Is Your Gift to the Lord or to Yourself?

I was reading Exodus 35 this morning.  This is the second time Moses comes down from Mount Sinai and asks the people to bring the items needed for the construction of the Tabernacle. Exodus 35:21 says, “And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and brought the Lord’s offering,...” (Pentateuch and Haftorah, Soncino Press, 1965.)

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When I read this it struck me that this isn’t saying everyone came, but only every one of them that was willing to give what they had. This means that there were, at least, some who did not contribute, even though they might have had some of the items needed.

Let’s consider that their gifts, which were articles of gold, silver, wood, yarn, etc., were what they had to offer, but today the gifts we can offer are our knowledge, discernment, spiritual understanding, and compassion. When I read the posts in all the different “Christian” or “Messianic” discussion groups I am a member of through Facebook, there are posts about the calendar, about the pronunciation of God’s name, about the Christian holidays (especially now with Christmas right around the corner), and other topics. These are the gifts they are offering, which should be given in order to please and bring glory to God.

Some argue with validation from the Bible, others are just making it up as they go along; some misuse the Bible by taking verses out of context to justify what they want to say, and others repeat what they have heard without any personal research or study- they agree just because they like what they hear.

In all of this, there is some truth, there are some lies, and I believe there are many tares planted by the Enemy meant to cause division and strife within the body of Believers.

Much too often people argue for their own glory.

There were the Israelites in the desert who did not bring their gifts for the Tabernacle, there are people today who post topics offering their gifts of understanding the Bible, which many times aren’t directly related to salvation (although they will swear they are), and there are gifts that people offer, specifically discernment and spiritual maturity, which help to strengthen the faith of others and lead us to a better understanding of what God wants from us.

Suddenly, it occurred to me that there is a common thread in all this: I have my gift (of understanding) from God I offer in this ministry and you have your gift (of understanding) from God you offer in a discussion group, and others have gifts that they never offer.  Your gift is your gift, my gift is my gift, and we don’t have to share the same gifts. Likewise, we don’t have to share the same understanding, and no one has the right to force anyone else to accept their offering.

If someone believes that they know how something is to be done, pronounced, when celebrated, or whatever and they share that knowledge, it is only reasonable to expect that they are certain they are correct. But when someone else disagrees, or they just don’t agree, that person should remember their gift of understanding should be offered for God’s glory. When they share that knowledge and someone else rejects it, they shouldn’t continue to try to convince the other person. Once they have been told, “I don’t accept that”, then they are done. When God told the Prophets to warn the people, he didn’t say berate them or ram it down their throats, he simply said to tell them what God told the Prophet. If the Prophet told the people, and they rejected what he said, then the Prophet had done his job and God said that was all he was supposed to do.

Tell people what you believe God has shown you, but don’t continue to “sell” it once someone disagrees or rejects what you say. For all you know, you might be wrong. We are, after all, human and none of us can be absolutely certain that our own iniquity and pridefulness doesn’t influence our understanding. If you can’t accept someone else rejecting what you know, then you have gone beyond what God wants from you. Once you tell someone what God has made clear to you, it is up to them to accept or reject.

If you cannot stop trying to convince someone that you are correct, then you are no longer working for the glory of God- you are only after your own glory, and the prideful desire to have someone tell you that you are right. In other words, if someone won’t agree with you and you are arguing your point over and over, you are no longer doing God’s work but you are helping Satan.

That’s a hard word to hear, but can you tell me that causing strife and dissension within Believers isn’t helpful to the Enemy of God’s people?

In the desert, those whose hearts were not stirred to bring an offering to God are like the people today who cannot stop trying to get someone to agree with them: what they have in common is that they are not doing something for the Lord, but only for themselves.

When you share your gift of knowledge or spiritual understanding with others, and they don’t agree, it is OK to ask them why. Maybe they have been misled or taught something different, or maybe they have a better understanding than you do! It is a good thing to ask them why they disagree. If they are willing to discuss the topic and you are both respectful and enjoying the debate, then go ahead and discuss it. However, if one of you becomes agitated and begins to judge the other, or either of you become nasty and are no longer really arguing the point but attacking each others’ knowledge or spirituality, then you have crossed the line.

And I hope you agree with me when I say that the one who stops the discussion is the one who has the spiritual and emotional maturity to realize they are no longer glorifying God.

Yeshua sent his Talmudim to preach the Good News about the Kingdom of God and told them to be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves. If you find yourself in a discussion that doesn’t demonstrate wisdom with gentility, then that isn’t what Yeshua wants and you aren’t glorifying God. The thing you should do then is to shake the dust from your sandals and leave.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Do Referees Get More Respect than God?

How many people do you know that are more interested in watching their favorite sport on TV than going to a place of worship?

How many people do you know that spend more money on sporting event tickets, box seats, paraphernalia of their favorite team (hats, sweaters, T-shirts, etc.) than they do for charity or tithing?

How many people do you think there are who spend as much for tithing as they do when betting on a Football Pool or for their Fantasy Leagues?

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And of all the problems with the worldwide religion called “Sports”, I think the worst one is that people will be more respectful of the rulebook for their favorite sport than they are for the rulebook God gave us.

I don’t follow or watch professional sports, even though I like sports. I have been very active in sports my whole life, but it is a past time, not an obsession.  Still and all, I will sometimes be watching something on a TV somewhere outside my home and there is a sports event on it. I see people argue with the referee or umpire, and they want things to be their own way (“I was safe”, or “How could you miss that foul?”) but, when all is said and done, the Ref gets the final word. And they accept that, or they get thrown out of the game.

Yet, when you tell the same people they shouldn’t eat pork or shellfish, they give you all types of excuses why they are allowed to. They don’t tell the ref that when they got tagged they shouldn’t be made to get off the field, but when God says don’t commit adultery, they say they are unhappy in their marriage, or their spouse doesn’t understand them, or some other excuse that they accept as a legitimate reason why they didn’t break the rules.

Some people have told me that they know what they do is OK, and that they are certain God loves them and will accept them as they are. God does love you, he loves everyone, but that doesn’t mean he will allow you to do whatever you want to do!

Now here’s the weirdest part: they know the Referee will not agree with them, but they expect that God will!  Really? They know that they have to abide with the referee’s decision because that’s what the rulebook says, but when it comes to God’s rules in the Bible, well…that’s different.

Actually, they’re correct: it is different. When you ignore the referee, the worst thing that happens is that you get thrown out of the game. You still have plenty of other games you can play in. However, when you ignore God, you don’t get thrown out of a game, you get thrown out of eternity! The Ref may send you to the showers, but God will send you to the Lake of Fire. And his ruling is forever!

Yeah- I would call that a BIG difference.

I expect an unbelieving person would ignore God without any problem, but how can anyone who professes to believe in God ignore him? As for people who are part of organized religion, Gentiles have been told God’s Torah is only for Jews and many Jews have been taught the Talmud is God’s word and takes precedence. These people may be ignoring God thinking it is OK, without really understanding the consequences of their actions. I can understand how they would think they aren’t doing anything wrong, which is the perfect example of the blind leading the blind. But as the traffic cop will tell you when you say you didn’t know the speed limit was only 35 MPH, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking the law.” And likewise, when people will be facing God (which we all will have to do at some time) and tell him, “But that’s what they always told me!”, I can’t speak for the Almighty, but I would assume he might reply with something like this:

“I understand that’s what they told you, but it is what I say that counts!”

You may have been taught that some of God’s rules are not for you, so next time you see someone arguing with the Referee please think about this: how will you convince God that his rules are wrong?

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Have a blessed day, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!