First Fruits – The Apostle’s Portion
In recent years I have addressed this topic in hope that others would begin to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Ekklesia concerning first-fruits. I have not spoken to this topic since that time and consequently not much has changed about our view or station in life. The reason that very little has changed is because a few of those with whom I communicate about these matters have in part embraced what I am saying, but do not know how to move from where they are presently operating into a Kingdom way of financing the ongoing work of the ministry. Some of them have assumed that they are already operating according to this understanding and therefore do not see the big picture. Others are missing my point all together.
If you will bear with me for a moment I would like to clearly state my position once and for all concerning these matters, and it is not my desire to hurt or offend you in any way. I appeal to the indwelling grace that abides within all of us as I communicate to you from a broken and contrite spirit, as well as a position of fear and trembling. I am not writing in behalf of myself alone as some have suggested, and there is no selfish ambition or self-promotion involved in what I am saying. You might want to rethink some to the things that I have written in light of what I am writing today and judge your own heart accordingly.
I, more than likely, will not be personally benefiting from the truth that I am sharing with you, so let it be known before Heaven and Earth that Yahweh is my source, and He has and will continue to provide my every need both now and forever.
However, the time has now come for me to clearly state what I have come to understand as truth concerning financing the ongoing work of the ministry.
Firstly, I want to boldly proclaim, solely based on the authority of the Scripture, that tithing is not optional or limited to ten percent of our increase as some have been wrongly taught or erroneously come to believe. Love offerings and giving should not be based on what is left over after you pay Uncle Sam and everything else. Tithing and offering are a way of life for every believer who has come to understand their importance in the light of Scripture and the Everlasting Covenant of the Kingdom. Any religious leader that is teaching you that tithing and offering has no biblical precedent or merit, has been seduced by the propaganda of disqualified teachers, who have twisted the word to their own destruction. Many of them do not even know what the scripture teaches on the subject, and others are willfully ignorant. I have encountered their disciples on a number of occasions, who for various reasons, stopped tithing and offering altogether. Many of them are bankrupt, broke and penniless, and some of them were speaking out of anger, hurt and a stingy spirit.
Others were operating out of a self-centered heart of avarice or greed. A few of them had a better idea in part; but what they lacked in understanding, they covered up with a half-truth that was blocking Yahweh’s provision coming into their lives.
The truth is, there were three tithes in the scripture; but for the most part we have exchanged tithing back unto ourselves for credit card and consumer spending. This nation and many of its people have all but been crushed under the weight of the curse of debt. The Bible has nothing GOOD to say about debt or being a debtor; but it has a lot to say about giving and receiving. Revolving credit and consumer spending simply represents a way to acquire something that we cannot actually afford to purchase and then paying an unrealistic amount for a product or service that we probably did not need in the first place.
Note: If I am not talking to you then this would be a good opportunity for you to act like it does not apply to you. However, if I am talking to you, this would be an awesome opportunity for you to repent and start progressively moving toward recovering from the addiction of deficit spending. My question to you is, what makes you think that Yahweh will ever bless you, your life or ministry, as long as you are entangled in the snare of debt to the degree that you cannot breathe and live to give into His kingdom and work? The reason that all of us are not debt-free is because we wanted what we wanted and we were not going to be denied anymore.
It is a part of the entitlement mentality that our government and the Babylonian system has perpetrated in order to keep us a slave to the lender and it plays to the irresponsibility and lack of discipline in all of us. It just seems easier until the payment book comes in the mail. It is also a way to control the masses by giving them a piece of the American dream while pulling them deeper and deeper into the black hole of debtor prison. In light of what we are seeing take place in this nation right now with jobs, retirement funds and lifelong savings going away, I would think that this would be a great opportunity for us to turn in our hearts to Yahweh, and rethink what we have been doing with His money. It is my sincere hope that you will make the trip with me, as we turn and shift our position on this matter. For years I have been trying to get out of debt having made the decision to do so long ago. I have been praying, liquidating, selling out, buying down, and doing all of the things that one is supposed to do in order to break the chains of bondage. However, there has been one small problem. It has taken almost everything that I have received and accumulated over the years to provide a basic and simple life for my family. We own a modest home and drive two used cars, neither of which is all that special. We certainly do not live in our dream home and I still do not own a motorcycle. The problem that most of us face is, we just do not have enough income to do what we would want to do, and at the end of the day, we will not tolerate the limitations or restraint that lack puts on our lives. What if I told you that I know a way that we will never experience lack again?
Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first the kingdom of Yahweh and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Psalms 34:10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek Yahweh shall not lack any good thing.
Acts 2:40–45 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation. ”Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
Now, before I address this passage of Scripture in light of where we are today, let me say that the Scripture does not teach that all of your tithes and offerings should be paid in one direction, or limited to the stewardship of one man or ministry. If you are joined to a man or a local work then your tithe should be paid to that man or local work. Your tithe should be paid to the man who represents a Melchizedek in your life, and should be paid in honor and respect for the work and ministry that he represents in the Earth.
However, even in that scenario, the tithe is supposed to be used to support the ongoing work of the ministry. The tithe is not supposed to be used to pay the bills, overhead, or fund the next building project. The tithe has supported the ministry from the beginning, from Melchizedek to the Levitical Priesthood, all the way to now. The tithe is how the ministry was and is supported and sustained. The tithe is a holy thing and it is not supposed to be used for unholy purposes. If you are a part of a work or ministry that is receiving the entire tithe and offering unto itself; but not sharing and distributing it in a way that represents established biblical order, then you are treating your tithe in an unholy manner, and it is being sown into an unrighteous work. It is no wonder that Yahweh’s people are lacking wanting and coming behind in so many ways. It is a testimony to our shame and disgrace that so many people within our ranks are bankrupt, divorced and whose lives are being destroyed while sitting on padded pews that were provided by your hard earned money and sweat equity. In a time when we should be working together to bear one another’s burdens, we are using Yahweh’s money to fund and finance our lifestyles and programs.
The truth of the matter is we have allowed all other ministry gifts and anointings to go unpaid and lacking, so that pastors and their ministries can thrive in the work. These things ought not to be so, brethren!
Now, I am not saying that all pastors feel or operate the same way and many of them do not understand what it means to itinerate, travel, or serve Yahweh’s people in any other capacity than that of an under-shepherd. Some of them have tried their hand at one or more of these functions and have discovered that there is not enough consistent income or stability in it to sustain the lives of their families.
It is one thing to get paid to scratch the preachers itch on Sunday morning and another thing to be empowered to go where you are sent. I assure you, that they are vastly different, and your family has to be willing to sacrifice their lives in this world, in order to fulfill the purpose for which you are called. I am speaking from a position of having operated in multiple functions and various operations and have seen the abuses from both the pulpit and ministry.
2 Corinthians 8:1-15 Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of Yahweh bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: 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 saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to Yahshua, and then to us by the will of Yahweh. 6So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well.
But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also. I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. For you know the grace of our Sovereign Yahshua the Messiah that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have. For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14but by an equality that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”
Acts 4:33-35 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Sovereign Yahshua. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
This passage of scripture applies to where we are right now. Instead of hunkering down, storing up and hoarding, my house has now been on the market for over four years. We are selling our house again, and will be relocating to the land of our fathers, where we will be looking for the people of our tribe. We are also selling everything that we do not need and putting that into the Kingdom. What we cannot sell we are going to find a brother of sister, within the household of faith, to bless and help. We are going reduce our lifestyle even further, so that we can go where we are sent, work where we are embraced, and stay where we are loved. We are once again going to get out of debt and simplify our lives to the place that we will be able to live within our means without compromise. We believe that Yahweh will make a way where there seems to be no way, and that He will provide for us all along the way. Our future is uncertain and our journey perilous; but we will be together in our going, and we will fulfill the practical will and purpose of Yahweh for our lives.
Proverbs 28:27 He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses.
Exodus 23:14-17 & 19 “Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field;
and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field. Three times in the year all your males shall appear before Yahweh.”
“Firstfruits, is a consecrated offering that you make before the harvest, and the tithe is what you bring after the harvest.”
Firstfruits, is based on consecrating and naming a specific offering, and with it establishing a memorial before Yahweh concerning the expectation of the harvest that you expect to receive in the coming year.
The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Yahweh your Elohim.
The firstfruits offering was made when the barley was green in the ear. (The month of Abib) It was made before the harvest at the beginning of the year. (Spring Time)
Leviticus 2:12-14 As for the offering of the firstfruits, you shall offer them to Yahweh, but they shall not be burned on the altar for a sweet aroma. And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your Elohim to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt.
‘If you offer a grain offering of your firstfruits to Yahweh, you shall offer for the grain offering of your firstfruits green heads of grain roasted on the fire, grain beaten from full heads.
The firstfruits offering was brought to the house of Yahweh once a year and then it became the High Priest’s portion.
Leviticus 23:10-11 Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.
Leviticus 23:17-20 You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to Yahweh. And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young bull, and two rams.
They shall be as a burnt offering to Yahweh, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to Yahweh. Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats as a sin offering, and two male lambs of the first year as a sacrifice of a peace offering.
The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before Yahweh, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to Yahweh for the priest.
When the children of Israel brought a firstfruits offering to the house of Yahweh and the priest lifted it up and waved it before Yahweh it became a consecrated offering that established a memorial before Yahweh.
Remember, the feast and the firstfruits are all established, set apart times by Yahweh, not man. They are all established around the harvest seasons and the times of ingathering. They are times of celebrating, honoring and bringing our offerings to Yahweh. Those who appeared before Yahweh during these times did not do so empty handed.
Number 18: 12-13 All the best of the oil, all the best of the new wine and the grain, their firstfruits which they offer to Yahweh, I have given them to you. Whatever first ripe fruit is in their land, which they bring to Yahweh, shall be yours. Everyone who is clean in your house may eat it. Ref. Numbers 18
Yahweh instructed Aaron, the first high priest, concerning firstfruits and who could partake of them.
Nehemiah 12:44-47 And at the same time some were appointed over the rooms of the storehouse for the offerings, the firstfruits, and the tithes, to gather into them from the fields of the cities the portions specified by the Law for the priests and Levites; for Judah rejoiced over the priests and Levites who ministered. Both the singers and the gatekeepers kept the charge of their Elohim and the charge of the purification, according to the command of David and Solomon his son. For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chiefs of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving to Elohim. In the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah all Israel gave the portions for the singers and the gatekeepers, a portion for each day. They also consecrated holy things for the Levites, and the Levites consecrated them for the children of Aaron.
This passage of scripture contains a principal truth and pattern that should be in operation today. However, in most cases, and more times than not, all of the firstfruits, tithes and offerings are being funneled through the local work where one man and a paid secretary are the only ones benefiting from the firstfruits, tithes and offerings of the people.
I want to make myself clear when I say that this is an erroneous and heretical practice that is going to lead to the destruction and elimination of all those who continue to pump their finances into that system.
I cannot tell you the number of true spiritual fathers that I have personally known who were starved out of the ministry, and have all but been forsaken and forgotten by the people of Yahweh. It is an epidemic that to this day still plagues the body of Messiah and most of the leaders who fall into this category are spending the firstfruits, tithe and offerings that come into the local work on themselves, toys and overhead. The tithe of the people was never supposed to be used to pay the bills of the local work or the next building project. The tithe is supposed to be used to finance the ongoing work of the ministry, and the love offerings are supposed to take care of the administrative needs and operational expense of the gathering place. I believe that this practice is blatant disobedience and gross disregard of the principal truths and patterns of Yahweh’s word, and will only serve to further limit and dwarf the body of Messiah in infancy.
I am not bilaterally condemning the leaders that have been operating in darkness, ignorance or these paralyzing paradigms. However, I am speaking to the spirit of mammon, greed and consumer lust that continue to drive and control much of the American Church System.
I cannot tell you how many men and women I have personally encountered who have been forced to leave the word, prayer and the people under their care in order to scratch out a living to provide for the basic needs for their families.
People of Yahweh, I declare unto you today that He is not pleased with this practice, and there will be Hell to pay both now and in the future, if we do not repent and return to the principle truths of Yahweh’s word in our lifetime. I am sickened by the falsehood, manipulation, devilish control and debauchery that exists in the body of Messiah, and at the risk of sounding self-serving or trying to establish the apostle’s portion, I write the book.
I am asking you to consider what I am sharing with you in light of two things.
1). What is Holy Spirit saying to you?
2). What is the Father requiring of you?
I love you but many of us are unnecessarily suffering right now, so I am asking you to hear the Father’s heart in my words, and bear up the burden of apostolic and prophetic fathers everywhere. If we do not properly discern the body of Messiah and love the brotherhood the way that Yahweh has ordained, we will all go down with the ship in the future.
Because of these erroneous and heretical practices we are all but dead in the water right now. This is a new day and we have an opportunity to rise up and really make a difference. We can represent more change to the world in our lifetime than our forefathers have been able to accomplish in previous generations.
People of Yahweh, I beseech you in the name of Messiah Yahshua to make some adjustments in the way that you consecrate your firstfruits, bring your tithe and give your offerings. I am not trying to tell you where or to whom you should be giving; but I am telling you that the scripture teaches that He set in His Ekklesia, first apostles and secondarily prophets.
1 Corinthians 12:28 And Yahweh has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.
The apostle is foundationally and governmentally to the Ministry and Ekklesia what the High Priest was to the Priesthood and the people in the Older Covenant of the Bible. If you can receive that principle truth and pattern of firstfruits from the Older Covenant of the Bible, the only way that it can be practiced today is by honoring the ongoing work of the Apostolic Ministry with a tithe of the tithe and the firstfruits of the people. A tithe of the tithe needs to become the apostle’s portion in every local fellowship where he provides apostolic oversight.
If a work has not developed to the level that elders are in place that can tithe to the apostle, then there should be an apostle’s portion that is tithed out of the gross income of the work. In that way the apostle is not be limited to one local work in a region where he may be sent.
If you are related to an apostle that you receive and recognize as an apostle, then you should be supporting him with no less than a tithe of the tithe of the work and the firstfruits of the people.
If you are an apostle that is providing long term care for the local work, the same principle should apply to you as well. You should ultimately develop the work to a place that you receive a tithe of the tithe while the ninety percent of the tithe is used to finance the ongoing work of the ministry.
When plurality of leadership is in place, the elders of the local work need to be paid out of the tithe received. You are supposed to be sharing the leadership and tithe with the local elders and ministry team that have been raised up and set into the work.
If you are an apostle, you may also provide apostolic oversight for other works in your region and sphere of authority, and they too would then be responsible to support you with a tithe of the tithe and the first fruit of the people.
As it pertains to the apostles and prophets that serve the body of Messiah working in and out of many regions, they should be supported by the local ministries and works for which they provide oversight and direction.
I know by the Spirit that this will fly in the face of some of you reading it; but I have to say it, and you need to hear it. Believe me when I say that I have heard every lame excuse as to why this will not work, or why we cannot do that; but none of them hold water in the light of what is right and the way things should be done. Love offerings should go to pay for the administrative needs and operational expense of the places where His people gather. Any other way will not work long term and is contrary to the apostle’s doctrine.
I realize that I have not come close to covering every possible scenario and work that is established out there; but I have given you enough information about how things should be done that it will provoke you to seek His face in search for a better way. I am not trying to explain or answer every situation in which we have operated in the past. I am specifically addressing the apostle’s portion and from where it should come.
Brethren, I encourage you to study this out for yourself and I believe that I have given you a good place to start.
Whatever you decide to do with this information is up to you; but the truth still remains, that no matter how good or bad you think things are right now, they are only going to get worse if we do not listen to the voice of the Spirit and hear and obey His Word.
I challenge you to read and study the book of Acts and discover the missing components in the modern day Ekklesia when compared to the first century Ekklesia. The apostles of the first century represented something and were releasing something that caused the people to sell all that they had and come and bring the proceeds and lay them at the apostle’s feet, based on obedience to the word that was coming out of them, as well as their mutual need.
Pause and calmly think about that. What could they have been preaching and teaching that could have moved people to do something like that? I can tell you that they were preaching and teaching out of the heart of the Father concerning the apostle’s portion and financing the ministry of the day. Hear it! It will be the life of the ongoing work of the ministry and will further bring into view the structure of the house that Yahshua has already built and is building.
1Timothy 6:6-10 Now, godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Jude 1:3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.