Feb 15, '08 2:56 AM
Time to do another Minnie Pearl imitation, don't you think? No?
OK, then, be that way. See if I care. Hehehehehehe...........
Our short hiatus from this series to talk about HOW TO VOTE provoked lots of comments, made some people so mad they canceled their Coffee Break subscription and fired up others, prompting them to subscribe for the first time. Who'd a guessed such non-political commentary (OK, at least non-partisan!) would stir such political juices? Wow. There was so much more I could have added -- and wanted to -- but I was trying to stay strictly with what Christians need to be sensitive to without political bias. Maybe that's a tough call -- and it shouldn't be -- but sometimes folks get so wrapped up in the partisanship of their party and its agenda that they forget there are issues -- spiritual issues -- which transcend any thought of political party.
Anyway, 'Nuff said. My office has that familiar aroma of freshly ground dark roasted Columbian Supremo blended with Double-Roasted French Roast. Yeeeesssss!!! Pop on in, and I'll pour you a cup.
Gotta share a funny with you before we get started today. We had our monthly gathering this morning of the Sunnyside Ministerial Association. This is a meeting where the pastors of all the various churches gather together to pray over one another, discuss the issues that face the community and work together to resolve those issues. At each monthly meeting, we are at a different church and the meeting is hosted by a different pastor.
This morning's meeting was at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and as is our usual practice, we gather together in the church sanctuary at the beginning of the meeting to pray over the pastor, his ministry, and his congregation. As we were walking into the sanctuary this morning, Karen Helsel (who pastors the Church of God here in Sunnyside) commented on the sign at the entrance that says We Provide Hearing Assistance.
Bob Widmann, who pastors Cornerstone Assembly of God, laughed at Karen and said, "We provide hearing assistance at Cornerstone, too. We provide earplugs for those folks who can't stand the loud music." (Bob has some rather noisy praise and worship, in case you hadn't figured it out.) We all busted out laughing. That was one of the best rejoinders I've heard in a long time!
OK. Time for us to get back to our discussion on Kingdom Economics. There are parts of our previous sessions on this topic that still need wrapping up, but I'm going to wait for now. I particularly wanted to finish up a discussion we had where we were breaking down the economic processes described in Romans 13, and again, we will get to that in the days ahead.
So far in this series, we've talked about money and finances without actually talking about the fundamental principles that God has designed to govern the flow of finances in the life of every believer. We have talked about the fundamentals of the Kingdom of God, and we've talked about faith being the currency of the Kingdom, but let's get down to the nitty-gritty -- that place where faith has to walk in shoeleather -- and talk about the plan and grand design that the Lord has established for His people concerning money, finances, material wealth or possessions.
For every Christian, operating in secular society (and I almost hate to call it that) demands that one have his or her feet firmly planted in the Word. The world system-- secular society, if you will -- has a monetary methodology that is based in the philosophy, Get all you can, and can all you get! Get rich if you can, and hang onto every dime you make! Whatever it takes to get money, do it -- even if you have to step on others along the way. Numero Uno, you know; gotta think about yourself first!
Yet there are some Kingdom principles that transcend the world system, Mammon, and every society whether good or evil -- and these principles ALWAYS WORK -- whether a person has a relationship with the Lord or not. Being a faith-speaking, believing Christian, however, gives one access to a Covenant Blessing that the world does not have access to. Let's begin today by laying a foundation for your understanding of these principles.
This may not seem like a Kingdom principle, but hang on. You'll see it unfold.
Following the great Flood, the Lord covenanted with Noah -- AND with the human race, regardless of relationship with Him -- and He said, "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." (Genesis 8:22 KJV)
Literally everything we live and operate by is predicated on the concept of "seedtime and harvest." This applies agriculturally, of course, but it goes way beyond that. The words you speak are seed. The seed you plant will bring forth a harvest. If you sow faith, you'll reap the blessing and manifested results that come from that faith.
If you sow doubt, you will reap the consequences. If you sow unbelief, you'll NEVER see the things you desire and hope for. Fact is, you're receiving the harvest of unbelief, and that harvest is the exact opposite of what you hope for. If you sow fear, you will reap a harvest of that which you fear.
Job expressed that principle like this, "For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came." (Job 3:25-26 KJV) We'll talk more about this harvest in days to come, but let's continue.
Seedtime and harvest make up the core of everything by which the world operates. This is a universal Law -- a Law of God -- that is spiritual by its very nature. It matters not whether folks believe in God, have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ or not. The fact is, this Law is going to operate -- either for good or for evil -- whether folks like it or not. Whatever the outcome, that outcome is determined by what people sow.
This brings us to the picture of economics -- Kingdom Economics, if you will. We will begin in the Garden of Eden to demonstrate.
In Genesis 2:8-9, 16-17, we are told, "And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
Here's the picture. God plants His Garden -- the Garden of Eden -- in the Earth, and puts Adam smack dab in the middle of it. Part of his responsibility is to tend and dress the Garden (see 2:5). Eden, by the way, has its roots in the Hebrew ïãòÅ €eden (pronounced ay - den), and it translates from the Hebrew to mean: delight, pleasure, voluptuous living.
Now Adam wasn't required to plant the Garden or to sow the seed that began producing this delightful land and environs. He was, however, told that one tree -- JUST ONE, out of the tens and hundreds of thousands of trees -- was not his to eat of. That tree was reserved unto the Lord. Thus, though he didn't sow the seed to produce this tree, Adam was required to unreservedly tend and dress this tree FOR the Lord. It was his act of obedience and trust in God -- a symbol of the integrity of his relationship with the Lord -- that he would care for that tree just as he did every other tree, but its fruit belonged to God.
NOT touching the fruit of that tree was the seed of his fellowship with God. He was allowed to eat of the Tree of Life freely, but he could not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Think about it for a second. He didn't need it. Besides, the warning of God incorporated in His command to Adam was very clear. To eat of that tree was bring death.
So long as Adam didn't touch its fruit for his own consumption, he sowed life, and he sowed into the love-relationship he had with God. For the two-thousand plus years (my personal conviction based on Scriptures) he and Eve lived in the Garden, they lacked for nothing.
The harvest of their obedience to the Word of the Lord brought them everything they could possibly imagine. They were clothed continually in His Glory, so clothing wasn't an issue. They were surrounded with every conceivable delicacy one could imagine, so they never suffered hunger. The daytime and nighttime temperatures stayed continually in a comfort range. There were no storms and no weather conditions that required shelter, so housing wasn't an issue.
I could keep on, but you've got the picture. Adam and Eve absolutely lacked for nothing. Seedtime and harvest -- whether they ever gave it any thought or not -- were manifested continually in their midst.
There's another aspect of God's command to them to NOT eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: tithing. You may think I've gone off the reservation with this one, but bear with me.
The principal concept of tithing is the giving back to the Lord a portion (generally a tenth) of that which He has given you. It is an act of worship. It is an act of honor. It is an act of trust in the integrity of God and His Word. It is an act of faith in the Word and the promises of God.
Tithing recognizes that all that you have and all that you receive comes from the Lord. It is the means by which you say to the Lord, "I will live on 90 percent of all that I receive. I trust you to make the 90 percent accomplish all or more than the 100 percent would have."
Leviticus 27:30 makes crystal clear the fact that "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."
Are you beginning to grasp the significance of what Adam and Eve did when they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? This was a tree that the Lord had reserved unto Himself. They were not to eat of it. That tree was His personal portion in the Garden. It was, to put it simply, Holy unto the Lord!
When you consider all the trees that produced fruit in the Garden, it is ludicrous to think that there was some necessity for them to have eaten of that specific Tree. Nevertheless, the Serpent made Eve think she was missing out on something by not eating of the fruit of that one tree.
She was. You're right! Eve was missing out on death by not eating of that tree. She was missing out on the loss of her personal and intimate relationship with the Lord God. (Excuse the double negative, but I'm trying to show you how laughable the situation was.)
Now, consider God's command to Israel (see Deuteronomy 26:12-15).
"When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; Then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me:
"I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them: I have not eaten thereof in my mourning (the Hebrew word here is ïå†S aven, which means:trouble, neediness, sorrow), neither have I taken away ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given ought thereof for the dead: but I have hearkened to the voice of the LORD my God, and have done according to all that thou hast commanded me.
"Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey."
Notice that the Lord makes very clear the fact that they are entitled to pray and believe for God's blessing upon them, their families, their land and their possessions SO LONG AS they have not taken the tithe and consumed it for their own needs, to pay their own bills, to meet family issues or to use for some other frivolous purpose.
Yet this is exactly what Eve did in the Garden and likewise convinced Adam to do. They ate of the Holy Portion, and it brought death to themselves and the entire human race as a result.
There are many Christians today who somehow have not grasped the significance of this truth. They treat the tithe as something less than Holy. They treat it as a duty -- NOT as an act of love or worship to the Lord. Tithing -- to many -- is a legalistic thing mandated under the Law, and they treat that "law" about as cavalierly as they treat other laws.
Somehow the body of Christ has lost sight of the principle of the tithe. There are many, many Christians today who scrimp when it comes to paying the tithe. Let's use some arbitrary numbers for the sake of illustration. We'll say that Joe and Susie have a combined gross weekly income (before taxes, insurance and other deductions) of $1100. After taxes and insurance, FICA and Social Security are taken out, they're left with a net income of $830.
On Sunday morning, they write out a tithe check for $83. Or maybe they get "generous" and write it out for $90, or even $100, and consider that the $7 or $17 difference is an offering or perhaps "seed" they are sowing toward some specific harvest. The problem is that they haven't even met the tithe of their income. Just because taxes and insurance have been withheld from their paychecks doesn't mean they didn't actually receive that money. They have. It simply went out immediately on payday to meet either legal tax obligations as citizens of this country (or whatever country they happen to live in), or life or health insurance they've opted to purchase. They pretend they haven't received that money, and therefore don't have to tithe on it.
The fact is, they've cheated God out of His portion. They have effectively "eaten" of it in their place of need. Ask them the question, and they'll tell you they can't afford to tithe off their gross income because it wouldn't leave them with enough to pay their remaining bills. Right! They're eating of the tithe!
The problem is that their prayers are also hindered. They are struggling to make ends meet because they are withholding a portion of that which belongs to the Lord. They are effectively saying to the Lord, "I don't trust you to meet my needs. You're not really ready to help me out financially, so I'm taking financial matters into my own hand."
Yeowch! You get the picture, don't you? Partial obedience is no better than complete disobedience. You cannot contaminate what is supposed to be an act of faith with fear, doubt or unbelief. You render the faith null and void.
There's another thing that happens when you eat of the tithe. You eat sickness and death to yourself.
When Malachi is commanded to prophesy to Israel, the Lord says to the people, "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 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. 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. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts." (Malachi 3:8-12)
You see the picture the Lord is drawing again, don't you? He's telling Israel that they have brought themselves under a curse because they have withheld a portion of the tithe. Again, He commands them, "Bring ye ALL the tithes into the storehouse." The Hebrew word translated "all" in the KJV is ìkÊkole:meaning: the whole, all, every part of. Thus we render God's command, "[You] bring the whole tithe into the storehouse." God's corresponding promise to the obedient believer is, "I will ... open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground."
We're running long today, and I still have a whole fistful more to share on the Kingdom principle of tithing, and how it is integral to Kingdom Economics and the Law of Seedtime and Harvest. We'll stop here, and pick this up again in our next Coffee Break.
Citizens of the Kingdom of God are designed, trained and prepared to live a glorious, supernatural life in a natural world so that the world can see what Satan has cheated them out of. We are supposed to be the manifestation of the Glory of God -- not leftover has-beens, used up and discarded by Satan.
The Blessing of the Lord: it makes rich and adds no painful toil and sorrow! Be blessed!
Regner A. Capener
Sunnyside, Washington 98944
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