Return to Me… Finding Blessing Through Giving

Ever since the time of your ancestors, you have deviated from my laws and have not kept them. Return to me and I will return to you, says the Lord of heavenly forces. But you say, “How should we return?”
Should a person deceive God? Yet you deceive me. But you say, “How have we deceived you?” With your tenth-part gifts and offerings.
You are being cursed with a curse, and you, the entire nation, are robbing me.
10 Bring the whole tenth-part to the storage house so there might be food in my house. Please test me in this, says the Lord of heavenly forces. See whether I do not open all the windows of the heavens for you and empty out a blessing until there is enough.
11 I will threaten the one who wants to devour you so that it doesn’t spoil the fruit of your fertile land, and so that the vine doesn’t abort its fruit in your field,
says the Lord of heavenly forces.
12 All the nations will consider you fortunate, for you will be a desirable land, says the Lord of heavenly forces.

13 You have spoken harshly about me, says the Lordbut you say, “What have we spoken about you?”
14 You said, “Serving God is useless. What do we gain by keeping his obligation or by walking around as mourners before the Lord of heavenly forces?
15 So now we consider the arrogant fortunate. Moreover, those doing evil are built up; they test God and escape.” (Malachi 3:7-15, Common English Bible).

Throughout my years in ministry I have heard many people say, “When you give the way you are supposed to, when you tithe, you get more back than you ever gave,” or words to that effect. I have also had a number of people who have heard those words and imagine it something like an interest bearing account. You give your money to some ministry and God will give you money back in return, perhaps many times over.

In my experience that isn’t what that means at all. Yes, sometimes after people give generously God gives to them generously in a financial way. I would not put a limit on what God can and will do by telling you God won’t bless you financially. God has and God will. For most of us, however, we give and when we see what happens with what we have given, when we see how lives are changed by what we give, we feel a real blessing because our generosity made a real difference.

In today’s lesson God throws out a challenge to the reader. I love verse 10. “Bring the whole tenth-part to the storage house so there might be food in my house. Please test me in this, says the Lord of heavenly forces. See whether I do not open all the windows of the heavens for you and empty out a blessing until there is enough.”

God is saying, “Do it and then sit back and wait and see what I will do.” The truth is, none of us know what God will do when we are generous and faithful in what we give. It is a privilege to be able to watch to see what God will do next.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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