Bible Study On Tithing

For those interested in getting together a Bible study on tithing, this topic most likely will be met with somewhat of a stoic response from participants. Giving has never been a subject well received by many church goers, especially those who have had bad experiences in the past from churches that pound the subject into attendee's heads. Therefore when preparing to bring forth this subject, be sure to present it in as positive a way as possible, emphasizing that God is pleased with a cheerful giver, no matter how much the giver decides to give. Exploring the issues of why Christians should tithe, how much they should tithe, and blessings bestowed because of faithfulness to tithing are helpful to the new Christian as well as the old. Let's explore some instances of tithing in the New Testament to get a broad overview.

This subject of tithing in the New Testament is found in two books, primarily Mark chapter 12 and in Luke chapter 21. These passages describe the widow and her sacrificial giving of the last bit of money she had. Jesus contrasted her small gift against the sizeable gifts presented by the rich when they brought alms into the temple. Comparatively speaking, the gifts of the rich were a smaller percentage of what they had than that of the widow; for she gave everything she had left, financially speaking. Therefore, she is viewed as having the greater gift or sacrifice. While Jesus does not go on to elaborate further on the widow, one can read into the story that giving is to be sacrificial, and when it is, the gift is considered greater. When one gives all, there is not a greater sacrifice. Perhaps this even parallels Jesus' sacrificial gift of His life, and certainly paints a very positive picture for the Christian, because His gift was redemptive. Perhaps the widow was also redeemed in some way by her sacrificial gift, though not spiritually. Jesus was certainly pleased with the widow and her gift, and there sermons emphasize that in this way, God is pleased with a cheerful giver.

Leading a Bible study on tithing can be a great opportunity to examine as well, Old Testament and even Jewish beliefs about tithing which isn't often the focus in Christian circles. Some may ask how tithing got started at all. Looking back into the Old Testament, you can find a verse in Genesis, chapter 14 verse 20 where Abram blesses God and gives the high priest tithes of all he has. "And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all". Also, mentions of tithing are found in the book of Numbers chapter 18, as a part of the law given through Moses. It appears that the purpose of the tithes were to support the Levitical priests as they served in the temple. This explains why Abram contributed his tithes to Melchizedek in the temple.

Giving in the New Testament, as seen in the story of the widow, takes more of a voluntary bent than what we see in the Old Testament. One gives out of love in the case of the widow, and one gives out of command in the Old Testament. A careful study of these themes by contrasting stories in the Old and New Testaments will bear out legalistic emphases in the stories for Old Testament, forgiveness, and love in the New Testament. Since it seems giving was voluntary in Jesus' time, when did the 10% viewpoint come to bear? Upon a careful Bible study on tithing, paying attention to later church documents reveals that the Council of Trent made giving mandatory for Catholics. Since governments had a heavy influence from the church, it was in their interest to create revenue, and giving through the church was their avenue to do so. In Roman days, our Bible study on tithing reveals that Joseph even propounded that gifts should be as much as 30%! Surely the Romans exacted heavy burdens on everyone - perhaps this is why Josephus suggested this amount, to find favor with the Roman elites of which he mingled. After all, he was a major historian of the time.

Obviously tithing in the New Testament is important, or Jesus would not have told the story. The subject may get readers to examine the heart's intent when it comes to earthly and material possessions. Jesus' story of the rich man who couldn't part with his belongings and prayed that others in his family would not end up in Hell, illustrates that hoarding possessions does not produce sacrificial love, but rather a hardness of heart. Therefore the subject of tithing in the New Testament is mentioned in a gentle way, Jesus giving credence to the widow's actions as the better way to give of one's possessions. The rich demonstrate their opulence and make loud proclamations about how much they give. By contrast, the widow silently crept up and gave what she had. This most likely was not out of shame, but was an act of humility. This further cements the idea that riches will work to eradicate humility and sacrifice in the life of those who have much.

So, leading a study on giving does not necessarily have to be punitive, dry and boring. The group can discuss how the act can create in believers a genuine love of giving, as it creates in the Christian the fruits of humility and sacrifice. What better positive outcomes can emerge from the subject than these!

Prayers For Financial Help

When the economy lags, prayers for financial problems become crucial for believers and non-believers affected by joblessness, high interest rates, and skyrocketing fuel costs. In the United States, economic indicators point to a recession. And because the price of oil is at an all time high, over $100 barrel; consumers are feeling the pinch at the pump. The price of gasoline is expected to reach $4 and up per gallon by the middle of '08. The escalating price of consumable goods, especially food, is pushing even two-income families toward the welfare rolls. Due to high interest rates, many U.S. homeowners are facing foreclosures; while some are simply walking away from homes, personal belongings, and pets to try to reduce the high cost of living. The consumer debt-to-income ratio is on the rise, leaving many without sufficient funds for savings, health care, or retirement.

In uncertain economic times, the answer is obvious: faith, trust in God, and prayers for financial help. God is the source of all sustenance. He has and always will sustain those who place confidence in Him. People often quote, "Prayer changes things;" but there are specific petitions that enable the hand of God to release finances in a time of need. However, before these prayers can be heeded, certain requirements must be met by the petitioner. The Lord is just like a natural father. But if an individual has not been accepted into the family of God by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, he or she is His child. Prayers for financial help may go unanswered if the petitions come from someone who is not God's child by virtue of the New Birth. In order to get answers to prayers for financial problems, one must first become born again.

The prayer of salvation is crucial before one can expect to get answers to prayers for financial problems. Once an individual repents from sin and receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then they have the right to come boldly to the God's throne of grace in prayer and expect to receive whatsoever they desire, in accordance with His will. Every born again believer had to come to a place in life to acknowledge a need for the Savior; for all have come sinned and come short of the glory of God. All mankind inherited sin through the first man, Adam. But God sent Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, to redeem fallen man from sin. Jesus' blood shed at Calvary's Cross purchased man's freedom from the penalty of sin, which is death. When an individual freely admits one's sin and has a genuinely repentant heart, Jesus Christ's redemptive work on the Cross and forgiveness for sin can be personally appropriated. The moment the prayer of salvation is prayed, the blood of Jesus washes sinners from sin and they become new creatures in Christ, born again! The benefits of being born again are that prayers for deliverance, prayers for healing, prayers for wisdom, and prayers for financial help are, indeed, answered. Why? Because you belong to Him!

Prayer is a panacea, a cure-all for everything that ails any individual. But prayers for financial help must line up with the Word and the will of God, and the petitioner must walk in obedience. Deuteronomy, the 28th chapter offers great guidance for solving financial problems. In summation, the chapter teaches a principle: If one obeys the Lord, he or she is blessed; but if one is disobedient curses result. "And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God" (Deuteronomy 28:1-2).

Malachi 3:8-12 is explicit in requiring that believers tithe, or offer a tenth of income to the house of God, in order to be blessed financially. "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts." The blessings of obedience, including finances, come not only as a result of prayers for financial help and tithing, but also keeping the commandments of God.

Individuals seeking salvation may pray the following with a sincere, repentant heart: "Father God, I admit that I am a sinner; but I also believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He shed His blood on the Cross to save me from my sins. I repent of all my sins and I now accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I ask that you give me the power of the Holy Ghost to live a victorious new life in Christ. Amen." Individuals praying this prayer, can confess a born again experience. Those who need answers to prayers for financial problems can also pray: "Father God, I have obeyed your commandments and I have been faithful in tithing a tenth of my income. Now, God, according to your Word and in the Name of Jesus, I ask that you rebuke the devourer for my sake and release financial blessings into my household. Amen."

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