Daily Discovering the Blessing

Posts tagged ‘A Higher Reality’

The God-Fashioned Life

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), {fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs}, but be transformed (changed) by the {entire} renewal of your mind {by its new ideals and its new attitudes}, so that you may prove {for yourselves} what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect {in His sight for you}. (Romans 12:2)

One often encounters a poverty of faith among believers gathered together in His name; gathered together to study God’s Word and purportedly to grow in their knowledge and understanding of the Gospel; gathered together to encourage and edify and exhort each other in faith. Their spoken words often negate God’s Word as they reference illnesses and an inability to truly know God and His ways. One dear sister in Christ, when asked to identify someone who was a great spiritual example in her life spoke of a friend who calmly and peacefully glorified God in her life through a severe illness that He had seen fit to put on her. Those listening nodded wisely, commiserating with an all too familiar situation!
The opening two verses of Romans 12 exhort us to dedicate our lives to God – our bodies and our minds. We are a family of faith. Our every moment, our every thought, our very identity given over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. What our Father says in His Word is our plumb line in life. His Word and His promises usher us into kingdom living.
When He says “I Am the Lord Who heals you” (Genesis 15:26), when Jesus says, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9) as He “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38), when we fully understand that what God has promised He will do (Hebrews 10:23) through the application of our faith to the Truth of His Word, and that “there is no respect of persons (no partiality) with Him” (Ephesians 6:9) – what He has done for one we can expect He will do for us – then health and healing belong to us!
When our Father says that “He delights in the prosperity of His servant” (Psalm 35:27), when He teaches that to sow generously is also to reap generously (2 Corinthians 6:9), when His ways of doing and being right teach us to prosper and be successful in all that we do (Joshua 1:8), we are to take Him at His word. Unbelief mocks prosperity. Faith believes it, speaks it and receives it with joy!
The words we speak either activate or nullify the promises of God in our lives. We are made in His image, He spoke this world into being and we speak our tomorrows into existence. It is either our faith or our doubt and unbelief that fashions our future days.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21)

In Hebrews 4:2 Paul identifies the cause of a powerless Gospel.

The message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith (with the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom and goodness)… (emphasis mine)

Romans 10:2 carries a similar message:

I bear them witness that they have a certain zeal and enthusiasm for God, but it is not enlightened and according to {correct and vital} knowledge.

They are impressively energized concerning God – but they are doing everything backward. (Message Bible version)

Don’t speak what you see in front of you – what your physical eyes observe or what your physical body feels. Speak God’s Word, His promises concerning you. Don’t allow the natural to take precedence over the supernatural. For as a born again child of God, filled with the Holy Spirit and eternity minded – you are to be well-versed in the supernatural. A God-fashioned life is fueled by and focused on His Word to us. That Word transforms us. It re-creates us into the likeness of His Son, and it greatly pleases our Father that we trust in and rely on that Word for our every need in life (Hebrews 10:38). It establishes us in peace and under girds our every step.

Take on an entirely new way of life – a God-fashioned life – a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces His character in you. (Ephesians 4:22-24 –Message Bible)

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12: 1-2 – Message Bible)

Advertisements

Dreams- From Half-Formulated to Fully Realized – Part Two

Kenneth Hagin has preached often on this story of the woman with the issue of blood (Matthew 9:20-22). He readily asserts that his ministry for the Body of Christ, given to him by the Lord, was to preach and teach faith, and throughout his decades in the ministry, that was his focus. He has said that the Lord told him that if anybody anywhere would put the four steps this woman took into practice, they would receive what they were asking for. We have already covered steps one and two – “See it” and “say it”. But there is more to this faith walk than seeing and saying.

Do it – The woman with the issue of blood could have spoken continually concerning her faith to be healed, but until she then acted on that faith, on her spoken assertion, her words were useless. Saying, “If I only touch the hem of His garment” but not acting on it, her medical condition would remain unchanged. Once you have that sure knowledge that God is willing this dream to be – act. Act on the direction of the Holy Spirit.

James 2:17 – So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up) by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead)

James 2:24 – …a man is justified (pronounced righteous before God) through what he does and not alone through faith {through works of obedience as well as by what he believes.}

This woman’s faith was followed up with action; it is through the action that the faith can be seen.

Receive it

Mark 11:24 …whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will {get it}

Notice that for this step, faith is also the determining factor. In faith we realize the God-given dream in our hearts, in faith we speak forth the Word believing that God will bring it about, in faith we act on those spoken words as led by the Spirit, and in faith we “carry away and enjoy to the full what is promised” (Hebrews 10:36). Believe that you have received. The Word defines faith as:

The assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things {we} hope for, being the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality {faith receiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses}. (Hebrews 11:1)

This step is perhaps the one which is the most alien and frustrating to those who have years of practice in daily trusting in the five senses – all of us! It is this step that causes many to say, “This speaking forth faith simply isn’t working for me! I’ve seen it work for some but it’s not working for me.” Realize here that in speaking those words, your words are coming to pass! Speaking doubt and unbelief is establishing that particular reality that “this faith stuff” doesn’t work for you. How do we remedy that?

God has given us everything we need to overcome the perceived difficulty in this business of receiving the promises for ourselves. First, His Word. How you view His Word is of paramount importance in this process of walking and living in the Spirit. He tells us of its “self-fulfilling power” (Isaiah 61:11). He tells us that His Word is “alive and full of power… active, operative, and energizing, and effective” (Hebrews 4:12). He tells us that He watches over that Word to perform it in the lives of those who speak It forth in faith (Jeremiah 1:12) and that His Word never returns to Him void without accomplishing the thing for which it was sent (Isaiah 55:11). He also tells us that while the Name of the Lord is to be revered and feared and worshipped, He holds His Word in even higher estimation!

You have exalted above all else Your Name and Your Word and You have magnified Your Word above all Your Name! (Psalm 138:2)

Now the choice to believe is yours. God has given us that choice. His exhortation to us is to choose life in Him (Deuteronomy 30:19), but you choose! The authority and reverence with which you receive His Truth will determine your success in this step of receiving all that He has promised. To honor God by believing that what He says He means, is to be a consistent recipient of the promises.

Further, He has given His Holy Spirit to be received as our Guide, Teacher, Advocate, Enabler, Strengthener (John 15:26), and to reveal to us His purposes and plans for our lives (John 16:13). He has sent Jesus, His Beloved Son, to reconcile us again with Him and to restore the relationship that was lost through Adam’s actions. How we receive all of this Truth determines how we receive our full inheritance in the kingdom of God.

Patient Endurance

The life of faith, the life choice that pleases God, is very often needful of patient endurance. Along with that, in order to pray and speak out effectively, we first need the assurance, the certainty, that we have been given such authority.

Jesus approached and, breaking the silence, said to them, All authority (all power of rule) in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go then and make disciples of all nations…
Matthew 28:18

And as My Father has appointed a kingdom and conferred it on Me, so do I confer on you [the privilege and decree].
Luke 22:29

One cannot walk in and operate in the wondrous and life-changing benefits revealed through Scripture until he or she truly understands that they are theirs by birthright. It is that deep, inner knowing that produces mountain moving faith. It is that sureness within the spirit of a born again believer that insists on seeing the promises of God manifest in a life. It is the absolute transference of allegiance, the unquestioned recognition of “new creature” status, and the “know-so” realization that God’s Word is the superior and ultimate reality that begins the walk in our Father’s ways of doing and being right. The pre-eminence of the Word of God in our hearts is the powerful foundation that transforms reality for the believer. When we reach the point of understanding that the Word of God must be our final authority, our blueprint for living, we begin to receive and accept nothing less than His ways of doing and being right.

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness {His ways of doing and being right}, and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. Matthew 6:33

Hebrews 10:35-36 is a powerful place to begin, a firm foundation for our preliminary understanding of effectively developing this new language of “Heavenspeak”:

Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward. For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines the word “endure” as “He or that which continues long, to remain, to abide; to last, to continue in the same state without perishing.” This is our new dwelling place as born-again believers. This is our forever lifestyle, our firmly established mind set. We live here now! We settle into the understanding that God’s Word and His promises must be, because He said so, and we patiently expect the full manifestation in this physical realm.

How do you receive these words of our Lord in response to the withering of the fig tree in Matthew 21:21-22?

…Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive.

Faith receives those words and allows them to fundamentally transform our perception of this physical life and our expectations for answered prayer. Faith is our currency in this life to be able to receive from God all that His Word promises. This is a huge blank check! “Whatever” covers unlimited territory – with the proviso that you are operating out of faith, which greatly pleases God (Hebrews 10:38), and that you are praying according to His Word. For that patient endurance always receives and carries away and enjoys to the full what is promised (Hebrews 10:36). You have God’s Word on this! Smith Wigglesworth has said:

“God rejoices when we manifest a faith that holds Him to His Word.” ( Smith Wigglesworth Devotional – p. 292)

As little children gradually grow into a mastery of their native language, so we, too, must practice our Heavenspeak until mastery is attained. Answered prayer, seeing the manifestation of God’s promises in a life due to faith in His Word, is a powerful life lesson for future success in Heavenspeak. This is not done on our own. God has provided all that we need to be successful in the faith-filled language of the Kingdom. His Word and His Spirit are the firm foundation upon which we stand. It requires a “firm relying trust”.

Patient endurance has the potential to sound a little tedious! “How long must I wait?” we wonder. In point of fact, patient endurance is not so much a season of waiting as it is the choice of a lifestyle; the transfer of allegiance. It is the recognition that as God’s child and friend (John 15:15), as Jesus’ disciple, and as Spirit-filled believers, our reality has been altered, transformed. Patient endurance calmly expects the Word of God in its completeness to be manifested in our lives.

Isaiah 30:15- For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: in returning {to Me} and resting {in Me} you shall be saved; in quietness and in {trusting} confidence shall be your strength…

Patient endurance speaks forth prayers in confidence that they will be accomplished. Patient endurance is eternity minded and it interprets all events in life through the lens of the Spirit. It is a new way of seeing and understanding; it comprehends both realms (spiritual and physical) and fully acknowledges the manner in which the realm of the spirit holds sway and influence over the world of men (the physical realm).

We so often rely on our senses to guide us through this life. These tools of the flesh speak so loudly to us from the moment of our birth. We give authority to them; we conduct our days, plot our course, and even determine our doctrines and belief-systems according to what we see and hear. And yet the Word counsels us differently:

Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen, for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting) but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.
2 Corinthians 4:18

What we see is subject to change if it compromises or contradicts the Word of God. Health issues, financial worries and poverty thinking, confusion, fear, inner turmoil – all of these woes often accompany life lived out in the flesh. But if you purpose to dig deeply into God’s Word, you will discover that they were never meant to be characteristics of a life lived in, through and by the Spirit of God. They find their remedy in the Word. And they are demolished through the fine, godly art of patient endurance.

The Practiced Life

These are challenging days for the maintaining of Gospel peace, and the practice of, and commitment to, walking in righteousness. The resolve to “get it right” before God is a daily, hourly, sometimes moment-by-moment attention to His ways of doing and being right – never our own notions, personal feelings and sensibilities, or emotional responses to issues and current events.

I’m sure this has been the case throughout history. Every generation must contend with Satan’s efforts to distract focus, diminish effectiveness, and destroy peace. There is nothing complicated about the antidote to all this. And yet the simplicity of it eludes many. Obey God. Trust and rely on His Word. Attend to the daily guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit of God Who lives within you if you have been born again (John 3:5-7; 1 Corinthians 3:16) is our daily Teacher, Counselor, and Helper (John 16:13-15). He points out for us areas that need fixing – areas in which we are falling short of the glory of God. Jesus taught us:

…He {the Spirit} will take the things that are Mine, and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you. (John 16:15)

The ministry of the Holy Spirit helps us “get it right” before God.

Of late, I have found myself becoming more and more agitated, irritated, and judgmental about the state of American politics. It is so easy to get caught up in the world’s turmoil. (I am reminded here of Smith Wigglesworth, English evangelist, who invited a visitor into his home but insisted that the newspaper the visitor was carrying remain outside!) This process even catches up members of the family of faith as we either condemn or justify the words and actions of our leaders.

Factions and divisions are a part of the human condition. In the first chapter of 1 Corinthians Paul speaks of such dissensions entering into and disturbing the spiritual well-being of the church at Corinth. If these tactics of the enemy can trouble Spirit filled believers, he can succeed in directing us away from God’s expectations, His commands.

This is My commandment: that you love one another {just} as I have loved you. (John 15:12)

And so, because I was incorrectly attending to current worldly affairs, because it was disturbing my peace, because I fell into practicing the judgment of many, and vigorously reviled and denounced those I disagreed with, the Friend, the Counselor, my Advocate intervened! God’s Word is “alive, operative, energizing and effective…exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) And God’s alive and active Word in Luke 6 “exposed and judged” that which was hindering my peace. Reading verses 27-37 , I was clearly expected to repent, relinquish, and readjust. Here were my instructions in righteousness:

– whatever you want men to do for you, you must do exactly that for them (verse 31)
– love your enemies, act nobly toward those who hate you; pray for them (verses 27-28)
– be like God Who is “ kind and charitable and good to the ungrateful and the selfish and wicked” (verse 35)
– JUDGE NOT and you will not be judged (verse 37)

These instructions from the Head of the Church are undeniable. This is how He expects us to think and act. Add to that the admonition to pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1) and the caution to us concerning the tongue in James 3:9-10:

With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who were made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and cursing. These things, my brethren, ought not to be so.

Faith in God’s Word is demonstrated through unconditional obedience. As the Holy Spirit illuminates Scripture for our attention, there must be a willingness to give it first place in our hearts and our corresponding actions. We cannot call Jesus Lord is we do not put into practice what He tells us. (Luke 6:46). It is always only for our benefit. It is where peace lives.

A Peace Filled Heart

Psalm 34:4-5- I sought (inquired of) the Lord and required Him {of necessity and on the authority of His Word} and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears.

It is through peace that the Son of God is revealed in your life. A peaceful, quiet, confident spirit is tuned into God’s frequency.

John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; My {own} peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. {Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.} (Emphasis mine)

“Do not permit!” Stop allowing the tactics of the enemy to touch your heart. Recognize his “modus operandi” immediately. Satan’s sole intention is to compromise your walk before God; to sow his negative influences of fear, worry, concern, intimidation; to knock you off balance in your faith walk, and to reduce God’s powerful, alive, and active Word (Hebrews 4:12) to a place of ineffectiveness (Mark 7:13) in your life.

Tuned into Satan’s frequency – he is the god of this world order (2 Corinthians 4:4) – we cannot at the same time tune in and yield to our Father’s Truth. And the enemy is often very subtle in the strategic placement of distraction in our lives. Caught up in (ensnared in) worldly issues – financial, political, familial, social – we are submitting to and yielding to an unsettledness that does not honor God. We – His children! – bicker and argue and waste precious time proclaiming the rightness of our opinions on various issues when we are meant to be “busy with His business” (John 9:4). Let’s follow our Lord’s example in this. When faced with something seemingly insurmountable, the news of a death, He remained unaffected – “overhearing but ignoring” (Mark 5:36).

Our Lord’s instructions in John 14:27 teach us to be persistent in looking to Him – His peace, His constant loving provision, His Word. The steadfast look to Jesus – attentive, expectant, a “steady and absorbing gaze” (Numbers 21:9), considering no other viewpoint (Romans 4:19-21; 2 Corinthians 4:18) – is what pleases our Father (Hebrews 10:38), receives all of the promises (Hebrews 10:35-36), and disables the negative impact of Satan’s tactics. Our thoughts become aligned with His thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5), our words speak only His Word (John 15:7), our days are filled with and focus on Heaven’s purposes, and we flow, unhindered, in Kingdom rhythm.

It is not surprising, living in this present darkness (Ephesians 6:12), that true heart peace can seem to be elusive; carefree living not easy to achieve. I exhort and encourage you this day to place yourself fully, without reservation, in the care and keeping of the Lord (1 Peter 5:7). Look only to our Lord and Master Jesus. Submit only to the indwelling Holy Spirit. Honor God with your joy, reflect Him with your peaceful heart. Jesus gave and bequeathed to us His peace. Purposefully practice it!

What do You See?

In the first chapter of the book of Jeremiah, the Lord asks His prophet, “What do you see?” (verse 11 and again in verse 13). And as Jeremiah’s words spoke forth what he saw in his spirit, as he gave utterance to the heavenly vision, God’s plans and purposes were established and eventually manifested for the nation of Israel. “What do you see?” It is a question I have heard quite often from the Holy Spirit during recent times of quiet listening. Along with this question I have received continuing instruction in the profound importance of the thought life. The Word of God instructs us over and over about how powerful the thought process is in our lives.

Proverbs 4:23 – Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flows the springs of life.

Proverbs 23:7 – …for as he thinks in his heart so is he.

Luke 6:45 -…for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks.

What we see in the Word of God is a picture of who each of us is meant to be – God’s promises and provision for our healthy, prosperous, purposeful lives through faith in our Lord Jesus, and all that He accomplished on our behalf. The Holy Spirit is constantly retraining us to understand and walk in kingdom reality -not worldly reality. Through His guidance, yielded to it, we become the person we see in the Word. What do you see? What we see through our faith in the absolute Truth of God’s Word, and our trust in His faithfulness to His Word (Hebrews 10:23), directly and profoundly informs our thought life. And, in turn, our thoughts inform our words, and our words create our future days (Hebrews 11:3).

Does your thought life assume blessings, well-being, answered prayer? Let there be no poverty of attitude in you- never speak beggar, never allow your words to utter a negative report. Let the Presence of the Holy Spirit in you color every moment with divine audacity! It is what pleases our Father (Hebrews 10:38). God’s constant love reaches out to us, encouraging us to fully own our redemption; to fully and joyfully and confidently receive the extraordinary benefits of our salvation through Jesus Christ.

What do you see? How you see yourself in your heart is the person that you are. That is faith (or lack of it) creating your reality. Your thought life creates your reality – positively or negatively. Thoughts of “less than” in any area of your life are not kingdom thoughts. Your thoughts released into words are a powerful force.

Proverbs 18:21 – Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it {for death or life}.

That is why we are instructed in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to:

…refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the {true} knowledge of God, and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

Step up into a way of approaching and walking through your days that honors God and your placement in Christ. When you see it in the Word, expect it in your life. Treat this with the seriousness it deserves. Whenever and wherever you see something that does not line up and come into agreement with the Word of God, speak to it; speak with authority (Luke 22:29).Capture every thought. Yielded to the Holy Spirit, what we see, what we think, and what we say will bless your days and honor the Lord.

Obedience Releases Blessings

Your level of true success in life, which ultimately means your level of success in serving God, is directly related to how you regard the realities of the spiritual realm; how your daily heart knowledge informs your head knowledge that the realm of the Spirit – God’s domain – not only exists, but that it instructs and determines our physical reality. The unseen directly effects that which we see. When that understanding guides us, then and only then are we in full kingdom “rhythm”. While there are many choices we could make in life, many paths we could walk down, many goals we could pursue, there is only one path that holds and releases all the blessings that are ours in Jesus (Ephesians 1:3). Those blessings, those promises God has made with His covenant people, are not automatically released with the new birth. They are received through our faith in the reality and the authority of the heavenly realm.

I have heard many cautionary stories of brothers and sisters in Christ who have veered off their “appointed course” (Hebrews 12:1) – those who willfully disobeyed the leading of the Spirit; those who received promising prophetic utterance over their life and ministry which was never fulfilled; those who let the stumbling block of idolatry {and that manifests itself in so many forms, but simply put, it refers to holding anything or anyone as more important than God} overcome their first love (Revelation 2:4). But each and every one of these failures, these falling-short-of-glory-stories, can be simply diagnosed as not requiring God as their “first and vital necessity” (1 Chronicles 28:9).

Obedience requires first listening to the Spirit and then acting on what we are told. Careful and correct listening requires the resolve to spend time with God. The determination to spend time alone with God requires the acceptance, the acknowledgment, that GOD IS, and that He is my first need in life.

But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come {near} to God must {necessarily} believe that God exists and that He rewards those who {earnestly and diligently} seek Him {out}. (Hebrews 11:6)

When you “search diligently for Him and regard Him as the foremost necessity of your life” (Zephaniah 2:3), when that heart resolve defines us, then obedience to His Word and to His guidance becomes our very reason for being and our vantage point. And when we know that our hearts are right before God in this way, our faith in our Father’s Word, unhindered by doubt and self-condemnation, receives the promise (Hebrews 10:35-36).

Physical beings walking around in this physical world, strongly influenced by the tyranny of our physical senses, need mind renewal (Romans 12:2) and spiritual rebirth (John 3:3) to overcome the influence of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Knowing this, our Creator gave to mankind the life of Jesus to imitate, the teachings of Jesus to obey, and the Gift of the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the realities of His kingdom. True faith receives this new way of seeing what life is actually all about, submits in love and trust to His Word, yields to and obeys the Spirit’s guidance and walks in full manifestation of His promised blessings. Only God living in us could accomplish such a transformation (John 14:23; John 17:21). Daily experiencing this world through the eyes of the Spirit instructs us in the reality of the spiritual realm. Released into His care, relinquishing any personal notions of what we think should be, in order to honor and seek His plans and purposes, is our daily calling. Anything short of that compromises God’s plan for our lives.

Obedience to all of these truths ushers in the blessings of God – all that His Word says is ours. And they are extraordinary blessings. Life lived in the Spirit, yielded to the Spirit, is filled with our Abba’s watchful and tender care and all of the blessings He says are ours in Jesus.

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians3:20-21)

Our First and Vital Necessity

1 Chronicles 28:9 speaks of the life-altering decision, the foundational imperative, the divine mandate to know God:

…{have personal knowledge of Him, be acquainted with and understand Him, appreciate, heed, and cherish Him} and serve Him with a blameless heart and a willing mind…If you seek Him {inquiring for and of Him} as you first and vital necessity you will find Him…

Within Scriptural context this is David exhorting Solomon, but within biblical, spiritual understanding, this is our Father instructing us. Paul exhorts the Ephesians (and us too!):

…try to learn {in your experience} what is pleasing to the Lord {let your lives be constant proofs of what is most acceptable to Him} (Ephesians 5:10)

The expectations that we encounter in God’s Word are our road map to successful living before Him. This is our instruction manual! And through the loving guidance of the Holy Spirit, understanding and appreciating and firmly grasping and accomplishing God’s will (His plan and purpose for each of our lives) is not only possible, it is God ordained, and, yielded to Him, it will be!

God does not reveal Himself as wanting to be intimately known if we could not achieve it. He does not, like an unfair, unjust taskmaster, develop a long list of unreasonable requirements which we could never fulfill. That’s Satan’s misrepresentation of Him! Like a loving parent raising up children, our Abba shows us the right path to take, the correct way to think, speak, and act, and the manner in which He is to be known and understood. With extraordinary love He grants to us:

…a spirit of wisdom and revelation {of insight into mysteries and secrets} in the {deep and intimate} knowledge of Him. (Ephesians 1:17)

Because being intimately known, and therefore honored and cherished, by His children is the desire of God’s heart, the enemy has thrown many roadblocks in our way. Satan’s aim is to distort Truth, disrupt progress, and diminish God’s standards and revealed will in our lives. When you entertain the idea that God is unknowable and unreachable, that we can never truly interact with Him and hold conversation with Him, you are listening to the enemy’s lies and not attending to God’s Word or His Spirit. When we explain away Scriptural Truth as “not for today” or really only spiritual concepts not valid in this physical realm, we give away His established blessings and reject the full life Jesus accomplished on our behalf.

There are obviously some who are troubling and disturbing and bewildering you {with a different kind of teaching which they offer as a gospel} and want to pervert and distort the Gospel of Christ (the Messiah) {into something which it absolutely is not!} (Galatians 1:7)

From Genesis to Revelation God extends to mankind the Truth that He wants to be known, and known intimately. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit that ability has been given. Our part in this relationship with our Creator is to seek after Him as our “first and vital necessity”; to give Him, His Word (Jesus), and His Spirit first place in our lives; to cherish Him as our very reason for being; to love His Word as our most precious possession; to daily honor Him with time spent in His Presence (getting to know Him and to recognize His voice); to imitate Him:

{copy Him and follow His example}, as well-beloved children {imitate their father} (Ephesians 5:1)

Then no false gospel, no teaching contrary to His Word, no thoughts contrary to Gospel Truth will compromise or diminish your faith walk. The blood of Jesus which won our salvation and our testimony of our Father’s goodness and loving-kindness will define our days.

Rut, Rot, or Revival

I recently read an excerpt from a book by A.W. Tozer entitled “Rut, Rot, or Revival” in which he speaks of the “dictatorship of the customary” and the “psychology of the usual”. These issues were purposefully directed to the sometimes woeful state of the Body of Christ in relation to our incorrect representation of life in Christ. He correctly asserts that we are often in danger of slumbering in our complacency (rut), we are in a state of satisfied sameness (rot), and we have gratefully accepted comfortable status quo. That hardly demonstrates:

…constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another.
2 Corinthians 3:18

How can the worldwide Body of Christ effectively offer to the lost the powerful ministry of reconciliation back to God when we are hardly alive ourselves to the energizing ministry of the Holy Spirit? Smith Wigglesworth has suggested that if you are not daily growing in the things of God than you are in a back-slidden state! While some may consider that an overstatement, it is, in fact the call of our Father, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, that we “grow in grace” (2 Peter 3:18), “with a growth that is from God” (Colossians 2:19). Luke 1:30 (Amplified) extends the meaning of grace with the words “free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving kindness”. That’s what our Abba extends to us on a daily basis. There is never ending growth in God. We are never finished!! There is always more to know, to learn, to become.

…He wakens me morning by morning. He wakens my ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught].
Isaiah 50:4

As members of the Body of Christ that is our daily calling – to grow in grace, to crave to know more about our Father, to enter into this most extraordinary walk in the Spirit. We are to:

..teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom {in spiritual things…(Colossians 3:16)

And we are to approach our Father and our walk with Him according to the leading of the Spirit:

…in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things… (Colossians 1:10)

Ruts and rots are boring and nonproductive – something our Father never is! Ruts and rots stifle growth and accept quiet mediocrity. Ruts and rots allow the attitudes and accepting standards of the world into our approach to God – both individually and corporately. We are not to allow the world’s standards and the world’s way of doing things to compromise, to infect, our growth in the Spirit and our accurate representation of God’s ways of doing and being right. The people of the world who have yet to know Christ need to see how gloriously “otherworldly” life with God is meant to be!

As we attend to the daily ministry of the Holy Spirit, as we welcome in growth in our own spirits, we enhance the Body of Christ. We boldly speak of what we are learning and sensing and bless others. We demonstrate the peace and confidence and joy which is a direct result of life in the Spirit and enable and invite our brothers and sisters in Christ to see possibility! We revive others as we daily and steadily “grow and increase in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance and recognition] (Colossians 1:10). And energized and revived believers have a profound effect on the local church. We look for what the Word promises and are no longer satisfied with the “dictatorship of the customary” or the “psychology of the usual”.

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”)