Daily Discovering the Blessing

Archive for May, 2017

Behold What Manner of Love…

When my son Gary was young – 4 or 5 years old – he had a best friend whose mother would very often say to him, “What does it feel like to be you and be so loved?” Wonderful words for a child to hear! Children flourish and thrive and become their very best selves when in their hearts they understand the truth of how very loved they are.

The Holy Spirit has been impressing upon me how vitally important it is to meditate on, and to own as truth, how loved I am by God. No past experiences, no human inadequacies, no self-judgment, no tactics of the enemy can diminish or call into question God’s love for me. If and when every moment of the day is steeped in that knowing, peace and absolute trust and rejoicing prevail and define our character, our interactions, and our faith walk. And we become our very best selves in Jesus.

Our spirits need to feed on:

But God – so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us……(Ephesians 2:1)

…I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Colossians 2:20)

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should become children of God. (1 John 2:1)
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…The love God cherishes for us. God is love…We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:16,19)

…Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore, with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you. (Jeremiah 31:3)

Our deep and intimate knowledge of Him comes not only from careful time in the Word, which is the revealed will of God and a revelation of His character, but also from the indwelling Holy Spirit informing our heart attitude concerning its acceptance of and expression of Scripture’s absolute reality. Heart perceptions profoundly fashion our walk of faith. What we understand our Father to be ultimately directs our steps.

It is our faith in His goodness and faithfulness to His Word (His promises to us) that pleases our Father (Romans 10:38). Galatians 5:6 teaches us that our faith walk – our trust in God – is “activated and energized and expressed and working through love“. Our love for God is our expression of thanksgiving and gratitude for His love for us (1 John 4). When we truly understand and, when our hearts in childlike trust, receive the wonderful, affirming eternal Truth that our Creator deeply loves us affectionately and watchfully (1 Peter 5:7) there is no place in our thoughts for fear or anxiety or concern. And that love is not just for the Body of Christ as a whole. It is for us individually.

God expects faith from His children, but first He pours out and surrounds us with His love. We are to submit and be obedient to His will and leading, but first He assures us of His wonderful care. Many times throughout each day pause and consider how greatly you are loved by God. For truly you have never lived an unloved day in your life. Think back over all of your past days – the mistakes, the worries, the willful and sometimes self-involved actions. God was there loving you all along.

I pray God’s Words to you:

{That you may really come} to know {practically, through experience for yourselves} the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge {without experience}. (Ephesians 3:19)

“Oh, if only I had known God’s plan in its fullness. I might never have had a tear in my life. God is so abundant, so full of love and mercy; there is no lack to those who trust in Him.”
Smith Wigglesworth

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Daily Renewal – Part Four

A third misrepresentation of the Gospel message quite prevalent in the Church is the practice of speaking in tongues. Since Pentecost and the days of the “early” church – as seen in the book of Acts – the gift of tongues has been clearly linked with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And yet so many born again children of God are attempting their faith walk – this life in the Spirit – without this powerful “tool”. It has been explained away as only a phenomenon in the early days of the church; it has been shied away from as strange and weird and excessive. As with every other blessing extended to us by our Father, if it is not taught, if it is not consistently heard, there will be no faith established in the lives of believers to receive and practice it (Romans 10:17). And yet praying in the Spirit – speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance – is available to every believer.

We are speaking here about the Body of Christ stepping up into the fullness of what the Bible says is ours in Jesus. When various churches teach and preach a message that downplays, entirely ignores, or even condemns vital aspects of our faith walk, when what God has equipped us with is shunned and misrepresented through incorrect teaching (or no teaching at all) we do not walk fully in the abundant life God has for us. And whenever God’s blessings, His gifts to us, are diminished in any way, we have played right into the hands of the enemy whose ultimate goal is to disprove God and HIs Word. Misrepresentation of our Father’s plans and purposes for His children deserves such strong words.

The practice of speaking in tongues is spoken of throughout the New Testament. We must hold God’s Word to us – His instructions to our spirits – as more dear and more true than information from any other source. When we see it in the Word we must appropriate it for our lives.

In the book of Acts we observe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was always accompanied with the gift of tongues {Acts 2:4, Acts 8:5-18, Acts 10:45-46, Acts 19:6}. Eight years after Pentecost {Acts 8:5-18}, ten years after Pentecost {Acts 10:45-46|, and twenty years after Pentecost {Acts 19:6} when believers were baptized with the Holy Spirit, the initial evidence of that was speaking with other tongues. As you read these passages, notice that in every instance speaking with tongues was the proof, the convincing demonstration to all, of Holy Spirit baptism and indwelling.

In Mark 16:7 Jesus said:

And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe; in My Name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages.

The Young’s Literal Translation, The King James version, and the New International version have Mark 16:17 as “they shall speak with new tongues”.

But what is the purpose of this “new language” in the believer’s prayer life? What is our Father’s loving intention in this? First, we build up and strengthen our faith walk (our spirit).

He who speaks in a strange tongue edifies and improves himself.

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines “edifies” as “to give constant increase in Christian knowledge and a life conformed thereto”. Strong’s Concordance defines “edifies” as “to construct or build up”, which agrees with Jude 20:

But you, beloved, build yourselves up {founded} on your most Holy Faith {made progress, rise like and edifice higher and higher] praying in the Holy Spirit.

How do we know that Paul is referring to speaking in tongues in Jude 20 when he says “praying in the Holy Spirit”? Look at 1 Corinthians 14:14-15 –

For if I pray in an {unknown} tongue, my spirit {by the Holy Spirit within me} prays, but my mind is unproductive {it bears no fruit and helps nobody}. Then what an I to do? I will pray with my spirit {by the Holy Spirit that is within me}, but I will also pray {intelligently} with my mind and understanding.

So there is praying in the Spirit (tongues) and praying in the natural (intelligence).

Kenneth Hagin has written:

“God is a Spirit. When we pray in tongues our spirit is in direct contact with God, Who is a Spirit. We are talking to Him by a divine supernatural means.”

Secondly, the Spirit is helping us pray what He knows we need to be praying about. 1 Corinthians 14:2 says:

For one who speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not to man, but to God, for no one understands or catches his meaning because in the Holy Spirit he utters secret truths and hidden things {not obvious to the understanding}.

Weymouth’s Translation says “he speaks divine secrets“. The Message Bible says “sharing intimacies just between you and Him“.

When in our limited understanding we are unable to pray effectively, the Holy Spirit prays through and for us (Romans 8:26-27). When we yield our tongues to the Holy Spirit we are refreshed in our spirits (Isaiah 28:11-12). We are honoring God’s gift to us and acknowledging the truth of His Word when we submit to the Holy Spirit in this way.

As with every blessing our Father has extended to us, we receive as we act in faith. And our faith gets stronger through attending to the Word of God on the subject. Through hearing and hearing and hearing our spirits are edified and we claim as ours what God has established for our blessing. Ask Him to teach you along these lines, for it is clear through Scripture that our Father’s desire for His children is that we speak with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance.

Daily Renewal – Part Three

We come now to a second aspect of our faith walk that needs instruction, understanding, and mind renewal according to the Word of God – tithing. There are so many aspects of the tithing covenant – the obligation and associated blessings of tithing – that much of the church is missing today. Heaven speaks, but many are not listening.

Because of the rebellious attitudes prevalent and growing today, “obligation” is a tough word for many to receive. This is true not only in the world, but, sadly, in the Church as well. When churches preach and pronounce as an aspect of their beliefs that tithing is an Old Testament concept, under the law, which we no longer need to attend to for we have a “more excellent and more advantageous covenant” {Hebrews 7:22} through Jesus, they are taking it upon themselves to re-structure God’s established covenant for prosperity and protection. Many in the church today give generous offerings to God – some consistently over and above 10% of their income. However, it is being given and received without the underlying acknowledgment that the tithe – 10% of their income – is always the Lord’s. To regard the tithe as simply a now discarded Old Testament requirement is not only an indication of lack of correct teaching in this area, it is, more significantly, a rejection of God’s expectations, His system of financial prosperity for His children, and His continuous plan regarding kingdom living.

This dismissal of Old Testament teaching, and God’s revelation of Himself throughout the Old Testament, is harmful to our faith walk and our deep and intimate knowledge of Him. The Holy Spirit, through the writers of the New Testament, consistently referred back to the Old Testament whether to acknowledge fulfillment of prophecy, to explain spiritual realities, or establish profound eternal truths. Jesus proclaimed:

Do not think that I have come to do away with or undo the law or the prophets; I have come not to do away with or undo but to complete and fulfill them. {Matthew 5:7}

And indeed, He does just that in the area of the tithe. The first mention of the tithe in the Old Testament occurred centuries before the law was established. In Genesis 14, after returning from a successful battle, Abraham tithed a tenth of all the spoils of battle to Melchizedek.

Melchizedek king of Salem…he was the priest of God Most High. {Genesis 14:18}

There are only two things we know about Melchizedek from the Old Testament – he received Abraham’s tithes and he blessed him. In the New Testament Jesus is called “a High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:10, 6:20, 7:15, 17, 21). When the Word says something once, it is important for us to know. To say something a second time, we truly need to sit up and take notice. When it is said over and over again, God is truly trying to get our attention! To ignore the relationship here in the area of tithing is to willfully reject God’s established plan to bless His people. The very first thing God said to Abraham after he tithed to Melchizedek was:

Fear not Abram, I am your shield, your abundant compensation, and your reward shall be exceedingly great (Genesis 15:1)

. Our Father, in Malachi 3, the chapter which speaks uncompromisingly about the requirements of the tithe, says:

I am the Lord, I do not change. (Malachi 3:6)

With that awareness, look at God’s expectations concerning the tithe:

Will a man rob or defraud God? Yet you rob and defraud Me. But you say, In what way do we rob or defraud You? {You have withheld your} tithes and offerings. You are cursed with the curse for you are robbing Me, even this whole nation. (Malachi 3:8)

And all the tithe of the land…is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord…the tenth shall be holy to the Lord. (Leviticus 27:30, 32)

There is the obligation. God claims the tithe as His; to ignore this expectation is to rob from and defraud Him! As with all of His covenant promises – our part is obedience, His response is blessing.

Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open the windows of Heaven for you and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes… (Malachi 3:10-11)

In Joshua 6:18 the Lord warns:

…keep yourselves from the accursed and devoted things…

The word “accursed” in the Hebrew is “cherim” which means “to be separated unto God’s own use, devoted unto the Lord”. In his book From Just Enough to Overflowing Bob Yandian further explains Joshua 6:18 by saying:

“God is saying …This is separated unto Me, so don’t make it a part of your life. Give it to Me so I can work with it and bless you through it… When we hold on to or tamper with what God says is His, we are separating ourselves from Him, which is a cursed place to be”

Finally, a story I heard firsthand from a pastor working among believers in an African community. There had been much hardship in the land due to continuous drought. The people were poor, with no end in sight to their hardships. When in prayer on their behalf, the Spirit of God said to this pastor, “You have not told these people about My tithe.” In obedience to the prompting, he began teaching and preaching on God’s commandment and expectation of the tithe. They responded in obedience and despite continuing poverty all around them, they flourished – their crops, their livestock, their prosperity were a clear sign to themselves and to all who witnessed it of the blessing for the tither and what God in a life looks like.

Incorrect teaching concerning the tithe is blatant disobedience according to the Word, for it presumes to present a new way to interact with God concerning our finances. Being “generous” toward God, even giving abundantly into kingdom work, but rejecting the first principle, the process, the God-ordained, God-established system of tithing, and teaching this to others, proclaiming this as New Testament truth, is an ignorant rejection of what God has established and proclaimed over and over again in both the Old and New Testaments. When churches misrepresent this all important kingdom principle they are not effectively equipping their people to receive the blessing associated with the tithe. And whenever any spiritual principle is compromised, whenever God’s expectations are mishandled, we are not walking in the fullness of His will for our lives.

(For further and deeper insight into this, I refer you to Keith Moore’s teaching “Tithing Today” at MooreLife.org under “Free downloads – Series List”)