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Archive for December, 2011

Debt question

John,

I’m working on some of these pearls and the one below reminded me of a question I’ve had. Would what your father said below (I’m really just thinking about the “Get out of debt” part) also apply to low-interest and long-term debt like a mortgage? For instance, if someone could pay off their mortgage in advance but would rather use that money to prepare for the future (i.e. retirement, education for their kids, or whatever) – would that be ok? Or perhaps there is not a one-size-fits-all answer here; it just depends on a person’s situation?

Thanks,
Taylor

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Hi Taylor.

The short answer is no. Preacher Clark did not teach that you were “in debt” in a bad way if you had a car or a house loan. However, if you were unable to make your payments on time, it was obvious that you were in debt, as he was speaking of debt, and needed to get your affairs in order (e.g., sell what you have, and then buy a smaller house or a cheaper car).

The debt he was speaking of had more to do with discretionary spending. He taught us that if anyone borrowed money to buy unnecessary things (including Christmas presents), they needed to pay those debts off before they brought offerings to the Lord. He would not even allow anyone to become a part of his work in Christ if they were in that kind of debt because of such purchases, unless they began a sincere effort to get out of debt and were committed to living the kind of life that avoided wasteful spending in the future.

jdc

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Last night’s meeting

John,

I just want to say last night’s meeting was wonderful. Everything we needed was offered by Jesus last night: your teaching/food on perfection, rest, healing, anointed music, etc. We are so blessed. That touch (rest) stayed on me all night and is still here this morning. I feel very thankful.

Thank you for loving us.

Rob

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I don’t think I ever have seen you the way you were at the end of the meeting last night, Rob. You were somewhere else, not altogether with us. It was way beyond the normal enjoying of a wonderful meeting. That was so good to see! And Donna said you were like that until you went to bed!

What should I say in such a case? Congratulations” is the only thing I can think of. You were touched by the Spirit of the Lord.

jdc

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Tonight’s meeting

John,

Tonight’s meeting was just beautiful, right from beginning. “Perfection is My Business” is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. Whew! I thank Jesus for letting us be in his prescence tonight.

Bess
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Hi Bess.
It is the presence of the Lord alone which makes any prayer meeting worth attending, Bess. Without that, what would we do? Yes, the touch of God last night was wonderful. I hope we will all walk worthy of such blessings, for God does not have to visit us as He does.

jdc

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Gifts

Hi John,

Isn’t there a provision made for gifts to God’s ministers? Do you cover this in the book, and how is it different from alms? I know I’ve read or heard you say that sometimes God’s people are allowed to give gifts to their pastor beyond what is required for tithes & offerings – not necessarily monetary, but actual gifts.

Also, I had this thought last night: regarding our “income”, it seems that would be considered net, while “increase” seems like it would be considered gross (or profit, minus business expenses). May just be semantics, but it seems like there is a difference.

I have always loved how you explain how tithing is not a ceremonial commandment, but a moral one. God is the employer, and if we don’t render our tithes to His servants, we are in effect robbing God of the money He has set aside to take care of his “employees” earthly needs! That is really good 🙂

Vince
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Hi Vince!

Question #1:
As for gifts to ministers, of course anyone may offer a minister a gift, but the minister is on shaky ground if he receives it. I do cover that issue, as well as “alms”, in the book on Tithes and Offerings

I try not to make a big deal out of it, but personally, I prefer that the people who bring me their tithes and offerings not give me any gifts, whether it be a Christmas gift, birthday gift, or whatever. Recently, as you know, most of the congregation gathered for my birthday. I was surprised with a few gifts, and if I had known there was going to be any gift-bringing, I would have sent an email ahead of time asking everyone not to do that. Of course, I appreciate the love behind such gifts from the sweet people in my life, but in the kingdom of God, it seems to me that it would be more in order for me to give them gifts, not vice versa. Actually, I do that when I feed them the word of God, and with gifts such as that, we should all be content.

Question #2:
Technically, “gross income” is the total amount of money you earn before anything is taken out, and “net income” is what is left for you after all deductions are taken out. That is standard terminology for describing income. Biblically speaking, your “increase” is what you earn that really does increase your wealth on earth. That is your “net income” because that is what is left for you to spend as you will, after all deductions are made.

Thanks for the questions.

Pastor John

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John, I believe this Pearl of Wisdom [below] is the sober “other” side of your message on a “perfect heart” from Wednesday night.

What your father described here is an NON-perfect heart. One thing I was thinking of, when I was listening to your message Wed. night, was “Lord, don’t let me be deceived into “thinking” I have a perfect heart, if I don’t.” What your daddy said below kind of put into “real life” what I was considering.

The wonderful side is that God will be standing with us and work everything out if our heart is perfect, but the other side is, that if our heart is NOT perfect…. well, this was a good description of that: “if we are lukewarm, it will take us where we don’t want to go”.

God has a perfect heart and gave us the Spirit that writes it on ours —- oh, the value of guarding that which He has given us, and keep it perfect and free of impurity and hypocrisy.

Gary

pearl 12_23_11

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Last Night’s Message

Dear Bro. John:

I just wanted to share how your message blessed me in the meeting last night. The feelings have stayed with me all day.

I was driving to lunch today thinking how wonderful last night was and this thought came: “Spoken words go to the ears, but anointed words go to the heart.” Everything you were saying last night went straight to my heart. As soon as you started talking about the “perfect heart” and what defined it according to God, I began to feel a fullness coming. All the wonderful examples you gave of Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, and Paul (I felt like Preacher Clark could have been added right in there, too!) The best I can tell it, is that I felt your message working from the inside out. There was such a sweet anointing in your words that they were like honey pouring into my soul with a love and encouragement that does not come from just “spoken” words, but anointed words that bring about the feelings of God stirring inside. All I could do was sit with my heart opened wide and feel the love of God pour in (and pour out through my eyes). It was such a sweet invitation to just open the doors of your heart and let Jesus cover you with his love. I loved what I was feeling and left the meeting wanting to come home and just get still so that I could hold on to it.

The love and healing I felt in your message, Bro. John, was just what you said (paraphrased): There is no need to be afraid. God can take our “messes” and turn them for our good and make us better servants for Him if our hearts are pure. What an amazing love!

I am so thankful for God’s love towards us, and sending that love through you to encourage us to want to be better servants in His kingdom. Your message really touched me and made me want to have that pure heart that you spoke of last night. I am so thankful for you as my pastor. I know you love us little sheep. 🙂

I think Jesus did more last night than we know.

Sandy 🙂

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Bro. John,

I’m feeling really thankful right now. I have read so much about how “people are struggling to redefine happiness as traditional roles and values change” (the sentence always goes something like that), but it always leaves me with a sad feeling.

What they’re really saying is something along the lines of, “Now that people are forsaking even more of the basic, biblical sense of right and wrong, they’re becoming more at ease with sin.”

I realized just now that I don’t have to “struggle to redefine” anything because the spirit in me tells me what’s either right or wrong. What a big deal! It seems way less exhausting.

Beverly
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Hi Beverly!

Good to hear from you!

True happiness does not have a definition. It never has had one. Happiness is altogether a feeling, a matter of the heart and spirit. It’s substance is not something that any dictionary can capture. Happiness is the fruit, the end result, of making right choices and living a truly good life.

I am not surprised that college professors and social engineers are now are trying to define happiness, and to define it in a way that denies this confused generation’s need of it. In what Jesus called “a sinful and adulterous generation”, happiness is lost. Some generations in the past also lost their happiness through foolishness and sin and then regained it by humbling themselves to God and changing their lifestyles. But a generation that adds stubbornness and pride to its sinfulness refuses to change, or even to admit they need to. Instead, they just claim to be happy, and define happiness in terms that their unhappy hearts can meet.

But we cannot make ourselves truly happy by claiming to be happy. Happiness is a gift from God, not a work of man. It is far beyond the power of man to bring about his own judgment or to determine what he will reap for what he sows. We can, for certain, choose how we will live, but after that, we have no choice at all. God alone is Judge of our deeds, and unfortunately for the wicked, He is a righteous one.

Thanks for writing, Beverly. Keep traveling the road you are on. Jesus has given you wisdom beyond all your teachers.

Pastor John

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John,

I am excited about something that I found in proofreading (Chapter 1 Tithes & Offerings), and I didn’t want to wait to share it.

I was looking up Numbers 18:24, a scripture reference in the section called “The Priests’ Portion”. This is the second time I’ve looked it up, and both times, it has struck me that it says the tithe is the “inheritance” of the Levites, and they have no inheritance among the children of Israel.

I had to stop and chew on that. First of all, someone’s inheritance is their possession. It is THEIRS. So, that point was more cemented for me. No part of the Tithes belong to the people at any time…they were given by the Lord to the Levites. It was theirs! It makes it more clear, too, how anyone who did not bring their tithes and offerings to the Levites was considered a thief by God.

Also, I’m not sure if my train of thought (as follows) is entirely right, but this was what it was: No inheritance among the children of Israel means no land. No land means nothing to farm. Nothing to farm means the Levites probably didn’t raise their own crops/animals…BUT then, God didn’t give that type of work to them – their work was to judge and teach the law to God’s people. The children of Israel were given land to farm…that was their work. But for the Levites, God provided them NO land to work…their jobs were in His service. (I suppose they ate mainly from what the children of Israel brought as tithes?) I also read a few of the nearby verses in that chapter, and I found this verse 27 says: “And this, [the tithes and offerings which the Levites brought to the priests] shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress.” And verse 30 is similar. So, God counted the Levites’ tithes and offerings from what the nation gave them as if they were offering from the crops and herds that they did not have?

These things were exciting to me. I feel like the nail of understanding was driven deeper or something, concerning the tithe.

🙂

Lyn
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Yes, you are seeing that right.

Technically, though, we should note that the Levites were given some land, a very narrow strip surrounding each of the 48 Levitical cities (see Damien’s comment, below). However, that strip of land would not have been enough to produce the food needed by the Levites and their families. Clearly, God intended most of the Levites’ needs to be met by the tithes and offerings of the nation.

jdc

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The Levites did have a small 1,000 (or 2,000) cubit-wide piece of land around their cities “for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts” (Num. 35:3).

Incidentally, this could have been the source for the animals that were regularly sacrificed at the temple.

Damien

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Money in the temple

Daddy ~
Where would this money have come from which was collected from the people? Would it have been money that wasn’t supposed to be collected b/c nobody knew what the law actually taught during this period in Judah’s history? And/or maybe a special collection for temple restoration?

Thanks,
Bekah

2 Kings 22:3-7 ESV
“In the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, son of Meshullam, the secretary, to the house of the Lord, saying, “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may count the money that has been brought into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the threshold have collected from the people. And let it be given into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the Lord, and let them give it to the workmen who are at the house of the Lord, repairing the house (that is, to the carpenters, and to the builders, and to the masons), and let them use it for buying timber and quarried stone to repair the house. But no accounting shall be asked from them for the money that is delivered into their hand, for they deal honestly.””

http://bible.us/2Kgs22.3.ESV

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Good question!

The money in the temple would have come from a mixed bag of sources. God always had His few who kept His commandments even under the worst of conditions, and under the worst of kings. At the same time, even though most Israelites were idolatrous throughout the Old Testament history, those idolatrous children of God would still have brought, at least, occasional offerings to Jehovah. It almost never was the case that an Israelite stopped serving Jehovah altogether. To do so would have been contrary to the spirit of idolatry, which was very inclusive. Even heathen priests and prophets would have encouraged the Israelites to show respect to their national God, even though, in their eyes, He would have been a minor deity. In all my research of the ancient world, I have yet to find a priest or prophet among the Gentiles who denied the real existence of the gods of nations beyond their own.

So, the money that Josiah knew was in the temple had been brought there by both faithful people of God and unfaithful people of God. And that there was money at the temple was not treated in the text as if it was an unusual situation. That, too, indicates that tithes and offerings from faithful Israelites, as well as tithes and offerings from unfaithful Israelites (yes, they liked that commandment – Amos 4:4-5) were routinely brought there, But there could well have been a third source. It was common among all cultures in the ancient world for travelers to make offerings to the gods of the territories through which they passed. So, foreigners wanting no trouble from Jehovah as they traveled through His territory might well have brought a few gifts to him.

Thanks for the question, Bekah!

PS The ESV translation makes it sound as if the servants of the temple had “taken up a collection” from God’s people, so to speak, but that is not the case. Not under King Josiah, and not without a word from God to the king commanding that such a special offering be taken. I think it would be better to use some other word, such as “gathered” in this case.

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Deuteronomy

Good morning Pastor John,

Could you please tell me about this verse:

Deuteronomy 4:6
Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say , Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.

I woke up last night out of a dead sleep and wrote this verse. Could you please help me understand the meaning and how it’s meant for me?

Thank you
Michelle
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The law of Moses was Israel’s wisdom. If hey lived by it, they were wise, and if they did not, they were foolish.
The “law of the Spirit in Christ Jesus” is our wisdom. If we walk in it, we will be wise, and if not, we will be foolish.

Pastor John

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