The presence of God surrounded me so tightly during the worship service that I hardly noticed anything else. I felt the embrace of unconditional love and desired to respond back somehow. I had this overwhelming sense of gratitude. What could I possibly give to Him in that moment? I thought about Mary of Bethany. What moved her heart to give her most precious possession? Something that was worth a year’s wages! We don’t see a journal of her feelings in the story, but we do see her actions. She found Jesus and lavishly gave Him her extravagant gift.
…as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.Mark 14:3
I too was having a moment where I felt moved to give Him something of value. It was purely worship and I had no thought to receive anything from it. I happened to be wearing an expensive 18-carat gold bracelet. It was a gift from my husband’s middle-eastern family, actually imported from Iran, and my most valuable possession at the moment. I slipped it off my wrist and laid it down on the stairs leading up to the platform. At the end of the worship service, the ushers dutifully picked up the bracelet and placed it with the cash offerings in our church safe. (Photo by Lillis Boyer “Holy Incense”via elijahshopper.com)
Three days later, I received an unexpected check for $1,000. I actually felt the heart of the Lord the moment I received it. I had given Him something of value (the bracelet) and He was responding to my gift. It touched my heart. At the same time, I was very aware that my bracelet was of no use to our church and would sit in the safe indefinitely. I decided to give that money to the church and “redeem” my bracelet back.
Faith to Give in All Circumstances
This took place over 10 years ago. I also recall during those years having a high faith in God for His provision. Our church members also reflected those values. I’ve always had a deep love for the Church and my heart was to build it so it could effectively reach the lost. For example, my husband and I would be thrilled to empty our bank account for special outreach projects. I remember us giving thousands of dollars to our church building programs. We would make those commitments in faith and never had it in the bank at the time.
Still, the money always came, and it was with joy that we gave it. When we visited other churches, we were conscientious to leave a generous gift. We gave away jewelry, furniture, and really tried to help others in need. We loved giving to missions, too, and seemed to always be blessed with resources at the same time. We never went without. We’ve always had plenty left over.
Then in 2007–2008 our nation went into a terrible economic recession. Banks started failing. People all around my neighborhood were losing their homes. Unemployment was the highest I’ve ever seen. It made everyone fearful. The fear was overwhelming and caused many of our church people to pull back their tithes and offerings. Ron and I did not personally stop giving, but the feelings of fear were real. (Photo via Flickr)
I remember those “terrible” Tuesday mornings. We would receive the financial report from the weekend. I would panic and then I would go to our prayer chapel and pray until I found faith again. We knew several pastors who quit the pulpit during that season due to financial stress. Also during that time, the Lord spoke to my husband to begin a city-wide ministry to the poor. The prophetic word launched our City Reach ministry, which is still happening today. We both knew the proverb and understood this was God’s way of preserving us:
“He who gives to the poor will not lack…” (Proverbs 28:27).
We’ve thankfully come out of that season still in ministry and still having our church. In 2015, our church members’ tithes and offerings have increased. There is still, however, a feeling of caution on the people in regard to the economy. I am still waiting for the extravagant givers to be set free again, but I am confident this will be restored too.
He Attacked the Prince of the Hosts By Attacking the Offerings
There is a prophetic story in Daniel about a ruler who was the worst of all (see Daniel 8:8-14). The passage prophetically described his power as reaching to the heavens and knocking some of “the hosts and stars” out of place. It also said he would attack the Prince of the hosts, which is Jesus, through some specific methods. He will stop the offerings, destroy the temple, and throw truth to the ground. He will continue his attack for a period of time until Jesus overthrows him. (This ruler is known historically as Antiochus Epiphanes.)
Although this prophecy is fulfilled, we see the same war tactics being used today. Satan continues to make war against Jesus Christ by attacking the offerings and attacking the Church. When “giving” to the Church is suppressed, it binds the Church from its mission and suppresses the truth from going out. It’s an assault that happens on national and individual levels.
As individuals, many Believers have been led astray by spiritual sounding philosophies when it comes to their attendance and giving to the local Church.(Photo via Pixabay)
Here are a few:
• I give when I feel led to give.
• Tithes are under the law.
• I don’t need to go to church. I am the Church.
• I’m under grace, so I don’t have to _________ (fill in the blank)
These philosophies haven’t produced faithfulness in giving and serving the Body of Christ and must be confronted. These attitudes have not built His Church but actually hinder the Church and the message of salvation. We can’t be prophesying revival into our cities and nations and then not pay anything into it. Many people cite the “legality” of giving tithes as their Biblical excuse to not give much at all. The tithes put order and regularity into our giving, and giving is about the heart more than the set amount. When we can’t pass the test of giving, it delays revival because we are not ready to carry it.
I believe the Lord is challenging us all to put Him at His Word when it comes to giving, because He promises to provide back in abundance.
Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over…Luke 6:38
Giving is the Seed That Bears Fruit For Generations
Nearly 100 years ago, a family gave their personal finances to purchase land for a new work in Turlock, California. The late Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson had introduced Turlock to the Holy Spirit and a Spirit-filled community had emerged needing property. This same family’s grandson, Bill Larson, also became an established city-wide Evangelist with discipleship studies going on in his home nearly every night. Thousands of persons were converted as a result. He was so zealous that he finally quit his job, choosing to trust the Lord for his provision. He wanted to reach every unsaved person that he could. He died last month, but his legacy continues on.
This man was also responsible for the conversion and discipleship of my husband, Ron, as a teenager. He had found Ron smoking in a local park and led him to Christ. Bill then invited Ron to a Bible study and discipled him there. A decade later my husband was named the Senior Pastor of Harvest Christian Center in Turlock, California. During the funeral for this evangelist, we found out the land purchased by his grandparents is the land our church is sitting on!
Do you think this is a coincidence? Absolutely not! The seed for the Gospel was planted a century ago and is still producing its harvest. When we plant into the things of God, it will supernaturally grow in that direction for generations. (Photo via Pixabay)
Over a year ago, I was talking with a young woman in our church. She had a baby and was not married. I convinced her to make her live-in relationship right with God. Her and her boyfriend agreed and we set the wedding date. As I met their families for the first time, I realized the young woman’s father was a faithful elder in the church where I committed my life to Christ 25 years ago. How exciting it was for this elder to experience the fruit of his faithfulness and to have it returned back to his own family. I married his daughter and son-in-law that day, bringing them all, including an adorable grand baby, into the proper covering of Christ.
In I Chronicles 17, we see that King David desired to build God a house. The Lord responds to David saying that because he has taken care of His house, the Lord will take care of David’s house. The heart of God has not changed in this matter. Building His Church on earth does not go unnoticed or without reward. The Lord is promising and challenging us all to take care of His house, His Church, on the earth. He will, in turn, joyfully take care of ours, and His reward is for generations after us.
Jennifer Eivaz, Executive Pastor Harvest Christian Center, Turlock, CA