The Blessed Life Part 3

The Blessed Life

Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

WHEN GOD IS FIRST, WE ARE BLESSED!

Proverbs 3:9-10 (NIV)
Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

Mal 3:10-12
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.

2 Cor 9:7-8
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

I. The Requirement is to PUT GOD FIRST.

MATT “Seek ye first the kingdom…”
PROV “Honor the Lord with firstfruits…”
MAL “Bring the tithe…”
2 Cor “Each one of you should give…”

COL 1:18
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

Matthew 6:21 (NIV)
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

II. The Reward is that WE WILL BE BLESSED.

MATT “…and all these things will be given to you as well.”

PROV :…Then your barns will be filled to overflowing…”

MAL “…see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it….”

2 COR …And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

YOU NEED TO WALK IN THE PROVISION, PROTECTION AND COVERING THAT GOD OFFERS.

GOD INVENTED TITHING SO THAT YOU WOULD MOVE FORWARD AND GROW IN YOUR FAITH AND UNLOCK HIS BLESSING.

HOW YOU GIVE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAT HOW MUCH YOU GIVE.

2 Cor 9:7
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Three Levels of Giving

Three levels of Giving

1. Tithing
2. Offerings
3. Extravagant Giving

Luke 6:38 NKJV
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.”

We need to ask, “What measure am I using to give?”

When we become cheerful, willing givers, we become more and more like our Heavenly Father.

Part of becoming a tither and a generous giver is controlling our thoughts.

Deuteronomy 15:10 NKJV
10 You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand.

Selfishness can attack us before we give, but grief can attack us after we give.

We need to say, “I was born selfish, but I was born again generous.”

Your new nature inside of you wants to be generous.

Let’s live in an attitude of gratitude—so filled with gratitude to God for all He’s done for us that we can’t help but to give.

Acts 20:35 NKJV
35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Acts 10:1-2 NKJV
1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.

He gave generously.
He prayed always.

The BLESSED Life

The Blessed Life

We are not supposed to test God; however, when it comes to tithing, God says, “Try me now in this.” God desires His children to bring their tithes and offerings into the storehouse of the church. When we do this, God says He will pour out His blessings upon us, and He will rebuke the devourer for our sakes. Tithing is a test of the heart.

“I am the Lord , and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’ “Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
Malachi 3:6‭-‬12 NLT

What test?

Tithing is a test.
The word tithe means a “tenth part.” Throughout Scripture the number ten
represents testing. God tests our hearts through the tithe, and tithing is
the only area where God says we can test Him too. If we tithe, we are
under blessing. If we don’t tithe, we are under a curse.

And Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High, brought Abram some bread and wine. Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who has defeated your enemies for you.” Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the goods he had recovered.
Genesis 14:18‭-‬20 NLT

Tithing is biblical.
Leviticus 27:30 says, “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.” Moses
said: I have removed the holy tithe from my house and taken it to the
place where You have chosen to make Your Name abide. Jesus takes it
further by scolding the Pharisees and saying they should do more than
just tithe; they should show mercy, justice, and faith.

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession and you have conquered it and settled there, put some of the first produce from each crop you harvest into a basket and bring it to the designated place of worship—the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored. Then you must declare in the presence of the Lord your God, ‘I have taken the sacred gift from my house and have given it to the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows, just as you commanded me. I have not violated or forgotten any of your commands. I have not eaten any of it while in mourning; I have not handled it while I was ceremonially unclean; and I have not offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the Lord my God and have done everything you commanded me. Now look down from your holy dwelling place in heaven and bless your people Israel and the land you swore to our ancestors to give us—a land flowing with milk and honey.’
Deuteronomy 26:1‭-‬2‭, ‬13‭-‬15 NLT

Tithing is a blessing.
God gave the command that all His people are to tithe; however, with our
obedience comes a blessing. The believer’s tithe helps support the work of the church, the priest, and the ministry to people. The place where we receive our “spiritual food” is the place where we are to pay our tithes.
Obeying God’s word through tithing breaks the curse and invites God’s
blessings and provision for our lives and finances.

In addition, he required the people in Jerusalem to bring a portion of their goods to the priests and Levites, so they could devote themselves fully to the Law of the Lord . When the people of Israel heard these requirements, they responded generously by bringing the first share of their grain, new wine, olive oil, honey, and all the produce of their fields. They brought a large quantity—a tithe of all they produced. The people who had moved to Judah from Israel, and the people of Judah themselves, brought in the tithes of their cattle, sheep, and goats and a tithe of the things that had been dedicated to the Lord their God, and they piled them up in great heaps. They began piling them up in late spring, and the heaps continued to grow until early autumn. When Hezekiah and his officials came and saw these huge piles, they thanked the Lord and his people Israel! “Where did all this come from?” Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites. And Azariah the high priest, from the family of Zadok, replied, “Since the people began bringing their gifts to the Lord ’s Temple, we have had enough to eat and plenty to spare. The Lord has blessed his people, and all this is left over.”
2 Chronicles 31:4‭-‬10 NLT

The Year of Prayer: 2020

The Year of Prayer: 2020

1. Practice the discipline of fasting and prayer
2. Practice the discipline of reading and studying God’s word.

II Timothy 2:15 NKJV
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

1. He prayed
2. He talked about prayer
3. He demonstrated answered prayer.

Luke 3:21-22 NKJV
21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. 22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”

Luke 6:12-13 NKJV
12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:

Luke 23:34 NKJV
34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.

Luke 9:29 NKJV
29 As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.

John 15:7 NKJV
7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

Matthew 5:43-45 NKJV
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Romans 5:5 NKJV
5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:8 NKJV
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Matthew 6:5-6 NKJV
5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

Luke 5:16 NKJV
16 So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

Luke 18:1
And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Mark 1:33, Mark 1:35 NKJV
33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.

Mark 6:44-46 NKJV
44 Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men. 45 Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. 46 And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray.

James 1:6-7 NKJV
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;

Hebrews 11:6 NKJV
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.

I John 5:14 NKJV
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Matthew 7:8-11 NKJV
8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

1. Let’s ask
2. Let’s seek
3. Let’s knock

1. Remove all unforgiveness.

Matthew 6:15 NKJV
15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

2. Practice obedience

I John 3:22 NKJV
22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

3. Treat your spouse right.

I Peter 3:7 NKJV
7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.

4. Add praise and thanksgiving to your prayers.

Philippians 4:6 NKJV
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

Philippians 4:6 NKJV
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

John 14:13-14 NKJV
13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

Fasting– GROWING CLOSER TO JESUS

Fasting– GROWING CLOSER TO JESUS

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalms 34:8 NIV

There is spiritual delight that far supersedes the physical diet of this world. Fasting is the means by which we say to God, “More than our stomachs want food, our souls want you.”

Fasting ends up being more about our heart than our stomach.

Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. Matthew 9:14‭-‬15 NIV

We must be careful with our spiritual disciplines lest we become prideful and self- focused instead of God-focused. There is also, of course, the danger of indulgence. Paul warns us about those whose God is their belly.

The denial of our stomach’s appetite for food will increase our soul’s appetite for God.

Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
John 4:31‭-‬32 NIV

Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.
John 18:12‭-‬14 NIV

Christmas Expectations

Christmas Expectations

Expectation – a strong belief that something is going to happen.

Christmas is loaded with expectations, isn’t it? Christmas shopping, decorating and entertaining. Typically we knock ourselves out trying to make it the “perfect” Christmas. And year after year we end up with the same empty feeling, like Christmas wasn’t as personally fulfilling as we’d hoped. Why is that?

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

At Christmastime, it’s good for us to remember just how dangerous fantasies are.

I’m not talking about Narnia-type fantasies. I’m talking about how out of our self-centered desires we construct ideas and expectations of the way we want things to be and project them on to people and events. If those people or events don’t meet our expectations we grumble and sulk and lose our tempers.

Fantasy-fueled expectations can easily become tyrants. At Christmas they are often the Scrooges and Grinches of our celebrations. Less flatteringly, they are the devils in the garden of God’s gracious love.

Christmas for Christians is a celebration of the Incarnation, that wonderful, impenetrable, mysterious moment when the Word who spoke all things into being (John 1:3) and held them all together by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3) became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). When YHWH “for a little while was made lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:9). When he who knew no sin entered the world as a bloody infant to become sin for us on a bloody cross that we might become the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Not Like They Expected

If there ever was a holiday to celebrate and worship God in his sovereign control over things not going the way we planned, it’s Christmas. Very little went as Joseph and Mary expected. Joseph hadn’t expected the painful decision to divorce Mary. He hadn’t expected all the difficult unplanned detours that took them to Bethlehem, then to Egypt, then eventually back to Nazareth. Neither of them had expected this holy Child to be born in a stable of desperation.

No one expected the Messiah to come from Galilee (John 7:52), no one expected him to be (formally) uneducated (John 7:15), and no one expected him to literally be the Son of God (John 10:30–33).

Christmas is the celebration of the coming of the unexpected Jesus.

Beware the Hollow Echoes

That’s why we need to be aware of how much we are influenced by the American cultural holiday we call Christmas, because it is almost entirely a fantasy-fueled expectation factory. It’s a hodgepodge collage of images and tales from Dickensian England, Rockwellian America, our own childhoods, and consumer marketing. It’s trimmed with vague notions of joy and peace (hollow echoes of their Luke 2:10–14 origins), and sometimes includes sentimental scenes of a wise, glowing Child in a manger surrounded by serene livestock and European-looking Semites and Persians. And all of this is set to a trans-generational pop superstar soundtrack.

The false myth of this Christmas is that if we can get it to look like the whimsical hazy collage in our minds, we will experience the “Christmas spirit” and be happy.

The problem is, of course, that everyone’s collage is different. The result is that Christmas fantasy expectations are disappointed. And all too often selfishness suffocates love, lashes out in some form of aggressive or passive anger and destroys whatever joy and peace there may have been.

That’s what makes fantasies so dangerous. They are almost always self-centered attempts to seek happiness by forcing reality to conform to our imagination, which we have no power to do. They make unattainable demands and leave us and others disillusioned.

The True Christmas Spirit

So as our celebrations approach, let’s resolve to lay aside the weight and entangling sin (Hebrews 12:1) of selfish Christmas fantasies and look to Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6–8)

This is the true Christmas spirit. Christ did not grasp; he served. And oh, how he served.

Advent season is the celebration of the unexpected Jesus coming at an unexpected time in an unexpected place to pay the unexpected, unfathomable price to give us unexpecting sinners the undeserved gift of complete forgiveness of sin and unimaginable gift of eternal life.

Christmas is not about fulfilling our holiday expectations. It’s about celebrating Jesus’s overwhelming accomplishment for us and following in his humble servant footsteps.

So when things don’t go the way we expect them this season, let us rejoice in the God who rules the unexpected and,

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than [ourselves]. (Philippians 2:3)

MANGER THINGS 2

MANGER THINGS 2

Luke 2:8-14 NIV
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

I. Wonderful Counselor
“Wonderful” – doer of miracles

DO I LISTEN TO MY CONSCIENCE, LEAN INTO THE CULTURE, OR LEARN FROM THE COUNSELOR?

II. Mighty God

As the Mighty God, He is the ONLY ONE who can do what ONLY HE can do!

Romans 8:31-32 NIV
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

III. Everlasting Father
A. EVERLASTING – This word speaks about forever. It means in perpetuity, with no ending, but also no beginning.

BC is before the incarnation of Christ but NOT before the influence of Christ.

I dedicate this blog to JESUS my Savior; my Redeemer; my Restorer; my EVERYTHING. He changed my life. And will change yours too. I hope this blog will inspire you and make you get to know more about Him. GOD BLESS US!