“Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”” Mark 12:41-44 [MSG]

Giving. I’m going to make what is probably the biggest non-statement ever made about giving and say that giving is both easy and difficult. Giving is easy when we have much, but difficult when we have none. Makes sense? Sounds logical, doesn’t it? So logical that it seems almost silly to mention it.

But have you ever taken the time to sit across from the proverbial offering box and observe how the rich and the poor give? If you have, you’ll realize, like I have, that in truth, a person’s giving is inversely proportional to the his wealth.

There are many studies out there that have looked into this and come up with similar conclusions. But I don’t really want to get into all that because this message is not about whacking those who don’t give. They have their reasons, spawn from their circumstance which we know not of, and we fully respect their wishes.

Instead, this message is written to encourage those who have been giving, assuring you that especially when you feel like you have given all you can give, you have not been forgotten, and your sacrifice has not gone unnoticed.

Now, we who have put our faith in Christ, believe that the Bible is ‘God-breathed’, Spirit-inspired. So there is nothing coincidental nor superfluous in the Bible. Every word used and every phrase chosen has its place and purpose. And being a grammarian by training, this is perfect, because I like to pick on words.

So the first two words I’d like to pick on are the two verbs used to describe the process of giving, ‘tossed’ and ‘put in’. I don’t need to tell you the difference between the two, do I? The former is done callously, while the latter is done deliberately.

I’m not using these two words to start a debate on the attitude that we should have with respect to giving, but merely to differentiate the audience to which I am addressing today. I’m not addressing the ‘tossers’. I’m addressing the ‘putters’.

For the ‘putters’, your Spirit-led giving is done prayerfully and with expectation. It is as if you are entrusting God with your gift and you expect to see a return on your investment.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that ‘putters’ give for personal gain. Of course not. I’m sure that when you entrust your giving to God, you would like to see Him prosper and multiply your giving for the good of the recipient. That is what I meant by expecting to see a return on your investment.

But sometimes it doesn’t happen that way, does it? Sometimes, that which you invested in doesn’t prosper and it seems like you are doing nothing more than contributing to a bottomless pit.

What’s worse is that sometimes, you yourself don’t get replenished for the giving, and it becomes a drain. And soon, it all seems a little hopeless. You feel like you perhaps heard God wrong. And, for some of us, we get more than a little upset with God because we feel that we have been abandoned. So what should we do then?

There is another poignant and often-used passage of scripture that speaks about giving and it is this.

““Bring the whole tenth into the storehouse, so that there will be food in my house, and put me to the test,” says Adonai-Tzva’ot. “See if I won’t open for you the floodgates of heaven and pour out for you a blessing far beyond your needs.”” Malachi 3:10 [CJB]

Now, organizations often use this verse to encourage their members to continue giving. ‘Giving till it hurts’ is a phrase often used to characterize the giving of a ‘good Christian’. That and ‘giving is not giving unless it costs you something’.

While there is nothing wrong with trying to garner more offering collections that way, that is not the point of the message today. Remember what we started out doing? Yes, that’s right. We started out picking on words. So likewise, we are going to pick on words here. And the first word I want to pick on is ‘bring’.

In all English translations, the verb used to describe the conveyance of the offering is the word ‘bring’. ‘Bring’ is a deliberate action. ‘Bring’ denotes premeditation. ‘Bring’ suggests that the action is done purposefully. ‘Bring’ is not ‘toss’. ‘Bring is ‘put in’. So that is why I say that is message is not for the ‘tossers’ but the ‘putters’.

Now, what happens when you deliberately, purposefully and expectantly bring your giving and put it into the storehouse? Well, the first thing God does is He places and exception on this commandment.

“Do not put Adonai your God to the test…” Deuteronomy 6:16 [CJB]

Because God very clearly says here in Malachi,

““Bring the whole tenth into the storehouse, so that there will be food in my house, and put me to the test,” says Adonai-Tzva’ot….” Malachi 3:10 [CJB]
‘Put me to the test’. So is God saying that as long as you bring Him offering and gifts, He is willing to overlook His own rules that He set for us? Can God be ‘bought’?

I knew that would wake you up. No, God cannot be bought. And no, God is not compromising His position. We only get that idea because we often only commit the first part of the commandment to memory, forgetting the latter, more important part.

“Do not put Adonai your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah [testing].” Deuteronomy 6:16 [CJB]

So what happened at Massah?

“In the first month, the entire company of the People of Israel arrived in the Wilderness of Zin. The people stayed in Kadesh. Miriam died there, and she was buried. There was no water there for the community, so they ganged up on Moses and Aaron.” Numbers 20:1-2 [MSG]

The people got thirsty, and the thirsty people became angry people. Then what happened?

“Moses and Aaron walked from the assembled congregation to the Tent of Meeting and threw themselves facedown on the ground. And they saw the Glory of God.
God spoke to Moses: “Take the staff. Assemble the community, you and your brother Aaron. Speak to that rock that’s right in front of them and it will give water. You will bring water out of the rock for them; congregation and cattle will both drink.”” Numbers 20:6-8 [MSG]

And what did Moses do?

“Moses took the staff away from God’s presence, as commanded. He and Aaron rounded up the whole congregation in front of the rock. Moses spoke: “Listen, rebels! Do we have to bring water out of this rock for you?”
With that Moses raised his arm and slammed his staff against the rock—once, twice. Water poured out. Congregation and cattle drank.” Numbers 20:9-11 [MSG]
Talk about having a bad day at the office. But wait, what was Moses supposed to do to the rock? Yes, ‘speak’. But what did He do? That’s right, he slammed his staff against the rock, twice. What was the staff supposed to be used for? Yes, gathering the people.

You know, the staff is a very important symbol when it comes to our Father. David tells us;

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

The staff is the symbol of the shepherd; and it is meant to bring us comfort and reminds us of our Shepherd who watches over us, and calls us to Himself. It is not meant to beat us up. So why did Moses do that silly thing?

“God said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you didn’t trust me, didn’t treat me with holy reverence in front of the People of Israel, you two aren’t going to lead this company into the land that I am giving them.”” Numbers 20:12 [MSG]

Got that? Why did Moses hit the rock? ‘Because you didn’t trust me’ So what is this testing that God is saying that we should not do? Yes, we should not doubt Him.

So going back to our passage for today, when we bring our gifts and put them in God’s hand, we can trust Him. And trust Him to do what?

“…See if I won’t open for you the floodgates of heaven and pour out for you a blessing far beyond your needs.”” Malachi 3:10 [CJB]

But you know, when times get rough, it is often easy to just gloss over these words and ask just where the promised provision is.

But beloved child of God, that is why we should not only pay attention to the promise of provision, but also the name with which God chooses to sign off on this promise; Adonai-Tzva’ot.

Adonai-Tzva’ot, translates into Lord of Hosts and God of Angel armies. By signing off on this promise with this name, our Father wants to remind us that The One making us this promise is not just 'a' God. He is not even just 'the' God. He is The God in whose hands are all things.

And in your situation, He wants you to know that you are not alone. He stands with His armies betwixt you and all the demands that the world throws at you to try and put you down. He stands between you and lack. He stands between you and sickness. He stands between you and social persecution. And just like He did for Joshua and Israel at Jericho, He will most certainly give you the victory over your circumstances.

So open the floodgates of heaven and pour out blessings on you, you can bet your bottom dollar He’ll do that. And not just that, but He will pour out a blessing far beyond your needs.

You know, the crux of the message is really what follows from here. This is the ‘so what now’ segment. And many other organizations will tell you to keep on giving. ‘Keep on giving because He will give’. ‘Keep on giving because He told you so’. ‘Keep on giving because He will smite you if you don’t’.

But what did Jesus do after making that comment on the widow’s giving? He stopped. Yes, go check it out. He stopped. No lesson, no commandment to carry on giving. He just moved on to the next topic on His list.

Now that speaks volumes, doesn’t it? Does Jesus expect you to give when you feel empty? No. Does He expect you to keep on giving when there is nothing left to give? No. Do you think the widow can still continue to give if she is not replenished? So if you, like the widow, have given everything away, and you feel like there’s nothing left to give, do you think Jesus wants you to continue giving if you feel you have not been replenished?

You know, many organizations will say that this is bad preaching for an ‘offering’ sermon, because it gives people an ‘excuse’ not to give. Well, this is not an ‘offering’ sermon. That and the fact that God says, ‘bring the whole tenth into the storehouse’. Now you can’t very well bring the tenth if you haven’t received the whole, can you?

But if you have been ‘bringing the tenth’ till there is no more to give; if you have been serving till you are emotionally and spiritually spent; beloved, it’s time to rest, and claim Malachi 3:10 for yourself.

“…See if I won’t open for you the floodgates of heaven and pour out for you a blessing far beyond your needs.”” Malachi 3:10 [CJB]

Your needs are important. They are not merely ‘important too’, they are important. When God leads us, He is not a tour guide, collecting payment along the way. Instead,

“The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:1-3

So let Him restore you, let Him rest you and let Him feed you.

For “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.” Psalm 23:6

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