Open the Window

Malachi 3: 10

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house and test 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 a blessing until it overflows.”

There is much talk about giving to the church, but it seems to me that there is little understanding. I suppose it is just one of those uncomfortable subjects. Well, let’s just look at God’s words and see what He says about it.

This one little verse says quite a bit. It contains both a command and a promise. God would that you would pay attention to both parts. The “tithe” is one tenth of your income which was supposed to be given to the church for the maintenance of those who minister: ministers, priests, etc. This tenth part is also used to minister to the needs of others. So in old times, as now, it is used to support the ministry so that the ministry can continue to perform its function. Now this ten percent was a command of God, not a suggestion.

The part of this verse that I wish to bring your attention to, though, is the part which contains the promise. God promises to pour out the substance of heaven on to you. He promises to pour out a blessing so huge that you cannot even contain it. That is what overflow is; more than you can contain. Now what do you suppose you might do with that overflow? You are probably going to bless others. So God has great interest in keeping you overflowing so that all may be blessed. Eventually those who have been blessed abundantly by your giving also mature in Christ and they begin to give. First they begin with their tithe. Then as the blessings of God overflow, they also become great givers in the Kingdom. Then their giving allows other people to be reached and blessed. I guess you see how this works.

What I want you to see is that God has a vested interest in prospering you. If you have proved that you can be trusted with money, He wants to give you more so that you can continue to bless others. He is adamant on this point and here is where I think most American Christians lose God. He is so resolute that He invites, nay orders us to test Him in this. He commands us to hold Him accountable to His word regarding our giving. Many Christians want to give without any expectation of receiving. That sounds good and I think comes from a kind place in their hearts but it is just not biblical. Satan is the only one who does not want you to reap from your giving, not God. Satan doesn’t want you to reap a reward from your giving because He knows you are going to turn around and give some away again. He can’t have that. If you keep that up you are going to set people free. You are going to cause great damage in his kingdom.

God wants you to hold His feet to the fire and require a thirty, sixty or hundred fold return from Him. Look, even dirt gives you a return if you plant a seed. Isn’t God much more rewarding than a patch of dirt. I know that you give a gift out of the kindness of your heart. And that is a great thing. God wouldn’t change that. He just wants you to understand that what is a gift to you and probably to the recipient as well, is a seed to Him and He wants you to expect a yield. He wants you to sow your gifts towards greater gifts so that He can do more for you. No matter what we want to believe, He cannot give us what we will not receive. So keep up your generosity. Even increase your giving but in your giving expect God to do something great. Require Him to keep His word to you. In His own words, “test me now in this.” You will not lose your holiness by expecting a return from Him and you will gain a new level of obedience. As you reap, listen to Him and He will show you how you can continue to bless Him and His kingdom.

Forget Me Not

Isaiah 17: 10 – 11             NIV

You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress. Therefore, though you set out the finest plants . . . yet the harvest will be as nothing.

This is a very good commentary on how to run our business, how to operate in our lives, and indeed how to function in every area of life. The seeds of failure are sown when we ignore the God of the Harvest. Let’s look at how we avoid this ruin.

You may have been taught to dedicate things to the Lord. That is a good first step. What should be dedicated? Everything; your home, car, business, job, recreation, family, relationships, etc. Literally everything should be placed on the altar as you dedicate its function and purpose to the Lord. Putting these things in the Lord’s hands, giving them to Him, gives Him permission to function therein. Let us not stop there.

As you see from today’s verse dedicating your job or your business to the Lord is not the end. Many have done so but promptly forgotten Him. He has a role in your business. He has a function. If you cut Him out, it will be to your detriment. Think about it. What is the incentive in cutting Him out of the operation. Does He require a paycheck? Does He ask for a raise every year? You should be tithing on all business income already. The raise He gets is when He causes your business to prosper and His 10% gets larger.

Christians fail because after they dedicate themselves and their businesses to the Lord, they subsequently forget about Him or they just have not figured out how to incorporate the Lord and His wisdom into every day operations. So, we need practical advice on how to keep God in the middle of your business life.

One of the clearest ways to do that is to communicate with Him about your business. This necessarily means that you will need to have developed the skill of hearing His voice. If you lack confidence in this area, you can search the Word of the Day on our website (www.iveyministries.org) for “voice” or “hearing.” You will find a number of articles which will help you in this regard. Also, check out Four Keys to Hearing God’s Voice by Dr. Mark Virkler (www.cwgministries.org). He teaches a simple way to develop your inner ear such that you can hear God’s voice anytime you choose to.

Then, make it your daily habit to spend some time with the Lord before you begin your day. You don’t have to spend two hours travailing over what to do. Just have a cup of coffee with the Lord as you would any business partner. Discuss ideas, plans and necessary tasks. Check in during the day with Him for any further wisdom He may share. It is that easy. Just don’t forget Him. Don’t forget that He is your partner and is willing to be with you all day long. Keep God in your thoughts and in your business and your harvest will be plentiful; more than you can contain.

Let’s Live

Isaiah 49: 28

All flesh will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

This verse, more than any other, defines the ambition of my ministry. I strongly desire the church of the Lord Jesus to be so strong and successful, living in the miracles and victory of our blessed Lord that all nations, all people will look upon us and know that we are the children of the Mighty One.  Everywhere we go, our lives, words and countenance should reflect the glory that is our Lord.

Too often the lives of Christians demonstrate lack and defeat.  I remember when I was young, believing in Jesus and his resurrection, but wanting little to do with most Christians I met. Then I moved to San Diego and there I met people who loved the Lord with all their heart but who did not seem to be dragged down by a ministry of poverty. They were happy, successful and as they talked about the Lord, their zeal could not be contained.  It blessed me right down to my socks and I went on a hunt for what they knew that I did not.  I challenged their premises and they showed me Jesus.  I became a student of the Bible because I wanted what they had.  I have never looked back and I am grateful, to this day, for the men and women who had the courage to live their convictions.  I saw miracles happen.  I even saw miracles occur when I prayed.  I want that back.

I don’t know what has happened but I see less of the miracle working power in my life and in my associations these days.  So, this I resolve. I will be the instigator.  I will shake up my own life and challenge myself to live what I believe.  I will challenge God, if I must, to show me how to part seas or walk on them.  Every miracle that has ever happened is as viable today as ever because God has not, and will not, change. He is just looking for someone who will believe Him.  Moses believed Him and led an entire nation into liberty.  What can we do if we will band together in radical belief and radical trust?

Will you reach out to me and let me know that mine is not a solitary voice in the wilderness? It is as simple as replying to this email or posting to the site. Are you, likewise, sick and tired of being sick and tired? Do you believe that your Lord means better for you than what you are currently living? Does He want to touch your body and instill health? Strength?  What can the Lord do in our lives if we will, with humble and honest hearts, lay aside all that has kept us bound and throw ourselves fully into His arms?

We have a right and, dare I say, even a duty to live up to the victorious, overcoming, overflowing life which Jesus poured out for us.  The world is lost.  People are dying without ever meeting the beautiful Jesus. With all that is within me I implore you to reach beyond where you are and grasp all that Jesus offers.  We can all live higher in the light of his glory. It’s not all just about us, though. It is about the witness each of us will be in the earth. The world will look at Christians and say, as I did all those years ago, “I want what they have.”  We can absolutely demonstrate to the whole world that our God, our Father, is great, mighty and a lover of all people. Let this be our rallying point!  Let’s live; let’s live as Jesus meant us to.  In his blessed name, Amen.

 

Manifested Life

2 Corinthians 4: 11

For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

As we have seen all week, death is life. In order to live, we must die. Scatter the ashes of your old self at the feet of Jesus and live the abundant life Jesus came here to give you. That was his mission, you know, to bring you abundant life. Consider John 10: 10, “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” What does abundantly mean but plentiful supply; more than sufficient; ample. Another definition says: abounding with, rich. This definition as well as Jesus’ use of the word abundant puts me in remembrance of the 23rd Psalm where our cup “overflows” or as it says in the King James version, “Our cup runneth over.” This is the picture of the life Jesus came to give us. Or I like what God said to tithers in Malachi 3: 10, “I will . . . pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it” (NIV).

My point is this, from the beginning God had a plan to pour out upon us abundant, rich life. When we couldn’t receive it through the old covenant, He sent Jesus to earth to gain that abundant life for us. Still, many of us, though we confess Jesus as Lord, fail to receive cup runneth over life. The reason why, perhaps, is that we have failed to die to self and live to Christ. We are trying to live to Christ, I appreciate that, but we cannot live in the newness of life until we crucify and bury the old life. So we try and try to live the saintly life; we pray for the abundance promised us but we never seem to move into the richness of life promised us. The reason is that although we are sincere in our endeavors, our reasoning is faulty. We can never receive the new life of Christ and the richness of blessing that come with it until we put our self-absorbed old man in the graveyard. When we do, though, all of the life of Christ is able to rush in and fill us. Then the life of Jesus will be manifested in us.

Dams

Proverb 3: 9 – 10

Honor the Lord from your wealth, and from the first of all your produce, so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.

Sometimes humans are the dullest form of intelligent life. This verse couldn’t get much simpler, and yet there is tremendous resistance within the church to giving. God has told us how to have abundance. He wants us to experience overflow. Overflow is when you have more than enough. That is a typical God plan. He never stops at just filling a cup. He runs it over. So, if we are not experiencing overflow, what is damming the flow?

It turns out that we use our intelligence quotient to construct dams in our lives. We are blocking our own flow, in other words. The principle pointed to in today’s proverb is no different than what Jesus taught. It is the principle of sowing and reaping. God is a multiplier. He multiplies what we give Him and gives it back to us. In the old days they taught us that a hundred times zero was not a good yield. A hundred times one is better but if I understand God and His ways, I can use the kingdom principles He put in place thousands of years ago and receive whatever yield I need or want.

So how do we honor the Lord from our wealth and the first of our produce? One of the obstacles some people face is that they are happy to bless the Lord but they don’t like giving to person in order to accomplish that goal. Well, as I have said before, if you cannot trust your minister with your money then you probably want to look for another church home. Secondly, I find it hard to believe we can’t find one minister in all the world who we believe will use God’s money in the way He directs them. Third, pray over your giving. God will honor and multiply your gift without regard to what the person you give it to does with the money. Your part is just to give. When you let go of it, then the rest is up to God.

So, what I want to say to you is, “Don’t worry about it.” I want you in overflow. I want no financial stress on you whatsoever. Therefore, I encourage you to pour out your gifts to the Lord, even if they go through a person, so that God can overflow your cup. Tear down the dams in your life and let God bless you.

Good Measure

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 years I didn’t really understand what this scripture was trying to get over to us. I understand give and it will be given to you. That is a clear direction from God concerning being generous in our giving to others. What is all of that other language for though? We do not have represented here a simple one to one ratio vis-a- vis giving and receiving. Rather, God is telling us that when we give, he gives back a vastly multiplied amount. It was one day when I was filling a container with a dry ingredient that this verse’s meaning became evident to me. As I poured my dry product into the container it began to fill while I still had more to fit into the container. So, I started tapping the container on the counter causing the substance to pack more compactly. Doing this allowed me to put much more substance into the container. Then I realized that is what “pressed down” and “shaken together” is all about. Maybe you could also press the dry material down with some sort of tamping tool so that you can fit more into the vessel. 

You see, God does not just give back to you in equal measure. He gives back an ample supply. He presses down and shakes down the substance so that he can get more into the container. And even then, he still runs the container over from his generous giving. He causes all things to come to you in abundance so that you cannot even contain it all. Well, good! Then you can take the overflow and give it away. But have plenty of pots and canisters available when you do because he is going to give back to you again, good measure!