Calling All Believers!

Matthew 9: 28, 21: 22

And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this? If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Yesterday I sent you an unusual Word of the Day, unusual because I have never before asked you to give to this ministry. That wasn’t easy for me but there was a specific reason I made that suggestion and request. First, if you are being fed by this ministry, you should support it, but that is not why I wrote you as I did yesterday. I wrote to you trying to get you blessed.

Why am I anointed to teach the gospel? And for whom? Why did God give me that anointing of increase Sunday? All the anointing that is on me was given for you. I don’t benefit from the anointing on me. I benefit from the anointing that is on Jesse. However, no matter what gifts God sends, it up to each one of us to receive them. So, I want to tell you another story.

A couple of years ago, I decided to test God on this finances thing. You see, we all have trouble believing. As you can see from today’s verse, Jesus couldn’t always get around people’s doubt. Anyway, I took one dollar and sowed it. I prayed over it, I declared, and I put God on notice that I was going to see what He would do. Well, very shortly thereafter I received a check for fifty dollars. Okay, I was expecting one hundred but, where else do you get that kind of return on your money. So, being quite serious about sowing, I sowed the entire fifty dollars. Guess what ministry I sent it to. Jesse Duplantis Ministries. I sent that fifty dollars as soon as I got it. I was working on something. So, then I sat and waited. I was expecting the hundredfold return. And I waited and waited. I began to tell Father, “Hey, you owe me some money here.” Still nothing. Then one day I heard the Father’s voice say to me, “I will make it up to you on your truck.” Well, the thing there was that I wanted a new Tahoe, but I couldn’t afford it. So, I waited some more. Then I reminded Father, “You owe me money!” Again, I heard Him say, “I will make it up to you on your truck.” Okay, fine, but didn’t He understand that I couldn’t afford a Tahoe? How was He going to make it up to me? This went on and I held on though I couldn’t see anything coming in. Some days I was despondent. Other days I was full of faith. Through it all, though, He gave me the strength and tenacity to hold on. Now you see why I titled yesterday’s Word of the Day as I did. I understand. Anyway, time went on and I could see no way I would be able to afford a new Tahoe, but that is the vehicle my heart was set on. Well, long story short . . . you would like the looks of my pretty new Tahoe. I got it in December, and I still don’t know how it happened. What’s more, I got a new stationary bike for indoor training and sold my old Tahoe for the amount that I was going to donate it for. All of this happened within a week and it was purely the blessing of the Lord. Dad isn’t a liar!

Now, what are you going to do? “Do you believe that I (Jesus) am able to do this?” “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” So, who are my believers? Do you believe God is able to do something for you? Some of you sowed yesterday as soon as you read the Word of the Day. God bless you! I am going to pray a prayer over those donations that will rock the walls of hell. Some of you didn’t sow a gift to Ivey Ministries. Why? Why didn’t you? Do you not believe that Jesus is able to bless you? Are you having a battle with doubt? What do you think? You are not the only one to doubt. If you read Monday’s Word of the Day you know that the Lord said to each of us, “Those speculations, wonderings, worries, all those mental gymnastics, must be brought to kneel at Jesus’ feet.” See, all that matters is what Jesus says.

But here is the hard part. Do you believe him? I mean really believe him? Are you willing to risk something on his word? Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is,” as the saying goes. Don’t think I don’t know how hard it is to do, but sooner or later we have to decide where we are going to stand. Are you a believer or are you not? Are you going to let Jesus bless you with this special blessing he has for you? Who wins in your heart faith or doubt?

God is able to make all grace abound to you, but you’ve got to get in the game. You have to choose to be a part of this. I am screaming with my outdoor voice that God is doing something here. Let Him include you. Be a part of the blessing. Do you believe?

Invested Bread

Ecclesiastes 11: 1

Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.

This is such an archaic message. I wonder if it has lost its meaning. Let’s see if we can put a little modern spin on this for everyone.

The New Century Version says it this way, “Invest what you have, because after a while you will get a return.” There, that makes much more sense. I guess if you think of the term the way it was used in the 70’s it helps in understanding too. People back then called money “bread”. So cast your bread out there, invest it so that it can make a return for you. Several other versions agree with this idea even though they use the old language because they add that more will come back with the original. So you cast your bread, receiving it back and more besides.

The Living Bible reads, “Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later.” Here we learn that the investment is a gift. Is there a guarantee of a return when the invested bread is a gift? No, generally not, but then there is no guarantee in any investment. There is one giving that does guarantee you get your principle back along with earnings on it. It is the subject of today’s verse. When you cast your bread to God, or give to Him, then your investment is guaranteed. This is the Kingdom of God. “Do good wherever you go. After a while, the good you do will come back to you (ERV).” This is God’s investment strategy and He guarantees we will make money on it.

As you know, there are a lot of broke Christians. Many of them have never been taught God’s economic system, which is really sad. Then also, there are some who are just stingy. They don’t give because they want every dime to spend on their pleasures. They don’t believe God rewards giving or that He gives a return on investments made with Him. Perhaps, many of us just have no faith, while others always seem to see a conspiracy like someone, the church, the pastor, are after their money. I don’t see my giving to a ministry solely as a gift to that ministry, even though it is worthy of my gift. I see it as a gift to Dad, money for His Kingdom work here on earth. That alone is a good return but then our Father actually multiplies the money as well and returns it to us.

Don’t you want in on this deal? How can we lose as we invest in spreading the Good News of God? Well, cast your bread on the water. Send out money on every wave so that every wave will bring you return. I guarantee that the Kingdom of God is the best blue chip investment you will ever find.

 Believers?

John 2: 22

When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.

Believing Jesus; believing in Jesus, ultimately should bring a person to believing the Scriptures.

We are called “believers”, but what do we believe. There are some basic tenets of the Christian faith which we are all expected to believe: the virgin birth, the resurrection, etc. surprisingly, one of those basic tenets isn’t that Jesus is the Word of God. people are taught to believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God but if you listen to them, most do not actually believe what they read in the Bible.

Once, when I was a guest at a church, I heard a sermon on Jesus feeding the 5000. To this day I almost regret that I did not stand up and shout, “Blasphemy!” The pastor taught that feeding the 5000 was not a miracle of Jesus. Instead, he posited that women in the crowd fed the people. The women in the congregation appreciated his comment because good church women, especially from the south, do feed the multitude. None the less, can you see that this Pastor is not truly a believer? He does not believe what he reads in the Bible. I wonder, sometimes, how that church is doing. If the pastor teaches unbelief, what expressions of faith can you expect from the congregation?

I want to challenge you to read the Bible and then to believe what you read. Third, I want you to believe that what you read there can happen today and can happen in your life. Do you need food? Read 1 Kings 17. Do you need money? Read Matthew 17: 27. Then believe what you read. Believe that what God did for someone else, He is willing to do for you. Believe the Word of God.

Be a blessing & Be blessed

Proverb 10: 22

It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich , and He adds no sorrow to it.

I wrote yesterday that the fastest way to bless yourself is to pray for those in leadership positions above you. Frankly, you ought to be praying for those people in the organization who are below you too but that topic is for another day.

Do you know it is okay to be blessed? Even financially? Well, think about it. Who should be the most blessed, the kids of the King or the heathen unbelievers? There are a lot of components to being rich but it would be pure foolishness for me to suggest that financial wealth isn’t one of them. Dad wants you blessed in every area of your life. that, truly, is the only way you can be rich. You gotta have health, money, a great relationship with your heavenly father, and good friends. You are not, however, going to have these things if you don’t believe the father wants you to have them. If you think any part of the blessing is prohibited then you are going to choke off the flow. Believe it!

There is a reason Solomon wrote this verse. He conveyed two messages in it. First, wealth comes from the Father. Period. There are no qualifiers here. God is the Lord of the blessing. He is the one who sends the blessing to you. Secondly, Yahweh means for you to have the blessing and to be rich without guilt. He is the one who blesses you. What reason would you have to feel guilt over what the Father is doing?

Here is the point I want to get to though. As we saw in yesterday’s devotion, the way to be blessed is to bless. If you will hold up your leaders to the Lord, praying for them and refraining from speaking negatively, then good will come. Now, here is the rest of the secret. The remainder of the blessing comes on the same highway. Father God is the Lord of provision. No doubt about that. He has warehouses full of provision with your name on it. The easiest and the best way to requisition what He has already laid up for you is to give to someone else? Be a blessing and be blessed. That’s how this thing works. “That’s crazy!” you say. Yep! It is. The Kingdom of God does not work the way the world does and that actually makes sense too. The world has been perverted, which means it has been twisted where it just doesn’t work any longer the way it was designed to work. So, knowing that, you really wouldn’t expect the world and the Kingdom to work the same way. The secret is in knowing how the Kingdom works and applying those procedures. That is why I am telling you this, so that you can apply the Kingdom principles and get yourself blessed. Doesn’t that sound great?

Bottom line? If you want to be blessed, be a blessing. Kinda weird, very cool, but most importantly, it works.

Applied Law

Luke 6: 38

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

This is the law of sowing and reaping. If you give, it will be given to you. Period. Jesus spoke these words. The truth of the matter is that because this is a spiritual law, not Jesus nor even God Himself can stop the flow of benefit to you. A law operates the same way all the time and automatically. Jesus did not say and is not saying that when you give God will bless you. Read it again. He is simply teaching about the application of the law of sowing and reaping. When you sow, you shall reap.

As people begin to learn this important lesson they are routinely confronted with how, when and why to use it. Truly, I have seen more than one person trip over what they perceive as the ethic of this law. They will say to me, “Yes, I see this is true and from God but we shouldn’t give in order to receive.” That is like saying, “We shouldn’t intentionally use gravity.” I know it sounds holy, and that is what people are wrestling with. It is their learned sense of right and wrong. However, the real truth is that is a carnal perspective taught to all of us by the world. I know that sounds a bit harsh but I am trying to set you free here. When God establishes a law and Jesus teaches us about it they mean for us to use it for our benefit and for the benefit of those around us.

You don’t have to be selfish in order to use this law. You can always support this and other ministries with your increase. So, let’s get out of our worldly ethic for a minute and stretch our minds. Jesus came to the earth teaching that the Kingdom of God has come. That was a new thing and people had no idea what he was talking about. Then he proceeded to teach us how this Kingdom works. The first lesson, the predominant application of this Kingdom domain is that whenever you sow money, kindness, patience or anything else whether good or bad, you will receive a harvest which is multiplied many times over. Remember Jesus’ language. He said you shall receive “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over.” When I hear that I think of trying to get all of the bag of grits to fit in my canister. I have to shake it and bang it on the counter to get it to press down so that I can get all of the grits to fit. That’s what Jesus is talking about. Your return is going to be so great that you won’t be able to fit it into your container. It is running over.

Now then, why did Jesus teach us this? Was he trying to get us to give? Most people probably don’t truly believe that answer or we would see much better and more givers in the church. Why then? Here is a Bible principle that will serve you well if you will remember it. Everything that Jesus teaches us, everything that he tells us to do is for our good. That is a biggy. It means that Jesus told us about giving so that we will learn how to receive. Alright, let that sink in. Of the thirty-six words in today’s verse only one has to do with giving. The rest are about receiving.

Here is my point. Jesus was trying to teach us all how things work in the Kingdom of God. Remember he said that we are not of this world (John 17: 14). We are of the Kingdom of God. Therefore, we have to learn Kingdom Principles or how the Kingdom operates.

Today’s verse will teach you how to manage finances. If you want to make money, multiply your wealth and increase your financial well-being then you must give. That’s just how the Kingdom works, that is how Kingdom finances work. You cannot operate as the world operates and be successful because you don’t live in the world. This is a very important concept for us to grasp. Jesus is teaching how to succeed, how to have provision for every good work as well as taking care of your own needs. Now don’t say, “Well, I don’t want to give in order to receive.” That is denying the laws of the Kingdom. Would you say, “Okay, I am going to invest some money in this mutual fund but I don’t want it to increase.” Of course not. That would be foolishness. Why, then, would you expect a worldly venture to increase your portfolio but not your Father who loves you? When we stop and think of these things they really are foolish but it is only because we haven’t been taught. Now you know though. God intends for you to work the equation backwards. If I know the result I want, then I can figure out what seed to sow. If you need money, sow money. God’s law of sowing and reaping will multiply that seed and give you a harvest.

Jesus didn’t teach us to pray for our increase and then sit on the wharf and wait for our ship to dock. No, Jesus said, “Give.” Then pray over your seed. Ask Dad to multiply your seed to the one you give it to and to return it to you multiplied hundred-fold. Now that prayer is in keeping with the Word of God. Give and it shall be given to you. Let’s get scriptural with this thing and apply the spiritual laws.

The Rich Young Ruler (Part 5)

Mark 10: 21

And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, and said to him, “One thing you lack . . . come, follow me.”

What was the one thing that the rich young ruler lacked? I believe it was a deep abiding trust in the Holy One. I think Jesus was preaching Proverb 3: 5 to him which reads; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” We know that this young man was holy because he kept the commandments. We know that he loved God. That is why he kept the commandments. He had a deeper longing for God also. He was not prideful either. Those two are demonstrated in the fact that he ran to Jesus and that he threw himself at Jesus’ feet. He wanted to know how to come closer to God and was willing to chase down the man he thought could teach him that.

His problem was not that he had riches. Really it is not hard to get into heaven with riches. You just leave them behind here on earth. You go, they stay. No, his problem was that he had learned to trust in his wealth. He trusted in his skills. He knew how to live and be prosperous but his trust was in himself and his ability to take care of himself. Jesus called him to leave that life and his possessions behind and follow him. Peter, John, etc. left their goods behind and it did not seem to bother them much. They did not have their trust tied into their fishing nets. This young man didn’t know how to walk by faith though. This is what Jesus wanted to teach him. In the fourth chapter of Mark, Jesus compared the kingdom of God to seed which is planted and having been planted, after a time, yields a crop. He was trying to teach them all the law of sowing and reaping.

When Jesus called Andrew and Peter, he told them that he would make him fishers of men. In the rich young ruler’s case, he would have shown him how to sow and reap in the kingdom of God. He would have taught him how to make money by sowing, but also he would have taught him how he (the young ruler) could plant the seed of God’s word and reap souls saved and destiny bound. He could have become a great evangelist because he already knew the principles of business. He just needed to learn to operate as God and Jesus did. And he needed to learn what we are all still learning even to this day. Walk wherever Jesus calls you without fear or concern for your own livelihood. Do what he calls you to do and have no thought for your own needs. They are the responsibility of the Father. The rich young ruler couldn’t step out of his comfort zone and follow Christ. He couldn’t step out on that water and trust Christ to hold him up. He couldn’t go where Jesus called because of his fear and lack of faith and trust. Now the real question is, “Can we?”

The Rich Young Ruler (Part 4)

Mark 10: 17 – 20

And as He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him and began asking Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.’” And he said the Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”

Jesus wasn’t teaching about salvation in this story. He was teaching about walking according to the kingdom that God is now and in the future will establish. He is talking about learning to work and walk in the earth as God has so designed. We can see this in the first several verses. Jesus finishes dealing with salvation in verse 20 and yet the story goes on through verse 31. So what was Jesus talking about in the subsequent 11 verses?

The young man asked what he needed to do to inherit salvation and Jesus answered him, “Keep the commandments.” The man answered that he had so done all the years of his life. That’s it then, isn’t it? Jesus said, “Do this and you shall inherit salvation” and the fellow essentially says, “Ok.” That ends that conversation. But Jesus saw something in this young man that he really liked; more than liked actually. The scripture said that Jesus loved him. Jesus said, “Come follow me.” It is like Peter and Andrew leaving their nets and following him. I am also reminded of the story in Matthew 8. Jesus called someone to come with him but the man responded, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” Jesus answered him though, “Follow Me; and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”

You see, nothing was more important than following Jesus. To this day, nothing is more important than following Jesus. Anything that we allow to come before our following of our Lord is a problem. Actually, it is an idol. Anything that we put in a position of higher importance than the Lord Jesus is an idol. We are serving it rather than the Lord. You see that Jesus was not going to be second place in any of these people’s lives. Jesus understands that we all have responsibilities but he wants us to put him first place in our lives. He is to be our Lord and all other things should fall into place behind him.