Tag Archives: Old Testament

Working Toward Something Good and Beautiful

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Image Credit:
Health Care Diary

It’s been more than three weeks since I’ve written or posted anything. During that time, my pain medication has been elevated, due to a continued increase in the pain I suffer. The increased pain medication has made it nearly impossible for me to write, as I have been unable to stay awake long enough to read, write or think with any clarity. Then, when the pain meds wear off, the intense pain also renders me unable to write, as I struggle unsuccessfully, to get my mind off the pain and focus on something else.

Then, in the midst of this, my FaceBook account was hacked by someone pretending to be me. This imposter created a clone of my account, and began contacting some of my friends, trying to obtain personal financial information from them. Needless to say, I reported this to FaceBook, and I’ve closed my account for the time being…

Image Credit: Landon Gilfillan
Image Credit:
Landon Gilfillan

Meanwhile, for the last nine days, my husband and I have been visiting our daughter and son-in-law, and three of our nine grandchildren. This precious time with my family has given me great joy, despite the pain I’m in, and last night, before bed, my granddaughters asked me to share a bible story with them. This completely blessed me, for there is nothing I’d rather do than share God’s word with people, and especially with my beloved grandchildren…

Therefore, I shared Daniel 1 with them last night, and I will continue sharing the story of Daniel and his friends each night for the rest of our visit… So, after beginning to tell Daniel’s story to my grandchildren and preparing to share the next chapter with them tonight, I felt a stirring within me to write. This urge to write has been missing for the last few weeks, but now, I found myself wanting to share Daniel’s story with you…

Image Credit: Point of Power
Image Credit:
Point of Power

As you may already know, when King Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian army invaded Judea, the Lord allowed Nebuchadnezzar to make Judea’s King Jehoiakim his prisoner and take him back to Babylon. The Lord also allowed his army to rob His holy Temple, carrying some of its sacred vessels back to fill the treasury of Babylon’s false gods. Among those captured in the invasion, were members of Judah’s royal family, and several members of nobility. It was from these members of royalty and nobility, that Nebuchadnezzar chose the brightest young men who were also the most handsome, to be trained to serve in his royal court.

Among those chosen to be trained to serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s court were four young men named, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Then, possibly in an attempt to make them forget their roots, one of the first things Nebuchadnezzar did, was to change the names of his captives. Thus, Daniel became Belteshazzar, Hananiah’s name was changed to Shadrach, Mishael’s name became Meshach and Azariah became Abed-nego.

Image Credit: Minister to the Heart
Image Credit:
Minister to the Heart

To further enhance the change in the lives of Nebuchadnezzar’s captives, they were sent to live in his palace, where they would be trained in the Babylonian ways for three years. Daniel and his friends meekly went along with all of these changes, until they were presented with food from the king’s table. While these rations were very generous and were gratefully received by other prisoners, to be forced to partake of this food, would defile Daniel and his friends before the Lord, and they would rather die than be seen as unclean by their God. 

Therefore, carefully choosing his words, Daniel spoke for himself and his friends to the king’s chief eunuch, asking that he and his friends be served nothing but vegetables, grains and water. Ashpenaz, the chief eunuch, refused, but Daniel was persistent, and quietly spoke to the guard that the chief eunuch assigned to him and his compatriots…

12 “Please, do us a favor. Put us, your servants, to the test for the next 10 days. Give us a vegetarian diet and water. 13 When the time is up, you can see for yourself our condition and compare it to the condition of the other young men who are eating from the king’s table. Then, after you have seen what has happened, do whatever you think is best with us, your servants.”

14 So the guard agreed to do as Daniel requested. He tested them on a diet of only vegetables, grains, and water for 10 days. 15 When the 10 days were up, he looked them over and noticed that Daniel and his friends were better off than all the young men eating from the king’s best foods. They looked healthy and well nourished, 16 so the guard continued to hold back their royal rations and replaced them with a strictly vegetarian diet. 17 Through all of this, God conferred upon these 4 young men superior abilities in literature, language, and wisdom. God had given Daniel an additional gift, too: the ability to interpret visions and dreams. 18 When the 3-year period of training and conditioning, as set by the king, was over, the king sent for the candidates; the chief of the royal eunuchs himself escorted them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king interviewed all of them and found that none of the candidates were any better than Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; so they were each assigned an important place in the king’s court.  ~ Daniel 1:12-19  VOICE ~

As I think about this story, and I ponder my own situation, which seems so hopeless and untenable, I’m struck by the presence of God in Daniel’s life. Think about it. Daniel was a God-fearing Jewish boy, whose desire was to serve God faithfully in Judea, in the midst of God’s chosen people. Yet, instead of having his dream fulfilled, Daniel and his friends were cruelly snatched from the arms of their loved ones and deposited into the midst of heathens. Also, rather than serving the country they loved, in Jerusalem, home of God’s holy Temple, they were now forced to serve a pagan king, who served pagan gods. Nothing had gone the way it should have, and Daniel’s dreams of ministering had been snatched away from him… Or had they?

As I think about my own situation, it all seems so hopeless. I’m in so much constant pain, that I’m unable to stand and minister like I once did. My dreams of ministering for the Lord seem to be beyond my grasp right now. I’m no longer able to preach and minister in the prisons like I once did, and my dance ministry has also fallen to the wayside, for how can you dance, when merely standing, sitting, walking or laying cause excruciating pain?

Still, as I read about Daniel, I’m struck by the knowledge that God not only knew about Daniel’s situation, it seems that He orchestrated it, for His glory…

The Lord gave Nebuchadnezzar the victory and allowed him to take King Jehoiakim of Judah as his prisoner. At the same time, He permitted the Babylonian king to rob God’s temple of some of its sacred vessels and carry them away to Babylonia (called Shinar), which was the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, to fill the treasury of his own gods, Marduk and Nebo.

After the king returned home, he commanded Ashpenaz, chief of the royal eunuchs, to bring some of the Israelites who had been taken captive to the palace. These included members of Judah’s royal family and the nobility.  ~ Daniel 1:2-3 VOICE ~

Now, if God orchestrated the events in Daniel’s life, and in the lives of His chosen people, doesn’t it seem plausible that He would also orchestrate the events in my life and yours? To be kidnapped and taken to a country far away, seems like a horrific experience, and yet, when you realize that God was behind it, this dreadful event is miraculously changed into a reason for hope and even joy. 

Likewise, a life of constant chronic pain was not a part of the life I dreamed of having. I dreamed of preaching throughout the country, in prisons and churches and wherever else God sent me, but I now see that what I had once thought was God’s will for my life, was really only my own hopes and dreams for my life. They were my plans, not His. Furthermore, knowing that this chronic pain is not some tragic misfortune caused by the devil, unbeknownst to God, but rather, it is all a part of His plan for my life, makes my current circumstances worth rejoicing over…

28 We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.  ~ Romans 8:28 VOICE ~

Now, as I look at Daniel, who was snatched from his home, never to return again, I can see that God orchestrated everything in his life, changing it into something beautiful and good. So, if God orchestrated Daniel’s painful events into something good and beautiful, don’t you think it’s possible (even likely) that since I love Him, He has been orchestrating everything in my life to work toward something good and beautiful?

What about you, beloved reader? Have your circumstances been difficult? Be of good cheer. For as long as you love Him and are called according to His purpose, God will orchestrate everything in your life to work toward something good and beautiful.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

ה He (Behold!) Show Me Your Ways

Psalm 119:33-40

ה He

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
35 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it.
36 Incline my heart to Your testimonies, And not to covetousness.
37 Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way.
38 Establish Your word to Your servant, Who is devoted to fearing You.
39 Turn away my reproach which I dread, For Your judgments are good.
40 Behold, I long for Your precepts; Revive me in Your righteousness.

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Image Credit:
fisheaters.com

Hallelujah! Psalm 119 is a beautiful, powerful psalm, which takes us through the Hebrew alphabet, from beginning to end, as it focuses on the statutes of the Lord. Psalm 119:33-40 begins with the Hebrew letter, ה He, which is the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and means behold!

Therefore, as we begin to study this portion of scripture, behold! Look and see what God wants to show you in His  word… Let’s begin our study by looking at Psalm 119:33…

ה He

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.

~ Psalm 119:33 — NKJV ~

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Image Credit:
photo.neo6.com

This seems pretty straight forward, but it’s important for us to understand that the Hebrew language is different than the English language. Therefore, for us to truly understand what was being said when the Lord inspired it, let’s look at the Hebrew meaning for Psalm 119:33…

Beloved readers, behold! See what the Lord spoke to His people many years ago, and because His word is living and active, it continues to speak to us. Let’s really begin to dig into this scripture verse and behold what the Lord shows us…

The Hebrew word for “teach” in this scripture is yarah:

  1. to throw, shoot, cast, pour
    1. (Qal)
      1. to throw, cast
      2. to cast, lay, set
      3. to shoot arrows
      4. to throw water, rain
    2. (Niphal) to be shot
    3. (Hiphil)
      1. to throw, cast
      2. to shoot
      3. to point out, show
      4. to direct, teach, instruct
      5. to throw water, rain
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Image Credit:
freebibleimages.org

The word “teach” takes on a whole new meaning, when you see what the original Hebrew text was… Behold! Throw, cast, shoot, point out, show, direct, teach, instruct me… In this scripture, the writer is asking the Lord to cast him, shoot him, point out and show him. He’s asking the Lord to direct him, teach him and instruct him. 

Imagine this, as you’re praying to the Lord, you’re telling Him, “Behold! Lord, I’m an arrow in Your hand. Take me, Lord, and place me within Your bow, aim me and shoot me where you want me to go!” 

Do you see it? When we become as an arrow, we relinquish control. We are now at the Lord’s mercy, as He takes us from His quiver, places us on His bow and takes aim. He is the One who directs us, choosing where He will send us flying to. He is the One who pulls us back and shoots us in the direction we are to go. As you can see, this requires complete trust in the Lord, as an arrow does nothing on its own. 

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Image Credit:
thelongbowshop.com

While in the quiver, the arrow rests quietly with the other arrows, waiting for its Owner to choose it. The arrow is not its own — it belongs to the Archer. Once chosen, the arrow rests in the hand of the Archer. The arrow has no say over where it is shot, or even how or why it is shot. It simply rests in the hand of the Archer, while He aims and points it in the direction it is to go, and then shoots it.

Are you willing to rest in the hands of your Archer? So often, our problems arise when we try too hard to do things, rather than simply resting in the hands of the Master, and allowing Him to aim us and shoot us where He wants us to go.

ה He

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end.

Psalm 119:33 — NKJV ~

The Hebrew word for “way” in this scripture is derek:

  1. way, road, distance, journey, manner
    1. road, way, path
    2. journey
    3. direction..
    4. manner, habit, way
    5. of course of life (fig.)
    6. of moral character (fig.)

Now, remembering what it means when we say, “Teach me, O Lord,” let’s look at the “way” we are asking Him to teach us. As we rest in the Lord’s hands, we are asking Him to cast, shoot, direct and instruct us in the way, road, distance, journey, manner, path, direction, manner, habit, course of life and course of moral character that we should go. This is powerful. We’re not just asking for direction, we’re asking the Lord to cast us on the journey of our lives. We’re asking to be shot in the manner of our moral character. We’re asking the Lord to show and instruct us in our habits.

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Image Credit:
knowledghi.com

Just think about this… When we ask the Lord to teach us, we’re asking Him to send us in a new direction — on a new way. We’re asking Him to send us on a course of life, to direct us in the way our moral character can be developed. We’re asking the Lord to shoot us toward new habits. It isn’t enough for us to read the scriptures, and then walk away with no change in our lives. We must seriously surrender to the Lord, rest in His hands, and ask Him to send us in the way that will change our moral character and the course of our lives as we develop new habits.

Isn’t it amazing how such a simple scripture can be so life-changing? As you continue to read and study this verse, make it your prayer to your heavenly Father…

ה He

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end.

Psalm 119:33 — NKJV ~

The Hebrew word for “statutes” is choq:

  1. statute, ordinance, limit, something prescribed, due
    1. prescribed task
    2. prescribed portion
    3. action prescribed (for oneself), resolve
    4. prescribed due
    5. prescribed limit, boundary
    6. enactment, decree, ordinance
      1. specific decree
      2. law in general
    7. enactments, statutes
      1. conditions
      2. enactments
      3. decrees
      4. civil enactments prescribed by God

According to this definition, the statutes we are praying for are our limits, ordinances, prescribed tasks, prescribed portions, the actions prescribed for ourselves, our resolve, boundaries, decrees and enactments prescribed by God… Think about it this way — as we pray this prayer, we are asking the Lord, to choose us from among the other arrows in His quiver, while we rest in His hand. Then, as we rest in His hand, He places us on the bow, aims us, and shoots us on our journey that will change the course of our lives, as our moral character and habits are developed.

But how are these qualities developed? The Lord, casts us to our prescribed boundaries. He sets our limits before us as He casts us toward them so that we may enact His decrees. It is in the course of acting out His decrees that we develop moral character and new habits, thus establishing a new course of life.

ה He

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end.

Psalm 119:33 — NKJV ~

The Hebrew word for “keep” is natsar:

  1. to guard, watch, watch over, keep
    1. (Qal)
      1. to watch, guard, keep
      2. to preserve, guard from dangers
      3. to keep, observe, guard with fidelity
      4. to guard, keep secret
      5. to be kept close, be blockaded
      6. watchman (participle)

This part gets me so excited. I’ve always thought that “keep” as it is used here simply means to obey, but as I read it according to how the word natsar was intended, I see that its meaning goes much deeper. When I ask the Lord to choose me and cast me to my prescribed limits, so that I may develop a good moral character with new habits that establish the course of my life, according to Psalm 119:33, I then make Him a promise…

ה He

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end.

Psalm 119:33 — NKJV ~

I not only promise to obey His word, which is vital, but in this instance, the promise I am making is to also watch over His word and guard it. I’m promising to guard His word with fidelity and preserve it. I’m promising the Lord that I will be a watchman for His word, keeping it close and guarding it from danger. 

As I read and study the word of God, something happens within me. As His word takes root within me, and the Lord speaks to my heart, zeal for His word begins to grow, and I find myself fiercely guarding His word from error. I find that it angers me to see people take the Lord’s word out of context or give it a different meaning than what He has clearly inspired its authors to write. I have become a watchman for God’s word.

That is why I write against false teaching and false prophets and teachers. I do it because there is a fire within me for the word of God, and I cannot sit idly by while false teachers take advantage of those who do not know what God’s word truly says. My heart longs to see men, women and children come to the saving grace of Christ. I long to see them saved, healed and delivered from the sin that so easily besets us. I long to see them set free, and it is the TRUTH that sets us free.

Therefore, I must speak the truth in love, expose the lies and also expose the false teachers that many have set on pedestals. For we serve a jealous God, and He alone is worthy of our worship, while some of the men and women who claim to be bible scholars and teachers of the word are charlatans who fleece the flock, and they must be exposed. 

ה He

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end.

Psalm 119:33 — NKJV ~

Bless the Lord, my beloved readers. Meditate on this word from the Lord today, and commit yourself to asking Holy Spirit to teach you, aim you, shoot you and cast you towards the limits and boundaries that God has decreed for you, so that you too will be a watchman on the wall, guarding the word of God and hiding it in your heart to the end.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

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Who Feeds You?

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1 Then this message came to me from the Lord: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds, the leaders of Israel. Give them this message from the Sovereign Lord: ‘What sorrow awaits you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep? 3 You drink the milk, wear the wool, and butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve. 4 You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty. 5 So My sheep have been scattered without a shepherd, and they are easy prey for any wild animal. 6 They have wandered through all the mountains and all the hills, across the face of the earth, yet no one has gone to search for them.

7 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Sovereign Lord, ‘you abandoned My flock and left them to be attacked by every wild animal. And though you were My shepherds, you didn’t search for My sheep when they were lost. You took care of yourselves and left the sheep to starve.’ 9 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. 10 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘I now consider these shepherds My enemies, and I will hold them responsible for what has happened to My flock. I will take away their right to feed the flock, and I will stop them from feeding themselves. I will rescue My flock from their mouths; the sheep will no longer be their prey.'”

~ Ezekiel 34;1-10 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
http://njministries.org

Who feeds you? In Old Testament times, the Levitical Priesthood and the prophets nourished the people, teaching them the Law, and how to live by the Law. Sadly and all too often, the priests and the prophets walked their own way, instead of following after the Lord, and they sought their own prosperity, rather than tending the “sheep” the Lord had sent them to minister to. When this happened, the people, like sheep who had gone astray, would wander away… away from their faith in God… away from God’s law… away from doing what was right… And though the priests and the prophets were tasked to be the shepherds of God’s flocks, they couldn’t be bothered with chasing after His lost “sheep,” because they were too consumed with their own desires, as the scripture above describes.

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image Credit:
http://www.thirdoptionmen.org

Let’s fast forward to the New Testament, and we can see that sadly, things were much the same as during Old Testament times. During Jesus’ time, the Scribes and Pharisees deceived many with their false teachings, as outwardly, they appeared to be righteous, but inwardly, their hearts were filled with sin…

27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.

~ Matthew 23:27-28 — NLT ~

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http://biblicalproof.wordpress.com

Beloved, even now, more than two thousand years after Jesus walked the earth as the Son of Man, there are false teachers in the church, who seek to devour the sheep, rather than feeding them…

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

~ Matthew 7:15-20 — NKJV ~

My beloved readers, there are false teachers within the church today, some of whom are very popular among Christians, and even in the world, but they teach a false and unbiblical doctrine. Who is it that is feeding you, my friends?

1 But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3 In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.

~ 2 Peter 2:1-3 — NLT ~

Many of today’s false teachers say some really nice things, that sound really good to those who are ignorant of what scripture really says… Today, I will focus on one of those false teachers, and in the next few posts, I will deal with other false teachers and false prophets. Some of those who are false prophets may surprise you, but I urge you to keep this scripture, written by the Apostle Paul in mind as you read this post and the next few posts that follow…

13 These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.

~ 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 — NLT ~

Image Credit: John Blake
Image Credit:
John Blake

The first false teacher that I would like to make you aware of is Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. Rick Warren is also the renowned author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” and gave the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration. What follows are some examples of the false teachings espoused by Warren. Some of these examples may seem minor or even harmless. Indeed, they may even sound good, but as a teacher of the bible, we are responsible for teaching scriptures accurately, in the correct context. This is sound doctrine… Also, as teachers, we are held to a higher level of accountability than others are…

Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.

~ James 3:1 — NLT ~

Firstly, on page 68 of “The Purpose Driven Life,” Warren used the following quote to prove his belief that good Christians should be open to new ideas…

The intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact, he looks for them.

~ Proverbs 18:15 — The Living Bible ~

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SMSCS.com

Now, while this is a direct quote from The Living Bible, it is important to understand that The Living Bible is not a translation of the Bible — it is a paraphrase, and when studying the Bible, one should use a BIble translation, not a paraphrase such as The Living Bible and The Message. In  order for us to understand what this scripture truly says, let’s look at several translations of this scripture, to see if this is truly a correct paraphrase…

Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.

~ Proverbs 18:15 — NLT ~

The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

~ Proverbs 18:15– NKJV ~

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,  for the ears of the wise seek it out.

~ Proverbs 18:15 — NIV ~

The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge,
And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

~ Proverbs 18:15 — NASB ~

As you can see from reading the different translations, the intelligent person is always ready to learn (acquire knowledge). It says nothing about being open to new ideas… In fact, Proverbs even instructs us on how to gain knowledge, and this instruction says nothing about being open to new ideas…

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

~ Proverbs 1:7 — NLT ~

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eewc.com

From these scriptures, you can see that the mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, which has nothing to do with being open to new ideas. In fact, in order to gain true knowledge, one must fear the Lord. This is not a new idea, but one that has been spoken repeatedly, throughout scripture, and this most definitely goes against Mr. Warren’s teaching. Again, perhaps this seems like a small thing, but remember, it is the little foxes that spoil the vine…

On page 76 of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren cites The Living Bible again…

The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who are wise, who want to please God.

~ Psalm 14:2 — TLB ~

In this instance, Warren presents only part of the truth, for the Lord does indeed look down from heaven on all mankind, but what he doesn’t include is the next verse, which completes the statement…

2 The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
3 They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.

~ Psalm 14:2-3 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: The Orthodox Church
Image Credit:
The Orthodox Church

The problem with Rick Warren choosing not to include both verses in his teaching is that by not including both scriptures, he is taking the first verse out of context, as it leaves the complete thought unsaid. Not only is the complete message of this scripture left unsaid, but when Warren speaks of coming to Christ, he never mentions repentance. In  fact, rather than proclaiming the gospel of faith, in direct opposition to New Testament teaching, Warren promotes a gospel of deeds…

“I’m looking for a second reformation. The first reformation of the church 500 years ago was about beliefs.  This one is going to be about behavior.  The first one was about creeds.  This one is going to be about deeds.  It is not going to be about what does the church believe, but about what is the church doing.”

~ Rick Warren in an interview with David Kuo
beliefnet.com — “Rick Warren’s Second Reformation” ~

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Image Credit:
Zachery Oliver

On the surface, that sounds good, it is important for us to live out our faith, and faith without works is dead, but Warren never really addresses the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance from sin, being born again, nor of salvation from sin…

Beloved readers, in response to mankind’s age old question, “What must we do to be saved?” we must be ever vigilant and careful to give them the correct answer in its entirety, as Peter did, when he addressed the people of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost…

38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

~ Acts 2:38-39 — NKJV ~

Beloved, let us also remember that while the Lord created us for good works, so that we should walk in them, it is not the good works that save us…

8 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 ~

Friends, I feel that it’s really important to show you Rick Warren’s quote once again, in light of the scriptures, so that you can see the error in his teaching. As a matter of fact, as you read this again, I pray that you will see not only is his teaching wrong, but that you will also see that it directly contradicts scripture. Therefore, no matter how nice he appears, Rick Warren is a false teacher. Beware, my brothers and sisters.

“I’m looking for a second reformation. The first reformation of the church 500 years ago was about beliefs.  This one is going to be about behavior.  The first one was about creeds.  This one is going to be about deeds.  It is not going to be about what does the church believe, but about what is the church doing.”

~ Rick Warren in an interview with David Kuo
beliefnet.com — “Rick Warren’s Second Reformation” ~

My friends, Rick Warren’s doctrine is terribly flawed. Yes, it is important for the church to do good works and to do what is right, but more importantly, the church must have faith.

6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

~ Hebrews 11:6 — NKJV ~

Beloved, it was impossible for Israel to live by the Law, and their good deeds could not save them. Now, if their good deeds could not save the Jews, what makes Rick Warren think anyone else’s good deeds can save them? And more importantly, why is he preaching a different doctrine than that which has been taught in the scriptures since the time of Christ?

6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

~ Galatians 1:6-9 — NKJV ~

15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

~ Galatians 2:15-16 — NKJV ~

My friends, just as Peter was instructed to feed Jesus’ sheep, so every minister of God is called to feed His sheep with love and sound doctrine. And if we see another person feeding Christ’s sheep the poison of another doctrine, we are called to expose the false doctrine, lest the poison of false doctrine harm or even kill the Lord’s sheep…

Therefore, my beloved readers, I must ask you, who is feeding you? If that person is Rick Warren, or a doctrine of works, turn away from that leader and beware of false teachers…

Please join me again, as I continue to examine some of the false teachers of today. I realize that this may not be a popular subject, and that perhaps some of the leaders you look up to may be exposed in this series, but it is necessary to address these issues for the sake of the Lord’s beloved people…

© 2013
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…

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

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

Image Credit: http://www.templesanjose.org/ JudaismInfo/faq/temple wall.htm
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.
Image Credit: http://blog.adw.org/ wp-content/uploads/ Faces_of_Christ.jpg
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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Image Credit:
http://thepropheticbooksofbible.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/tithe.gif

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