You’d better go grab yourself something to drink and find a comfortable chair, as I have a lot to say today that the LORD has put on my heart to deal with.  This may come as a shock to you, but God doesn’t need your money.  You can’t go to the hardware store and buy a ladder tall enough to get you to heaven to hand God your offering.  And the last time I checked, God has not come down and taken money from the hands of any who offered up to Him.
Now I’m well aware of the Bible accounts of God coming down to altars and consuming offerings given to Him, and there are several. Here is my favorite in 1 Kings 18.
1Ki 18:21  And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
1Ki 18:22  Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
1Ki 18:23  Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
1Ki 18:24  And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
1Ki 18:25  And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
1Ki 18:26  And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
1Ki 18:27  And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
1Ki 18:28  And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
1Ki 18:29  And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
1Ki 18:30  And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down.
1Ki 18:31  And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:
1Ki 18:32  And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
1Ki 18:33  And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
1Ki 18:34  And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.
1Ki 18:35  And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
1Ki 18:36  And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
1Ki 18:37  Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
1Ki 18:38  Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
1Ki 18:39  And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.
1Ki 18:40  And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.

Now, I’m going to get of the heart of the matter here.  The LORD told Elijah to do this, and Elijah prayed unto the LORD in front of all the people and said, I have done all these things at thy word.  For what purpose? , that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.  Was that sacrifice of the bullock pleasing to God?  Well, Elijah prepared the altar, the stones, the wood, and poured twelve barrels of water over the offering and the wood and set no fire to it.  The Lord came down with fire and consumed the wood, the beef, AND the water in the trench.  Funny thing, God must like gravy with His roast beef, just like we do.

But all joking aside, can you show me even one time where God came down and took anyone’s money?  Well, then He must not want your money.  Instead, He wants your OBEDIENCE to His Word.  In the Old Testament, the Priests would present a Wave Offering or a Heave Offering before the LORD.  You can read about them in Exodus chapter 29, Leviticus chapters 7, 8, 10, 14, 23, and Numbers chapter 5, where after they were held up by the Priests and waved before the LORD, they were eaten by the Priests.  God could have come down and consumed the wave offerings but He didn’t.  Those offerings were always FOOD, NOT MONEY.

God doesn’t want your money, the preachers do.  I’m a preacher too, and I incur expenses ministering the Gospel, just like any preacher does, just like any church does, and it takes money to keep things running. But God doesn’t need your money.  Make sure you understand the difference when you are giving.  And yes, the Lord Jesus preached on giving.  We SHOULD give.  The Lord Jesus said in Luke 6:27-38,

Luk 6:27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
Luk 6:28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
Luk 6:29  And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.
Luk 6:30  Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
Luk 6:31  And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
Luk 6:32  For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
Luk 6:33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
Luk 6:34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
Luk 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
Luk 6:36  Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Luk 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
Luk 6:38  Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
Notice again what the Lord Jesus said in verse 27: But I say unto you which hear.  In other words, to those who have “ears to hear”, who have understanding of the matter.  God is trying to open your understanding here about your giving.  And He wants you to be merciful to others, even as He is merciful (to you).

Churches need your money, and truthfully, for the most part they don’t care about your obedience to God, just as long as you bring your MONEY. Now I’m going to catch some flack over that statement, but I don’t care, because the LORD told me to say so, and I’m going to be obedient to Him.  I don’t get paid to do this anyway, I’m doing it to be obedient to the calling the LORD has given me. The only legitimate purpose of any church is to teach people to be obedient to the LORD, to prepare them for the coming Kingdom of God.

However, many churches focus primarily on tithing and giving, omitting the weightier issues because they need money to keep the doors open.  Many people are put under pressure to give and give and give.  Give to the building fund. Give to the guest speaker. Give to the church’s anniversary fund. Give to the pastor’s vacation fund. Give to the pastor’s birthday gift or anniversary gift. Give to pastor’s appreciation fund.  Give to the alms fund. Give toward the church’s new aircraft fund. And all that above the TITHE!   And they insist you haven’t given at all unless you are giving beyond your tithe.  And if you’re not doing so, you probably feel guilty.  How do you NOT feel guilty?  You’re not supposed to not feel guilty, that’s how they keep getting you to give.  You might as well hand them your whole paycheck, plus take out a second or third mortgage on your home to give to the church’s debt fund.

Here’s another thing that stinks unto the LORD, the practice that many churches have of putting the offering boxes up front so the people have to get up and take their offerings up to the front. That way they are seen of men that they are giving, and those who AREN’T getting up and giving are made obvious too.  Well, if that’s the case at your church, the only reward you are going to get from your giving is being seen by men giving your offering. Enjoy it, because that’s the only blessing you will get from it.  The Lord Jesus warned against that in Matthew 6:1-4,

Mat 6:1  Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
Mat 6:2  Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Mat 6:3  But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
Mat 6:4  That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
I received a letter one time from a church organization that stated research shows when you put the offering boxes up front of the church, that giving is increased.  Now tell me, who gets the glory from that, people or God? That’s a way of manipulation, and GOD isn’t a manipulator.

Your pastor is getting a paycheck from the church most likely.  And if he is wise, he is setting aside part of his earnings for vacation and for his other needs, like the rest of us have to do. However, many churches are deep in debt, saddling their congregations down with obligations to pay off all that debt, and when that happens, you’ll notice the gradual shift from winning souls for Jesus, to giving and tithing.  Happens every time.  And you’ll see the joy is gone out of giving.

To those who are faithfully tithing for years and years, and you’re still struggling to make ends meet, you’re probably wondering how long it is going to take before the blessings of Malachi 3:10 kick in, 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. There is more to it than that. Obedience to God’s Word is what He really wants.

Most of us have to live within our means, and we aren’t like the government who can just keep borrowing when they run out.  Our pastors and churches should too. That includes ME.  I don’t borrow, I live within my means, and though we receive no pay from our ministry, God gives us our provision. During the years I worked, my provision was from my paycheck, while I ministered for free. Now I’m older and my provision comes from my retirement. I’m not saying pastors shouldn’t have a paycheck for their work. It’s Biblical for them to. I just choose not to so people can’t say I’m in it for the money, because I’m not.  I’m in the ministry to help you make it to the Kingdom of God.

What I’m saying is this: it’s wrong for you to be put under guilt and condemnation to give beyond what you can safely afford to give. You shouldn’t be struggling to pay your bills because you gave “above and beyond” to a church.  That isn’t God’s way.  God wants you BLESSED.  ANNNNND, He wants you to be a GOOD STEWARD of what He has put in your hand.  God reprimanded me years ago about my giving at a meeting of a certain minster. They took up an offering every hour, and I gave till I had nothing left.  Some of you have probably done the same thing. THEN I gave them my house payment money, because “IT’S MORE BLESSED TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE”,  as he said.  I got home from the meeting and prayed for more provision because I didn’t have the money to pay the mortgage.  The LORD said, DID I TELL YOU TO GIVE YOUR HOUSE PAYMENT MONEY AWAY? Uhhh, well, no LORD. He said, THEN WHY DID YOU DO IT?

Well, I did it because I was MANIPULATED, just like many of you are being right now. It’s good to give, and many people WANT to give to the preaching of the Gospel.  But they are being manipulated back into bondage, from which, if I read my Bible correctly, the LORD wants to deliver you. Often it’s the threat of “being under the curse for robbing God.”  Robbing Him of your OBEDIENCE is the biggest issue to God.  And I’d better stop there before I get to preaching.

Ask God where, when, and how much HE wants you to give.  He WILL answer you. Remember, obedience is better than sacrifice.