When God Sings: The Relation of Pure Worship to Pure Giving

The foundation of any structure is its most critical feature. No building, regardless of how beautiful or how seemingly well-engineered, is any stronger than its foundation. A primary or “foundational” aim of restorative, apostolic ministry, then, is resetting scripture in its proper context so that doctrine can, once again, be rightly discerned and divided. In establishing or restoring doctrinal foundations (which is the purpose of apostles and prophets according to Ephesians 2:20), we often discover that there are “missing stones;” poorly understood or inappropriately appropriated scriptures that unsettle our faith every bit as much as a missing stone in a foundation. As a consequence, the contemporary church sometimes suffers from a shaky stance or unreliable footing, as if walking on an uneven foundation. We see this most prominently in two areas of Christian practice—worship and giving.

When we examine New Testament passages on giving considering Old Testament passages on worship, there can be little doubt that God relates the two closely.In fact, it would be fair to say that the two are hardly distinguishable from one another. Take, for example, the familiar passage on giving:

Luke 6:38: “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 often cite this passage to encourage generosity during times of giving with the understanding that when we give liberally to God, he will give liberally to us. And while that’s absolutely appropriate, this scripture is getting at much more than the principle of reciprocity. God outlines that principle in the first few words of that section of scripture: give and it shall be given to you. It is as if he’s saying “Of course I will bless you. Why would I not?” It is not until the closing words of that section, however, that he illuminates the far more significant matter of the relation of giving to our motives and, ultimately, to our worship.

The words “for with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” take us straight to the heart of God—the desire for pure worship. The “measure” of giving has less to do with how much we give, as it does with the quality of our giving. Make no mistake, God clearly explains his expectation of the tithe and of offerings, but these are elementary matters. In this passage, he is urging us to consider the manner in which we give, and that is most intimately related to our motivation.

The Old Testament account of Solomon building the temple provides a clear example of this foundational truth.

II Chronicles 29: 15 – 16 and 27 says: And they gathered their brethren, sanctified themselves, and went according to the commandment of the king, at the words of the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD. Then the priests went into the inner part of the house of the LORD to cleanse it, and brought out all the debris that they found in the temple of the LORD to the court of the house of the LORD. And the Levites took it out and carried it to the Brook Kidron…. Then Hezekiah commanded them to offer the burnt offering on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD also began.

The song of the Lord, the purest worship possible, begins when the burnt offering is offered. But neither the song of the Lord nor pure giving occur before the temple is purified and all the “debris” that is found there is left at Kidron. Kidron separates the Temple Mount, the place of Old Testament worship, from the Mount of Olives, the place most famous for Jesus’ first teaching on life in the Kingdom. There, he teaches his disciples the true meaning of pure worship and pure giving—repentance, or turning from established mindsets about either worship or giving and turning toward entirely new mindsets about both.

Change is a decision or an act of the will to literally turn the mind away from falsehood and toward truth. And so Kidron, the place where “all the debris that they found in the temple of the LORD” is deposited literally reminds us of the shift that Kingdom thinking requires. You receive nothing in return for the burnt offering, for everything is left on the altar. Offerings are places of altars. In demonstrating the heart of the giver, they reflect the degree to which the giver acknowledges and honors God. In foundational matters, we cannot skip steps or carelessly place stones. Worship has the capacity to change the atmosphere, and the Word of God corrects our understanding so that we are willing to change our attitudes in giving. But, only a disciplined, sacrificial application of both results in applying the truth which results in true repentance.

Where's Your Treasure?

We often presume that spiritual things precede practical ones.  And in one essential way, they do.  We are commanded to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.  As a result, we receive the additional benefit of every natural blessing God has in store for us.  When the kingdom becomes first—in preeminence, in priority, in its pervasive power over every area of our lives—then every other thing becomes inconsequential, and once it no longer holds power over us, we can be trusted as stewards over it.

But what do we make of the teaching in Luke 12:34—that where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also?  Here, God clearly prioritizes our making a practical commitment which is, only then, followed by a spiritual demonstration.  Wherever we commit our resources, we see the spiritual benefit of a change of heart.  As kingdom seekers, king-priests in the earth, we are called to challenge and change the culture of the earth.  We can only do so, however, as we access the culture of heaven.  So what God really seems to be calling for in this passage is the continual practice of kingdom behaviors which, in turn, assures that our hearts will be transformed.

I recently shared a message with the congregation at Equippers City Church on seeing and seeking the kingdom of heaven.  The kingdom of heaven is not the same as the kingdom of God—but I’ll share more on the difference later.  The kingdom of heaven is the realm in which spiritual matters are accessed.  When we pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” we are really praying for the release of the kingdom of heaven—that as it is in heaven, so shall it be in earth. 

And so, when we examine the passage in Matthew 13:44 that speaks of a treasure—hidden truth, special revelation, reserved mysteries now released by God to his church—we see that that treasure is hidden, not easily accessible.  Every good and perfect gift does come from God, but it does not come without our diligently seeking it.  The practice of kingdom disciplines results in the release of kingdom benefits.  Where we place the resource of our time and energy, even, says much about what we can expect to receive from God. 

When the man finds this treasure of which Matthew speaks, he does not immediately take it away.  He hides it again.  He contemplates his action.  He makes a strategic plan for how he will insure its safety.  And then, he returns to the field—and for joy over it—he buys the whole field.  He does not simply retrieve the treasure, he sells all he has and buys the whole field. 

Seeing and seeking the kingdom is not simply about picking through the “treasures” of God though that seems to be the culture of many Christians today.  We listen for what pleases us, dissect the messages we hear for the parts that most apply—for the “deep revelations” that might distinguish us.  But this man sells everything he owns to buy the entire field.  What might God be telling us through his radical act?

Every true kingdom endeavor requires that we surrender to the transformative power of the King.  “Buying the whole field” is buying in wholeheartedly, settling in and staying the course, launching out into unknown and, sometimes, challenging territory all because of the treasure that is there.  We’ve done that recently, literally, in establishing the Equippers City Church Apostolic Resource Center as a “treasure,” a place where the kingdom can come and the will of God will be done in greater measures than before!  Doing so has meant change and, we know, will mean still more.  But with the same joy of the man in Matthew 13, we are permitting the promise of the treasure that we have found, and the potential for still more to be found in that field, to completely transform our desires so that where our treasure is, there our hearts are also. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Seven Spirits of God

We have heard so often that “God equips those whom He calls.”  Well, He does indeed, and the life and ministry of Jesus Christ were the first fruit demonstration of this principle. The fundamental equipping graces in the life of Jesus Christ are described in Isaiah 11:2: “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him and the spirit of wisdom, and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord.”

Representing the fullness of God, these seven spirits equipped the Lord Jesus Christ to walk in heavenly authority in an earthly realm. We can fully document that each one of these spiritual dimensions were critical in his practical walk and earthly ministry. God’s intent was that Jesus would demonstrate all seven of these spirits of God resting upon one man with the express intent that He would be completely equipped to do the work of the Father. John 1:16 declares that we also are equipped with the fullness of Jesus: “And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.”

The Father demonstrates His love for each of us by administering grace to us, and then by enabling that grace to work through us. One dimension of this grace is His use of spiritual “tools.” We need to understand the tools God uses to accomplish His purposes in the earth. God has put many of these tools on display in the lives and ministries of His men and women in the Old and New Testaments. God is able to do all things and anything Himself, but He chooses to utilize different tools (spiritual graces) in order to accomplish His perfect will. Because we were made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26) we are uniquely designed from the beginning to embody the character and nature of God in the earth realm and have been given access to many of His tools and technology in order to accomplish His will.

The seven spirits of God are literally tools and technology that God uses to accomplish His will in heaven and earth. The first example of Jesus’ demonstrating the Spirit of the Lord is prophetically declared in Isaiah 61:1 and practically declared in Luke 4:18,19.  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and the recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

This first dimension of the seven spirits of God was foundational in launching the ministry of Jesus, just as it remains vital in the launching of our ministries today. Through the grace of the spirit of the Lord, Jesus received identity, direction, assignment and authority. The Spirit of the Lord was the fundamental launching pad for supernatural efficacy in the ministry of Christ.

Today, we have many gifted writers who have attempted to articulate any number of spiritual best-practices. None, however, can explain it any better than God Himself. Every expression of the ministry of the Lord must begin with the spirit of the Lord. May we lay hold of this revelation so that we can establish ministry that is an expression of the kingdom of God and not the kingdom of man.

P.S. - Copies of my book, “The Seven Spirits of God,” are available for $16.99 with free shipping from my website @ www.ericwarrenministries.com.

The Jeremiah Anointing

Our habits are telling indications of what we really believe.  Often enough, we think one small action or the other can’t possibly make a significant impact.  But if you’ve ever watched a grassy area become a worn path, a community gradually falls into disregard and disrepair until most of its houses are boarded up, or what seemed like minor social ill become a major national crisis. You can understand the frustration of the prophet, Isaiah.  You might even share it as you consider the times in which we are living.

One of my favorite segments of scripture is Isaiah 58:12.  There, the prophet speaks of a path forsaken and, with it, a people who succumb to enslavement.  “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called The Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of paths to dwell in.” If ever we needed repairers of the breach, it is today. If ever we needed restorers of paths to dwell in, it is today. The spiritual breaches are wide and deep. The paths to dwell in have become overgrown and unkempt. Breaches occur while someone is not watching, while one small change after another continues until, at last, major damage is recognized.  I intentionally say “recognized” not “done,” because the damage was being done all along.  Paths do not become overgrown and unkempt all at once; they become impassable when people stop walking them. We must now rediscover the ancient paths upon which life itself is based. People—even some of those who are sitting in the pews of our churches—have lost their way.

It’s time for the Jeremiah anointing to reappear in our day. We need to root some things out, tear some things down, destroy some things, throw down some things, and then build and (re) plant some things. We need a restoration movement to replace a contented following.  For those who “see” the reality of these truths, I salute you and petition you to join with me in a restorative quest in the days ahead. We will not bow the knee to Babylon!

Let's Get Radical!

We sometimes use words without fully recognizing their import.  Radical is one of those words.  To be radical, especially as it relates to spiritual change, is to thoroughly affect the fundamental nature of an entity—in this case, our relationship as the church with the culture in which we live.  Radical doesn’t simply refer to superficial adjustment or adaptation, but to elemental, comprehensive change of the sort that leaves an eternal impact.

Today, on every spiritual and sociological front, we are faced with ideas that are endeavoring to radically shift what we have come to know as normative Christian values and behavior.  We are literally in the midst of a spiritual tug of war. In tug of war, the key to victory is utilizing the strength of the entire team.  While everyone’s weight counts, if you want to win, you’ve got to get some of the strongest members of the team in the right position.  In these times, when it can seem as if the “home team” is faltering while the visitors, those newly arrived on the scene, are getting stronger, we need some spiritual heavyweights to go to the back of the line and serve as anchors! 

While much of the church of Jesus Christ has been affirming itself and enjoying increasing doses of self-glorification, the enemy has snuck into the positions where we most need strength—our families and houses of worship. It’s time for the radical saints to rise up and grab the rope and give a big heave ho tug to recover lost ground. Generations are at stake!

Jeremiah 1:10 declares that the Prophet Jeremiah was “Set over the nations and over the kingdoms to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” This is a radical assignment to a radical prophet who would be used as an agent of confrontation and transformation at a strategic time very much like the one in which we are living.

This was also a time for repentance for the nation of Israel.  God needed a radical mouthpiece who would be resolute in his loyalty and faithfulness to do His will. Clearly, we are in similar times today. “Repent” means to change one’s mind and turn 180 degrees, to go in the opposite direction. Nothing could be more radical!  Israel was heading in the wrong direction spiritually, and so are we. “What is the wrong direction?” you might ask “And who’s to judge?” Well friends, never forget this: the wrong direction is the opposite direction from the direction that God is going.

I’ve won at tug of war before.  It’s not easy.  But when the entire team bears down and collectively lends its weight to winning, it happens.  Jeremiah’s times called for it and so do ours.