Put me to the test
Malachi 3: 6 “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.
What is highlighted here is the short-sightedness of man. Here it is they are withholding from God what is required of them on the assumption that they will be better off. They think that their net worth will increase by holding back on their giving.
God almost mockingly points to their lack of vision. They saw giving tithes and offering from their existing wealth as a drain on their resources. God is saying that far from being a cost to them, giving Him his full due is by far the best investment that they can make.
One message from this is that giving to God is not to be seen as a cost or a burden to the giver. Sometimes we talk about sacrificial giving in relation to our offering to God. But is that not really a mistaken concept?
Suppose there was such a thing as a money tree that grew by simply planting seeds and watering them. Suppose also there is no limit and the supply of seeds and anyone can have as many money trees as they wish.
What would you call the actions of someone who plants the money tree seeds and waters them? A sacrifice? Is that person making a sacrifice or making a wise investment?
Well, no money tree can compare to the value of what we will get when God throws open the floodgates of heaven and pours out so much blessing that we will not have room enough for it.
To take this a little further, God is in effect saying stop thinking in terms of what you have now. When you honour your obligations to Me the entire picture changes.
Stop being concerned about the depletion of your barn. You real concern is that you are going to need a bigger barn as long as you honour your obligations and do not hold back what is mine.
So we should not focus on what we have left now after we give to God what our hearts lead us to give. We can be assured that once we do not sow sparingly then whatever we had before will be multiplied.
2 Corinthians 9:6
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
This applies not only to our giving material gifts but also the giving of ourselves totally. If we devote our entire life to God we can expect to be rewarded with a much better life than we had. And that is what is promised to the Christian.
Romans 12 Living Sacrifices
1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Also 2 Cor 4:
16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
Living as Children of Light
17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
20You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Devotion of self or material things to God never takes away it always adds. When we think of giving back to God what is really His we must think Addition and not Subtraction.
Another thought from Malachi relates to the phrase “Test me in this.”
When we think of a test we usually have thoughts of a stern examination – something challenging. We almost feel like we would have wasted time if the test was so simple that it did not really require much effort on the part of the person being tested.
So I get a sense that God is saying: “Challenge Me! Give me something that you consider hard to do. Say to Me, OK God see if You can match that!”
The picture that I take away is that if we give 100% with no holding back then God will recognize it and take up the challenge to show what He can do for us in return.
So the closer we get to devoting 100% to our giving and our living the more challenging the test. But God is up for the challenge and He is saying “Bring it on!”
The only caution in this is that we need to then watch out for falling objects. The promise is that the floodgates of heaven will be opened to pour down blessings on us.
What an amazing concept. You are invited to enter a contest in which the more you lose the better off you are.
So you are challenging God to a duel. You are going to give Him your best and see if He can match that. His best is going to so overwhelm you with blessings that it will be declared a no-contest. But having lost the contest you walk away – well, not walk away because it will be too much – but you will have added untold blessings to your life.
I like that kind of contest. I want to take up the challenge of putting God to the test. I want to give Him of my best without holding back.
If want to think Addition and not Subtraction in my dealings with God.
I want to avoid being limited in my thinking by the size of my existing barn and to open my thoughts to what my actions should be with a barn that is many times larger.
That means that my thoughts and my prayers and my actions are not mired by the ”realities” of “…..my light and momentary troubles. …… So I fix my eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor 4:17
Finally, there is another kind to testing of God that takes place among humans.
Psalm 95:8 -11/Heb 3:8-11
….do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, 9 where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.” 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, “They shall never enter my rest.”
1. Nothing is more offensive to God than disbelief of his promise and despair of the performance of it because of some difficulties that seem to lie in the way.
2. The more experience we have had of the power and goodness of God the greater is our sin if we distrust him. What, to tempt him in the wilderness, where we live upon him! This is as ungrateful as it is absurd and unreasonable. (Matthew Henry)
Are we being ungrateful, absurd and unreasonable with respect to how we view God and His promises?
Are we guilty of holding back because of lingering doubts?
Are we failing to answer a call to service out of some imagined fear or doubt?
Are we limiting our thinking to the existing size of our barn rather than putting in our 100% in the expectation that God will not only match it but will cause us to have to find bigger barns?
This is the call today: Give your all. Do not hold back in giving to God. Then get a helmet and watch out for falling blessings that will be poured out from heaven on you.
To access these blessings you need to be in Christ. To be in Christ you should have completed these steps:
What must WE do to save our souls?
1. Hear the Word – the Gospel
John 6: 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.
Luke 13: 1 Now there were some present at that very season who told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered and said unto them, Think ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they have suffered these things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.
4. Confess Jesus is Lord
Matt 10:32 Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
5. Be baptized for the remission of your sins
Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
1 Pet 3:21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
6. Remain in Christ
John 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
1 Pet 2: 1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.