Daily Discovering the Blessing

Posts tagged ‘Released into His Care’

Tender Mercies

It is easily observable that children thrive when raised in a family whose parents have demonstrated to them from the moment of their birth that they are greatly loved.  How a person’s heart, their spirit, their sense of self-worth, is powerfully shaped by this enabling understanding of being greatly loved!  The personal sense of being cherished, of being of great value, when instilled in the heart of a child is an enabling force.  A complete understanding that they are truly and unconditionally loved establishes a peace that welcomes in possibility, and a strength to overcome any attack on their self-worth.

As with everything in this world we live in, there is a parallel spiritual truth.  When we truly know the heart of God toward us, when we believe His Word, trust and rely on His loving intentions toward us, we thrive.  Nothing can shake that peace He has given to us (John 14:27).  Nothing can overwhelm or defeat us.

For this to be reality we must settle some Gospel Truths beyond any doubt in our hearts.  Throughout His Word our Father speaks of His tender mercies and loving-kindness toward us (Psalm 103:4, Psalm 145:9, Luke 1:78).  He is love (1 John 4:16), and that love sent our Lord Jesus to the cross (John 3:16, Galatians 2:20). We are of great value to Him.

You were bought with a price, {purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own}… (1 Corinthians 6:20)

He has given us the safety and shelter of His Word to stand on in faith and He has given us His Holy Spirit to guide, counsel and encourage us (John 14:16).  Allow these truths to recreate you (2 Corinthians 5:17); to renew your thinking ( Romans 12:2).  When you look out upon your day established in God’s Truth, identified through His love, trusting in His tender mercies, relying solely on His affectionate and watchful care of you ( Peter 5:7), then you are “safe in His inaccessible place” ( Psalm 91:8).

Faith in these truths establishes their reality in your life.  That’s our Father’s expectation – that you believe Him (Hebrews 10:38).  Faith believes that it receives all of these wonderful promises at God’s hand (Mark 11:22-24).  It is as simple as that (and in its simplicity it becomes quite difficult for some!)  When asked what the greatest Bible Truth he knew was, one pastor said, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so”.  “Have faith in God constantly” (Mark 11:22) seems to be a challenge for many believers.

It is the child of God who understands and receives His love and tender mercies that walks out every day in a peace that profoundly colors every moment, defines their days, and overcomes the world (1 John 4:4).

 

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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)

Never-Ending, Unshakeable Peace

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)

John 14:20 – …I am in My Father, and you {are} in Me, and I {am} in you.

John 14:30 – {Satan} …has no claim on Me. {He has nothing in common with Me; there is nothing in Me that belongs to him, and he has no power over Me.} (emphasis mine)

Following the progression in the above Scriptures, we are encouraged and instructed through this good Word to receive and constantly evidence deep abiding peace – always. No matter what the day’s circumstances bring, peace is to be a defining characteristic in the life of a Spirit-filled believer. Through the Holy Spirit God lives in us. Jesus lives in us. There is nothing that we will encounter that diminishes that Truth. We see here the overcoming force of the believer obeying and working with the Lord – through His Spirit Who lives in us. Synergy – two working together.

Each believer must own the Truth of these verses. When we, without reservation, without the diminishing power of unbelief, fully accept God’s Word as true, when His Word is more dear and defining to our lives than any other idea or circumstance or attention-grabbing issue, then peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) is the inevitable result.

First, in Verse 27, we understand that Jesus has given His peace to us. When the enemy, the world’s attitudes and troubles, and the concerns and ailments and longings of the flesh try to hinder your faith walk (that’s what the world offers us), Jesus tells us that He has already given us, bequeathed to us, His peace. Knowing that, believing and receiving that, agitation, disturbedness, fear, intimidation, unsettledness have no place to live in us. Our Lord’s instructions to us that help us maintain this peace are very clear. “Stop allowing!” We have a role to play here. The role is to believe that our Lord speaks Truth. His peace is ours, and everything else that falls short of that Truth may not stand in our lives. We need to recognize when our heart peace is being challenged and stolen.

And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule {act as umpire continually} in your hearts {deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state} to which as {members of Christ’s} one body you were also called {to live}. And be thankful (appreciative), {giving praise to God always}. (Colossians 3:15)

In verse 20, the extraordinary, awesome way in which our Creator determined to interact with His children is revealed. Knowing our frame, our weaknesses, He enables us to realize all of His benefits by living in us. The Holy Spirit of God dwells in each believer to teach and guide and come alongside and counsel and strengthen us (John 14:16). The divine interaction of Jesus in God, and us in Jesus and God in us reveals the heart and the love of God for His creation – you! And with this holy impartation, there must be peace. How do we “stop allowing” anything at all that would try to diminish that peace? Faith in the Truth and reliability of God’s Word. True faith in our Father’s character and in His Word exhibits peace.

Finally, in verse 30, the Master speaks of his complete separateness and immunity to the devices of the enemy. “He has nothing in common with Me; there is nothing in Me that belongs to him, and he has no power over Me.” Because He lives in us, the same is true of us. The life of God, the Holy Spirit, fills us. There is no place in our lives for the machinations of a defeated foe (Colossians 2:15), the “dictates of the flesh” (Romans 8:1), or the errant philosophies of the world (Romans 12:2). Never-ending, unshakable peace is the heritage of God’s Spirit- filled sons and daughters.

Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:7 – Message Bible)

The Tender Place

Very often we come to the Lord with prayer requests and personal concerns that are so close to our hearts that our words with Him are halting and timid and tear-filled. The bold decreeing that characterizes our prayers for others is often absent when we speak to Him of our own concerns. We’re touching a tender place. Whether we are speaking to Him about healing for our bodies, a much needed provision, or wisdom and guidance for our life’s journey, these requests speak to our personal relationship with our Father and His care of us. We can pray for the needs of others, we can prayerfully address a disaster situation somewhere on the planet and call forth Heaven’s help, we can intercede for the salvation of acquaintances with faith-filled words. We are, after all His instruments here on earth to call forth Heaven’s purposes in the lives of others. God expects His people to speak forth His powerful, alive, and active Word (Hebrews 4:12), and to expect results.

Matthew 9:38 – So pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.

John 16:24 – …ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy may be full and complete.

Matthew 18:19 – Again I say to you, that if two believers on earth agree {that is, are of one mind, in harmony} about anything that they ask {within the will of God}, it will be done for them by My Father in Heaven.

John 14:13-14 – And I will do whatever you ask in My Name {as My representative}, this I will do, so that the Father may be glorified and celebrated in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My Name {as My representative} I will do it.

(See also John 15:16, John 16:23-24)

So there is no doubt- in this world, as kingdom representatives, as imitators of our Father (Ephesians 5:1), we are expected to exercise our faith in His faithfulness to His Word and to His compassion; we are to speak forth, decide and decree (Job 22:28) and expect that what we say will be established. Faith speaks! That is the faith that pleases God (Hebrews 10:38). That is the faith stand that brings about Heaven’s purposes here on earth. (Which makes you wonder about the end results when God’s people keep silent and do not speak forth His Word in faith.)

We can exhort and encourage others to stand on the Word and expect that Word to manifest. Yet when the need touches our own lives, when our heart’s desires are involved, personal sensibilities often override or weaken our faith stand. Ministries have crumbled, churches have split apart or closed, God’s calling on lives has been reduced or even eliminated. I am not in any way discounting Satan’s role in all of this, but when we understand that he is a defeated foe, we need to recognize that our personal sensibilities often dictate louder than allegiance to our Father’s plans and purposes in a life.

And our Father knows this:

Proverbs 13:12- Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.

So how do we both acknowledge and honor those tender places in our lives but not let them speak louder than our Father’s Word to us and our understanding of His loving, attentive, and watchful care? By making the purposeful decision to hold His Word and His Person as more dear, more precious, than any personal issue.

Psalm 37:4- Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.

By immediately exchanging thoughts of lack, concern, or worry with thoughts of love and honor and praise for the One Whom we serve.

Quite recently just such thoughts of a personal nature would rise up in my mind to try to steal my peace. Questions about why certain prayer requests were taking so long to manifest. Immediately, and I truly emphasize “immediately”, the Holy Spirit redirected my thoughts. Thoughts of love and trust for God’s intentions in my life, thoughts of praise and thanksgiving that I am His daughter, thoughts encouraging my understanding that our Abba’s Word is settled and absolute, replaced the heaviness of negative questioning. The enemy can try to diminish our moments, but he is no match for the work of the Holy Spirit in a yielded life.

And be encouraged. It is the tender heart, the tender place where our dreams and desires reside, where the Lord reveals how special and unique our life in Him truly is. Our giftings, our motivations, the call of each heart, when placed in the care of our Father will yield extraordinary blessings. As His children we ache and yearn for those things because He placed them there.

Ephesians 3:20 – Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the {action of His} power that is at work within us, is able to {carry out His purpose and} do superabundantly, far over and above all that we {dare} ask or think {infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams} – To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it).

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)

Faith in our Faithful God

So I intend always to remind you about these things, although, indeed, you know them and are firm in the truth that {you} now {hold}. I think it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle (tent, body), to stir you up by way of remembrance.(2 Peter 1:12-13)

The most valuable, effective, and life-changing gift we can offer each other is the reminder of the Truth concerning the faithfulness of God, and of the love He cherishes for us.

…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 2:4)

Faith receives that Truth and is built up and strengthened. This is God, through Paul (2 Timothy 3:16), revealing Himself to His children. This is our Father providing us with a firm foundation for our faith. How revealing of our Abba’s character and His affectionate and watchful care of us (1 Peter 5:7) that He expects faith from us (Hebrews 10:38) and then gives to us everything we need to please Him and accomplish this faith. Through His Word, His indwelling Holy Spirit, and the fellowship and encouragement of the Body of Christ, we are equipped to operate in mountain-moving faith. That is His expectation, but it is also His enablement.

Having faith in God constantly (Mark 11:22) is our kingdom mandate, and throughout His Word, His expression of covenant with us, we are reminded of His character, we are encouraged concerning our value to Him; our relationship with Him. Loving parents, in so many ways, express and extend love and provision and protection and guidance to their children. That care flows out of hearts so filled with loving attention to their well-being, and each child responds with absolute trust in their understanding of their importance to their parents.

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with her mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me {ceased from fretting}. (Psalm 131:2)

“Ceased from fretting” is a wonderful description of faith based on trust, and that absolute trust is reliant upon the understood and unchanging character of God.

…He remains true (faithful to His Word and to His righteous character) for He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)

God is not a man that He should tell or act a lie, neither the son of man that He should feel repentance or compunction {for what He has promised}. Has he said and shall He not do it? Or has He spoken and shall He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)

Our daily walk of faith before Him is entirely defined and fashioned and strengthened by “the faithfulness of God and His fidelity to His Word” (Romans 3:3). We are to establish our lives on our understanding, our acknowledgment, and our absolute trust in His power, wisdom, and goodness. We are to daily, moment-by-moment if need be, renew our minds with His Word.

…Be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind {having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude} (Ephesians 4:23)

Speak and think the Truth in your heart” (Psalm 15:2). When you do, when that becomes your “default position”, you will overcome every obstacle, counter every thought contrary to His Truth, and quickly recognize and diffuse any situation that sets itself up against the Word of God. The attitudes of the world and the tactics of the enemy are ever active “inventing errors to mislead” (Ephesians 4:14). But they are easily overcome from the vantage point of our faith in our faithful Lord, and uncompromised reliance on His alive, active, and powerful Word. (Hebrews 4:12)

Faithful is He Who is calling you {to Himself} and utterly trustworthy and He will also do it {fulfill His call by hallowing and keeping you}. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

Yet the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen {you} and set you on a firm foundation and guard you from the evil {one}. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

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)
.
…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

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”)

Settled by Grace

While in the process of relocating to another state and experiencing the “unsettledness” of selling our present home and searching for our new home – a long distance treasure hunt involving mainly online searches – I have realized anew the assurance, and the necessity, of our Father’s constant and promised care.

1 Peter 5:7 – Casting the whole of your care {all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all} on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.

When our days are characterized by a peaceful sameness, an established and comfortable routine, a predictable pattern, we allow that rhythm to chart our daily course. But when that steadiness is disrupted by dramatically changed circumstances, when the unknown and the uncharted begin to define your future days, that is when your reliance on your heavenly Father “to establish and ground you securely and strengthen and settle you” (1 Peter 5:10) becomes your anchor.

Our Father wants our trust and total reliance on Him to be our defining, moment-by-moment life compass. Whenever life appears to become unsettled – a new career direction, health challenges, financial issues, whatever complications intrude upon your peace – start with the understanding that in Christ Jesus you are settled by grace. God’s Word, His promises, are forever settled (Psalm 119:89).

{According to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:

-“settled” means placed, established, determined, composed, adjusted

-“grace” is favor, good will, kindness; the favorable influence of God in a life}

There is no uncertainty with our Abba. He has made His care, His provision, His healing covenant, our prosperity abundantly clear and available to us through the Truth and power of His Word. Settle down into the truth of that. No need takes Him by surprise and it is according to and through our faith that we “receive and carry away and enjoy to the full what is promised.” (Hebrews 10:36)

I do not yet know where our new home is, but I have spoken with my Father about my trust in His knowing that. And because He has promised to guide us and because He has prepared our paths ahead of time:

“that we should walk in them, living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live” (Ephesians 2:10),

my heart is at peace expecting His goodness in every area of our lives. He is such a good and loving Father! I have told Him that I am so excited to see the home that He has set aside specifically for me and my family. We are settled (placed, established) in Him and by Him, and I have this truth settled in my heart, and the resulting peace and joy and excited expectation is the faith in Him that pleases my Father.

What Does Freedom Look Like?

As a former teacher of very young children, and the provider of day care to infants and toddlers, I was able to witness first hand the negative impact of negligible, or non-existent, disciplinary parameters in the lives of children trying to figure out how their world worked. They so very often kicked out against barriers to their “freedom” (in the form of the standards and regulations set by the adults in their lives) to see if they held fast; to see if they were indeed safe within those boundaries or if the stated standard, the boundaries, were weak and easily crumbled with some resistance to them. Ironically, as their rebellion toppled the barriers, they felt less safe and continued this testing and rebelling until they discovered a sturdy and resistant barrier against which their pressure could not prevail. Firm, uncompromising standards would save these young ones so much frustration; so much wasted time and energy unnecessarily challenging parental authority. And safe and free within those firm boundaries they could explore their world, develop their potential and giftings, and become their best and brightest self.

I was recently reminded of this during a Bible study discussion concerning too much freedom in the world; too much freedom to experiment with alternative lifestyles, drug use, and man made philosophies that diminish or eliminate God’s standards. Ironically, the reality is that this is bondage, not freedom.

Like the developing toddler, men strive to achieve “personal fulfillment” and the tearing down of what they consider limiting strictures to their progress through life. They cry out for freedom to be themselves, they rail against established standards and expectations that hamper their personal opinions and worldly pursuits, and they foolishly expend time and energy building a monument to their view of how life ought to be.

Bob Dylan once wrote correctly, “It may be the devil or it may be the Lord but you’re going to have to serve somebody.” Satan knows that once he can get us to take our eyes off of God and His standards (once we refuse God’s sovereignty, His Lordship) we are easy prey to his ways of doing and being wrong. Pride, envy, greed, and the selfish pursuit of personal glory or fleshly gratification – this is the bondage that is camouflaged in the guise of freedom.

Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God). Romans 6:16

So in reality, those without God in the world who proudly proclaim that they are free to be whoever they want to be are enslaved to a very hard taskmaster whose dismal end they too will share.

So brethren, we {who are born again} are not children of a slave woman {the natural}, but of the free {the supernatural}. In {this} freedom Christ has made us free {and completely liberated us}; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to the yoke of slavery {which you have once put off} Galatians 4:31-5:1

We are all called to experience and live within the glorious freedom of God’s children (Romans 8:21; Galatians 5:13). Safe within the boundaries of obedience to God’s expectations and His attentive care we experience freedom, peace, joy, confidence, quietness, and a deep abiding satisfaction that our life has meaning, eternal purpose, and great value.

Conditioned by the revelation of His grace” (Matthew 5:7) we make and maintain a life of absolute peace (Matthew 5:9). There is certainly no better way to live, no better place to occupy, than to be “spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation.” (Matthew 5:6)

Spiritual realities often confound man’s rational sensibilities. In truth, our freedom is found in His Lordship. Kingdom freedom is determined by our awareness of and obedience to God’s standards. Worldly freedom is the lie that Satan offers, for there is no freedom when you are dead in your sins and separated from your Creator.