looks for, and delights in, our freewill offerings. Freewill means what
of your own free will.
does not mean something that has been demanded out of you, embarrassed
out of you, or given because guilt or condemnation has been placed upon
you. It does not mean something that has been given for fear of the
consequences of not giving it.
Freewill means freewill.
is precious because it is a true indicator of our heart's condition.
and again and again and again we read of the term freewill offering in
the Old Testament. We read of it because it is foundational to
understanding God's heart.
are a few examples
Exodus 35:29 The
children of Israel brought a freewill offering to the LORD, all
the men and women whose hearts were willing to bring material for all
kinds of work which the LORD, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be
Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with the
tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall
give as the LORD your God blesses you.
Afterwards they offered the regular burnt offering, and those for New
Moons and for all the appointed feasts of the LORD that were
consecrated, and those of everyone who willingly offered a freewill
offering to the LORD.
Eason's Commentary explains freewill offerings as follows
offering - a spontaneous gift (Ex. 35:29), a voluntary sacrifice (Lev.
22:23; Ezra 3:5), as opposed to one in consequence of a vow, or in
expiation of some offence.
In other words an
offering given to the Lord freely, spontaneously, willingly, voluntarily
abundantly and plentifully. Freely, joyfully and generously might
sum it up.
New Testament Paul spoke so highly of those who though not wealthy gave
generously of their own free will to further his ministry.
2 Corinthians 8:2 - 4
that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of
their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their
liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability,
yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely
willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive
the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the
Note that Paul did not manipulate these gifts from
them. He did not pressurize them blatantly or subtly. These were gifts
given freely from God honoring hearts.
Paul made it clear that he demanded no fee for
preaching the gospel.
11:7 Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted,
because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge?
3: 7- 9 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were
not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge,
but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a
burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make
ourselves an example of how you should follow us.
Paul did not want
to have collections but asked people to set aside money for the saints
so that he could take their gifts to the work in Jerusalem.
16:1-3 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given
orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first
day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up
as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And
when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to
bear your gift to Jerusalem.
along this line of thought let me declare what this is not about.
It is right that
Christians support the work of the Kingdom. Like many others I tithe
on all monies that I receive and bring that tithe to the church. (On top
of that there are what scripture calls alms to the poor as the Lord
long before the law came in through Moses. In the opening book of the
Bible we read..
18 - 20 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.
Then in the
closing book of the Old Testament we read..
Malachi 3: 8 - 9
Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, In what way
have we robbed You In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with
a curse, For you have robbed Me.
In the New
Testament Jesus did not withdraw that command to tithe but stated that
it was only a part of the whole as regards one's heart for the Kingdom
Luke 11:41- 43
But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things
are clean to you. But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint
and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of
God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues
and greetings in the marketplaces.
So bringing your
tithe to the house of God so that there may be food there is something
God asks for and for which He promises a blessing
Malachi 3: 10 -
11 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be
food in My house, And try Me now in this,?
Says the LORD of hosts, If
I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you
such blessing that there will not be room enough to
And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that
he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to
bear fruit for you in the field,? says the LORD of hosts;
I am talking
about freewill offerings that go towards another person's ministry to
the saints. And there are many such ministries. Christian Restoration in
Ireland is just one of thousands raised up by God.
Now if God calls
I believe He supplies by His hand. He does not need my hand or my
oratory skill or my years of successful experience in advertising and
marketing to manipulate the people in order to see the ministry
supplied. If there is
a famine I need to seek the Lord's face urgently
as He is the supplier.
From the study on charities
on this site you will learn that I will not submit the ministry God has
given me to the world system in order to get money back from the
government. I will gladly render unto Caesar what Caesar is due, but I
do not look to Caesar to help fund God's call on my life.
I see some of the alternative means of acquiring ministry funds I would settle for nothing
less than radical trust in God to provide for what He has asked of me.
Let me give some
examples of the alternative. And I will not name Ministry names that
perform negatively in this area as that
does the Kingdom of God no credit. (except where links make it obvious)
But I will set
down what I understand to be, clear, God glorifying, Kingdom principles
and use a variety of examples to show that we need to be aware of
certain unsatisfactory fund raising practices and not be intimidated by
A young Ukrainian
called Vitaly was employed on Christian work for one year in the United
Kingdom. He got board and lodging and £13 per week spending money. At
the end of the year he returned to his home country.
Some months later
mail arrived for him but the ministry he had worked for had no
forwarding address so they opened the mail to see if there was anything of
appeared to be signed by the hand of a well-known ministry leader
The beginning and
end of the letter read as follows..
When I was
reviewing the 2004 annual giving receipts, I noticed your receipt was
missing, I thought this must be a mistake. When I investigated, I
discovered that you hadn't made any donation in the year 2004. Please
consider giving a gift to save lost souls..
please don't miss an opportunity to sow seed into fertile soil. Give a
gift now to reach souls in this new year! Give and it will be given to
you.. for with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Luke
Now one can sense
all sorts of pressure and manipulation at work here.
The ministry in
question is reputed to receive $40,000,000 a year which would mean many
many thousands of 'receipts'.
Not for one moment
do I imagine that this man was personally as he declared - going through
tens of thousands of receipts and noticed that Vitaly's little amount
was missing, and presumed it was a mistake, only to find out - after he
investigated - that he had sent in no donation to that ministry all
media have had much feeding on the money raising antics of Christian
One such painful
documentary looked into the
fund raising behavior of television's then largest ministry. It was
estimated to be bringing in $80,000,000 per year. Like many such ministries
it encouraged people to send in prayer requests. When people are
desperate for help and send in a prayer request or to receive
something free they often enclose money as a thank you
This ministry had
the responses sent directly to their bank, where the letters were
opened, the money removed, and the prayer requests dumped in a waste
skip out side.
documentary team looked in the skip there were envelopes slit open, the
money removed and the prayer requests still inside the envelopes.
Ten years ago a
friend of the family was dying of cancer. A family friend wrote to one
of the big TV ministries asking for prayer. She got a letter back noting
the request for prayer and asking for a donation to be sent to the
ministry. The distraught woman came to my sister with the letter to ask
how much she should send for the prayer. Wisely my sister gave her the
best answer she could by tearing the money request in two and binning
I am glad to
report that that particular ministry does not do that anymore, but it
seems that the practice stopped only after public outcry.
and a common one.
First a bit of
background. A well-known Christian speaker was visiting Belfast and I
felt led to attend his one night meeting. I thought the leading was so
that I would be blessed by learning something new about the Kingdom, but
sadly it was to learn about much that was wrong with the Kingdom.
First the music
was noisy and repetitive, more about exciting the soul emotions rather
than ushering us into the presence of the Lord. But I could live with
that. Then the bandleader told us that he had been blessed that week by
a pay rise and the purchase at a low price of some acoustic equipment
that he had wanted for some time. Then he asked us all to stand and turn
around to face the back of the hall, which we all obediently did. Then
we were told to place our hand on the shoulder of the person in front.
prophesied over us that as we were all facing the way he was facing the
blessings that were upon him would now move from him to us in the next
showed some excitement, but older Christians knew it was piffle and
embarrassing piffle at that.
Then the host for
the night explained to us that getting in touch with God was like
groping along heavy hotel curtains looking for the opening in order to
get through to the Throne Room, and that every time the opening was in a
slightly different place.
I thought that
the veil had been rent from top to bottom and that we had access to the
Throne any time day or night, same yesterday and tomorrow.
So far not so
The speaker then
came on and said that a collection was going to be taken up and we were
to ask God what was on our hearts to give. A quick check in my spirit
and there was nothing I wanted to give. That was my freewill choice.
But I hadn't
bargained on the subtle manipulation.
envelope on your seat the speaker said. Put your cheque or your money
into it please.
Naturally I did
not reach for my envelope.
Then he asked
everyone to hold their envelopes up in the air so that he could bless
Suddenly I stood
out in the crowd as the only one in my row who was not holding up an
envelope. The hands were kept up for quite a while as he spoke.
And suddenly I
cracked. I quickly reached into my pocket for paper money, put it into
the envelope and rather embarrassingly joined everyone else in the row.
Minutes later I
was so annoyed with myself for being so easily manipulated. The evening
got worse and later I quietly left.
As I sat in the
lobby of the large hotel confused as to why I had felt led to attend
that night I felt the Lord speak into my spirit and say, I wanted you
to see what is going on in my Name.
talking to a vulnerable Christian man in Northern Ireland who had given
and given and given to television ministries until he was in financial
difficulties. He said the speaker announced that God told him never to
come before Him without a sacrifice, and so this man started sacrificing his
meager income. Another television ministry has used this.[8
sacrifice is Jesus, the Lamb of God, which is why we come before God in
Jesus' Name. Through His sacrifice. Nothing to do with our money.
vulnerable Christian in Southern Ireland told me in ministry that he was
financially broke as he had given so much away to television ministries.
Sadly he was trying to win God's favor, not understanding that he already
had God's favor through Jesus work on the cross.
He had also been
told again and again by those on TV that what ever he gave would be
given back to him, pressed down etc, so he gave and gave, eagerly
waiting for God's exorbitant financial return. Such an investment
attitude while based on truth is in the wrong spirit. Akin to investing
in shares that are guaranteed to only go up.
There is truth in
the seed and harvest theology. But when financial manipulators begin to
play with that theology it becomes merely another marketing tool.
There are many vulnerable Christians
out there, and these 'spiritual' appeals can be
devastating in their effect.
Even open collection
plates can be a subtle form of manipulation as the person on
either side of you can see what you put on the plate and the pressure
is then on to be seen to be generous and spiritual. Clothe bags
and plastic buckets allow a measure of privacy.
need finance as fuel. Amazingly, God knows this when He raises up a
ministry. If that ministry walks in obedience it will not fail
through God's weakness or forgetfulness. If He needs our carnal
manipulation to achieve His ends we have a problem.
known occasionally, or asking graciously now and then is not unseemly.
is fine. Books, CD's, seminars, conferences etc.
People have a
there is high pressure or prolonged pressure, when there is emotional or
spiritual manipulation, then I believe we cross the Kingdom line.
We are now trusting in the arm of flesh.
Not only that,
but if the only way a ministry can operate on a day to day basis is to
relentlessly harass and manipulate Christians into giving, then it is
time to step back and accept that somewhere along the way you have lost
Asking people to
pay for a teaching course or conference and then asking for more money
during the event is fine as long as it is
done without the subtle pressure of your giving - or should you
choose - your non giving,
being clearly seen by everyone else as the plate is passed round, as
most people (sadly me included) often crack under that subtle but strong pressure
and give whether we wanted to or not, and whether we can afford to or not. The
true cost of the course is thus more than was advertised.
God honours our
freewill choice. That is why promises from God begin with 'if you...'
In fact that
phrase 'if you' is used 354 times in the Bible. From
Genesis 4:7 through to Revelation 3:3
I attended one
meeting some years ago where a visiting speaker spent fifteen minutes
soulishly exciting the crowd about the miracles God continually worked
through him in his home country, and the miracles that he was certain
would take place that night. Before the evening's promised miracles he
asked for a collection to be taken and I recall putting all that I had
with me into the basket. Then he announced that he had been asking the
Lord for a £3,000 movie camera to enable him to film the miracles in his
home country and he believed the Lord was telling him that we were the
very people chosen to provide that, so he announced that he would
immediately be taking a second collection. It was too much and I
quietly slipped out of the meeting. There were no miracles that
If you sign up for a Ministry Newsletter
or make a purchase from a large ministry you
run a more than reasonable chance of receiving regular requests for donations. In
some cases this pursuit can be relentless and because
it is accompanied by verses of scripture and the veiled threat that
souls may be lost if you do not deliver, the more vulnerable
keep giving, either in case they are offending God, or to win some favour
A member of our
prayer ministry team is literally plagued by one ministry that he
contacted just once many years ago. He receives two to three emails per
week, year in year out, pleading for money. Apparently great crusades
may not be able to take place unless he makes a last minute donation.
Somehow they always do take place, and it is no surprise that the leader
lives in stunning luxury that has attracted much media attention.
On a more
positive note, when he purchased something from John Bevere's Messenger
International Ministry nearly ten years ago he was told at the time
that he would never receive a begging letter and he never has.
They even sent him a free CD for no apparent reason, with no strings
whatsoever attached. He felt well blessed. Well done Messenger
International for setting a good example.
But the worst, oh
the worst, is reserved for some of the antics on television.
for God's work enters a new dimension here.
Last week (as I
write this in April 2009), we were back again to selling blessings for
church was born out of the revolt against the church selling spiritual blessings.
Tetzel was the church's most able raiser for the construction of St.
Peter's Basilica in Rome. He was a German Dominican preacher remembered
for selling indulgences and for a couplet attributed to him, "As soon as
a coin in the coffer rings the soul from purgatory springs.
The belief was
(and still is in the Roman Catholic theology) that indulgences are
merits acquired by Jesus' sacrifice and the virtues and penances of the
saints. They are granted for specific good works and prayers.
Ninety-five Theses that triggered the Protestant reformation were in the main a
reaction to the selling of blessings
So with that
background in mind let's go back now to the selling of blessings by the
The man with the
microphone, was talking loudly, excitedly, sweat dripping profusely from
his brow on to the shoulders of his suit.
For those who
sent in $77 dollars the following blessings would be theirs..
leave their home, an angel would be dispatched to them immediately and
they would have all the days allotted to them.
The message was
continually repeated on wording that ran along the bottom of the screen
Angels for $77.
There's a bargain.
I assumed from
Hebrews chapter 1:14 that angels were ministering spirits sent to serve
(all) those who will inherit salvation and that they are with us to
carry out that task. Others are sent in request by prayer or in times of
great need or danger.
Not for sale at
A digital board
at the side of the screen displayed the growing numbers of people who
were phoning in with their 77 dollars. It was at number 16 when I switched
over, ashamed of what I was seeing yet again.
A little research
showed that this was not the first time he had used the
number 7 to extract money with promises of blessings from God.
He has also used
income tax as a leverage.
I listened in shock as another preacher blatantly misused scripture to raise
The excited non
stop talking speaker would have a chapter number and a verse number
which would then equate to the amount of money that should be donated
in order to receive the blessing of that verse.
impression was that the Holy Spirit was leading the ministry fund raiser this way.
sounded like this.. I'm getting Psalm 145 verse 14. Whoever sends in
$145 dollars 14 cents will receive the following blessing..
leader told me of the horror he endured when one of his fellow platform
speakers at a major conference announced that he would be giving
personal prophetic words in exchange for certain amounts of money.
The selling of blessings again.
He was too
embarrassed to intervene, but afterwards deeply regretted that he had
not used his authority as one of the platform speakers to stop the
The end might
seem good, to provide money for the promoting of God's Kingdom, but
such means are an abomination. An abomination. And it brings shame on
the Body of Christ.
So bad is the
Christian reputation for 'money grabbing' that a non Christian
acquaintance, when we occasionally talk on the phone, starts imitating
TV evangelists shouting "God loves you, now give me your money" He
thinks it is hilarious. It just saddens me.
Imagine God, who
owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and the earth that the thousand
hills sit on, and the galaxy that the earth sits in, and the universes
that the galaxy sits in, needing such cheap manipulating tactics to get
money to build and to maintain His church.
So let's retune
into God's heart in the area of freewill offering.
If God calls us
to ministry He can
move hearts that honour Him without our manipulating skills.
I must give
mention to St Saviour's Church in Guilford. I have never been
there but my sister and many friends have. Always a place of blessing.
There is a collection plate at the door, where people who have can put
money in, and if any have need can take money out.
Oh savor the
beauty of that as a declaration from God to a greedy world, set against some of
the money hungry television tactics that they see.
When Jesus is
truly the Lord of your finances, rest in that, and trust Him to lead you
gently and wisely. Do not let clever manipulation, social embarrassment,
false guilt or greed for 'an increase' lead you. Do what God asks in the
right God honoring spirit and He will bless you in whatever way He sees
fit. He is no man's debtor but He will not be manipulated by you or by
anyone else. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.
If you start
raising money in the flesh to keep your ministry afloat then deep inside
you know that you must maintain it with the flesh and your activity in
this area increases, rather than decreases.
This ministry, and
I can only speak for it, has never taken up a collection, never demanded a fee (though graciously received such as given freely) and has
never sought to manipulate money out of people.
For instance at
our Prayer Ministry school, the delegates are told that there is no charge
for notes or the very welcome tea and biscuits afterwards. If
they feel led, and only if they do, they are free to put money in a
basket outside the classroom where no one will see them and where
neither I nor anyone else on the team will know if and what they gave.
Whatever is there
we know has indeed been a freewill offering, and all glory to God.
All I can
say is that to date (15 years this month) this ministry has never had debt.
Every need has been met. God has provided.
The best example
of truly trusting God for the fuel of finance that I have yet
on my travels are the
Evangelical Sisters of Mary founded in 1947 by
Basilea Schlink within the framework
of the German Evangelical Protestant Church.
They ask for no money
but through prayer rely on God to know and supply all their needs. If
the supply dries up they come together and look for sin in the camp, and
when it is found, confessed and repented off the supply returns. Their
50th anniversary was 1997. They invited 1,100 people who had been a
blessing to them to a celebration at their German headquarters. Everyone
was put up in nearby hotels. Everything was free and there was no
offering asked for or taken up. Yet when they opened the freewill
offering boxes in the centre there was nearly double the amount needed
to cover the celebration. Isn't that challenging faith? It
certainly challenges me.
I also admire the well
known South African farmer called
He has a worldwide ministry, seeing thousands come to faith, and seeing
many miracles of healing during his crusades. His annual men's event on
his farm attracts up to
200,000 men. He has a simple child like faith that touches me
deeply. He never takes up an offering and yet every time God provides
the necessary finances.
Church, we have
much to learn. Much to grow into. So please
let's get back to trusting the hand of God rather than the arm of flesh.
Seek first the
Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added
on to you.
God really is good. And able.