Saturday, November 24, 2012

That There May Be Food In My House


That There May Be Food In My House

 

“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.  Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food 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 out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” – Malachi 3:8-10


Paul could have been writing this old gal’s testimony when he said in Philippians 4:12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Today I have no needs by the pure grace of God and understanding of His perfect mercy.  But there was a time when the needs were many and deep. 
I was in the third grade, and my dad, who worked construction for many years, was out of work.  We had been told that there would be no Christmas presents that year, and from what we saw on the dinner table each night, I believed it to be true.  In fact, I believed it to the point that I hated Christmas day’s arrival.  While most kids were anxiously waiting and marking the days from their calendar, I was dreading that day. 

When Christmas morning came, I stayed in bed.  There was no reason to rush out of bed. The night before the floor under the Christmas tree was so bare that the gloss from the hardwood reflected all the lights.  The day had come and instead of jumping out of bed, and forcing my brother to wake up as most years, this time I laid there trying to think of answers I would give when all the kids at school would ask “What did you get for Christmas?” If I said “nothing” they might turn their backs on me.  I knew very well, popular kids didn’t like poor kids.
I finally did get out of bed, and found that in fact there WERE a few presents there!  And when I looked closely, some actually had my name on them.  That was the year of the xylophone with all the colored keys and the two red plastic mallets.  I beat and banged on that thing for days, months, and kept it around forever.  It was a prized possession because it filled empty space under the tree, plain and simple.  Now I had an answer for the kids that would ask what Santa brought.  The embarrassment was gone.

Today it’s very different.  By the grace of God I’ve been blessed to provide for my own kids in abundance every year as many parents do.   The financial blessing to do that comes directly from God.  Since I was a child, any money I received, whether it was from some chore I did or from a gift, I was forced  to tithe on it by two parents who were strong enough at the job of parenting to be sure I did what was right (another blessing).  If I got a dollar, I gave a dime.  I didn’t argue with it because you didn’t argue with your parents without facing consequences.  As I became an adult and worked to put gas in my first car, and put myself through college, I continued tithing.
But there was a time after I married and had kids that I rebelled in giving to God.  I robbed God. Malachi 3:8-10 says that not tithing is robbing God.  That’s pretty clear, isn’t it?  It’s a sin not against the church or organization you would give to, but against God.  And because I did not tithe, I went through some financially rough times.  The Word says “you are cursed with a curse” when you don’t tithe.  The only reason a person who knows God’s word would not tithe is if they love the money more than they love God, which makes money an idol.  I wasn’t able to pay all my bills for a while, and then I remember the verses in Malachi 3 that I’d been taught all my life. 

The turning point was a $300 check.  I was tight on money to pay bills to the point that I had to shuffle them, pay partial amounts, and make payments on the total.  I didn’t have the money to give to the church because God stopped blessing my finances.  One big check came in a time when I was able to earn far more than normal.  My tithe of 10% would have been $300.  That was a lot of money then, and it still is today.  But I chose to give it to God and continue shuffling bills.  Within a few days’ time, I got a $300 check in the mail from a doctor’s office.  I called to see why and they explained that the insurance had overpaid, and would not accept the funds back.  Come on now…say it with me….the Lord works in mysterious ways!  I was able to catch up my bills, and I never stopped tithing after that. 
He is so very good to me!  I have very little formal education in the field in which I’ve been employed for over 25 years, yet He has provided me with a job among some of the most talented software developers in the nation.  He’s allowed me opportunity after opportunity to learn on the job, and now I get to work from home every day.  He gives me the tools to do what I love daily, which is writing these devotionals.  He gives me loving children, a husband I adore, and my family is still alive and well. 

God says in Malachi 3:10 “and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”  I submit to you that the biggest blessings He gives are not financial at all.  Consider the other blessings that are far greater, such as health, family, wisdom in His Word, friendships, and the list is longer than my arms!  But God says “try me NOW in this”.  He says it not just to me, but to YOU.  His blessings are stored up for you as they were for me. 
I’m not just sharing my story to brag on God, but it is my pleasure to get to brag on His greatness.  I’m sharing it because it’s time my friends move on to financial security.  The ONLY way to do that is to learn to give.  But I realize not everyone has a church to give to.  You can still give.  And if you’re already giving to a church, don’t stop there – give MORE and be blessed more!  There’s are simple way to do it even when you are shopping for Christmas gifts. 

When shopping at a store, save the change the cashier gives you.  If you’re shopping with plastic cards, then be sure your pockets are full of change, silver and green, before you go.  Each time you see a bell ringer, drop it in the bucket.  You’re helping feed and clothe the hungry.    
When you are shopping online, go to Google and enter the store name, followed by “coupon code” or “promo code” before you check out.  Finding a coupon online this time of year is easy!  Most of the time you will at least be able to save the shipping costs.  Whatever you save, donate to an organization online.  There are many, but Nashville Rescue Mission is one that God put on my heart.  The part of Malachi 3:10 that says that there may be food in My house” speaks to my heart for the hungry.  They have a Facebook Page, online donation site, etc… that make it easy at http://www.nashvillerescuemission.org. This is a Christian program that helps the homeless and those suffering from addictions and problems of hard life.  Being Christian lead, you have an opportunity to assist in saving a life.

There’s another way that is so easy.  Clip Coupons!  Clip the ones you won’t use, and sign up via email for the others.  Nearly every store in every mall, and most chain restaurants have an online e-mailed coupon program.  Subscribe and print the coupons – even if you’re not using it yourself.  Sometimes I find I have a coupon I can’t use, like a $15 one yesterday for Elder Berman.  It’s a joy to give that to someone in line and bless them.  If it’s grocery coupons, just leave them on the shelves with the product.  Someone will take it!  And if you use it yourself, take your savings and give it away.  Had you not had a coupon, you would have spent the money anyway.
Lastly, just outright GIVE!  There is joy that comes from knowing that you’ve blessed another person.  Maybe you have coats you can’t use, shoes, or clothing.  Shelters are everywhere that need them, even in your own towns. 

And don’t be disappointed if you don’t see big fat checks come in the mail!  There are other ways to receive blessings.  Jesus talks in Matthew 25:34-40 of a blessing we will receive for our giving in Heaven, when He says, “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;  I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”
If you love Jesus – if you really LOVE Jesus – how can you not give to Him? 

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