Sermoncitos, a family tradition
Tithes and Offerings
We are one small branch in a worldwide Church in which there were more than 272,800 convert baptisms in 2006. Last year Lupton Branch had one, and this year we had one. The net increase for children of record during 2006 in all the Church was more than 94,000 (about a million new members now being added every three years or less). Lupton also has children of record who should be baptized at age 8, but none have been brought forth. Worldwide is not just a word as since February 1996 more than half of all Church members now reside outside of the United States. The total number of missions around the world is 347 with over 52,000 missionaries, yet that is not enough to assign missionaries full time to our branch, so we have to do the priesthood assignments ourselves. Lupton branch has also sent out missionaries in the past, but there are none now. The Church currently has full translations of the Book of Mormon printed in 77 languages. Book of Mormon selections are published in 28 additional languages including Navajo, but few members are learning and practicing Navajo reading. We can show our faith in Jesus Christ by learning and sharing the Gospel.
There are 8,254 meetinghouses internationally, a 10 percent growth rate over the past five years. That trend is also reflected in the United States, where there are 6,361 meetinghouses, or a 9.6 percent growth rate for the same time period. Many of these meetinghouses accommodate several congregations. When we lost our chapel we were placed on a list along with over 800 other new buildings each year, and eventually our turn came, a big investment on behalf of a small branch. In addition the Church supports museums, information centers, family history centers, social services, disaster relief, educational institutions and scholarships, welfare and employment centers, and many more expenses. Although most of the church workers are volunteers, there are great costs involved in building and operating and maintaining the Kingdom of God in all the countries of the world. All this money comes from the tithes and offerings of the members. All the work of the Church is done by volunteers. The tithing of the Church members paid for our new building and everything we need in the building. We must work to clean and maintain this building every week, teach the lessons, and visit the members.
Now that we have a building again, we are returning to the meetings, but we need also to return to God. “Return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts. Why do people need to be reminded to return to God? When we depart from God by depending on our own strength, the consequences should humble us and make us want to rely on the strength of God. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine” (Proverbs 3:5-10). We each joined this Church because of a testimony of Jesus Christ as our Savior. We show our devotion to God by being available to serve.
Not paying tithing (10% of your increase) brings a curse upon your family, but paying tithing brings financial blessings. “Ye are cursed with a curse, for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. The Lord challenges us to try it, and promises more blessings than we have room to receive. ”Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her” (Rev. 18: 8). “Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming” (D&C 64: 23). When fire took our meetinghouse, there was no insurance company paying the bill. Church fire insurance is the same as it always has been in the Kingdom of God: tithing. Those members of the Church who paid their tithing brought a blessing upon our little branch: a new meetinghouse.
Tithing has been the Lord’s plan for financial prosperity since the beginning. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house; and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. In addition to the financial blessing, there is more: And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the fields, saith the Lord of Hosts. Tithing is the way we got a new building, but it is not a contribution or an option, it is a commandment with a blessing.
We are the “trial by fire” church. 1 Peter 1: 7-9. “Trial by fire” is a term used by Peter to refer to the intensity of the challenge to the people’s faith. “That the trial of your faith, being more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire... yet believing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory... ... receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Peter reminds us that the trial of our faith, even if tried with fire, has the potential to bring us great blessings.
When we lost our building, our faith was tested. Now that we have a new meetinghouse, we have the opportunity to exercise our faith by being together, helping each other overcome temptation, and contributing our share to this community. May we all seek the promised prosperity and peace by following correct principles, including accepting the call to serve, studying, and sharing the Gospel. Now we have a new building, let’s qualify for it by paying our share of tithes and offerings and thus show the Lord we trust Him.