April 1, 2022

Hello Grace Vineyard and Friends.

Well, it’s the first of April, and I might be tempted to play an “April Fools” joke on you, but I think I’d rather look for some wise quotes that mention “fools” that I find enlightening. Most of them are from the Bible book of Proverbs:

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” — Psalms 14:1

“A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.” — Proverbs 12:16

“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinions.” –Proverbs 18:2

“Do you see a man wise in his own eyes?  There is more hope for a fool than for him.” –Proverbs 26:12

“Extortion turns a wise man into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart.” –Ecclesiastes 7:7

and one of my personal favorites from missionary Jim Elliot:

“He is no fool who loses what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

As this Spring kicks into full gear, let’s be a people who grow in the ways of wisdom.  As the Apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 2:2-3, “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

On Sunday I’ll be back in “the pulpit” as they say.  But I gotta say, we had 2 weeks of amazing guest speakers first with Luke Bricker on the 20th, and then with Matt Evans last Sunday.  Both of the talks are available on our YouTube channel and our podcast (gracetalks.org) For your convenience, you can watch or listen to Matt’s talks right here:

On Sunday we are returning to our “Thriving For A Lifetime” series in the book of 1 John, and we’ll be in chapter 4, where we’ll listen to the beloved apostle teach about “testing the spirits”.  I recommend you open up your Bible to 1 John 4 and read ahead to get your minds and hearts prepared for what we’ll be learning.

Keep Steve Rogers in you prayers

May be an image of 9 people, people standing and outdoors

If you were with us last Sunday you’ll know that our good friend Jim Mumper, who now lives in Sweden, urged pastor Steve Rogers to come to Eastern Europe and help him serve Ukrainian refugees, especially those connected with the Vineyard churches over there.  Here he is pictured with some new friends.  Steve will be back with us soon, and he says he’s going to have lots of stories to tell.  Please keep him and this team in your prayers.  What a blessing to be part of this mission!

By the way, while Steve is gone we are still going to have Sunday night services.  This week Kent Franke will be leading worship and Paul Abbott will be leading the teaching time.  Next week Ammee Huzil will be leading worship, and Gary Lee will be our guest teacher.  Should be some GREAT times together in the Lord.

Sign Up Now for the Ladies Afternoon Tea, April 23

Ladies, get ready for an Afternoon Tea at Grace Vineyard.  It’s on Saturday, April 23rd, from 1-4pm, and the ticket price is $10.  Feel free to dress up and wear a hat.  Bring your own favorite teacup.

Look for a signup table in the lobby this coming Sunday.  If you’d like to purchase your ticket right now,  just click this button:

Online Giving

I suspect that I might be a little unusual in this respect, but when a payday rolls around like it did for me today, I get a little excited because I have income and I give the 1st 10 percent of that income to the church.   No, seriously, one of the first things I did this morning – after brewing some coffee, of course – was to check my online banking to confirm that both Kim and I got our paychecks deposited and then send in our tithe.  And it made me happy.  Sometimes people tell me I should teach a little more often about tithing because there are so many misunderstandings about this gift God has given to us, so I thought today I would give you a really brief teaching, in 4 paragraphs (it would take a lot more space to teach all the Bible has to say on the subject)…

1) In the Old Testament God established a place for the people of God to gather to worship called the Tabernacle (basically a giant, tent-like, portable temple) before the children of Israel entered the promised land, and later on the Temple when they were established in the Promised Land.  In the New Testament God established places of worship that would spread around the the entire globe and these are called churches.

2) In the Old Testament God called one of the 12 tribes of Israel, the tribe of Levi, to be those who would work in the Tabernacle/Temple and facilitate the worship of God’s people.  While the other 11 tribes were given an inheritance of land to earn their income, the Levite tribe was given no inheritance and were not to earn their income in the usual way (agriculturally, for this period in time), but were to dedicate themselves to the work of facilitating worship in the Tabernacle/Temple. Instead of a land inheritance, they would receive a tithe from the other tribes plus extra offerings to take care of the needs of the Tabernacle/Temple and to provide for their living expenses.  A “tithe” means 10 percent of their income. One of the places where this is described is in the book of Numbers, chapter 18. “The Lord said to Aaron,You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites. I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting. … This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. They will receive no inheritance among the Israelites.  Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the Lord. That is why I said concerning them: ‘They will have no inheritance among the Israelites.'” (Numbers 18:20-24)

3) Similarly, in the New Testament, God calls some people to dedicate their lives to the work of the church, and Paul teaches that in the same way as in the Old Testament, those people are not to earn their living in the usual way, but from the tithes of the worshipers.  In 1 Corinthians 9:6 the Apostle Paul refers to the instructions we just read in Numbers 18, and says, “Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar?  In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:13).  One misunderstanding about tithing I sometimes hear is the idea that tithing was only for the people under the law of Moses, but now that we are under Grace and not under the Law tithing no longer applies to us.  I think Paul’s words make it pretty clear that God’s plan for providing for the needs of the Temple in the Old Testament and the needs of the Church in the New Testament are identical (“in the same way”, Paul says).  God calls us people to partner with Him in His great work in the world, and then gives us the ability to earn income so we can partner with Him in the financial needs of His work.  It’s a pretty great arrangement. He tells us to give the first 10 percent of that income to meet the needs of the place of worship (this is sometimes called “first fruits”, and is why the first thing I do with my paycheck is to give 10 percent of it to the church).  This addresses another misunderstanding I hear sometimes – the idea that tithing just means giving to a good cause, and I can just give an offering to my favorite charity or even to a person in need and think that I am participating in Biblical tithing.   But the Biblical idea is that God has established the tithe for the Church (or the Tabernacle/Temple in the Old Testament).  It is good to give offerings to many good causes, but in my understanding we are to give our tithe to our church.

4) The Gift of the Tithe – the reason I call this a gift is because God has made it an absolute blessing to participate in tithing.  First, it’s a great joy to be a partner with God.  Second,  He has promised that when we partner with Him in the tithe He works a financial miracle so that we end up having more resource after giving then we had before giving.  It’s really incredible.   The most famous passage in the Bible about this came at one of the times when the Israelites were being disobedient and not bringing their tithe to the Temple, making it so the Temple workers, the Levites, had to go find their income in other ways and the work of the Temple was not getting done.  God sent the prophet Malachi to them with a rebuke and a promise — the rebuke said they were robbing God by not bringing their tithes, the promise said that if they would bring their tithe God would give them such a big blessing the would not be able to contain it.  Here’s how He said it: “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offerings.  You are under a curse — the whole nation of you — because you are robbing me.  Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit, says the Lord Almighty.  Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land, says the Lord Almighty.” (Malachi 3:8-12)

I hope that little mini-teaching was helpful for you in answering some questions you might have had about tithing.  Like I said, there’s a lot more the Bible has to say about tithing and generosity and stewardship, but I think that was a good start.  If you would ever like to talk more and learn more, I’d be happy to look at the Bible with you.   In any case, I hope to be a church where all of us have committed our entire lives to God and His work in our world with our time, our talent, and our treasure. “…remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” (Acts 20:35)

See you all on Sunday at 9:30.  If you need to join us online, here’s the zoom info for your convenience: Zoom Meeting ID  153 112 432, Passcode 684814.

Blessings and love to you all,

Ron Ohst

Online Tithes and Offerings –THANKS for taking ownership in the life and ministry of Grace Vineyard – it takes all of us! If you’d like to give your tithe or offering online, click the donate button below.