Abraham is one of the most interesting people in the Bible.  Out of all the people on the earth, God approached this one man and made a covenant with him.  Why him?

The only reason we know of Biblically as to why God chose Abraham can be found in the following verse.

(Genesis 18:19 KJV) “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”

God saw in Abraham a family man and a committed man.  Because of these qualities, God saw that He could bring the plan of salvation to pass through Abraham’s seed.  Remember, Abraham came within a moment of sacrificing his only promised son in obedience to God.  This man had a backbone.

God blessed Abraham.

(Genesis 12:1–4 ESV) “Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.”

The purpose of blessing Abraham was to make him a blessing.  God was thinking way beyond Abraham as a sole individual.  God was thinking about all the families of the earth.  God still blesses people who will endeavor to be a blessing to people.  Unselfishly wanting something to have to give to someone else always partners with the purposes of God.

With God speaking to him, Abraham came to know God.  God brought Abraham into relationship with Himself through a covenant. Abraham just believed in what God said. In his day, Abraham was the only one on earth walking with and talking with God. At that time he was the only one that knew God.  James, in the New Testament, tells us that Abraham was called “the friend of God.” (James 2:23)

Eternal life is knowing God.  Jesus told us this in the book of John.

(John 17:3 ESV) “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

I can’t think of any greater blessing from God than eternal life.  Eternal life is what God has had in mind from the beginning.  The entire purpose of covenanting with Abraham and of sending Jesus was to provide eternal life to people that would receive it. God wanted “all the families of the earth” to know Him, and that began with Abraham.

Dedication, Service and Surrender to God

King David was not a perfect man.  He had many weaknesses and fell into sin on several occasions.  However, God was impressed with David, and for good reason.  Psalm 89 has a beautiful account of God’s commitment to David.

The New Testament gives this statement about David:

(Acts 13:22 KJV) “And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.


David was after the heart of God.  To be after the heart of God he had to live for and pursue the will of God consistently.  God could trust that David would fulfill the will of God at any cost and that pleased God.

Some scholars believe that one of David’s sins was that he got a little full of himself and began to consider expanding the borders of Israel beyond what God had directed because he “numbered” the fighting men of Israel.  The Bible clearly says that Satan moved him to do this.  Satan always hits at a weakness.


(1 Chronicles 21:1 KJV) “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.”


The accounts in 1Chronicles 21 and 2Samuel 24 reveal that God was displeased with David concerning this and brought severe judgement.  David knew he had sinned right after he had Israel numbered.  The prophet Gad came to David and announced three different judgements that David was to choose from as punishment.  David made an interesting statement in his choice:


(2 Samuel 24:14 KJV) “And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.”


David understood God and knew Him to be merciful.  David also knew that man would have no mercy.  David’s choice brought the death of 70,000 in Israel at the hand of a destroying angel. When the angel reached Jerusalem and was ready to destroy there as well, God stopped the angel.


When David sees the angel, he admits to God that he was the one that had sinned and that the people had not.  He also asked that God’s hand be against him and his house rather than against the people of Israel.  I like that.  David took personal responsibility for what he had done.  These days people try to find someone else to blame.  It seems that no one is personally responsible for anything any more.  A murderer might say, “I didn’t kill that person, the bullet did.” David didn’t run from what he had done - the essential key in restoration.

God has a plan for financing everything He does, but nowhere in the Bible can we find the fundraising methods we see in modern ministry today.
I am called to build the financial base of the local church and have been doing so for twenty-six years.  A proper financial foundation in the local church cannot be underestimated.  Also, a proper financial foundation in the local church takes a lot longer to establish than what most ministers think, or are willing to invest.  Money is always needed, especially in the beginning, and again in an expansion such as a building project.

I often see a struggle between the minister’s desire to move forward and the people’s willingness to give to see it happen.  In our day, professional ministerial fundraisers are brought in to “raise” the money. They claim its their ministry but that ministry is absent from the Bible. These “professionals” have many different methods they use to motivate the people to give.  Some are well organized plans with specific goals and others are very loosely put together but very charismatic.  The predominant thing in common is that there is a heavy emphasis upon motivating the giver by promising them a blessing in return for their giving - in other words, a financial return.  However, I can’t see any of this as Biblical, even though some of it “works.”

These days people are seeking something “that works” rather than seeking the Truth.  We live and minister in a consumerist society and “getting results” is the objective. When the results are obtained people feel they have accomplished something for God because they believe He moved.  However, the Bible teaches that we are to obey what we are called to do.  It does not set a goal out in front of us that if reached will prove we are doing something for God.

 

This will surprise many, but the Bible speaks to ministers very directly about this subject.

We live and minister in the last ­of the last days.  Money has become a world wide issue and no country is unaffected by conditions in all the other countries.  This very unavoidable situation precipitated the Vatican to call for a one world government to manage a one world economy - both of which are vessels the anti-christ and the beast will use. The natural human mind is trying to find a way to stabilize a system that is inevitably doomed.

Paul told us that people would be the biggest problem faced in the church in the last days and they will cause a lot of difficulty.

(2 Timothy 3:1–5 ESV) “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”


The predominant culture around the world is that people love three things: self, money, and pleasure.  Those three “loves” give rise to a lot of greed and lawlessness.  The church is not unaffected by this.  The culture of the area always creeps into the church through the people that are not properly discipled.

God made man with a free will. Because of this, man must be supernaturally convinced in the heart and mind to believe and then act for salvation.  Jesus told us the Holy Spirit would do this as the Word is preached.

John 16:8 AMP - “And when He comes, He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God) and about judgment:”

Once the Holy Spirit convinces a person, it is still in the power of the individual to accept or reject, to act or not act upon that information.  No one, not even God, can force a human being to change their mind or make a decision.

Once a person becomes a believer, the battle for the mind begins and continues throughout their life. The devil does everything within his power to subvert the thinking of people, knowing that humans are free to think and believe whatever they want. However, the devil is limited to ignorance and deception. God, in His mercy and grace, has given us His Spirit so that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God (1 Corinthians 2:12). However, we must also choose to yield to God’s influence on our hearts and minds.

Natural laws do not always translate directly into spiritual laws.  The law of sowing and reaping is a natural illustration of the spiritual law of action and reaction.  The writers of the Bible often used natural laws to illustrate spiritual principles to people.  Jesus used parables to illustrate spiritual truth to a people that were “dull of hearing” in hopes that the natural examples might open them up to see the spiritual truths.

As an example, divine healing is applicable to mankind.  God does not need healing nor does He believe for divine health as there is no sickness and disease in heaven. God is life and light and there is no darkness in Him at all.  Healing is the principle of life being applied to the human need of relief from sickness and disease.  There is a definite spiritual aspect of healing and it is the law of the Spirit of life manifesting in the natural bodies of humans.  Paul said:

Romans 8:2 “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”

There is healing in that scripture for mankind.  The Spiritual law of life makes us free (or heals us) from the law of sin and death.  There is no sin and death in heaven.  While sin and death are spiritual, the effect of them on the human produce sickness and disease.  So, we can see that the law of healing is not a direct translation of the law of the Spirit of life - it’s an application of the law as applied to man’s need.

The natural law of sowing and reaping is an application of the spiritual law of action and reaction as it applies to the needs of mankind.  The natural law of sowing and reaping is governed by the spiritual law of action and reaction.  This truth becomes critical when interpreting the Word of God because the natural law of sowing and reaping is often used to illustrate the spiritual law of action and reaction.  Because of this, not everything about the law of sowing and reaping applies in a direct fashion.

This scripture is another example of the spiritual law of action and reaction being explained by the natural example of sowing and reaping.

Galatians 6:6–10 “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

This scripture does not promise that what you sow is what you will reap.  People take the one statement, “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” and try to teach that you will only reap the thing you have sown.  However, Paul goes on to tell you what is sowed and what is reaped.  He only makes the statement of “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” to use the natural law of sowing and reaping to illustrate the spiritual law of action and reaction.  There will be a reaction to your every action.

 

This scripture is frequently used in receiving offerings.  The promise is that if you use a big measure in giving then you will receive in a big measure.  Let’s take a look at this scripture in context.

Luke 6:27–38 “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Jesus is giving a discourse on how to treat other people.  He speaks about many aspects of relationships and then ends with judging one another and forgiveness.  He then makes the famous statement, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Did Jesus suddenly switch His discourse from how to treat people onto finances? Here is part of the same discourse recorded by Matthew.

Matthew 7:1–2 “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

The same phrase is being used, “with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” but it is in direct relation to how we use judgment among each other.

When I went on a tour to Israel, the people on the bus took pictures of the houses because they were made of concrete and stone rather than wood.  When an Israeli Arab tour guide came to the United States to visit for the first time, he took pictures of the houses because they were made of wood rather than concrete and stone.  It’s funny that each thought the other was unusual.

No matter what you build with, that material is what you have to maintain with. A concrete and stone house can only be repaired effectively with more concrete and stone. So, whatever you begin building with is what you must continue with. Unless of course, you tear down and start over.

One part of my calling is to minister on Biblical Finances. While it is only a part of my calling, I do have an anointing to minister on this subject and have done so all over the world. Pastors everywhere approach the subject of the financial base within the church differently.  One thing is for sure; once they begin building it, changing it is extremely hard. Better get it right from the beginning.

We have all faced this kind of thing before.  We’re on our way somewhere important and run into some kind of detour that delays us.  It’s frustrating because there is nothing you can do about it except stay in the process until you get there, a real exercise in patience.

Some years before brother Kenneth E. Hagin died, I recall him expressing concern that the Body of Christ could delay the plan of God by not accepting what God wanted to do in the Body. At the time, that comment surprised me because I always figured that God was in control no matter what. Not so.

I believe the American church is in a rather large detour that is delaying what God wants to get done.  A detour will still get you to the destination, but it is not the right road and takes much longer.

FatigueGal. 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Everyone is aware of the economic problems we all face.  The bad economy has affected every pastor and church that I know of to some degree.  I see another problem.  A problem that is far worse than a bad economy because it hinders the saints from receiving God’s help in these times.

Decades of inaccurate teaching on Biblical finances has grown into strongholds that are unrecognizable.  There is a blindness to the fact that many things are not working and need to be reconsidered.  A financial fatigue has set into the church.  It seems that many people just do not want to hear anything more about Biblical finances.  There is thinking that everything about the subject has been taught already.  People are somewhat “numb” from the fatigue of things not working.  I propose that we do not have it right in the area of finances.

WildernessOne of the strongest deceptions within the church today is the doctrine of what defines success in ministry. Some thirty plus years ago, the doctrine of prosperity began to take hold and spread. I believe in the doctrine of prosperity, I see it in the Bible, and I am called to teach it.

Somewhere along the way the doctrine of prosperity turned into the doctrine of wealth.  Now, wealth and numbers are used to determine God’s approval and this is a strong deception.

Efforts and methods are now directed toward attraction rather than ministry.

Ministry has turned from discipleship to attraction events.  The philosophy is that you must attract people with something they want or need in hopes of drawing them toward discipleship.

American FlagI picked up a monthly publication the other day sent from a large ministry in the United States and skimmed through it.  I had not read this publication in many years.  I was instantly repelled by the focus of the content.  Every article was speaking about the things you can accomplish and the things you can have.  God was mentioned only in the context of a way to succeed in life.  My spontaneous impression was, “this is humanism”.  Has God come to us to make us successful in life?  Many American ministries focus predominantly on that and that has become the American gospel.  I pray it doesn’t get exported.

The dictionary defines “humanism” as follows:  An outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings.

Suprised GirlIn my over thirty years of ministry I have noticed that an open mind is critical to understanding the Word of God.  We need a mind open to God, and at the same time, closed to the things of the world and of opposing spirits.

The Bible calls a closed and set mind a “stronghold”.

(2 Corinthians 10:4–5 ESV) “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

Strongholds are not spirits.  Strongholds are arguments and opinions that are protecting thoughts and beliefs that we want to hold as true.  Some were planted by evil spirits but they are not evil spirits. We maintain our own strongholds. We all have them, some good and some bad.  Obviously, we want to keep the good and ditch the bad.  But how?