster, that is never satisfied with what we give, (Eccl.5:10).

The Lord showed me a vision one day, I saw a shepherd shearing a sheep for wool, but he was cutting so deeply with the shaver that he drew blood,and the wool couldn’t grow back, replenish itself. The Lord said the leaders were like that, taking too much from the people, so much so, that they were depleted to the point where they could replenish. (So, they move on to bigger and better “sheep”). The Lord also told me the “tithe” had become the foundation of the church, and this was never meant to be so, Christ is the only foundation of the church. Everything is about “giving” to the church, and “getting” a return, and this process has become our god. This is why there is no longer a "spirit of gratitude" toward God in our churches today. We feel like the Lord "owes" us, and one cannot be grateful for what one feels they "deserve". After all, we have "sown", and we just "oughta'" reap, but there once was an old spiritual song that said..."what can I render unto God for all His mercy"... but we don't sing those kind of songs anymore, (although I like the news songs, we just seem to have done away with the old ones that stirred up gratitude in our heart toward God).

We are condemned into paying our tithes, then if you pay your tithes (10%), of what you receive-net, that’s not enough, you need to pay from your gross. If you tithe from your gross, then you are immature because spiritual maturity is double, triple, etc. your tithe. If you do that, then you should really have faith, and tithe from what you are believing God for your income to be in the future. And finally, if you do all that, then you are told that tithing does not get you financial blessing anyway, that is just what you owe to God, you get revelation, anointings through tithing, but if you want financial blessings, that comes through your offerings.

So, now you give offerings, then you are told how much to give, (don’t “tip” God), then we go from love offerings to prophetic offerings,(the Lord said to give...), to offerings for specific dates, years, times, seasons, (give $2000. for the year 2000), then there is the "first fuits" offering, the heave offerings, wave offerings, parking lot drives, anniversaries, building funds, and I could go on and on , (because they always do), but STOP! Let’s get back to the word of God...

Let’s go to the first issue, do we get prosperity through tithing? Well, let’s look at the opening scripture, Malachi 3:10. As I was reading this verse, the Lord told me to look up four words in their original language: storehouse, meat, windows, and blessing. In their original language, here is what they mean:
*Storehouse-depository, cellar, storage place, to store up.
*Meat-fresh leaf, supply with food/feed/provisions.
*Windows-as in lurking, to lie in wait, ambush: (which means a surprise attack from a concealed position).
*Blessing-prosperity, benefit, abundance, altogether.

So this is how this scripture could read...
“Bring ye all the tithes, (a tenth), into the (depository/storage place) that there might be (provisions/supply) in My house, and prove, (investigate or examine), Me NOW, that I might open the (ambush/surprise in a concealed position/something lying in wait) of heaven and pour you out a (benefit/abundance/prosperity) that you might not have room enough to receive it. AWESOME! So the Lord is promising to “ambush” you with a blessing, and it could be prosperity because a “benefit” is whatever you may need, at the time. Bless God!

But let’s look at another issue of the tithes because we have been taught that we pay out tithes so ministry can go forth, but if the Old Testament tells us to pay them, then we need to go to the Old Testament to see who they belong to. Now the Bible says in the tithes is the Lord’s, (Deut. 14: 22-26, Lev.26: 30, Malachi 3: 8-10, just to name a few). So, if they are His, then He has the right to designate where they go, and what they are for. Why did the Lord institute the paying of the tithe?

Well, in order to understand this we will have to search in the Old Testament, and look at the structuring of God’s people, (stay with me in here because this will be important later).

You see, our God is governmental. In His wisdom, He knows things cannot run smoothly without order, so in the Old Testament He establishes order starting with the Israelites. (And we know the Old Testament is examples, types, and shadows for the New Testament, so let’s go on...). This is hard for us in America to understand because we are raised under a democracy, and anything we don’t like we have a legal right to change, or at least try to. But the system of our God is monarchy, He can’t be voted out, nor can His ways, rules, or governments. (Satan tried that democracy thing in heaven and you see what happen to him, think about it).

Anyway, the Lord delivered His people under the leadership of Moses, then took Moses up in a mountain to map out the plan, establish the order. One of the things the Lord established was the leadership over His people, and this leadership was to be two types of priesthoods, with both coming out of the tribe of Levi. Moses, along with Aaron and his 4 sons, (Ex 28: 1,41), which made up the Aaronic Priesthood, and the remaining tribe of Levi, (Numbers 18:2-6), was to make up the Levitical Priesthood, and was given to the Aaronic as a gift for the work of the tabernacle, (Numbers 18: 2-3, 6).

Then the Lord repositioned the tribes to re-establish the 12, (God’s number of government), by dividing the tribe of Joseph into two, Manasseh and Ephraim, to make up for the lost of Levi, and divided the promised land between them. But He told the Aaronic priesthood and the Levitical Priesthood that they would have no portion in the land, Numbers 18: 20,24, (and this is where the tithes and offerings come in). I have summarized this for time and space, but you can look up the additional scriptures for yourself regarding the tribes; Genesis 49, Numbers 18: 6, Numbers 26:28, and Deut. 33.

But, let’s look at Numbers 18...the Lord gave the offerings to the Aaronic Priesthood, (Numbers 18:8-9), and He gave the Levitical Priesthood all the tithes, (Numbers 18:21), for “salary”, and for distribution by them as the Lord saw fit. Then the distribution went as follows, in Numbers 18:27, a tenth of the tithe was to be a heave offering, and was to be given to Aaron. Then in Deut. 14: 28-29, and Deut. 26: 12-13, the Lord list who else gets the tithes; the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, they were not to be forgotten because that was a transgression.

So Aaron and His sons were established leadership in the tabernacle, (Ex. 28: 1,41), with no portion in the land because the Lord was their portion, and they were provided for through offerings...by reason of the anointing, (Numbers 18: 8-14). And the Levites were to receive a portion of the tithes, and distribute the rest, Amen. But who are these Levites? They were the the ones who took physical care of the tabernacle and all the furnishings, II Chron. 5:5,(maintenance/housekeeping, etc). The singers, worship leaders, and musicians, (II Chron. 5: 12). The gate keepers, (II Chron. 8: 14), and those that distributed treasures, (II Chron. 8: 15). So, lets translate this to the New Testament.

Generally, we know the Aaronic Priesthood is the Five-fold ministry, (Ephesians 4;7-11), but we are never taught who they Levitical Priesthood translate to. They are the people who keep the church clean and polished, take care of the furniture, bathrooms, etc., the musicans, the office staff, and for the most part these people are given wages, but these are not the only ones who are a part of the Levitical Priesthood. It is also, the worship leaders, the choirs, the ushers, greeters, hostesses, and the Deacons, (Acts 6:1-3). Anyone putting their time and talents, (consistently), in the work of the House of the Lord should be getting a wage from the tithes.

Then there is the stranger, (those outside of your local assembly), the fatherless, (irregardless of how they got that way), and the widows, (single parents in need). I know of situations, not hearsay, but directly involved in the process, (because I worked in office of several of the largest churches here in America), where if a person came in needing their rent, or utility paid, if they could not show where they would be able to meet this particular bill next month, the church would refuse to help them. What kind of attitude is this!? "I'll just let you get evicted this month, why wait". Maybe if you paid the bill, they would have time for the Lord to provide for the following month. How insensitive, and we represent the love and mercy of God, I don't think so, we have become selfish, and self-indulgent. But back to who is to be provided for...

Matthew 10:10 reads...a workman is worthy of his hire, and I Tim. 5:18 reads...do not muzzle the ox... and we have taken those scriptures to only mean the Reverend/Dr., the Pastor, and the Bishop, (and leadership looks at everyone else as volunteers, “untapped resources” to be used as labor for free, and I have heard this first hand in some churches), but that is not so, and James 5: 1-6 speaks regarding this, especially verse 4...the wages of the laborers in YOUR house, which you have kept back by fraud, cry out and the cries of the reaper have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, (armies, one who fights).

Now some will say that’s Old Testament, but where is Malachi coming from? Where are most of the scriptures coming from that are used to compel us to give, especially excessively to our leaders? If you tell us to pay tithes, and offerings, according to Old Testament scriptures, then you do what should be done with the tithes we pay, according to Old Testament scriptures, (James 2:10).

Then some will say, “how is the ministry to be supported, the spreading of the Gospel”? Through offerings, by faith, the same faith you teach us to exercise, then you exercise it, also. Jesus said so in Matt. 10:8-15, Mark 6:7-11, Luke 9:3-6/10:2-12 and 22: 35, 26. Your evangelizing is to be supported by your faith, and offerings, (and that’s New Testament). Paul traveled, but he also worked where he ministered, (Acts 18:3, Acts 20:33-35, and I Cor. 11:9/12: 14).

Hold on, now, because this ride is about to really get rough...

We deal with the lust of the flesh, and sometimes with the lust of the eyes, (although we don’t apply that scripture to our desire for a larger membership), but we never deal with the pride of life, (I John 2:16). Now let me clarify right here, there would be nothing wrong with large numbers, if people were being prepared and sent out into the ministries the Lord ordained for them to do, (Luke 9:1-2). The Lord never in tended for us to “stockpile” saints, or for our churches to be “storage barns” for the children of God. We discourage people from leaving our churches, then boast of the numbers we have, but David got in trouble for numbering God’s people, (I Chron. 12:1-17), because it was not to put them in order, (purpose), or to battle, (destiny).

The sad thing is that our buildings are getting bigger and bigger, and less and less people are prepared for true ministry, or know what they are called to do, and doing it. Our evangelism is at a all time low, while we have membership drives. Then we just shift members, and our church doors are revolving doors because those that do get saved, don’t stay, (and you can’t keep blaming it on rebellion). Maybe if people were trained and encouraged to step into there calling from God, we wouldn't need bigger churches, but have more smaller, anointed ones.

Do you really think Jesus actually wants us to continue building bigger buildings while His people, who He purchased with His blood, go lacking. And you justify yourselves by saying, “we give them the Word, and teach them principles”. Well, lets look at James 2: 14-16...if a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one says to them depart in peace, be warmed and filled, (I will speak a word over you, pray, etc), but do not give them the things needful for the body, what does it profit?...also, Luke 6: 34-35, Luke 9: 12-13...(Jesus said...YOU give them something to eat, Luke 14: 12-14, and I John 3: 16-18...whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God dwell in him?

But there was one scripture that messed me up totally, Deut. 15: 7-11. Preachers always say, “the poor you have with you always”, (Mark 14: 7), as though helping them is some futile effort that we have to tolerate until Jesus comes, but that is not what Jesus meant when He said it. The “poor” was to be an continual obligation for His people to care about, and Deut. 15: 7-11 clarifies this, because it is the “poor” that is to partake of the tithes. The scripture reads...you shall not harden your heart against that poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend to him, (and not expect to get it back-Luke 6: 34), sufficent to his need, whatever he needs. Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart....and you give him nothing...you shall surely give to him because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you...for the poor will never cease from the land, therefore I COMMAND you...you shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor, and your needy. When I read this, I wept, my first thought was, “we are in trouble”.

We are so concern about our buildings, and boast of the size of our churches. We are at the point where we judge success by how large the membership is, and how grand our churches are, but so did the religious leaders of Jesus day. Well, guess how Jesus felt about their “grand” buildings, how he felt looking at their manmade structures, read Mark 13: 1-2, and Luke 21: 5-6. But we will quote scripture regarding David and Soloman building God a house, and how the people gave their best into it. And membership will rush to give hundreds, thousands, and in some ministries even millions, to build, (or acquire another building), but don’t let a brother or sister need a ride, a meal, or a bill paid, because then “they” are trying to use you for your money.

Do you not know that WE are the building of God, the Lord no longer requires a building, because we are it, (Acts 17: 22-25, 29, 30). The building is not the church, WE ARE THE CHURCH! This was the one of the first things I learned when I got saved, the church is a BODY of baptized believers. We are the church, who meet in a sanctuary, to prepare to bring God’s kingdom, (Hallelujah)!

He dwells in us, (John 14: 23/17:23, Acts 7:47_50, I Cor. 3:9)...you are God’s building, ( II Cor. 6:16/13:5, Eph. 2: 19-22, Heb. 9:11/10:5, and I Peter 2:5...you are also living stones. And we disregard taking care of the people of God, building the spiritual building of God, to give all our time, talents, and treasures to manmade buildings, and we call this the “work of the Lord”. Something is wrong with this picture. We give our old dented can goods, and our raggedy clothing to people, but according to scripture we should give our “best” to the “house” of the Lord.

Then we are told to sacrifice, and Elijah is used as the example, but the Lord said he has never required for anyone to sacrifice to give to someone who had more than they did, (read I Kings 17: 8-16). Elijah had less than the widow.

It has been said to leave your money to the church, instead of your “drunk relatives”, but the Bible says...a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children...Prov. 13: 22. II Cor. 12: 14 reads...for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. Those who tell you this, is there family future provided for?

Saints, you better search the scriptures for yourself, (John 5:39). In Acts 17:11, the Bereans searched the scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. At one time, the Lord said to me, “if the only way you know Me is through man , you are in trouble."

Leaders, the Lord Jesus left a mandate for His leadership in Mark 10:42-45, and a challenge to the wealthy in Christ in Mark 10:21. Ask yourself, in that situation, what would you do? There is an abomination of desolation, a “detestable practice, or action that makes “ruined, devastated, wretched, or destitute, in God’s house. In John 2;13-16...Jesus went up...and He found in the temple those who sold...moneychangers...doing business...and He said...take these things away...Do not make My Fathers’s house, a house of merchandise. Read Ezekiel chapter 34.

We are told that in order to improve our quality of life, we are only to associate with those who are going somewhere, which is a worldly concept, and has no place in our churches. Because of this kind of idealogy, the church society has become a “caste system” of have’s and have nots, when in Acts 2: 44-47...the people had ALL things in common...and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Maybe this is the real problem with our evangelism. Pray about it!

Let me add these definitions of various "offerings" as I close, (some of these offerings were a part of one another, and some do not pertain to us, at all. Read Acts 15:19-21, 28-29 and Acts 21:25):

TITHE: a tenth part of what you RECEIVE, (Gen. 25:22/Lev.27:30).
FIRST FIRSTS: a part of the "Feast of Harvest", (one of the Jewish Ordinances along with Passover, etc.), deals with produce. All New Testament references to "first fruits" refer to Jesus Christ, and us, (Exodus 23:16, I Cor. 15:20-23, James 1:18).
PEACE OFFERING: offered to God, but shared with the Priest and the worshippers, (combined with, or a part of, the THANKSGIVING offering, (Exodus 20:24).
THANKSGIVING OFFERING: combined with, or a part of, the PEACE offering, (Lev. 7:11-12).
FREEWILL/LOVE OFFERING: of your own freewill, something of excellence, (Lev. 22:29).
SIN or BURNT OFFERING: to be burnt, and the BLOOD sprinkled...a portion of THIS was to be lifted up as a HEAVE offering, then waved as a WAVE offering, (Exodus 29:1-7, Lev. 7:7). In the New Testament, JESUS CHRIST was/is our SIN offering.
HEAVE OFFERING: a part of the SIN offering, (Exodus 29:26).
WAVE OFFERING: a part of the HEAVE offering, (Exodus 29:27). These last three are not three (3) separate offerings, but combined.


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