Worthy Is The Lamb: Worship, Money and Power - Part One
However, the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing.” - 2 Samuel 24:22
"Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
'In what way have we robbed You?'
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,"
Says the LORD of hosts,
"If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.
11 "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,"
Says the LORD of hosts;
12 "And all nations will call you blessed,
For you will be a delightful land,"
Says the LORD of hosts. - Malachi 3:8-12
"Show me your calendar and checkbook and I will tell you who is your God."
This shocking quote by John Wimber years ago has always been a companion in my decisions ever since. Over the years, Janice and I have lived by this value of giving as worship, whether we have had a lot of resource or a little. As many of you know, we have started/restarted five churches and all them started with no salary. So, in the early days she and I would take on work. We have thrown papers, worked in print shops, in the home loan industry, ran a bakery, substitute taught, and a few other things to create capital. Money was almost always tight, especially in the early days of a new church. When we started what is now Grace Fellowship in Fort Collins, there was a winter when for several weeks, the temperature was way below zero. Well on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we had someone come out to service the heater and it was leaking gas! The man had no supplies and we had no money to fix it! We needed a few weeks to raise the funds. Well, as the temperature dropped, we had one option - a wood burning stove, but no money to get firewood to heat it that night. As the temperature dropped to -10, we did what we could and burned a few dining room chairs to keep warm! Its a thanksgiving we will never forget. (We are all okay....I mean obviously!)
Still as tight as money was, we never stopped giving. The church had to pay its bills as well! But in actuality, we knew, no matter how tight, even for how long, God always comes through and would release gifts to us! He took care of us in those days in astonishing ways. Some of our favorite stories of supernatural provision came in the very leanest of times as we continued to give and give.
Sometimes we can lose sight of why we give and feel like we are supporting an institution, programs or systems. This is why I am writing this. Because giving always is an act of obedience, but its higher goal is always worship.
Worship and Giving
Whenever I give, I always take a moment and release it as worship, whether I am giving by check or electronically these days. I give on most occasions first out of my check to the Lord. There are some few occasions where I am late because of illness or forgetting to deposit the check right away, but for the vast majority of times, it is the first thing I do. Why?
Because He is first and worth it. Giving is not like a subscription payment. I have many subscriptions, news, music, reading and research, online storage - some personal and some for the church, but my giving, my tithe (a word meaning "10 percent") and my offerings are always worship.
In fact, the words "worthy" and "worship" both have their root in financial terms. "Worship" is a cognate of two Old English words, "worth" and "ship" - the worthy vehicle or means that worth is ascribed to. A coin used to be described as worthy when it had it's full weight and the images on it were still intact. Remember Jesus, "Whose image is on this coin?". When the image was no longer there, the precious metal would have worn down and would be said to no longer be "worthy" of its denominational amount. We declare God's worth through all of our acts of worship, including our giving. Worship is a means to demonstrate to God our trust, reliance and faith in Him. Our acts of worship - singing, speaking, lifting of hands, dance, art, playing, communion, prayer, and even giving are how we express God's deep worth.
Worship, Giving, and Faith
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. - Hebrews 11:6
The act of giving, as a part of worship, is a deep demonstration of faith towards God. Let's face it, in this world, few things vex the human soul like poverty and avarice. Remember the OJays' song, "For the Love of Money" that used to open "The Apprentice" TV show? Money and the perceived lack of it and its resource, has caused the downfall of many, including pastors and leaders in the faith. In my lifetime alone, so many leaders, so many figures in society and most of the normal crime on the streets are built around the fear of not having. What has always combatted this in my heart has been the act of worshipful giving.
When I give with a worshipful heart, I am declaring before the twisted principalities and powers that my God "shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory", according to Philippians 4. In fact, take a look at this in its context and see if you can't see the act of worship there:
"18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen."
The Philippians church, in sending their offering to Paul to sustain the ministry, were actually giving an offering like those in worship of God in the Old Testament , "... a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God." Giving is worship! It costs us and is the very least we can give to Him who has given us so much!
Next week, I will talk more about this and then the role giving has in unlocking resources and abundance. But for the meantime, join with me as we worship this weekend through our words, our songs, our movement (lifting of hands and dance), our shared communion, through the word and our giving! It's all for Him!