There was a story in our local news a few year's ago about a person who tried to sue a car dealer. Apparently this person had made a very low offer to purchase a used car and got very upset when he went to pick the car up only to find that the car had just been sold.
He thought that since he had simply made an offer to purchase the car that the salesman was obligated to accept it. In today's terms he failed to understand a very basic principle in all contractual agreements. And that is, without an accepted offer there is no mutual agreement (no deal).
The Old Testament opens and closes with unacceptable offerings to God. In the first incident Cain became so upset when God accepted his brother Abel's offering while rejecting his that he murdered him (Gen 4:8).
In Malachi, the last book in the Old Testament there are other grievous & unacceptable offerings in the first chapter. This time the priests were offering God the blind, lame, and diseased animals as sacrifices. He told them that if they continued in their sin that the following two things would happen (v.10):
1. "I will have no pleasure in you";
2. "Nor will I accept an offering from your hands"
I believe this statement is just as much for us today as it was for the priests in Malachi. If God said these things to me, I would stay away from ashtrays for fear that my ashes would soon be in one of them. If He does not take pleasure in us then there is not much purpose in our lives since that is the main reason we were created (Rev. 4:11).
Do you think God might be trying to tell us something about how to present an offering to Him? If you are hearing this for the first time I can understand this may be a shift from your traditional thoughts concerning offerings . Are you ready for yet another paradigm shift concerning offerings? Get ready!
Please go with me to Exodus 35 where we see Moses taking an offering among the Children of Israel for the building of the Tabernacle. God placed some restrictions on the offering concerning those would be allowed to give. It is here in this "benchmark offering" that we see the requirements we must observe if we want our offerings to be accepted by God.
Concerning those permitted to give into this offering notice what it says in the following verses 5, 10, and 21 respectively:
"...whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring an offering."
"...the wise-hearted among you shall come..."
"And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up."
In other words, this offering was exclusive. Everyone was not allowed to give! Only those with a willing heart, a wise heart, or were stirred up about their giving were invited to participate in the offering for the building of the Tabernacle.
When you first read this you might think, like I did, that your ears were deceiving you. "How can this be? Isn't everyone supposed to be included in the offering. Why would God exclude anyone from giving in an offering?"
It would appear (in the natural) that this would be a limiting factor. But in Ex. 36: 5-7 we find that Moses had to restrain the people from giving because they had given more than enough. Did you catch that? The givers had to be restrained from giving! In fact they gave 'too much' for the building of the Tabernacle!
Have you ever been in a church service where the people had to be restrained from giving? What do you think God is saying to us through this Tabernacle Offering, an offering so successful that the body was ordered to stop the giving?
I believe this is the upshot of what the Lord is saying to us today. He wants His House to be built on the foundation of giving. In order for our offerings to be accepted we should not only have the proper attitudes about giving but we must know His Heart about giving. We must be willing, wise, and stirred up! Our offerings are a spiritual matter to Him as they should be to us.
This passage also seems to be saying, when our offerings are correct, they will not only be accepted, they will be so successful that your Pastor may have to ask the ushers to maintain order as the offering baskets are pried from the hands of the hilarious, willing and generous givers. (Wouldn't that be a switch?)
Lord, it is my prayer that the Tabernacle Offering will be repeated in churches across this nation as you reveal your heart to us about offerings.
PS. I want to challenge you in this area because offerings appear to be the last matter of importance for 97% of Christians in America. Statistics have shown that less than 3% of the Christians who attend churches in America tithe and give offerings. In fact in 2002 (a year of great prosperity for many in the U.S.) Christians gave less than during the Great Depression! The words 'offer/offerings' appear over 800 times in the Bible, a much greater percentage than what can be found about 'salvation'. The Old Testament opens & closes with failed offerings that are well documented (Cain's in Genesis 4 & the priest's in Malachi 3). Hello Christians! Are you listening? Does it stir your heart to know that this lack of unity exists in the body of Christ? Do you feel like we are missing the mark here? God please forgive us for using your money unwisely since we have all sown to unrighteousness in our past. May our hearts be stirred to be generous towards You as we realize that it is not all about us and our financial matters but rather, it is all about You and reaching the lost for your Kingdom!
This was a excellent read, with a little need for some spacing and line breaks for easier read-ability. But, wow, what a solid teaching that brought in a lot of outside points not normally associated with the topic of money.
This was good.
Very good teaching. I have yet to be in a church where they have to take the offering tray off us! You teach so well and so clearly, opening up scriptures (and not letting me feel chastised for not knowing it all along)- Grace!