Category Archives: Lessons in Wilderness

LESSONS IN THE WILDERNESS

GOD Who Are You? AND Who Am I?

Knowing and Experiencing God by His Hebrew Names

PART 2 – eBook 2

And the Lord said to Joshua . . . “Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.'”

Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God [lessons in the wilderness]. . . . ”     Joshua 3:8-9

Part 2 is comprised of the second three modules of the book and is Part 2 of the FREE eCourse Bonus on this Web site. They are:

Module 4 – Chapter 6: God is Jehovah-Shalom [The Lord is Peace]

Chapter 7: Because God is Jehovah-Shalom, I am Like a B-E-A-R

Module 5 – Chapter 8: God is Jehovah-Rohi [The Lord My Shepherd]

Chapter 9: Because God Is Jehovah-Rohi, I am Guided

Module 6 – Chapter 10: God is El Shaddai [The All Sufficient One]

Chapter 11: Because God is El Shaddai, I Am Blessed

M6H Give Because God is El Shaddai

My Story – How I Learned to Give

“Don’t give away those three dollars; keep it for the babysitter tonight,” Jim told me.

“Okay.” A friend was taking me to a women’s meeting the next morning and driving, so I didn’t need gasoline; I thought, no problem.

It was October 12, 1978, and our last payroll check had been spent. The last of our savings was gone, too. I totaled the bills: $252.00! We had expected to have another job by now, but we didn’t. Jim and I prayed over the bills and gave them to the Lord.

The longer I looked at the bills, the more frightened I became. Jim was a picture of peace. Confused and desperate, I decided to take a shower. I didn’t know it would be with my own tears. Fear as I had never known enveloped me. I thought about the words of Jesus after he said not to worry about what we shall eat or drink or wear, “Seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33). But Really? How can this possibly be true for a time like this?

After my shower, I put away the bills, got out my Bible, sat down, and turned to Ephesians 6. It read, “Wherefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

I said, “Lord, we have presented ourselves to you, no strings attached, and nothing has happened yet as we had expected. We’ve done all we know to do in order to obey you, and we will stand.” Immediately, peace flooded my soul. I thought: this must be the peace that passes all understanding that the Bible talks about, (see Phil. 4:7). I began to see that Jesus and His Word truly are one and the same.

There will be many Jordan Rivers to cross

Give because of El Shaddai

The next morning my friend came to pick me up. The meeting was like nothing I had ever attended. The speaker spoke about victory in all our trials and that we will have many Jordan Rivers to cross in our lifetime. At the conclusion, the attendees were asked to give an offering. Small envelopes were on the table for that gift. I thought about the three dollars in my purse and what Jim had said. Then, my thoughts wandered to the widow Jesus observed giving into the temple treasury:

“Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny” (Mark 12:41-42). Jesus told his disciples that she had put in more than all the others. “They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on” (Mark 12:43).

I wondered, what happened to that poor widow who gave all she had? The Bible doesn’t say. So, without hesitating, I pulled out the three dollars and stuffed it in the envelope. After the meeting, I saw a hand, out of the corner of my eye, put something in my outside purse pocket.

Retreating to the car, heart beating wildly, I opened the envelope. There was $11.00—a ten dollar bill plus one dollar for the tithe! I was overcome with the feeling I was in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, who says that whoever believes in Him, streams of living water will flow from within him—a never-ending stream of joy (see John 7:38). I asked my friend if she had put that envelope in my purse. She had not.

Jim gave $5.00 to our Bible study leaders (to God) that night, leaving $5.00 for the babysitter and one dollar for us. After the meeting, our leader said, “It’s time we give our tithe to the Lord from the proceeds of these meetings. We do that by giving away one night’s offering.” Then he said it would go to us. We had not told him about our situation, but he said he would call us later with the amount. It was $254.00—two dollars over our immediate needs we had written down and taken to the Lord, and one dollar was the tithe returned to us. I thought, in determining our needs, why hadn’t we added in the tithe?

Give because of El Shaddai

November 14 came and we were still in Carthage. “You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north” (Deut. 2:3). But where, Lord? And how do we get across this Jordan?

A couple verses kept haunting us: “. . . as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing . . . the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan . . . .” (Josh. 3:15-17).

It became clear we could not keep our feet on the bank of the river if we were to reach the other side. We gave thirty-days-notice on our house; the neighbors rented it the next day. We got boxes and started packing and withdrew teacher’s retirement to help with the move. The check arrived in one week, double the amount we expected. “But where are we going, Lord?”

“Northward,” was the answer we received, and then this: “The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes” (Deut. 1:30).

Next, from the Amplified Bible, He quickened Isaiah 40:4, “Every valley shall be lifted and filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked and uneven shall be made straight and level, and the rough places a plain.” He would make our way straight— northward.

December 13 arrived and we would be loading the moving truck the next day. We still did not know where straight northward was.

Here is your Module 6 Making it Personal Exercise – El Shaddai

Here is the El Shaddai Monetary Agreement

M6G Manage Abundance Because God is El Shaddai

HOW DO WE MANAGE ABUNDANCE WHEN IT COMES?

We are warned, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me’” (Deut. 8:17), but remember it is the Lord alone who is our only source of supply to whom we give and from whom we receive, in order to establish His name on the earth. In reality, when we have abundance, we may feel the tithe remains enough to give, if we even do that.

Should we tithe from the gross or the net? Most pastors would say either, but first fruits come off the top, the gross. However, giving from the net is a good place for beginners to start, and then increase from there. God made a promise to the Israelites, “Little by little I will drive them [enemies] out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land” (Exod. 23:30). Little by little, no matter how large or how small our income, this is our promise—to see debts, etc., driven out, leaving more money to give to the Lord’s work in the land.

Bless Others because of El Shaddai

One pastor challenged his people to give a double tithe. Why not make twenty percent a long-range goal? Track what God does. This can easily be done by taking each year’s income tax return, finding the amount of giving on Schedule A—Itemized Deductions—and dividing it by total gross wages. One benefit of tithing on gross wages means never having to worry about paying income taxes. Not only does the higher deduction help, but God’s return on money is a supernatural thing that cannot be explained. Even if we do not itemize deductions, we can take joy in tracking the increase of giving and receiving.

Why not set a reasonable budget to live on and give the rest away? Jesus says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Without a plan, we will be tempted to spend any extra on extravagant living. And without a responsible plan it may not happen at all.

Remember the verse in James 4:2, “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” The very next verse says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” God gives us richly all things to enjoy, but it is our motives we must always keep in check, because wealth is so uncertain (see 1Tim. 6:17).

We must take the limitations off what God desires so badly to do through our lives. Stanley Tam’s story shows what He can do. Stanley started out just like most of us—broke. At a young age, he chose to honor God with his small income. Daily obedience to God’s leading brought increase and abundance to the point that he legally made God the senior partner in his business—hiring a lawyer to do so.

From there, he went from giving 51 percent to giving 90 percent and living on the ten. He founded three businesses: United States Plastics, States Smelting, and Industrial Safety and Tamco. At eighty years of age, he travels twenty-five weeks per year speaking at churches. His inspiring story is in God Owns My Business. Every Christian can follow his example—whether a business owner or not.

WHAT IF WE DON’T BLESS OTHERS FROM OUR ABUNDANCE?

Abundance of El Shaddai

From the same passage of Scripture in Luke where Jesus discusses possessions, he tells a story about the rich fool. The ground produced him a very rich crop. He decided to tear down his small barn and to build bigger ones to store his abundance, and he said to himself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19).

“God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“‘This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself and is not rich toward God’” (Luke 12:20-21).

Not rich toward God. The prophet Malachi tells us what that means:

“Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.

“But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’

“‘In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me’” (Mal. 3:7-9).

Not living rich toward God means not tithing.

Could it not be said this is what the millionaire in our story did? He robbed God by not giving to His loving servants— Grandma and Grandpa—with right motives. God seems to have said, “It is enough, today your soul will be required of you. Now, who will get what you have kept to yourself?”

The stranger had prospered in the worldly sense of the word at some time in his life, but he was not a blessed man. Fear, not faith, ruled his life. He hoarded his money and could not even part with a small portion to repay his gracious hosts for the food he ate from their table. It was obvious to him they could use it. And the car he feared to buy is what eventually took his life.

Did Grandma and Grandpa pass the test, or were they just unable to receive from this man as from the Lord? The King James Version of Luke 6:38 says that men will give to our bosom. Certainly, God uses other people to bless us. The Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy answers this question:

Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.—1Timothy 6:6-10

Is Our Abundance Blessed?

Abundance of El Shaddai

The money from the stranger would have been a trap for Grandma and Grandpa if they had accepted it. It was not blessed money from anyone wanting to bless them with it. The man was thinking only of himself. Leaving without reimbursing for gasoline and food proved that. Deuteronomy, Chapter 7, warns the people not to covet silver or gold from the ungodly because they could be snared by it, “for it is an abomination to the Lord your God” (Deut. 7:25). Abomination in Hebrew means “morally disgusting; things which belong to the worship of idols.”[1] The man loved and worshiped his money believing falsely it could buy anything.

Grandma and Grandpa chose against the snare of money and passed the test. Better still, they gave of themselves to those who were unable to return the favor. During the Depression years and every difficult year, Joyce’s grandmother had enough food for everyone who came to her door. This seemed unbelievable since her cabinets barely had anything in them.

Like the manna, those who gathered little had enough—it stretched and multiplied. Grandma cherished the jelly she made and rationed it to her family. After it was destroyed in one of the fires, she resolved to never again withhold any food. She learned: when we come to an end of our own means, we will see the provision of the Almighty.

It is not by chance that manna and wealth are used in two sentences one after the other in Deuteronomy 8:16-18. The manna was to test us so it would go well with us in the end—when we gained wealth. Wealth is to be treated the same as we treated manna—not to be hoarded, lest it rot.

Moses gave the instructions for manna, Jesus gives the instructions for wealth, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).

Furthermore, James, the disciple of Jesus, warns those living in the last days, against hoarding wealth and withholding it,

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence.–James 5:1-5

Those who are rich toward God, who have placed their security and complete trust in Him alone, are those through whom He will do His work. A harvest of souls will be brought into the kingdom because they will be blessed beyond measure by The Almighty—El Shaddai.

[1] Zodiates, Key Word Study Bible, p. 1791.

M6F Bless Others Because God is El Shaddai

HOW ARE WE TO BLESS OTHERS?

How are we to bless others according to the Old Testament?

There are so many ways to bless others, most of which will be discussed in Chapters 16 and 17, when we take the responsibility of being salt. Our purposes here are to address how we can fulfill the Great Commission to reach our world for Jesus Christ in giving of our resources, whether small or large.

Have you ever spent one day without having to spend money for something? Our ancestors may have lived off the land and were able to do this, but it is unrealistic in today’s society. Money drives our world; therefore, what we do with our own money defines our life and reveals who we are. God gives us wisdom in how to order our world aright by establishing the tithe.

For those living off the land the tithe is defined in Leviticus:

A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord. If a man redeems any of his tithe, he must add a fifth of the value to it. The entire tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the Lord.—Leviticus 27:30-32

Wage earners can relate more to Malachi, the last book in the Old Testament:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house, and test 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 a blessing until it overflows. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it may not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts.—Malachi 3:10-11

Bless Others because of El Shaddai

When we follow God’s way of giving, the nine-tenths left is blessed because He will rebuke satan from it—the devourer of appliances, cars, money, and possessions. He causes it to s-t-re-t-c-h when we give the tenth off the top to Him. The Bible tells us not to put God to a foolish test (see Deut. 6:16; Matt. 4:7). This is the only time God asks us to test him—to see for ourselves if He will not open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings until they overflow! He tells us to try it and see what He will do! This is not a foolish test.

The best definition of the tithe is the first fruits of all thy income (see Ex. 23:16, 19). The first fruits were to be brought to the house of the Lord, in other words, off the top, the first check written, not from what is left over. If you have had a garden, especially tomato plants, you know the first ripe tomatoes are the very best, the only unblemished ones worthy to give to God.

King David, Solomon’s father, gathered together all the materials (their tithe and more) for the building of the temple—God’s house—that Solomon was to construct. In dedication, David prayed an enlightened prayer:

Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things, in your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all . . . But, who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.—1 Chronicles 29:12-14

We are stewards in charge of the Lord’s trust to bless others

Bless others because of El Shaddai

David’s prayer shows that we are to be stewards—giving back to God what comes from His hand. We are vessels He desires to bless with wealth and honor, not only for our own benefit, but mainly so we can bless others. Stewards are in charge of the Lord’s trust. A trust can be defined as “a charge or duty imposed in faith or confidence or as a condition of some relationship; to commit or place in one’s care or keeping.”[1]

God has placed in our care and keeping everything we have. Only if we are faithful with what we have, will the Lord bless us with more. Jesus tells a story about a man going on a journey who entrusted his property to his servants. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to the other, one talent, “each according to his ability” (Matt. 25:15).

The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.—Matthew 25:16-17

The first two servants were told by their master, upon his return, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

The master told the man who hid his talent, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

“Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance” (Matt.25:28-29). The faithful will see increase.

Rob Leacock was a financial controller at Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, California. He counseled many people regarding their money situations. Even though he gave them sound Biblical teaching, most of them did not change their lifestyles. Only those who integrated financial planning with a lifestyle of total discipleship [as a condition of their heart relationship with the Lord] realized improvement in their finances.

Leacock says, “Believers who connect prayer and Bible study with the use of their finances save more money, get out of debt and give and serve more in their local church.”[2] Denise and Joe are good examples of a couple who did this. They learned stewardship through their relationship with the Lord. Without that relationship, they would not have seen any real blessings and believe they would have been bankrupt a second time. They learned to tithe. Many months it was especially tough to do, but they were obedient. Giving is an act of the will. Giving demonstrates our belief God alone owns it all, and that God alone is our only source of supply.

How are we to bless others according to the New Testament?

Bless others because of El Shaddai

The tithe is never specifically mentioned. Isn’t this interesting? Jesus came to bring a New Covenant, completing the old—not doing away with it. He gives a new principle of giving. He tells us that whatever we do will return to us—in the matter of judging, condemning, forgiving, and giving of our resources,

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.—Luke 6: 37-38

“For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Without abolishing the tithe, Jesus gives a higher principle. The apostle Paul says it another way, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:6-7).

Giving is like sowing seeds that grow, producing more seed from which to give. “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of our righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and . . . your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor. 9:10-11).

A youth group in Arkansas learned that sowing seeds of forgiveness returned in good measure. They worked and saved for two years to go on a mission trip to Cambodia. When the youth director attempted to check with the travel agency to confirm the tickets, worth $30,000, he discovered the mother and son team were gone. They had taken money from customers for six months after filing bankruptcy and skipped the country.

Radio and television stations found out about the scam and interviewed a couple of the teens. They asked the usual question, “How do you feel about this situation?”

One young man spoke up immediately, “We have forgiven them and are praying for them.”

Donations came flooding in—one for $5,000 and another for the full $30,000! Their church turned money away. The biggest lesson the youths learned that summer was that when they gave back to God in obedience to forgive without judging, He returned—pressed down, shaken together and running over. No one can eventually steal from a child of God who knows how to give and forgive. It has been said that when we do not forgive, waiting for an apology, we are forselling. We are not giving anything.

Need money? Give it. Need encouragement? Give it. Need food? Give it. Need clothes? Give some. Need love? Give it. Need a friend? Be one. “When what we have is not enough to meet our need, it becomes our seed.”[3]

[1] Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, p. 1344.

[2] Rob Leacock, “Using Money God’s Way,” Pentecostal Evangel, No. 4580, February 17, 2002, p. 20.

[3] Quote from Pastor John Hagee.