ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: THE PSALM 23 ADVENTURE, Part 10
August 19, 2016
By now you’ve all gotten the understanding that the 23rd Psalm is anything but some trite Scripture to read to console folks at some funeral. This is a living Word from Holy Spirit! It is both a prophetic declaration over our lives and a vivid picture of the processes that Holy Spirit uses to conform us to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ and to develop His character in us in such a way as to prepare us to “dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”
At the same time, the unfolding processes that take place are visible evidence to the world around us, our friends and our families, just what the Glory of the Lord looks like. We ARE being changed in such a way as to reveal the Glory of the Lord. The changes that develop in our lives cause those around us to say, “Glory to God!”
That Glory is what clothed Adam and Eve in the Garden! When they were created, they could look at each other, and what they saw in and of each other was the presence, the makeup, the nature, the Glory of God.
I don’t have to tell you that we all – as believers in Christ Jesus – have much being developed in our lives, and a whole lot more to take place, in order for that same Glory, that very presence of the Lord, along with His nature and makeup to be revealed in us, to us, and through us to all those around. The apostle Paul described what is taking place in us like this:
II Corinthians 3:18: But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
You see it don’t you? This is an unfolding that takes place, step by step, by step, by step, with His Glory evident in each successive change that takes place!
Let’s continue where we were last week in describing the beginning place of the fall, and the that to which we MUST be restored! What I’m about to share will probably hit some of you between the eyeballs, but this is a critical part of our restoration! My sharing is not for the purpose of criticism, but it WILL destroy some doctrinal traditions.
One tree — one of ten genus of trees in the Garden— was reserved unto the Lord. The essence of His command to Adam and Eve was, “You can eat of any of the other genus of trees (including the Tree of Life), but I’ve reserved One unto Myself. You can have nine of the tree species, but the tenth is mine. Do NOT eat of that tree! If you do, it will change your entire being from that which I’ve made you to be, and death will result.”
It’s a picture that many Christians just don’t grasp. The concept of the tenth belonging to God, and the consequences that result when we ignore it get relegated to the Law of Moses, and Christians fall into the trap of believing that tithing was a legalistic command. The corollary to that is that they believe (because the belief is rooted in both the Fear of Evil and the Fear of Death) that we have been redeemed from the Law of Tithing.
The truth of the Word which Paul wrote to Timothy is clear:
I Timothy 6:10: For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
People who continue to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil where it comes to money and finances and grasp their money — which is rooted in the Fear of Death — suffer the consequence of continual need, always struggling to make ends meet. That part of their lives is suffering from the death that comes of rationalizing over their needs, their bills, the emergencies that arise in their lives, their health, etc.
They just don’t understand that when it comes to finances, if they eat of the Tree of Life and honor the principle that at least one tenth of their substance and one tenth of their increase belongs to the Lord — that they don’t have the right to decide how to use that tenth — life returns to their financial well-being. Once that revelation unfolds in their spirit, there is an enormous freedom in being able to give and let go of it, not trying to figure out how the ministry you’ve given to is going to use the funds.
I have to admit that there was a period in my life when I bought into the religious lie that tithing was legalistic and that we are supposed to be “givers.” There’s a distortion of God’s Word if there ever was one! We ARE supposed to be givers, but the “giving” comes out of the love we have of the Lord, the trust we have in His faithfulness, and the desire to see that His purposes and desires are met with our finances.
As long as I lived that lie, we were always struggling to make ends meet. The break from that came one day when Della — who happened to be traveling and doing diamond shows across the Southeast — called me from Florida and told me that God had instructed her to give a thousand dollars to a particular television ministry. We were in debt up to our eyeballs at the time.
Brother, did I ever argue with the Lord! It was one of the television ministries that I distrusted with every bone of my being and giving what amounted to a sacrifice in the face of our need to THAT ministry grated against everything I knew and rationalized. You see the problem, don’t you? I was fighting with “everything I knew” and everything that was rational and could be figured out with my thinking. I had been eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil!
The Lord spoke to me in the face of my distrust and said, “I trust him,” referring, of course, to that particular televangelist. There was no getting around it, and so I obeyed that Word of the Lord. Less than sixty days later, Della and I were out of debt — and the debt amounted to over a hundred thousand dollars. The faithfulness of God in this event was a glaring picture for me of how wrong I had been when it came to finances. It was an explosion of revelation for me.
Della and I began a regular program of tithing, but because of my previous stinginess with God in the realm of finances (and I’ll explain that momentarily) we started with 15% of our income, giving it according the principle revealed in Malachi 3:10 — the storehouse where we received our spiritual provision.
We’ve always been givers, but the giving inevitably came as we saw fit, NOT according to what Holy Spirit was directing, and certainly NOT to the “storehouse.” Furthermore, I gave according to my financial picture — NOT out of faith, and NOT because I was eating of the Tree of Life where finances were concerned. When it came to the concept of tithing, I was being a miser with God, withholding the tithe and justifying that behavior through my “giving.” “Giving” ALWAYS comes on top of the tithe to the Lord. After all, you can’t “give” what doesn’t belong to you! Giving can only come after you have tithed the Holy Portion to the Lord.
What the revelation of God’s portion — the Holy Portion, if you will — has produced in us ever since is that we have increased our giving — even when we had bills to pay and the giving would leave us without enough money to pay those bills — is a living demonstration of the second half of Malachi 3:10:
“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.”
We have seen such multiplication as to defy rational explanation — multiplication which has allowed us to give more and more and more as God has directed so that what we have given in just the past few months’ amounts to nearly 90% of our income. Our living and our needs are approximately 10%. It is deliverance from the Fear of Death and deliverance from any trace of the covetousness Paul describes in his letter to Timothy. It is a complete reversal of status.
When a person comes to the place of letting go entirely of their finances in the face of personal needs and begins to eat of the Tree of Life, not only giving the minimum 10% but experiencing the joy and the freedom of giving beyond the minimums (and this is something that God enables), surgery has been performed in their souls, their rational thinking, their reasoning minds.
But deliverance from the Fear of Death where finances are concerned is only the tip of the iceberg. As shared earlier, there is an innate knowledge in the core of our beings that we were never designed to die, and the fact that everything in our society today pretty much decrees a “normal” lifespan of 70—80 years flies in the face of God’s Word. We have an oft-repeated cliché that goes like this: The only things guaranteed in life are death and taxes — and not necessarily in that order.
As a result, there are many activities that folks engage in to prove to themselves subconsciously that they are not afraid of death. Daredevil feats (we have numerous television programs that dote on the extremes — and particularly extreme sports — that some people go to), smoking, drugs and hard liquor are just a few examples of things that some people do or participate in without any conscious thought that they are resisting dying or the inevitability of death when in fact, the very acts of doing these things frequently results in death — premature death!
Our Tree-of-the-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil-based society is totally oblivious to the concept that Jesus finished — once and for all — the curse of death and all the curses that come from the previous consequences of eating of that tree. The overwhelming majority of Christians today still believe that they have an appointment with death.
When they read in John 11:26, And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? they don’t. That was OK when Jesus walked and talked on the earth, but that doesn’t work today! Oh, really?
The Greek word used here for “die” is the word, apothnesko, and it is the word for literal, physical death. Our religious society today has spiritualized this in their unbelief to mean that this is a reference to dying spiritually, but not physically.
The proof of Restoration is an adventure all by itself. When David wrote, He restoreth my soul, he wasn’t kidding!
Some of you will remember my sharing the event that occurred when I was 41 years old. Della and I had just moved into a new home in North Pole, Alaska. Our nearest neighbor was a quarter mile away. The phone service had not been turned on yet, so we were pretty much isolated from outside communication.
I was taking a shower when I was hit with a massive heart attacked that dropped me like a rock. Della heard the crash and saw me lying on the floor halfway out of the shower. Some folks would call it an adrenalin rush, but the truth is that Della was empowered supernaturally. Those of you who know us know that Della is easily half my size and weight even now. Back then she weighed even less, having recently come off a 40-day fast. There was no way to call 9-1-1, and running to the neighbor’s place a quarter-mile away was out of the question. Fact is, I don’t think that Della even considered any options.
She picked me up, carried or dragged me into the bedroom and heaved me up onto the bed and commenced to speaking life back into my body. My return was not instantaneous! Della stayed with it. She was angry at Satan for his attempt to take my life, and particularly to steal me from her and our relationship together. For something like 15 to 20 minutes, she continued to speak and command life to come back into me in the name of Jesus. She had a tiger by the tail and wasn’t letting go!
When life returned into my body and I came to, Della was straddling me, her fist upraised and shouting at the top of her voice, “YOU WILL COME BACK IN THE NAME OF JESUS!” I saw her fist coming down and startled her by reaching up and grabbing her arm lest she hit me with that fist.
We’ve had lots of laughs about it and the dynamics of what occurred in the 33 years since that took place, but there is no doubt that there was an unfolding of revelation that took place as a result. I’d had two experiences of raising the dead years before that took place, but it just wasn’t the same as being raised myself. It brought a whole new understanding of the revelation that John saw and heard Jesus say when he wrote:
Revelation 1:18: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Satan no longer has the power of death, nor the ability to take our lives against the will and purposes of God. For those who can enter into this revelation and understanding, we have been delivered from the curse of death, and the Fear of Death has no power nor authority in us.
THAT is some revelation! It is restoration, and it is life-changing!
There’s a whole lot more to come. Let’s continue this next week.
I remind those of you in need of ministry that our Healing Prayer Call normally takes place on the first Monday of each month at 7:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Pacific). Our call-in number is (712) 775-7035. The Access Code is: 323859#. For Canadians who have difficulty getting in to this number, you can call (559) 546-1400. If someone answers and asks what your original call-in number was, you can give them the 712 number and access code.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (605) 562-3140, and the access code is 308640#. We hope to make these gatherings available by Skype or Talk Fusion before long. If you miss the live call, you can dial (605) 562-3149, enter the same access code and listen in later.
Blessings on you!
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