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I happen to think that prayer is a pretty important subject, and not many people would object to a sermon or even a series of sermons on the subject of prayer. With over four times as many references to money and possessions in the scripture, I think that is a subject that merits our consideration, perhaps even more than actually do. Why are we so afraid to talk about money? Perhaps itís because there are some TV preachers who have tainted our thinking about money. They beg and plead with people to send in their money, and people who canít afford it do it. Perhaps itís because the world sees the church as greedy. They see some churches building huge cathedral type buildings while people live in poverty down the block.
The truth is, however, that what the Bible says about money and possessions is related to who is number one in our life. Is God number one, or is the self number one? Consider that question as we look at our scripture passage today. Turn with me to Malachi chapter 3. Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament.
Read Malachi 3:6-10.
Do words ever jump out at you when you read something? You can be sitting there reading along, and all of a sudden, this word just kind of jumps right off the page and smacks you. Well, the word that jumps out at me here is the word ďrob.Ē Four times in verses 8 and 9, the word ďrobĒ appears, or some variation of the word. Robbery is a pretty serious charge. Only murder and rape would be considered worse crimes in our culture. Itís one of the Ten Commandments. There are several types of robbery. There is forceful robbery where someone uses a weapon and threatens the victim. There are also more passive methods. Embezzlement is robbery. Over the last few years the crime of identity theft has cropped up. Robbery can also come in the form of cheating. Robbery is a very serious charge.
Robbery also affects many people as well. As we examine this passage today, letís consider three entities that are affected by the type of robbery that the prophet Malachi talks about. The first isÖ
I. Robbing GOD.
The first thing that Malachi tackles is the robbing of God. Robbing God is not something to be taken lightly. We rob God, when we deny him what is rightfully his. We deny him what is rightfully his when we withhold our tithe from him. The tithe is defined as 1/10, or 10%, of our income.
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