So, it’s nearly midday here and Amanda, Lydia, Reuben, Lee and Jannet, and Jon have done a remarkable job setting up the Tree of Life Family stand. We have Rhema UK on one side and The Joseph Storehouse on the other, and it’s a beautiful atmosphere.
Apparently the doors open at 2pm and we are looking forward to a powerful and glorious evening. I’ve had a tour of the auditorium and it looks remarkable, such a well-designed and beautiful building. Also got some great information from some of the media ministry team that will really help me going forward!
Immediately opposite us is the CFAN stand, and it’s great to see how much respect and honour they have for Reuben! Obviously, we all know that he is awesome, but it’s beautiful to see how it plays out! Lydia is about to attend the health and safety seminar (of course) and keep us all in line later no doubt.
There is a real sense of expectancy in the air this morning, and not just because Kenneth Copeland is preaching this evening, but there is a real sense that things are happening in the UK, a lot of people are seeing salvations on the streets, touching the presence of God in their meetings, and other things. It’s great to be in this kind of atmosphere, it’s refreshing and powerful.
Today, we (we being my wife, Amanda, my youngest son Reuben, and my daughter Lydia) drove up to Harrogate to be part of the European Victory Campaign, and we are buzzing with excitement! Pastors Lee and Jannet Collingwood are also here!
The Campaign does not start until tomorrow, but Kenneth Copeland Ministries very kindly offered us a stall at the event, which we are setting up tomorrow morning, and this afternoon I am being interviewed for a TV broadcast.
Most of you will know that Tree of Life Family is starting a church in Yorkshire, near here, and we are always overwhelmed by how beautiful this part of the country is.
Please pray for us for three things:
For us to get as much out of each session as we can – to be inspired, challenged, encouraged, stretched, fed – all of it! We want to leave here as strong as mustard and go damage satan’s kingdom and build the kingdom of Jesus Christ
For us to have divine connections. What an honour to have a stall here and meet people – often people who are hungry to find a church full of the Word and full of the Spirit, pray we would find people who would become the next disciples in Tree of Life, the next deacons, elders, pastors and even apostles!
Pray for us to be effective servants here and honour Kenneth Copeland and his UK staff. They have honoured us in the most wonderful of ways, and we want to do the same for them.
All over the world, there are people who hate and attack the local church. Of course that is to be expected, because people hate Jesus and the church is the body of Jesus. Jesus promised us that He would build the church! It of course amazes me when a Christian is not a supporter of the local church, does not go to the local church and is not involved in the local church. The church is the body of Jesus and we should be as involved with the local church as we are with Jesus Himself. You should love the body as much as you love the Head!
One of the ways that you can support and empower any local church is tithing. Tithing gives a church the power to have good, appropriate places to worship. Tithing gives a church the power to employ good, godly pastors and good, godly admin staff. Tithing gives the church the power to share the gospel through media, through advertising, through crusades and many other ways. Therefore, when you steal the tithe and keep it to yourself, that’s serious, because you are failing to empower the body of Jesus Christ on earth!
If people do not pay taxes, they might be robbing people of good roads, or a good nurse, or school books for their children. But if you do not tithe, you are robbing the house of God and preventing the church from bringing people out of Hell and into Heaven! Do not rob the church of its power to win people, disciple people and grow. Become a consistent tither!
Acts 2.42 tells us the way to grow. And of course, it is all about being involved in local church.
42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
Sadly, some Christians never relate Biblically to the local church and never grow. Here are five people who are breaking Acts 2.42 and therefore never grow:
1. MR. GUESSIF. You know when I go to church, there are some people who are just consistent, regular, always there. You would be really surprised if they weren’t there. If it’s Sunday morning they are there. Other people are like Mr. Guessif. You have to guess if they are there any given week. They are inconsistent, unreliable and therefore cannot grow. Can you imagine a child growing if you only fed him or her when you felt like it? Then how can you imagine your soul growing when you don’t consistently get to church and get fed?
People come to me and tell me why they missed church and I wonder if they would ever miss work, a family outing, or even their favourite TV show for such a minor reason.
2. MRS. SPOOKY. One of the hardest things to deal with is when someone says to me “God told me this…” but it totally contradicts the Bible! It’s not spiritual, it’s spooky. Spooky people do not take the time or effort to study God’s Word, they don’t actually care what it says. They like being able to just do what they feel. They like to be depressed and say its God. They like to say it’s God defeating them so that they can not blame themselves. Everything they do is spooky. They are often close with Mr. Guessif, and if they miss church and you ask if they are OK, they will tell you the Spirit led them to not be in church. These people never develop the backbone and strength to grow and increase. Stop being spooky and study the Word. Some of the Spooky family will go to several different churches, changing from week to week. Others will chase conference after conference. Some will even go to Bible College and during their time there not even go to church! What a waste of time and money that would be!
3. MR. ROBOTO. Some people are very good at learning the Word, but they will not engage with others. They cannot have fun, they cannot enjoy themselves. They do not open up about where they are. You cannot be discipled if you are not open! The easiest way to find who is Mr Roboto is they will go to the service but never go to a small group. They will go to conferences and churches but never be in a small group where they have to ask for prayer and be vulnerable. The salvation of the world happened because the Word became flesh. If you do not let the Word in your life become flesh you will never save even a tiny part of the world!
4. MR. DISINCLINED. Some people need motivation to do anything. You need to text them ten times and invite them personally to a special event to get them to come. They are never hungry for anything, you have to gee them up to worship, hype up the message. They have no internal motivation. These people never grow because they are not in an environment 100% of the time where everyone is encouraging them. So they cannot grow.
5. MRS. PROUDHEART. Some people just do things their way. They don’t do what God wants, they do what they want. To find out what God wants, you need to pray. You need to take tbe tine to fellowship with God. So many people are totally prayer less, so never grow. Because of one reason – arrogance. They assume they know what God knows by instinct. No one’s instincts are that good, you need to spend hours with the Lord.
Hosea had a concern about Israel in his day – and I have the same concern about the church today! Let’s look at Hosea 4.1:
Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel! The Lord has brought charges against you, saying: “There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land.
The problem that Hosea had was that people did not know God. The word for knowledge in this verse is “da’at”, pronounced “dah-ath”. It is used when you both know something and have the skill and wisdom to use that knowledge. A lot of people know facts about God, but do not have a deep walk with God, they cannot perceive when God is moving, they have no wisdom to know how to walk with God in a powerful way that moves mountains, builds faith and lets them walk in victory.
I meet a lot of Christians who know a lot of facts about God, but do not know Him deeply. They need to know Him better. Maybe you feel that you need to know God better yourself, have a deeper, more fruitful walk with Him, enjoying His favour and goodness more than you are today.
Well let’s find out what Hosea says is the cause of this lack of deep knowledge of God by keeping reading:
You make vows and break them; you kill and steal and commit adultery.
Here Hosea gives four reasons why people do not know God. They are all lifestyle choices. You may not realize the way you live will either make it harder or easier to know God and see His grace and goodness, but it does. If you walk in darkness, it is very hard to see what God is like, but if you live in the light you will know Him, trust Him and see your life become fruitful and glorious.
Now, we could discuss broken vows, murder and adultery, but I think most of us realize that if we lie, kill people and sleep around, we affect our walk with God. God still loves us, but we make it nearly impossible for us to know Him. But also on this list is stealing. We know as well that not tithing is stealing! Think about that today – if you are not tithing, you are actively, by your actions sabotaging your own heart and damaging your ability to know God and His goodness, in exactly the same way a murderer or adulterer is!
If you are stealing from someone, even if they have forgiven you completely, you will not feel comfortable in their presence. Some of you do not feel comfortable in the presence of God because you are stealing from Him by not tithing and it makes you uncomfortable! That feeling makes it almost impossible to know God as He wants to be known by you, and it makes it hard to trust God and live by faith.
Make a change in your behaviour today by deciding to take 10% of all your increase and bring it to the Lord by giving it to your local church – and watch how deep your walk with the Lord becomes!
As Christians we need to be thinking about Heaven. We are only going to spend a small number of days on Earth, but we are going to spend eternity in Heaven! Heaven is going to be glorious for so many reasons – no sadness, no sickness, no pain, no loss. Streets paved with gold, we will know God as well as He knows us. I cannot wait to go!
Another awesome thing about Heaven is that there will be no thieves and no corruption:
Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.
Matthew 6.20 NLT
There are no thieves in Heaven! Think about it – no one ever takes anything that is not theirs in Heaven! For us to live Heavenly lives, we have to never steal – never take something that is not ours. Our tithe does not belong to us – ten percent of our income is holy and set aside for the Lord (you can see that in Leviticus 27.30). For us to be heavenly, we cannot steal what rightfully belongs to Jesus, we can only bring it to the storehouse of the local church and yield, in faith, 10% of our income to Jesus.
So many people are praying – and rightfully so – for the will of God to be done “on earth, as it is in Heaven”, and one simple way all of us can make our lives, our churches and our planet more Heavenly is by stopping stealing and becoming a tither. Selah!
Jesus was nailed to the cross between two thieves. One missed out on this amazing opportunity at the end of his life, but the other thief repented and turned to Jesus and got a ticket to Heaven.
Sadly, some Christians are thieves and robbers in all sorts of ways. I’ve dealt with Christian business who lie and steal, Christian tradesmen who do shoddy work, Christian ministries that have lied about the honorarium. That’s not good, Christians should not steal!
I was on the pastoral team of a church where one of the Deacons was actually just grabbing envelopes from the bucket and stealing offerings. It only came to light when some people’s record of giving did not match. That man was robbing God in the middle of a church service.
God does not want us to be robbers, but in Malachi 3.8 we are told that we rob God when we don’t tithe! A person who does not tithe is robbing God. That’s what the Bible says.
In Ephesians 4.28, we are told let him that stole steal no more. If you are doing shoddy work and charging for it, stop it. If you are burgling houses in the middle of the night stop it. If you are fudging your time sheet or taxes, stop stealing.
And if you are not tithing, stop robbing God, steal no more and start tithing! You will encounter a new level of freedom and peace and abundance in your life when you decide to stop stealing from God!
I think we all know from the Bible that idolatry is a sin. Building a statue and worshipping it as your god, praying to it and asking it to bless you or give you luck is foolish, selfish and really is an insult to God. I would imagine most of you would agree, and would never do something like that. I’m sure you have read some of the many times that having idols caused all sorts of problems for the Israelites.
Imagine if I made a statue of a really ugly frog. Cast it out of bronze. Then I put the frog up in the church and put a little label under it with your name on. I told everyone that this frog is actually you. If someone said “what is this ugly frog here?”, I would say it’s you! I don’t think you would be happy with that. It’s an insult because you are not an ugly frog, you are far more handsome and far more smart than a frog.
God is more than a piece of wood or stone or metal! God is more than a frog or elephant or snake or whatever. But people make images and call them God. What an insult to God!
However, idolatry can take other forms. Anyone who does not tithe is in fact equally guilty of worshipping idols. They have made money their god! They are calling money their God. God is far greater than your money!
People get up every morning to make money, work hours every day to have money. Money drives them. God says “take 10% of that, and give it to me by giving it to your local church”. That way you will be honouring me for giving you strength, life, blessings, peace, everything you own. And some people cannot love God enough, are not grateful enough to God to do that. The allegiance of a non-tither is to their money, not God. John, the apostle who laid his head on the chest of Jesus, said this “Little childrne, keep yourselves from idols”. One of the ways to keep yourself from idols is to become a tither! You pay ten percent of your income and increase to God – and you will easily put Him first in your life and emotions and every other area of your life.
How are you today? Obviously you can read this right now? Obviously you have eyesight! You have the strength and health to read this? How did you get that health? Where did you get that strength from? How did you get the job you have? How come you are so intelligent, so blessed, have so many opportunities and chances? How come you are still alive?
The answer is God. God is the reason you have health and strength and wisdom. God is the reason you have life! God is the reason you are here today!
Now if you got all these things from God, and all your life and income is from God, how is it that you could ever live a life where you do not come to the Lord in worship and honour Him with the tithe and first fruits of your substance?
God has been nothing but good to you! He has blessed you and provided for you – and tithing is an act of worship, of thanksgiving, of remembering His goodness.
Failing to tithe is the same as never saying thank you.
Failing to tithe is the same as not worshipping God!
Failing to tithe is forgetting where your strenght comes from!
Failing to tithe is being ungrateful.
If you are not tithing, you are an ungrateful person.
Now remember in the Old Testament, Psalms were the worship songs of the church. Imagine coming to church one Sunday and we sing this:
They [have] hatred for my love. 6 They say, “Get an evil person to turn against him. Send an accuser to bring him to trial. 7 When his case comes up for judgment, let him be pronounced guilty. Count his prayers as sins. 8 Let his years be few; let someone else take his position. 9 May his children become fatherless, and his wife a widow. (Psalm 105.5-9 NLT)
While you are hating God’s love you are singing about losing every court case, dying young, losing your position, and all your prayers being counted as sins.
Now I know we are in the New Covenant, and under grace, but the principle is still identical – not-tithing is not being grateful. Let’s remember all of God’s mercy and goodness to us, and let’s honour His goodness and repay Him with goodness!
Malachi 3 tells us something interesting about when we tithe. It says that your vine shall not “cast her fruit before the time” (KJV), which the NLT explains as follows: “Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe”.
One of the great things about tithing is that your grapes get to ripen. One of the worst things about not being a tither is that your grapes often fall and die before they ripen.
What do I mean with that? I mean this – one of the biggest problems in your life as a non-tither will be what I call the “failed harvest”. It means you do not reap the correct harvest in life according to the effort you put in.
Now for a literal farmer, it could easily be a literal harvest. He is growing grapes, or some other fruit or grain, and he could fail to get a harvest from his land. For those of you in other jobs, it could be that you are working very hard but not getting rich. I know far too many people who are working to exhaustion, sometimes ten or twelve hour days, but they are not earning much at all. I know other people earning six figures who only work a few hours a day.
Hard work is definitley one of the pieces of the puzzle of prosperity and abundance, but it is not the same everywhere. A doctor in America earns on average nearly $300,000 a year. the same doctor working in New Zealand earns $105,000 a year. Doing the same job! But if you are a doctor in Cuba, you will earn about $800 a year. Same job!
The doctor in US is earning nearly 400 times as much as the Cuban doctor – you think he trained 400 times harder, you think he works 400 times harder? They both sowed the same grapes and one has had them come to full harvest, the other they had a failed harvest, their grapes fell to the ground. A failed harvest!
Now in that case, those failed harvests are due to nations and they are beyond the power of the people in the country, but many of us in the same situations, doing the same job, in the same nation, even the same nation – one is earning much more than the other.
But I know this – when you tithe, God Himself promises that you will not suffer a failed harvest. Your grapes will not fall!
Now you can see why tithing is so important, it is a major key to abundance, a major step into prosperity. You keep that ten percent away from God, you will get poorer, not richer!
I want all of you to become tithers so your grapes do not fall to the ground, I want you to enjoy your grapes!