Monday, March 28, 2011

Where Are You? God Has Something to Say About Your Future!

Have you ever heard someone say God spoke to them and told them a plan for their life?  Have you ever felt like he speaks to everyone but you?  God does have a voice and he speaks to those that draw near and are listening.  He will call you by name and draw you near.  Look at just one segment in the life of Abraham and Sarah that is given to us as an example.

Genesis 18:9 Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” 
So he said, “Here, in the tent.” 

God calls for Sarah during a visit to Abraham. God was about to speak something that he wanted her to hear. He said to Abraham, "WHERE IS SARAH, YOUR WIFE!"

Once it was confirmed she was in hearing distance God began to speak. Did God know she was in hearing distance? Of course, but this was for her benefit and ours. Sometimes, we just need to put our ear toward his voice and listen to what he will say because prior to the fulfillment of his intention, he's going to speak.  He will say, "Where are you?"  He will draw you near.  He knows right where you are but he wants you to come near to him to listen to what he has to way.  He knows right where you are but he wants you to be sure that when the promise comes to pass, you can look back on the conversation.  That not only confirms the reliability of his Word to you but it also teaches you that you do know how to hear him.  Jesus said in the New Testament that his sheep hear his voice.  God is able to speak to you in a way that you can hear him and he wants you to know this as well as he does.


Genesis 18: 10 And He said, “I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.”

Pastor Bass, a Tampa pastor first preached this that made an impact on me: Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him. This was the very first time Sarah had heard the promise of a child for herself. Up until that time, God had been speaking directly to Abraham.  Sometimes it seems that people say, "God said," yet, we wonder why we aren't hearing him ourself.  God has a voice and he wants us to hear it!   Here, Sarah herself heard the promise with her own ears. The promise was no less a promise because she hadn't heard but now was the time she would hear for herself!

When God said he would certainly return, he actually said, I will return, return. In some languages when a verb is repeated twice it means it is being repeated with emphasis. For example, in Thai, if you say, "There is a boy, boy," you are actually saying there is more than one boy. They don't have plural so there is no language to say, "There are boys." If there was a group of boys, you might say, "There are boy, boy, boy," or "There is child, child," means a group of children.

The bible says in the mouth of two or three witnesses, let a thing be established. The number two actually is double the number 1. Two means double. If a person has twins they are doubling the number of children they have. Anything multiplied by two, doubles the number. Two is the number for double and when God emphasized the word, return he was saying with double emphasis, I will return. The English translation into the word "certain" was just that, the English translation to say what was meant in the Hebrew, which was that the thing being spoken could not be changed. It was sure. It was established and could not be altered. Sarah was to have a child and God would return at the very time that child was due. This was being stated a few months before Sarah actually became pregnant and God wanted Sarah to hear this for herself. He also wanted her to know in advance because it would confirm the reliability of the Word God speaks in advance of a plan. Just as sure as God had spoken it, Sarah became pregnant with the promised child, Isaac and sure enough at the time spoken, God returned.

Genesis 21:1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


FORWARD MOTION: There cannot be mental atrophy in any person who continues to observe, to remember what he observes, and to seek answers for his unceasing hows and whys about things (Alexander Graham Bell)

Alexander Graham Bell could have been discouraged at the fact that his mother could hardly hear but instead he looked for ways to communicate. He let the tones from his vocal chords vibrate on her forehead, believing she would better be able to hear.

In further pursuits of the study of voice and sound, he did not allow his inability to read in German stop him from trying to understand a thesis written by German physicist Hermann Von Helmholtz, On The Sensations of Tone. Because of a mistake in translation, he thought the paper suggested vowel sounds could travel over wires. That turned out to be a valuable mistake that furthered his discoveries. How many times do we stumble on sudden breakthroughs in forward motion- breakthroughs that never would have come had we refrained from our pursuits?

Bell also like many experienced personal tragedy in life, losing both brothers to tuberculosis and also battled the disease himself. Rather than becoming discouraged and discontinuing pursuits, he used the down time for recovery in mind and spirit.

Alexander Graham Bell's story is one of a tenacity that wouldn't quit. His story is one of building blocks of knowledge, one placed upon another. His story is one of accidental discoveries in a lifetime of pursuit. His story is one of success that could have been failure, a success that ultimately came due to his refusal to stop thinking, stop dreaming and stop moving forward!


Monday, March 14, 2011



Joshua 8:1 Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land. 2 You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves....


God told Joshua here NOT to be discouraged.  He told him to keep moving forward.  He even promised great plunder just ahead.

This promised came after what some may have perceived as failure.  There may have been discouragement and a temptation to give up in Joshua's mind.  God revealed the problem to Joshua and told him to move on!

Discouragement and fear are the enemies of forward motion.  While fear is paralyzing, discouragement is weakening and disheartening.  Fear stops you in your tracks because you're afraid of the future based on the past. Discouraging words deprive you of the will to move on.  Discouragement is usually spoken from the mouth of another, however you can also discourage yourself.  On the other hand you can encourage yourself as David did after a failure at Ziklag.  (He encouraged himself in the Lord.) We have to stop listening to outside and inside voices that bring discouragement and cast down everything spoken into our ears that isn't good, edifying, encouraging and uplifting.  If what you're hearing isn't edifying or encouraging you to come up higher, and to move on further, it's not God!   If what you're hearing is condemning, discouraging and stopping you, the words aren't from God!  It's time we know who we're listening to!


Joshua 8:1b-Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.

Even though they had just experienced a failure God said to get up and try again!


The call to victory was not nullified by one defeat.  The call was still there.  The best thing to do if you've fallen off a bicycle is to get up and try again.  You learn what you did before that may have caused you to fall and you try again.  The more you try, the better you become at riding.  Eventually you become the master of the bicycle!

This time God said the same thing he said at Jericho, "I HAVE DELIVERED INTO YOUR HANDS THE KING OF AI, HIS PEOPLE, HIS CITY AND HIS LAND!"


Joshua 8:1c "And you shall do to AI and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its cattle you shall take as booty for yourselves.

Wow! Did he say, "It's spoil and its cattle you shall take as booty for yourselves?"   If Joshua had refused to go, and insisted in wallowing in defeat, he would not have experienced the victories in the future.  You shall take is a statement about the future!  Think about it- if you refuse to walk forward, you never get to what's just ahead.  If you stay in yesterday, you will never experience today or tomorrow.  Today and this moment lasts only a moment but there is a future just ahead!  We can't stop!  We must try again! We must keep going! The call of God to a victorious life in the land of promises does not go away just because there's a failure in the journey of life.  It's through those failures that we grow and know and become stronger.  The message here is to deal with what needs to be dealt with, put the past behind you and move on.  Move on in the promised land.  There will be victories and disappointments in this road called life but move forward and don't lose heart.

Forward motion is key!  Let the past be the past at last but let the God of forward motion lead you to your victorious future- the booty is just ahead!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Tithe- God's Answer Supernatural Answer For the Economy


The tithes and offerings are God's answer in a failing economy!

God has an economy that works.  God's economy is working well when man's economy fails.  When men through covetousness, jealousy, greed and self-reliance find themselves in a failing economy, there is a Kingdom of God economy that is high above this world that will deliver a man from the worst of circumstances.  Man's systems fail but God's systems never fail.  If a man will allow God to bring him through a transition where his own ways and the ways of man are put to death and the ways of God are implemented, God will lead that man into blessing and success that will see him through the storms of life and bring unexpected abundant blessing.  It is God's desire that his people be blessed.  It is my desire that this Old Testament story will draw a picture of an eternal truth- that when a man chooses God's way, that man will be blessed not only in the life to come but in this life as well!


Malachi3: 8-12
 8 “ Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say,  ‘ In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 
9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me,  Even this whole nation. 
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, 
And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, 
“ If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.11 “ And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,  So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,  Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”  Says the LORD of hosts;   12 And all nations will call you blessed,  For you will be a delightful land,”
Says the LORD of hosts.

Who remembers the Battle of Jericho where Joshua led the armies of Israel to defeat an entire city?  This was a city fortified with high, thick walls with armed men and guards both on the walls and inside the city protecting it.   Under God's command, an army with no weapons was able to cause the walls to fall by completely following God's instructions.

Before the battle of Jericho God had commanded that all the silver, gold, bronze and iron would be brought to the treasury of the Lord.  The above passage from Malichi talks about the tithe but in Jericho God wanted it all!  To bring all is obviously more than a tithe.  The actual definition of the word tithe in both the Hebrew and the Greek is 10% but there are times when God asks for more!  In the case of Jericho, the booty didn't even belong to the people, but rather, it belonged to God!  It wasn't their money to give a tithe off of.  It was the booty of the land and God was requiring all of what they took in their victory to be dedicated to the house of the Lord.  This is far more than a tithe.  God wanted it all!  That's what God wants with us.  He actually wants our all!  When God has our all, then he can direct us and we will have a more successful life but greed, covetousness, and fear restrain some from giving their all.  If God asked you to empty your pockets would you trust him?  If God asked you to give half of all you own would you?

Joshua 6: 19 But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the LORD; they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.” (NKJV)

There was great victory in Jericho.  The fortified walls of the city had fallen after the army of Israel circled the city for 6 days and on the 7th day at the sound of the trumpet, at God's command, the walls fell and the city was won, AS GOD HAD PROMISED!

After Jericho there were more battles to fight.  The promised land was an entire land, not just one city.  Although there was victory at Jericho there were more battles to fight.
There are giants in the land and as they are defeated we gain territory and take land.
Every act of obedience results in land taken for God!  We graduate to new places and are able to come into all God has for us.  The promised land represented and was the inheritance of God for the children of Israel.  One of the biggest problems Israel would face and they still face today is a result of not fully obeying God in taking all the promises.

After the massive victory at Jericho, Joshua and the armies were so confident, they proceeded to the next city.  They even sent in fewer men after seeing how easily the walls of Jericho fell. Just picture it- men circling a fortified city with nothing more than a line of priests with trumpets and ordinary people following them with a shout!   With God on their side, how could they lose.  With the shout of a unified army bringing down the walls and with the power of God on their side, why should they send all the men?  At this point Joshua did not know that a sin had been committed in Jericho that would affect future battles.

Joshua 7: 1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the LORD burned against the children of Israel. 

Here, in Joshua 7:1, Joshua still did not know Achan had taken some of the accursed thing that God had warned the children of Israel to stay away from in Jericho.  This was the first mention of the sin that took place in Jericho, the place of a past victory.  Ai was to be the next city taken after Jericho.  Sometimes we think that one victory ensures the next victory but it doesn't.  The obedience before the battle is what guarantees present victories which is why we have to have continual obedience to God.

It was God that told Joshua about the sin but God didn't tell him until they had lost a battle.  After all the children of Israel had been through and after all they had seen you would think every single person would have learned to obey but Achan's temptation and covetousness overtook him and it affected the entire army.  God had commanded in Joshua 6 before going into Jericho to stay away from the accursed thing and Achan had taken the accursed thing for himself, thereby troubling the entire camp.

Joshua 6:18 And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the LORD; they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.” (NKJV)


Now after such a victory in Jericho, Joshua was ready to send an army into the next city.  After all, God had told them to take an entire area, not just one city so in Joshua's mind, it was onward and upward toward the high call of God into victory after victory and then more victory!  The story continues but not according to planned.  The unexpected loss was a surprise for the bold leader, his army and his camp:

Joshua 7:2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Aven, on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them, saying, “Go up and spy out the country.” So the men went up and spied out Ai  .3 And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not let all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not weary all the people there, for the people of Ai are few.” 4 So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai. 5 And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water.

Joshua fell on his face to seek the Lord. After all, God had promised victory in the promised land!

Joshua 7:10 So the LORD said to Joshua: “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? 11 Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff. 12 Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction. Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you.

ACHAN HAD TO DIE! (This represents the sin of man that hinders the blessing!)


Joshua 7:20 And Achan answered Joshua and said, “Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I have done: 21 When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.”
22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver under it. 23 And they took them from the midst of the tent, brought them to Joshua and to all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD. 

Achan had taken what was appointed to be consecrated to God and hidden it among his own stuff.  There is always a tendency to hide sin but there is especially a tendency to hide sin when that sin involves robbing God!  What would tempt a man to rob from God?  Why would a man not trust God, give him what rightfully belongs to him, keep his own hands off of it and as a result see the victories God has for him?  

COVETED:  Verse 21 says saw the Babylonian garment, the silver and gold.
HE TOOK: Verse 21 says that after he saw it, he took it!


Accursed defined:

1)a thing devoted, thing dedicated, ban, devotion
2) a net, thing perforated
3) have been utterly destroyed, (appointed to) utter destruction

The accursed thing is something that has been set aside, devoted and banned to utter destruction.  It is something that has been perforated from man, or set apart as untouchable.  Isn't that what the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was in the garden?  It was the ONE untouchable thing in the garden yet mankind (both male and female) just could not leave it alone.  They coveted and they partook.  Here, Achan coveted and he took.  God did not want the children of Israel craving in any way the idols, the wealth or the belongings and practices of the people in the opposing camp.  He also required obedience if they were to be victorious in every city.  We are there to take the city, not for the city to take us!  We are there to take the city, not to become like the city.  The world should crave what we have!  We have God, yet, so often rather than be an example and a witness for God, we allow our own covetousness to destroy our testimony!

This was about things that were set apart for God. God had said to put all the silver and gold in the treasury of the Lord. 

Joshua 6: 19 But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the LORD; they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.” (NKJV)


Now let's bring it all together.  Back at the starting text, we read about the tithe.  Throughout the story of Jericho and Ai, we have read about a man that took the accursed thing.  Let's look and see what the cursed thing is.  The cursed thing is anything about which  God has said, "Don't touch!"  In the case of the tithe, it belongs to God and God has said, "If you touch it, you are robbing me!"  However, not only is there a command not to touch but there is a promised blessing for obedience. 

Malachi 3:9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. 10- Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.

God had said all the silver and gold were to go into the treasury of the Lord.  This was not only a tithe, meaning ten percent, but this was a first-fruit, meaning all of the first!  Jericho was the first city and this was the first of the silver and gold that was to be transferred out of the hands of the wicked and into the hands of the people of God.


People withhold the tithe claiming churches just want their money but that's just an excuse to withhold the tithe.  God promises that when we tithe he will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing.  Achan's sin was in robbing the first-fruits that were dedicated to God.  God's economy is that the first tenth of a person's increase is set aside for the work of the house of God!  This is in the place of worship that you attend.  I don't have time to teach on the place and where your tithe goes, but just to say it goes to the place you worship and the minimum principle taught in the Word of God is ten percent off the top of your increase belongs to God!  Beyond that God does require offerings that are over and above the tithe.  That's why he said people had robbed him in tithes and offerings.  Whatever God asks you to do you do. Even in the New Testament, Mary, the mother of Jesus said, "Whatever he says to do, do it!"  It all belongs to him after all and with each act of obedience, there is an attached blessing but the tithe is the minimum and the tithe belongs to God!  The word tithe in the Old Testament and in the New Testament means 10%.  It is the definition of the word in both the Hebrew and the Greek language.  Whose money was it that Achan saw, coveted and kept?  It was God's!  The question in the Malachi passage is, "Will a man rob God?"  Think about it.  Do we really want to rob God?  Do we want to rob the creator of the entire earth?  Do we really believe we can hide it?  Achan apparently believed he could hide his act from God!  God had said to take all the silver and gold and put it in the treasury of the Lord.  Was this the people of Jericho's gold?  No, it was God's to give just as the land was God's to give.  God was the creator and can give it where he pleases.  In case there's any question about who owns the silver and the gold:

Hagai 2:8 'The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,' says the LORD of hosts.

Some say the New Testament changed everything and we were delivered from every curse when Jesus hung on the tree.  The following scripture is just one of the base scriptures for that false belief:

Galatians 3:13 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Now how can I argue with the fact that the bible clearly says that through Jesus, we are delivered from the curse?  I can't!  We are delivered through the cross.  Does that mean that the principles of God are no longer in effect because we have been delivered from the curse?  Emphatically I say no!  Can we continue in adultery, cheating, lying and stealing just because we have been saved by Jesus!  Absolutely  not!  Sin is still sin but Christ has delivered us from the penalty of sin!  Now we are free to live by the Spirit with the power to live our lives for God!  Now we live for him because we choose to walk according to the Spirit of God! We obey the principles of God and therefore see the blessing of God in our lives.  We cannot continue to live in sin just because we have been saved and I would say that just as surely as robbing from man and businesses is a sin, so is robbing from God!  Look at what the New Testament book of Romans says about continuing in sin after salvation:

Romans 6: 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Let me just make some points about the tithe.  Those who believe they don't have to tithe will probably continue believing that.  Those who hold wholeheartedly to the principle of the tithe will continue doing so.  Maybe this will help anyone that may be wavering concerning the tithe:

·         In the New Testament, Jesus said we should tithe and not neglect weightier matters such as love and justice! (Luke 11:42)
·         Abraham tithed before the "law of God" was instituted because it was the right thing to do, recognizing that the high priest was greater than himself! (Hebrews 7:4-7)
·         Jesus is now receiving tithes in heaven which is better than the Levitical priesthood receiving them by law!  Hebrews 7:8 a Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them...


Man withholds the tithe believing they will have less.  This is the perfect example of unbelief in the supernatural ability of God to bless man, not according to sight but according to faith.  God does not rob man.  Unbelief and self-reliance must be put to death with the old man if we are to live by faith in God and his principles.


After this sin was put to death and the accursed thing was burned in the fire, God speaks to his leader once again and this is what he says:

Joshua 8: 1 Now the LORD said to Joshua: “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. 2 And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its cattle you shall take as booty for yourselves.

Once again God speaks to Joshua, but not before the sin in the camp was dealt with!  He once again, as in times past says not to be afraid.  He also makes a precious promise- that the place that had become a place of defeat was now to be won!  He also promises that the booty of the next city would be theirs to keep!

That's how living by faith is!  Before you can see the next blessing, you must put to death the sins of the past!  You must choose to walk in the promises of God, but not on your own terms.  Instead you walk in obedience to God and his principles.

Key points:
  • The coveted thing was burned.
  • The thing withheld was no longer withheld.
  • They gave God what was rightfully his.
  • God released a blessing far beyond what was coveted and withheld.


As we can see in the story of Jericho and then Ai, once obedience was observed and the sin was put to death, God had a much greater blessing in mind that they didn't previously see.  The tithe brings the same sort of promise.  God says that if you don't rob him and withhold the tithe he will release a blessing you can't contain.

Malachi 3:10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, 
And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, 
“ If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.

I have a great idea!  Why don't we all lay aside covetousness, trust God and renew our commitment to tithe!  Let's also commit our entire lives and tell him all that we have is available to him.  Let's not only commit to the tithe but let's bring him an offering as well.   When we commit to a lifestyle of tithes and offerings we will surely see the windows only heaven can open come flying open and pouring out a supernatural blessing on our lives!  I'd say that's a choice I want to make!