God's Advance Provision
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The most expensive perfume in the world is Clive Christian's Imperial Majesty. It sells for 12,721.89 an ounce. When do you wear such perfume? On what occasion do you break out the bottle of Imperial Majesty and dab it behind your ears? How long does the scent last? At that price, do you dare take a shower for the next week?

Mary had a pound of perfume. If she had purchased Clive Christian's Imperial Majesty, she would've been out 203,355.02. Now Mary indeed had Imperial Majesty before her in the form of Jesus Christ. He is the Imperial Majesty. He is the  Lord of Lord and King of Kings, but she didn't have that kind of money, nonetheless, you need to know what this perfume set her back.

According to the treasurer Judas Iscariot, she could've gotten 300 denarii for this perfume. What's a denarri? A denarri is equal to one day's wage. 300 days wages.Think about that. Most of you have looked at your W-2 lately as you have filled out your taxes. How much did you make last year?

Let's say you made 25,000. This perfume would be worth 20,500.  When you understand the extravagance of her gift, you get a better understanding of the great love she had for Jesus, and of course of the grumbling of the disciples. Who among us, wouldn't have been grumbling right along with them?

Something else needs to be said about Mary. She was the only one who “got it.” She understood where Jesus was going and what was going to happen to Him. She knew He was as good as dead, and she knew He was as good as alive. She might as well anoint Him now because she knew the grave wouldn't hold Him.

There's something very interesting about Mary that we all need to learn. Every time we read of her in Scripture, we find her at the feet of Jesus. Either learning from His teaching, or in prayer for her deceased brother Lazarus, or here in an act of worship.  

Mary “got it” because she spent time at the feet of Jesus. Remember what we said a couple of weeks ago about the feet of Jesus? Too many of us stop at His hands, “bless me Lord, do something for me” rather than at His feet, “'Lord, wherever you lead I will follow!”

Wherever Jesus leads is anointed! Spend time in His Word, learning of Him, spend time at His feet praying to Him, spend time at His feet worshiping Him.

Now, look at v6. At the time of Judas' grumbling it was not known he was a thief. How long would the disciples entrust him with the funds if they had knowledge of his larceny? John writes here with hindsight but hindsight well worth noting. Judas was a thief and used to take money from the treasury.

This was not discovered by an audit. This was revealed to John as he wrote this gospel and the Holy Spirit wants us to make special note of it. Why? Because it helps explain why Judas betrayed Jesus. And can serve as a warning to us.
As we have already said, this was a tidy sum of money and Judas would've loved to be able to line his pocket with a portion of it. We aren't told exactly when Judas started skimming off the top from the group's funds but based on this testimony of the Holy Spirit we know that he was thief.

He obviously was covetous, breaking the 9th and 10th commandment. He was a thief breaking the 7th commandment. He had become greedy and this greed was reigning in his heart, leaving no room for faith, as Kretzmann says in his commentary on this verse: “ with faith gone and greed reigning in his heart, it was an easy matter for the devil to take possession of Judas  to such an extent that he betrayed his Savior.”

That's what sin does. It opens the door for the devil. You can see how this works by just looking at the 10 commandments. If you ignore them long enough and have no regard for them, you can see how the devil gets strongholds in your life.  Skip church for a couple of weeks and see how easy it is to skip it regularly.

Be on guard with regards to keeping the commandments, lest you open the door for a faith damaging or even faith ending stronghold.

Who was Judas stealing from? The disciples? The supporters of Jesus? No! He was stealing from Jesus! Some people hang out at the feet of Jesus. Some hang out at His hands, but thieves hang out at His wallet. God owns everything,  Ps 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord's and all its fullness.” That means He owns everything.  Judas was robbing God. We really need to see this leat we become thieves in our own right.

Malachi writes in Mal 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, (How do you get cursed with a curse? You break a commandment

Dt 11:26-28, “Behold I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; and the curse if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God…..”Thou shalt not steal.

Thankfully God has given us a way to reverse the curse, and that is to repent of our sins, and by faith receive Jesus Christ who became the curse for us.

Gal 3:13, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” Thankfully our years of a lack of tithing can be and will be forgiven.

But that doesn't mean we should continue in that sin.

Our understanding must change as it regards the tithe, lest we open the door for the devil and create a stronghold for covetousness. We see it already in our love affair with materialism and mammon. How many things do we put before the tithe? How  many have already betrayed Christ for the sake of money and left the faith.  

We fall into the trap and call it our “giving” It's not giving, it already belongs to Him! It's returning a mere 10 % of what He has given to us! Anything less, as the Scripture has shown us is robbing God, a violation of the seventh commandment.

All right God, I see this now! I have sinned against You. I have confessed it and put it under the blood of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Now what?

Mal 3:10-12  - “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, (the church, the local congregation) that there may be food in My house, and prove 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 receive it. 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; and all the nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land says the Lord of hosts.”

Starting now….bring it.  That's our part, He does the rest.

I was reading an article this week by a man named Larry Stockstill, and he said something about the tithe that I've never thought of before. He says the “tithe belongs to the Lord as His advance provision.”

You can see that in the Malachi passage. Tithe first, then provision. Paul talked about this in 2 Cor 9:6 “But this I say, He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”

Sowing speaks of advance provision. We don't know how far in advance, that's up to the Lord. Again the passage of Malachi talks about a storehouse. A storehouse is advance provision for those in need in the Lord's house.

Stockstill pointing to the donkey provided for Jesus on Palm Sunday as the Lord's advance provision. That little donkey was there  by God's prophetic command as we read earlier in Zech 9:9. It was marked out centuries before as provision for what the King would need in that generation.

What is your tithe marked out for? What kind of advance provision is God looking at for His kingdom? Is there a single parent who will have a financial need met? An unemployed father who needs to put food on the table? Will a missionary receive part of that tithe and share the gospel with someone who would never have heard it otherwise? Will a word be spoken from this pulpit that will change a life in this generation or the next?  We really don't know!

One thing we do know….there will be a return. Listen again to the instructions  that Jesus gave His disciples as found in Mark 11:2,3, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which noone  has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. ( Unleash God's advance provision and bring it to the Lord!) If anyone asks you, “why are you doing this? Tell him, “The Lord needs it (for His kingdom work) AND WILL SEND IT BACK SHORTLY!

God's advance provision is the tithe and He will send it back shortly. “Prove Me now in this, if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be enough room to receive it.

Stop looking at the tithe as if God were robbing you of ten percent of your income, rather remember that it is part of His advance provision for the His kingdom and He is using it as an opportunity to bless you.

When we tithe we become like Mary at the feet of Jesus,  rather than at His hands or His wallet. We are saying here Lord, I am returning what you have already given to me, use this for the advance provision for wherever Your feet may go.

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