Posts Tagged ‘stewardship’

Clothed in Glory

It’s interesting to me that all of the creatures God made had coverings… except man. Animals had fur, birds had feathers and fish had scales or shells. But man did not have any outer covering, as he didn’t need it before the fall. Why? Because God clothed man in His Glory.

“You made him (man) a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him (or clothed him) with glory and honor.” (Ps 8:5)

God’s Original Intent:

The atmosphere of the Garden of Eden was permeated with the same splendor as heaven. There was no sin in the beginning and man walked with God everyday in a peace filled relationship in the “cool of the day”. This means they walked together in a spiritual dimension where they shared a oneness that was maintained by God’s Glory (a covering) and God’s Honor (atmosphere).

The Garden of Eden was Heaven on Earth:

The original Hebrew word for “crowned” means “to encircle”, “to surround’. In other words, Adam and his wife were surrounded by God’s Glory and Honor. They had been clothed with the Glory of God and didn’t need natural clothing and they were living in an atmosphere of perfect relationship and did not need natural knowledge. God was giving man a wonderful environment to rule, where God would truly be their provision and protection if this stewardship could be maintained.

Losing the Glory:

However, once they had been deceived by the serpent and sinned, they were no longer able to focus on spiritual reality as the Glory that once clothed them, seemed to lift. They found themselves naked. Notice that they immediately respond to their new condition by becoming afraid. They made coverings for themselves and hid from God. This is an interesting response since Adam and his wife felt no shame of being naked before they sinned (Gen 2:25).

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (Gen 3:7)

Why would they even consider making coverings for themselves? Weren’t they the only human beings in the Garden of Eden? Weren’t they surrounded by only animals, birds and fish?

Hearing God’s Voice:

The reason is given when Adam is answering God’s call “He answered, I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (Gen 3:10). Adam and Eve were afraid, because they were naked before God. I understand being ashamed, but why would they be afraid? They were afraid, because they were naked and had lost their original God given Glory. Now they found themselves controlled by a deception, a satanic lie that they needed natural covering and natural knowledge to sustain their lives. This came as a fulfillment to what God said to them earlier, “…you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen 2:17). The moment they were no longer in God’s Glory, they died spiritually and inner peace was replaced with fear.

Spiritual Death:

We are able to see a powerful expression of God’s Fathering love in the moments following the broken relationship. God, seemingly unaware of man’s location, calls out to man and asks him of his connection to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God says, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree I commanded you that you should not eat?” (Gen 3:11)

Spiritual Life:

Then God makes the first sacrifice, in order to clothe them properly.  ”The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” (Gen 3:21). God would spill the blood of a lamb; one of His created beings, to provide a garment suitable to cover human shame. This would serve as humanity’s first revelation that spiritual life is in the Blood.

The Apostle Paul said it this way, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” (Rom 3:23)

Our spiritual death has its connection to sin by the loss of our covering (God’s Glory) and our relationship (God’s Honor) based on His Presence (Holy Spirit atmosphere). Yet the Apostle Paul goes on to tell us of the reality of God’s grace… God’s favorable actions toward us who trust in Christ Jesus. He  tells us that God has restored access to His Glory and Honor in the free gift of salvation. Access to all that was lost could be restored through the Blood of Jesus. 

“We have been freely justified through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24).

The Gospel of Restored Glory:

This good news cannot be overstated, because it is not accomplished by anything man can do (Rom 3:20)(2 Cor 5:21). God proved His love by sending Jesus to die for us, in our place and for the spiritual relationship to be restored that once was established in the Garden of Eden. The Bible says that when anyone turns to God in faith, a veil is lifted from their hearts and they are enabled to behold the Glory of God in the very face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 3:16-4:6). As believers who continue to look into that Glory a transformation takes place, whereby we are being changed into the same image (God’s original intent) from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor 3:18).

Jesus Said – Be Clothed In Glory: Power from On High!

“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city (Jerusalem) until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Lk 24:49)

Govern Your Territory!

The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! (Ps. 110:1-2)

God is calling every Believer to Govern their Spiritual Territory!

In Psalm 110:2 we read the word “rule”… or Rada in the Hebrew. It speaks to us of extending the authority of our King – Jesus, who destroyed the oppressive works of the devil. He conquered death and the grave triumphantly through the Cross of Calvary. His resurrection signified the crushing of the headship of Satan once and for all… life over death and righteousness over sin. Not only was it a completed work that accomplished God’s purpose, but it serves as the springboard of delegated authority offered to all who believe, to advance the victory won 2000 years ago! You and I can rule in the midst of our enemies… by recognizing that any challenge, aimed to hinder love or distract us from Kingdom purpose; is an enemy of Christ. You were anointed for this very purpose!

How?

Governing your spiritual territory is accomplished by prayer, praise, perseverance and practicing His Presence… leaning into the Holy Spirit for vision and effective strategies. It was the compelling stewardship once laid out in the Garden of Eden… (Gen. 1:28) “fill and subdue”; but it was lost because of silence, passivity and sin. Yet the command is just as real as from the moment it was first delivered to the Adamites… “take dominion of the Garden.”

The Apostle Paul gives us some definition of what governing your territory looks like from his own experience. “We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits (*metron, Grk.) of the sphere (*kanon, Grk.) which God appointed us — a sphere which especially includes you. For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ; not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment.” (2 Cor 10:13-15)

Definitions of these 2 Greek words:

  • ‘Metron’ – a portioned-off measure, a determined extent, a measure or limit
  • ‘Kanon’ – one’s sphere of activity; a definitely bounded or fixed space within the limits of which one’s authority or influence is confined; a province or region assigned to a person

3 Key Truths: 1) Every believer has a ministry, 2) an assignment entrusted to them 3) by the Holy Spirit

  1. Your metron is a territory that God has measured out and given you a sense of responsibility over.
  2. Your metron is your ministry assignment and your sphere of spiritual influence… your delegated authority.
  3. Your metron is a specific location where you have a physical presence and spiritual stewardship… a physical place, position, or a group of people.

The Goal: Advance the Victory that Jesus won for Every Believer!

The Lord measures out to you a specific territory in which you are called to move in power and advance the Kingdom of God! It is up to you to govern you spiritual territory! (2 Cor. 10:3-6) It may feel like a battle, may cost you your reputation or cause you to make significant changes in your daily routine. But it is your assignment, and as a Kingdom Ambassador you represent heaven; and everywhere you go is to become an Embassy of Kingdom influence! Your goal is to govern… to rule in such a way whereby God receives all the Glory and His King is established upon the Throne of every heart within the reach of your dominion!

“I have already gone before you,” says the Lord with a shout. “Rada! Rule in the Midst of My Enemies!”

Made for Dominion

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen. 1:26-28)

The Paradigm of Creation:

When God created man, His wonderful plan was defined by three Divine realities… 1st God’s image, 2nd a sense of relationship or likeness and 3rd the command to take some responsibility over the environment. This responsibility is called dominion, rule or stewardship; yet it came down to managing the Garden of Eden in a way that pleased God and served their personal needs.

“The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!” (Psa. 110:2)

We, as the Church of the Living God; we are the very “rod” of Christ’s strength, called as Kingdom Agents out of Zion! We need to rule in the midst of the enemies of Christ Jesus! The activity of ruling in the midst of enemies should be embraced like a military assignment. A victory has been won in Christ… and now as followers, we are to advance the dominion of our King. There’s been a transfer of authority and ownership in the land and we must run off the present-day squatters. “Dis-possessing” spiritual squatters is the essence of spiritual warfare. Its what Christ did by conquering sin through the Cross of Calvary… yet possessing our victory is a challenge that calls us much higher than casual Christianity. We must press forward and reclaim all that the kingdom of darkness has acquired through lies and deception.

The Spoils of Christ’s Victory – Our Abundant Life!

Unforgiveness is a squatter, bitterness and envy are squatters, competition, jealousy, pride, fornication, sorcery, heresies and uncleanness of all kinds… are squatters upon the promise of God’s work in our lives. These deceiving spirits lie and establish false ownerships. They communicate through intimidation and manipulation. Your history is not your destiny! According to the Word of God – Jesus came to give us life and the kind of life that is growing more abundant as we mature in our faith journey (Jn. 10:9-10).

Speaking – Faith & Courage!

Life and death are in the power of our tongue and we overcome Satan’s lies by the word of our testimony. God’s destiny is not far from our reach, it just gets obstructed by the hindrances the enemy sets in our path. Deuteronomy 30:14 declares God’s pathway for obtaining the inheritance. He says, “Now the Word is near you; even in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.”

He is speaking here of the opportunity to move into all that is promised in the “Promise Land” through obedience and speaking God’s Word over our environment. Its the activity of faith… and its the assigned obligation of all who aim to release the Glory of God. In this day; we must have Kingdom advancement for the obtaining of every mountain, every valley and every realm of spiritual dominion. We must rule in the midst of our enemies!

“Rada” – Ruling as Kingdom Agents:

This is our mandate, to “Rule” – Rada {Hebrew} in the midst of the enemies! We are laying hold of all that Christ has obtained and possessed for us. We are fruitful and multiplying, filling the earth and subduing it as Kingdom Agents advancing the Victory of God in Christ. We are not as those who shrink back, retreat or settle into a position of ease. It is our destiny to advance, because we have an anointing for increase and an assignment to make the very creation itself see its future in the light of God’s Purposes. And if God has established this pattern from the Garden of Eden, He will be with us.

Even as the Apostle Paul proclaims – “If God be for us, who can stand against us!” (Rom. 8:31)

Ruling

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen. 1:26-28)

The Paradigm of Creation:

When God created man, His wonderful plan was defined by three Divine realities… 1st  God’s image, 2nd a sense of relationship or likeness and 3rd the command to take some responsibility over the environment. This responsibility is called dominion, rule or stewardship; yet it came down to managing the Garden of Eden in a way that pleased God and served their personal needs.

“The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!” (Psa. 110:2)

We, as the Church of the Living God; we are the very “rod” of Christ’s strength, called as Kingdom Agents out of Zion! We need to rule in the midst of the enemies of Christ Jesus! The activity of ruling in the midst of enemies should be embraced like a military assignment. A victory has been won in Christ… and now as followers, we are to advance the dominion of our King. There’s been a transfer of authority and ownership in the land and we must run off the present-day squatters. “Dis-possessing” spiritual squatters is the essence of spiritual warfare. Its what Christ did by conquering sin through the Cross of Calvary… yet possessing our victory is a challenge that calls us much higher than casual Christianity. We must press forward and reclaim all that the kingdom of darkness has acquired through lies and deception.

The Spoils of Christ’s Victory – Our Abundant Life!

Unforgiveness is a squatter, bitterness and envy are squatters, competition, jealousy, pride, fornication, sorcery, heresies and uncleanness of all kinds… are squatters upon the promise of God’s work in our lives. These deceiving spirits lie and establish false ownerships. They communicate through intimidation and manipulation. Your history is not your destiny! According to the Word of God – Jesus came to give us life and the kind of life that is growing more abundant as we mature in our faith journey (Jn. 10:9-10).

Speaking – Faith & Courage!

Life and death are in the power of our tongue and we overcome Satan’s lies by the word of our testimony. God’s destiny is not far from our reach, it just gets obstructed by the hindrances the enemy sets in our path. Deuteronomy 30:14 declares God’s pathway for obtaining the inheritance. He says, “Now the Word is near you; even in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.”

He is speaking here of the opportunity to move into all that is promised in the “Promise Land” through obedience and speaking God’s Word over our environment. Its the activity of faith… and its the assigned obligation of all who aim to release the Glory of God. In this day; we must have Kingdom advancement for the obtaining of every mountain, every valley and every realm of spiritual dominion. We must rule in the midst of our enemies!

“Rada” – Ruling as Kingdom Agents:

This is our mandate, to “Rule” – Rada {Hebrew} in the midst of the enemies! We are laying hold of all that Christ has obtained and possessed for us. We are fruitful and multiplying, filling the earth and subduing it as Kingdom Agents advancing the Victory of God in Christ. We are not as those who shrink back, retreat or settle into a position of ease. It is our destiny to advance, because we have an anointing for increase and an assignment to make the very creation itself see its future in the light of God’s Purposes. And if God has established this pattern from the Garden of Eden, He will be with us.

Even as the Apostle Paul proclaims – “If God be for us, who can stand against us!” (Rom. 8:31)

Tithe Confusion Part 3

In this study, we continue looking for answers to the confusion we see in today’s teachings of the “tithe”. I want to look at two characters from the Old Testament, Abram (Abraham) and Jacob. Since they lived at a time before the Law of Moses and are identified as people who tithed; I think they warrant at least a surface examination. They offer us some very interesting motives and insights that help us understand what the tithe meant in their day, as compared to how it is taught in our congregational settings.

Abram’s Tithe: (Gen. 14:14-24)

“Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him. Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all. Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’ — except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.”

4 Serious Differences from Tithe Teachings:

  • Abram tithed only the spoils of war. This leads us to believe his gift was more of a free-will offering to honor Melchizedek and keep the king of Sodom from misunderstanding Abram’s wealth.
  • Abram gave it all; 10% to Melchizedek and the rest it would seem to the king of Sodom. So Abram’s example would mean we are not to keep anything. It would also seem that less was given to the spiritual leader than the ungodly leader in this case.
  • Abram’s tithe was a onetime event. We see no evidence of a pattern of this type of stewardship.
  • Abram didn’t tithe of his personal possessions. This gift was the spoils of war and not his occupational income.

Jacob’s Tithe: (Gen. 28:20-22)

“Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

2 Serious Differences from Tithe Teaching:

  • Jacob’s vow was to tithe on everything that God would give him.  If he waited to receive, as it says, then why are Christians taught that they should tithe before God can provide increase? Doesn’t it seem like we have it the wrong way around? Jacob used tithing to say thanks. The modern church uses it to buy blessings.
  • Jacob’s vow was to give the tithe to God directly. Since there was at this point no temple or no priests, how did Jacob tithe? Where did he take it and who received the tithe on behalf of God? How did God intend the tithe to be received?

From these two Biblical examples we see something other than the principles of tithing we are often taught. We see the heart of giving and the ministry of relational stewardship. Abram didn’t tithe of his own possessions and there is only this one experience… he also gave 100% away. Jacob refused to tithe unless God first provided for his needs. He also didn’t have Melchizedek or any other priest to receive his tithe. If I had to guess as to how he gave the tithe, I would say he either burned it as a burnt offering or held some feast in honor of God with those who were in his family. Remember the tithe was never understood to be money, but increase in their blessed position with God. Their motive was a stewardship of thanksgiving. 

Motives of the Heart:

I really love the heart of Abram and Jacob, because it the spontaneous flow of spiritual stewardship expressed in their wisdom, generosity and thankful giving. They were offering a sacrifice. Offering a sacrifice is a Kingdom expression and part of a New Covenant priority we see in the Early Church (Acts 4:32)(Rom. 12:1-2)(Heb. 13:15). With our sacrifice, we are giving something up that we do not expect to get back. If you are expecting to receive something back, you didn’t make a sacrifice, you made an investment. That’s a big difference! The one is an act of worship; the other is a means to an end.

So no matter how we give, it begins with our heart’s motivation. Do you do it in order to get something back or are you merely giving thanks? If we are giving in order to be more blessed, our gift is not a sacrifice, but the spiritual practice of sowing and reaping (Gal. 6:7). This is a good principle, but not what we see from Abram and Jacob.

Favor & Blessing:

What these two Biblical characters show us more than anything, is that God’s favor and blessing cannot be bought. The blessing of God is designed to become the most comfortable environment of the life of faith. It is given freely, because of inheritance… because its the “family environment”. We are the Children of God, accepted in the Beloved (Eph 1:6) and living out of an overflow of grace. We are blessed! And because we are blessed… we are a blessing everywhere we go. The relationship we have with our Heavenly Father creates the platform for our stewardship and our motivation for giving.

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