Friday, November 14, 2008

Listen to Your Heart (NOT!)

I think every Christian at some point can identify with what I about to say. I have been in the school of hard knocks several times. That is a school I think I've flunked out of before. Shame on me. But let me tell you a story of a lesson I got loud and clear from my time in that wonderful institution.

Many of us, unless we were born to Bill Gates or some other uber-rich person, know about tough financial messes. I'm no exception. I've been in some tight situations in my day. Some have turned out good, others haven't. Let me talk about the latter.

It's real tempting to stop tithing when in difficult situations. To think of that money going to pay for that bill, or whatever, is tough to overcome when desperate. To my shame, I've let myself do it, though. And I found something out. It doesn't bode well to do so. I've allowed it happen, and seen things simply fall apart financially because I decided that God wasn't big enough to help me out. I decided that I had to come up with solutions all by myself. You'd think I would have learned when my ideas and plans came crashing down around me. Yet, I'd let the pattern continue. Finally, out of desperation, I'd cry out to God, repent and do it His way.

The same holds true for every area of obedience in life. God calls us to obey Him. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is replete with commands to obey the Lord: "If you obey the commandments of the Lord..."; "We must obey God rather than man...", and so on. Sadly, the Bible is also full of examples of those who walked in disobedience. I have a sad one in mind that I just read about in my trip through 1 Samuel. this comes from the 27th chapter:

"Then David said in his heart, 'Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.'"

David is called by God "a man after my own heart". God's own testimony is that David has God's heart. He loved God. He was the sweet psalmist of Israel. He would sing, dance and worship God with his whole heart. Yet, like the rest of us sinful humans, he allowed fear to creep in and it spoiled him. He walked out of God's will that day when he ventured into Philistine country. He took his problems into his own hand, and decided that God wasn't big enough to take care of him. God, who so far had a perfect record of protecting David from Saul was now being replaced by a mere human, ungodly king. (Imagine how God felt!) And so David left the land of promise, and sought refuge in the land of idols.

David was in Philistine territory for more than a year. And what a dark year of life it must have been for him. Out of fellowship with God, cut off from his fellow Jews, it must have been miserable. And beyond that, David lived life as robber and marauder. He would pillage the towns and cities of Israel's enemies, killing everyone, and stripping the bodies of anything valuable. And, to make matters worse, he'd lie to the king of the Philistines about it, saying he'd pillaged his fellow Israelites, making himself look better to the king. With no people left alive to tattle him out, he was free to keep us his murderous ways.

David's life was an out-of-control downward spiral for that year and four months. Finally, when he had sown the seeds of destruction, it all came back and bit him. While he was out pillaging, he himself got pillaged. He was living with his family and his 600 men (and their families) in the walled city of Ziklag. The Amalekites showed up when all the men were gone, kidnapped their wives and children, robbed them blind and burned the city. When David and his posse returned, they saw the city destroyed and everyone gone. They were understandably shaken and distraught. They even thought to kill David for the mess he brought everyone into. Sin has a way of doing that. You think that you are affecting only yourself, but you burn others, like spouses, kids and parents. Perhaps David learned a valuable lesson-as you sow, so shall you reap.

It took a major hit to finally get through to him, but it did the trick. David ran to God. He cried out to him. The Bible doesn't say what went on in his heart, but I'm sure he did some repenting. Then he asked God for help, and God heard him. He chased after the bandits that got them, and God allowed him to recover everything unhurt.

When we don't do things God's way, there is a price to be paid. I don't care what it is. You may be holding back the tithe, or you may be cheating on your spouse. Be sure your sin will find you out. God will allow you to reach a point that you are at the end of yourself, so that you can find Him. The good news is that you are never too far from God's hand. The Bible says in Isaiah 59:1 that God's hand is not too short to save. But you have to be willing to turn from your sin and trust him again.

I learned that lesson on tithing. I have found that God is faithful to those who obey him. Times haven't always been easy, and I've experienced some loss. But I've had the peace of God in my spirit that told me everything was going to be alright! Hallelujah!

Won't you trust the Lord today with your situation? It's time to walk in obedience, and see what God will do.

God bless!


Russell Earl Kelly, PHD said...

There is neither shame nor curse in not being able to tithe as long as you are giving sacrificially.

Mal 3:15

15 And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.

Pastor Jeff said...

I'm not going to argue tithing with you-since you have an entire blog dedicated to it, I'm sure I'll never change your mind. But you miss the point of my post today. It wasn't about tithing, it was about our obedience to God. When we choose to walk in disobedience, we will reap what we've sown.