Archive for the ‘bible’ Category

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In this blog post I attempt to discuss the different views people have regarding the Rapture.  What is the Rapture?  The word “Rapture” is a Latin word for the words “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.  The concept is that the Lord will return for believers (John 14:3 and Acts 1:9-11).  1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 says that those who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…”  The context of this concept from chapter 4 is found in 1:10 which says, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”  Some things stand out, like the promise of the Lord’s return.  Also there is a wrath that is coming.  This word “wrath” is not defined for us until 5:9, which says “For did not appoint us to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  The context of the word “wrath” here is found in the preceding verses.  5:4 says, “But you brethern are not in darkness so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.”  The word “Day” is referring to the concept of the Day of the Lord (5:2).  The Day of the Lord is an OT concept, that has two phases 1. God’s judgment against sinful people 2. God’s eternal reign over His people (Joel 2:28-32; Isaiah 13:9-11; Zephaniah 1:14-18; 3:14-15).  The book of Joel as a whole is an exposition of the Day of the Lord.  On a side note, it is important to understand that the word “Day” is not meaning an actual 24 hour period, but rather a span of time.  In this 1 Thessalonians book, Paul uses the phrase Day of the Lord to refer to Christ’s return and coming Judgment.

The college and seminary I went to did me a favor in the way I was to approach the bible.  They taught me not a systematic theology (although I took all the courses on that), but to be a bible expositor.  What does that mean?  It means to read the bible and look at key factors before I interpret like 1. the Grammar 2. Language (Greek or Hebrew) 3. the audience 4. the style 5. Historical.  Why is this important?  Many today feel the need to read the bible through their systematic theology rather than allowing the bible to speak for itself.  This is extremely easy to do.  For example, many of a Reformed Church background like to substitute the church for Israel in scripture.  Therefore, the promises of God to Israel are now meant for believers.  Israel rejected Christ therefore, the promises transfer to the church.  The problem with this way of looking at scripture is that the context twisted.  It can lead a person down a slippery slope.  In my opinion, legalism usually follows close behind.

What does this have to do with the Rapture?  The audience and context is highly important when one reads the bible, especially concerning prophecy.  The Rapture is a biblical concept that means to be caught up to meet Jesus in the air.  My next blog will be about the different views on when the Rapture will take place.

 

 

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Recently I have been having a conversation with an individual who did not believe in the freeness of the Gospel.  This gentleman tried to tell me that while salvation is initially free (meaning we had to just believe), in order to keep or have it we also had to Remain in Christ, obey, love Him.  All of these conditions were necessary in order to go to heaven.  It was as if he wanted it both ways.  He wanted to merit his salvation.  We are not required to prove to God that Jesus did not wasted His blood for us.  All Christ asks us to do is believe in Him (John 3:16, 6:57).   I have no problem with the things his man proposed for Christians to do, they are things Christians should be doing.  However, our eternal destination is not based upon them, rather it is the finished work of Christ.  To add a list to Christ’s work is to say what He did on the cross was not enough.  John wrote his Gospel so that people would believe in Jesus and that by believing we have life (John 20:31).  If other conditions were necessary then when the jailor asks Paul in Acts 16:30 what must he do to be saved, the response should be “Well believe, but then if you must remain in Christ, obey and love Him.  If you fail in these things then may be you never really believed to begin with or you needed to strive harder to merit eternal salvation.”  It was a simple, straightforward question Paul was asked and he gave a direct answer.  Believe in Jesus, that was all he had to do.  For the jailor this was different than what he grew up with there in Philippi.  There he had to please and appease the gods.  He was used to continually doing something in order to stay in good favor with the gods.  Nothing was free.  Yet salvation is.  Still today man strives to do something for his salvation.  All Jesus asks is to simply believe.

The gentleman I spoke with also referenced the Gospel I spoke of as “Cheap Grace.”  I thought it was interesting he used the term because it is “cheap grace,” because it is Free!  Jesus died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2) and all the world has to do is believe in Him.  It is simple and easy.

Some might say, “Hey where is the accountability here?”  I’m glad you asked the question because we will judged according to our works the things done in our bodies (2 Corinthians 5, 1 Corinthians 3:12-15).  We are accountable for how we live.  We should be laying for ourselves treasures in heaven.  Our focus should be on eternal things, not the here and now.  The things of this earth will pass away.

Salvation is free.  There is nothing I can do to merit it.  Nothing I can do to prove to God I am worthy enough.  He has done the work, all He asks is for us to believe.  In a world where religions and churches demand so much from people.  True Christianity stands in stark contrast.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  I like the use of the word “have” in this passage because it implies that we “have” everlasting life the moment we believe.  It’s free.  Will you believe in Jesus today?

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I was at a camp when I heard about the war between Israel and Hamas.  This skirmish should come as no surprise to believers because the conflict is written in the Bible.  The unrest will continue despite President Obama’s best efforts.  The peace will only happen albeit temporarily when the Beast (of Revelation) or King of the North (Daniel 11) strikes a covenant.  This covenant will assure the world of a false peace and will signal the start of the Tribulation (Daniel 9:23-24).  While the US plays a major role today in the peace talks it will soon find itself on the outside looking in.  Someone new will step in and be able to do what no other nation could do.

This individual will use his new found fame to capture the attention of the world.  The Tribulation will be a turbulent time to say the least.  However, the Beast will grow in popularity until all the world recognizes him and worships him.  The ironic part is the message that the new atheism espouses about the end of Faith.  I have been amazed by how they evolutionist and humanist alike can speak of the end of God with confidence and yet ignore what is happening right before their eyes.  Say what you will, disagree with me but there is an unrest in the Middle East and in Russia, that should make the world take note and pause.  As the old saying goes, “There are no atheist in foxholes.”  Everyone believes or exercises faith in something.  Now that faith may be in science.  Those who exercise their faith in science feel comfortable because they believe they have the facts or at least smarter people in their corner.  The god of atheism is the god called self.  Or as Richard Dawkins might put it, “The selfish Gene.”  Nevertheless, despite this new atheism the world will exercise faith and put that faith in the Beast of Revelation.  It will be a fatal mistake.

When will all these events take place?  They are beginning to happen, but the next event on God’s time table is the Rapture of His church (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).  Afterwards the covenant with Israel will be signed.

What do we do now?  Put your faith in Jesus for eternal life (John 6:47).  You do not need to join a church or get baptized in order to be saved.  You simply need to believe in the Son (Acts 16:30-31).

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This blog called Prophecy for Today is one that specializes in bible prophecy.  I do not believe in just spewing doomsday dogma at people on the Internet.  Over the past year it has been amazing to me to find support as well as opposition.  Most of the opposition I have been given has been people who do not believe in the authority of the bible.  I always find it very interesting when they comment or try to get a rise out of me.

I am not a doomsday prepper.  I also do not endorse people running for the hills and isolating themselves in fear of what may happen to this world.  Jesus said in Luke’s Gospel, “For whosever desires to save his life will lose it, but whosever loses his life for My sake will save it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and is himself destroyed or lost?” (9:24-25).  The very thing preppers attempt to do is hold on or protect their life.  As Jesus said it is the very thing they will lose.  It is not wrong to work hard and make money and have nice things.  But if that is all we live for then it is pointless, because we gain everything then when we die we lose it all.  Or the stock market crashes and then we lose it all.  Instead of wasting time prepping we should be using that time that God gives us to share the truth of what Jesus did for the world (1 John 2:2).

Jesus came to earth to give humanity hope through faith in Him.  John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  Another way to say the word “begotten” is only.  The emphasis is on the fact that Jesus was God’s only Son.

I do not believe in prepping or storing canned goods.  I believe in a Holy, loving, gracious, and Just God.  Throughout the bible whenever God judged the world or nations, He always provided a way of escape.  He did this during the flood in Genesis 6 then with Moses in Egypt.  God has a plan and though I may not understand it completely I know that He will take of His people.  We have to walk by Faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).  Believe in Jesus for eternal life (John 6:47).

The Real Gospel

Posted: May 23, 2014 in bible, christianity, faith, truth
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The word Gospel means Good News.  It is the good news about Jesus.  I recently went to a conference and an old truth hit home to me.  The question was what sends people to Hell?  If you walk into any Christian bookstore you will notice a wall of the latest and greatest books.  Books that deal with many different topics about the bible and the Christian life.  A few of these books I have read over the years and found myself in serious disagreement with the author, like Francis Chan, John McArthur, and RC Sproul.

Theology is a system, which helps us look at God through the Bible.  The word “theology,” is the study of God.  Many different denominations and churches have different theologies.  Therefore, if your Theology is off then it will affect the way you read the bible.  The beautiful of the bible is that anyone can read it and understand it.  However, there are passages in the bible that can be difficult to understand, especially if we do not know the background, literary devices the writer is using, and culture significance.  This is the main problem with Evangelical Christianity today.  There has been a major influx of Reformed Theology that is influencing Christians today through the local Christian bookstore.  People see a popular author and pull out the book and lead to a works based system.  I read the book “Crazy Love,” and my thought was that Francis Chan was the one who was crazy.  As a pastor I can say that it is always a temptation to make the bible say what I want it to say.  However, I have a responsibility from God to rightly divide the word of truth.  As much as I do not want to spend time in my Greek, I make the sacrifice in order to lead the sheep correctly.  The God that Francis Chan serves is not the God that I know or serve.  The God I serve has a plan of salvation that is through faith ALONE in Jesus Christ (John 3:16 and 6:47).

What sends people to Hell?  It has nothing to do with sin.  Jesus already died for the sins of the world ) 1 John 2:1-2; John 3:16).  He died for ALL who have ever lived, currently living, and will live.  People die and go to Hell because they do not have life.  Life is only found in the Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:6).  It is after all the book of Life that will be opened and Revelation tells us that if people’s name are not found in it then they will go into the Lake of Fire (20:15).  God has removed the Sin problem of the world through His Son’s death and resurrection.  People only need to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life and they will be saved.  It is really that simple.

This blog post is not about bashing certain Christian authors, whom I disagree with.  However, it is about rightly dividing the truth and being discerning of the truth.  You might read this and disagree with everything I have written, which is totally fine.  Jesus paid it all so I do not have too.

It

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I went to the Lego Movie the other night with my wife.  It was a pretty cool movie and we enjoyed it.  However, in one of the previews of an upcoming IMAX movie on some animals really struck me.  The narrator called the animals mankind’s (or as people would say now humankind) relatives.  He stated it, not as a question but as fact.  It bothered me because of what the statement implied, which is man is only an animal.  There is no glory in him, there is nothing inspiring about him.  He was not created but merely evolved and is lucky.

It is this view that man is really an animal that has enabled him to pursue his own way of life apart form any moral accountability to God (or any god).  He is freed to do whatever he desires.  Some might argue that even those who profess a belief in God live the same way, which is sadly true.  However, a belief in God means that man can be something more and was created to be that way by a God that cares about him.

The prevailing belief today is that man is an animal and thus is his own god.  If everyone is their own god then there is no real truth and life IS meaningless.  Sure we can and do sugar coat it by doing good but there is no substance behind the good deeds.  As much as atheists will claim they have morals (which I do not doubt at all) there is nothing behind the morals but morals for morals sake.  What is then true for one person then is not for another.  There is no set moral code.  I am not suggesting this is anything recent as in the last 50 years.  Man has always attempted to make a life apart from God and even be a god himself.  However, the end of this way of thinking has never been a good one.

Genesis 1:26 tells us that man is created in God’s image.  When the bible says “Let us make man in our image, the Hebrew grammar suggests it means “Let us make man as our image.”  In ancient times an emperor might place statues of himself throughout the remote part of his land.  These symbols would declare that those areas were under his power and reign.  Therefore, God placed man in the world as a living symbol of Himself on earth to represent his reign.  This is why God gives the command for man to have dominion over the earth.  This is the reason God values people so much: We are made to reflect His majesty on earth.  There is a significance to mankind.  There is no chance or survival of the fittest.  One only has to look to the world created around him to understand if this is all random chance then they should go to Vegas and gamble it all.

God has created a world and given man the opportunity to know Him.

 

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A article in the Austin Statesman by New York Times writer Jim Yardley entitled “Pope urges World Peace reaches out to other faiths,” ran this past Thursday.  The pope in his first Christmas address urged the world to come together for peace.  He went on to say, “True peace is not a balance of opposing forces.  It is not a lovely facade which conceals conflicts and divisions.  Peace calls for daily commitment.”

Peace is a good thing.  I think any one reading this blog post including this writer would agree with that.  However, the bible claims that there will be no such thing as peace especially in these last days.  The Pope is welcomed to urge the world all he wants however, God has already spoken (Matthew 24:6,7).  The conflict in the Middle East is only the tip of the ice berg of what is to come in the Tribulation.

Matthew says there will wars and rumors of rumors of wars and that nation will rise up against nation.  These says are Jewish idioms for world wars.   There have already been two and there is still a yet third world war that is lurking on the horizon.  The third world war or possibly fourth by the end of the Tribulation will be when the Beast brings the armies of the world against Israel.  The Lord Jesus ends the war with His return (Revelation 19:11-21).

The perspective in which I write is a Pre-Tribulational view of Bible Prophecy.  This means I believe the Lord will return for believers before the Tribulation begins (Daniel 9:27, John 14:3, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 5:2-3).  Therefore, when I read that the Pope is urging the world for peace I think “That’s great, but it will not be a lasting peace.”  1 Thessalonians 5:3 says, “Peace and safety then sudden destruction comes upon them as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.  And they shall not escape.”  The is saying that the world will achieve some sort of peace (which I believe will happen when the Antichrist or Beast finally gets a covenant signed with Israel and their foes) this peace will not last because the signing of the covenant will signal the start of Tribulation.

All this talk of peace should be taken as a sign that the Lord’s return is coming soon.  Believers should be looking up (1 John 2:28).

I have not written this blog post in an attempt to scare any one.  The purpose of Prophecy for Today is to prepare saints for the Lord’s return and His future Kingdom.  I take a conservative approach to bible prophecy interpretation in order to ensure and allow the word to speak.  Thank you for stopping by.  God Bless.

 

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Are we in the End Times?  It is a question, which is on the mind of many people these days.  One only has to turn on the news and watch the conflict in the Middle East unfold.  Are these the last days?  Maybe.  Or maybe not. The book of Revelation is about God’s plan for future events and how they will be unfolding.

Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “God who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom he appointed heir of all things…”  I hope you were able to catch the words “last days.”  We are and have been living in the “last days” ever since Christ.  In God’s eyes these are the last days and He will come or Rapture His church before the day (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3).

What is next on God’s timetable of events?  I believe the next event is the Rapture of the church before the Tribulation.  The tribulation can only start once the covenant is signed between Israel and the Antichrist (Daniel 9:27).  However, the church is a mystery and was not on the radar of the Jews during Jesus’ time, which is highlighted by the parable in Matthew 22:1-14.  The Rapture can happen at any moment because it is not tied to any event or even what is happening in the world. God could rapture His church up and then twenty years from that point the Tribulation begins.  Or it be more time or less.  The point is the church needs to be ready.

As I look at what is happening in the world I do see events and things being set in place for Antichrist to come to power.  I was watching the news the other day and saw that the pope was taking a different approach or at least discussing a different stance on homosexuality than previous popes.  I thought this was huge.  This pope seems to be more about unity and bringing everyone together, which can be a good thing.  However, during the first three and half years of the Tribulation the world will be united under one religion.  Therefore, the pope’s statement to me is an indication of where religion is heading and will be during the first part of the Tribulation.  The last half of the Tribulation Antichrist will force everyone to worship him as a god.  The Antichrist will dispose of that faith one world faith (Revelation 17:1-14).

What does this mean for believers today?  We need to be ready for the Lord’s return (1 John 2:28).  We will not be in the Tribulation (1 Thessalonians 1:10).  Over the years I have run across a few pastors and Christian writers, who say that believers who are looking for the Lord’s return are only looking to escape.  They go on to speak about how believers should want to be in the Tribulation so they can make a difference.  While I understand their viewpoint, I believe they are misguided in saying that Christians should be looking to escape.  The Rapture is not about escaping, the Rapture is about God gathering His church to Himself.  The Lord made a promise to His people in John 14:1-3 and Jesus always keeps His promises.  Also since we do not know the hour or day He will return that means we need to be ready.  We should be out telling others about the Lord.  There should be a passion for His word and desire to go and tell.  This life can be mundane, however, God has called all believers to be the light in their corner of this dark world.  Therefore, in the moments, hours, days, weeks, months, or years we have left lets make the most of it.

We are in the last days and now is the time to live for Him.

Recently someone that has been following this blog proposed this question to me.  What happens when a child or teenager dies?  The reason for the question is because the youth may not know Jesus as their savior.   Therefore, what happens to them?  Do they go to a Christless eternity?  The Bible is silent for the most part on this subject, however, there are a couple of passages and examples that might shed some light where a youth would go.

It was almost two years go when a student in my youth group came into my office before youth group to talk, because his friend who was 17 at the time (roughly) had committed suicide.   I remember talking to this young man and counseling him.  After a few minutes he asked the obvious question, Is my friend in heaven or Hell?  I understood the background of the boy, who committed suicide, and knew that he did not know Jesus as his savior.  It was a difficult question to answer.

Before I go on and answer the question let me write that, how you view or answer this question is largely dependent upon your theological view.  I understand from Catholic friends that someone who commits suicide does not go to heaven.  I know some people, who believe in Lordship salvation that they have a hard time explaining a child getting saved or where a child goes when they die.  (By the way: Lordship salvation is the belief that you must make Jesus your Lord before you can get saved.  Meaning you must be willing to get rid of things in your life before you can accept Christ’s gift of Salvation.  The author of this blog does not believe this to be true.)  The person, who asked me about child salvation, hinted that this could be the reason for infant baptism.  I will confess I do not know much about infant baptism.  However, I do offer an alternate view about child or youth salvation for your consideration.

Many years ago I worked at Coast Bible Church in California.  I worked under a pastor, who knew his bible extremely well and was a pastor’s pastor.  I can remember speaking with him about this subject and question.  He offered me a solution or a theory, which I believe to be true.  Again it all depends on how you view God.

2 Samuel 12:22-23 is the only passage that directly deals with the issue of children going to heaven when they die.  David’s son dies as a result of his sin.  David had mourned his son’s sickness and was broken up about it.  After his son dies, David gets up and cleans himself and goes and eats.  His servants are shocked by his behavior.  They ask him about it and why he is now all of a sudden calm and seemingly done mourning.  Here is David’s response in verse 23, “But now he is dead; why should I fast?  Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”  The last phrase is the key.  This is the passage that many pastors and lay leaders call the “age of accountability” passage.  David knew that one day he would see his son again.  His confidence was in God.  He could not mourn his son’s death knowing he would be with him again.  The passage does not directly answer the question, however, I do believe it is implied, that the child is in heaven.

The other passage is a story about the Israelites entering the Promised Land.  They had left Egypt and were journeying to the land that God had promised them.  The Israelites sent about 40 spies out to see the land God had given them.  They returned with reports, which had caused the people to disbelieve that God had given them the land.  Only two spies returned with good reports, they were Joshua and Caleb.  The other spies caused the camp to distrust God.  God punished them.  Their punishment was that they would not be able to enter the Promised Land.  They had to wander the desert for 40 years.  The generation that disbelieved in God died off.  However, God would made it so that Joshua and Caleb were healthy enough to enter in.  Here is the interesting part, did the Israelites during that 40 years continue to have children? Or did they have children when they sinned?  The answer to both is yes.  While the Promised Land was not heaven, it was their inheritance.  However, they had to work and claim their inheritance.  For the NT believer, our inheritance is the Kingdom of God.  While salvation is a free gift the more I work and serve the Lord the better my inheritance will be.  I write all that to say the younger generation the children and teenagers entered the Promised Land.  Why or How?  By God’s grace.

What is the “age of accountability”?  I have heard pastors say it was 12 years old.  Or it is when a child can determine right from wrong.  Both these seem like good answers, however, neither is the based upon what the bible says.  I recognize that my theory equally does not have a direct scripture quote.  However, it stands to reason based upon how God dealt with the generation that entered the Promised Land (the children) that if a child dies or teen then they would go to heaven. I believe in a just God and in my opinion (which this is) this view makes sense.  I do not believe in infant baptism or in a hard line “age of accountability.”

A teenager’s brain is not fully developed until they are in their early twenties (roughly).  Therefore, I would ask the question why would a teenager go to Hell?  Their brain is not fully developed.  They are considered a child by our culture and in Jesus’ time would be considered that.  If God permitted the children to enter in the Promised Land then why would He not do the same here.

There is no passage that directly deals with this question, but I believe we can make some conclusions based upon these two examples.  Lastly the question about suicide, I would simply write that there is nothing in my bible that tells me a person who commits suicide goes to Hell.  I would argue that if it is a youth then they are in Heaven.  If it is an adult then I would need to know if they knew Jesus.  If they were saved then without a doubt they are in Heaven despite their sin.  The only sin, which keeps people out of heaven is the sin of unbelief.  Now the person who commits suicide and goes to heaven will have to give an account for why they did what they did, but God is gracious and just.

I hope this helps and maybe answers some questions.

Let me write this from the start: I am not asking for money.  Great!  Now that we have that out of the way let’s explore the subject of giving or the fancy bible term called “Stewardship.”

For some of us , when we think of giving to the church, images of a televangelist enter our minds or preachers miss using church funds.  I can understand and appreciate this sentiment.  The thought of giving or tithing to a church can make some people run right out of a church service.  While I sympathize with people who feel funny about tithing to churches, I also know that giving or tithing is a form of worship.

Before I go any further let me write this there is no command in the New Testament that forces believers to give to the local church.  I realize some of you may go to a church and they might believe that you should tithe 10% of your income.  I can appreciate and do support those pastors and churches who believe that.  However, I can write this blog with a clear conscience before God knowing that there is no command to give 10% for believers today to their church.  Before you label me crazy or a lunatic, keep in mind that the passages referring to the tithe are in the Old Testament.  God ordained the tithe for specific purposes for the Jewish nation.  Abraham gave Melchizedek a tithe in Genesis 14:20.  Jesus died for the law (Romans 6:14), therefore, we no longer have to keep the letter of the law.  Those who claim that we must keep a 10% need to remember that the Jews were not only tithing financially but also with their cattle and land.  They were tithing 30% of what they had.  Also the law should be taken as a whole and not broken down to parts; meaning that if you sinned in one point of the law then you sinned against the whole law (James 2:10).  Therefore, if you want to keep the tithe then you will need to keep the whole law.

We are not under law but under grace or if you will the law of Christ.  The only passage in the New Testament that deals directly with giving and church is 2 Corinthians 9:7, which says “…for God loves a cheerful giver…”  Ephesians 5:18 says that we should be filled by the Spirit and not be controlled by alcohol.  What does that mean with what we are talking about?  It means that we should allow the Spirit to guide us as to what we should be doing with our finances.

Here are some principles to remember: 1. God is the owner of everything.  He gave us the jobs that we have, therefore, my money is not mine.  2. I am a manager not an owner.  This is about a philosophy if I approach money as if I own it then I might not want to give to the church, or youth carwashes, or to missionaries.  If the money that I have is from God and I am a manager then I need to be speaking with God on a regular basis on how I should be managing His money.  I believe this is the New Testament approach that believers should be taking.  We should walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).  When you get paid, pray and ask God what He would have you give that week and to whom.  You will be amazed by how God will answer and what He will lead you to do.  Again like the title suggests it is about taking a step of faith when we give.  It is also an act of worship but it is a step of faith.  You will start to see yourself grow as a believer when you do. If you struggle with that then take your concerns to the Lord.  I have heard many pastors say 10% is a good starting point and they are right, however, I believe praying and asking God what He would want you to do would be the better way to go.

I pray the Lord will give you the faith to take that step in giving.  God Bless.