Friday, June 13, 2008

Manna or Toil

(A Chapter from my new book)

God’s design was for all of mankind’s needs to be met through His creation. As Adam awoke each morning he faced his world that was created to provide for his every need. In addition, in spite of the waywardness of the people of the Nation of Israel, even nature was changed to bring provision to God’s people while they struggled in the wilderness through the provision of manna during their wilderness wanderings. Genesis 1:29-30

Jesus confirmed that God’s design of provision with several statements:

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more? Matthew 6:26

In addition, the Apostle Paul stated his conviction and his experience to the young church at Philipi:

My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus Philippians 4:19

As is the case with every other area of our lives, so it is with the issue of God’s provision. The Kingdom of God works on different principles from those we are most familiar with in the world in which we live.

Following a lengthy discussion regarding this issue of God’s provision for His people, Jesus includes some interesting words:

For all these things the Gentiles (natural man) eagerly seek; for your Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:32-33

Seek first” indicates that there is a pre-condition applied to the promise. Even the created environment of provision for Adam was even eliminated (Romans 8:22) when he sought his own. Genesis 3:17-19

The first thought is that the reason for Adams change of condition was due to his deserved punishment for his choices. Perhaps there is a broader reason for his plight.

Jesus said something that may help us understand this whole issue: If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:11

Jesus said that the Father knows what we need and He is the giver of good gifts. What, then, could be the reason why we struggle the way we do?

To find the answer to that question we must return to the idea that the Kingdom of heaven has a different economy from the one that makes sense to our (natural man) minds. The economy created and sustained by God is one that operates solely on the basis of faith. There is nowhere in our lives in which our faith is displayed more than in how we handle our own finances.

Knowing our hearts and our tendencies to rely on our logic rather than trusting Him, God allows us special considerations when it comes to coming to grips with how He has designed finances and His provision to work in His kingdom. God throws out the challenge to “test Him” to see if His design really works. Malachi 3:6-12

Although He allows us to test His truth, He does not change His truth for our convenience. The test requires that one speak His language; the language of faith.

Bring the whole tithe (1/10th)…and test Me now in this {to see} if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Malachi 3:10

Simply stated; hardly believed!

The magnificence of God’s design is exquisite. There is nothing else within His creation that displays the splendor of His creation more than His design for financial issues. Second Corinthians, chapter nine, gives a portrait of His glorious design. Let’s stroll through this scene together:

The story begins: II Corinthians 9:6-15

Verse 6: …he who sows sparingly shall reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully.

Certainly this concept makes perfect sense to us in terms of farming or gardening. What we sometimes fail to comprehend is that the reason that the concept works in farming and gardening every time it is put to the test is due to the fact that it was designed into creation. The universal design of seed-time and harvest is wide-reaching and permanent.

While the earth remains, seed-time and harvest…shall not cease. Genesis 8:22

Verse 7 Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.

It is the heavenly language of faith that brings the blessing. A cheerful giver is a giver out of his faith because his conviction may be unseen and his assurance may only be hoped for yet he knows, by faith, the Giver of good gifts.

This ends the first part; the part about “bringing the whole tithe”.

The second part shows the “opening up the windows of heaven” part.

Verse 8 God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.

The eternal principle designed by God is that with every planting comes the requirement that the return exceeds the planting otherwise the process grinds to a halt.

The return includes sufficiency for every need, which includes sufficiency for re-planting to keep the processing going.

Verse 10 …He who supplies seed to the sower…will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

The initial result of what God is after is to increase the redeemed’s maturity so that He can poor further blessings through him.

Verse 11 you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.

The second result is that God is glorified by both the giver and the receiver of the gifts.

Verse 12 supplying the needs of the saints…overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.

The third result is that God is glorified by many others who have benefited by the gifts.

Verse 13 because of the proof given by this ministry they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Jesus.

Beyond the gratitude for the gifts, God is glorified because of the evidence of faith. The faithful walk testifies far more than talk. Nowhere do we display are faith that with how we view and handle our personal financial issues.

Verse 14 while they also, by prayer on your behalf yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you.

The fourth result is that intercession is offered for the giver by those who have witnessed the grace of God as exhibited through the gift.

Verse 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

The fifth result is God being glorified for His faithfulness.

Very simply said, the first 10 percent is not and will never be ours. We will not have access to it one of two ways. We will either return it to its rightful owner and receive the blessings designed or it will be taken from us and we will receive only frustration. (If you bring the whole tithe into my storehouse) “then I will rebuke the devourer for you so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 3:11 The problem of confused ownership is a bit more critical due to the fact that the “devourer” is not limited to only 10 percent!

Many will wrongly think, from this, that the medium of exchange in the kingdom of heaven is money. Money is only the issue for the one (or most of us) who exalts its position. The medium of exchange in the kingdom of heaven is faith. Faith, faith and only faith. Money only gets involved because it is a blockade to faith for most people.

You do not have because you do not ask and you ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:2&3

Money is a stumbling block and works against faith. The purposes of God are to use His body, the Church, to bless people, which brings forth the cascade of blessings as detailed in II Corinthians. The church just does not believe God! Even though He has openly invited us to “test” Him to see if He is telling the truth, still the church does not trust Him.

Earlier we read that God is the giver of good gifts. Any parent knows that it is not a good gift that, once it is given, enables a child to eat, or to do or to be only what he (the child) wants. A good gift is only what the child needs.

Jesus hit this issue head on when He said, He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he how is unrighteous in a very little thing will is unrighteous also in much. If therefore, you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other or else he will hold to the one and despise the other, You cannot serve God and mammon. Luke 16:10-13

From the beginning in the Garden of Eden it has been God’s desire to give everything to man that man can appropriately handle. The natural man, as well as many Christians, have proven incapable of handling God’s gifts as they were intended. Therefore, provision has been changed to a curse: cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Genesis 3:17

It comes down to this; we either believe God and live within His blessings or we don't believe Him and continue to exist ouside of His blessings.

The choice is clear - the choice is, initally, hard!

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