Tithe

The LORD is always good, even when the harvest is small

Advertisements

Read: Deuteronomy 14

Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling place for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always. (Deuteronomy 14:22-23)

Reflect:

After banning pagan mourning practices and forbidding the eating of a long list of foods, God, through Moses, tells the Israelites what they should do in the land: celebrate!

If I were playing that psychologist’s game of word association, and the word “tithe” was presented, my automatic associations would certainly not be to celebration and feasting. But that is the connection Moses wanted the people to keep coming back to, year after year, harvest after harvest.

When God had provided bountifully, they were to take a tenth of their bounty to Jerusalem and feast there with the priests, for the LORD had given abundance. If God had provided scantily, they were to take a tenth of their scarcity to Jerusalem and celebrate there with the priests, for the LORD had kept them from starvation.

In times of gain and times of less, God’s people are to celebrate his provision and revere him.

crux:

The LORD is always good, even when the harvest is not good in our eyes.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

You are gracious and generous, the giver of gifts.

You provide for my daily bread, and I thank you.
You grant me daily rest, and I thank you.

You have given us the funds to be able to buy our new-to-us car, and I thank you.
You taught us to be wise with our resources so we could save those funds, and I thank you.

LORD, your generosity to our family this year has been huge, and I thank you.
The blessing you have given has not just been for our physical needs.
You have brought new people to our church, new ladies to my Bible study, and I thank you.
You have grown the western congregation, which seemed so small, and are restoring it to flourishing, and I thank you.

You have given me good friends and an encouraging, challenging job, and I thank you.
You have given our kids great teachers, marvellous opportunities, and the help and support to make the most of them, and I thank you.

Thank you for your manifold blessings. May I always revere your name.

Amen.

Expand

Limited by his humanity, Jesus was still able to expand the kingdom of God

Read: Matthew 8

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”

Reflect:

Jesus “was amazed.” I read those words and I’m a bit amazed myself. The word “amazed” has connotations of surprise or even shock. How can Jesus Christ, who is the Creator of all the universe, be surprised? How can He who knows all things be shocked?

The ESV says Jesus “marvelled,” which implies he felt a combination of admiration and astonishment. How can the Sovereign God be astonished? What has the Almighty LORD to admire?

I think the key to understanding this statement is to realise that Jesus was both divine and human. His humanity brought limitations upon his divinity. As Philippians 2:7 says of Christ Jesus, “he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Jesus’ human brain, with its finite number of neutrons, was unable to know all things. This was a temporary limitation due to his incarnation.

Crucially, it was the limitation of his divinity brought on by his incarnation that also ultimately enabled Jesus, the God-Man, to die.

Jesus was unable to know the centurion’s thoughts, and so Jesus was capable of being amazed by his faith. Yet Jesus still knew the plan of God to bring other Gentiles (as well as this one) from the east and the west into his kingdom, into the family of Abraham, and declared it in advance.

crux:

Limited by his humanity, Jesus was still able to expand the kingdom of God.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

You are Almighty, all-powerful, Sovereign, omniscient. Yet your Son chose to humble himself, submitting to the limitations of human life in order to expand the bounds of his kingdom to all who have faith in him.

Thank you for the centurion’s faith in Jesus. May he continue to glorify your Name to all who read his story in Scripture.

Thank you for my faith in Jesus, for my husband’s faith in Jesus. Thank you for enabling us to hear the gospel at that long ago Alpha course, for removing the veil from our eyes so we would believe in Jesus as our Saviour. Thank you for bidding us come from the east into Jesus’ kingdom, to take our place at the banqueting table with the patriarchs of our faith.

Please grant this same amazing faith to our children, to our parents, and to the rest of our relatives. Please grant this marvellous faith to the adults and children who attend our church and to all in our local community. Reveal yourself to them that they may come from east and west to your celebratory feast. LORD, I pray especially for the people of the townships of T to our east and F to our west. Please grant that they may come and hear the good news of Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour, and they will be welcomed into your kingdom. May our church be faithful in proclaiming his Name. May our faith in Jesus amaze all who witness it.

Make them come, LORD.

Amen.