Friday, May 6, 2011


Testimony Sunday

Exodus 35:21 Then everyone came whose heart was stirred,and everyone whose spirit was willing,and they brought the Lords offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting,for all its service and for the holy garments

This past Sunday was "Testimony Sunday" and the message was Tithing, Testimony and Temple. Not to say that there was a lesson taught or a sermon preached, but it seems that this was the Word of the Lord by way of various testimonies was on those topics.
The first person up was a Sister who had just moved into the ward. She stated that her recent tithe offering had come about after much soul searching and insistent prompting of the Holy Spirit. She had recently written a check to cover expenses for school and because of that she had considered delaying paying her tithe this Sunday.She had recalled a teaching in the Relief Society last week concerning Tithing and the statement was made that "If you aren't tithing, you don't have a testimony of the gospel". Wow, that was a powerful statement. These words apparently affected this Sister, who said that because of that teaching and subsequent promptings, she withdrew money from her account, knowing that it would probably cause an overdraft and bought a money order and paid her tithing. She checked her account on line and noticed that the previous check had been paid but she had a overdraft fee to pay. She felt that it would be better to pay the overdraft fee then to not have paid her tithing. What a testimony and it was one that took a lot of courage and made everyone a little uncomfortable.

Another sister came to the pulpit and her testimony was this, that she too had struggled as to either delay paying tithes and pay an important bill or pay the tithes. After hearing the previous sister's words, she wrote the check, put it in the envelope and then she gave it to the Bishop. Wow, what a testimony. So I wrote out my check for the tithe offering and gave it to the Bishop, knowing that my husband and I will be really tight until the end of the week. What a sacrifice.
Through all of this I realized that the Lord loves us and obviously has great patience with us. He is aware of our situations, our overdrawn bank accounts, our ill advised spending sprees, etc. He wants to teach us how to trust in Him, and how to prioritize.
Throughout the remainder of this week I have been listening to my favorite gospel station, and listening to a preacher in Texas attempt to teach his congregation the joys of giving. I had to admire his courage and conviction in taking on this subject. There seems to be varying explanations and rules about tithing's and offerings. How much to give, when to give, how to give, etc. It's no wonder that most people are confused and even hostile when the topic is brought up. It's like people see it as a jagged little pill.What if there was another word for it, would it be easier to swallow? I have found that the will to give has already been planted in our hearts. This will has to be stirred up by the Spirit of God in order for us to recognize it and then move forward with full purpose of heart.  
What I have learned is that the Lord wants us to give with a cheerful heart and countenance. No giving grudgingly, no frowns. He would rather have us give with full purpose of heart, or rather, with a willing spirit and a stirred up heart. 
What does "stir" mean? Doesn't it mean to cause an external action that incites an internal reaction? Its obvious isn't it? When we take a spoon and stir a pot of water it moves, but when the heat is turned up and the water starts to boil; and then stir the water with a spoon. The boiling water is agitated by the spoon. If you are not careful the water might bubble up and splash out of the pan.
So how is a heart stirred up, how does God stir up our hearts? He causes an internal action that incites an external reaction.
John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.
By virtue or the power of our Baptismal ordinance and the gift of the Holy Spirit the Lord has began a great work in us. He has given us a new heart, and in that new heart, therein lies the keys to happiness and obedience and a willingness to trust God and serve him. Its like the Heavenly Father placed an appt there for us. 
Jeremiah 24:7 I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.
Jeremiah 32:39-40
39: I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them.
40: I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.
These scripture are deep like a river and I have been pondering over them both day and night. I want to give and "honest tithe" as it were. What is an honest tithe? I believe that an honest tithe is when you purpose in your heart to give,and when we ask in prayer for guidance we will receive it. I did, and the Lord challenged me and my husband to work out the details of our earnings, and then give that. We tithe each pay period and  that works for us. Like most everyone,we live from pay check to pay check. See, the Lord would not have us to live from pay check to pay check, but from the abundance  that comes from simple obedience.

So we gave and I knew  we were going to  be very tight financially for some time to come. I felt the answer to that was "What are you afraid of?. Wow, what was I afraid of, going hungry, no money for gas or what ever. But  then again, I was impressed to realize that this "discomfort" was only for a short while, all of our needs would be met. As a people we have a fear of money, we fear the results of loss and even fear the blessings of abundance. But what was the reward for this simple act of obedience? We got 2 checks in the mail, one a small refund that we had already tithed on and another was a rebate check that we had thought was lost in the mail. Another blessing of this simple act of obedience is that my husband and I have started to brainstorm ways to decrease our household debt. The first thing to go is the cable. The Lord counsels us that there is no fear in love. He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love and a sound mind.          

2 Peter 1:2-4
2: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
3: as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
4: by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
In Exodus 3:21 Moses was commanded to tell the children of Isreal to provide of their substance to "finance" the construction and building of the "Tabernacle of Meeting "and also for the meetings in it and the holy garments for the priests. As you read the entire chapter, the children of Israel were stirred up in their hearts to give until Moses had to tell them to stop. Can you imagine? This is what we do when we tithe.
Luke 6:38
Give and it will be given unto you,good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.

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