Doug Batchelor - Windows in Heaven
While there's no lack of greed across the annals of human history, according to ancient records, Marcus Licinius Crassus, a Roman governor in the first century B.C. may have been the greediest man who ever lived. For example, after establishing a fire brigade in Rome, he would accompany the firefighters to the scene of a blaze and then offer to buy the burning property from the panicked owner at an insultingly low price. If refused, his fireman would do nothing to help, but if the sale was agreed upon, the fire was quickly extinguished and Crassus would rebuild and rent out the property. Through this and other grasping schemes, Crassus built his fortune equivalent to billions today. Yet his greed appears to have contributed to his downfall, one legend has it that his enemies executed him by pouring molten gold down his throat in judgment for his notorious greed. Although a common human tendency today, greed isn't part of God's ideal for His people. Thankfully, He has a plan to cultivate in us generosity, the opposite of greed, while at the same time filling our lives to overflowing with His true blessings. So join me now as we take a closer look at this life-changing topic.
Tonight's presentation, dealing with the Windows in Heaven is going to be a little bit different. Now I might surprise you, but tonight we're going to talk about something called stewardship. And you might think, "Pastor Doug, what does stewardship have to do with prophecy." Let me show you something here. What chapter in Matthew does Jesus give signs of His coming? Matthew 24. That's one of the best chapters. And what's in Matthew Chapter 25? A continuation of Matthew 24.
If you've got your Bibles, like I've got a Red Letter Bible here. It's all one sermon. Matthew 24 drifts right into Matthew 25, no interruption, no black letters. Jesus is continuing after He talks about His coming and who will be ready for His coming, He tells a parable of the 10 virgins and the bride groom is coming, some were asleep. And those who were sleeping they did not have the oil in their vessels, they couldn't go into the wedding feast. Then He tells a parable of the 10 talents and He says that all of His followers, His servants were given resources and they were to properly use their resources and that they would be judged when He comes on how they utilize those resources. Luke 16 verse 10, "Who is faithful in what is least, is faithful also in much. And he who is unjust in that which is least is unjust also in much. Therefore, if you've not been faithful in unrighteous mammon," meaning that just the money of this world, "who will commit to you the true riches?"
One of the most basic things that Christians should be faithful in is the resources and the influence for good that we have in our lives. Another one, Luke 14:27, "Whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you intending to build a tower does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it. Lest after he's laid the foundation and is not able to finish it, all who see it begin to mock him, saying this man began to build and was not able to finish. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple." Jesus is very clear that following Him is a 100% deal. You find me a verse that says, "Give me 50% of your heart." Whoever doesn't forsake all that he has and take up his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. And when you're all in with the Lord, then He blesses you. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
So with this little background, I'm going to study the subject with you of Christian stewardship and you will appreciate as we go on, I think, that it does relate to the themes of being in heaven and being faithful in witnessing in these last days.
So question number one in our lesson, what portion of our income belongs to God? Answer, all of the tithe is the Lord's. First of all, what percentage? 100%. But He asked us to remember it by dedicating a 10th to Him and to His course and to His service. All of the tithe is the Lords, it is holy to the Lord. You don't want to touch that which is holy. The Bible should be treated in a special way because it's the Holy Bible. And marriage is called holy matrimony. That means there's a sacred relationship. You don't interfere with that relationship. And so when God says that a tenth of all of your increase is holy to God, that means you're saying you treat it sacred and separate and it is used to spread the message of Jesus around the world.
What does God do with our tithe? Is the Lord short on funds? Does God need our money? No. The Bible tells us the cattle on 1,000 hills are His, He doesn't need it. But why does He ask for it? You can tell that when the children of Israel came out of Egypt, the Lord says there in Numbers 18:21, He says, "I've given the children of Levi, all of the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for their work." Now the children of Levi were the priests that went and they diffused among all 12 tribes. They were to teach them and their families, they were to teach the law, they were to administer the sacred rights. The Levites were also the doctors in the country. You notice there were a lot of sanitation laws and a lot of health laws that were given. And the Levites were the ones who were supposed to, and the priest were supposed to help administer these things. They needed judges. The Levites often served that way.
In America, some of the early pastors were called the Parson. You know where the word parson comes from? Small towns across early America, The Parson, that was the parson and it was usually a pastor in the community and he would settle disputes. They didn't have a sheriff and a Marshall in every town. He would officiate for weddings, for funerals, for baptisms. He was called the Parson. If there was a dispute, they take it to him and sometimes the elders, well the Levites used to do that. But notice it says for all of their work, it wasn't one of these things where they got up and preached the sermon once a week. It was a full-time job. And so God had designated that the tithe was to support them to make sure the ministry of the nation was taken care of.
Goes on to say the tithes of the children of Israel, I've given to the Levites as an inheritance. Now they were an agricultural community. And so when it talks about tithe, that wasn't usually paid in money, it was paid in might be grain or oil or the fruits of the field so to speak. Do you not know... And this is Paul speaking in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians nine, verse 13 and 14. Do you not know that they which minister about the holy things live of the things of the temple, and they that wait at the altar are partakers with the altar.
Sometimes people would bring a sacrifice to the altar and a portion of it was burnt, but a portion would go to the Levites in their family to help feed their family. Someone might bring a grain offering and some of that would go to the Levites to help feed their families as they did the ministry of the Lord throughout the land of Israel.
This plan has never really been altered except that it's no longer the Levites, it's just anybody who is called into a sacred ministry. That's the plan. 1 Corinthians 9:13 and 14. "Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel." And when people hear a message like this, sometimes you talk about theology folks, they're fine. You talk about people's money and they get real quiet. It's like this man gave his daughter two silver dollars and he said, now one of these is for the Lord. You make sure and give it to church and one you can do whatever you want with it. So she was real excited about that and she was skipping over to the store to get some candy. She dropped both of the silver dollars and one of them rolled off into the gutter, down the drain and she said, Lord, there goes your dollar.
Even so those who preached the gospel should live from the gospel. Is the tithing system part of Moses' old law that ended at the cross? Some people say, "Oh that's part of the old covenant law." What does the Bible say? Genesis 28, verse 20 and 22. "Then Jacob made a vow saying, of all that you give me, I will surely give a tenth to You." Where do you find the 10 commandments in the Bible? Exodus chapter 20 is the first place, 19, he gathers them to declare the 10 commandments. And where do you find Jacob? Genesis. And so this goes all the way back to the beginning. This was part of God's original plan. He said, I will surely give a tenth to you. Did he keep his vow? He did, when he came back. It tells about how he took a large percentage of everything that he had when he came back and he gave it to his brother Esau, who was then the really the priests of the country, because his father was old and blind. It was often the patriarchs that served as the priest. Abraham offered sacrifice for his family. As did Isaac as did Esau, as did Jacob. They were really the priest back then until you get to the time of Moses and the Levites.
But didn't Jesus condemn the tithing plan? Some people say, well tithing, that's an Old Testament law. Jesus said in Matthew 23:23, that's easy to remember, "Woe to you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithes of mint and anise and cumin." Those are little herbs in their garden. And so the Pharisees and the scribes often had herbs in their garden and they'd say, okay, we got one, two, three sprigs of parley and they are 10 of them. And then they'd say one is for the Lord, they'd count out they got 10 tomatoes and one's for the Lord. And they were really precise and fastidious about giving their little tithes out of everything they had. And Jesus said, you omit the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith, these you ought to have done and not leave the other undone.
Well wait a second. He was condemning their legalism but he didn't condemn tithing. He said, make sure and keep the priority of justice, judgment, mercy and faith these you ought to do. And notice what Jesus said, not leave the other, paying of tithe, undone. If that's clear say amen. He said don't forget that part. There's no other plan that's introduced in the New Testament. In fact, if you really are interested in what the Bible says, the New Testament plan is actually more demanding and rigorous. It tells us, if you read in Acts chapter four, Barnabas had a piece of property, he sold it and he gave it to the church. Acts chapter five, no man said that all that he had was his own, but they sold their houses and lands and they gave them for the spreading of the gospel. The folks in the early days of the church when the Holy Spirit was poured out were incredibly generous because they had just seen Jesus die on the cross for their sins. They knew He wanted to take this message of salvation to the world. They realized that people hearing and believing the message is the difference between life and death.
Sometimes it's frustrating for me involved in ministry because I literally see firsthand all the time people going from death to life because of the gospel. I see marriages restored, I see people who are dried up and saved from drugs and alcohol and their lives are transformed by the power of the gospel. But we're limited sometimes in what we can do because you're limited in resources. In our particular ministries, we do radio and television broadcast and publishing. You can only do so much. You have to budget that. And I thought if the people of God got serious about giving for the work of God, if they valued eternal life the way we really should, there'd be a lot more generosity and there'd be no shortage.
We are without a doubt the most materialistic generation in the history of humanity. And I'm not saying that to be critical, I'm saying that because it's not your fault. We're all kind of victims in this. Everywhere you turn, what are the messages you get? Buy, buy, buy. You can't be happy unless you own one or two or three of these. And someone's got the new model. Even though your old model works, you're going to get rid of it and get the upgrade, right? And has there ever been a time in history when there were more things to buy and now you don't even have to go shopping, you just click at home and they'll deliver it to your door the next day. It's amazing. But you know what happens is the devil almost drowns us in distractions. Jesus said beware, here's where it comes into prophecy, beware unless you heart be overcharged with suffering, drunkenness and the cares of this life.
Some people can't work for God because they have to stay home and take care of their stuff. We have to spend more money on alarms to protect our stuff. And then we go to garage sales and we buy other people's stuff that they don't want and we put it in our garage. And it is funny but it's also sad because it's true. And then the Lord says, are you willing to support my message in the world? We say, we love you Lord, but now that's pretty serious, I got to pay off my credit cards. And you wonder where the priority of God is in His work.
What amazing promise does God make about tithing? He says, bring all the tithes into the storehouse that there might be food in my house and try me prove me now, says the Lord in this. If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour you out such a blessing that you will not have room enough to receive it, God will bless you so you don't even have room. Now when He talks about opening the windows of heaven, again they were an agricultural society. If they had a drought and the crops did not grow, then they really struggle. God says, if we are faithful in returning a tithe to Him and offerings to Him, He said, I will open the windows of heaven.
Furthermore, He says, and I will rebuke the devourer for your sake. This is in the same passage in Malachi chapter three. I'll rebuke the devourer for your sake. They'll not eat up the produce of your land. God tells His people to bring all of the tithe into the storehouse. What does He mean by that? What's the storehouse? Well you want to bring the tithe together so it can be distributed. He doesn't want every person sort of deciding for themself. In our church, right?
Some of you know I'm a Seventh-day Adventist and other churches like Methodist Churches and many others we're arranged with conferences where people give their offerings and tithe at the local congregation, the tithe is then sent on to a conference where it's used to spread around the world to support ministers and missionaries and teachers that spread the gospel around the world. And this system in our church has been very successful because we're now in like 170 countries of the world doing school work, health work, missionary work. It would never happen if it wasn't for the tithing system. And I think a lot of people understand that when we tithe, who really receives our money. Bible says in Hebrews chapter seven, verse eight, "Here mortal men receive the tithes, but there He, Jesus, receives them." And so really when you give, you're giving to the Lord.
Now someone is thinking, well pastor I think I would support the church but I got hypocrites in the church. Or there's some people in our church that I heard that they were in jail or they made some decisions on that decorating committee I can never support. Does the Bible say you should only support the work of God if they do everything right? How many of you say I would've supported Jesus if I lived 2000 years ago, I would want to be part of Jesus church and I would freely support Jesus, anyone? Would you support Jesus if you live back then? I mean you would, hope you would, right? Would it be the right thing to do, to support the ministry of Jesus?
Do you realize He had a Judas in His group and the apostles were arguing among themselves and a woman came to the temple one day, a poor widow, and she put in her last two mites about the smallest coin you can possibly imagine. I've got one in my drawer at home and Jesus commended her. And you would think that He would've said, don't give any money to the temple, lady. These folks are getting ready to kill me, right? But in spite of the fact that the scribes and the Pharisees and the priests were after Jesus, not all of them, but most of them, when she gave money to God's course, He said, God is going to bless her.
When Hannah gave her son to the temple, she dedicated her son to serve in the house of God. It was at a time where the sons of Eli were doing things we don't even want to talk about. And God said, I'm going to bless you because of your faithfulness. He's going to grow up and he's going to bring revival to the land and I'm going to give you five more children. Whatever you do, do it heartily to the Lord and not to men. Remember, we're giving to God.
In addition to my tithe, which belongs to God, what else does He ask of His people? He says, bring offerings and come into His courts. This is Psalms 96, verse eight. So you've got tithes, which is a specific amount, and then you have offerings and God will impress different courses and categories on your heart regarding that. What's happening when that happens? Malachi 3:8, He says, "Will a man rob God? Yet you've robbed me! But you say, in what way have we robbed you?" He says, "In tithes and offerings."
Now do you see that God mentions two categories there, Tithe is a specific amount. Offering is not a specific amount, which is a segue into our next question. How much should we give as offerings? Answer? Paul says in 2 Corinthians nine verse seven. "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." Someone said, God loves a cheerful giver, but He'll accept it from a grump. God wants us to be cheerful about supporting His work. And how do you determine what the offerings are? It says, as you purpose in your heart, God will put different things on your heart and He'll impress you with different courses. Holy Spirit will speak to you.
Tithe is what percent? 10%. Someone says, Pastor Doug, how can I get by with 10%? I mean, I'm barely making it now. The Bible says, prove me now here with if I will not open for you the windows of heaven. Are you aware that 90% that is blessed will go farther than 100% that is cursed? It's a fact of life. Don't ask me. But I've seen several times in the Bible, when you get to the bottom of the barrel of flour, seems like you keep pulling out one more handful, one more handful. That's what happened in the days of Elijah. You know what that's called? F-A-I-T-H. Faith, the just will live by faith. What commandment are we breaking when we refuse to return tithes and offerings to God? Is there a commandment? Malachi 3:8, "Will a man rob God?" That's kind of a horrendous thought, "Yet you have robbed me! But you say, in what way have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings." And what does the commandment say? Exodus 20 verse 15, "You shall not steal."
What other Bible principles does God share in regard to giving? There's several things we're going to look at here. This is just a spectrum of Bible principles. One, it says they first gave themselves to the Lord and then to us by the will of God. So before you give anything, what is God wanting? If you give them your hearts, right? Proverbs three verse nine, Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first fruits of your increase.
Now do we wait and see at the end of the month say, look, if I've got anything left, I'll pay tithe. No, no, no. Where's God on your scale? In the Batchelor home, when we get the check out, we don't even get the check now, it's direct deposit. And Karen is one who takes care of all the books, she's good with numbers. And right off the top, first thing is, what are our obligations? What are our commitments to God's work, to the church, to other charities? We do our giving and then we find that God is going to continue to bless what we have left. Honor Him with the first fruits.
Answer C, there's one who scatters and yet it increases more. And then there's one who withholds more than is right and it leads to poverty. This is talking about sowing seeds. If you want a big harvest, it's a very simple principle. You can't just put one seed in the ground and expect a big harvest. But the thing is you can't eat that seed, if you cast it away. If you retain it, nothing else will grow. So the principle is you want to cast your bread upon the water, so to speak, and it will return to you. Scatter the seed and it grows. God has designed people where He wants us to be channels of blessing.
So it flows through you. And as you've got one hand open in receiving from God, we should have the other hand open in giving. And if we're faithful in giving with this hand, God can put more in this hand. And I've just seen it, that the more faithful we are in being a channel of blessing to others in the world, the more God wants to put in our hands that His goodness and His blessings might flow through us. We're not just talking about things and resources, we're talking about the truth and the spirit.
The more you share your faith, the more faith God will give you. The more you share the word of God, the more you'll understand as you study, it's a principle. "The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will himself be watered." Now, who's saying this? Pastor Doug? Or is this the Bible? If it's the generous soul, He's going to be watered. God will take care of you. Do you believe that?
Answer D Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than receive." And you know what happens first is as you give your heart to the Lord, God is going to bless you and He'll open the windows of heaven for you. That's His promise.
Answer E, "He who lays up treasure for himself is not rich towards God." I've been to the great pyramid in Egypt and I went and looked at King Tut's treasures and it was amazing to me how they buried all of this treasure, somehow thinking they were going to use it in the next life. But you realize you can't take it with you. We will all give an account to God someday for what we do with the time we have and what we do with the means we have. I saw this RV going down the road and a great big, really nice expensive RV and it was pulling a Jeep. They had the bicycles and the scooter on it, the canoes on the roof. And there was a bumper sticker on the back of the Jeep and it said he that dies with the most toys wins. That's the attitude of many in the world.
But in reality, life is kind of like a game of Uno. You win if you've got nothing left. I mean, do you think Noah was glad when the flood came, that he had invested in building that boat. When the waters rose up and he saw that he had spent everything in years building that boat. But he looked and he saw his family was in the boat. Did he have any regrets? No. He who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God, he loses out. "Give, and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over will be put into your bosom."
I used to sell firewood. You sell firewood by the cord, 128 cubic feet to the cord of firewood, four feet high, eight feet, four feet wide. And whenever I had ads for my firewood, I put this verse in there, I said, we're not going to give you a short chord, we're going to give you a full chord. And we would round it at the top. And you know what happened? Everybody called us. We could not keep up with all the orders, my partner and I because God blessed. And if you're faithful with people, if you don't try and short people, if you're generous with people, God is going to bless you. "Let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as you may prosper."
You know the Methodist principle, John Wesley used to say for Christians is you want to earn all that you can, you want to save all you can and you want to give all you can. Now you'll have to decide exactly how that works, but you want to be faithful in your tithes and your offerings. We all need to save, there's nothing wrong with that, but you want to be able to give.