God is truly able to work miracles. So I decided to pen down some of the ones God has worked out in the life of me and my husband Gino for the next few posts.
The Offering Plate
During one church service, Gino had $100 but it was all we had. We needed the money for rent. My husband strongly believed in giving God the first fruits of his increase. Sitting in the church service, he was trying to decide whether to put the $100 in the offering plate. As the plate came closer, he decided that “God comes first.” He said he felt the strong urge to support the work of God and that God would take care of his needs. He believed if he paid his tithes, God would take care of the rest. So he put the $100 in the basket. He sat there for a while and he told me that he really was feeling calm about his decision. He just thought that God would allow him to find money or touch our landlord’s heart in some way. During the preaching, the usher handed him and envelope with $100 from a “concerned saint”, who had no idea of the struggle he was going through to pay his tithes/rent that day. But God knew and replace the $100 in the same hour.
Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.
Ecc 7:7 (KJV)
I had never considered this scripture before but it is filled with understanding. Trust me, I will probably be meditating on this for a long time. Not to excuse crazy behavior, but because I never realized the depths to which oppression can drive a person.
Extortion is a special type of oppression, but in some versions of the bible, the Hebrew word simply rendered Oppression. To be clear, oppression is being unjustly treated or controlled, especially over a length of time. This may send anyone over the edge. God made the human psyche to have free will and not be controlled. When a person is controlled in everything they do or not allowed to exercise their abilities or gifts, it can make them act out of normal character. It can cause them to break ranks from the norm.
I believe God wants us to have the understanding for people that have been oppressed. To expect a group of people or a person to stay under oppressive systems or a person to continue to stay in an oppressive situation is unreasonable. When God sends us through trials and difficulties, he never allows this just as an exercise in cruelty. On the spiritual side, it is a controlled situation. God will get us out of it when He’s ready.
God realizes that persecutions, tyranny, confinement is a punishment that’s against our natural creation. He does not mean for us to stay oppressed. Even the wisest and humblest person can be affected.
The second part of this scripture says that “a gift destroyeth the heart”, which is often rendered as “a gift can bribe the heart”. People can change their principles and integrity for money or support. They get bought out because of something they want. As Christians, this is something we should never do. We should keep our beliefs and integrity even if the entire world turns against us, as long as we are leaning on scripture.
The moral of all this: good men can be turned and we have to be careful to not allow ourselves to be moved from a godly path in life.
According to the bible, money is less valuable than wisdom and understanding; neither of which you can spend at Neiman-Marcus nor Macy’s but stick with me.
Some people never realize that money has its limits. Now, I know you may say “hold up”, everybody needs it and nobody really turns it down, do they? And many may even quote me the scripture that it’s the “love” of money that’s the root of all evil, not the money itself. All true, but here’s what I’ve noticed. In all the talk of people trying to defend the value of money in our lives, nobody really talks about the limited value of money.
According to the bible, money is less valuable than wisdom and understanding; neither of which you can spend at Neiman Marcus nor Macy’s but stick with me.
According to Solomon, who had lots and lots of the stuff? He says that looking over his wealth he realizes that money will not protect you in times of trouble. It may actually create more troubles for you. You’d be surprised if you just did a quick search of the term money in the book of Ecclesiastics and Proverbs see what Solomon had to say about money.
Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves those who have it. Ecclesiastes 7:12
This is the same man who said that money is the answer to everything. And that is probably true in more cases than not in this world. However, Solomon wrote down his observations about life in specific and just his passing observations. In his writings, it is clear that his greatest treasure was his relationship with God. He knew that it would outlast every dime that he possessed.
So as you go about your week, and work hard to get money, keep in the mind the things that money cannot buy and the eternal things that Solomon tells us is worth more than all the gold in the world.
Indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
In the hurry and hustle of life, the scriptures cry out to us to take the time to seek and search for God. This takes time and effort. Often we fail to realize the ramifications of not spending that precious time alone with Him. We get overcome by an emptiness that seems to make life more of a struggle. The loads that should be lightened become heavier. The decisions feel more burdensome. This is why the bible encourages each one of us to call out for insight.
When I spiritually counsel people, this question, always seems to come up not only for their sakes but also as a reminder to me, “have you sought God about this?” It’s a query that usually causes a mix of feelings. People frequently seek human counsel while seeking God about a particular matter. Nevertheless, it’s a question I have to ask. I want to know how they believe God has already directed them or where they feel he’s leading.
The scripture invites us to ask God about our every step. He wants to be invited into every aspect of our lives. Sometimes I would think “God knows about everything anyway, so do I really have to pray about this”? Yet, I believe that it is the action of seeking that helps us interact and connect with God on a higher level. That’s why he invites the action and actually uses “seeking” in a separate way from “prayer”. Two different words in scripture, because these there are two different emphases.
Yet, in this particular scripture, Solomon encourages deep effort and a high level of action on our part to know God. We are his creation, not the other way around, so it’s important to understand who he is and what his desires are for our lives. The bible says that the heavens declare God’s identity and character, and still there is more to know.
The worst thing we can do is act while in a state of frustration. Take time to cool off. Make sure you’re being led of God and not trying to move things along in your own strength. I recall the trial of two young converts who were being persecuted by their parents for being born again
Here’s a little lesson from the Book of Samuel. The worst thing we can do is act while in a state of frustration. Take time to cool off. Make sure you’re being led of God and not trying to move things along in your own strength. I recall the trial of two young converts who were being persecuted by their parents for being born again. They wanted to move out of their parents’ home and get an apartment together but needed a third person to handle the rent. Somehow they found another young girl who had recently come to the Lord. Although this girl had a job, she also had emotional problems and really put the girls through some difficult times. Part of their agreement was that she would take care of providing money to buy groceries. She never actually gave them money to shop, however; she always had to accompany them to the store. This sounded OK at first, but as soon as they took the groceries to the cashier, she always refused to pay, claiming she couldn’t find the money.
So my husband and I went along one day to see what was going on, and sure enough, when she got to the register, the cashier told her the cost and she did not release the money she had in her purse. So these poor girls were stuck with this person because they wanted to be on their own so badly and wanted to get out of the persecution but ended up in a worse situation.
Sometimes we think we need or want something and we beg God to give it to us. We’d better be sure, however, that our desires coincide with the will of God. In 1 Samuel 8, the children of Israel not only asked for a king, they demanded one out a knee-jerk reaction to a scandal in the temple. Samuel’s sons were taking advantage of the people, and the people decided to correct the problem themselves instead of letting God correct it.
After Samuel’s sons were exposed as hypocrites, they said, “We want what everyone else has—a king,” because they thought a change in regime would make things better. They let this scandal affect their trust in God—who, incidentally, had done no wrong. The prophet Samuel told them they would face many hardships with a king, but they would not listen. The point is that a king was Israel’s own solution to the problem; they did not pray to find out God’s solution. Israel also misidentified the problem; it was not Samuel, but rather the two sons, who were not worthy of their position. Plus, Israel was ruled God, not a man.
Samuel was distressed about Israel’s request. After all, how could he not take this personally? It was his sons that were causing the trouble. The people failed to realize, however, that even though Samuel’s sons were rotten, Samuel was still God’s man and God’s representative. They’d forgotten it is the Lord who not only grants position and power, but He also takes it away when needed. He has always been the One to set up kings and then take them down. This is why God let Samuel know “They are not rejecting you; they are rejecting me.” In essence, the people were telling God, “You cannot handle this. We’re the ones who have been hurt and we’ll decide how to fix this.” So the people stopped trusting God’s help and rejected God’s rule altogether. That is why He called their request “wickedness” in 1 Samuel 11:17. In the end, however, God gave Israel what they asked for in 1 Samuel 8:22, but Israel’s kings caused them a lot of sorrow and eventually split the nation.
We tend to demand that God give us what we want—right now! When one of our friends gets a new car, for example, we rush to get one ourselves. When someone we know gets married, we demand God give us a spouse, too. And when He doesn’t, we try to solve the issue ourselves. But God is a God of order and time; He works in His time and will not be rushed. Often what we want is not what we need.
Desires can become idols and replace the will of God if we let them. All desires are not evil, but if our methods for dealing with those desires or our frustration over not getting what we want, crosses the will of God, those same harmless desires can be deadly to our connection with the Lord.
-excerpt from How to Walk on Water: A Christian’s Survial Guide for going through Trials.