Tag Archives: God’s Word

Not Forgotten…

In the time after the cupbearer’s release, Joseph ran the prison like a well-oiled machine.  He cared for the prisoners, the guards and even the accounting and record books.  Indeed, no other prison or business for that matter, ran so smoothly, for the Lord continued to be with Joseph and bless him.

While he toiled in prison, a full two years later, Pharaoh had two dreams one night, that deeply troubled him.  When day broke, Pharaoh arose, and immediately sent for all of Egypt’s magicians and wise men to seek an interpretation of his disturbing dreams.  However, not one of them was able to interpret the dreams’ meaning to him, which caused him even more anxiety.  “Is there no one in this entire land that can help me?” he cried out.

“Your majesty,” the chief cupbearer finally spoke up.  “Forgive me, for today, I am reminded of my failure.  Do you remember when you were angry with your officials, and arrested the chief baker and me, sire?”  At Pharaoh’s impatient nod, the cupbearer quickly continued.  “One night, while we were in prison, both the baker and I had dreams, which greatly disturbed us.  The next morning, a young Hebrew man, who was a servant of the captain of the guard, came to care for us, and asked why we were so downcast.  So we told him our dreams, and he interpreted each one of our dreams individually, for us.  What’s more, those dreams came to pass, just as he had prophesied.  I was restored to my office, and the baker was impaled.”

“This is true?”  Pharaoh asked.  At the cupbearer’s solemn nod, Pharaoh summoned Joseph to court.

Joseph, meanwhile, was in the midst of his morning prayers, before beginning his duties as the warden’s assistant. 

Psalm 13
Complete Jewish Bible

How long, Adonai?
Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long must I keep asking myself what to do,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long must my enemy dominate me?

Look, and answer me, Adonai my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death.
Then my enemy would say, “I was able to beat him”;
and my adversaries would rejoice at my downfall.

But I trust in Your grace,
my heart rejoices as You bring me to safety.
I will sing to Adonai, because He gives me
even more than I need.

 

Then, as he finished his prayers, guards from the royal palace came and led him quickly out of the dungeon.  After Joseph shaved himself and changed his clothes, he was led into Pharaoh’s presence, where he respectfully knelt, his heart pounding frantically.  “O Adonai,” he silently prayed.  “Protect me and deliver me from my foes.  Give me wisdom, to know when to speak and when to be silent.  Adonai, let me speak Your words, and not my own.”

“Last night, I had two dreams,” Pharaoh told Joseph, “and there is no one here, who can interpret them, but I was told that you are an interpreter of dreams.  Is this true?”

“Pharaoh, I am not the interpreter of dreams.  El Shaddai is the giver and interpreter of dreams.  If you will share your dream with me, El Shaddai will give you an answer that will give you peace,” Joseph said gently.

Pharaoh's Dream 1

“Very well,”  Pharaoh responded.  “In my dream, I stood at the edge of the river, and I saw seven fat and sleek cows emerge, and they fed on the swamp grass.  After they came, seven more cows emerged from the river, but these cows were sickly and emaciated.  I’ve never seen such a sorry group of cows in all of Egypt!  Then, the scrawny, miserable cows ate up the seven fat cows, but even after they’d devoured them, you would never guess they’d had anything to eat at all.  For they were still as miserable and sorry looking as they were before they ate.

Pharaoh's Dream 2

“At this point, I awakened, but I quickly drifted off to sleep again, and I had another dream.  In this dream, I saw seven full ripe ears of grain growing out of a single stalk, and after that, I saw seven more ears of grain spring up, but they were thin and shriveled up by the east wind.  And then, right before my eyes, I saw the shriveled ears swallow up the seven ripe ears of grain!

“This morning, when I awakened, I summoned my magicians and wise men, and I shared these dreams with them, but not one of them could explain them to me.  Are you able to interpret these dreams?”  Pharaoh questioned Joseph.  

Joseph listened intently to what Pharaoh shared, while also listening to what the Spirit of the Lord spoke to his heart.  Now, he felt the peace that only comes from ‘Elyon, as he drew in his breath and began to speak.  “Pharaoh’s dreams are the same.  God has told Pharaoh what He is about to do.”

Joseph spoke with the authority that only comes from God, and Pharaoh and his counselors all leaned forward, to hear every word he uttered.  “The seven healthy cows and the seven good ears of grain represent seven years.  Likewise, the seven scrawny cows and the seven blighted ears of grain also represent seven years of famine.  This is what ‘Elyon, has shown Pharaoh He is about to do.

“There will be seven years of abundance throughout the entire land of Egypt, but afterwards, there will be seven years of famine.  Indeed, the famine will be so dreadful, that Egypt will forget all of the abundance from the previous seven years.  Indeed, the famine will consume the land, and it will be truly disastrous.

“Do you wonder why this dream was doubled for Pharaoh?  It is because the matter has already been decreed by Elohim, and it will happen according to His word very soon.

“Therefore, Pharaoh should look for a wise and discreet man to put in charge of the land of Egypt, so that he can appoint supervisors over the land to receive a twenty percent tax on all of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven years of abundance.  All of the food produced during the coming seven years of abundance should be gathered.  Some should be used for food in the cities, and the rest should be stored.  This will be the land’s food supply for the seven years of famine that will follow the seven years of abundance, so that the people do not perish as a result of the famine.”

Joseph’s demeanor and his wise suggestions impressed Pharaoh and all of his officials.  Pharaoh looked at his officials and asked, “Can we find anyone else like him? The Spirit of God lives in him!”  His officials agreed wholeheartedly with Pharaoh, so Pharaoh released Joseph from his position as a slave and prisoner that day, and placed him in command of all of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh himself.

“There is no one as wise and discerning as you,” Pharaoh told Joseph.  “Therefore, today, I am placing you in charge of my entire household.  You will rule over all my people, and they will obey what you say.  Only when I rule from my throne, will I be greater than you.”  Then, removing his signet ring from his finger, Pharaoh placed it on Joseph’s finger and continued, “This day, you will not only rule my household, but the whole land of Egypt.  I, Pharaoh, decree that without your approval no one is to raise his hand or his foot in all the land of Egypt.  Furthermore, your name shall henceforth be Zaphenath-paneah.” 

Pharaoh then called his servants to bring him fine linen clothing, and a gold chain, which he placed around Joseph’s neck.  Pharaoh also gave Joseph a wife, whose name was Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On.  So, at the age of thirty years, Joseph took charge of the entire land of Egypt, serving in the court of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.

Afterward, Pharaoh sent some of his servants to the royal stables, to bring his second best chariot to Joseph, telling him ride the chariot throughout the land of Egypt.  As Joseph rode the chariot through the streets of Egypt, his servants ran before him, shouting, “Bow down!” to the citizens of the land.  Thus, when Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he inspected the entire land of Egypt.  

In the midst of all that was happening around him, Joseph found time to give thanks to Almighty God.  For though others may have forgotten him, the Lord had not forgotten him.

Beloved reader, do you think the Lord has forgotten you?  Do you feel as though you are alone in your circumstances?  Fear not, for though a woman may forget her child, God will not forget you.  If you continually seek Him, you will find Him.  He has a plan for you, His beloved child, even in the midst of the worst circumstances.  You are not forgotten.

Isaiah 49:14-15
New Living Translation

 

14 Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us;
    the Lord has forgotten us.”

15 “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?
    Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible,
    I would not forget you!”

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Tragedy? Or God’s Will?

Filled with hatred and rage, Joseph’s brothers had thrown him into an empty cistern (click here to learn more about cisterns).

ancient-cistern

Can you imagine the fear he felt at his brothers’ rage?  Joseph was simply doing his father’s bidding.  I’m sure he knew his brothers didn’t like him, because they had made no attempt to hide their disdain from him.  Yet, they were still his brothers, and, confident in his father’s love for him, I don’t imagine it ever occurred to Joseph that his brothers’ would ever want to kill him.

Yet, their hatred of him became nauseatingly obvious, when they grabbed him, ripping his coat off him and hurling bitter angry insults at him.  Joseph was only seventeen years old, and there were eleven of them against him.  This was no mere child’s play.  He could see the fury in their eyes, as they grabbed him.  There was no gentleness in their touch and no holding back their ire.  They hated him, and they wanted him to know it, as they roughly dragged him to the empty cistern and threw him in.

Can you imagine how Joseph must have pleaded with his brothers, begging them for mercy?  Can you imagine the utter terror he felt, as they ignored his pleas?  Then after being dragged by his brothers, he was forced into the small opening of an empty cistern, falling, who knows how many feet to the bottom?  I can picture them covering the cistern, then walking away, while the boy cried out to them, still pleading for mercy.

Alone in the dark cistern, his throat raw from crying out to his brothers for who knows how long, do you think Joseph prayed?  I can picture his tear stained face pleading with El Shaddai for mercy, as it began to dawn on him that his brothers would show him none.  I imagine he thought of his father, weeping at the pain his death would cause the old man.

Then, probably after many hours, Joseph heard the sound of the cistern’s cover being rolled away.  I imagine his heart leapt to his throat, as hope filled his chest.  His brothers had returned!  They were sorry for their actions.  Praise YHWH (Yahweh), who had heard his prayers and answered them!  As light filled the dark chamber, I believe Joseph would have forgiven his brothers.  I can picture him grinning up at them, as he stood there, bloodied and dusty, with the stains of his tears still on his cheeks.  Did he thank his brothers for their mercy, as they dropped a rope down, for him to tie around his waist, so they could pull him up?

Did his joy turn into fear once more, as they drew him up, and he saw the same hatred in their eyes as before?  Did he fear they were going to kill him?  As he looked from one brother to another, did Joseph even notice the Midianite traders at first?  Was it his brothers or the Midianites, who informed Joseph that he was now a slave?  Did his brothers smile in satisfaction, as they saw the look of horror on Joseph’s face, when the realization hit him?

Did Joseph see his brothers, with their backs turned against him, greedily dividing the 20 pieces of silver they had just earned for selling him?  Did he rue the day that he was born?  Did he wish for death at that point? Did his faith in the Most High God falter or remain strong?  How he must grieved the loss of his father, his home and yes, even his brothers!  What a tragedy for such a young man to endure!  Or was it a tragedy?  Could Joseph’s tribulation have simply been the fulfillment of God’s will?

Too often, in today’s church, we are taught to believe that if we are faithful, our lives will be filled with health and wealth.  But, if you truly study God’s word, you will discover that this is a lie straight from the pit of hell.  Jesus told His disciples, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33 NLT)

Beloved reader, His words weren’t just for His twelve original disciples.  They were for everyone who would follow Him, then and now.  We will face many trials and sorrows in our lives, just as Joseph did, just as Jesus did, and just as His disciples did.  If someone tells you any different, they are lying to you.

Joseph's Bloody Torn Coat

And don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are alone in your suffering.  Joseph wasn’t.  Imagine how Jacob, his father felt, when his sons returned to him with Joseph’s bloody, torn coat.  Those of us who are parents, can imagine nothing worse than losing one of our beloved children.  I can only begin to envision Jacob’s horror, as his elder sons informed him of his loss.  How he must have lamented sending his beloved son to check on his brothers that day!  Did he blame himself for Joseph’s loss?  While his other sons tried to comfort him, Jacob swore that he would go to his grave mourning for Joseph, as he wept.  (Read Genesis 37)

Did his brothers feel any remorse for their crime?  Did they, too, suffer for the sin they had committed against their brother, Joseph?  Do you think they felt pain for their father’s grief?  We’ll explore this another time.

But remember this.  As tragic as it was, if Joseph had never been sold into slavery, there would have been no need for Moses to lead his people out of Egypt, more than 400 years later.  So, was this truly a tragedy, or was it simply God’s will?  Is your life a tragedy?  Or is it, too, God’s will?

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Daddy Make Me Just Like You!

Just recently, I’ve been worshiping to this song by Jason Upton, over and over.  It has become the cry of my heart.  As the daughter of the Most High God, the more I learn of Him through experience and through His Word, I find myself more and more wanting to be like my Abba, my Daddy

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him.10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

1 John 4:7-9  NLT

God is Love.  Real love is that God loved us and sent His Son, Jesus to be a sacrifice for our sins.  I’m not there yet.  God has given me a greater love for mankind than I could ever have imagined, yet, I cannot truthfully say that I would be willing to sacrifice either of my children for anyone’s sake…  Daddy make me just like You!

But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Romans 5:8-11  NLT

I have such a hard time loving my enemies.  It’s hard to love someone who hates me or those I love.  Yet my Daddy loved me when I was His enemy.  In fact, before He adopted me, when I was still a child of His enemy, the devil, He loved me and you!  Daddy make me just like You!

But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:4-10  NLT

God, my Daddy, is rich in love and mercy.  And He has made me, and you, if you are His child, an example of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us.  Do you wonder how far that grace extends?  His mercy, love, grace and kindness to us is so great that when He raised Christ from the dead, He raised us up right along with Jesus, and seated us in the heavenly realms.  What kind of love is this?  Daddy make me just like You!

How amazing is the love of Father God for His adopted sons and daughters.  How could we not long to be like Him?  Once He has captured our hearts, there is nothing more we can desire than to truly be like Him, and praise God!  He knows that we, in our humanity, could never achieve our hearts desire to be like Him on our own, and so we, the sons and daughters of the Most High God have this assurance…

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Philippians 1:6  NLT

My prayer for each and every child of God is that He will continue His work within each and every one of us, so that each one of us will be like our Daddy…  Daddy make each one of my brothers and sisters in Christ just like You!

© 2017
Cheryl A. Showers

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 6

Image Credit: The Erratic Muse
Image Credit:
The Erratic Muse

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning He was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and He sat down and taught them. 3 As He was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do You say?”

Image Credit: this fragile tent
Image Credit:
this fragile tent

6 They were trying to trap Him into saying something they could use against Him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with His finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so He stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then He stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” ~ John 8:1-11 — NLT ~

the stoning of sorayaThis story has always moved me deeply, but never more than now, after having watched, “The Stoning of Soraya M.”a true story about an Iranian woman falsely accused of adultery by her adulterous husband and stoned to death. As I watched this heartrending story of the atrocities committed in the name of Islamic law, I couldn’t help but think of a very familiar and similar story of the adulterous woman in the book of John.  I also couldn’t help but think of the Mosaic Law, which carried the same punishment for adultery as the Islamic law, and compare it to the Law of the New Covenant, which those who are born-again now live under.

In this series, Live By the Law/Die By the Lawwe have learned much about the Old Testament Law, as we examined whether we are called to Live By the Law and Die By the Law or not…

  • Image Credit: Anna Popescu
    Image Credit:
    Anna Popescu

    In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 1we learned that the Law does not have the power to save us, for salvation comes only by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ.

  • In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 2we learned that God gave the Jews Ten Commandments, (also known as the Law of Moses and The Old Testament or Old Covenant), and from these ten Laws, the Jews created 613 laws, (known as the Tradition of the Elders), which were meant to supplement the Law of Moses.
  • In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3we began an in depth study of the first two Commandments…
    • “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.” ~ Exodus 20:2-3 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments.” ~ Exodus 20:4-6 — NKJV ~
  • Image Credit: Groupthink Rescue
    Image Credit:
    Groupthink Rescue

    In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 4we continued our in depth study of the Ten Commandments, starting from the third Commandment and ending with the tenth…

    • “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” ~ Exodus 20:7 — NKJV ~
    • “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” ~ Exodus 20:8-11 — NKJV ~
    • “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” ~ Exodus 20:12 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not murder.” ~ Exodus 20:13 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not commit adultery.” ~ Exodus 20:14 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not steal.” ~ Exodus 20:15 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” ~ Exodus 20:16 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” ~ Exodus 20:17 — NKJV ~
  • In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 5we discovered that the purpose of the Law was to show people their sins, and that it was only supposed to last until Jesus, the Christ came. It was never intended to be an eternal law.

the stoning of soraya 2

Never did it become more clear to me just how very wonderful and merciful our Lord is than after I watched “The Stoning of Soraya M.” last night. You see, if we still lived under the Old Covenant, then not only would we be bound to obey every command, we would also suffer the  punishment meted out for every command that we break… According to Old Testament Law, we would be subjected to stoning if we committed any of the following sins…

    • 13 “Suppose a man marries a woman, but after sleeping with her, he turns against her 14 and publicly accuses her of shameful conduct, saying, ‘When I married this woman, I discovered she was not a virgin.’ 15 Then the woman’s father and mother must bring the proof of her virginity to the elders as they hold court at the town gate. 16 Her father must say to them, ‘I gave my daughter to this man to be his wife, and now he has turned against her. 17 He has accused her of shameful conduct, saying, “I discovered that your daughter was not a virgin.” But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.’ Then they must spread her bed sheet before the elders. 18 The elders must then take the man and punish him. 19 They must also fine him 100 pieces of silver, which he must pay to the woman’s father because he publicly accused a virgin of Israel of shameful conduct. The woman will then remain the man’s wife, and he may never divorce her.

20 But suppose the man’s accusations are true, and he can show that she was not a virgin. 21 The woman must be taken to the door of her father’s home, and there the men of the town must stone her to death, for she has committed a disgraceful crime in Israel by being promiscuous while living in her parents’ home. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you. ~ Deuteronomy 22:13-21 — NLT ~

    • 2 When you begin living in the towns the Lord your God is giving you, a man or woman among you might do evil in the sight of the Lord your God and violate the covenant. 3 For instance, they might serve other gods or worship the sun, the moon, or any of the stars—the forces of heaven—which I have strictly forbidden. 4 When you hear about it, investigate the matter thoroughly. If it is true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 then the man or woman who has committed such an evil act must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death. 6 But never put a person to death on the testimony of only one witness. There must always be two or three witnesses. 7 The witnesses must throw the first stones, and then all the people may join in. In this way, you will purge the evil from among you. ~ Deuteronomy 17:2-7 — NLT ~

    • 18 “Suppose a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or mother, even though they discipline him. 19 In such a case, the father and mother must take the son to the elders as they hold court at the town gate. 20 The parents must say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious and refuses to obey. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of his town must stone him to death. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you, and all Israel will hear about it and be afraid. ~ Deuteronomy 21:18-21 — NLT ~

The examples above are just a few of the reasons that  someone who lives under the Law of Moses and The Tradition of the Elders could be stoned. There are numerous other punishments and judgments meted out against those who break the Law, and each punishment seems quite harsh, especially to those with a western mindset. To those who reside in the Middle East, they are deemed appropriate. Indeed, as the movie, “The Stoning of Soraya M.”revealed, these punishments are still leveled against people.

woman-caught-in-adultery (1)This is why Jesus’ response to the adulterous woman was considered to be so radical. Not only did He refuse to condemn her for the sin she committed, He turned the tables on those who wanted to condemn her with His challenge…

… “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” ~ John 8:7b — NLT ~

Suddenly, instead of looking at this woman, who was caught in the very act of adultery, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees were forced to look inward, and examine themselves. No one knows what Jesus wrote on the ground, whether it was related to their accusation or perhaps their own sins, or not. All that is known, is that the powerful words He spoke forced each of her accusers to stop.

Who, among them, had the right to pick up a stone and throw it? Who, among them, could be brazen enough to cast the first stone, thereby administering the punishment she surely deserved, when by doing so, he would be declaring before God and his cohorts that he had never sinned? I can  just imagine the youngest ones, full of zeal and self-righteousness, respectfully waiting for one of their elders to cast the first stone, so they too, could join in, only to witness each one drop his stone  to the dry and barren ground, as the very oldest left with their heads bowed low in defeat and consternation. As each one of the elders left, one by one, the younger condemners were also constrained to realize that they had no more right to throw the first stone at the woman than their senior counterparts.

Image Credit: glogster.com
Image Credit:
glogster.com

Now, in case you’re wondering where I’m going with this post, and how it ties in with the series Live By the Law/Die By the Lawplease allow me to enlighten you. There are many, many men and women born-again believers who get caught up in trying to live by the Law. Now, please don’t misunderstand me, God loves it when we obey Him, but He does not love it when we get so caught up in trying to live by every jot and tittle of the Law, and we also place that demand on others. You see, living by faith and living by the Law may produce the same outward effects, but the difference between the two lies within the hearts of mankind.

1 Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of His death on the cross. 2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the Law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. 3 How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? 4 Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?

5 I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the Law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.

6 In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”7 The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. ~ Galatians 3:1-7 — NLT ~

You see, one who lives by  the Law does so because he/she is trying to gain the approval of God and mankind. One might try to obey every letter of the Law in order to receive the accolades of man. Or one may try to obey the Law for fear that if he/she doesn’t, he/she may lose his/her salvation. A person who lives by the Law may do so because he/she believes that he/she must be an example for others to follow. One who lives by the Law is usually self-righteous, and lacking humility, though this person may not even realize it. A person who follows the Law often sees the sin in others, and sometimes feels superior to those who just don’t “get it.”

10 But those who depend on the Law to make them right with God are under His curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” 11 So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the Law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” 12 This way of faith is very different from the way of Law, which says, “It is through obeying the Law that a person has life.”

13 But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the Law. When He was hung on the cross, He took upon Himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing He promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith. ~ Galatians 3:10-14 — NLT ~

On the other hand, one who lives by faith walks in obedience because he/she loves the Lord, and it feels good to do those things that please Him. One who walks by faith does so regardless of what others may say. This person walks in the Spirit, doing those things He leads him/her to do, confident that he/she is a child of the Most High God, saved by His grace through faith. This person knows that his/her salvation has nothing to do with his/her behavior, and that he/she did not choose Christ because it was Christ who chose him/her. The person who lives by grace is humble, fully aware that he/she is no better than anyone, even the vilest sinner. 

1 So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the Law.

2 Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole Law of Moses. 4 For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the Law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

5 But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. 6 For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. ~ Galatians 5:1-6 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, the whole point of this post and of this series, Live By the Law/Die By the Lawis that those who choose to live according to the Law rather than by the Spirit, must understand that they will then be judged according to the Law, and it is important to remember that there is no one who is righteous. Other than Jesus Christ, no one has ever obeyed the entire Law.

20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are. ~ Romans 3:20 — NLT ~

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. ~ Romans 3:21 — NLT ~

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23 — NLT ~

Beloved reader, I am not saying that the Law is evil. What I am saying is that we must live by the Spirit, not by the Law. I’ll close with the following scripture, and I encourage you to pray about this post, and seek the Lord’s face regarding what we have studied here.

30 There is only one God, and He makes people right with Himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law. ~ Romans 3:30-31 — NLT ~

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 5

Image Credit: Jeff Hughes
Image Credit:
Jeff Hughes

In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3 and Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 4we studied each of the Ten Commandments, and its meanings. We also examined our own hearts to see which of the laws we have been guilty of breaking, as I confessed to you that I have been guilty of breaking all of God’s Laws. Of course, I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but even if you have only ever broken one command of the Law of Moses, you’re just as guilty as I am, according to Scripture.

For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. ~ James 2:10 — NLT ~

Image Credit: M. Leone Bracker
Image Credit:
M. Leone Bracker

Before we move on with our study of the Law, I want to share a comment that I received in reference to the third commandment, from a fellow blogger and biblical teacher, Ben Nelson, author of the blog, Another Red Letter Day. The third commandment is, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain,” and I offered up several examples of what it is to take the Lord’s name in vain. However, Ben offered an excellent example that I hadn’t thought of until I read his comment. In fact, for me, it was an “aha” moment, and because it is so prevalent among many people, I felt that it was very important to share his comment with you. Ben stated, “I have often thought along the lines that Taking the Lord’s name is when I take the name of Christ as my own – aka – i am a Christian, and then i live like the world – i have taken His name and polluted it before men.” I have nothing to add to this or take away from it. Ben is right, and this is an excellent example of how many people take the Lord’s name in vain. Indeed, it’s an excellent example of how I once took the Lord’s name in vain.

Now, in our continuing study of the Law, we’ve reached the point where we discover that each and every one of us is guilty of breaking the Law. Indeed, the Law’s purpose is to reveal our guilt, and it does this well…

Why, then, was the Law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the Law was designed to last only until the coming of the Child who was promised. God gave His Law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. ~ Galatians 3:19 — NLT ~

Now, we must understand if we are to continue trying to follow the Law, or should we just cast it aside? Are we required to maintain the Law, in order to maintain our salvation? If we choose one, do we lose the other? How can we determine what we are required to do? What does the Word of God tell us about the Law?

Image Credit: parablesblog.blogspot.com
Image Credit:
parablesblog.blogspot.com

31 “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord.

33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put My instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. 34 And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know Me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” ~ Jeremiah 31:31-34 — NLT ~

According to this scripture passage, the Law of Moses was not an eternal law. It was only temporary, lasting until God’s new covenant was established. Also, according to Galatians 3:19, the Law was only designed to last until Jesus came. 

14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross.

16 So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. 17 For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ Himself is that reality. 18 Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, 19 and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For He holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.

20 You have died with Christ, and He has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 21 “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? 22 Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. 23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. ~ Colossians 2:14-23 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, don’t you see that the Law was given to reveal mankind’s sinful nature, but Jesus cancelled the record of charges against us, by nailing them to the cross? Think about this, the Law has NO power to save anyone. It is the blood of Christ that has saved us from bondage to sin and death, certainly not because we follow the Law. 

Indeed, by following the rules of the world, we do no one any good, because these rules provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. As a matter of fact, it was Christ’s death on the cross that destroyed the enmity between Jews and Gentiles, and because of His death on the cross, those who believe in Him have been set free from the Law of sin and death. Therefore, why would His followers continue to subject themselves to the Law, which led to death?

14 For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in Himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of His death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. ~ Ephesians 2:14-16 — NLT ~

7 The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. 8 Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? 9 If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! 10 In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. 11 So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!

12 Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. 14 But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ~ 2 Corinthians 3:7-14 — NLT ~

Image Credit: meanmesa.com
Image Credit:
meanmesa.com

Beloved, does a veil cover your eyes? Do you see that the Law brings only death? If so, turn your eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Look to Him for salvation, and love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. For those who truly love Christ and walk in His Spirit will obey His commands, which are to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we love Jesus and follow these commands, then we are following the Law that God has written on  our hearts, rather than the Law written on stone tablets, which were destined to fade away. 

Therefore, beloved brothers and sisters, will you choose to live by the Law and therefore die by the Law? Or will you choose to love the Lord Jesus with your whole heart, thereby fulfilling His Law? The choice is yours… 

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 4

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are. ~ Romans 3:20 — NLT ~

In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3we studied the first and second commandments and how each one exposes the sin within us. In this post, today, let’s look at the other Commandments in light of the scripture above…

Exodus 20:2-17
~ 3 ~

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”

Image Credit: Jeremy Myers
Image Credit:
Jeremy Myers

Okay friends, I’m sure everyone thought of those people who curse using God’s name, am I right? I don’t know about you, but I confess, that I was guilty of doing this before I came to the Lord, and even as a young Christian.

But, have I broken this commandment since then? Sadly, if I’m to be completely truthful, yes, but not by cussing using His name. To take God’s name in  vain is so much more than using His name as an expletive. Have you ever spoken in His name, when He didn’t tell you to do so? Have you ever presumed to speak for Him, without His permission? Have you ever said, “O my God” or “Jesus”? Have you ever spoken His name thoughtlessly, without really thinking of Him at all? Have you ever prophesied to someone, telling them, “The Lord said…” when in reality, you didn’t Him speak?

My friends, all of those things are examples of what it is to take the Lord’s name in vain, and I confess to you that I have taken His name in vain, and I’m so thankful for His mercy on me.

~ 4 ~

Image Credit: Groupthink Rescue
Image Credit:
Groupthink Rescue

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

Well, my friends, have you ever or do you break this command? Now, I can just hear some people saying, “I go to church every Sunday, so this is one command that I don’t break.” But, I’m going to question that… Does going to church on Sundays equate to remembering the Sabbath day and keeping it holy?

When you get up on Sunday morning and get ready for church, how are you feeling? Do you awaken with joy in your heart, feeling well rested and thankful that this is the day that the Lord has made? As you’re preparing yourself for church, is there aught in your heart against anyone? As you are on your way to go and worship, have you already begun to worship? Are you thinking about God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, or are you thinking of who you will see when you get there? Are you already singing His praises, or are you irritated with your children? As you enter into His sanctuary, were you glad when they said, “Let us go into the House of the Lord?” 

While the service is going on, are you seeking the Lord’s face, or is your mind wandering? Are you intent on worshiping the Lord, or are you bored? As the word is being preached, are you thinking about what you’re going to have for lunch? When you leave the worship service, is your mind still set on the Lord, or are you thinking of other things? Do you spend the rest of the day resting and thinking of the goodness of God, or do you spend the rest of the day thinking of other things?

Honestly, in light of this, I seldom remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. How about you?

~ 5 ~

Image Credit: Holly Barrett
Image Credit:
Holly Barrett

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

Now, maybe you’re thinking that this one doesn’t need any explanation, and perhaps you’re right. It’s easy to honor parents who were good to you, but what if you come from a dysfunctional family? How do you honor a father who abused you? How do you honor a mother who didn’t protect you? Or how do you honor a father who abandoned you? How do you honor a mother who turned tricks for a living?

Does it honor them to hold a grudge against them? Of course not. We all know that Jesus commands us to forgive others as our Heavenly Father forgives us. And what if you forgive your parents for hurting you, but they never repent of their behavior? Does it honor them for you to pretend the abuse never happened? Does it honor them for you to continue allowing them to abuse you?

Oftentimes, church leaders can harm those members who have been abused, by heaping guilt on them because they do not have a close relationship with their parents. Sometimes, they will insinuate that you haven’t truly forgiven them, because you don’t visit them or talk to them, and often, they will cite the fifth commandment when doing so.

I want to speak to those of you who want to do the right thing, and yet you struggle, because you don’t know how to honor parents who have been less than honorable. I speak to you as one who has struggled with the same issues. I loved my parents, despite years of abuse, and no repentance, and I forgave them. I spent many years apart from my parents, while much of my family judged me as a bad daughter, because they didn’t know of the abuse. The fact is they probably still feel that way, because most still don’t know.

So, how did I honor my parents? I honored them by staying away. I honored them by refusing to pretend the abuse didn’t happen. I honored them by respecting their wishes when my stepfather told me to leave and never come back. I honored them by staying away, so they wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable around me, and by staying away from the rest of the family and letting them believe the worst of me, so they wouldn’t turn against my parents.

I honored them by obeying the Lord’s gentle prodding to enter back into their lives the last couple of years they lived. I honored them by forgiving them each time they added to my hurt. I honored them by loving them, even though they never said the three words I desperately longed to hear, “I’m sorry, Cheryl.” I honor them by continuing to love them.

Is this how I recommend others, who have been hurt and abused by their parents, to act? Partially. I understand that every circumstance is different, and our heavenly Father understands that as well. My only two recommendations for you are to love and forgive your parents. By doing this, you honor them. As far as the rest goes, treat your parents as you would want your children to treat you, and by doing this, you will honor them, regardless of whether they are good or bad parents.

Have you broken this commandment? I did, many times, but by God’s grace, I learned to honor my parents.

~ 6 ~

Image Credit: M. Leone Bracker
Image Credit:
M. Leone Bracker

“You shall not murder.”

I know, most of you think you haven’t broken that commandment, but I’ll be honest and confess to you that I have. In fact, you could say that I’m a serial killer, in light of these scriptures…

Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. ~ 1 John 3:15 — NLT ~

21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. ~ Matthew 5:21-22 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, are any of you as guilty of breaking this commandment as I am?

~ 7 ~

Image Credit: beyeready.org
Image Credit:
beyeready.org

“You shall not commit adultery.”

Beloved readers, before you say you haven’t broken this commandment, let’s look at Jesus’ definition of the command…

27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ~ Matthew 5:27-28 — NLT ~

In light of Jesus’ definition of adultery, have you broken this law?

~ 8 ~

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Image Credit:
wholeworldinhishands.com

“You shall not steal.”

When I was young, I used to “borrow” my mother’s jewelry and makeup, and wear it to school. Whenever my conscience pricked me, I would reason that I was only “borrowing” her things, and that I would put it back. However, the fact is that I knew my mother did not want me to take her things, and if she ever found out, I would be toast.  I knew that what I was doing was wrong, and I also knew that when you take something that isn’t yours, without the owner giving you permission to take it, then it is stealing.

I knew this, even though I wasn’t a Christian yet. I knew this because even though I didn’t yet know Christ, God’s law was written on my heart.

14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know His law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. 16 And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life. ~ Romans 2:14-16 — NLT ~

Not only that, when you work for someone, if you lie about the hours you work, it is stealing. If you spend the time you are being paid to work, doing other things, you are robbing the person who pays you. If you take anything that belongs to your place of employment, it is stealing.

Have you ever “borrowed” something without asking for the owner’s permission first? Have you ever goofed off or slacked off, when you should have been working? Beloved readers, that’s stealing. Have you ever broken this command?

~ 9 ~

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Image Credit:
sites.google.com

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

Have you ever lied and said someone did something that they didn’t do? As a child, this was one of my worst traits. I can’t tell you the number of times that I blamed my younger sister for the things that I did. Of course I would excuse myself by reasoning that since she was the favored child, she wouldn’t be beaten or punished as severely as I would have been, but even though this may have been true, it couldn’t cleanse me from the guilt I felt for lying and bearing false witness against my sister. Beloved reader, has there ever been a time in your life when you bore false witness against someone else?

~ 10 ~

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” 

Gollum by: DarDesign
Gollum
by: DarDesign

Have you ever wanted something that belonged to someone else? Have you ever thought to yourself that the other person doesn’t deserve that treasure as much as you do? Beloved readers, that’s coveting. Have you ever broken this command?

In the last post and this post, we reviewed the Law of Moses, also known as the Ten Commandments, and I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of breaking every single command. Indeed, every time I study the Ten Commandments, I realize once again, how terribly I’ve sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, just as this Scripture tells us…

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are.~ Romans 3:20 — NLT ~

Friends, the Law was never meant to save us. The reason God created the Law was to do exactly what it says in the Scripture above. It was meant to show us how sinful we are…

Why, then, was the Law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the Law was designed to last only until the coming of the Child who was promised. God gave His Law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. ~ Galatians 3:19 — NLT ~

Image Credit: the2520.com
Image Credit:
the2520.com

Beloved, the Law of Moses was only designed to last until the Child, Christ Jesus, came. My friends, He has come, gone back to heaven, and is coming again, and He fulfilled every single one of the Law’s commands. Therefore, what are we to do with the Law, now? Should we turn our backs on it and live in complete disobedience to it? May it never be! We’ll look for the answer to this question in Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 5.

Meanwhile, continue to seek the Lord, study His word, and pray fervently for Him to open the eyes of your heart, so that He will give you an understanding of His will for your life. May God bless you as you not only learn and gain an understanding of His word, but as you also apply His word to your life.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Related Posts:

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are.~ Romans 3:20 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
mk16-15evangelismteam.com

In my last post, Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 2we learned that the Jews turned the Ten Commandments, (also known as the Law or the Law of Moses), into six hundred thirteen laws, known as the Tradition of the EldersTheir purpose in creating all of these laws, as convoluted as it seems, was to protect the Ten Commandments. They purposed that following the Tradition of the Elders would ensure the people’s obedience to the Law of Moses. If you haven’t been following this series and would like to start at the beginning, please click, Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 1.

Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. ~ Galatians 3:19 — NLT ~

Image Credit: probingfaith.com
Image Credit:
probingfaith.com

In addition to learning about the Tradition of the Elders, we discovered the purpose for the Law, which is stated in today’s scripture, Romans 3:20and also in the Scripture above… Today we are going to study the Law of Moses or the Ten Commandments as it is best known, while keeping in mind the Law’s purpose, which is to show people their sins. As we make our way through each of these commandments one by one, I encourage you to search your heart to see where you have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, while I search my own.

Exodus 20:2-17 — NKJV
~ 1 ~

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Image Credit:
sandwichink.com

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.”

This is God’s first command, and sadly, I’ve broken this command too many times to count. You see, before I knew Christ, as my Lord and Savior, everything came before God, and the truth is that even as a born-again Christian, there have been too many times when I failed to put God first. In fact, the truth is that even now, after serving the Lord for many years, there are still times that I have to repent because I’ve put my own desires ahead of Him and His desires for me. Do you ever struggle with this command?

~ 2 ~

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Image Credit:
churchhousecollection.com

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments”

When I was younger, I struggled with the meaning of this Command. Was the Lord saying that it is a sin to draw, or carve or paint? After all, it seemed that His instructions were very clear and specific. Do not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth…” Indeed, this is how this scripture has been interpreted by many people throughout the ages, and it sure seems to be the correct assumption, when you take this quote out of its context.

However, I always had a hard time believing that God hates art. After all, He is the giver of our gifts and talents. Now, as I grew in my love and knowledge of the Lord, I came to see that I was incorrect in the way that I had interpreted this verse. You see, this Command is not about the artwork as much as it is about the condition of the artist’s heart and/or the one who owns the art work. Let’s look at this Command again, in the whole context:

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Image Credit:
catholiccompany.com

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments”

Let’s also take a look at the Hebrew word translated as “carved image” in the New King James Version, and graven image,” in the King James Version of the Bible: 

Pecel = idol or image. 

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Image Credit:
slaveofjesuschrist.me

Do you see the whole picture? God doesn’t hate artwork. He doesn’t hate knick-knacks, pictures, paintings, sculptures or statues. His concern and His Command was about our heart, and our relationship with Him. Do you remember what the children of Israel were doing while Moses was on Mt. Sinai getting the Ten Commandments from God? They were melting their gold and and pressuring Aaron to create a golden calf to worship instead of the Living God!

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Image Credit:
hissheep.org

Do you imagine He didn’t know what was going on when He wrote that Command? Think about this, the same God who told the people not to create any images in heaven or earth, also Commanded the artists to create golden cherubim (which are in heaven) to go on top of the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant. He commanded the artists to create the menorah to resemble an almond tree with buds, branches and flowers (all of which are on the earth), and He commanded those who sewed the curtains and the veil of the tabernacle to weave angels into them.

Beloved readers, let’s examine our hearts. Do you, or have you ever worshiped any idols? Before you answer, let me share a few examples of idol worship with you… 

    • Do you, or have you ever worshiped or prayed to any pictures, paintings or photographs?
      • i.e. — I’ve seen people who in the midst of a disaster, will risk their lives to save photographs of their loved ones. I may offend you by saying so, but this is an example of idol worship.
    • Do you, or have you ever prayed to or worshiped a carved or graven image?
      • i.e. — This would include praying to a crucifix, using rosary beads, a picture of anything or any one, including a picture of Jesus. Again, this may be offensive, but if you worship or pray to any man made image, this is idolatry, even if you say that you are worshiping Jesus.
    • Do you, or have you ever prayed or worshiped a loved one or created a shrine for your loved one?
      • i.e. — This too, may be offensive to many, but I must speak the truth. When a loved one dies, if we respond to his/her death by creating a shrine for them, and go to this place to pray to or talk to your deceased loved one, this too, is idolatry.
    • Perhaps you’ve done none of the above, but do you, or have you ever chosen to watch a program on t.v., or attend a sporting event, when you felt the Lord calling you to spend time with Him? If so, beloved reader, this too, is idolatry.

I don’t know about you, but in light of all this, I have to confess that I have been guilty of idolatry. You see, beloved reader, we’ve only looked at the first two commandments in the Law, and the Law has already shown me that I am a sinful woman in need of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. For He alone can set me free from the bondage of sin and death. 

My friends, I don’t know if you have been born again or not, but, if you have broken God’s law, then you are in need of a Savior. We’ve only looked at two of the Ten Commandments, and I don’t know about you, but I am guilty of breaking both of those Laws, and here’s what the bible says about it…

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23 — NLT ~

If you want to be set free from a life of sin and death, I urge you to call upon the name of the Lord, for whosoever calls upon His name will be saved. The bible tells us what we need to do…

9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. ~ Romans 10:9-10 — NLT ~

If you, like me are a Christian, who has sinned against God, repent and confess your sins to God, as He commands in His word…

But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. ~ 1 John 1:9 — NLT ~

Thank you for joining me for Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3and I pray you will join me for Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 4as we continue this study of the Law with the other Commandments. 

This is my prayer for each one of us as we continue to study the Law… Father, I pray that as we study what Your word says about Your Laws, that You would open the eyes of our hearts, so that we would not only gain head knowledge. Let Your word be planted deep within our hearts, and help us to apply all that we learn from You and about You, so that we would walk in Your Spirit, and not in our flesh. I pray Lord, that you would take our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh. I also ask You to give each one of us a teachable spirit, so that we would not harden our hearts against You and the truth of Your word, because Jesus said that we will know the Truth, and the Truth will set us free… And whom the Son sets free, is free indeed. Father, I praise You and I thank You for all that You have done, for all that You are doing, and for all that You will do for each one of us as we continue in this study of Your Law and what it means to us. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

LIVE BY THE LAW/DIE BY THE LAW ~ PART 2

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Image Credit:
aldenswan.com

For the Law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. ~ John 1:17 — NLT ~
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In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 1, we came to the conclusion that it is by God’s grace that we are saved through faith and not by our obedience to the Law. Otherwise, all would be condemned to eternal damnation, because no one aside from Jesus has ever been 100% faithful in obeying the Law, and the penalty for sin is death.
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As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous — not even one.” ~ Romans 3:10 — NLT ~
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For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. ~ Romans 3:23 — NLT ~
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Yet, because of God’s great love for us, despite our sinful nature, Jesus, who was completely faithful in obedience to God’s Law, paid the penalty for the sins of all mankind, in order to redeem us from the Law of sin and death.
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But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. ~ Romans 5:8 — NLT ~
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For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. ~ Romans 8:2 — NKJV ~
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Image Credit:
smithtonchristianfellowship.wordpress.com

In this, the second installment of Live By the Law/Die By the LawI want to further study the Law and its purpose. Let’s begin by defining the Law. Throughout the Bible, in both the Old and the New Testaments, you will see references to the Law of Moses. This refers to the Ten Commandments that God gave Moses on the stone tablets, while he was on Mt. Sinai.

These commandments were given to the children of Israel, (Israelites or Jews) and they were to live by these laws. Now, over time, the Jewish leaders and teachers of the Law took the Ten Commandments given to them by God, and created 613 laws, known as the Tradition of the Elderswhich were supposed to help the people obey God’s Ten Commandments. In theory, if the people kept these rules, they would be obeying the Law.

Isn’t it just like mankind to take something holy and pollute it with our own wisdom? Perhaps their intentions were good in developing these additional laws for men to follow, in order to protect the Law of God, given to them by Moses, but the outcome was not good. You see, the Pharisees who created these additional laws were very strict about following them, down to the smallest detail. In fact, they were so careful to follow all of the rules, that they lost sight of the Law of God, which dealt with the hearts of mankind…
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maninthemaze.com

37 As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited Him home for a meal. So He went in and took His place at the table. 38 His host was amazed to see that He sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom. 39 Then the Lord said to him, You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! 40 Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? 41 So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.

42 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

43 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces. 44 Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.”

45 “Teacher,” said an expert in religious law, “You have insulted us, too, in what You just said.”

46 “Yes,” said Jesus, “what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden. 47 What sorrow awaits you! For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago. 48 But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments! 49 This is what God in His wisdom said about you: ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, but they will kill some and persecute the others.’

50 “As a result, this generation will be held responsible for the murder of all God’s prophets from the creation of the world—51 from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, it will certainly be charged against this generation.

52 “What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.” ~ Luke 11:37-52 — NLT ~
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Sadly, all of those religious laws created by the Pharisees only  served to alienate the people from God. Instead of making it easier for the people to obey God’s original Ten Commandments, it only served to make obedience to God’s commands more difficult. The Law of Moses was complicated by the Pharisees’ additional six hundred thirteen laws.

When Jesus came along, He angered the Pharisees by speaking out against some of their foolish laws. Then, He took the Law of God, and simplified that which had been complicated by the Pharisees, dividing the Law into two parts. He revealed that the Law of God is summarized and divided into two parts. The first four commandments concern our relationship with God, while the second half of the commandments concern our relationship with mankind. The scriptures below show us how Jesus summed up the Law of Moses.
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30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” ~ Mark 12:30-31 — NKJV ~
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You see, beloved reader, God’s Law was never about following ten rules or six hundred thirteen rules. God’s Law concerned the hearts of all mankind, and by obeying the first half of the Commandments, man could demonstrate his love for God. Furthermore, by obeying the second half of the Law, man would demonstrate his love for humanity, but sadly, because of our sinful nature, we are unable to follow the Law in its entirety, which is why Christ came to live, die and arise from the grave. He was and is our only hope for salvation and deliverance from the sin that binds each one of us.

For the Law was not given to the Jews to save them, for Christ is the One who saves. So, beloved reader, if the Law was not given to save mankind, why was it given?
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Why, then, was the Law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the Law was designed to last only until the coming of the Child who was promised. God gave His law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. ~ Galatians 3:19 — NLT ~
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We know now that the Law was given to show people their sins. In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3we’ll examine the Ten Commandments and see exactly how the Law still serves to show people their sins.

I pray that as we continue in this study, we’ll learn what it means to live in the love and liberty our Savior calls us to. May the Lord bless each of you, beloved readers, as you continue to grow in His grace.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 1

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Are Christians bound by the Law? What does it mean to be bound by the Law? Are those Christians who are Gentiles required to live by the Laws given to the Jews? What is the purpose of living by the Law? Are we required to live by the Law in order to be saved? When we fail to live by the Law, do we lose our salvation? Must we follow the Law in order to maintain our salvation?

Has anyone else ever grappled with these questions? When it comes to questions of such great import, I don’t like to rely on man’s answers, because man’s wisdom is finite, whereas God’s wisdom is infinite. Human words and beliefs are fallible, whereas God’s Word is infallible. We humans are corrupt, self-righteous, prideful, vindictive and sinful, whereas God is Good, Just, Merciful, and full of Grace and Love. The words of mankind have no power to change lives, and will soon fade away, whereas the Word of God is Living and Active, Sharper than any two-edged sword. His Word has the Power to change lives. His Word has the Power to save, heal and deliver.

Therefore, for those all important questions that I asked above, let’s look to God’s Word for the answers. Firstly, let’s start from the beginning, and work our way onward… Are we required to live by the Law in order to be saved?

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Image Credit:
recados18.com

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9 — NLT ~
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For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,9 not of works, lest anyone should boast~ Ephesians 2:8-9 — NKJV ~
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Beloved readers, the first all-important fact that you must know and understand is that God saves us by His Grace. Our salvation has NOTHING to do with how good we are, nor does it have anything to do with how many Commandments we have kept. Indeed, the salvation of mankind rests solely on God’s Grace and His great Love for us.

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16 “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life17 God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. ~ John 3:16 — NLT ~
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16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. ~ John 3:16 — NKJV ~
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But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners~ Romans 5:8 — NLT ~
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8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us~ Romans 5:8 — NKJV ~
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Image Credit: Anna Popescu
Image Credit:
Anna Popescu

Beloved reader, take careful note of when God loved us and saved us. He loved us while we were still in the midst of our sins. Do you see? Christ died to save us while we were still sinners, breaking the Law. The fact is that we wouldn’t have needed a Savior if we were able to follow the Law ourselves. Indeed, my friends, even the Jews, (the ones to whom the Law was given), are unable to keep the Law. Therefore, why would I, a Gentile, think that I can either earn or keep my salvation by obeying the Law?

9 Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin.

10 As the Scriptures say,
“No one is righteous— not even one.
11 No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God.
12 All have turned away; all have become useless.
No one does good, not a single one.”
13 “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with lies.
Snake venom drips from their lips.”
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
1
5 “They rush to commit murder.
1
6 Destruction and misery always follow them.
17 They don’t know where to find peace.”
18 “They have no fear of God at all.”

19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. ~ Romans 3:9-20 — NLT ~
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9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.

10 As it is written:

“There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
13 “Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; 
“The poison of asps is under their lips”; 
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 And the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. ~ Romans 3:9-20 — NKJV ~ 
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Do you see that according to God’s Word, NO ONE can be made right with God by doing what the Law commands, because the Law simply shows us how sinful we are. Not only that, but the Law applies to those to whom it was given — the Jews, not the Gentiles. Furthermore, if the Jews, to whom the Law was given, were unable to follow the Law to the letter, why would anyone in the Church insist that the followers of Christ must live under the Law? 

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Image Credit:
Biblical Proof

Beloved readers, please join me as we embark on a study of God’s word, so that we will know His Law and how it applies to us. The Word of God will have very little impact on anyone, unless we apply it to our lives. It is my hope that through this study, we will all come to a better understanding of God’s Word, His Law and His expectations for us. I pray that your roots will grow deep into His love and that you will come to understand, as all of God’s children should, how long and how wide, how high and how deep His love for you really is, though it is too great for any of us to fully grasp. I pray that as each of us delve into the Word of God, He will speak to us. I have no desire to tell anyone what to believe… instead, it is my heart’s desire that as we embark on this study, each one of you will listen, as His Word speaks for itself. I pray for all of this in the matchless name of Jesus. Amen.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 5)

Greetings to My Beloved Readers,

Thank you so much for your patience in waiting for me to continue with the tithing series, To Tithe or Not To Tithe?, while I was temporarily out of commission. Thanks also to everyone who has been praying for me. I truly appreciate your prayers, more than you know…

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Image Credit:http://usafreemoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/bag_of_money_wallpaper-other.jpg

And now, let’s continue with the fifth part of the series, To Tithe or Not To Tithe?. In the last few posts, we’ve compared Old Testament teachings about tithing to New Testament teaching. Now, let’s take a look at the early church to see if they tithed. Let’s also see where their money went, and how they got it…

“It is admitted universally that the payment of tithes or the tenth of possessions, for sacred purposes, did not find a place within the Christian Church during the age covered by the apostles and their immediate successors.”

Hastings Dictionary of the Apostolic Church ~
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“The Christian Church depended at first on voluntary gifts from its members.”

~ Encyclopedia Britannica ~
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44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 

~ Acts 2:44-45 — NLT ~
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Image Credit:
http://usafreemoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/
bag_of_money_wallpaper-other.jpg

As you can see from the scripture above, and from the references above, the early church did not tithe. Instead, all of the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. Now take note of who shared… All of the believers shared… This included apostles, pastors, prophets, teachers and evangelists, as well as everyone else…

Next, let’s look at what they shared… And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. ~ Acts 2:44 — NLT ~ Wow. Just think about this. All of the believers shared everything they had. Obviously, there would have been no apostles, pastors, prophets, teachers and evangelists who were independently wealthy from the tithes and offerings they received from other believers, because they would have shared everything they had. There would have been no worshipers or Christian musicians who charged people to see them and listen to their music, because it all would have been for the glory of God.

Finally, it’s important for us to see who the early church shared everything they had with… They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. ~ Acts 2:45 — NLT ~ The early church shared with those in need. Money was not collected to pay ministers, but to give to those who were in need.

“The New Testament nowhere explicitly requires tithing to maintain a ministry or a place of assembly.”

Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan,Oxford Companion to the Bible ~
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Image Credit:
http://www.taringa.net/posts/imagenes/12339622/Catedrales-mas-asombrosas.html

As you can see, giving in the early church differs greatly from the church today, who gives first to pay for clergy, buildings, maintenance, heat and air conditioning for the buildings, utilities, administrative staff and administrative costs, and a portion goes to whatever denomination the church members belong to. It is only after this and so many other expenses are met, that the money taken in is shared with those in need, and then, it is often given very selectively, after those in need meet certain criteria. I can’t help but wonder what Jesus or the early apostles would think of the giving of tithes, which are given to support many pastors, evangelists and televangelists, who never even come in contact with those who are in need?

“The silence of the N.T. writers, particularly Paul, regarding the present validity of the tithe can be explained only on the ground that the dispensation of grace has no more place for a law of tithing than it has for a law on circumcision.”

Baker’s Dictionary, 1960 ~
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2 Corinthians 9 encourages the Corinthian believers, and us as well, to give to those who are in need. It is not a command to tithe to any church, but to give to those who are in need. It also encourages believers to determine in their hearts how much to give, and not to give reluctantly or in response to pressure. It does not command us to tithe our income…

In fact, after studying the subject, I’ve come to the conclusion that tithing is part of the Old Covenant, which was fulfilled by Jesus. Further, Old Testament tithing never included the people’s income – rather, they tithed their produce and their meat. Finally, we must remember that we are no longer under the law, therefore, if we tithe, we are placing ourselves under the law…

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

~ Galatians 5:1 — NLT ~

I’d like to share one final thought about tithing and giving. The Lord wants us to give to the poor, orphans and widows. He wants us to give with a cheerful heart, not under compulsion. What if we listened to Holy Spirit as the early church did, and gave accordingly, not limiting ourselves to a 10% tithe? The early church shared freely of everything they had. If they had  nothing to give, they felt no shame for it. The early church didn’t need a lot of money to share the gospel with their coworkers, families, friends and acquaintances. 

My friends, I urge you to prayerfully consider what you’ve read in this series, and give according to what Holy Spirit leads you to give. Don’t limit yourselves by tithing to a place of worship. Instead, let Holy Spirit lead you to give to those in need, according to the will of God. 

Related Articles:

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? Update

Greetings Friends,

Please forgive me for taking so long with my next post. Since returning home from my trip out of town, I’ve been under the weather, and with medication changes, unable to focus. Please keep me in your  prayers. I will be continuing this series and seeing it through its completion, so I ask for your continued patience.

May the Lord bless you!

Love,
Cheryl

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 4)

8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 3:8-10 — NKJV ~

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Image Credit:
http://slaveoftheword.blogspot.com/
2013/05/old-testament-
tithing-passages-
response.html

I’m really enjoying this study, and I don’t mind confessing that I’m learning as we go along too. I have also tithed for most of my walk with Christ, (at least since I seriously started serving Him), and until I complete this study, I will reserve my final judgment on tithing. What I am discovering is that many of the things I’ve always believed or been taught to believe about tithing were based not on what the scriptures say, but on the teachings of the church. Also, please understand that I am not telling anyone that they should not give as the Lord leads you to give, and until we complete this study, I’m not even telling you to stop tithing, especially if you feel that it is sinful not to tithe. 

The purpose of this study is for us to discover what the word of God truly says regarding tithing in the church. Please let me be very clear about one thing before we continue with our study, because several people have expressed concern that I might be encouraging you not to tithe. I am encouraging you to join me in this study of God’s word, and after we have completed the study, if you choose to continue tithing or to stop tithing, I encourage you to do so based on what the bible says, NOT because I told you to do so. Now that I’ve cleared that up, let’s continue our bible study with Malachi 3:10…

10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 3:10 — NKJV ~

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Image Credit:
http://www.templesanjose.org/
JudaismInfo/faq/temple
wall.htm

In Malachi 3:10, the Lord instructs the Levite priests to, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house…” 

In our previous studies, we learned that tithes were seeds and fruit, and herds and flocks. We also learned that 10% of these tithes were given to the Levite priests, who were dedicated to a life of service to the Lord and His temple, and had no land of their own, in order to provide food for them and their families. Therefore, in order to ensure that the Lord’s priests would always have enough to eat, the Lord instituted the tithe. This information is important, because it explains why it was important that there be food in God’s house.

Now look at the first part of that scripture again, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house…” What was the storehouse, and where was it? (2 Chronicles 31)

  • The storehouse was where the tithes and offerings were kept until they were distributed to the priests.
  • The storehouse was located within the temple. 

There are several reasons why this scripture does not apply to Christians… 

  • Firstly, as I shared with you before, tithes were never cash or credit…
    • Tithes were for a sacrifice to God, and food for the Levite priests.
      • The priests served the Lord in the temple, offering sacrifices, playing music, mediating to God for the sins of the people, etc.
      • Because their lives were dedicated to the Lord, and they had no land of their own, 10% of the tithes were given to the Levite priests for food for them and their families.
      • After Christ was crucified, there was no longer a need for the priests to serve in the temple, because Jesus became our High Priest.
  • The temple was destroyed in 70 AD, and has not been rebuilt.
    • Therefore, there is no longer any storehouse.
    • Further, since Christ was crucified, He became the final sacrifice, and there is no longer a need to present tithes and offerings to the Lord to be sacrificed… In fact, it was never our sacrifices that the Lord desired…
      • You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings.
        Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand—
        you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.
         ~ Psalm 40:6 
      • I want you to show love,
        not offer sacrifices.
        I want you to know me
        more than I want burnt offerings. 
        ~
        Hosea 6:6
    • Levite priests are no longer necessary, there is no longer a need to collect tithes to feed them.
    • Since the temple was destroyed, there is no longer a storehouse for the tithes to be brought to.
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Image Credit:
http://blog.adw.org/
wp-content/uploads/
Faces_of_Christ.jpg

Now, some claim that the storehouse we are now supposed to bring our tithes and offerings (cash and credit, no longer food, although scripture makes no mention of this change) to, is the church. However, according to the scriptures, the church is not the building or the place where we worship…

  • 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. ~ Ephesians 1:22-23 — NKJV ~

According to the scriptures, Christians are the church. We are the body of Christ, not the building that we go to worship at. If I am in my home, then my home houses the church, but it is not the church. If I am in my car or Walmart, then they house the church, but they are not the church. When I go to my place of worship on Sundays, as soon as the men and women of God show up, that is where the church is, but as soon as we leave that building, although it may be dedicated to God, it is not the church. 

Not only that, but the bible tells us in several different places that not only are we (all Christians) the church, but we are also the temple of the Holy Spirit.

  • Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself… 1 Corinthians 6:19 — NLT ~
  • 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:19-22 — NKJV ~

So, the tithes and offerings were brought to the storehouse for the purpose of sacrificing to God, and feeding the Levite priests. There is no longer any need to do either, because Jesus was the sacrifice for our sins once and for all. Further, consider this…

  • you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Peter 2:5 — NIV ~
      • And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. ~ Romans 12:1 — NLT ~
  • But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. ~ 1 Peter 2:9 — NIV ~

The tithes and offerings were taken to the temple and given to the priests. If all Christians are the church and temple of the Holy Spirit, and if we are also a holy and royal priesthood, then it’s important to know this fact. The Levite priests were not required to tithe, because a portion of the tithes were to feed them. 

Therefore, since we are a royal priesthood, and the temple of God’s Holy Spirit, are we bound by the law to tithe? Also, let us not forget that the Lord doesn’t desire sacrifices, and the sacrifice that is required of all believers is for us to offer our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, which is pleasing to the Lord. Brothers and sisters, this is truly the way to worship God. As I study the scriptures, which tells us that we are not bound by the law, why would God command His people to obey this law? And would He change the terms, requiring priests to pay tithes now, and changing the food offerings to cash or credit offerings? And to whom and where would God’s holy priesthood present tithes?

I urge you to prayerfully study the scriptures, asking the Lord to reveal the truth to you through His word. I also encourage you to join me for To Tithe or Not To Tithe (Part 5)when we will continue our study.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 3)

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Welcome to the third part of To Tithe or Not To Tithe?, and thank you for your patience in waiting for part 3. I just left my daughter’s home in GA and headed for home yesterday, and was unable to finish this post during my last few days there. However, I’m home now, and hopefully, Lord willing, I will be able to continue on this series more regularly. If you’re just starting this series, please be sure to check out the following posts first…

In part two of this series, I said that we would be studying Malachi 3:8-10…

8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 3:8-10 — NKJV ~

In part two of this series, we began the study with verse 8…

8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.

Malachi 3:8 — NKJV ~

In verse 8 we learned:

  • The Lord spoke these words these words to warn the Levite priests who had turned away from Him, and were not treating the sacrifices they were to make to Him seriously, to repent and obey the Law.
  • The Lord did not require monetary tithes and offerings.
    • He required a tithe of seeds and fruit
    • He required a tithe of herds and flocks
  • When Jesus was crucified on the cross, as a sacrifice to pay for the sins of man, there was no longer any need for sacrifice in the Temple…Since there is no longer any need for sacrifices to be made, there is no longer any need for priests to offer sacrifices, approach God on our behalf, or mediate for our sins, for Christ is our High Priest…
    • For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus — 1 Timothy 2:5 (NKJV)
    • 14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. — Hebrews 4:14-16 (NKJV)
Image Credit: http://www.tithing.com/wp-content/ uploads/2012/02/tithing-on-trial.jpg

Now, we’ll continue the study, with verse 9 of the passage…

9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.

I have heard this message directed at Christians, and have sat under pastors who have said that not only are people cheating themselves out of a blessing for not bringing our tithes to the storehouse, but they are also bringing God’s curse on themselves. However, as we learned in To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 2)this specific message was never intended for Christians. The Lord spoke this message to warn the Levite priests who had turned away from Him, and were not treating the sacrifices they were to make to Him seriously, to repent and obey the Law. Further, we also learned that the tithe was not 10% of one’s income. It was not cash or credit. The tithe was seeds and fruit, and herds and flocks, which the people were giving. 

  • Therefore, the Lord was telling the Levite priests that they were cursed with a curse. (Remember, they were still under the Law)

For those who would imply that this law applies to Christians, and if we as Christians do not give 10% of our income, we will be “cursed with a curse”, please consider this:

13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

~ Galatians 3:13-14 — NKJV ~

Brothers and sisters, this post is short and sweet, because I really want you to focus on these verses from Galatians 3. When someone speaks a curse over you for not tithing or for not living by the law, remember that Christ set us free from the curse of the law, and whom the Son sets free is free indeed!

Please be sure to join me for the next post in our study of To Tithe or Not To Tithe?, when we will continue this study, focusing on verse 10.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 2)

8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

~ Malachi 3:8-10 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/worshiphousemedia/ resource/images/main/s/mo/pow/ss/tithesandoffering.jpg
Image Credit:
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resource/images/main/s/mo/pow/ss/tithesandoffering.jpg

First of all, let me state very clearly, I love the Lord, and I don’t want to rob Him. I don’t want to sin against God. I want to love Him and serve Him, and be a blessing to Him. My heart’s desire is to be a woman after God’s own heart. I want to know Him and understand His word. I want to be all that God has called me to be, and I want to walk in the liberty that He has given me…

Therefore, let’s begin To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 2) by looking at verse eight of Malachi 3…

8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.

~ Malachi 3:8 — NKJV ~

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Image Credit:
http://cdn1.tillhecomes.org/wp-content/
uploads/2012/01/Malachi-3.jpg

One of the first rules when studying scripture is to discover who, what, when, where and why. Therefore, let’s start first with who…

  • Who was speaking in this passage?
    • God was speaking
  • To whom was God speaking?
    • To find out who God was speaking to, I had to go back to the beginning of Malachi, where I discovered that God was speaking to the priests, not the people, who had brought their tithes, and it was the priests who failed to distribute them according to the Law.
  • What was God saying?
    • He accused the priests of robbing Him in tithes and offerings.
    • The priests were not presenting the tithes and offerings to the Lord as they should, instead, keeping the best of the tithes and offerings for themselves, while offering the Lord blind, sick and lame sacrifices.
  • When did God speak these words?
    • Malachi was written some time between 440 and 400 B.C.
  • Where did God speak these words?
    • The word of the Lord came to Israel.
  • Why did God speak these words?
    • He spoke these words to warn the priests who had turned away from Him and were not treating the sacrifices they were to make to Him seriously, to repent and obey the Law.

When studying the scriptures, after determining the 5 W’s, we also need to see if these scriptures apply to us (Christian believers) today… Therefore, at this point, it’s really important for us to understand what the tithes and offerings that the Lord was talking about, were. Just so everyone is on the same page, let’s look up the Law’s tithe requirement…

  • Leviticus 27:30-33 (NKJV) — 30 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. 32 And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord. 33 He shall not inquire whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it at all, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.
  • We see here that the tithe was food, both from the fruit of the land and from animals
    • The Lord did not require monetary tithes and offerings
    • The tithes and offerings required were food, which was given to the priests, who were to offer a tithe of what they received to the Lord.
    • The rest of the tithes and offerings were given to the priests, who owned no land to grow or raise their own food, because their lives were dedicated to the Lord.
Image Credit: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ sdEWIhL1Dsc/TK0l3D3Zl VI/AAAAAAAAADI/C8N2 W3n19aM/s320/tithe.jpg
Image Credit:
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_
sdEWIhL1Dsc/TK0l3D3Zl
VI/AAAAAAAAADI/C8N2
W3n19aM/s320/tithe.jpg

Does the Lord still require these tithes and offerings, as required by the Law? Of course not! For Christ paid all of our debts once and for all…

11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days,” says the Lord: “I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

~ Hebrews 10:11-18 — NKJV ~

When Christ died on the cross, there was no longer any need for sacrifices, because He paid for the sins of mankind once and for all. Therefore…

  • There is no longer any need for priests to offer sacrifices, approach God on our behalf, or mediate for our sins, for Christ is our High Priest…
    • For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus — 1 Timothy 2:5 (NKJV)
    • 14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. — Hebrews 4:14-16 (NKJV)

My beloved Messianic readers, if you have given your life to Christ, you are a new creation, and you are no longer bound by the Law. Beloved Gentile believers, you have never been bound by the Law, and you shouldn’t allow anyone to deceive you into giving your freedom away…

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

2 Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. 4 For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

5 But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. 6 For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.

~ Galatians 5:1-6 — NLT ~

My beloved readers, I do not want to influence anyone, nor do I want to tell you what to do or believe. However, there are those who try to shame and coerce the people of God into giving money to their ministries by misusing  the Word of God, and my desire is that the men and women of God will read and study His word so they will know what God’s will for His people truly is.

Therefore, I encourage you to pray about what you are reading here, and seek God’s face. Also, please don’t misunderstand what you are reading or what I am saying. As you read this  series, please be sure you hold this scripture close to your heart as you pray…

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”

~ 2 Corinthians 9:7 — NLT ~

 Thank you for reading, my friends, and please, be sure to join me for To Tithe or Not To Tithe (Part 3), when we continue our study of Malachi 3:8-10…

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 1)

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I’ve been studying the scriptures and seeking answers about tithing. I know what the church’s stance on tithing is, and I know what non-church goers think about tithing, but frankly, I’m not interested in opinions. I want to know what God says about tithing, because I want to walk in obedience to Him in all areas of my life, because I truly do love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I also feel the Spirit leading me to share my findings with others who want to walk in obedience to the Lord.

I began my study by looking at some of the various scriptures we hear in church, urging us to tithe, and it soon became evident to me, that this was not something that could be answered in one  post. For this reason, I decided to do a series on this subject, so that we could do an in-depth study of God’s word and determine His will for us. After deciding to do a series on To Tithe or Not To Tithe?, I decided to start with one of the scriptures that I’ve heard used most frequently by pastors, evangelists and televangelists, when urging their congregations to tithe…

~ Luke 6:38 — NKJV ~

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Well, that seems pretty clear, doesn’t it? These are the words of Jesus, which means that it applies to His followers, therefore, we should all obey His words, if we want to receive the promised blessing… But wait!

It’s always important to study scriptures in their context, so that we can truly understand what the Lord’s will for us is. Therefore, let’s look at this scripture a little closer, in its context…

32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.

39 And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. 41 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”

~ Luke 6:32-42 — NKJV ~

Did you see any mention of tithes and offerings in that passage of scripture? I didn’t. Please allow me to share with you what I did see in this passage of scripture…

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Image Credit:
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In Luke 6:32-36, Jesus is instructing people to love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return. He also instructs us to be merciful just like our heavenly Father is merciful. He also tells us that if we will do those things, our reward will be great, but He makes no mention of tithes in those verses, does He?

Now, let’s look at Luke 6:37-38, and see what Jesus tells us… In verse 37, Jesus tells us not to judge or condemn anyone, so you won’t be judged or condemned. He also tells us to forgive, and we will be forgiven. Then, in verse 38, He tells us to give, and it will be given back to us, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

In Luke 6:39-42, Jesus tells us that the blind cannot lead the blind, and the disciple cannot be above his teacher. Then, He continues speaking about judging others, and tells us that before we judge someone else, we must first examine ourselves and rid ourselves of the plank (sin) from our own eye, before trying to remove the speck (sin) from our brother’s eye.

Did you see anything at all about tithes and offerings in this passage of scripture?

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Luke 6:38 — NKJV ~

When you put this scripture into context, we discover that Jesus is instructing us to give mercy and forgiveness and it will be given to us, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will be put into our bosom. For with the same measure that we use, it will be measured back to us…

Also, just to verify that we are interpreting this passage correctly, let’s look at Matthew’s account of this passage of scripture.

1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

~ Matthew 7:1-5 — NKJV ~

Again, you can see clearly that Jesus was not talking about tithes and offerings in this passage. He was talking about showing your brother mercy and forgiveness, rather than measuring out judgment and condemnation against him.

Beloved readers, it is important for you to know God’s word for yourself, so that you will know what God’s will for you is. Jesus was commanding us to be merciful and forgiving when He spoke the words above. He was not commanding us to give money in this instance, nor was He promising to reward us with money. Therefore, if you give tithes and offerings expecting to receive back what you have given, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you,” you could be very disappointed.

Please be sure to join me in this study of God’s word on tithing for Christians, so that we can understand what the Lord is truly commanding us to do. I look forward to sharing more with you in To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 2)

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

God’s Advice To You

Trifextra: Week Sixty-Two

On to the weekend challenge.  We want you to give us thirty-three words of advice. Your advice can be to anyone or about anything.  We only ask that you make it uniquely yours.  If you have time to kill, you can easily get lost in the advice of others here.

I don’t expect to win this challenge, because the advice is from God and the words below are His words from Micah 6:8… But I just couldn’t help but respond to this! 😀
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Trifecta Writing
Image Credit: Trifecta Writing Challenge

God’s advice: He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?