This is from the notes of two recent talks I gave at churches. First as the devotion on at Sunday evening service in May at Swainsboro First UMC and then in June as sermon at morning service at Moore’s Chapel UMC.
This is probably my favorite verse in the Bible and one that I have come to love and appreciate over the last 27 years. You most often hear this text used when it is budget/pledging time in the church. However I want us to look further at this text. It is not just a promise of finances but a promise of a life of blessing for people and the nation.
Too often we see it only as a financial. And we see the “TV preachers” quite often use it in promising wealth for their listeners if they will give to that preacher. There is a promise of wealth here but it is not in money mainly but on other ways. This is not a condemnation of all who preach on TV but those who are misleading on this.
To give you a little background of what this scripture means to me and where it came to be important to me lets go back in time.
In 1979-80 I had my first full time regular job which was teaching computers at Brunswick Junior College. It was a temporary one year position which suited me fine as I was torn between teaching about computers and doing computer work. I knew I liked doing both but did not know what I wanted to do the rest of my life and here was an opportunity to just try teaching for a year. Ironically almost 30 years later I am still trying to decide what I want to do “when I grow up”. I am teaching now but for the previous two years (and still part time) I was doing real world computer work.
At the end of the contract in September 1979 the job ended but I had not found a new job. I went for several months hunting and doing anything I could fine including cleaning houses, racquetball courts (that included restrooms, so yes I cleaned toilets) substitute teaching in middle and high school and others. I found the hardest job for me was teaching middle school and I will still tell you today if you see me teaching middle school you will know I have hit bottom. I really appreciate those who can and enjoy teaching middle school; they truly have been called by God. It is a rough stage for kids in this age period. They are not sure if they are adults or still children and conflict happens. I have a piece of pencil led still in my hand fom8th grade that I can look at and remember the difficulty with me and my friends in that age period.
Besides hunting jobs and doing what I could find though small I stayed at apartment and did lots o reading. However I did see friends. Three come to play major roles in this story.
Laura who had been a student of mine the previous year and we had developed a friendship and would talk regularly. She attended First Methodist in Brunswick. I had grown up Presbyterian and attended the Presbyterian church but had never quite felt a part. It was a smaller church and I was probably only young single attending it. It was just not right church for me. Laura suggested a couple of times to me that I attend First Baptist. That sounds odd I know, a Methodist encouraging a Presbyterian to attend the Baptist church. Laura though had a reason for suggesting it. The Baptist church had a large and active young adult and single ministry and it would allow me to meet others like me in a different environment than cllege. The Methodist group was smaller.
I began attending and truly fund myself growing and becoming active again. I was at church Sunday morning and evening services which also had single Sunday School and activity Sunday night and at least activity with Wednesday night prayer meeting and often some other time. Soon after I started attending a lady started attending who was taking training as a park ranger at FLETC. Her name was Jan Joness (I wrote it then by these verses) and she quickly challenged me about tithing, which had never or hardly been mentioned in Presbyterian churches, and about these verses. Soon after she went back to work in Macon at Wildlife area and I have never heard about her since.
Her comment was God has actually told us to try or test him here. Usually we are told not to try or test God but here and with the sheep’s fleece we see God tried. Her comment was just tithe for a few weeks or months and see how God blessed me or if he did not. She said it may be simpler to start tithing as poor as I was at that point, almost all income was unemployment and savings were running out. It would be jus a few dollars. Having never really seen it before, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I began tithing my money for just a short period to see what happened, but notice above that I had already actually moved to tithing my time which was not new. I figured the tithing would not last, but I am still doing it 27 years later.
What happened? I had lots of new friends appear in life. Opportunities for me to things and help lead at church occurred. Yes I did get a job, but if you are thinking God immediately blessed me with a high paying job, no, but he blessed me with meeting my needs. I started having regular part time work and by end of January I had gotten a job at Sea Island which was a nice job but paid less than teaching. How did I get word of the job? Freddie, a former student I had placed there the previous year, told me at church on Sunday to call them Monday and that they had a job it appeared for me. It was second shift. Lots of opportunities in life began opening fr me. I did join the Baptist Church and then moved soon after to the Methodist as it had a teaching fr me and I actually was involved in both churches (services and singles groups) for my last 6 months there.
I have truly been blest by God over the years in ways that overflow my storehouses. Actually many would say I have already overflowed my workshop storage house as it is packed and those who have helped move me each time will tell you I can over flow my storage space. Partly because I am a packrat, I will admit it. I have opportunities to travel (49 states and several other countries including Brazil and China), to study (a doctorate after this time and further studies), to lead and participate in many organizations, to do many types of work in church from teaching to speaking to sound to video to computer and others. I have been truly blessed in my abilities to work on a computer and teach people. I am probably currently in the best physical shape of my life, just in last six months starting to ride a bicycle again and having ridden 25 and 50 mile one day events.
God promised her to protect the crops from bugs and to deliver the milk and he ha blessed me in eating. He can make you a success if you give him a chance and d you part.
I think the Red Cross was in the right direction when they had a campaign several years ago of give five. It was not just to give 5% of your money to community support (be it Red Cross, charity or church) but also to give 5% of your time. That is the tithe we as a people I think miss the most and that God is promising us the most. Yes they were only asking 5% and God asks 10% but you have to start somewhere.
I am not concerned what method you decide about the tithe of your time, talents and presence, but that you try it. Try God. See I he will not bless you. He will make you a success. Your blessings may be the people you get to work with, th results you produce, the changes you cause, and many more. But God will meet your needs if you allow him to and you do your part.
Together with God we can make this world better and we can succeed ourselves. I truly believe I am successful. I see my biggest success in my mind and what I am able to d with it. Yes over time God has also blessed me financially, giving me the ability to help others. You may not get that type success; yours may be more of Mother Teresa. I have not gotten the real high paying jobs, but I have gotten what I need and beyond. My successes include my teaching success, being able to write, to have leadership opportunities, to travel, to help others with computer problems and many more.
Try God by tithing, whether money or time or talent first and see how it grows. Stop and try counting your blessings.
This is a little article I am doing across the Internet. I try to write several times a month on a variety of subjects. It may be religious at times, political at times, and at other times just my reactions on something happening out there. It will often be like an op-ed article. If I do what I intend, you will at times want to shout I agree, other times you will want to say Dwight has really lost it now, but most importantly I want to challenge you to think. Feel free to forward this to others. If you don't want to get this e-mail let me know. Feel free to use what you read from me, but I request you give me credit and send a tear sheet. Thanks.
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