Monday, November 21, 2011

The Power Of Our Words, Part 2

“When the Queen had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food on the table, the seating of his servants, the service of his waiters, and their apparel, his cupbearers, and his entry way by which he went up to the House of the Lord, there was no more spirit within her; it took her breath away.”

Queen Sheba saw such a level of excellence (1 Kings 10:4) that she was left breathless. It’s amazing! Do we have a standard of excellence? You do whether you know it or not. You’re living at your standard of excellence. You might say, “Oh, no I’m not. My standard is much higher than my lifestyle.” Oh really? Do you believe that? I would call that self-deception, my friend. I love you, but that’s what I call that. And I’m not talking about rich or poor, not having a lot of money or having a lot of money, I’m talking about having standards in our lives. Solomon obviously had a high standard of excellence, and it was seen not only in his words, but also in his personal lifestyle and in the way that he carried himself. It was also evident in those he surrounded himself with and those who worked for him.

In fact, it’s an amazing thing that the Queen also noticed the food, the seating, the service, even the apparel of the waiters. She noticed the cupbearers and how they performed their work; she even took note of the entry way by which he went into the House of the Lord. She said in verse 6:

“It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom! However, I did not believe the words until I came for myself, indeed the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard. Happy are your men, and happy are your servants who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom.”

Even the people who worked for him were happy. Wow! How do you do that? I walk into most retail stores and grocery stores today, and I’m like, “I’d fire half of ya!” Many times I’ll ask someone who is working in retail, “How ya doing?” Usually the general answer is, “I can’t wait to get off.” And I’m thinking to myself, “If I were your boss and heard you say that, you’d be off from now on, honey. Cuz I don’t want you here if you don’t want to be. Go do something else!”

There's nothing worse than working or being with people who don’t want to be there. You know what they do? They sit and mumble and grumble about their jobs, and they don’t understand that they’re cursing their own lives! They’re just adding to their own misery by the words that they speak.

Now going back to Proverbs, there’s so much here about words, so much about our tongue. I’ve been amazed the last several days as I’ve been researching this. So what does the wealthiest and wisest man have to say about the words we speak? Let’s go to Proverbs 16:23, “The heart of the wise teaches his mouth.” Do you know that your mouth can be taught? Hello? You can teach your mouth what to say! If that weren’t true, it wouldn’t be in there, right? How deliberate are we at teaching our mouths what to say? And it is our heart that teaches our mouth and adds learning to the lips. Some of us need some good “lip-learning.” I love the way the Amplified Bible states it,

“The mind of the wise instructs his mouth and adds learning and persuasiveness to his lips.”

Let’s talk about persuasiveness. A lot of people are confused; they think that persuasiveness is manipulation. I want you to consider how your life would change if you could become more skilled at the art of persuasiveness. If you’re in sales, is there any greater gift than that of persuasiveness? Your job is to persuade people that your product is the best and that they can trust you.

I used to attend church with a guy who was tremendously successful at selling used automobiles. People trusted and loved him, and he made big, big money! He used to donate vans to our church and was one of the top givers. Tremendous success! He didn’t do it by ripping people off; he did not fit the image of how we unfortunately stereotype “used car salesmen.” But he was very persuasive, and everybody liked him. WOW! Think of how successful you would be in marriage if you used the art of persuasion, or possibly began applying it to your finances! I mean, just think, even in the area of physical healing, if you could persuade your body that you’re healed, wouldn’t you feel better? It’s the gift, the art of persuasiveness, and it’s not being manipulative.

Persuasiveness simply means to bring the other party around to your idea or way of thinking, to get them to change the way that they think about something and come into conformity regarding a new thought process. Isn’t that what sharing the Gospel is about? Think about how successful the Church would be if we learned the art of persuasiveness. If we went out and preached the Gospel in such a way that people would come around from their old way of thinking, see the light, and understand the Gospel because it’s been given to them in such as way that they can receive it?

We used to be very aggressive with Evangelism Explosion. And what I loved about it more than anything was the persuasiveness of that thing. I could sit with somebody who was an absolute Christ-rejecter and within fifteen to twenty minutes have them on the edge of their seat asking, “What must I do to be saved?” Now THAT’S the art of persuasion. That’s not manipulation. Manipulation is control and domination. Persuasiveness is simply the ability to communicate in such a way that others come into agreement with you. Solomon was actually very gifted at this. I consider him to have been a tremendous leader by just reading about the people who worked for him.

So the Word speaks to us that it is possible for you and I to teach and educate our mouths. Let’s take the opportunity today to minister godly, persuasive words that would help bring others closer to where they need to be with God. And while we’re at it, we might want to go ahead and persuade ourselves to come into alignment with the Word as well. Vickie and I pray you have a truly wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones. May God bless you abundantly this season.

~ pg

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Power Of Our Words, Part 1

Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs. He was and still is considered to be the wisest man who ever lived, and he was certainly the wealthiest man who ever lived on the earth. It is impressive how much Solomon writes, particularly in Proverbs, about communication—about the words that we speak.

The words that you speak have tremendous power and can produce either beneficial or detrimental results. In fact, in large part, wherever you are in life right now is due to the words you have spoken. Those words are a result of what is going on in your heart and your mind.

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

Your mouth speaks and tremendous power is released through the words that you let go. I would like us to look at a portion of Scripture that is very familiar for most of us. We can all quote verbatim the first half, but we do not give enough attention to the second part of the very same verse. Here, in Proverbs 18:21, we are told that death and life are in the power of the tongue. I want you to consider that once again. I know that we refer to this passage a lot, but we do so because it’s important! The words you speak have the potential to impart either death or life. It’s a life and death situation, my friend.

In the New Testament, James says that out of one side of our mouth we speak blessing, out of the other side of our mouth we speak cursing. Even though he said this ought not be so, I sometimes find it true in my own life. I might say something like, “By His stripes I am healed, but boy, I sure feel bad.” “God supplies all my needs; where are we gonna get the money?” Out of one side of my mouth flows a blessing and out of the other side a cursing. And “a cursing” in this sense does not involve witchcraft, voodoo, or any such thing. It simply means the restraining or restriction of God’s blessing in my life.

How successful do you want to be? What is it that you want to do in life? Where do you want to go? Your words have a direct correlation to the degree of your success. It has tremendous relevance on your level of influence in this life. Now we oftentimes quote, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” but we ignore the second portion of this verse: “Those who love it will eat its fruit.” In other words, we eat the fruit of the words that we speak. Our words produce fruit, whether good or bad, sweet or bitter, and we are partakers of that fruit.

The things you go through are oftentimes the result of how you have thought and what you have spoken out of your mouth. We are responsible for the words that we speak. As we use words, we either fall under the power of death, or there is the potential to attain to greater life. Our tongue can cause us to experience either blessing or lack. I like to remind folks that our tongues were involved in our being saved. According to Romans 10:10, Apostle Paul says that you have to believe with your heart and with your mouth confession is made unto salvation. We believe in our heart unto righteousness, and as a result of what’s in our heart, we speak, we confess that Jesus is Lord, and we experience the new birth; we are saved.

But I also want to remind you that Jesus doesn’t just come into our lives simply to change us. He comes into our lives to make something new, not to just change the old, but to make provision for something brand new. You’re not only being changed through the transformation of what Romans 12 speaks of; you are to experience a whole new life.

Your life ought to look different than before you were saved. And one reason it doesn’t in the lives of many people is that they never change the way they think and the words that come out of their mouths, particularly about their own life. “Daddy was a loser, so I’m a loser, too.” “Momma said there’d be days like this, Momma said.”

Now, I’ve already stated that Solomon is regarded as the wisest and most certainly the wealthiest man on the earth. He’s highly respected. Those under his authority respected him; he was also greatly respected by other kings, dignitaries, and world leaders. First Kings chapter 10 gives us an account of the Queen of Sheba’s visit. Most of you are familiar with this, but I want to make a couple of points.

“Now when the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions.” Now let’s just stop there for a moment and examine this. The Queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon concerning what? The name of the Lord. So she came to him with the intent of testing him. The Scripture says that she came to test him with hard questions. Starting with verse 2 the Bible states, “She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels, spices, gold, and precious stones. When she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart.” What was in her heart? All these hard questions. So Solomon answered all her questions. There was nothing so difficult for the king that he could not explain it to her. “When the Queen of Sheba had seen all of the wisdom of Solomon . . .” Just stop right there, she saw the wisdom.

Now, as we read on, we recognize that she saw the wisdom through his lifestyle, in those around him, and in those who worked for him. She saw it in those with whom he had surrounded himself. But she also saw it in his words, as he was able to answer the questions with which she had come to test him! Wow! Her intention was to put him to the test with difficult questions, and he didn’t stumble or fail; he answered every one of them and at that point she realized, “I see wisdom here.”

I’ll pick up with this in my next blog, but in the meantime, this would be a good opportunity to ask ourselves a few questions such as: What do people see in my words? Do others see wisdom displayed in my lifestyle? I pray that each one of us is found faithful in the usage of our words to promote life, wholeness, and good fruit!

~ pg

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Is Tithing A Law, Part 6

Abram paid tithes to Melchizedek. Why? Look at Galatians 3:8. This might just blow you away.

“And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’”

What’s that mean? Abraham received a Word and a revelation from God. He could only catch a glimpse of what it meant to be blessed of God and the father of nations. He couldn’t comprehend all of that any more than you could comprehend if I was to prophesy over you and say, “There are nations on the inside of you.” For some of you, if I were to say to you, “You’re going to go to many nations,” I mean, you ain’t even been out of Hoke County your entire life. God bless you if you’re a Hokie from Hoke County; I live there myself. I’ve met people in Hoke and Robeson County who have told me, “I haven’t ever been out of this county.” I’m like, “Whoooaaa, wow, that’s gotta be exciting!” I’m not knocking it, and I’m like, wow, you just don’t meet too many people who can say that. I’m impressed, I guess. Not even a drive to Fayetteville?

But Abraham caught a glimpse of something: that he would be the father of many nations, and that nations would be blessed because of him. How could he comprehend that? He couldn’t! But it says that he had “glad tidings preached to him.” He had good news, and as a result, he caught a revelation of the will of God being fulfilled through him. And because he had received good news from God and caught the revelation of the impact his life would have, he gave tithes, by faith, to Melchizedek!

Did you get that? This tithe to Melchizedek was a real act of faith! He didn’t know Melchizedek! Nobody knew where he came from; no one knew where he went, and yet Abram paid tithes, yet why? Because Melchizedek in the Bible is a type of Christ. So when Abram rendered a tithe to Melchizedek, it was as giving to Christ.

Now when we give, when I bring my tithe, or when my wife or I lay that check or those coins in that basket, we’re not just giving to the church. Well, we are because we regard the Church as the Body of Christ on Earth. We are literally taking money that we have earned and putting it into the hand of Jesus. By FAITH! I can’t see His hand. I’ve never personally seen Jesus, but by faith, I’m taking money, and I’m giving it to the Body of Christ believing that Jesus is the Head of the Body, and His Body, according to Scripture is the Church. So when I’m giving to the Body, I’m giving to Jesus! Don’t you know I can expect a return on that seed that I’m releasing by faith? Why? Because God rewards our faith! Oh folks, I have seen this work in the last twenty-eight to thirty years in my life.

This transcends the 10%! It’s not about the 10%; it’s not about warding off God’s curse! It’s not even trying to manipulate God to open up those windows of heaven! It’s not about any of that. It’s about the motivation of our hearts. Is it faith or fear? Is it law or grace?

You know what? I’m gonna go out on a limb. I’m pretty sure that God would have met my needs if I had never given a dollar. Some of you reading this are saying, “No way.” No, I’m pretty sure that God loves me so much. Now, I might have needed welfare or drove the most beat-up car in the parking lot. I might still be living in that mobile home with the broken windows where I couldn’t pay the phone or the electric bill about half the time, you all ever lived there? You know the place I used to live . . . with the old brown Pontiac sitting up on blocks in the front yard? Yep, that one.

I do believe as a result of sowing, I have reaped. I believe that tithing as a principle, has brought me out of poverty. I will say that. Not because it’s the Law, but because it’s a law that I was taught to practice in my life. I see the results of living a principled lifestyle according to the laws set forth, not the least of which is, “Give and it shall be given unto thee, pressed down, shaken together, and flowing over shall men give unto thy bosom.”

Somebody said, “That verse in Luke 6 isn’t even talking about money! Man, it’s talking about whatever you give! It’s not talking only about forgiveness! It’s not just talking about love. Yes, it is talking about those things, but if you love God, wouldn’t we give Him what is important to us? And what’s really important to the people of God today? Don’t tell me money’s not important. Most of you will get up early tomorrow morning and go to work so you can make money! Money is important! And what we do with our money is important! Whatever we do with it, we ought not do because we’re under Law. We ought to do it because we’re living under grace—grace that can only be experienced when we walk by faith.

This is important though. I want to make a declaration over the people of Cliffdale Christian Center. I want you to be set free today from the Law. And I pray that I have never in any way, shape, form, or degree have led you into thinking that you have to tithe or else God’s going to get ya.

Now, I will say this. If you don’t obey God, don’t expect the fullness of His blessing. To the best of our ability and according to our faith and understanding of Scripture, we are responsible to obey the Word of God. If we don’t, it causes us to not experience the fullness of His blessing. I haven’t reached the fullness of His blessing. I’m going after it, and that’s what I want. Man, it’s been something. I’ve seen what He’s done in the past thirty years; I can just imagine what the next thirty are going to be like!

I know that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him, and He is a rewarder of those who obey Him. I have no right to expect His abundance and His fullness of promises if I’m living a life of disobedience. It takes faith to obey God. It takes faith for me to forgive when I’ve been offended. It takes faith for me to love when I ain’t feelin’ the love. It takes faith for me to pray for people whom I know are using me. It takes faith for me to walk in the love of God. It takes faith for me to give when I don’t see where it’s coming from. It takes faith because the just will live by faith. Are we purposing to be people who live by faith? This will be the last blog in this series, "Is Tithing A Law," which was derived from a message I shared at Cliffdale Christian Center on September 19th, 2011. Thank you for joining me on the journey!

~ pg

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Is Tithing A Law, Part 5

In Genesis 14, Abram gives Melchizedek a tithe of all the spoils. We are sons and daughters of Abraham. And we are a people who are to walk by faith. And I submit to you, I believe there's a higher principle than what we've previously assigned to the tithe. There is a principle, the law that God instituted, and it's called, "The Law of Sowing and Reaping." We can find it in both the Old and the New Testaments. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked. As a man sows, so will he reap." Paul told the Corinthians, "If you sow sparingly, you reap sparingly. If you sow bountifully, you reap bountifully!" Man, that's a law! Some of you are going to feel challenged by this message, while others will feel delivered!

It's not the Law, it's a LAW; it's a principle of the Kingdom. God instituted this thing way back in Genesis 8, as long as the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, winter and summer, will not pass away. We currently live according to the principle of sowing and reaping.

God wants us to check our motivation regarding our giving. Do we really believe that if we don't tithe, that God is going to curse us with a double curse? Cursed with a curse! Years ago I preached the double curse, I did! I had to ask God to forgive me. In Malachi it says, "Cursed with a curse," and anywhere it says that, it's a double whammy, or so I thought! Now understand though, that to "be cursed," oftentimes simply means the withholding of God's blessing or the removal of God's hand. And if His hand is removed in any area of my life, I am very vulnerable to attacks by the enemy. You might ask, "Does God ever remove His hand?" It isn't so much that God is removing His hand, it's more likely that I am restricting the hand of God. There are a lot of ways that we can bind God's hands from blessing us.

You reap according to what you sow. I know that Lisa's sister and brother-in-law own a big farm in Iowa. They grow a lot of crops, and they just recently went through the harvest season. Now Mark, her brother-in-law, he's a smart guy. He's a good Christian and a shrewd businessman, and that's a good combination! He's shrewd in a good way. Now, Mark doesn't just take his harvest and sell it all. No smart farmer would sell his entire harvest! If I had ten bushels of corn, I mean, don't you think I'm going to plan for next year's harvest? How many bushels am I going to keep for seed to plant for next year's harvest? I know that next year's harvest is going to be proportionate with the amount of seed that I sow. So, if I sow one bushel of corn and sell the other nine, give it away, or eat it (a lot of us eat it), my harvest next year is going to be in direct proportion to that one bushel's grain or seed, right?

Now, next year's harvest is important to me. I'm looking ahead; I'm not just trying to get as much as I can today, because a wise person is going to look to the future! This is called stewardship. Now, if I keep two bushels, can I expect to get at least twice the harvest as I would have received by only planting one bushel? Come on!

If I have ten bushels and plant one bushel, I can expect a harvest off the bushel. If I plant two bushels, I can probably expect a double harvest. This is called sowing and reaping; it's the principle of God; it's a biblical law. It's not the Law, it's a law of the Kingdom called sowing and reaping, seedtime and harvest.

It's biblical to expect a return on seed that is planted. Who would plant a seed and not expect a return? My son planted a seed in a clay pot he received at Children's Church, and when he planted it, he fully expected it to sprout and grow. He checked it every day! And boy, was he disappointed when it didn't! Why? Because he expected it to grow! When we plant seed we can expect a return; we can expect a harvest. That is a biblical principle set forth in the Word of God.

~ pg