Effect of Wisdom

Nehemiah 10: 39

Thus we will not neglect the house of our God.

To understand where this statement comes into play you need to read at least from verse 28. The context of this passage is that a group of people, Israelites, signed a document by which they made certain obligations of themselves. It caught my eye because verse 28 said that it was people who “had knowledge and understanding.” Since we saw the verse last Monday on God’s storehouse of knowledge, wisdom and understanding, (Proverb 2: 6 -7), I was very interested in seeing God’s perspective on where revealed knowledge takes us.

These people made a solemn vow to themselves, each other and to their God to give. The whole passage is about their giving. It is a wondrous passage. It speaks of giving the first fruits of all trees, crops and herds and the first-born sons. It tells how they will honor the sacred festivals with their giving. We are told that their giving will atone for Israel and provide for the priests and others who work in the house of God.

These people took on a sober obligation to support the house of God and its workers. The tithe was only part of their offering. They made a system of giving for themselves. Two thoughts occurred to me as I read this. One is, “No wonder the Jewish people always seem to have money and be the leaders in banking.” The other thought is that knowledge and understanding led them to give to the house of God. It makes me think that if we could get a revelation of what they understood, we would be givers and prosperous too. You need to understand that these contributions to the temple were what fed the priests, the Levites and all the temple workers. This was their tribute to the Lord, but it was also the upkeep of the ministers. The priests were to minister the Word to the people and go to the altar in prayer for the people. The people, in return, ministered to the physical needs of the ministers.

You know, this has not changed. Ministers are still supposed to spend their time on spiritual matters for the benefit of the people and the people are supposed to take care of the ministers. I don’t really think we are proficient in this yet. Many of us take for granted the work of our pastors and teachers and then the next thing you know the pastors and teachers become diluted in their sowing of time to the ministry of the Word. If we avail ourselves of the wisdom of God, He will show us how to live and how to give. We can see in our support of the ministry of the Word our own maturity in spiritual things. As long as we are like children, always taking and seldom giving, then we are only going to be able to partake in a child’s part. When we mature and take on the responsibility of the maintenance of the servants of God’s Word, then we will all be able to grow into a mature body. The attainment of knowledge, wisdom and understanding should change your life. This passage of scripture shows one of the ways that your life should be dramatically altered.

Further study: Nehemiah 10: 28-39

Hold On Brother!!!

2 Corinthians 9: 6 – 8

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.

Guys, we’ve got to pause the Healing Words of the Day because God has something to say. God, your Father, wants to get money to you. He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Word of the Lord is saying. God wants to talk about money, so get ready to shout. If you have a problem with money and church, repent quick, before you get to the next paragraph because Father God wants to speak to you and bless you. Please do not reject the Blessing of the Lord.

Now hear this!!!! I got back from my sabbatical Saturday. I had a GREAT time with the Lord, and He ministered many things. Interestingly enough, a bunch of it was about finances. It was a definite surprise but a welcome one. I got home in time to go see Jesse Duplantis at Agape Faith Church in Clemmons, NC on Sunday. Whoa! It was good. It was anointed and brother, you would have to be dead not to have felt the anointing in there as Jesse spoke. Glory to God! What do you suppose he spoke on? Finances. God kept right on with the theme of the whole week.

Jesse Duplantis has an anointing of increase on him. People have talked about it for years. He gives away so much, but God just keeps blessing him. This man tries to out give God. Well, guess who’s winning. But I have not gotten to the good part yet. Hold on!!

Now I’ve already told you that Jesse is a giver. He told us he was going to give the offering back to the host church. He wasn’t going to take the gift offering back with him. Nice. However, before he let us give our offering, he wanted to pray over it and bless that ministry and its leaders. What happened next is important to you!

Jesse asked us all to raise our offering envelopes. Then he walked up to me and asked me if he could borrow my offering. He just wanted a point of contact to pray over that offering. Of course, I said, “Yes,” and extended my envelope towards him. He reached out, but he didn’t take my envelope. He took my hand and laid the envelope in my hand. I scooted forward in my chair a little and he said, “Yeah, stand up.” So, I stood up! He took my hand with the envelope in it and covered it with his own hand and started ministering to me. He started praying about the hundredfold return (Matthew 13: 8), bless God!

But wait. I had a problem right there. I had just returned from the mountains and had burned through most of my cash. I forgot to get more money, so when I opened my wallet to get out my offering I just groaned. “Well,” I thought to myself, “I will just give all I have.” I didn’t think of it then, but God has brought it my attention since that in giving all I had, I was like the widow with the widow’s mite (Mark 12: 41) and she blessed Jesus with her giving.

But, back to the story, when Jesse started ministering the hundredfold return my insides roiled and I thought about that measly amount of money in the envelope. Aargghh! In that split second, I was intensely remorseful that there wasn’t a big bill in that envelope and mad at myself for not thinking ahead. You know what? No sooner did I think, “Oh darn” than Jesse, looking right at me said, “I didn’t say a hundred times. I said a hundredfold! This isn’t math. It just keeps folding and folding and folding.” WHOA! Father totally heard my thought and my regret and answered it immediately!

Here’s what I want you to know, Jesse wasn’t just praying over my offering. If you had been there, you would have seen that. It was clear that something was happening. Jesse was praying over my money and ministry. Now, here is the part that is important to you. His anointing of increase got shared to me and this ministry. Let that sink in. God has anointed this ministry for increase. That isn’t just about increasing the ministry. Read the passage above. This is about increasing you. I am to share this increase. That is why the anointing was shared with me. This is how God is going to get blessing to you, through Ivey Ministries. Now isn’t that exciting?!

Read today’s passage again. It is powerful. In fact, it is what Jesse spoke on Sunday. It went off in me then and I hope it is going off in you now. And, I understand how this works. So, you better believe that I sent off a big check to Jesse today! I am getting in on the increase. I want to reap bountifully so I am giving bountifully.

I have never asked any of you for money, but I am going to say today, “Give, so it can be given back to you.” Don’t give grudgingly. If you can’t be happy in it, don’t send money. I want cheerful givers just the same as God, but, if this ministry is ministering to you, sow into it. When we receive your donation, we will pray over it with this anointing present on us for the increase back to you. Maybe you don’t need money, but maybe you have an unsaved family member. Maybe you need healing in your body. Whatever your need is, or your want, let us know and we will lay hands on your offering and petition the Lord, our God, for the hundredfold increase.

God wants to bless you. Listen to me. This is how God is getting the blessing to you. Believe and receive. Let the Lord do all He wants to do. Cooperate with Him. One other thing. Do not delay. Do it now!

To Jerusalem

2 Chronicles 11: 16

People from every tribe of Israel who were determined to seek the Lord God of Israel followed the Levitical priests to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the Lord God of their ancestors.

I wrote last week that my impression of Solomon’s offerings to the Lord were a sign that he sought the Lord and His wisdom. Today’s verse seems to support that idea. I am not suggesting that we need to buy the Lord’s favor, not at all. None the less, I also tire of people who want everything for free. I find this particularly true in the church. It seems to me that God and ministers should be honored in a tangible way. The people in today’s verse sought God with their hearts, their feet and their gifts.

The people referred to in today’s passage left their homes and travelled to Jerusalem to seek the face of their Lord. They did not arrive empty handed though. Do you think this is just an Old Testament idea? Maybe we don’t have to give good gifts to God anymore now that He has poured out Jesus for us. Or, do we need to make greater gifts because Jesus has been given for us? I truly believe it is the latter. I don’t think God requires it of us in the sense that He won’t meet our needs or answer our prayers, but I do think it matters to Him. I am sure He likes to be appreciated and honored for all He has done. Praise is more than words lifted up or a nice song. Praise can be very tangible. It can be a gift.

Today’s verse says two things to me: seek the Lord and give good gifts to Him. We fall woefully short these days. Why has the church come to this point? So, few people tithe? Why is that? The church is getting weak and many ministers are afraid to tell their congregants that giving is part of the faith. They do you an injustice and steal from you because giving is part of your livelihood. Look what it did for Solomon. God honored Solomon’s gifts by appearing to him in a dream and granting Solomon’s desire. Is it any mistake these two acts coincide? I don’t think so.

I want everyone who reads the Word of the Day to become very good at giving because I want to revitalize and strengthen the church. If we spend all our money on “stuff” instead of supporting the ministries, we deprive ourselves. It’s true. Giving is a way of life and an important part of serving our Lord. I would love to see the church rise up and show itself generous and loving. This is the way to change the world. We can be like the people in today’s passage who followed their pastor and made sacrifice to their King. They honored God and fed the priests all as a part of seeking God. What a beautiful example.  Why can’t we be like them?  What would it take and what would be gained?  I am sure it would be good for us.

Generous Blessing

Deuteronomy 15: 10        NIV

Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.

Yesterday’s Word of the Day set me thinking, so I ran a search on the word “generous.” This verse from Deuteronomy stood out to me in particular because I know that in a few chapters we will learn explicitly about The Blessing! Clearly, Moses had the blessing in mind when he wrote this because we see its operation.

I will be very honest with you. I want to be under the blessing. I want it chasing me down in the street. My life is much easier with the blessing working in it than without. Actually, something didn’t go exactly my way the other day and I was surprised. It wasn’t a big thing but it was noticeable because it frustrated my purposes slightly. On the other hand, a different matter worked out better than I could have orchestrated. The point is, I have become accustomed to the way life works with the blessing.

Now, do I give just so the blessing will work in my life? Not really, but I will say that God’s thoughts on giving do influence me. The blessing only works when you give freely, not begrudgingly. If you cannot give cheerfully, it is best to take the whole issue to God in prayer or even journal it.

Our challenges with giving sometimes have to do with brokenness in our spirits. So, if I don’t want to give, then I immediately begin to question it. What is wrong with me that I need to hold on to this? I think about people I know who are so generous and people like Sister Teresa and it reframes things in my mind. I see myself positioned differently. Then I imagine how I want to think and feel and I see myself in that posture. I see myself confident in my giving and generous. That helps me. If I am having a hard time letting go, it is a good sign something is wrong with me because that certainly is not God’s Spirit speaking within me. When we are in our right place with God, we are always generous. If we find ourselves hesitant to give, then something has gone wrong in our hearts. The most important thing to do is to ask the Father about it so that he can heal us or mend that which broke.

God wants to bless everything you touch. That is The Blessing that Moses wrote about in Chapter 28 of Deuteronomy. The blessing works through our divine connection with God the Father. You cannot be divinely connected to God and also be stingy. It just doesn’t ever happen that way. He is the supreme giver. This verse attests to that. Jesus’ life attests to that but God’s blessing flows according to the streams of life and one of the most significant of those is generosity. When we get in the flow with the Father, life bubbles along smoothly.

Be a generous giver. Not because I say so, but because it is God’s way. Speak with Him and ask Him to help you be generous in your giving and let the blessing flow in your life.

Blessed Beyond Measure

Proverb 22: 9              NIV

The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.

For some, generosity seems to come naturally. Others of us struggle. I do not believe that this lack of generosity always stems from greed. Sure, some people are tight fisted because they want everything for themselves. They are, in fact, selfish. I think, though, that some of us are generous of heart but fearful. The truth is we are not as generous as we might be because we lack faith in our God and Father. We don’t truly believe He will take care of us. That is why we hold on so tightly.

I have seen much in the scriptures lately about giving and though I consider myself a pretty good giver, I have found myself challenged. I need to do more. One of the things Father has shown me is that sometimes I hold on so tightly to what I have that He can’t get more to me. The expression, tight-fisted, is apropos. My fist is clenched and that is what I present to the Father rather than a hand outstretched and open. He cannot give into a clenched fist.

I am convinced that anyone who really loves God and does a study of the scriptures cannot continue to horde their wealth. These believers give beyond the tithe. They constantly find ways to bless others. I love these folks because they continue to show me ways I can give and I am often overwhelmed by their goodness, which is one of God’s qualities. I am still living in the glow of the outpouring of gifts for the Multiple Sclerosis charity bike ride. Many of you showed the most tender part of your hearts in your giving.

If I may, I would also like to be so honest as to say, some gave nothing. I do not believe it is because they lack kindness. Some may have chosen other charities for the year. That’s fair. Others though, may suffer this depression era mentality that causes us to hold on too tightly to what we have. If that is you, I sympathize because I stumble over that line too. However, there is hope for us and I want us all to be blessed in the full measure that God desires.

Father, bless those people who so demonstrate your kindness in their own giving. Pour out upon them a blessing so large they cannot contain it. And Father, for those who have not become great givers yet, teach us by your gentle Holy Spirit that it is your way and part of our calling. Relieve us of fear and boost our faith in you and your provision. Give us stalwart hearts and bless our giving as you do those who have already learned this important lesson. Father, make us, everyone, givers beyond the ten percent tithe and Father, for those who have not yet learned to tithe, encourage them that this is your way of meeting their need. Give them extra faith in your Word. Challenge them to take this first step. Give us all hearts of the giver, Father that we might be like you, and I thank you for this and bless you in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Leadership Altars

1 Kings 3: 3 – 5, 15

Now Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David. . . And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there . . . Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, “Ask what you wish Me to give you.”

Then Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and made peace offerings, and held a feast for all his servants.

The point of this story is the bookends. The story begins with Solomon’s sacrifices to God. Then, God appeared to him in a dream offering to grant any wish of Solomon’s desire. Then, at the end of the story, Solomon appeared before the Ark of the Covenant and made more offerings and threw a feast. It is a story of honor and sacrifice, of devotion and blessing. It is also a story of leadership. The two points I wish us to take away from this story is first, the relationship between offerings and sacrifice and God’s outpouring and two, Kingdom Leadership.

I have to believe that God showing up and speaking to Solomon in the dream was directly related to Solomon’s sacrifices and offerings. The offerings reveal Solomon’s earnest seeking of God’s wisdom. He was overwhelmed by his responsibility as the leader of the nation. Knowing it was a monumental responsibility, he sought God, making offering upon offering, humbling himself before his God. And God responded to Solomon. What would you ask for if God told you He would grant your desire? Solomon asked for the wisdom to rule God’s people justly. Wow! Not what I would have thought of.

Solomon’s leadership position drove him to prayer and to seeking God. There is no leadership teaching more impactful than this truth. Leadership should mean seeking God’s face on behalf of one’s flock. Second, in Solomon’s seeking, he made offerings to God. He laid thousands of gifts upon the altar believing that the God of Israel would honor his sacrifice. He was right. Third, Solomon’s response to God’s grant was to give more offerings and to throw a party for his servants. He blessed his servants with the blessing God gave him. He both honored God and blessed his people.

God gave Solomon what he asked for and much more besides but on both ends of this enormous blessing we find Solomon filling the altar with gifts to his King. Is it coincidence?

Thanksgiving Tuesday

Luke 6: 38

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.

Today is giving Tuesday. It has been harder for generous people to give this year. Some of the places where you volunteered time were shut down for months. Some programs are still struggling for volunteers. Many, many charitable organizations have suffered tremendously. While some people have been able to buy a takeout meal at a local restaurant to help sustain the restaurant during these troubled times, non-profit organizations have not had the same opportunities. Churches and ministries have been among those most hurt by the coronavirus. We have all been, truly, living on faith.

At the same time, many ministries and churches are experiencing higher than normal costs. Money has, needfully, been invested into websites and online platforms. The cost of sending out God’s Word has escalated while revenues have plummeted. On this day, a day dedicated to giving, the balance sheet can be impacted for great good.

This year I am explicitly asking you to give to ministries. Giving Tuesday is about giving to organizations doing all kinds of good works. They are all worthy. How can one say that St. Jude, or the MS Society or any of the other great organizations are not doing great work? They are! But, where is the church in our giving plan? This Giving Tuesday I want to make it about what Christians can do for all the ministries that have been working so very hard this year to keep believers built up and encouraged. Ministers have suffered in their own spirits crying out to God for the words which would help believers during this challenging time. It is the closest most of us will ever come to sweating blood.

I want you to know that your pastors and ministers have toiled on your behalf and prayed their throats almost raw. It has been a tough year to be a minister, but I cannot think of a year when the job has been more important. So, this year I am asking you to bless the ministers and pastors in your life and the organizations through which they serve. It is a day to show appreciation and to encourage those who have tried so valiantly to encourage you over the last many months. Let your heart of compassion well up within you to show your appreciation and love. And may your gifts be multiplied back to you a hundredfold.