Body Giving

I hope you can see this passage today as warning rather than judgement. If you are out of alignment with God’s Word there is forgiveness if you repent. As we look at this passage today there are some important principals to keep in mind: Jesus’ church has always read the Old Testament Scriptures and taken the principals of what God commanded for His people, the nation of Israel, to apply today to Christ’s Body, the New Testament Church. Some of the specifics are not always the same but the principals hold true because it is the same relationship.

The Nation of Israel was a united Group that God dealt with as a whole. Jesus’ church is a united group that God deals with as a whole. Pre Christ: God’s people were a body who’s spiritual life centered around the Temple. This was the spiritual infrastructure God provided for them. United Worship. Post Christ: As Christ’s Body our spiritual life is centered around the local church. This is the spiritual infrastructure God provides for us. United Worship. The same principles that applied then apply now. Because God doesn’t change!

As members of a local Body of Christ’s purchased followers, we share in the blessings that come from honest relationship AND in the consequences for unrepentant disobedience.

If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. ~ 1st Corinthians 12:26-27

As members of Christ’s Body we are all called to relational honesty with God. Today’s passage may convict you, my prayer is that you will make changes to align your life with God desires of HIS people. I also know some of you may disagree with what I am going to say. But this is not some ‘new’ interpretation. The application of this passage has been agreed upon by Christ’s followers for 2000 years. If you disagree, I encourage you to search the Scriptures and seek out one of the Elders to talk about it with. I remind you that as a covenant member of Midtown church the traditional application of this scripture is part of our covenant to each other.

Our culture here at Midtown is based on the honest application of ALL scripture. It is based on mutual sacrifice and communal obedience to the revealed will of God. What we are looking at today is an essential aspect of our discipleship and I would say that until you come into alignment with this scripture your discipleship will be stunted and incomplete. Partial obedience is disobedience.

Malachi 3:6-12

6 “I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. 7 Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned My decrees and failed to obey them.

  • Throughout scripture God has revealed Himself to be ‘Immutable’ (unchanging)
  • The interpenetration of this passage begins with this fact: Same God OT & NT
  • Because His love, mercy, grace and compassion are constant…we exist
  • We are no different than the nation of Israel as far as failing to obey God
  • Because of who He is we can still be His people
  • Praise God that we do not get what we deserve from HIM!

Now return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’

  • This command is to be acted on NOW (delayed obedience is disobedience)
  • This is a call to repentance (define repentance)
  • But no one has ever repented when they didn’t think they needed to…
  • What hubris to say to God: ‘I have not strayed’
  • Like the rich religious leader Jesus encounters in Luke 18
  • The opposite is found in David’s prayer psalm 51 (transgression / inequity / sin)
  • Since they (US) seem to need an example, God is going to use tithing as one

8 “Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated Me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat You?’ “You have cheated Me of the tithes and offerings due to Me.

  • God establishes agreement that His people should not cheat Him (we agree?)
  • Everyone can agree that as His people we are to be honest with God
  • HE points out they & we cheat Him…and again there is denial of sin
  • HE then hits them with the truth (and HE knows the truth) God is all knowing
  • Two separate things, tithes & offerings (all together about 23%)
  • The focus here is on the tithe (tenth) that pertains to everyone
  • A percentage makes it equal for people of different incomes
  • There are prescribed offerings that are situational to different people
  • BOTH are due to Him, as in commanded as part of the relationship

9 You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating Me.

  • Then God declares that His blessings have been withheld from the nation
  • We are to be united in sacrificial giving. If one cheats we all share the guilt
  • As Christ’s body we are interconnected by Christ’s indwelling Spirit
  • We answer to God as individuals and as a Body
  • This Body is only as obedient as the least obedient member of it

10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple.

  • Obedience to this for Christ’s people has always been giving 10% to the church
  • The specific command is: bring ALL the tithes to the ‘Storehouse’ (not 8%)
  • This provides for the spiritual infrastructure of the community (Temple / Church)
  • The only way to read this: Members of Christ’s body give 10% to the church
  • That shared sacrifice is at the heart of what a ‘Body’ is about
  • This is what provides for the ‘spiritual feeding’ of God’s purchased people
  • Giving of a portion of tithe to other entities is saying ‘I know better than God’

If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put Me to the test!

  • The command comes with a promise if we are obedient
  • God says if you do it…we will get a look into what Heaven is really like
  • If we do this, everyone in the whole Body, God will show ‘The Kingdom Come’
  • It will blow us away! We will have so much [God Stuff] we will have to share it
  • There is no hoarding of Heavenly blessings [spiritual not material]
  • God says ‘I dare you to try it and see what happens!’
  • We are never to test God unless He tells us to…

11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12 “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

  • He lists some examples for the people at that time tied to agriculture
  • We can understand this as a the blessing our means of provision
  • Everyone, of various backgrounds, will recognize God blessing His people
  • Our Body will be a source of delight to the entire community at large


Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Part of that unchanging nature is His grace and mercy for His chosen people. His unchanging compassion, patience and love keep Him from giving US what we deserve for our disobedience.

Christ is always there to take us back when we repent. We must be honest with Him about our sin, truly owning it. The example of cheating God specifically referenced is disobedient giving to the spiritual infrastructure He provides for us. (Temple / Church)

Since we are a Body (interconnected), if one part cheats God we are all cheating Him! As Christ Body we are only as obedient as the least obedient members of the that Body. Jesus’ Church shares blessings and curses.

God commands His people, in unity, to give 10% of what they receive to HIS ordained worship structure (Temple / Church). This fully enables HIS people to be fed spiritually. If we do this as a body He promises to bless us beyond what we can imagine.

Christ says to His Body; try not cheating Him, try being obedient to what He has called each of us to do (specific to this passage; tithing to our church Body).

If each member of this Body were to obediently tithe, we will experience unimagined blessings, but more importantly, God will be fully glorified!


In what ways can you practice thankfulness for God’s grace in dealing with your sin and disobedience?

How well do you own up to your sin? What specific sins can you own up to with God today during communion?

Do you view giving 10% of your net income to your local church as a Scriptural command or as an optional practice? In either case, what drives your behavior?

Do you believe that giving to other ministries, missionaries or of your time is part of the tithe commanded in this passage? What Scripture backs up such decisions?

Biblical Church Culture

Since we began Midtown Midtown church our goal was to be as biblical as possible Over the past 6 months we have taken a journey to assess how Biblical our culture was, and then make improvements.

Our Vision
We desire to be The body of Jesus Christ, functioning under His Lordship, intentional discipleship, active relationship building, worshiping, serving and giving based on Scripture.

Our Values

Scripture / Family / Prayer / Generosity

Our Cultural Imperatives Based on Scripture
Intentional Discipleship / Family Shepherding / Empowered Prayer

Humble Servanthood / Collective Generosity / Authentic Worship

Gospel Partnerships.

The vision of Midtown Church begins and ends with Jesus the Christ. We believe He is GOD: the resurrected Incarnation, who claimed specifically to fulfill all the old testament scriptures….Christ Jesus defines Biblical Culture.

What did Jesus say HIS followers should focus on?

Intentional Discipleship:

#1 Priority… if we do this well , everything else flow from it!

INTRO: Jesus is addressing those who did not believe He was from the Father…”for unless you believe that I am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” “Who are you?” they demanded. I am who I have said I am, sent from The One… Once you have lifted the Son of man on a cross then you will know that I am He and I say only what the Father taught me. And the one who sent me is with me…

Then many who heard him say these things believed in him. So He said to them:

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:31-32

  • This standard is only for believers
  • Real deal disciples of Christ are faithful to HIS teaching…(this includes the O.T)
  • You have to do things to be faithful… applying Christ’s teaching to your life
  • This should be the most important thing in our lives as Christians!
  • A life living out Christ’s teaching will lead you to the truth, and true freedom

Application: We must now Christ’s teachings and live them out (practice)

Family Shepherding:

INTRO: Jesus predicts his betrayal & basically identifies Judas as the one who will do it… He speaks of how He is going to glorify the Father & be glorified by the Father… Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going.”

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” ~ Jesus @ John 13:34-35

  • This is directed to ‘Dear Children’ / Disciples…
  • Love (Agape) is understood to be displayed through action (not feeling, deeds)
  • The example Jesus has given and will give them is to love sacrificially
  • Jesus’ followers loving each other as Christ loves us, will prove our allegiance

Application: We are to love and care for each other sacrificially

Empowered Prayer:

INTRO: Jesus that same night…walking through the valley…doing His vine & branches talk…The branches need to stay connected to the vine to produce fruit (kingdom stuff)

But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” ~ Jesus @ John 15:7-8

  • To remain it is assumed you are already there (disciples)
  • ‘Pray’ basically means to ask… When we direct our requests to God = Prayer
  • Jesus says that constant connection is needed in order to get what you ask for
  • Remain in me = Connection (H.S.) My words remain in you = Bible Application
  • It is the idea that the closer to God we get the more we want what HE wants

Take delight in the Lord, and HE will give you your heart’s desires. ~ Psalm 37:4

  • Producing ‘fruit’ that God desires proves who our master is & brings HIM glory
  • A basic purpose of the New Testament Church is Glorifying God to the max!

Application: Our Prayer life must flow from our intimacy with Christ

Humble Servanthood:

INTRO: Jesus had just predicted how He would die and rise again…Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. What is your request?” he asked. She asks: “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”

Jesus tells them they don’t know what they ask… yes they will share in His sufferings (as all of His followers will) but the right and left hand thing is not His to decide…When the others heard this they were indignant…

But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ~ Jesus @ Matthew 20:25-28

  • Among you = among my true followers
  • The World’s Way: Those in charge selfishly oppress those under their authority
  • Jesus’ Way: Those in charge humbly serve those under their authority
  • Jesus says among HIS disciples (The Church) Leader = Servant
  • He Says among HIS disciples (The Church) Top Dog = Slave
  • Being a servant or slave to Christ means that you’re those things to His Body
  • Christ set the example of servanthood going to the cross
  • He gave His life to ransom many..
  • Those of us who have been ransomed are servants and slaves of HIS Body

Application: We are to practice servanthood and aspire to be slaves of Christ

Collective Generosity:

INTRO: Jesus was teaching in the temple courts after arriving to Jerusalem (holy week). Jesus had just talked about how the Jewish Religious leaders were hypocrites… Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” ~ Jesus @ Mark 12:41-44

  • Because Jesus addressed this insight to His disciples it is for the church
  • Our giving to the local church is to be compared with giving to the ‘Temple’
  • Jesus says she gave more! (As God sees it) because of what it cost her
  • Jesus says it’s not the amount but rather the sacrifice made that matters
  • We are to be God dependent in our giving, walking by faith, not sight

Application: Giving to Christ’s body should cost us something

Authentic Worship:

INTRO: Jesus and the disciples are traveling through Samaria (not usually done). Alone sitting by a well, Jesus meets this woman… After Jesus offers her water that will permanently quench her thirst, He asks her to go bring her husband… She says: ‘I have no husband’ (implying that she is a widow). Jesus says: you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You told the truth!” (kind of a backhanded compliment), She says, “you must be a prophet… so tell me what is the deal with worship places? Jesus tells her the problem is not where you worship but what you know about who you worship, and that salvation comes from the Jews… (as in Jesus of Nazareth)

But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” ~ Jesus @ John 4:23-24

  • Jesus says: in the future, starting now… here is what is going to matter…
  • 1st Jesus say: ‘True Worshipers’… that must mean there are ‘untrue worshipers’
  • Jesus says the authenticity of our worship of God / Christ is based on 2 things
  • Understandable Knowledge & Unfathomable Mystery (Spirit & Truth)
  • There are definable, explainable facts about God (Truth)
  • And at the same time God is amorphous, intangible and metaphysical (Spirit)
  • As ‘True Worshipers’ we worship God because His Spirit is indwelling us
  • And because we belief in the truth we have about Him

Application: Our Worship should express what we know and mystery as well

Gospel Partnerships:

INTRO: So when the apostles were with Jesus, (AFTER THE RESURECTION) they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know…. BUT…

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” ~ Jesus @ Acts 1:8

  • Every person who God brings to ‘Biblical Salvation’ is indwelt with the H. S.
  • One of the things the indwelling Spirit does is to empower our witness
  • To be a witness is to provide information about what you know
  • As Christ’s followers we are to provide information to others about Jesus
  • We do that in our own spheres of influence and help others do it in theirs
  • Jesus says we are to be part of witnessing to who He is everywhere…
  • Jerusalem is where they were = Atlanta (Jerusalem = Atlanta Care Center)
  • Judea is the surrounding area = Georgia (Sumeria = GABN & WDA)
  • Ends of the earth = City of Grace in the D.R. / Stokes Family in Turkey / WDA

Application: We are to support the spread of the Gospel where ever we can

Everything in our church culture flows from the Scriptures, read as Jesus Christ’s followers have read them for 2000 years!