Giving your best to God and honoring Him through tithing is the trigger that releases the blessings of Abraham: elevation, possession and dominion.
The service was off to a great start as the Church worshiped God over the weekend of Oct 25 and 26. The presence of God saturated the hall as co-founder of City Harvest Church, Sun Ho, led the congregation in a new song, “I Remember”, written by the CityWorship team.
It was second week of CHC’s annual Arise and Build campaign and senior pastor Kong Hee shared a timely message titled “The Blessings of Abraham”. He succinctly shared with the church of the blessings that Abraham received, and the sacrifices he made to trigger them.
THE BLESSINGS ABRAHAM EXPERIENCED
The key scriptures of Kong’s message were from Galatians 3:13-14, and Genesis 14:18-20. Galatians 3:13-14 tells believers that the blessing of Abraham has “come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus” when Jesus died on the cross to redeem “us from the curse of the law.”
This blessing of Abraham is spelled out in Genesis 14:18-20, which says, “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.”
Melchizedek, Kong explained, is a king and a priest; he is what theologians describe as the appearance of God in human form. In other words, this was the Son of God before He became Jesus through the virgin birth. When Abraham met Melchizedek, he had actually met the Son of God Himself. During that time when tithing was not a convention or established practice, Abraham acted out of faith and gave Him “a tithe of all”. Through his tithing by faith, Abraham triggered a three-part blessing:
1. The Blessing Of Elevation
In Melchizedek’s blessing for Abraham, he said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High”. This revealed that God is El Elyon, the God who is the highest–one translation calls Him the “God of Elevation”. When believers follow Him, they will experience elevation and promotion.
Sharing the testimony of a member of CHC, Xante Koh, Kong showed how God’s intention was for His people to be elevated. Koh is an executive in a publishing firm and was passed over for promotions a few times. However, since she joined CHC 10 years ago, she went on to receive seven promotions and is now a director at one of the largest MNCs in Singapore.
“When we follow Jesus, He will lift us up,” Kong declared.
In Genesis 14:19, Melchizedek told Abraham that the God who is blessing him is the “Possessor of heaven and earth”. God wants to give His people ownership.
Kong recalled how CHC moved from venue to venue since its inception. Eventually, God fulfilled His promise and they found their current home in Suntec Singapore. Kong reminded the church that with good stewardship, God would give His people ownership.
“Every time we Christians own a property, it’s a declaration to Satan that the Kingdom of God has come and he has to get off the land.”
3. The Blessing Of Dominion
Melchizedek said that the God who will bless Abraham is one “who had delivered your enemies into your hand”. This means that Christians can win the battles they are fighting against.
Kong read a letter from a long-time CHC member, Kee Yong Wah, who had been living in China because of his business. He was struggling with his business venture and had come to the end of himself. His wife then reminded him to seek God instead of doing things his own way. He listened to his wife and began his journey of resting and seeking God’s face. He heard from God and ventured into the oil and gas industry. Thereafter, his business prospered and God gave him a double portion of what he had asked.
Kong declared to the church that if there is any promise that the church members want to receive for themselves, it could only be appropriated by faith, and through tithing.
TITHING AS THE TRIGGER OF FAITH
Galatians said that Christians can receive the blessings of Abraham by faith. In the same way, Abraham received his blessings by faith when he gave Melchizedek a “tithe of all”.
Kong went on to share three reasons why tithing is important:
1. Tithing Is For Honor
Abraham acknowledged God as the source of every good and perfect gift with his tithe. When believers give the “first-fruits of all your increase” (Prov 3:9-10), it signifies that they are honoring God for His blessings immediately, by faith. He reminded the congregation that coming to church also signifies that they are giving God a tithe of their time–this is symbolic of God’s presence in their lives.
2. Tithing Is For Gratitude
Kong highlighted Deuteronomy 8:18 to emphasise that God does not want His people to forget that He is the source of their blessings.
Matthew 6:21 says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” A clear indication of whether a person’s “treasure” is in the House of God is to see if their finances are invested towards it.
“Every month when we tithe, we lock in our hearts to God and what He wants to do in CHC.”
Kong shared that Abraham gave out of his love and worship for God—so much so that he was willing to sacrifice his precious firstborn son Isaac.
“In fact, the first time the words ‘love’ and ‘worship’ was mentioned in the Bible, it has to do with Abraham’s giving,” he said.
Abraham was such a faithful tither that he was even willing to give his firstborn to God. God said in Genesis 22:12 that “…now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
When Abraham was willing to give his tithe, he triggered God’s blessing to flow and God revealed Himself to Abraham as Jehovah Jireh–God the Provider, who provided a lamb for sacrifice in place of Isaac. God said in Genesis 22:17-18, “blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” In the same way, God will bless His believers and multiply their possessions when they obey His word and give Him a tithe of all.
When believers give their tithe, it is the honor, gratitude, love and worship that goes up to Heaven, Kong explained. The physical money stays in the church to help with the work of God. Kong shared three ways tithe is used in the Bible.
1. Manpower Of God’s House
Numbers 18:21, 24 says “Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting… For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance; therefore I have said to them, ‘Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.’”
This is the sacred tithe used to pay the wages and salaries of the workers in the house of God.
Kong citied from a US website, churchleaders.com, saying that one of the reasons for more than a thousand pastors leave the ministry every month is financial pressure. One pastor interviewed for the story said, “When you can’t provide the life you want for your family, it makes it hard to continue.”
In the times of Nehemiah, the temple workers left their full-time ministry and went back to being farmers because they “had not been given their prescribed portions of food” (Nehemiah 13:10-12). Nehemiah confronted the leaders and restored the Levites to their proper duties. He then got the people of Judah to bring in their tithes so that there was food in the temple’s storerooms.
2. Ministry Of God’s House
Deuteronomy 14:23 says “Bring this tithe to the designated place of worship—the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored—and eat it there in his presence. This applies to your tithes of grain, new wine, olive oil, and the firstborn males of your flocks and herds. Doing this will teach you always to fear the Lord your God.”
Israel had seven feasts during the year; the feasts were held for spiritual refreshment and personal revival. The tithe of the people went to supporting those worship events, thus this was known as the “tithe of the feasts”. In modern-day context, tithes provide for the weekly services and all the ministries in the church to help members grow spiritually.
3. Mission Of God’s House
The Bible went on to say in Deuteronomy 14:28-29, “At the end of every third year, bring the entire tithe of that year’s harvest and store it in the nearest town. Give it to the Levites, who will receive no allotment of land among you, as well as to the foreigners living among you, the orphans, and the widows in your towns, so they can eat and be satisfied. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all your work.”
This is the tithe for the lost outside the church. In another words, it is to support evangelistic and mission works. Kong reminded the church that it grew from no affiliate church in 1995 to 47 affiliate churches (outside China) by 2009. CHC is also working with 30 associate churches in 14 provinces in China today. By 2009, there were also six Bible schools in three different countries and CHC’s Bible school has graduated thousands of students all around the world. Today, the church works with hundreds of churches globally to reach millions of people.
“The message of the Great Commandment, the Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate has been preached all around the world. It took a lot of financial resources to have such impact—we couldn’t have done it without the tithes in this house,” said Kong.
The senior pastor went on to share the seven benefits of a tithing church as mentioned in Malachi 3:10-12. It says, “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house (a church of abundance), And try Me now in this,’ Says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven (open window above the church) And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it (success for the members). And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes (victory over Satan), So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground (career will be productive), Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field (investments will grow),’ Says the Lord of hosts; ‘And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land,’ (church will experience global influence and legacy) Says the Lord of hosts.”
The service ended with eight leaders of the church—whose cell groups have close to 100 percent tithing among members—sharing how their members have been blessed. They told the congregation how their members experienced fruitfulness, healing, miracles and breakthroughs. Kong challenged the church to follow suit and to make a decision to be a faithful tither.
Desmond Lim, 23, a trainer who has been through Arise and Build campaign for a number of years, says that the sermon is a good reminder of God’s goodness towards His people. He left the service feeling encouraged to sacrifice, as he feels secure in the fact that he can continue to sow into God’s Kingdom and having his faith remembered.
Janice Chng, 39, a realtor told City News, “I was most impacted by the importance of having the fear of God, to the point where Abraham could give his only son when God asked him to do so. I feel that it isn’t just about giving what’s left over, but giving my best sacrifice.”