Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Law Reveals Sin

Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

      Paul does point out a fact about the law. Think of it this way until the law people’s lives were in turmoil from the effects of sin manifesting in their lives. This is like having a sickness without understanding that sickness in general even exists. So the law revealed to mankind what they were experiencing in their lives was a result of sin. If they had never been exposed to the law then they would not have realized that it was sin itself that was plaguing them. But just receiving the revelation that sin is what was causing this issue is not the cure. No, this is like one who is dying physically finally finding out the name to a terminal disease. There is no hope in knowing what is wrong if there is not a cure. Fortunately we have the cure through Jesus though. In him we find our true identities as sons of God and no longer slaves to sin for through him sin and its effects have been annihilated.


Jesus Is A Reflection Of Us

      “Every human life is equally valued and represented in Christ. He gives context and reference to our being as in a mirror; not as an example for us, but of us.” Every since I read this quote by Francois du Toit I have had to reevaluate the way I look at things in my relationship with God. I have really been  blessed in that I have had the privilege this past year of doing nothing other than studying the Word and listening to others. Thankfully this path started out in a message of grace and God’s unconditional love, which I have come to realize that is the only way  love can truly exist or it is a counterfeit. In retrospect month after month the revelation that God really loves me and there are no strings attached has continued to grow and now after 14 months of experiencing this growth I finally think that my heart has been prepared to not only hear but to start believing the truth. It seems like it has either taken this long to finally hear something that caused a paradigm shift in what I thought or that my heart was finally softened to be able to agree with what my mind and ears were hearing; quite possibly both worlds colliding for just such a time for this.

 I can honestly say that in these past 14 months I have spent well over 3,500 hours just reading, praying, and listening to teaching that has helped condition the soil of my heart. In all that time I have learned that God is love, in fact it is the very essence of his existence, and all throughout the bible this love manifests in pointing to his Son Jesus. In these past months the religious theologies and doctrines I grew up with have been challenged, debunked and purged out of my belief system. I would not say 100% of them as there were things that I believed to be true which still remain true and very foundational basic concepts. Occasionally in this process something that I was not aware of still pops up, but in these cases there is not much of a struggle because it was usually hard for me to believe much of the things I had originally learned seeing that it did not bear the fruit of Christ. Yesterday was one of these days, when I read that quote. I had known from reading and hearing that we are complete in Jesus yet even with everything I have come to believe in just being a son, just existing in the way God desires for us to walk for the maximum fulfillment of life, I had not realized I was still trying to become like Jesus. But when I read, “…not as an example for us, but of us.” I had to change my focus and beliefs about myself and just like Adam quit trying to become who I am already.

 The first scripture that I thought of when I had this shift was Romans 8:29 “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” I will not debate this but the simple fact that God predestined us means that it was his will or desire for us and not something where we have no choice in the matter. After Jesus went to the cross everyone from that point going forward became a new creation and here is a simple why. Adam made a choice to try to become like God and in doing so sin entered into the world through his unbelief. I think we are missing something here because even though man could not keep the law for righteous requirements, as Adam instantly proved, we know that is was not impossible to do because Jesus did. My point is that it was not impossible because of the law itself but because of man. With that said now as a new creation the law cannot come into play at all because Jesus removed the law, so if in ignorance we try to fulfill it in some capacity, it has no bearing on our righteousness. We also have a born again spirit. Some debate on when this occurs and personally I think this was a one time event that occurred already at the cross. Personally my opinion, and that is all it is, is that just like being born through the womb in that we had no choice in being born again spiritually we had no choice. Some think that being born again is equated with believing on Jesus for eternal life and no where in scripture does it state that. Jesus said that unless one is born of a woman and Spirit they cannot enter in the kingdom of Heaven and Jesus in fulfilling prophecy made this possible. The reality is though whether it was at the cross or if it occurs when one believes does not matter as long as it did  and because until one believes nothing is going to change in their lives anyhow.

 O.k. so I know I said a few things on this one scripture but I still did not say why this scripture stood out first. The reason it did is like I said I was inadvertently trying to become like Jesus or as the scripture here says conform to his image, and though this is a way of interpreting this scripture it is correct to say that God designed us to be like his Son, remember we were created in his image and likeness. So we are not becoming like Jesus, we are like Jesus and Jesus made it possible for us to live like him. In this being predestined to conform or as I said designed to be like Jesus, we know Jesus coming was a part of the overall process for us as sons to be able to be who God designed us to be. We know that Jesus played a part in this overall process of mankind’s design because he was the lamb slain from the foundation of this world, meaning that he was to be sacrificed before man was even created. In that Adam failed, because he could fail, Jesus came and by removing sin, fulfilling the law for righteousness and destroying the works of the devil making it impossible for mankind to fail, because our quality of life and our relationship with God have nothing to do with what we can or cannot do but solely on the fact if we believe on Jesus. Our works have no bearing on our identity and the only thing they can do is reflect what we believe to be true in comparison to the truth.

 Romans 8:18 “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” This made me wonder if this great revealing was based on our unbelief in the fulness of our identities. What if I choose to believe and am fully persuaded in my heart that Jesus and I are one in union and walking in that understanding choose to believe that Christ in me is the hope of all glory, the physical manifestation of the goodness of God. Col 1:25 Under these circumstances could this glory that is to be revealed actually reveal itself now and not in some distant time? I guess the point that is so important for me to understand and to make to you is Christ is an example of who we already are and that by simply believing we can allow who we are to surface. We have Jesus as our example, not to become like him by changing what we do, but he is our example of who we already are and has we believe in the truth and walk in it we by default will conform to his image, which is God’s desire for all of us.

 Paul said in Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” I have heard many teach on this saying that we can attain three different levels of God’s approval and I never agreed with that, even if they say they are preaching the grace of God. I really believe Paul is trying emphasize the point here in by changing what we believe about ourselves, specifically our identities, so that in simply being who we are created to be we will prove not only to ourselves but to others the entire will of God for our lives. Looking at Jesus we all know he faced persecution and scripture tells us that as believers we will, but this is not supposed to influence our identities and I always see Jesus just being Jesus. He isn’t trying to be a healer as he is healing. He is not trying to be loving as he is love. These are attributes that just because he is in the room they are going to flow out of him and these same attributes along with others are the very essence that make us who we are because we have become one with Jesus. The same Spirit that dwells in Christ dwells in us. 1 Corinthians 6:17 “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.”

 I read some details on the life of John G. Lakes, which probably many of you know who he is, and the one thing I noticed was the transformation in his life over the years in going from one who did not necessarily believe in healing to one who understood that there is no excuse for not being whole. I think this renewing of his mind came about in seeing time after time the finished works of Jesus take effect and manifest in the lives of others regardless of what they believed or where they were at in the circumstances of their lives. There is the reality that Jesus took sin out the equation so the effects of sin have no place manifesting in the life of a believer, but also just as importantly Jesus bore the effects of sin upon himself so that whatever has manifested in the life of anyone, whether they believe or not, has been redeemed in his body broken for us so they are whole. We are God’s only limit because of what we choose to believe. Jesus plainly said that these signs will follow those who believe and just after that the statement was made the scripture continues on by saying that they went forward preaching the Word with signs following. Mark 16:17,20

 I wanted to bring this up because as believers we tend to think that because we intellectually accept something as true then we believe it. This is part of the equation but what we believe in our heart is really what matters. If I say that I believe that by Jesus stripes we are healed and I am not walking in total health then I have to humbly accept the fact that my heart is still be persuaded of that fact. Jesus said if we have faith the size of a mustard seed and we say to that mountain move then is will move. Mat 17:20 Point being the evidence of faith is not in commanding the mountain to move but that it went. I also therefore think just as Mr. Lake grew in the revelation that wholeness and life is a part of our identity in Christ we too need to grow in our identities.

 It is quite possible that most of us deal with what we call the chicken or the egg debate. We can dwell for eternity on the debate of which came first, though I did find it amusing that a while back I saw something that “scientifically” that had proven the chicken itself did. Anyhow it is quite possible in how we relate to faith that we stumble across a barrier. I am not giving justification to this issue just pointing it out. In many cases we find faith never becomes active in the life of a believer until they see faith in action. And there may be something to this in that this may just be how some people function in their learning. Jesus did several acts of faith before sending out his disciples. There are also a handful of scriptures that basically saying that upon seeing they believed. This does not mean that everyone who sees something will believe it, but that is their choice to make. And in the relationship aspect of things between us and God the sooner one believes the truth the better off they will be because if they have to wait till they see a miracle to believe then they are just existing in life and not living it in the quality that our Father has created for them. Basically no matter how good one who does not believe thinks they have it, it cannot compare to the quality of life we can have from God.

 God has designed all things in this world with us in mind so that to whatever measure is possible in its fulness we could continually walk in and experience the goodness of God. I have heard many say that I am just living in a dream looking for some imaginary utopia or Garden of Eden but I know that there is a reason behind all of humanity seeking such things. God designed us to live in an environment like this and as part of our design to exist in a state of just being which is basically a normal life from God’s perspective for us, otherwise why would we all desire something similar. We only seek after something that is lost, and if something was never a part of our life to begin with, that is also not there now, we would never desire to seek it.

 In writing this and thinking about the what this means to me I noticed something that stood out. Every time we do the works that Jesus said we would do in His name and not through our effort, it affirms our identity as sons of God. Fruit is produced out of simply being a son and believing on Jesus which continuously grows the bond we have between us and our Father. So everything that manifests as a byproduct in our lives of just being a son of God reinforces our relationship with God and everything we try to do out of our own effort starts tearing down this relationship. When we lay hands on the sick and heal it is a way of receiving affirmation that we are sons. I am not stating that this is the point of healing nor even a desire from God in any way but just stating it as a fact.

 Hopefully this has inspired you to think about your life from a different perspective. I know it has caused me to start looking forward in life from a different point of view and caused a new desire for me to clean off the mirror I have of Christ so I can see more and more each day who I am already in his reflection of me.

Sin Is Not your Problem – What You Think About Sin Is

     I could be really blunt and some this up in one scripture John 1:29  The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. What John declared is part of the simplicity of the gospel message itself and one of the most important to accept so that you can experience the quality of life that God desires for you and Jesus has given to you. Jesus is not removing your sin but sin the entered through the one man Adam has been removed and this is why we are to have no more conscience of sin. I am going to try to not write page after page of trying to show you the difference between what religion preaches in the majority of churches today as opposed the truth in the relationship that through Jesus we have been reconciled unto our Father. This is why Jesus said to call no man your father because in having been born again you have only one Father and that which has happened through the flesh ceases to be influential to your existence. The only reason this is not also ones reality or better said possibly their experience is if the have chosen not to believe the truth in their new identity whether in ignorance or defiance.

     Let me say that I am talking specifically about trespasses against God and not against one another. I will say this though that it is a fact that the only reason people sin against one another is because the person committing the offense does not have the revelation of their true identity in Christ and know experientially our Father’s love. To the degree that you understand and experience the love of God for oneself is the empowerment to see the value of others through the eyes of God. When we appreciate God’s value for humanity you will no longer look at any man in the flesh (by what they do) but through the love of God.

     Paul spoke about this very thing 2 Corinthians 5:16  Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh… If you have not understood that we through Jesus have been made free from sin then you will look at man and judge them based on what they say and do to evaluate their righteousness. But those who understand the gospel message understand that our righteousness is not based on our performance or self-righteous effort but it is a gift of God and we simply just need to realize that righteousness through Jesus is a part of our identity. Not something to attain or maintain but just walk in. I believe in this thought though lies the trap of religion in that they are always trying to make some declaration of what you must do to be instead of acknowledging who you are regardless of what you do.

     Man fell trying to do something to be like God, not believing he already was as much as he could be. The adversary used the same tactic on Jesus in trying to get him to prove his identity. Well the adversary did not stop with Jesus in that he continued on with his deception by teaching religious leaders to practice the same thing. Trying to gain their identity by being like God instead of teaching your identity as sons of God in Christ. While I mentioned a little on believing, just in case one is not aware the “unpardonable sin” that every thinks is so mystical is quite simply not believing the witness by Holy Spirit that Jesus is the Son of God and his finished works. For he who believes on Jesus shall not perish but have eternal life, which starts as soon as you believe not in the future, and this is life eternal that they may know God (be in a relationship with Him) and Christ Jesus.

    Simply another way to put all of this is that because I believe in everything Jesus there are things that happen simply because I exist and walk in my true identity as a son of God, but I can not do anything in order to attain that same identity. Jesus never did anything to prove his identity to man or the devil, but because of who he is many wonderful things occurred by his hands which bear witness to who he is. One of the things that he did then, and only he could do, was to be the final sacrifice for sin. In being the final sacrifice for sin then you must understand that sin has been removed because if sin has not been totally removed out of the picture in humanity then Jesus did not complete what he came to do. This is the reason why I stated that sin is not your problem, but what you think about sin is. If you believe that sin is even an issue to be dealt with then you will never be able to walk in the liberty that we have in Jesus. Not only will you think that there is something that you could fail at but you will also find it difficult to walk in the simple fact that since sin no longer exists the effects of sin no longer have rights to exist. To too many this becomes a humongous grey area because they evaluate the finished works of Jesus based on their experience instead of what Jesus has done for us being their experience. As in they see people sick and dying or possibly some infirmity in their own life, all of which are very real, and instead of accepting the fact that these things have no place or right to exist because sin itself has been eradicated they plead with God in hopes that He will do something. Wrong answer. We are to speak to these circumstances and declare them unlawful so the law of the Spirit of life takes over and rights the wrongs.

     Again if you believe that sin is an issue then you will never fully be able to walk in your true identity nor be able to walk in the benefits we have as sons through Jesus because you do not trust that God is competent and capable of destroying the works of man through fulfilling the violation in righteousness. I do not say these things lightly or in arrogance because everything that I talk about I have walked in or I am growing in now, and I do not claim to ever have experienced calling God incompetent myself though apparently that is what I did. I know I, nor probably you, have never thought about it that way, but by realizing this it is part of what helped me realize just where I was in my relationship with God.

     I am not saying that everyone should just go around and do anything they want, knowing that it is contrary to the nature of God which is love. Just as Jesus spoke that if we love God and our neighbors as ourselves then sin is never an issue. Love is who we are to be because we were created in the image and likeness of God. Jesus is the very image of God and one major reason is that he is the very embodiment of love. It is the desire of God that we conform to the image of Jesus which is love. But to try to become love on our own is impossible and frustrating. In order to become the love of God so we can share His love we have to receive it first by just believing in His love. Then the more that the love of God permeates your life the less sin or being sin conscience is an issue because you become love conscience.

     So if you do something that would be considered of a sin nature after believing on Jesus I want you to notice something first. Prior to believing if you had done this would you have rejoiced at your success or even cared about the consequences? But now as a believer you have noticed that you wished you had never done this same thing and this is because it is a sign that as a believer God has replaced your stony heart with a new heart and that new heart does not want to violate the love of God. So what do you do? You run to Papa and tell him thank you for forgiving you and loving you no matter what. You continue to believe in His love for you and grow in that love and then as you walk in your identity as a son you may not realize it but because your relationship with God grows stronger, and the love of God becomes the strongest attribute of your identity, sin no longer is even an issue in your life. Love is stronger than sin and the more God’s love is your life the less sin can even begin to penetrate into your life.

     Hopefully now you have realized then that sin is not an issue in your life, even if you do things that are considered sinful. The real problem is understanding your identity as a son of God and most importantly believing in the greatness and vastness of God’s love so that you are the very embodiment of God’s love just like Jesus. This is the main reason that the law is ineffective against sin because the law tries to restrain sin by behavior modification which just leads to frustration and then to lawlessness. But love conquers all.

Life Through Our Daily Bread

     O.k. So I just had one of those Doh moments (Homer Simpson for those of you who don’t know, not even sure if they still exist) Anyhow I was looking at the Matthew 15:26 (also found in Mark 7:27) where Jesus told the woman that it was not right to take the children’s bread and give it to the dogs, talking about healing. Then instantly I was taken to what is referred to as the “Lord’s prayer” where Jesus in teaching his disciples how to pray states give us this day our daily bread. I really have not thought about this outline for prayer too much because of all the perverted teachings I have heard about it. I had been taught that this part was praying for our daily needs like food or any other provision, even including financial. But these teachings always conflicted with me because they conflicted with Jesus who had said to take no thought for these things but to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things, our needs, will be added unto us. But the Holy Spirit as usual put the connections together (He is just so awesome) in that we need to pray for our daily bread because we daily need to receive the health or quality of life that Jesus provided through his body broken for us daily. We are still existing in a mortal body that is subject to attack in this fallen world so we have the opportunity to daily receive the benefits of being a son of God in making sure this temple is kept healthy. There is no excuse for us as believers to live as victims in this fallen state since Jesus had sacrificed himself to ensure that we do not remain subject to the effects on sin. We are not sinners but saints and we are not to be sick but whole.

     BreadI know of some who daily take communion and though I had no real opinion about that one way or another I now see that this is a really neat way of actually honoring the Lord’s provision through his sacrifice and receiving this day our daily bread. Jesus the bread of life…. if I get any more excited thinking about it I just might explode

TITHING vs. GIVING (There is a difference)

Tithing is one of those subjects that most people are sensitive to and really get frustrated over. I don’t blame them. Why we do away with being servants of the law because of the finished works of Jesus but not the whole law just doesn’t make since. I am going to blow a lot of theology here but most of the people reading this are gentiles. You were never a Jew and you were never supposed to live under the Jewish law. Quite frankly you would not be welcomed to. Gentiles were considered dogs to Jews.

In reference to the law Paul wrote, “Gal 5:9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” So why do we tempt ourselves by allowing the law to work in some areas in our life and not others. This is where most of the frustration comes in when someone does not see the law working in their lives. Think of it this way many churches teach that if you give God will give back to you 30, 60 or a 100 fold. If this were truly the case almost every believer would be a millionaire by the end of their first year. Also we have been given everything freely in Jesus. What exactly is 100 times everything? Let’s take a look at tithing in the bible from the bibles point of view and as you will see I do believe there is scripture to support giving under the covenant we live in through Jesus which I show later on but tithing, giving to receive from God, is another story.

 The first tithe that we are aware of is in the book of Genesis by Abram. Abram had just went with his men to get back his nephew Lot who was just taken as spoils of war from Sodom by several kings. In retrieving Lot they also retrieved back all the spoils that were taken.

 Genesis 14:16-24 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.  17  And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale.  18  And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.  19  And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of Heaven and earth:  20  And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.  21  And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. 22  And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of Heaven and earth, 23  That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:  24  Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.

 It was customary in this time of day to give a portion of the spoils as a tribute, a tithe, to a king whom you respected.  Melchizedek met Abram and acknowledged that Abram was blessed by God and he blessed Abram himself being a priest of God. Abram then out of respect and being in agreement with Melchizedek gave him a tithe of the spoils acknowledging Melchizedek as his king. Also note that Abram never kept any of the remaining spoils himself but returned the rest to the king of Sodom for he said that he wanted no one to think they had been a part of blessing him that was only reserved for God. So this was a portion of spoils and had nothing to do with Abram’s day to day financial situation. It was a customary tribute given by everyone in that time period to the king that they were submitted to.

 Not until the law was given do we see tithing mentioned again in scripture. Leviticus 27:30-32 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD.  31  And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.  32  And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.

 Numbers 18:24-26 But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.  25  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  26  Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe.

 So under the law everyone was to give a tenth of everything in increase unto the Lord and some of that was to be received by the Levites, the priests, so they had substance to live off of. But what was to be done then with the rest of the tithe? This is not something that in 30 years of going to various churches I ever heard taught the way the word literally says.

 Deuteronomy 12:5-7 But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come:  6 And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks:  7  And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee.

 What? Wait a minute. I have been told countless times to not eat your seed but here under the law God commanded us to have a feast with our own tithes and him as the guest of honor. How many celebrations in churches have you been to where they take the entire tithe to get food and have a banquet with God as the guest of honor? Just in case something was missed here let us go on through scripture and see if we can confirm this.

 Deuteronomy 14:22-29 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.  23  And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.  24  And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:  25  Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose:  26  And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,  27  And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.  28  At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:  29  And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.

 Wow. Not only do we have confirmation that God knew what he was talking about but we have even more information. If one were not able to take the tithe to the celebration then they could sell what they were going to celebrate with and buy what they wanted for the party at the celebration location. I didn’t say it God said it, I just agree with him. And what did He say to buy, “ And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household…” Whatever our souls lust after to eat. Maybe you don’t have grapes in your vineyard then buy some wine or other strong drink for the celebration. Don’t have a cow well buy one and have all the steaks you can eat. The whole purpose of the tithe is to have a celebration honoring God in his goodness and faithfulness to provide for whatever our needs are.

 The other thing to note was that every third year was a bigger celebration where everyone was invited. I really believe that this was so no one would ever feel as though God had excluded them but that he loves everyone and his provision is for everyone. Well if we aren’t seeing even small regular celebrations then you probably aren’t seeing near as many big ones either. I will say that I have seen some references to these celebrations when churches go out into the city and set up a festival but not to the degree described here. This is what a tithe is then and not what is collected weekly from the majority of churches through the law if death. It is a big celebration with God as the guest of honor.

 What then does the believer today to do when it comes to the law of tithing?  Before we see what the word says about tithing in light of the finished works of Jesus on the cross let’s take a look of how Jesus was trying to prepare everyone for what was about to take place.

 Luke 12:22-32 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.  23  The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.  24  Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?  25  And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?  26  If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?  27  Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? 29  And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.  30  For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.  31  But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.  32  Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

 Jesus himself was teaching not to worry about the needs we have because our Father gets pleasure in providing all we need to us. A key note in these texts though is Jesus said that if we are not able to do what is least, to trust and believe on God for our provision, then how will we receive anything else. Jesus also noted that for whatever the Father is providing for they do not sew to reap. This is so contrary to what is taught and could not be any more of an opposite. This does not mean that we are to sit home and do nothing and everything just comes to us. Even though the ravens do not reap what they sow for they sow not, they do have to gather what God has provided for them. For the majority of us this is in the provision from the jobs that we have but it is not limited to that. This does not mean that the job is our source but God has enabled his provision to come through that source and then there are so many other ways that provision comes as well.

 I know already there are several other scriptures that are racing through your mind that have been preached to you on the tithing subject and you are thinking on the “what abouts”. Well what about them? What about sewing and reaping? Jesus taught about sewing and reaping.

Mark 4:3-14 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:  4  And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.  5  And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:  6  But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.  7  And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.  8  And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.  9  And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.  10  And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.  11  And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:  12  That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.  13  And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?  14  The sower soweth the word.

 So Jesus clearly stated that in his example the seed that was being sown was money.  No, well then what was it? The word of God was being sown. Here is where we can start to learn how to separate the things of God from the things pertaining to man. We cannot sow anything to God and expect an increase of that which was sown back from God. This is a works or law mentality. We can though sow into the lives of those we have influence with. Just by reading this book I am sowing words of life into you and hopefully that will produce a harvest in your living in the grace of God instead of the law of death. Jesus confirms this with another scripture that is oftentimes taken out of context.

 Luke 6:38  Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. This is the part of the text used continuously to support the works righteousness mentality that we need to give money to receive money but what is the context of the scripture? It is given in the two prior scriptures. Luke 6:36-37 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.  37  Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

 Then the context of the scripture was not money but in showing mercy in that if you show mercy, or give mercy to others, then that will come back to you by other men. Even people who are non-believers in Jesus see this principle work in their lives. In fact all of the scriptures used for today that tell us we need to give money to receive money are taken out of context or miss applied when we look after the cross if they are telling you that you will receive more than you sow. We will see that we should give and that is what I am going to begin to share but we need to understand that we do not give money to receive more. We give because we see God as our source and we know that it is he that gives us abundantly so that we can provide for those in need. Have you ever noticed God has always provided before the need existed? The issue is never God’s ability but our ability to appropriate his provision. It is out of our abundance we give to not open the door for contempt to enter by giving out of need or lack.

 Look at it this way, prior to the law there were three main ordinances that existed which were issues after the cross. Some were discussed and clearly settled by the early believers and others go on thru today. Circumcision, sacrifices and tithing are all examples of what existed prior to the law and all three of these were indoctrinated into the law, and all three of these were fulfilled by Jesus on the cross. I cannot remember sacrificing any cattle to God here lately nor do I hear anyone teaching that they must be circumcised to be saved. Thank God. Well then why would we need to tithe to be on God’s good side or gain anything from him.

 Jesus our tithe…..

 Malachi is another scripture that many use to try to manipulate people to give out of the law. Malachi 3:1-12 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.  2  But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:  3  And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.  4  Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.  5  And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.  6  For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. 7  Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?  8  Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.  9  Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.  10  Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of Heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.  11  And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.  12  And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.

 In verse 1 God is declaring who the following prophecy is about. Jesus confirms this in Matt 11:10 by declaring John the Immerser as the messenger preparing the way for Jesus. So this prophecy is fulfilled during the time that Jesus started his ministry until the cross. Then verses 2 thru 6 are talking about since the Levites, the priests are not functioning the way they were suppose to Jesus was going to clean out the priesthood and replace it with a new high priest which was himself.

 In verses 7 thru 9 the prophecy is stating that because the tithe has not yet been made man was still cursed. Remember Jesus became a curse so that no man would ever be cursed again so if someone decides to use this text to say you are cursed if you do not tithe then they are going against the finished works of Christ, which really is the true meaning of antichrist. In verses 10 thru 12 then we see that once Jesus became the tithe just as he became the offering the devil would be rebuked and everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord is blessed.

 Another little tidbit is that in verse 10 it reads, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of Heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”, but the word ye is not there and was added. What is there though is אתwhich are the Hebrew letters Aleph and Taf. This may make more since when you use the  Greek letters Alpha and Omega. This should help shed a little light, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. ”

 This was a prohecy saying, “Bring Jesus, the whole tithe, to the storehouse…” Jesus said we must eat his flesh and drink his blood. Also he said he is the bread of life.

 Now with all this being said this does not mean that I do not believe in giving to support the ministry. The focus though is that you cannot give to God to receive more from God. If you notice after the cross the tithe is never brought up again. Why? Because it was law and we know that all of the law for righteousness was fulfilled in Jesus. There are times though that finances are brought up as a matter of giving out of one’s abundance so the gospel could be preached and help those in need.

 Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

 2Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

 This will be covered in its entirety later but I wanted to point out that one was directed not to give a tenth, in fact the word tithe or tenth never appears again in the scriptures after the cross except in a Hebrews when Paul was referring to Abram and Melchizedek, but direction comes only to give whatever one wanted to so it could be done so cheerfully. If you are giving because you feel you have to and you are doing it even somewhat against your own desire to do so then you are just going to build up resentment and that is a big reason not to give grudgingly.

 1 Corinthians 9:9-15 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?  10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.  11  If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?  12  If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.  13  Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?  14  Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.  15  But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.

 Paul was stating here that if you receive from the gospel then you should support it. There is just a simple basic principle here just as in any cause and that is it requires resources to spread the message. So if you believe in the message then you should support the messenger, but even here Paul chose not to receive any funding because he did not want anyone to think he was doing it for the money.

 1 Timothy 5:17-18 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.  18  For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

 Paul is using this same text to teach Timothy that Timothy had a right to receive from the ministry. Timothy was a still young but a pastor of a church and Paul did not want him to feel guilty about partaking of the offering for himself. In fact Paul clearly states that the leader should receive support double to that of others.

 2 Corinthians has a lot of insight to giving. Both chapters 8 and 9 deal with it and give a better perspective on what and why. The background on these specific passages is that the year prior the churches of Corinth had made a vow to give to help out the churches in Jerusalem and the churches of Macedonia had heard about it. Out of the excitement of what was going on they wanted to help out as well. The Macedonians then gave more than what anyone thought they would because their financial status at that point was still so poor. Paul wanted to encourage the churches of Corinth then to let them know what was going on and that he would be coming soon to collect their gift as well.

 2 Corinthians 8:1-2 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;  2  How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

 Paul starts right off for setting the foundation of what he was about to write by stating what Macedonia had done was out of their new found grace in God. Even though at that point they were financially poor they now saw God as their source and out of joy in the message of God’s grace wanted to give what they could to help out those who were in need in Jerusalem. Later we’ll see but this portion of the message to the Corinthian’s was written as a follow up to promise they had made a year ago. Corinth in general was a wealthy town which is why Paul mentions the contrast of the Macedonian churches.

 2 Corinthians 8:3-5 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;  4  Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.  5  And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

 Paul had not even planned on receiving anything from the Macedonians because of their poverty but they literally begged to help out by donating what they could and even more.

 2Corinthians  8:6 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.

 Paul was wanting them to know that one of the reasons that Titus was there was so they could also give in such a fashion as well knowing that provision is through the grace of God.

 2Corinthians 8:7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

 Giving is also a part of  grace of God. It is just as important as everything else that we receive and walk in through Jesus. Giving to help out others should be equal in our lives in revelation to God’s grace just as healing or anything else.

 2 Corinthians 8:8-9 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.  9  For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

 Here is a key point. The Corinthian’s were wealthy in general so they had no need to give in order to receive, which is what is usually taught by those who keep the law, but here Paul said it is because of what Jesus had done they had the ability to gain wealth. We really need to understand that God should be the source to meet all of our needs. I know we work and therefore receive a salary, but it is God that has blessed you so that you can do so by giving you the abilities you have and it is God who causes increase in your life. These are gifts and they cannot be bought.

 2 Corinthians 8:10-14 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago.  11  Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.  12  For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.  13  For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:  14  But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:

 Paul tells them that he knew it had been a year ago when the Corinthian churches had made a promise to help out the poor in Jerusalem and that circumstances were different then. So what they may have determined to give then, as individuals, may be a burden now. Instead of giving what one had planned to in their heart a year ago Paul directed them to give as they could now. He was not saying that to let everyone get out of their promise but they should give out of their abundance. There were some who could not give what they wanted to originally but with that being said there were others who could now choose to give more liberally. But in everyone giving out of their own abundance, whatever that may be, they are all sharing equally in their support and not some out of their own needs.

 2Corinthians  8:15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.

 In reference to God’s provision of manna Paul again is trying to let them know that whether they gave, a little or a lot depending on their individual abilities, God  would make it all work out.

 2 Corinthians 8:16-21 But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.  17  For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.  18  And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;  19  And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:  20  Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:  21  Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

 Titus had had the same desire as Paul to see the whole grace of God manifest in Corinth and out of the desire of his own heart wanted to go there to follow up with them. There was also someone else who went along with Titus that had been picked by the churches donating out of Macedonia so that if anyone was to question the use of the funds they could verify it. Paul did not want anyone to think that someone was not using any resources for outside of what they were intended for. This does bring up a good point also in that the funds being collected were not for the preaching of the message, though I am sure no one would have complained if some were used that way, but the intentions were for the funds to help out the poor. Basically the churches were coming together to help those out who had needs but no way of providing for themselves. Yet it was to be done in such a fashion that God would receive all the glory. We really need to look at our motivation for giving and then wisely choose what to do with what we got. First and foremost does it glorify God or man.

 2 Corinthians 8:22-24 And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.  23  Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.  24  Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.

 Paul finishes up here stating that these men being sent are messengers, which in the Greek the word used is apostolos so they were apostles, who desired to come to see the faith that was in the Corinthian churches that Paul was speaking of and he wanted the churches to confirm of his boasting in them by showing the love of God in them to the apostles..

 2 Corinthians 9:1-2 For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:  2  For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.

 Paul said it was not necessary for him to go on talking about giving because he knew how eager they were to give and it was this eagerness that they had he told to the Macedonian churches which is what inspired them to give.

 2 Corinthians 9:3-5 Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:  4  Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.  5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.

 Paul had sent his letter along with Titus and the other apostle beforehand so that the Corinthian churches could get together whatever offering they were going to give. This way when Paul along with representatives of Macedonia traveled through Corinth to collect the offering on their way to Jerusalem his boasting of Corinth would be confirmed. He did not want everyone trying to scramble at the last moment in giving, thinking that someone might get the idea they are taking advantage of the circumstances, impulse giving, and not giving out of their hearts desire.

 2Corinthians  9:6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

 Here is where many fall into the trap of the law. Religious teachers say see the word reads that if you give you will receive and this is why you should tithe. Well this does not even line up with that law doctrine because it states he who sows, or gives, little reaps little and he who gives much reaps much. This does not even remotely sound like a clear cut ten percent event.

 Also some say that if you give stingily then God gives to you stingily but if you give abundantly then you will receive abundantly. This again does not coincide with the grace of God. There is something about the influence of the heart of a person that if they cannot give generously or abundantly it is because their heart has not been persuaded to believe that God will supply to them abundantly. If someone is a stingy giver they are usually giving for the wrong motive or have not been persuaded yet that it is God who is their source of provision.

 Just like all the things of God you only receive what you believe in and what you believe is what flows through your life out to those around you. If you truly understand and see God as your source in all things then you would be one who sows abundantly because you know that it is God who is abundantly providing for you. If you sow little, more than likely you are just starting to step out in faith seeing God as your source but if you stay that way there is some other hindrance possibly in your heart There is a truth in that people are more giving of anything when it does not cost them. I say that because if one believes they are giving of there own resources they are limited to what they have, but of they truly see God has their source they are more generous knowing that God’s provision is always replenished.

 2Corinthians  9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

 When we look at giving to support a ministry or help someone out we should not give if we are going to regret it nor should we give out of feeling we need to, as an obligation. Do not let anyone pressure you into giving. But if you are going to give out of the right motive it will make you happy to do so.

 2 Corinthians 9:8-10 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:  9  (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.  10  Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

 Paul is saying the grace of God is an all encompassing provision and it is God who gives you abundance so that you have the ability to give. In verse 9 Paul is specifically relating to Psalm 112:9 which is in reference to the man who honors God, in that he gives to the poor and then follows up by saying that it is God who not only provides for you but also causes the increase of your resources. God is your source.

 2 Corinthians 9:11-12 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.  12  For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;

 Out of the prosperity that the Corinthians were experiencing because of their understanding of God’s grace it was causing Paul and those around him to praise God in what they were seeing working in the church through their generosity. And what they were doing in giving was not only going to meet the needs of those in need but was also causing God to be glorified.

 2 Corinthians 9:13-15 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; 14  And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.  15  Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

 By the proof of their actions in giving, God is glorified because they are giving generously out of an understanding of the good news in Jesus. The church in Jerusalem will be praising God and praying for the Corinthian churches because out of the gift they are to receive they will be able to experience how much God’s grace is working in Corinth.

 One thing about prosperity is it does not necessarily mean having millions of dollars and everything you could ever dream of owning. You can have all of these things and that is not an issue in and of itself, unless they have you. Prosperity is the opposite of poverty and both are just mindsets. You can have a multimillionaire who has a poverty mindset and can never get enough but on the contrary someone who lives in a third world nation be prosperous because they are content with what they do have. There is a peace that comes in being prosperous. When you enjoy what you have, can get what you need and be content. I do believe that God wants us to have what we want but I have also noticed that as we gain understanding of prosperity, and grow deeper in our relationship with God, a lot of those desires start to change.

 At the time of this writing in my life my family and I have lived in everything from a one bedroom apartment to a 6,000 sq. ft. home, and we are not living in either now.  All of the various places we have lived met a need and yes we have lived in places we enjoyed more than others but now I am at a point where my heart has been persuaded that it really doesn’t matter as much where I live. Trusting in God for my provision, knowing he cannot fail, is what gives me peace. There is no doubt that we as believers should be financially prosperous for as we have seen in the word that part of being prosperous is the ability to give to every good work not out of our necessity but out of our abundance.

 The first time I knew God in this way was when I was a teenager. I was about 18 or 19 and I had gone to a service that was taking pledges for television airtime. I really felt impressed to give $100, which at that time was about a week’s wage. I really didn’t have the money but I went ahead and made a pledge that if I got the money I would give it. Shortly after that I was talking to God and said, “O.k. God you know I do not have the money to give so how can this be met?” I felt impressed to sell the record collection that I had, and since I really didn’t listen to it anyhow there was no hard feelings. I said, “Now God if this is of you I want the $100 even”, but after thinking about it I added, “Make that $110 even not a penny more or less because I need $10 for gas”, so I could take the money to the church. Not surprisingly the store offered me $110 even for the majority of the collection. I even offered to give the guy the rest of the records for a dollar, more to prove a point than wanting the dollar. He said no and I had my first confirmation of God’s provision. I ended up throwing the rest of the records away when I got home.

 I wish I could say that this was the way it was for the rest of my life but I was a young Christian at that point and religion had not gotten a hold of me yet. I learned about tithing and thought I had to give in order for God to bless me instead of being taught that I was already blessed. I kept giving but I knew I wasn’t receiving. Out of what, I see now looking back, was resentment and frustration caused by religion my walk with God was rocky at best going through various phases of trying to understand why God wasn’t moving in my life. I would end up spending over 20 years going through this cycle never really truly prospering and even losing almost everything when we went bankrupt. It was not until I learned about God’s grace and who we are in Jesus and received by faith what he accomplished on our behalves that I started seeing a change in my life. It is what put in me a desire to write this book so that everyone who hears what it has to say may also experience God’s grace in their life.

 I have heard several people say, “Well I have always tithed and I have always been prosperous”, or, “I did not have much when we first started tithing but after a few years we started prospering.” There is absolutely no doubt that in both of these situations the fact that they gave money to God was not the reason they prospered. There are millions of people who could not give a care in the world about God who are prosperous. Some people just have a better ability to acquire jobs that pay better, good investors or have inherited money. All of which are just worldly applications. Others who are believers in Jesus after time start to believe that God has prospered them and start receiving what he has already given them. It is just like healing or anything else from God, you do not buy it or earn it but receive it and start walking in it.

 If you start seeing God as your source then doors will open, whether in a job or meeting others, for prosperity to flow. Remember in Deuteronomy 28:2 the blessings will overtake you, not you seek the blessings.  You will experience favor in situations and circumstances that you may never even know about. There are just so many ways that God can supply for your needs and wants to but you have to see him as your source and not in what you do for God, but quite possibly what you do in response to his leading. As I was meditating on this portion of the book the thought entered my mind, “God it’s not money that I seek nor things but it is my relationship with you that I value and want to build upon.” and I was led to Luke 12:34  “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” I felt the impression of God saying that because He is my treasure that is where my heart is. I have never heard this expressed this way but it does ring true that whatever we value most, that is our treasure, and that is where our hearts are.

 While we are on this subject in general I want to give you something to think about when it comes to biblical prosperity. Most people limit prosperity to the all mighty dollar. That is sort of like saying the only car there is a VW Beetle. There are a couple of examples I think when I share these with you will help you at least start to better grasp on prosperity. I have added in here a teaching called “What are you working for?” which I hope will help you receive revelation.

 Everything we do to better ourselves in this world is really of no value. What I mean is that the life that we live now is temporal and nothing that we gain physically will we be able to take with us eternally. All the effort we place in receiving that which will pass away is in vain. I know we have needs in order to survive, but God himself promised that if we seek first his kingdom he would supply our needs. Just where the boundary is for us to work, not out of the law, but for provision versus receiving from God sometimes can be a fine line. Believing and receiving everything God has promised, and Jesus has provided by giving of himself, is honoring God and that is what we are to do. So why do we dishonor him by trying to provide for ourselves that which he has promised to? No I am not saying to stop working.

 This also does not mean that we cannot be stewards over really nice stuff. As long as the possessions do not possess you then there is nothing wrong with living like Solomon. God is the one who prospered him.

 As I started receiving this revelation the first scripture that popped into my mind was that of Paul. He made a very harsh comment on his accomplishments, the works that he had done up to that point to make him the man who he was, Saul.

 Philippians 3:6-9 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.  7  But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  8  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,  9  And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

 Paul had said that in all of his own effort to earn righteousness everything he had worked so hard for to accomplish was dung. Yes manure or whatever you want to call it. I know that he specifically was relating to his own efforts in attaining life eternal by works righteousness of the law versus the only way, which is by receiving Jesus as Lord and savior. My question though is we know that there is no greater reward or miracle than salvation yet God has not only promised and has given us salvation though Jesus but health, prosperity, provision to all being free from lack in our lives. If we receive the greatest then why would we earn the lesser. I will say one other thing on this in that it is more of a Western mindset that is influencing much of the world, to separate these issues. In the traditional Jewish way of thinking salvation, health, peace, prosperity all the good qualities of life are coequals. We tend to qualify them to greater or lesser degrees but they are meant to all be part of one synergetic relationship.

 I know Paul had great revelation about the relationship we have between us and God, about God’s promises and faithfulness. I know that there are instances where he worked himself so as to not be a burden but a blessing. But in these instances he worked to be able to be a benefit to others, not trying to get from them anything so that people would stay focused on God and not think of him as a prosperity preacher. You know those who prosper by receiving but not rightly teaching so those who give suffer. I know for a fact we are all to be prosperous, but just as with all things of God there is his way, which is the right way, and then the perverted way, which many teach at the expense of others.

 What I am getting at is we know we all need to work, and I truly believe we are designed to do so. Even Adam and Eve in the idea situation tended the garden. Here is where I think though there are differences, and that is the motive in which we work for. If we are working so that we can have wonderful things and nice vacations then our motives are wrong. Why? Not because there is anything wrong with that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a nice house, car, furnishings, clothing, vacations etc. but if that is the only reason you are working then that is wrong. That is  being only selfish, focusing on having the best temporary experience possible but not being conscious of what is eternal.

 The way to look at this now is that there is nothing wrong with living a life having a nice house, car, possessions etc., but was it all out of our own efforts or was it as a result of receiving the blessing of God? When you look at the life you live and the possessions you have were they all out of your own hard work or do you see the hand of God thinking to yourself that there is no way I could of attained all of this without God? This is only part of the coin though. The other side is our main focus should not be working to provide for only our families, but to minister to others.

 Here is a reality check folks in that God does not print money. He works through those who will so that he can. There are several people who have great financial wealth and they know that it was only by the grace of God that they have received it. They also understand its purpose and that is to help share the gospel. Whether to give to those in need, so that that person in need can physically experience the love of God, or to give to those who minister to teach the word, they have learned to look at provision in their life from the correct perspective.

 To me the bottom line is God said, not Tom, the following: Matthew 6:19-34  Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  20  But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:  21  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  22  The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.  23  But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!  24  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.  25  Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?  26  Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?  27  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?  28  And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:  29  And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  30  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?  31  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  32  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  33  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

 Before I expound upon this I want to reiterate that there is nothing wrong with having things. What I want to help you think about though is what is truly important. Jesus said that our focus should not be acquiring the treasures of this world but treasure in Heaven. There are a couple of good points to come out of this. The first is that you cannot ever find true happiness by acquiring things. This does not mean that you cannot enjoy them. There is a difference though. Happiness comes about as a fulfillment of a need being met. It is a mental state of well-being. If your desire is to just keep getting bigger, better or more than you cannot be happy because you are not a peace. Enjoyment comes though from the use or possession of something beneficial or pleasurable. Interestingly though we can store treasures in Heaven though and find both happiness and enjoyment in doing so. When you give to others, not only those in need, but to everyone and anyone, expecting absolutely nothing in return from them this is when you are storing up treasures in Heaven. It can become almost like a game. One of the neat ways of doing it is giving your gift in secret with a simple note saying something like, “Just because your Heavenly Father loves you he has given this to you.” Then sign it Jesus. This is not blasphemous either. Everything we do we are to do unto the Lord and give him the glory.

 Verse 21 said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” I have already gone over this earlier in the chapter but just want to reiterate the fact of what do you truly treasure?

 Verses 22 and 23 about the light of body are the eyes, is not about what you allow to influence your life. Although I have heard this taught umpteen times as such the focus here in context is money or assets. There is a truth that what you see and expose yourself to you can influence your heart but that does not make any since in this teaching of Jesus. Have you ever heard the term idiom? Every culture uses them and they may change over time. We have one that use to be real common in that when it was raining real hard out we would say, “it is raining cats and dogs”. Could you imagine someone a thousand years from now reading something written by us who had never heard of such a phrase? They might think that God was raining some sort of plague upon the people. Well to have a good eye or an eye full of light is to be a generous person. One who gives to whoever is in need. It is an older Jewish idiom. On the contrary to have and evil eye or an eye not full of light but darkness is to be greedy or stingy. This may help you out when you read some of the gospels.

 Verse 24 is pretty straight up. You can only have one god and who is it going to be? If it is money then it is not the creator of the universe, the one true God. But if it is our God, our Father, then don’t be concerned about gaining vast fortunes on your own.

 In the rest of this scripture, verses 25 thru 34, Jesus really breaks it down to a simple fact. He declares that the other life forms on this earth such as birds and plants do not sow and reap or are concerned with what they wear, so then why do we? The focus being that outside of man, nothing invests in its own efforts to gain but relies on God’s provision to sustain. I was watching a great example of this with some bears out in the wild. They were eating berries that they had not grown, and catching fish that they did not farm. They were playing and wrestling as cubs. But the bottom line is they solely relied on God’s provision. Now they did not just sit around and do nothing. They had to receive God’s provision by harvesting the berries and catching the fish. But this reminds me of Adam and Eve. They did not plant the Garden of Eden but they tended to it and ate of its provision.

 I know the scripture is very clear that we are to work and not be lazy. In fact it says let him who steals steal no more so that he may have to give to those in need. I really take this to heart meaning that he who does not work is a thief. My hope though is this will aid in helping you to start focusing your heart as to why you are working and what for. Working to minister to others regardless of what job you have.

 As a different example on provision versus personal gain, I personally know a family who occasionally voluntarily ministered. The husband worked at least two full time jobs all the time and they were good jobs. The wife also worked full time. I honestly have no idea of what kind of offerings they gave and that is not the point. These people did have a nice home, family, cars and vacations. Sort of the American dream type of life, but I fail to see how this is God’s provision and this is why. They obtained everything by what they did through a whole lot of work. In appearance they were no better off than some of their neighbors, where only one spouse worked or maybe both but not multiple jobs. The area they lived was nice but not some super high end area, just nice. Looking at scripture when I see God’s provision it is like getting gifts, or if you want to legal about it a return for no real investment. There are millions of non-believers who are millionaires. They have worked hard, invested or cheated but they have acquired great fortunes. And yes regardless of the drama you hear on the news there is no shortage money. There literally are millions of millionaires and over 1,200 billionaires. There has not yet been the first trillionaire in the world but if Bill Gates had continued as he was progressing years ago it was projected he would have been it. I am laughing because my spellchecker did not even recognize the word trillionaire.

 When you look at the lives at several of these individuals they are smart, hard working and good investors. Most of them are great philanthropists and this is why many think they are “blessed” to have such wealth. But I beg to differ. There is no doubt that they are doing many good works. That they are helping out many individuals who are in dire need. But they are not giving God the credit. Now in various cases God may be working through them to answer the prayers of others and fulfill his promises. But they are not wealthy because of God’s provision but by their own efforts. Face it really it is not that impressive to someone if another individual works hard and attains wealth because that is what we would expect, but if you see someone enjoying life and not killing themselves working to be prosperous and they give God the glory who would you want to be more like? Do you want to be stressed out working long hours making sure every penny is accounted for or would you want to have God just bless and multiply everything you put your hands to and speak over so that you have abundance and can give to others with little effort of your own?

 At the end of the verses we mentioned earlier Jesus said that non-believers, Gentiles at that time, sought after the things of this world that they needed and or desired to have. But as believers we are not to do so, we are to have them, but we are to receive them from God as part of his provision for us. Meanwhile we are to stay focus on the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Not us being righteous but his righteousness, which is his faithfulness to his covenant.

 I know many many many Christians who are prosperous, but in reality I wonder how many have just earned everything they have and labeled it has being blessed by God. I think of Peter and when Jesus showed him the prosperity of God versus man.

 Luke 5:1-9 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,  2  And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.  3  And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.  4  Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.  5  And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.  6  And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.  7  And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.  8  When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.  9  For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:

 Seasoned fisherman who had fished the way that in the natural was the best way they could and yet out of all their labor for the whole evening they had caught nothing. But by acting on the Word of God they had prospered, with almost no effort, more than they ever had in their entire lives. There used to be a little joke that this haul of fish allowed them to pay off the boats, sell the business and finance the ministry. What really happened God only knows but we way under estimate God’s ability, his willingness and desire to work in such magnificent ways in our own lives. I think we just feel like Peter, so unworthy of such things. The truth is we are not worthy and thank God we do not get what we deserve. Instead we get his grace, mercy and unconditional love. We get the opportunity to receive of his goodness and kindness. Not only so we have all we could need but so we can boast of our Father and share his abundance with others.

 Paul has taught me something very important. We are to give, but never to give out of our own need or begrudgingly. Paul, nor anyone else, commanded anyone to keep the tithe after the cross because that was of the law. But as we do give out of our abundance with a joyful heart, a willingness to share God’s love in a special way I believe we learn to become better receivers. If we give out of our lack then we can open to door to becoming bitter towards God without even desiring to become so. If you give expecting God to be an ATM and just give it back to you then you are giving out of the wrong motive. I know that is not what is commonly taught, but I have studied and experienced this. Every time I have had God personally do something for me it was never out of giving but just believing God is faithful and he loves me. I have listened to his leading, because sometimes you have to go to your provision. When I have missed it, I can honestly say it is because I have missed it. I got my eyes focused off of God and onto my need or want.

 Looking back in scripture though don’t think that prosperity is literally just about money. Look at the children of Israel when Moses led them out of Egypt. For 40 years there was no lack. Everyone was healthy, their clothes never wore out and God provided their food. I am just as guilty as others, but I find it funny that God provided for these people for 40 years all of their needs and they were wealthy to boot, yet we hope God can provide a meal, or a car or a house for us. “God if you could just please help me out with this”, as if God was in some sort of shortage. No one knows definitively how many people he led out of Egypt. It is fair to say that up to 2 million is not unreasonable since we now based on scripture there were 600,000 men able to fight alone. Ironically these people complained when they thought they weren’t being provided for and many of us are afraid to ask God for provision. Getting back to the main point though, these people were wealthy, but all that wealth was not going to do them a bit of good in the middle of the desert. They needed God’s divine provision in materialistic things and they received it, especially food, water and clothing.

 Going back to the title of this little teaching, “What are you working for?” Are you seeing what has been motivating you as we have been going over this? You know from God’s perspective he loves you regardless of your motives, but he also wants what is best for you. You should never feel condemned about what you are doing, even if you are just focused on you or your family. But you should find comfort in knowing that you do not have to go at it alone. You can choose to help meet the needs of others and also receive from God to meet your needs.

 Deuteronomy 2:6-7 Ye shall buy meat of them for money, that ye may eat; and ye shall also buy water of them for money, that ye may drink.  7  For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.

 This may be more of a revelation from God then just practical logic but this is a scripture that helped me make the transition from working for my family to desiring to allow God to flow through me to meet the needs in ministry. He revealed to me how he provided and blessed Israel so that they could fulfill his will on earth and to do so they would need to engage in commerce. And there are more:

 Deuteronomy 8:18  But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

Deuteronomy 28:8  The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

 My purpose in this chapter was to help you focus off of your needs and focus on God for his leading to see how you can meet the needs of others with what you do have. Relying more and more on God to give you opportunities to meet the needs of others through his provision and to share the gospel in whatever capacity it may be. See God as your source; go to him for counsel on business decisions. Listen to his leading which many times is just following the desires of your heart that he put in you. If you truly have peace and it is a desire that truly glorifies God, then that is God leading you.

Too Much Confidence in the Flesh

     It appears that today, as well as throughout almost all of history, we put way too much confidence in our flesh. We have forgotten, or probably better yet said in that we have never learned, that the flesh, everything about us that is physical, or only necessary for existence in this world, and the way of worldly thinking has very little to do with our identity. Our body is merely a suit of clothing that is worn so that we can operate in this realm and exist in this realm of which we call the visible realm. It is interesting to note that because of the pride and vanity we allow to develop in our heart that we let this clothing and the thoughts that now come with it dictate to us what we do and how we do it rather than allowing our true identity, the very source of our existence, to be our guide and reasoning. This is much like getting in a car and wanting to go around the corner to the market then the car saying back to you, “I do not think so, I want to travel across the country”, and then off you go to a destiny you never wanted nor intended. It is really that silly when you look outside of the selfish nature we inherited as a result of sin entering into the world.

      The reality is we know that our earthly bodies are just the housing for our spirit and soul. The spirit is the existence of God in every living thing and gives it life. In the book of James he literally tells us that the body without the spirit is dead, but there are also several other scriptures that reveal to us that people ceased to exist on this earth in their bodies as they gave up their spirit. So then what part of this does the soul play? Well many will tell you that the soul is basically our mind, will and emotions and I tend to agree with that in the since of this is how it is manifested in this natural or physical realm. I think if I had to define the soul I would say it is our personality. It is something that is common, in having one, with our Father yet distinctly unique in its fulness to everyone else.

      Hopefully in these few paragraphs then I have started to establish then the fact that though our bodies, the flesh, is a necessary component in life for existing in this seen world and that it can influence our beliefs and choices we should never put any confidence in it. This is a very big issue in the body of Christ today in that it has placed too much confidence in the flesh and little acknowledgment in the fact that we are of one Spirit in Christ which it is the Spirit that truly gives life. Paul said that he placed no confidence in his flesh and then even went onto explain that how in his deception that was brought on through the flesh how in thinking he was becoming the holiest of holies through the efforts of his flesh and yet realized he was becoming more and more the enemy of God himself who he thought he was serving.

      Upon Paul receiving this great revelation about denying the very thing that he was putting his whole confidence in, his flesh, a great transformation took place in his life and the legacy of God’s grace in Paul’s life lives on in the books that make up much of the New Testament scriptures. Paul had learned to live by many of the lessons that Jesus taught while he had his earthly ministry yet even though I am sure Paul knew who Jesus was during those 3-1/2 years, I am pretty sure he did not sit in the front row to hear anything he had to say. No Paul’s revelation came after his conversion through the Spirit straight from Jesus and he was not afraid to say that what he knew it was not because of what he learned through his own efforts,but that which was revealed to him by Jesus. (Gal 1:12)

      The whole point of this article though really is to help us better understand the importance and role the Spirit is to our everyday lives. We have already learned about one of the most important ones and that is the Spirit is life. Without the spirit the body ceases to exist. This is one of many reasons than too why it is so easy to understand that if it is by the spirit we have the maintaining of life then by the Spirit of God we can receive divine health. Moses was an awesome example of this from a biblical reference in how the Spirit can give life. We know that he was in the presence of God without any food or water for forty days,which in the natural is impossible for any mortal body to sustain life that long without food and water. I do not recommend doing this though just to prove something. If you feel led to fast, which is for the purpose of humbling the soul, that is fine but make sure your confidence is in that you have heard from God if you are doing any extended fasting.

      So Spirit gives us life and sustains the body and since Spirit is life, health comes from Spirit. I want you to think about this so that you have the ability to never deny this truth. As believers we all talk about the brutal beating that Jesus took for us. In fact this was part of the reason Jesus was in such great distress when he prayed to the Father asking that if there was another way then so be it, but never the less not his will (Jesus) but thy will be done. Jesus had never sin and sin is what brought death into this world. The reality is Jesus could not die and no matter what was about to happen, so that you would have the right to claim your redemption from the effects of sin and be made whole, Jesus would have to endure one of the greatest beatings known to man himself knowing that he could not die. See Jesus did not have to hope that they did not beat him to death before he would hang on the cross but because no man could take his life he knew what he would have to endure the beating so that you would be free to live the quality of life that our Father created for you and desires for you to experience. Free from every and any sickness, disease, infirmary, brokenness, destruction, mental anguish or torment, basically anything and everything that is a result of sin. Even if something is a result of an injury that was an accident or on purpose out of a moment of just not knowing who you truly are there is nothing that is not covered by the redemptive act of Jesus to bring about healing and restoration to your mortal body or soul. We acknowledge his body as the bread broken for us and this is why when we take communion we are healed because we take it in faith receiving the atonement he made for us. Every time anyone receives communion if they are sick or something and they are not healed then they do not has this revelation firmly in their heart.

      I thought I had better clear something up as I go forward. In referring to our flesh there are a couple of definitions to take into account which are all correct. The flesh can be referring to our physical bodies or it can be referring to the beliefs and ways of thinking that we inherited once sin entered into the world or both of these at the same time. For instance a few paragraphs ago I spoke of Paul about his stating that he put no confidence in his flesh. He was referring to that part of him which was inherited through the fall that leads us to think that through our own effort we can either be like God or by doing something we can earn or receive from God. It all focused on self and self thinking was a result of sin. In the previous paragraph then talking about the flesh I was clearer on what I was specifically talking about and that is the mortal side of our existence, the body. I will try to keep these separated going forward and where the two are influenced by the same thing I will note that I am speaking of both the flesh and body.

      Another thing that many believers either do not understand or take for granted is that we are one Spirit in Christ. This is why I brought up the reference to the flesh which is inherited and the body because sharing one Spirit with Christ influences everything about us to the degree we allow it. When we receive Jesus we become one spirit with him united just as a husband and wife become one. (1Co 6:17) There is an irony to this as well because even though the Spirit is life our flesh is at war with it because our flesh, well for the lack of a better way of stating it, is stupid. See the flesh is all about self preservation and so logically one would assume that since life resides in the Spirit the flesh would embrace the Spirit with open arms, but not so in reality. This self-preservation mode is driven out of a since of pride and nothing good comes out of pride because it is all about what “I” can to do to make something the way that “I” want it to be for better or worse. And in here we hit the heart of this article in placing too much confidence in the flesh.

      When we place our confidence in the flesh then we are solely placing whatever destiny we are thinking about in the hands of ourselves and what we can do to make it happen. Sometimes we receive part of the vision God has for our lives and other times it is the vision we receive from the world but in either case it winds up that we try to produce that vision through our flesh. Sadly this is where many believers stand today and I can bare witness in my life that this was a prevalent stance I took for a while in trying to produce life out of my effort and not receiving it through the Spirit. I have found out that that which needs life in order to exist cannot produce life out of itself. In other words we are not self sustaining folks. If it were not for the provision we receive from God we would cease to exist in less than a heartbeat. Now some are never really successful at dying soon enough to realize that they cannot sustain the quality of life God has desired for them outside of freely receiving God’s provision for that life. Nope instead some spend their entire lifetime building multimillion dollar companies to have multiple homes and cars, family vacations and everything their family could want or need. Now most would say what is wrong with this, isn’t that the American dream, and that would be the correct answer to their question. It may be the American dream but not necessarily God’s plan for you, which there is nothing wrong in anyone having that kind of life, but the whole point is if it all comes out of being driven by the flesh, through all your hard work and efforts then the better off you think you are the more you are separating yourself from God. Remember the whole concept of the flesh is at enmity with the Spirit and this is the epitome of that concept when one gets the idea that they do not need God because look at how well they can take care of themselves.

      This is something Paul learned from experience. I do not know of his wealth because it is never really stated, but being who he was and having influence like he did as Saul, I can say he wasn’t broke. But Paul revealing his past was mostly talking about the works that he did which really seemed to be what is important to those who are seeking after pleasing God. He was talking about his self-righteous efforts to be at peace with God so that he would not freely receive eternal life but earn it by his own merit. And there you have the great stumbling block to the Jews that he referred to because to the Jew who was truly trying to be blameless before God the more religious they became in this quest the more pride would build. See as we build our towers through our own hard work and effort, pride grows with that tower and usually does not rear it’s ugly head until someone receives something similarly as a free gift. So when you become prideful about your efforts to be righteous and blameless before God and someone who obviously is not as holy as you just receives freely what you are trying to attain then pride causes that to be a stumbling block instead of a wake up call.

      You might ask why I am so focused on the Spirit when the subject matter is the flesh. Some may have figured it out that since the flesh is at odds against the Spirit, the less we are flesh driven the more we are Spirit led. There is nothing that we can do that is good being driven by the flesh because everything that is considered by the person being driven as a good outcome drives them farther away from God whether they are a believer or not. Even believers who live by the flesh will wonder why their lives are miserable and why God hasn’t done anything to make them happy or to give them what they want. See the whole focus from these statements is it is all about “me”. But when we walk with the Spirit and are led by the Spirit we find everything we need in God. The biggest reason is the Spirit is not at all about self, remember the whole concept of self came through the fall when sin entered into the world. So there is an obvious cause and effect going on here when we deny our flesh, put away the self thinking, and then walk in the Spirit you are never concerned about yourself because self no longer is a factor in your life.

      If you are like me in any way then you might be asking what this Spirit filled life looks like or how does it work. We have already said that we can receive the quality of life that God desires for us to experience but to expound upon that we know that from scripture the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness (gentleness) and temperance (self control). Here is the thing though see the flesh will tell you that this is all well and good but then it will tell you to try and produce these results, but if one tries to produce these qualities in their life then it is not a fruit of the Spirit but works of self-righteousness. Let me help clarify something in that we do not produce fruit as believers but we bear fruit out of intimacy with God. Just as a wife does not bear her own fruit but out of intimacy with her husband she bears his fruit. Walking in the Spirit to receive the quality of life that only God can give us is based on this exact concept. It is why we are told to rest in the Lord by taking his yoke because he has already done all the work and his burden is light because we just need to rest in him. A yoke is placed upon a beast so that you can control that animal to do your will it not it’s own, but in this case the will of the Lord is not what we can do for him but resting in what he has done for us.

      So think about this, have you ever said or have you ever heard anyone else say that they would like to be happier or find peace? Quite possibly you would like to have more patience because you know how abrupt you can be to other people. All of these and the other qualities of life which we said were some of the fruits of the Spirit come only one way and that is not out of any effort of your own  but out of your own submission to spending time with God. The more intimacy there is in your relationship the more fruit there is and the overall quality of your life just goes up and because it simply is just something that happens out of spending time with God then it does not have to go up then down but can just keep growing.

Our Daily Bread Is Jesus' Body

     O.k. So I just had one of those Doh moments (Homer Simpson for those of you who don’t know, not even sure if they still exist) Anyhow I was looking at the Matthew 15:26 (also found in Mark 7:270 where Jesus told the woman that it was not right to take the children’s bread and give it to the dogs, talking about healing. Then instantly I was taken to what is referred to as the “Lord’s prayer” where Jesus in teaching his disciples how to pray states give us this day our daily bread. I really have not thought about this outline for prayer too much because of all the perverted teaching I have heard about it. I had been taught that this was praying for our daily needs like food or any other provision, even including financial. But these teachings always conflicted with me because they conflicted with Jesus who had said to take no thought for these but to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things, our needs,will be added unto us. But the Holy Spirit as usual put the connections together (He is just so awesome) in that we need to pray for our daily bread because we daily need to be reminded or focused on the health or quality of life that Jesus provided through his body broken for us. We are still existing in a mortal body that is subject to attack in this fallen world so we need to daily receive the benefits of being a son of God in making sure this temple is kept healthy. There is no excuse for us as believers to live in a fallen state since Jesus had sacrificed himself to make sure that we do remain subject to the effects on sin. We are not sinners but saints and we are not to be sick but whole.