Out of a Thousand Stuffed Crocodiles

Why and How to Tithe

Mat 22:15-22

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Documents for the Study of the Gospels: Revised and Enlarged Edition
By David R. Cartlidge / Augsburg Fortress

This collection of freshly translated texts leads to a new appreciation of the richness and variety of the religious world within which Christianity emerged as a powerful new force. Bringing together for the first time under a single cover documents from Jewish, Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Syrian, and little- known early Christian sources, the material is arranged to bring out as clearly as possible the ways in which early Christian worship of Jesus Christ as Savior and God both echoed contemporary worship of other savior gods and at the same time stood in sharp contrast to such worship. This revised and enlarged edition contains a new introduction on texts and traditions in late antiquity, a reworked translation of The Gospel of Peter, selections from Ovid's Metamorphoses, plus such documents as Papyrus Egerton 2, Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 840, and The Apocryphon of James. In addition, the table of contents has been expanded to allow easier access to the documents contained herein.

 

“Messiah DEMANDS MORE MONEY”
©2001 by The Onion
http://www.theonion.com/onion3210/Messiahdemandsmoney.html

 

   JERUSALEM—Dissatisfied with dwindling receipts in recent years, redeemer of humanity Jesus Christ issued a rare public statement Monday, sharply criticizing His followers' lack of generosity and demanding a marked increase in their contributions to the long-standing religion based upon belief in Him.

   "Historically, I have asked for no more than 10 percent of the total earnings of my flock," said Christ in a 25-minute statement aired on believer television stations throughout the world. "But recent cost analyses by my accountants indicate that current donations from my believers are not at this level and are insufficient to meet my earthly financial needs."

   Christ underscored his point with an earning/expenditure chart illustrating that in the first quarter of 2001, He listened to an average of 233 million prayers per day while collecting daily revenues of $6 million.  "This works out to just two and a half cents per prayer, which barely even covers my overhead," Christ said. "If this sort of fiscal imbalance continues, I may have to answer even fewer prayers in the future." "In my Father's house are many mansions and they are not cheap to maintain."

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Codex Sinaiticus

New Testament:

from the famed discovery

 

The earliest, oldest New Testament text has finally been released to the public.  You may read the Codex Sinaiticus online - but only if you know Greek!  To read it inCodex Sinaiticus New Testament H T Anderson English English, you need the only English translation we know.  The H. T. Anderson English Translation of the Codex Sinaiticus, with the three extra early New Testament books and the Sonnini Manuscript of Acts 29 included, and the original absences of certain verses (put in there later by the 'church') is now available only at here.  

THIS IS NOT A CHEAP, SCANNED-IN FACSIMILE. This is a first edition of the text published in easy-to-read Georgia font with plenty of room between verses for your notes.2 points between verses, hard or soft cover.

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The Nazarene Acts
of the Apostles

Also known as
The Recognitions of Clement

Ever wonder why PAUL and not PETER received the mission to the lost tribes?  Wasn't Peter the stone upon which the "church" was to be built?  In this new translation of the Nazarene Acts, we follow Kefa (Peter) as he itinerates from Jerusalem and up the Mediterranean coast up to Tripoli, as recorded in the journals of his successor, Clement of Rome (Phi 4:3).  Every message Kefa preached, the company he kept, and the great works of faith the the Almighty accomplished through him are herein recorded.  This 300 page volume has been 'hidden' in the back of an obscure volume of the "Church Fathers" all this time.  Could it be that, in establishing the Gentile 'church' by pushing away from Judaism, this history was purposely hidden?

 

   Christ cited Warner Robins, GA, resident Willard Baines as a prime example of the sort of tight-fisted follower with whom He is frustrated. "Mr. Baines owns a grain-and-feed business that takes in some $800,000 a year, thanks in no small part to his faith in Me. Yet, last Sunday, he put just a single dollar in his church's collection plate," Christ said. "If I am not mistaken, this works out to a donation of just .00010052 percent of his overall gross-adjusted income for the said fiscal period, a far cry from the recommended 10 percent."

   Christ assured followers that He still possesses a boundless love for all humanity and that those who accept Him into their hearts will know salvation and everlasting life, but expressed frustration over the feeling that He has "not, in my estimation, been getting my love's worth in return.  My love," Christ said, "which passeth all human understanding and shines from the countenance of God our heavenly Father, shall be all you need and desire all the days of your lives. But I do need a reasonably decent budget to make that happen."

   Christ told followers that his ancient covenant with humanity—in which He shall act as the people's shepherd, comfort them with His rod and staff, and shelter them all the days of their lives—is as good a value as they are likely to find anywhere. "It is true that, in this era of downsizing and high prices, it can sometimes be difficult for a person to give unto Me 10 percent or more of their income, and still have enough left over for that new microwave or big-screen TV they've had their eye on," He said. "But do not forget that it is almost impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

   Christ's most esteemed earthly messengers are hailing Monday's statement as long overdue. "I am pleased that our Christ has delivered this important message to the people of the world," Pope Benedict XVI said. "The Catholic Church must begin collecting more money now if it is to continue to collect money in the future." believers worldwide are already responding to their savior's call. "I guess I could live without a college education," said Owensboro, KY, believer and mother of four Brenda Williams, 34, who recently dropped out of community college after donating to her church over $1,500 she had saved for tuition. "Some of my science courses contradicted the Word, anyway."

  Print    

Advertisement

Codex Sinaiticus

New Testament:

from the famed discovery

 

The earliest, oldest New Testament text has finally been released to the public.  You may read the Codex Sinaiticus online - but only if you know Greek!  To read it inCodex Sinaiticus New Testament H T Anderson English English, you need the only English translation we know.  The H. T. Anderson English Translation of the Codex Sinaiticus, with the three extra early New Testament books and the Sonnini Manuscript of Acts 29 included, and the original absences of certain verses (put in there later by the 'church') is now available only at here.  

THIS IS NOT A CHEAP, SCANNED-IN FACSIMILE. This is a first edition of the text published in easy-to-read Georgia font with plenty of room between verses for your notes.2 points between verses, hard or soft cover.

Advertisement

The Nazarene Acts
of the Apostles

Also known as
The Recognitions of Clement

Ever wonder why PAUL and not PETER received the mission to the lost tribes?  Wasn't Peter the stone upon which the "church" was to be built?  In this new translation of the Nazarene Acts, we follow Kefa (Peter) as he itinerates from Jerusalem and up the Mediterranean coast up to Tripoli, as recorded in the journals of his successor, Clement of Rome (Phi 4:3).  Every message Kefa preached, the company he kept, and the great works of faith the the Almighty accomplished through him are herein recorded.  This 300 page volume has been 'hidden' in the back of an obscure volume of the "Church Fathers" all this time.  Could it be that, in establishing the Gentile 'church' by pushing away from Judaism, this history was purposely hidden?

   This headline story is funny and irreverent, for sure.  But there is a lot of truth in it.  The intention of the Gospel passage for today is to make the reader consider the use of money just as Yahshua was considering a coin, which is a piece of money.  Yahshua says pay taxes.  We know what that means well enough.  He also says to give Father what belongs to him.  He is not talking about some spiritual concept, but of presenting one’s tithes and offerings, the standards of giving to the work of Yahweh that were established with Abraham 1800 Years before.


Money Is Required!

   Now, did you know that money is required to maintain the church building and insurance, and keep supplies on hand?  You’ve got to pay the preacher, too (Gal 6:6).  It costs more money if a church wants to break its addiction to the maintenance mindset and actually go forward into the mission with which Yahshua charges us.  But it does seem harder and harder to give to our Lord when there are so many other obligations.  It seems that way because Elohim represents spiritual commodities that are far, far down our priority list.  In addition, the value gained from our church is not often perceived as a tangible good, nor is giving to expand the mission of Yahshua Messiah considered essential, but optional.  Isn’t that true?  Be honest.

   People don’t like to hear about financial obligations in church any more than preachers like to talk about them.  Yet a believer’s stewardship of their finances, whether slim or abundant, is essential to the mission.  And the mission is the most important thing in the whole world.  Everyone involved must contribute a fair share.  If you have more, you contribute more.  If you have less, you contribute less, but both prosperous and penurious are to contribute in proportion to their means.  We all know that you get what you pay for.  This is true for a church as well as for a household, a business or a government.  That’s why we pay bills and taxes.  But when it comes to giving to the cause of Messiah, many church people stop at nothing (Harold Nye).

   I don’t know who gives what in this church.  I haven’t any idea what you put in the plate.  But I do know that we have some great givers and there are others who rely on their generosity to avoid personal financial responsibility for the mission.  “They can afford it but I can’t.”  That may be true, but you can afford it and you can’t afford not to afford it.  There are also those who can afford to give abundantly but do not.  Maybe it’s just a matter of explaining what is required.  The Lord commands it, not I.  And I know that everyone here wants to obey the command of the Lord in regards to giving.

The Covenant of Abraham

   Gen 14:18-20 "Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of the Most High, and he blessed Abram.... Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything he had"

Here in the first Bible book we find the origin of tithing.  Abram was a wealthy man.  On his journey to the Promised Land, tribal kings kidnapped his kinfolk for ransom.  Abram didn’t pay; he fought.  And Yahweh gave him victory and his kinfolk were saved.  Right afterward, Melchizedek, the mysterious priest of Yahweh, met Abram.  Hebrews 5:5,6 tells us that Melchizedek is none other than Yahshua in one of his pre-believer appearances.  Melchizedek brought bread and wine -- communion.  Abram thanked Yahweh by giving a tenth of everything to Melchizedek, setting the policy for people of faith for all time.  A tenth of something is known as a ‘tithe.’

The Covenant Expanded in Malachi

   The tithe became the standard of giving for the people of Yahweh, and one tenth is what he expects to receive.   There is nothing simpler to figure than a tenth.  In addition to the tithe is the offering, which is a gift up and beyond the tithe.  The tithe is an obligation of duty, but the offering is an obligation of love.  Looking to the last book in the Old Testament, we find a very familiar passage we use to announce the offering in church.

Mal 3:8.  Will man rob Elohim? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, 'How are we robbing thee?' In your tithes and offerings.   9.  You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me; your whole nation.   10.  Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.   11.  I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil; and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear.   12.  Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says Yahweh Sabaoth. 

   Here we find several important truths:  that the tithe and the offering are not optional and failure to offer them brings a curse.  Those who live in abundance today but fail to render to Elohim what is his will certainly live in poverty in the Millennium Kingdom.  That is the curse.  On the other hand, faithful giving “opens the windows of Heaven,” “rebukes the devourer,” “brings delight,” and fosters a reputation for prosperity, not poverty.  Yahshua said that it’s better to give than to receive because he knew that the great promises of giving are often overlooked.  People want healing but they don’t want to support the ministry.  They want respectability in church but don’t want the obligation of the great commission.  Many people suffer and will suffer simply because they are stingy.

The Easy Way to Tithing

   Having gotten through the hard part, let’s talk about swimming.  Are you the type that just jumps into the deep end of the cool pool, or do you stick your big toe in first, then ankles, knees, and on?  Do you slowly work yourself into the water?  That’s what I do.  It starts with a decision – I’m going to get into that cool water no matter what.  When my big toe is comfortable, then I wait for my feet to get used to it, and pretty soon, I’m up to my neck in cool, cool water and it really doesn’t seem so bad.  In fact, cold water is exhilarating!  It feels great! 

   OK.  It’s the same way with giving – it feels great.   Let me suggest a simple method by which you can afford to fulfill your financial obligation to the Lord, no matter what your budget is.  First step -- You must make a decision to become obedient to the Word of Yahweh in regards to tithes and offerings.  This is also the most important step.  Everything else flows out of your intention to become obedient.

   Step two – Ease into obedient giving by choosing a percentage and a time period for yourself.  This is where you stick your big toe in to test the water.  If you’re not used to giving much or you don’t have much, let me suggest to you the 3 by 3 plan:  3% of your income for three months.  As you get blessed in return, you will want to do more.

   Step three – Write down your commitment today, before the service is over.  Use the worksheet in the bulletin.  Pray for strength to fulfill your commitment: it is to the Lord only, not to me or anything else.  Take the completed worksheet home and tape it to the refrigerator or the mirror, where you can see it every day, to read the promise on it and memorize your commitment.

   Step four – Any money you receive this upcoming week, immediately write a check to the church for your chosen percentage, pray a short prayer of thanks, then put the check in your Bible at Malachi 3, claiming the promises found there. 

   Step five – Bring your Bible to the next church service and put your checks into the offering plate, whether an offering is taken or not.  Do this for the length of your commitment.

   Step six – On the date your commitment ends, assess whether the discipline of giving has been worthwhile to you, then testify in a church service about it, positive or negative. 

   Step seven – Reassess your percentage and target date.  Maybe double the percentage and the time frame.  This method takes a minimum of commitment and produces a maximum of benefit spiritually and materially.  In addition, your church will be greatly blessed and the blessing will have come from you!  You are justified to feel proud, no matter the size of the gift, because you have been obedient in fulfilling your vow to the Almighty.  And that feels good.

Questions Always Arise

   A couple questions always arise in connection with giving.  Shall I figure the percentage before or after tax?  Yahshua indicates in today’s passage that the tithe is based on after tax income.  Another question:  I’m on a fixed income from a mutual fund or annuity.  How can I afford to tithe or give a percentage?   Let me answer that in story form. 

A widow lady was dying.  She called the three she trusted the most to her bed – her doctor, her lawyer and her minister.  She addressed them this way, “You are the only three people I trust.  Under my bed you’ll find three briefcases, each containing $100,000, which represents the bulk of my estate of $300,000.  I intend to keep this money.  You will each take a briefcase with you today and when I die you will toss your briefcase into the grave.  For this you will each receive $10,000 cash from my banker, who prepared these briefcases.”  The woman died the next day.  There was no funeral, but her doctor, lawyer and minister were there at the graveside as they promised.  Each in turn tossed their briefcase into the grave and watched while the site was filled in with soil.

   As they walked away together, the minister spoke first.  “Fellows, I’m really feeling guilty right now and need to confess that I kept $50,000 of that money.  You see, the church has been in deep financial trouble the last few years, and she never gave but a dollar each time she came, the old cheapskate.  Since she didn’t need the money where she was going, I must confess that I gave half to the church.”

   The doctor consoled the minister.  “Father, think nothing of it.  Think nothing of it at all.  As a matter of fact, I felt the same way about her crazy request and took all the money for the new wing at the hospital.  I just threw the empty briefcase in.  No way she could take it with her!”

   Then the lawyer sharply interrupted.  “I am ashamed of both of you.  You, Father, a man of the cloth!  What you did is nothing less than stealing.  And you, doctor, you are reprehensible.  Who could ever trust you?”  But the doctor was quick to reply.  “Fine words coming from a lawyer.  And I suppose you did the right thing and tossed the money into the hole?”  “As a matter of fact, you dishonest fellows,” the lawyer replied, “my briefcase contained my personal check for every red cent of that money.  Nobody will ever call me a crook!”

If you are on a fixed income because you have money in the mutual fund or CDs, the best thing to do is give your Lord his share while you’re still alive because he’s going to ask you about where it is when you meet him empty-handed.  Your money can be waiting for you if you give it now, but you can’t take it with you.

 

 

Crocodile Cemetery

 

   But people have tried, and treasure hunts have resulted.  One hundred years ago, Doctors Grenfell and Hunt, archaeologists, were searching for ancient tombs, hoping to discover precious and valuable artifacts, and become rich and famous from those who, hundreds of years before, had tried to take it with them.  They happened upon an undisturbed tomb near Oxyrhynchus, Egypt.  They had a hard time breaking in.  When they finally managed it, they opened a vast underground cavern.  Lighting the lamp and hoisting it high, expecting gold, manuscripts, riches or at least a crusty old pharaoh, they saw instead a thousand stuffed crocodiles through the dusty haze.  They had opened a crocodile cemetery!  What a disappointment!

   Upon later investigation, the crocodiles stuffed with ancient paper called papyrus.  Soon the doctors realized that their treasure was the stuffing -- very ancient manuscripts, enough writing to fill seventeen modern books.  One of these texts dazzled the believer world then and still.  It’s a tract containing one hundred fourteen saying of Yahshua written down by the Apostle Thomas, used in his missionary efforts.  This tract is dated earlier than Yahshua’ sayings in the Bible.  Therefore, The Gospel of Thomas is fascinating to read because it contains fresh and new sayings as well as variations of those we know already.  Crocodile stuffing became the greatest discovery for New Testament scholarship in history.

 

Give Me What Is Mine

 

   In fact, The Gospel of Thomas contains a variation of today’s text.  Listen saying 100:

They showed Yahshua a gold coin and said to him, "Caesar’s men demand taxes from us." He said to them, "Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar, give Elohim what belongs to Elohim, and give me what is mine."

This is an amazing twist.  More than taxes, more than tithes: “give me what’s mine,” Yahshua says.  Giving money is a good start. But giving him what he wants is a much greater commitment than finances.  Not everyone can give him what is his.  John Wesley came close to explaining this concept from The Gospel of Thomas in his sermon, “On the Use of Money”: 

 ‘Render unto Elohim,’ not a tenth, not a third, not half, but all that is Elohim's; by employing all on your household, the household of faith and all mankind in such a manner that you may give a good account of your stewardship when ye can be no longer stewards; in such a manner as the [law and the prophets] direct, in such a manner that whatever ye do may be ‘a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savor to Elohim’ and that every act may be rewarded in that day when the Lord cometh.

What Yahshua meant when he said, “give me what’s mine” is to give him “every act whatever ye may do”: this is the way of perfection. 

Mat 16: 26.  For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?   27.  For the Son of man will come and then he will repay every man for what he has done.

   If our Father can use stuffed crocodiles to preserve his living word down through the ages, what do you think your contribution in money, time, talents, gifts and service can accomplish while you are yet unstuffed?  Give him what is his.  Give him what he wants.  He wants you entirely.  Start with tithes, offerings and alms to his church that you love.  Move up from there.  This is the only way you’ll take anything with you, because what is yours will already be there when you see him and he repays you.