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Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer

Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Getting to the Root of the Problem

For the past twenty-three plus years or so, as a pastor I have listened to various people discuss their personal difficulties, and one main theme seems to be at the root of the afflictions we so often bring on ourselves.

When people share with me their financial difficulties, my first question, which may sound a bit odd and perhaps even rude is, “How is your giving?” In other words, have you faithfully responded to all the good gifts and blessings the Lord has given to you by stepping out in faith and giving or rather returning your first fruit tithes to the Lord? Indeed, when we understand, realize and believe that all that we have in one way or another first comes from our Lord, instead of asking how much should we return we perhaps might ask, “How much should I keep for myself?” Because we cannot out give God, especially since everything comes from Him first, we show our thankfulness to Him for all His gifts by returning our first fruit tithes to Him. It is only as we fail to recognize God as the gift Giver that we fail to respond in faith with our first fruit tithes. And then we usually wonder why God is not blessing us as we think He should.

I cannot tell you how many people, who after learning the joy of first fruit tithing have said that before they were first fruit tithers they had no idea where all their money went and why they never had any left, but after they learned the joy of first fruit tithing it seemed they still did not know where all their money went, but they always had some left over. Mathematically speaking it did not seem to work out as it was all the same money and bills, but God made it work. The point is, we cannot out give God and He is the one who gives to us in the first place. I will continue to challenge anyone who is having money “problems” to step out in faith and learn the joy of first fruit tithing and see what happens, how much more God will bless you as He is the One who gives the first, the best and the most.

The great thing about first fruit tithing is that it is so simple. The first money spent from money earned is returned to God and the amount is simply 10%, or a less percentage with a goal of the Biblical tenth. With percentage giving of first fruits, if you did not earn anything, you do not give anything, and the more you earn the more you may have joy in returning.

The second affliction that is often shared with me as a pastor has to do with relationships, especially husband and wife relationships and my first question is, “How is your church attendance?” More often that not those with relationship difficulties are those who do not have a good relationship with Jesus. Now, understand, just being in church does not guarantee a perfect relationship or marriage, but it goes a long way in helping. Very often the response to the question of church attendance is that it is not very good to which I then ask, “And do you suppose you would be in this difficulty had your attendance been better?” and the response is very often, “No.” You see, a good relationship, a good marriage begins with a good relationship with Jesus. It is only as we have a good relationship with our Lord and are being given His forgiveness and love that we can reflect that forgiveness and love to another person. And the first and best place to be given forgiveness and love from our Lord is the place where His gifts are distributed, His Divine Service.

Our problems all stem from sin, the curse in the Garden, and our own sin. Indeed, we daily sin much and are in need of forgiveness. As we say on many Sunday mornings, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8,9). Our greatest need is forgiveness of sins and that forgiveness is poured out most generously in Divine Service. Thus we are continually encouraged to make regular and diligent use of the means of grace, especially being in Divine Service.

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