Monday, May 18, 2015

Devotion 5.19.15

Inspired from the Men's Retreat - Things that interfere with our relationship with Christ - Cash

Debt.  Families incur it.  Businesses incur it both public and private.  Credit and debt are almost an American way of life. When borrowing on a house, the banker that was going through our paperwork said the average American borrows approximately 2.5 times the amount of annual income in that household.  Most of us borrow for our house, car(s), and use credit to pay for things.

Churches are no different than the body that comprises the membership.  We borrow for facilities. We may borrow for other items on the property.  On the healthy side, paying for facility maintenance and upgrade suggests growth which suggests feeding the community the Word of God and that the community is responding to the Spirit through the church.

However, debt can become an albatross for a church because it can invite experts or people who want to focus on how we spend our money, how we budget our money, and where we can cut, especially in lean years.  They speak in broad terms and say such things as, "In my house, we have to balance our checkbook," forgetting the fact that they, too, have incurred debt more than likely.  We can spend an inordinate amount of time on money, and debt, while neglecting the Word of God.  So, on the unhealthy side, debt (Cash) is that area that can keep us from our relationship with Christ. 

Debt, then, can expose a deeper problem for the church, a spiritual one.  We want a great deal for our church.  Nice facilities.  Clean and comfortable.  Programs for our members that can become an extensive list.  Activities.  Grounds that are inviting and provide a place for those activities.  But please, don't lecture me and use that "tithe" word.  I give in other ways that takes care of those things I think we need.  These kinds of issues can lead a church to then seek funds from other sources which can get us into the problem noted in yesterday's devotion as our church looks like the temple where Christ chases out the money changers and sacrifice sale-reps.

God speaks directly to this spiritual issue in Malachi when He confronts Israel.  "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' In tithes and offerings.  You are under a curse - the whole nation of you - because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may e food in my house.  Test me in this," says the Lord God Almighty, " and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." (3:8-10)

Do we give freely?  People shift in their seats in discomfort when they hear tithe, but first fruits is a New Testament concept as well.  We give generously back to Christ because he first loved us.  We provide our "offering" out of response to His sacrifice for us that atones us.  Are we giving as we should, or are we leaving it up to the church to find ways to fund ministries that we desire?  No where else in scripture does God state that we can "test" him.  Are we testing God?

Pray that we give as we should in all of our areas including time, talent, and treasure.  Pray that we give out of love.  Pray that we support our ministries that we seek so that God's Word is heard in a variety of formats.  Pray that cash and debt don't become those obstacles for our mission of taking the gospel to all nations.

Hope Men's Ministry

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