Tithing on Your Increase

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Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. Deuteronomy 14:22 KJV

Tithing on your “increase” is different than tithing on your “gross” or “net” as an employee. This affects people who are self-employed and/or invest in their business. An illustration I use when giving a Bible study on tithing is, that if you get paid $50.00 for mowing your neighbors lawn, and you paid $5.00 for the gas, then you actually made $45.00. $45.00 is your increase or profit. You would tithe on the $45.00 since that is what you actually made. By the way the $45.00 is what you would also pay taxes on, so both God and “Caesar” realize you made $45.00, and not $50.00.

Of course there could be other expenses too, like the cost of the lawn mower, but I think you get the gist of the illustration. Of course the cost of the lemonade you bought from the stand across the street would not count as a business expense because even though it quenched your thirst, it was not a direct business expense. Tithing on your “increase” is different than tithing on your “gross” or “net” as an employee.

I’ll give several other examples, as I see them, and I encourage our readers to contribute their examples.

Now “Caesar” realizes if you work in an office or campus, that driving to work and back is not a direct investment to your business. You do not write off travel expenses to work and back. However you do write off travel expenses while working. For example if I’m a courier doing deliveries, I would deduct travel expenses from what I am paid to find my actual profit, and then tithe and pay taxes on the actual profit. By the way your gross income would be considered your actual profit. Let’s say I pick up a kayak in Sydney and drive 170 kilometers to deliver the kayak in Newcastle, for $525. To find my profit I would subtract 66 cents a km, which would be $112, leaving me with a profit of $413. I would tithe on the $413, which would be $42 (rounded up). Of course I can round that up to $45.00 or even $50.00!

Now if I drove 10 kilometers to make the pickup in Sydney I would not count that against my profit because that was just getting to work. It was not an expense of the actual work itself. The way I see it, only things that you invested directly to making your profit would be deducted from your profit. Now if I traveled from my home to a courier training workshop in Melbourne, that would be a travel expense relating directly to my business and profit. Everyone needs to decide between themselves and God if something is a direct business expense.

Again, your profit is counted as your gross income which you would be taxed on and would tithe on. Sometimes when I am giving this study, people will ask me if they can deduct their home electric bill from their gross income and then tithe after that. The answer is “no.” Your home electric bill is not a part of your business or an investment in your profit. “Caesar” does not let you write off your home electric bill as it has nothing to do with your profit if you are not working at home.

You need to follow your own conscience and Bible principles on determining what your increase is, but as a general rule, if “Caesar’ sees an item as a business expense then it is reasonable to count it as a business expense regarding your increase (profit) and tithe.

I hope this conversation has been helpful, and we can discuss it further in the comment section.

Trusting God Instead of Knucklehead Ideas

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The question is asked on Tuesday’s section of this week’s lesson, “In what ways have you discovered for yourself the true spiritual blessings that come from paying tithe? How has paying tithe helped increase your faith?”

After returning home to Tulsa from Southern Adventist University, I got a job at Taco Bell, and at 19 years old moved into my own apartment. It was a nice junior one bedroom. My rent was only $200.00 a month. What I would give to take my current salary and go back to those days! My parents both served as treasurers for the Tulsa First SDA Church for decades. They had instilled in me the importance of tithe. My dad always says, “Church’s don’t have financial problems. They have spiritual problems.” If everyone sacrificed and gave systematically as the Bible says, the church will always have enough.  While paying an honest tithe, even while barely making above minimum wage I had no problems paying my bills. I remember getting bills in the mail and going inside and writing a check to pay them right away. I did not need to wait until the due date. God was blessing.

Funny thing is, as I started making more money I started running into financial issues. I had a budget, but did not carefully watch myself during the month, thinking I had plenty of money. Still in my early twenties, I got a job working in the warehouse of a business forms company, making almost twice as much as I was at Taco Bell. Not keeping close track of what I was spending, I ran into financial problems, and for the first time started falling behind on my bills. I had recently transferred to a smaller church outside Tulsa, where I was serving as an elder.

I was the youngest elder in the Oklahoma conference and the most immature too, as I came up with a knucklehead idea for my new financial problems. Had I still been in the church where my parents were treasures I probably never would have done this. I had recently been promised a reasonable raise at work, but every week it failed to show on my pay check. So I decided to use all my money to pay my bills, and stop returning tithe until I got my raise. Each week I recorded what my tithe was so I could pay it once my raise came, but week after week there was no raise on my check. I recorded what I owed in tithe to pay once my raise came. The tithe was adding up. Finally one night after a group Bible study I told an older lady in my church that I felt bad not being able to tithe, but that I would tithe once my raise showed up on my check. She said firmly, “William you are not going to get your raise until you return your tithe.” Now I knew good and well that people get raises all the time who never tithe. However I knew too, that God is a personal God, and He was speaking to me through my older friend.

We received our paychecks every Friday, but the following Friday I did not go into work as I had too much overtime. Yes, God was blessing me with overtime while I was waiting on my raise and even withholding my tithe. Even though I did not get my paycheck on Friday, I returned my full tithe that Sabbath. I did not know what I was going to do, but I knew I had to do what was right.

Monday morning I went into work and picked up the paycheck that had been lying in my box since Friday. I opened it up and there was my raise! Was the raise a blessing? Yes! But the greatest blessing was knowing a God of love was watching over me, and even speaking to me through my older friend in my Bible study group. He loves me and takes care of me. All I have to do is trust in Him instead of my knucklehead ideas!

Lying to the Holy Spirit

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

Once, I was talking to a church treasure who told me every week she finds a few empty tithe envelopes turned into the offering plate. She figured it was kids turning them in. I was more skeptical and wondered if it was adults wanting to look like they were giving an offering. This was before online giving. Either way, the church has always had people pretending to be more giving than they are.

You may say, “Well that’s really none of your business William!” and you are right. It is none of my business. It is nobody’s business but God’s. In the dark ages the church would bribe, guilt and bully people into giving them their money, and there are churches and ministries that do this today. Some ministries and individuals expect certain people to help them financially and are disappointed when they don’t, forgetting that everyone has the right to do what they want with their own money. Jesus tells a parable about some people working in a vineyard that were expecting the owner to give them more than others, but the owner rightly answered,

Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Matthew 20:15 NLT

God always provides, and even though I support God’s work faithfully, it was doing quite well before I came along and will continue to thrive after I am gone. God doesn’t need my money. I need to express my thankfulness to God for His love, and systematic giving is one way I do so. Notice what Paul says,

 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6 NLT

I see three important things here.

1. You must decide how much you are going to give. This goes for tithe as well. Yes it is 10%, but some say you should tithe on your gross, others say net. Of course if you own a business you tithe on your profit, and only you would know what that is. For example, when I am studying with someone about tithes and offerings, I ask them, if your neighbor pays you $50.00 to mow their lawn, and you spent $5.00 on gas then how much did you make? You made $45.00, so you would tithe on the $45.00. (See Deuteronomy 14:22.) Bottom line is that Paul says you must decide in your heart. Be honest. I have my own convictions about tithing on the gross but I have no business telling you what to do and neither does anyone else. Paul says decide in your heart, that is, follow your conscience based on what you have read in God’s Word.

2. Paul says don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. If you don’t want to give, then don’t! God doesn’t need your money. The church and various ministries will survive and thrive without it. But your spirit will whither and die unless you give!

3. Paul says “God loves a cheerful giver” and so He wants us to give cheerfully. Giving is worship, and the Psalmist says enter His gates with praise and thanksgiving. Giving otherwise is not worship. God wants us to give where we can give cheerfully and what we can give cheerfully.

In one of my first districts as a Bible Worker I was looking for a place to live. At prayer meeting one night a family told me in front of everyone that they owned a place where I could stay for free. They said in front of everyone, that they were pleased to have me do Bible work for the church and stay at their place at no charge. When I got to where I was staying that night, they called me privately, to tell me they actually did want some rent. What they wanted the church to hear was different from what they were actually willing to do. That’s where the problem begins. In Acts 5 when Ananias and his wife sold their land, the problem was not that they did not give all the money to the church. The problems is they said they were giving all while they were not.

He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. Acts 5:2 NLT

The problem is that He was lying, saying he was giving it all while he was holding some back. Are we lying when we claim to be returning an honest tithe but are holding some back? Peter went on to say,

“Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!” Acts 5:3-4 NLT 1

While it was nobody’s business what Ananias did with his money he was still lying to the Holy Spirit, which was much worse than lying to people! So while we may say it is nobody’s business what we give, it is God’s business, and we need to be honest with Him. God needs us to give where and how we can cheerfully, and honestly.


  1.  By the way, notice Peter says Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit, and then later said he lied to God, thus demonstrating that the Holy Spirit is God. Some say that the Spirit is just the “spirit” or attitude of Jesus, but one doesn’t lie to someone’s attitude. One lies to a person. The Holy Spirit is a Person.
  2. You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here. 

Stewardship In Light Of The Cross- With New Living Translation

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You may download a printable copy of In Light Of The Cross Bible Study Guides-NLT here.

Stewardship

 

Brief overview: God tells us to be good stewards of our time, money and talents that He has given to us. They are to be used to help spread the gospel. See Leviticus 27:30Numbers 18:24-28Malachi 3:8-101 Corinthians 9:13-14

Why it is important to understand the truth about stewardship:

 

Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2

Why it is important to understand stewardship in light of the cross:

Soviet Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, the author of Tortured for Christ, suffered terribly for the Lord. Yet he said that even while in prison, he saw fellow Soviet believers practice generous giving. “When we were given one slice of bread a week and dirty soap every day, we decided we would faithfully ‘tithe’ even that. Every tenth week we took the slice of bread and gave it to the weaker brethren as our ‘tithe’ to the Master.”

Pastor Wurmrband and his friends practiced “tithing” even in prison not because God needed their bread and soap, but because they needed a way to express their love for God. That is what stewardship is all about; using our time, money and talents to say, “thank you God for loving me and giving us your Son.” Just like a little boy who takes his allowance money to buy a Father’s Day gift, in reality the boy is only returning what the father has already given. It is the same with us and our Heavenly Father. Let’s take a look at how we can thank God for “His unspeakable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15).”

In my home I had a plaque with a picture of the Cross, and the words, “I asked Jesus how much do you love me, this much he said, and then he spread out his arms and died.” Jesus does not need our money, that really is not what the tithe and offering system is all about. He has given us the tithing and offering system so when He asks us, “How much do you love me” we will have a way to answer.

 

Further Study on Stewardship

 

What belongs to God?

For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.  If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it. Psalms 50:10-12 NLT

What besides the earth is His?

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.  The world and all its people belong to him. Psalms 24:1 NLT

 

Aside from creation why are we God’s?

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.  1 Corinthians 6:19- 20 NLT

 

What is required of a steward?

Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.

1 Corinthians 4:2 NLT

What will a faithful steward always remember?

One-tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord and must be set apart to him as holy. Levitcus 27:30 NLT

What was this tenth to be used for?

As for the tribe of Levi, your relatives, I will compensate them for their service in the Tabernacle. Instead of an allotment of land, I will give them the tithes from the entire land of Israel. Numbers 18:21 NLT

 

What is it used for today?

 Don’t you realize that those who work in the temple get their meals from the offerings brought to the temple? And those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrificial offerings. In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.1 Corinthians 9:13-14 NLT

Which tenth is God’s?

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Proverbs 3:9 NLT

Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:  Proverbs 3:9 KJV

Note: We are to give God the best of what we have, as well as returning our offerings first, instead of just waiting to see what is left over after all our other expenses.

What do we do if we withhold tithe and offering?                                               

 Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you? “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Malachi 3:8- 9 NLT

What does God want us to prove Him about?

 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Malachi 3:10 NLT

Does he promise to care for us?                                                                                  

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?  “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?  “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Matthew 6:26-32 NLT

What should be placed first in our lives?

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  Matthew 6:33 NLT

 

How much above the tithe is the offering to be?

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”  2 Corinthians 9:6- 7 NLT

 

What besides our possessions should we be good stewards of?

Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Ephesians 5:16 NLT

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Ephesians 5:16 KJV

Note: God has given us time and talents to be used for Him as well. God bestows upon all members of His church in every age spiritual gifts which each member is to employ in loving ministry for the common good of the church and of humanity. Given by the agency of the Holy Spirit, who apportions to each member as He wills, the gifts provide all abilities and ministries needed by the church to fulfill its divinely ordained functions. According to the Scriptures, these gifts include such ministries as faith, healing, prophecy, proclamation, teaching, administration, reconciliation, compassion, and self-sacrificing service and charity for the help and encouragement of people. Some members are called of God and endowed by the Spirit for functions recognized by the church in pastoral, evangelistic, apostolic, and teaching ministries particularly needed to equip the members for service, to build up the church to spiritual maturity, and to foster unity of the faith and knowledge of God. When members employ these spiritual gifts as faithful stewards of God’s varied grace, the church is protected from the destructive influence of false doctrine, grows with a growth that is from God, and is built up in faith and love. (Rom. 12:4-81 Cor. 12:9-112728Eph. 4:811-16Acts 6:1-71 Tim. 3:1-13; 1 Peter

Do you want to hear Jesus say this to you?

“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together! Matthew 25:21 NLT

Galatians; Old Testament Faith

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

 

 

 

Here are my thoughts about this week’s SS lesson about Old Testament faith. You can also download the SS lessons to your cell phone.

In Genesis 15:6 God calls Abraham righteous, because He believed God’s promise. In Genesis 22, God tells Abraham to sacrifice his own son Isaac, and thus tested and proved Abraham’s faith to be a real faith, and not just a pretend or fairy tale faith. Real faith leads to real obedience. Earlier in Genesis 12, Abraham showed lack of faith when he asked Sarai to lie about their relationship in Egypt.” God tested Abraham again, even more severely, to demonstrate before the universe, why He was able to call Abraham righteous.  “It is thus that God still tests His people. And if they fail to endure the trial, He brings them again to the same point, and the second time the trial will come closer, and be more severe than the preceding. This is continued until they bear the test, or, if they are rebellious, God withdraws His light from them and leaves them in darkness. “ {Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 437

I had not been back home from college, too long, when I started working for a business forms company. I falling behind on some of my bills. I had been promised a raise which I had yet to receive, so I decided to “work out” my own salvation from these late bills. I was not going to stop paying tithe, but I decided to use my tithe to pay my bills. I recorded how much tithe I owed so I could pay it all back when I got my raise. Weeks later, what I owed on tithe was adding up and I still had no raise. Feeling guilty, I confessed to a friend that I owed tithe, but would pay it later when I got my raise. My friend told me what I already knew. I would not get my raise until I paid my tithe.

We got our pay checks every Friday, but this Friday I did not go into work or pick up check since I had the day off. Still, I went ahead and stepped out in faith and obedience and prepared my tithe check to turn in on Sabbath, which I did. Monday I went into work and picked up my paycheck that had been sitting there since Friday. I opened it up and there was my raise! I will never forget how God tested my faith and I proved Him to be faithful! When God tests our faith He is really asking us to test His faithfulness to us!

This same faith in the Old Testament is seen again in the New Testament, when Jesus tests Philip’s faith in feeding an entire multitude in John 6.

What Romance Means to Me

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

You may not think that a man who has been single all his life would know about love and romance, but I do. After growing up in the church and over 20 years of ministry I have seen a lot. What I have seen causes me to take love, romantic love more seriously. The media today shows you a shallow love, consisting of  plastic faces, plastic breasts and plastic hearts. I have seen way more than that.

I have stood in the hospital hallway with an 87 year old man, who was crying like a little boy because his wife of 67 years lay sick in the room nearby, close to death. She was his life. They never went anywhere without each other. They washed the dishes together every night because whatever the other was doing, the other wanted to be there. Neither of them ever ran to the post office alone. They went together because they loved being together. I ask myself, am I ready for that kind of love? By the way, the wife did not die. She is still alive, but her husband died a few months ago. She still talks about him all the time.

Marriage is for life. If I fall in love like that, will I one day have to mourn the death of my spouse? Or will she mourn my death? I remember a story about an old man standing at the fresh grave of his wife of many decades. As he stood there, he was overheard saying, “It ended  exactly how I wanted it to. She died first.” Let that sink in. It may not mean what you think. If I fall in love and get married I will not want to lose my wife and hopefully she would not want to lose me. Selfishness would make me want to die first so that I can get out of grieving her death when she goes. A lot of selfless love was behind the old man’s words when he said he was glad she died first so that she would not have to grieve. He grieved instead. That’s love. I believe that’s what Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 13.

I have seen a wife taking care of her sick husband day after day year after year. Because of his sickness it has been years since he was capable of doing anything for her. Even when he was well he was not the most faithful. Still she cares for him night and day year after year. Why? Because she made a vow 35 years ago. In her eyes, his lack of integrity on his vow did not loosen her from her vow. She still makes good on that vow every day. Wow! That’s love. That’s romance.

Being single is such a convenient way to be selfish. I am single so I can say that. I am not saying I am selfish, or all single people are selfish. I have heard it said that God gave us the Sabbath and tithing plan to help us systematically overcome selfishness. The Sabbath helps us overcome selfishness with our time, and tithe, the same with our money. Well I believe you can add marriage as another way to systematically overcome selfishness with both time and money.

I see married men and women spending their time and money unselfishly and making sacrifices every day. I may have never married yet, but I know what real love is. I have seen it, not on the silver screen, but in the daily lives of ordinary people.  Well, ordinary people to Hollywood maybe, but they are heroes to me. Heroes not because of a one-time heroic effort, but life long day after day heroes.

I am sorry if this post appears morbid or depressing. I just want people to know how I think. In my ministry I see things others may or may not see. When I think about romance, and believe it or not I do think about it, I don’t think about William and Kate in a fancy carriage. I think about the man who spends his last dime to keep his wife alive from some rare disease. I don’t think about the rich doctor who shows up at ritzy parties with his cute little perfectly proportioned nurse. I think about the man who works two jobs and comes home every night to care for his wife who is recovering from a mastectomy. That’s the world that I live in and see every day. That’s what love and romance means to me.

The Acts of The Apostles-A Liberal Church

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 32

This Chapter is based on 1 Corinthians 9.

God’s chosen messengers, who are engaged in aggressive labor, should never be compelled to go a warfare at their own charges, unaided by the sympathetic and hearty support of their brethren. It is the part of church members to deal liberally with those who lay aside their secular employment that they may give themselves to the ministry….But when, through the selfishness of men, their rightful support is withheld, their hands are weakened, and often their usefulness is seriously crippled.  {AA 340.1} 

  The displeasure of God is kindled against those who claim to be His followers, yet allow consecrated workers to suffer for the necessities of life while engaged in active ministry. These selfish ones will be called to render an account, not only for the misuse of their Lord’s money, but for the depression and heartache which their course has brought upon His faithful servants. Those who are called to the work of the ministry, and at the call of duty give up all to engage in God’s service, should receive for their self-sacrificing efforts wages sufficient to support themselves and their families.  {AA 340.2} 
     In the various departments of secular labor, mental and physical, faithful workmen can earn good wages. Is not the work of disseminating truth, and leading souls to Christ, of more importance than any ordinary business? And are not those who faithfully engage in this work justly entitled to ample remuneration? By our estimate of the relative value of labor for moral and for physical good, we show our appreciation of the heavenly in contrast with the earthly.  {AA 341.1} 
     That there may be funds in the treasury for the support of the ministry, and to meet the calls for assistance in missionary enterprises, it is necessary that the people of God give cheerfully and liberally. A solemn responsibility rests upon ministers to keep before the churches the needs of the cause of God and to educate them to be liberal. When this is neglected, and the churches fail to give for the necessities of others, not only does the work of the Lord suffer, but the blessing that should come to believers is withheld.  {AA 341.2}

The above quotes from Acts of The Apostles, reminds me of a devotional I wrote back in 2006:

And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, [is it] not evil? and if ye offer
the lame and sick, [is it] not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will
he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts. 
Malachi 1:8

This morning I was reading Malachi for my morning devotional and this
verse caught my eye. The lord is asking why His people are giving him the
“scraps” from their flocks when He asked for the very best. And shouldn’t
He have the best? After all He gave His only begotten son, He gave the
very best He had. Still His people were keeping the best for themselves
and giving the least they could to God.

What caught my eye was that this is not just a money issue. It is also a
time issue. Just as God asked for the best of the flock for a sacrifice
and today asks for our firstfruits for offerings and not just what’s left
over after we pay our bills and buy of all our luxuries, so He also wants
the best of our time and our day. Do we give God the firstfruits of the
day, the morning moments? Do we make consecrating ourselves to Him our
very first work? Do we give Him the primetime of our day or is primetime
for TV? At the end of the day have we given God the best part of our time
and day, or just whatever “scraps” of time we have left?

Doesn’t “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all,”
deserve the best of all we have, including our time?

In Malachi when the people did not give their best of the flock, the
offerings were lame and defective. When we give God less than the best our
offerings are just as "lame".

Your Christian servant,

William
Look for more devotionals and studies at In Light of The cross.