LEGACY

– GEN.28:16-22 – When Jacob awoke from his dream, he said, “Yahweh is here! He is in this place and I didn’t realize it!” Terrified and overwhelmed he said, “How awesome is this place! I have stumbled right into the house of God! This place is a portal, the very gate of heaven!” Early in the morning, Jacob took the stone he had under his head, set it up as a pillar and anointed it by pouring oil over the top of it. He named that place Bethel; though the city was once called Luz. Then Jacob committed himself to God, saying, “If you will always be with me and protect me on this long journey, and if you give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safely to my father’s house, then Yahweh, you will be my God! See! I have set up this sacred stone pillar and it will be your house, God. I promise to set aside a tenth of all that you give me as my gift to you.”

I came to the conclusion a number of years ago that God has no grandchildren. In other words every generation has to know God for themselves. In today’s passage we meet the patriarch Jacob. Jacob had quite a heritage if you stop and think about it. His grandfather was Abraham and his father was Isaac. I wonder how many times he had heard the story about Jehovah Jireh and Jacob’s grandfather preparing to sacrifice his father as an offering on Mount Moriah. I wonder what it was like to hear Abraham’s version compared to Isaac’s version. But to Jacob these were just stories that happened a long time ago and didn’t really relate to Jacob’s life in the here and now. All of that changed suddenly the night Jacob was all alone in the wilderness, literally running for his life. Jacob had to leave the comfort and security of his home and found himself out in the desert all alone. At least he thought he was all alone until the Lord showed up that night. Jacob had a dream and he knew immediately it was more than a dream. God was in that place and now Abraham and Isaac’s God was also the God of Jacob. Jacob would learn to walk by faith like Abraham and Isaac had. Jacob would learn to trust God for all things for himself.

This story is about provision and tithing and looking to the Lord as your source for all things. Just like all those who have gone before us we too have to be brought to the end of ourselves that we can know God and trust God like Abraham. I love the way the Lord referred to Himself in the Old Testament, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”. Today he has become my God too.

SEED FAITH LIVING

Phil.4:19 – And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

I had to relearn lots of things when I first began to pastor this church. I had spent four years in a Jesus Community working for various businesses run by the ministry. I had learned a hard work ethic and the importance of discipline but I had not learned to look to God as my source. In the community the bills were paid and food was supplied. All we had to do was study and put in a hard days work. That was all about to change when Parris and I came to New Orleans. Now we had to look to God ourselves, no one was providing for us. At least no one but God. Here is how Oral Roberts describes this phenomenon of looking to the Lord as your source of total supply.

“Turn your life over to God and start looking directly and personally to Him as THE Source of your supply. Although there are scores of scriptures from Genesis to Revelation concerning God as your Source, the key scripture is Philippians 4:19: “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Living in a man-run society and business community, it is easy to get the idea that man is your source of supply. This is where you miss the truth of God’s Holy Word. God often uses man as the means, but God Himself is the Source. All other sources are instruments only. Remember, in looking for your needs to be met, it’s not what is your source, but Who is your source. You may think it’s man you are dealing with, but he is only an instrument. You are dealing directly with God as the loving Being who is the Source of your supply. By looking to Him, you are confident, you are positive, and you are expectant that He will provide.”

It is important to look beyond parents, employers, or government programs for your provision. The Lord uses those things for temporary provision. After all He is the God of ravens and widows.

The second truth that came to us was just as important. Sow a seed in the work of God. God is the source of the harvest, He always uses seed as the tool to initiate the harvest. “Give and it shall be given to you, good measure, shaken together, and running over.” – Lk.6:38

SEEDTIME AND HARVEST

Gen. 8:22 – While the earth remains,

Seedtime and harvest,

And cold and heat,

And summer and winter,

And day and night

Shall not cease.

I had to learn quickly about provision when the Lord called me to pioneer a church in New Orleans in 1979. I had spent my previous six years as a Christian living in a Christian community. Like everything else, community living had its pros and cons. For example, it wasn’t easy to turn over the whole pay check every week. We had a common purse so everything went into the kitty. The positive, I had no concern with bills or financial matters, that was someone else’s concern. The problem I was facing in starting a church was this whole provision thing. I had to provide for my family as well as figure out finances for a new church. That’s when someone turned me on to a book from Oral Roberts on seed faith living. Those principles of sowing and reaping enabled us to get started in our ministry with God as the source of our supply. Here are some thoughts from Oral Roberts about seed faith living, these words can be a huge help in your life.

“Noah’s first acts after the Flood were to build an altar and to sacrifice to the Lord. God was pleased and made promises to the human family through the faith of Noah. He also instituted the Law of Seedtime and Harvest: “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest . . . shall not cease”. When God created the first living thing, He gave it the ability to grow and multiply. How? Through the Seed. Your life began by the seed principle. Every act of your life since your birth has operated by the seed principle—springing from good seeds or bad seeds you have sown—whether or not you were consciously aware of your seed-planting. The principle continues today. To overcome life’s problems, reach your potential in life, see your life become fruitful, multiplied, replenished (that is, in health, finance, spiritual renewal, family, or your entire being), determine to follow God’s law of seedtime and harvest. Sow the seed of His promise in the soil of your need.”

So have you bought in to God’s plan of provision? Connect yourself to the Lord’s work financially and see God as your source. You too can begin to enjoy the harvest of a seed faith lifestyle.

HE COMMANDS WIDOWS AND RAVENS

1 Kings 17:4,9 – Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”

“Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”

He is the Lord who commands ravens and widows. The Lord is quite amazing and loves to astound us with His unusual ways. He can supply any way He wants, He can use the rich or the poor and occasionally, even His dumb creatures to provide for His children. The two examples of provision in Elijah’s life always makes me laugh. First He chose the ravens to feed His prophet. Ravens ? Really Lord! Ravens are nasty and mischievous. They are more likely to steal your food and fight with their friends for their own food than give you any. In Elijah’s case they were generous, timely, and consistent. When the ravens could no longer find food because of the severity of the famine the Lord commanded a poor, dying widow to provide for the man of God. This woman’s obedience not only supplied for the prophet but saved her son and her own life as well. Here is how Matthew Henry described it.

“Elijah had but one meal brought him at a time, every morning and every evening, to teach him not to take thought for the morrow. Let those who have but from hand to mouth learn to live upon Providence, and trust it for the bread of the day in the day; thank God for bread this day, and let to-morrow bring bread with it…

The person that is appointed to provide for him, not one of the rich merchants or great men, of Sidon…. but a poor widow woman, destitute and desolate, is commanded to sustain him. It is God’s way, and it is his glory, to make use of the weak and foolish things of the world and put honor upon them. He is, in a special manner, the widows’ God, and feeds them, and therefore they must study what they shall render to him.”

So don’t be afraid if your brook dries up, the creator of brooks, ravens, and widows has got you. Look to Him, honor Him and His kingdom first. You too may be chased down by the ravens.

UNSEARCHABLE WEALTH

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Eph. 3:8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,

Why do these unsearchable riches even matter? Why think about how wealthy someone else is, especially someone who lives in an apparently far away place?

So what if God has wealth beyond our imagination? Who cares if He owns the cattle of a thousand hills like David said? The reason it matters is this, these stored up treasures are stored up for us. He has reserved the wealth of His kingdom for His sons and daughters. It doesn’t matter to some people, it only matters to sons and daughters. When Christ died for us He purchased our inheritance, knowing what that inheritance is and knowing who it is for is priceless. Here is how Charles Spurgeon talks about today’s verse.

“There must have been a royal intention in the heart of Christ in sending out Paul to preach of His unsearchable riches, because every man must have a motive for what he does, and beyond all question, Jesus Christ has a motive. Did you ever hear of a man who employed a number of persons to go about to proclaim his riches, and call hundreds of people together, and thousands, as on this occasion, simply to tell them that So-and-so was very rich? Why, the crowds would say, “What is that to us?” But if at the conclusion, the messenger could say, “But all these riches he presents to you, and whoever among you shall desire to be made rich, can be enriched now by him.” Ah! then you would say, “Now we see the sense of it. Now we perceive the gracious drift of it all.” Now, my Lord Jesus Christ is very strong, but all that strength is pledged to help a poor weak sinner to enter into heaven.”

Paul understood the incredible inheritance we have received in Christ. He saw the value of the inheritance here in this world but especially the treasures of the life to come. In this life He has promised to supply our daily bread as well as to be with us in trouble. When others do without He still provides for His sons and daughters. But that’s not the unsearchable part. The Lord Himself is our inheritance, that’s what it means to be an heir of God. God Himself is our inheritance in this world and in the one to come.

I AM WITH YOU

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Nevertheless I am continually with thee.
Ps.73:23
Ever feel forgotten? All of us have. Sometimes it feels like even the Lord has forgotten us? It seems like wave after wave of trouble has leveled you and the heavens seem silent. The truth is that it is impossible for the Lord to forget or forsake His own. Have you been purchased by Him? Then He has you in the center of His thoughts. His plans for you are certain and His care for you is constant. He is praying for you and is with you. His presence is nearer than you can even imagine. Charles Spurgeon has some amazing insight into this verse.
“By this is meant continually upon his mind, he is always thinking of me for my good. Continually before his eye;-the eye of the Lord never sleepeth, but is perpetually watching over my welfare. Continually in his hand, so that none shall be able to pluck me thence. Continually on his heart, worn there as a memorial, even as the high priest bore the names of the twelve tribes upon his heart for ever. Thou always thinkest of me, O God. The bowels of thy love continually yearn towards me. Thou art always making providence work for my good. Thou hast set me as a signet upon thine arm; thy love is strong as death, many waters cannot quench it; neither can the floods drown it. Surprising grace! Thou seest me in Christ, and though in myself abhorred, thou beholdest me as wearing Christ’s garments, and washed in his blood, and thus I stand accepted in thy presence. I am thus continually in thy favour-continually with thee.”
Our perception of the Lord is often not quite right. His apparent ignoring of our prayers have another purpose in mind. He wants us to want Him, not just His help. Notice what David says later in the same Psalm 73:25,26, “Whom have I in heaven but you?And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”. When we become aware of His love for us and sense His constant nearness, we reach out to Him. He is there instantly, actually He has always been there. He is closer than our skin and His love is always there for us.

WAY MORE THAN ANSWERED PRAYER

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.Matthew 6:8

The Lord has reasons for everything He does. Even things that appear random or haphazard are all part of His amazing plan. Often times prayer comes as a result of desperate circumstances. Obviously the Lord knows everything and knows ever detail of everything we are challenged with. Even tough He knows, He stills wants us to bring these things before Him in prayer. What could possibly be His motivation?

I have a theory. Could it be that the whole purpose that we are allowed to fall into desperate situations from time to time is so that we will pray? Could it be that the specific answer may ultimately be rather insignificant? Why would I say that? Here is the answer, when we pray God Himself comes to meet with us. He gives us more than just the answer; way more!!! Sure the bills get paid, and recovery from the sickness happens but something much better has happened. We have actually met with God Himself in that time of prayer; that changes everything!!! Here are some thoughts from Luther on today’s verse.

“Obviously, he doesn’t command us to pray in order to inform him of our needs. God gives us his gifts freely and abundantly. He wants us to recognize that he is willing and able to give us even more. When we pray, we’re not telling God anything he doesn’t already know. Rather, we are the ones gaining knowledge and insight. Asking God to supply our needs keeps us from becoming like the unbelieving skeptics, who don’t acknowledge God and don’t thank him for his many gifts. All of this teaches us to acknowledge God’s generosity even more. Because we continue to search for him and keep on knocking at his door, he showers us with more and more blessings. Everything we have is a gift from God. When we pray, we should express our gratitude by saying, “Lord, I know that I can’t create a single slice of my daily bread. You are the only one who can supply all of my needs. I have no way to protect myself from disasters. You know what I need ahead of time, so I’m convinced that you will take care of me.”

What an amazing God! He really does cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him. What are you struggling with today? Bring it to the Lord in prayer. When you do; don’t be surprised when you get more than just an answer.

I SHALL NOT WANT

Psa. 23:1 ¶  The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Is this promise literally true? Is it possible to live a life completely and totally satisfied? Is it possible to ever say I am  totally and completely satisfied. I have no want? This is apparently the very heart of the message of Jesus. He wasn’t promising earthly kingdoms. He wasn’t that kind of king. Jesus said on several occasions and in several ways that there was a place of total contentment found in Him. To the woman at the well He said that He had water to drink that would finally quench the thirst of her soul. To the enquirers after He fed the 5000, He said He was the bread that came down from heaven. He continued to say if you ate that bread, your hunger for life and purpose would be satisfied. Apparently, the key to this kind of completeness is contained within this call to intimacy. Christ Himself is the food that satisfies our souls. He is the Good Shepherd, when we come to Him all our wants are swallowed up. Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Edwards on today’s verse.

“The river that supplies the city of God, is a full and never-failing stream: there is enough, and it never is dry. And they that trust in God, and whose hope the Lord is, they shall be like trees “planted by the waters that spreadeth forth her roots, and shall not see when heat comes, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, nor shall cease from yielding fruit”. God has promised that he will never fail them, nor forsake them.

The people that has God amongst them, they have the fountain of all good in the midst of them. There is a full fountain, indeed an inexhaustible and infinite fountain, enough for the supply of everyone, under all their circumstances and necessities: whatever anyone wants, he may go to this fountain, and there he may have a supply. Such a people that have this God amongst them, may glory in him, and say, “The Lord is our shepherd

we shall not want”.

Have you found that place where every want is finally gone? There is only One who can do that, the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep. Maybe your heart is full of wants today If so, come to the green pasture, that special place next to the still waters. Lay down under the care of the Shepherd, soon you will be singing David’s song of satisfaction for yourself.

CONTINUING IN THE SPIRIT

Gal. 3:5 ¶ Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Our Christian walk is supernatural from start to finish. As Paul said, He is the author and finisher of our faith. Our walk was started by The Lord through the Spirit and will be completed by the work of the Spirit. Man always tries to get involved by trying to “help The Lord” so to speak. The problem is this, we tend to mess things up as soon as we take over. Paul said we received the Spirit by faith and the Christian life continues through God’s lavish supply of the Spirit. The word
supplies can be defined as this- the supply of the Spirit – EPICHOREGEO – to lead the chorus, to supply and lead fully. Here is how Luther describes this verse.

“This argument based on the experience of the Galatians, pleased the Apostle so well that he returns to it after he had warned them against their twofold danger. “You have not only received the Spirit by the preaching of the Gospel, but by the same Gospel you were enabled to do things.” “What things?” we ask. Miracles. At least the Galatians had manifested the striking fruits of faith which true disciples of the Gospel manifested in those days. On one occasion the Apostle wrote: “The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” This “power” revealed itself not only in readiness of speech, but in demonstrations of the supernatural ability of the Holy Spirit. When the Gospel is preached unto faith, hope, love, and patience, God gives His wonder-working Spirit. Paul reminds the Galatians of this. “God had not only brought you to faith by my preaching. He had also sanctified you to bring forth the fruits of faith. And one of the fruits of your faith was that you loved me so devotedly that you were willing to pluck out your eyes for me.” To love a fellow-man so devotedly as to be ready to bestow upon him money, goods, eyes in order to secure his salvation, such love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.”

The very nature of Christianity is characterized by miracles. Salvation is a miracle, sanctification is a miracle, and the infilling of the Spirit; all of this is supernatural. This is the good news, The Lord loves to pour out His Spirit. When we look to Him there will never be a lack of supply. He pours out above and beyond what we can ask for or think of. He will pour out His Spirit to help us pray, He pours out His Spirit to help us through our weaknesses, He will even pour out His Spirit just because. Just because He loves to be with us and to display His glory. So let Him lead the way! He will supply the Spirit for whatever you are facing.