Sunday, December 28, 2008

To Tithe Or Not To Tithe?

Many Christians are taught that if they tithe, (contributing 10% of their income) that God will “open the windows of heaven, and pour them out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it…” This is based on a portion of scripture from the book of Malachi, chapter 3, verses 10-12. (Mal. 3:10-11)

The problem with this teaching is that tithing is usually taught as “the law,” something that we owe God, and are required to do or God will not open the windows of heaven and bless us. However, if that were the case, it would be an attempt to “earn” this blessing from God; trying to merit this blessing through our doing and our keeping of God’s law of tithing. That makes this teaching similar to trying to “earn” the blessing of eternal life by keeping the Old Testament laws of God. And neither can be done.

I have been a Christian for 35 years, and if you are anything like me, you know many many Christians who have tithed faithfully for years and years and have never obtained the blessing Malachi had promised tithing would bring. (In fact, I was once one of them myself). Most of these folks are still just getting by, and that is because the blessing promised in Malachi cannot be earned through tithing any more than eternal life can be earned by living a good enough life. Like all law, tithing too was intended to prove to man that he could not keep it according to God’s standard of perfection and instead to lead him to Christ who did.

Keeping the laws of the Old Testament merits us nothing with God. They can't because we can't keep them according to God's standard of perfection. Only Jesus could do that. In fact, all Old Testament law was given to prove to man that he couldn’t keep any law of God to God’s standard and couldn’t merit anything by trying to keep them. The "law" was given instead to lead men to Christ who kept and fulfilled ALL of the law of God for man and that included fulfilling the law of tithing. And it would be through our faith in Christ that we could obtain the blessings that keeping the whole law of God promised. (Gal. 3:24)

It was Jesus who earned ALL we would ever need or want and it is ONLY through faith in him that we can have any of it.

The truth is that God has already opened the windows of heaven and poured out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And he did it when he sent Jesus. God could give us no more than his Son, and it is his Son who contains all that God is and all that he has. (Col. 2:9-10) It is through Jesus that we have been given “all things that pertain unto life and godliness,” and it is through Jesus that we become “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” (2Pet. 1:3-5, Rom. 8:16-17) And in order to obtain ALL of these blessings, we need to receive them through faith, the same way we received eternal life through faith. Faith is the channel by which we obtain any of God’s blessings. “Trying hard,” whether it is through tithing or anything else will never work. We can “earn” or “merit” nothing from God through human effort.

God’s blessings are a free gift and given through faith in Jesus. So if the bible says that we have already been given all things that pertain unto life and godliness through the knowledge of Jesus and that we have already been made to be joint-heirs with Christ inheriting all things with him, why would God now require us to tithe in order to obtain them? No, Jesus has already obtained them for us. Our requirement is to believe in order to receive. (2Pet. 1:3, Rom. 8:17)

Now this doesn’t mean that I am saying that GIVING is not important. I wouldn't say that any more than I would say it isn’t important to live a holy life just because salvation is free. I am saying however, that it is not a requirement to TITHE to be blessed by God just like I say that it is not a requirement to live a holy life to earn salvation. The bible teaches that both giving and living a holy life are VITAL and bring rewards in this earth, but are part of what we do in the natural in order to have a fully healthy life, not something we do to earn God’s acceptance, love or blessings.

Some of what the New Testament says about giving (not tithing) is this, “Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall MEN give unto your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Lk. 6:38) Giving is important just like planting seed is important. It is something we do in the natural world to reap a harvest, but it is outside of our relationship with God and it is in addition to what he will do for us through our faith. Besides, the New Testament teaches that giving is something that should be done “according as a man purposes in is heart…, it should not be done grudgingly, or of necessity;” and tithing is taught as a necessity. (2Cor. 9:6-9)

The real difference between tithing and giving is that tithing is “THE” law, (giving a prescribed amount in order to be blessed) while giving is “A” law, and “A” principle. What this means is that giving is governed by laws of sowing and reaping, planting and harvesting; “a law” and “a principle” that will always work in this natural world. But tithing and even giving are not a requirement to “earn” blessings from God. If we needed to do anything to merit blessings from God, we would merit NOTHING. Paraphrasing something Watchman Nee has said... if we try to merit ANYTHING through our own efforts, we lose EVERYTHING!

When we received Jesus as savior we received ALL that heaven has to offer. What we need to do to "have" them is to LET God pour out this blessing we cannot contain, not try to earn it ourselves; and we do that by believing that it is already ours. It will then begin to come to pass in our lives. (Mk. 11:24) After we do that, we can then give as we purpose in our hearts or as God leads and expect a return from our seed! Remember, God loves a cheerful giver, not one who gives under compulsion or requirement or law. (Read 2Cor. 9:1-9)

Trying to satisfy God through tithing in order for God’s blessing to come into our lives or in order to fulfill a requirement is the same as trying to satisfy God through good works for him to save us. Both are futile. We can never do enough, nor do them well enough to earn anything.

God’s love and blessings are free and offered to us through Christ. If we believe, we will receive and be blessed, if we don’t believe but rather try in our own trying to obtain, we won’t obtain. God’s blessings are not contingent on our obedience, but on our faith.

Tithing is not something that we must do... believing is!

Submitted by John B. Agati
Author of: “Suffering (God’s Will?)”

More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm Bored Lord!

What do we do if we begin to feel bored with the Word of God? That question was recently asked me and I’ll do my best to address it here.

Like most problems that we face, (whether big or small) we normally need to deal with the issue on two fronts. The first front is the spiritual, and the second is the natural. On the spiritual side, our fight is a fight of faith; that is, what we BELIEVE and what we SAY. On the natural side, it is what we DO.

With this issue of feeling bored with the Word of God, the first thing in our faith fight is to stop believing and saying that we are bored. But you say to me, I am bored, that’s why I say it; but I say that is only how you FEEL, not how you ARE. What I mean is this… The bible tells us that if we have received Jesus as our savior that we have been changed, that we are new creatures in Christ, and that our new inner man is made to be exactly like he is, and Jesus is never bored with the Word of God. He is always enthused by it. If indeed we are like him, (and we are) that is the way we are too, no matter how we feel. This emphasizes the importance of walking in the spirit, (by what the word of God says about us) rather than in the flesh, (according to how we feel). It will then be our faith that will begin to change our feelings and/or our circumstances. (Rom. 12:2, Gal. 2:20, 1Jn. 4:17)

Living by faith like this, that is, believing (and saying) that you are not bored, (despite how you feel) will begin to change how you feel. The bible says that “As a man thinketh in his heart, (about himself) so is he.” (Pr. 23:7, parenthesis mine). In short, if you believe you are bored, you will be; if you live by faith, believing you are not bored but rather excited about the Word of God, you will eventually feel that way. As you think in your heart, you will be.

In all honesty, when I talk about how the Word of God works like this, it is very exciting to me. I begin to feel a living relationship with God’s word. It is not something that I just read or study; it is something that is alive and effective in my life; something that I can learn to skillfully use to affect any area of my life… motivational, inspirational, and hope-filled to me!

Now, on the natural side of things, there is something else we can DO to help ourselves when we feel bored with the Word of God.

There is a very simple principle we can remember, and that is this. If we want to warm up, just get closer to the fire. In this case, it works like this... There are men and women in ministry who are “on fire” with the Word of God and we should get close to them and to their ministries. And even more importantly than being on fire is that they have a good understanding of what the word is saying and how it can be applied to our lives. This will add real “life” to our Christian walk.

But here it the thing. When it comes to who we listen to and what we believe, it is vital to be VERY careful. I say that because there is a fine line between what men sometimes teach and what the bible teaches. Most often, teachers and ministers of the Word of God, (even though most are well-meaning) THINK they know what the Word of God is saying, but don't know what it is really saying. Recognizing this is vital because men's ideas (religious tradition) will make the Word of God of NO EFFECT, (even though it sometimes sounds right) while the truth will make you free.

I think that many Christians become tired, disillusioned, and even bored because they haven’t yet realized the difference between the tradition of men and the truth of the bible. One will bring life and vitality while the other will bring drudgery and disappointment. And the difference is sometimes very hard to distinguish. Religious tradition can be very gripping and can seem right and is taught by most people. This is why most of our churches do not experience a steady flow of God's supernatural power and do not have signs and wonders following their ministries.

The difference between religious tradition and truth is the difference between living our lives in our own human strength and efforts, or living by the power of God. Generally, religious tradition teaches about what we must DO to please God and to live a good Christian life, while the New Testament teaches what we must BELIEVE to please God and to live a good Christian life. It is the difference between trying or trusting; working or resting; doing or believing. And it is the difference between getting supernatural results or not.

It is believing that will tap into God’s power for our lives, not trying harder or doing better. The just shall live by faith, not by works.

Even though discerning the difference between “religion” and “truth” can be difficult at times, there are ministries that know some of the differences and they can teach those differences to us. (Mk. 7:13, Jn. 8:31-32)

Here is a short list of ministers that are well worth getting close to and that have a good understanding of what the Word of God is really saying. We can listen to them, watch them on TV, get their tapes and books and visit their websites in order to tap into their material and their teachings… Andrew Wommack, Bill Winston, Joseph Prince, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Jerry Savelle, Joel Osteen, Fred Price, Charles Capps, and Leroy Thompson. I am sure there are others, but these I am confident with. If you listen to these ministries on a regular and consistent basis, they can help you begin to see the sometimes subtle difference between religion and truth and can inject a new interest, understanding and effectiveness of the Word of God in your life.

Well, that's it for now. If I don't write again until after Christmas, may you all have a blessed and joyful holiday!

Submitted by John B. Agati
Author of: “Suffering (God’s Will?)”

More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Plant, Then Water The Seed II

There is more to prayer than just asking God for what we want. In order to be successful in prayer, we must know that prayer is governed by the laws of prayer similar to the way electricity is governed by the laws of electricity. That is because spiritual things are no different than natural things; they too are governed by the laws of God. (Rom. 1:20)

In order to get the results from electricity that we want, we must know the laws that govern electricity and apply them properly. That is not up to God. That is up to us. It is the same thing with prayer. In order to get the results we want from prayer, we must know the laws that govern prayer and apply them properly. And when we do our part, God will do his.

God makes all things available to us, both in the natural and in the spiritual; but then it is up to us to learn how they work and to make them work for us. And if we do, the laws of God will always work if properly applied. That is why they are called laws. For example, if we learn and apply the laws of electricity properly, we will always have a proper flow of electrical power. Likewise, if we learn and apply the laws of prayer properly, we will always have a proper flow of prayer power. Jesus proved this fact because he always had results when he prayed.

However, there has been a mystique about prayer that has kept us from learning prayer’s process. Because of this mystique, many seem to have felt that prayer is up to God and that if he wanted to answer it he would, and if he didn’t, he wouldn’t. But Jesus never taught that... about spiritual or natural things. Think how it would be if we thought that way about electricity or anything else in this world. If we left everything up to God, we would never get the results we want. That is because God has not chosen to do things that way, in the natural or in the spiritual. He provides things for us, then leaves it is up to us to find out how things work and to make them work for us. That is the way prayer is.

So let’s talk about the laws of God for a moment. In my last article, I shared that Jesus taught us how everything in the kingdom of God works. He said that the kingdom of God was like a man who plants a seed, and that seed grows day and night until it comes to maturity and bears fruit. Everything starts from a seed. (Mk. 4: 26-32) And that is how prayer works too. It starts from a seed. And if the seed is nurtured properly, it will always bring prayer results, just the same as good seed in a garden will always produce if it is nurtured properly.

I also shared that Jesus said that spiritual seed is the word of God. And it is when we choose to believe the word of God, that we plant that seed. (Mk. 4:14, Lk. 8:11)

Now since the seed of God's word has the power to produce whatever it says, we need to believe the word of God as it relates to what we are praying for. (Isa. 55:10-11) For example, if we are praying for healing, we can choose to believe the word of God where Isaiah said, "... with his stripes we are healed." (Isa. 53:5) That is very specific to our request and will bring forth healing. However, we can also believe the word of God when it is very general and when it covers all kinds of petitions such as the time when Jesus said, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” We can believe this simple statement in order to get our prayers answered too. (Mt. 21:22) And like I said in my Answer to Anonymous, we don't have to know the word of God verbatim, we just need to know the truth that it expresses.

So, after we choose to believe God’s word, that seed must be watered. And again, it is through the word of God that it is watered, (see my last article on this topic to get a little more detail). Now the primary way that we water our prayer seed, (that is, the seed of God’s word that we choose to believe and want to come to pass), is to read, study, listen to, and meditate on God’s word. We need to “feed” on as much of the word of God as we can… especially as it relates to what we are asking for. What we are doing when we do this is watering our seed and developing our faith in God’s word, and it will then be our faith that will bring to pass what we asked for in prayer. I like to call this part of the process "feeding the seed." It will then grow and produce results. (Mt. 21:22)

In this article, I would like to share with you another vital “tool” that must be used in helping bring forth answers to our prayers. We talked about our faith and now I want to talk about our words; that is, what we SAY about our prayer after we have prayed. Jesus said that whatever we believe in our heart and SAY with our mouth, we will have. (Mk. 11:22-23) If we think about that for a moment, we may realize how amazing that is and how powerful a tool we have in our hands, or should I say in our mouths. It will always be what we believe and what we say that we will eventually end up having. Again, our words, (like God’s) are seeds, and when believed will bring forth what we say. It will take time to come to pass, but it always will. This creative power is ours because we are made in the image of God and we do things just like he does. It was with his faith and his words that God spoke the world into existence, and it will be through our faith and our words that we will create the world that is around us, (and bring forth the answers to our prayers). If you believe it and if you say it, you will have it, no matter what it is. So, saying the right thing will bring to pass those things that you ask for in prayer.

Before I go any further let me share this. It is important to remember that it is God that will bring the increase to our seed… we don’t do that, but like Paul said, it is we who must plant and water the seed. It is God who will make it grow. (1Cor. 3:6)

So, getting back to the words of our mouth and how they relate to what we are praying for; we must realize that we cannot ask for something in prayer, and then SAY that we DON’T have it. If we do that, we WON'T get it. But when we pray, we need to start speaking "by faith" saying that we DO have the answer to our prayer even before it comes to pass, and then we will get it. It will then come to pass. We have believed that we have it and have said that we have it, and like Jesus said, it will now come to pass. I know that this might be a lot to swallow, but that is how the bible teaches that faith works. Actually, that is the kind of faith that God has and uses, and it is the kind of faith that will bring to pass whatever it is we are praying for. (Rom. 4:16-21; 10:9-10)

So, you see, the words we speak are extremely important in the answers to our prayers. The bible says that "death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it will eat the fruit thereof. (Pr. 18:21)

Our words are our faith in action and a vital part of our prayer.

Summing up thus far, we see that Jesus taught that when we pray, we must believe that we have the answers to our prayers and say that we have them before we ever get them. It is then that in time they will come to pass. (Mk. 11:22-24)

Can you see why people can have such problems getting their prayers answered? They really don’t know what it takes to get them answered. And please; don’t just believe me. Look up the scriptures that I’ve based this on. Both Jesus and Paul taught this and did this, and so did Abraham and God the Father!

I’ve shared in this article the basic principle of the power and importance of our words. Being careful about what we say and saying only those good things that we want is a great start and a solid foundation. But like all things, there is more that can be learned and applied. A good farmer always starts with the basics and then builds on them for better and better results. Maybe in the future I will share more with you about this. But for now, there may be enough to think about here.

Submitted by John B. Agati
Author of: “Suffering (God’s Will?)”

More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www.