Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Years of Tithing: Dt 14:22-29

"You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year. You shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always... At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit it in your town. The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do." (Deuteronomy 14:22-23, 28-29)
I find this teaching on tithing very intriguing. For two years, the people were to gather up their tithe and journey to Jerusalem where they were to eat it in the presence of the Lord. If their journey was too far, they could sell their tithe and then purchase what ever they desired once they made it to Jerusalem, as long as they eat it in the presence of God. In the third year, they were to deposit their tithe in the midst of their town or city so that all who had need could eat and be satisfied.

I wondered why God required the tithe and why He required them to eat it in His presence. It seems to me that it is akin to parents who have older children and who purchased a gift for them on their birthday, yet requiring their child to return home so to receive the gift. The request that the child return home is not in an effort to exert control over the child but rather to ensure that the parents might share in their child's joy and excitement over the gift they purchased for them.

I think this is the same for God and for His tithe. God delights to bless His children, yet He instituted the law of the tithe to require them to, at least once a year, journey back to His presence that He might share in their joy over His provision in their lives. The law of tithing is more about enjoying God's blessings in God's presence that it is about paying a bill or giving out of duty. God is more interested in us than our possessions and He wants to ensure that we remember Him in the midst of His many blessing in our lives. The tithe is to teach us to remember the giver as we enjoy the gift. In the third year, the tithe was wholly given to those who lacked and had need. In this, God invites us to experience His joy in blessing us as we bless others. In this way, we get to experience the same joy our Heavenly Father experiences when He sees us rejoice over His provisions for our lives.

Tithing is not about giving but it is about blessing, receiving, and relationship. Understanding this may cause us the rethink tithing in a whole new light.

David Robison

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Meant to be different: Dt 14:1-21

"You are the sons of the Lord your God; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave your forehead for the sake of the dead. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth." (Deuteronomy 14:1-2)
The USA is one of the few nations that does not allow its citizens to hold dual citizenship. In order to become a citizen, among other requirements, a person must take the "oath of allegiance". By doing so, an applicant for citizenship swears to "support the Constitution and obey the laws of the U.S.; renounce any foreign allegiance and/or foreign title; and bear arms for the Armed Forces of the U.S. or perform services for the government of the U.S. when required." All applicants are required to renounce all prior allegiances and citizenships before they can become US citizens. The same is true in the Kingdom of God. When we become Christians, we leave behind our former lives and all ways in which we identified with our former citizenship in the Kingdom of Darkness. We can no longer live as we used to; we can no longer seek to be like everyone else. We now belong to a new Kingdom; our allegiance is now to a new King and we must now live our lives for His pleasure and not our own.

In reading the following verses, I wondered, "what is so wrong with eating unclean food or meat from animals that died on their own?" After all, the foreigner could and they were not punished by God for doing so. "You shall not eat anything which dies of itself. You may give it to the alien who is in your town, so that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner, for you are a holy people to the Lord your God." (Deuteronomy 14:21) However, this is akin to the same argument I used to give my parents, "but everyone else is able to!" The truth is, however, that we are not everyone else's children, we are God's children. It doesn't matter what everyone else is doing, what matters is what God wants us to do. We can no longer base our lives on what others are doing; just because the world is doing it doesn't make it right for us. We must live our lives based on God's plan and desire for us and for our lives. This may mean that we will be different; that we no longer fit in; yet it is only in the world where we don't fit in. We may be different but in God's Kingdom we fit just fine.

David Robison

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Who Told You? Genesis 3

This is a sermon I preached on April 13, 2008 at Heart 2 Heart Ministries in Morgantown WV. This message is from Genesis 3 and looks at how sometimes, when we believe what the Devil has to say about us, we hide from God. This message is about 30 minutes long.

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David Robison