December 05, 2014

Fish Money

 
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be THANKFUL. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with GRATITUDE in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving THANKS to the Father through him. . . . Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.
~ Colossians 3: 15-17, 23
 
I used to have a nickname. An older generation  gentleman of our family's acquaintance delighted in calling me "Double Trouble" as he greeted me. Only he was allowed to call me that, for I knew he was not being mean-spirited and he teased me in good fun.  *smile*
 
It seems like I've been earning that tag lately. Several weeks ago I wrote a blog post about Faith Promise.  When talking to a church friend about it, she got so excited about the concept, she wanted to lay it before the church board and pastor to see if it was something our congregation could do too! Instead of grasping the general idea I tried to convey to her, the term got definition-tangled between me and how our current denomination has defined it, and  our pastor felt he had to address it. You know, when the pastor breaks out THE HEAVY BOOK called the church manual, there's gonna be  a heap of HEAVY EYEBROWS  staring down at you and sighing going on!  
 
Our current denomination's definition is one-sided, meaning that a person gives a love offering to God above and beyond the tithe from their earnings and God isn't  obligated to provide any financial funds. But, since I mean to continue giving this offering to the church in the spirit of the previous definition, in love, I decided to give up the term I liked so well from childhood and find another one.  
 
Our pastor preached out of 2 Chronicles 30 recently. His message was about a Jewish holiday called the Passover. King Hezekiah wanted to celebrate Passover in a big way and invited all of Israel and Judah to assemble in Jerusalem for a giant PARTY which had never been done before, according to what had been written. However, only a remnant of the people came to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem and of those, some came who hadn't washed up beforehand. Despite that Hezekiah prayed for them, saying: "May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets his heart on seeking God--the Lord, the God of his fathers--even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary." And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people. [2 Chron. 30:18-20]
 
Pastor said the word "healed" also meant they were redeemed by God or saved from their sins. I realized my concept of  unexpected or found money and redemption could go hand in hand -- "Once I was lost and now am found," hence a redemptive type of love offering.  There is a lost coin story (parable)  told in the New Testament -- Luke 15:8-10:
 
"Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, "Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
 
Nevertheless,  we know that the woman already had the money, because the book of Luke says she HAD ten silver coins and lost one. Perhaps the money was given to her by her husband out of his earnings or the coin fell out of a large crack in the bank jar she was saving it in from her earnings. How ever she had the money, this concept of "found money" leaves out the idea of a contract between two persons -- one vowing to  give with the understanding that God would provide.
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A vow, according to the dictionary, is a solemn promise to God to perform some act or make some gift or sacrifice. In addition, it can be a pledge of faithfulness to or contract between two persons. For instance, Hannah made a vow out of the anguish of her heart, so vows or pledges were not uncommon in the Scriptures.  
 
"Oh, Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life," [1 Samuel 1:11]
 
So I promise to give if God provides, simple as that.  In the book of Matthew, in the New 
Testament,  there is a story of God's provision.
 
"After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?"
"Yes, he does," he replied.
When people came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes-- from their own sons or from others?"
"From others," Peter answered.
"Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him, "But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch;  open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours." [~ Matthew 17: 24-27]
 
What did you notice about this story?
 
First of all, I saw that Jesus said the sons of the King were under no obligation to pay the temple tax (used for the maintenance of the temple), however, in order not to rock the boat, so to speak, and make the tax collectors angry ( they were the heavy-weight bouncer guys at the front door), Jesus said to Peter, "Go to the lake, and throw out your line."  
 
Peter,  B.C. (before Christ), earned his living by fishing. However, Jesus didn't tell Peter to earn the money to pay the tax.  He did not tell Peter to throw out his line, catch a fish and sell it, did he? Nope. He said, "Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find, you guessed it,  money."  Secondly,  I saw that Peter believed the money would be provided. As it turned out, it was enough to pay the temple tax for both himself and Jesus.
 
So, like Hannah, I still have a contract between God and myself. I pledged to give if he provides this year. Since he holds all the wealth of heaven, compared to my earnings, which is zilch since I'm a housewife with no extra income of my own, any money found by myself or coming unexpectedly to me has been provided by God.

And speaking of that, I found two more pennies and a dime in the laundry and a dividend check came in the mail this week. I was surprised when I saw the check for $1.37, as I had previously been told I had received my last check for that account, being paid in full. I'm giving God all the glory for his FISH money! Combined with my previous total and today's FISH money, today's total is $4.14.

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By the way, we've put on our thinking caps for FISH acronyms. We've come up with "Found Incredible Silver Hope," "Faithful In Surprising Me," "Forgiven, I Serve Him," and "Faithful in Serving Him," "Fund In, Supporting Hope,"  and "Friendly Involvement Starts Here."  Which do you like the best?  Or, please share,  if you think of one better than these.


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"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." (Hebrews 12:28).