“Some Great Thing”

During my 3+ years of campus ministry at both Cerritos College and Antelope Valley College, I’ve come across a common response that has often broken my heart. 

“Do I really have to follow what the Bible says?”

Growing up, I never could’ve imagined that people could think they were following God while completely disregarding his commands. However, this is the state of most people who call themselves christians. If I’d actually counted all the women I’ve studied the Bible with, I’m sure it would be in the hundreds, but I can name every one of the few that actually followed through with obeying Gods call in their life. 

Even inside of a group of people who are following God, it’s so easy to find myself and others not wanting to do the simplest things. Even if you’re reading this post, I’m sure at some point this week you struggled to wake up early enough to have time with God that morning, or brushed it off completely. Yet, I’m sure many of the people in the world who wouldn’t pick up a bible, read and follow it would tell you that they’d die for their faith. 

My only question is; why?

Why is it so much easier to die for something than to live for it?
This evening I found myself reading 2 Kings. One of my favorite passages highlights this very question. 

During the time of the prophet Elisha and the king of Israel Joram, an army commander for the king ofAram was stricken with leprosy. Despite this terrible disease, he had many great victories. 2 Kings 5 highlights his story, as he finds out about a prophet in Samaria that could heal his leprosy. However, when he comes to Elisha, he is less than pleased with the direction he’s given. 

2 Kings 5:10-14 “Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage. Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.”

Following the response of many, Naaman, the commander was appalled by the prophet’s simple instructions. He had hoped for an immediate, flashy miracle, but that is not what God gave him. (There is so much incredible symbolism in Elisha’s command – but I will save that for another day) He wanted something easy, dramatic and on his terms. 

However, the voice of reason in this passage comes from his servants; “If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?”  

Wow. 

How many times do we neglect to follow the simplest instructions in the Bible, yet claim that we would give up our lives for the gospel. My dear friend, giving up your life is most useful and honorable while you are still alive. 

As Naaman’s servant said; “How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!”

So I leave you with the same reflection I hold in my own hearts. What simple commands of God are you not following because you don’t think they’re great enough for you, or you’re embarrassed because you don’t want other people to know you haven’t been following them?

Think about it, and then change it. If you need any help with this, I’d be more than happy to talk about it further or direct you to someone who is in your area. 

James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

To God be the glory,

Tori Lynn Cortez

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Advice is NOT “Just Advice”

Let me begin this by saying something;

I. AM. PRIDEFUL.

 

img_0539
“How beautiful are the feet…” (Taken during one of the Campus Bible Studies this week)

 

In my sinful nature, I hate the concept of advice. It makes me feel uncomfortable and inadequate to make my own decisions. My struggle with pride often comes in the form of insecurities such as;

If I ask advice about this, she’ll think I’m stupid for not knowing the answer on my own.

And so forth. However, I can also struggle with the pride of thinking that I don’t need advice and not wanting to hear it when I don’t ask for it. I’ve heard a phrase amongst disciples that really inflated this way of thinking in me, but we’ve got to put it to death.

“Advise is just advice. You don’t have to take it.”

While yes, this is true in some circumstances, it is a dangerous way to move forward in your walk with God. Let me show you why. There was once this King in Judah named Amaziah. He was known as a king that “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not wholeheartedly.” Ouch. Anyway, he did some pretty incredible things, even to the point of letting go of a hundred thousand fighting men from Israel because he was told that they didn’t honor God. That takes a huge amount of faith. Yet, he had a huge downfall of worshipping idols later on.

2 Chronicles 25:16 While he was still speaking, the king said to him, “Have we appointed you an adviser to the king? Stop! Why be struck down?”

So the prophet stopped but said, “I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.”

Wow. This is a super convicting passage. No matter how many times I read it, it carries the same weight in my life. Godly advice is super important, and I must say that I’m incredibly grateful for Shauna Inkley being in my life to help advise me in a godly way. I’m still learning how to take and seek advice myself, but the Bible is pretty clear about how important advice is.

Another area of advice we can struggle in is when we don’t hear the advice that we want. Well, for that we would have to go back to 1 Kings. Check this out;

1 Kings 12:6-11  Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.

They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.”

But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?”

The young men who had grown up with him replied, “These people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’”

Because of his failure to listen to wise advice, a split was caused in Israel, his chief of labor was stoned by the people, and Israel was no longer loyal to him. This is the danger of seeking out ONLY the advice we want to hear. Sure, it can be hard to take the advice that you don’t like, but if you value your walk with God, your ministry, and your relationships, you should also value the godly advice that you’re given!

Proverbs 12:15 The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have a hard time asking for and taking advice but I’m fighting to train myself to not only take it but to desire it as well. This is the way that God has given us to grow, and I am so grateful for the godly council in my life.

Proverbs 15:31-33 Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding. Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor.

To better explain this conviction I’m building, I’ll share with you some of my experience in the ministry. When Johnny and I were first asked to come to Antelope Valley, I was ecstatic. The first few months, God did incredible things and we saw three amazing women get baptized. However, by the end of spring, our growth came to a halt. I prayed and begged God for the harvest, we worked hard and almost 10 different women got incredibly close to the waters of baptism before practically vanishing. It was devastating to me and I lost a lot of faith that God was really working through me. I began suffering from a chronic auto-immune disease that was practically disabling throughout the summer. To be honest, I thought that I was taking all of the advice that I could, but it wasn’t until the past couple weeks that I realized I haven’t been seeking it out that much. I am grateful for Shauna’s gentle correction in many areas of my life and ministry and I am very hopeful that we will have an incredible baptism by this weekend, and that our ministry will continue to grow and flourish from here forward!

Proverbs 19:20 Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

At the end of the day, God has provided many ways for us to grow in our daily walk with him and one of those is the godly advice of the men and women in our lives! I hope this spurs you on and encourages you as this study has helped me a great deal.

To God be all the glory,
Tori Lynn

P.S. Check out our new campus vlog; Unschooled and Ordinary Women!

Kings of Israel II: Unsatisfied (David)

There is much good to say about David; his walk with God was unbelievable, unlike Saul he always sought out God’s advise for wars and even the most simple of decisions, the psalms are full of his prayers and praise to God, and yet one time he did not seek God’s advice and it cost him dearly.

2 Samuel 11:1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

The first thing I notice in this devastating account is that David stayed home during wartime. If you study out 1 Samuel and the beginning of 2 Samuel, one of the reasons David won his peoples’ favor is BECAUSE he led Israel in their campaigns. However, in a lapse of judgement, he decided to stay home this time. Not going out would cost him more than he imagined.

In my own life, I have to let this sink in. The times we’re more susceptible to sin are most especially those times in which we’re already not doing something that we should be doing. Those “lazy days” off can be exactly what drags you into darker sin than you can imagine.

Proverbs 18:9 One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.

Honestly, this is something to consider when you don’t feel like doing the work you’ve been called to do. If David had just gone to war with his people, the rest of this post wouldn’t exist. However, worse things unfolded than laziness.

2 Samuel 11:2-5 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

In his lustful and lazy desires, David saw a woman bathing and we see that even the man after God’s own heart falls into deep sin by sleeping with another man’s wife. David, knowing the depths of God’s forgiveness easily could have repented at this point, faced Uriah and begged for his and God’s mercy. Instead, he went to great lengths to cover up his sin by trying to bring Uriah home from war. He hoped that Uriah would sleep with his life and then think that the child was his, but Uriah on his honor would not go inside his house when the Lord’s men were still at war. Once his original plan failed, David came up with an even greater sin to cover the first.

2 Samuel 11:14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”

It has always hurt my heart and amazed me to see that such a man of God would allow his sins to run as deep as murder. However, this is a heart check for all of us. One sin always leads to another if not confessed. Laziness led to lust, lust led to adultery and adultery led to murder. It’s so easy for one “little sin” to multiply and destroy our lives. But something else caught my eye in this story. Long before his sin of laziness, something else must have entered David’s heart to allow such temptation to get in there.
In 1 Samuel 25, you find the story of David, Nabal and Abigail. Nabal refused to help David and his army, almost causing David to avenge himself by killing Nabal’s whole household. God worked through Abigail to spare David from bloodshed and she brought them the provisions they needed. Later on, God carried out his own wrath against Nabal;

1 Samuel 25:38-39 About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died. When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise be to the Lord, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.” Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife.

The heart of David’s sin with Bathsheba is that he tried to push God’s hand, and when that didn’t work, he played God. One of his wives was given to him because God struck down her evil husband. However, this was not the case with Uriah, and David was determined to get what he wanted. Since David couldn’t see God killing Uriah, he did it himself.

This blew my mind when I figured it out. How many times do we see God do things a certain way and try to force it to happen again? God can work through circumstances, but circumstances don’t guarantee that you’re getting what you want.

The rest of the story is just as incredible as the the beginning. In 2 Samuel 12, we see the prophet Nathan rebuking David for his sin and exposing the very heart of it; David was unsatisfied and sought to please himself instead of asking God.

2 Samuel 12:8-10 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’

It amazes me how God said “If all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.” He wasn’t trying to limit David in the first place, but David took things into his own hands instead of coming to God about how he felt unsatisfied. As the rest of the chapter reveals: David and Bathsheba’s first child dies shortly after being born, you can read David’s lament over his sin in Psalm 51, Bathsheba bore another son; Solomon, who would build the temple and be the wisest man to ever live. However, the sword never left David’s house. David’s son Amnon raped his own sister and was later murdered by his brother Absolom who went on to form a conspiracy against his own father, David. Absolom was later killed by one of David’s men.

This is one of the most challenging pieces of David’s story to me, but it has always helped my heart when I struggle with sin. No matter how enticing it may seem (yes, even laziness), the consequences are never worth it. David’s repentance was true and we can all hope to have the same heart when we realize the sin we’ve brought on ourselves:

Psalm 51:9-10 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

When you are feeling unsatisfied, I hope that this serves as a reminder that taking things into our own hands is not the way to get what we want. Instead, stay open and go to God immediately.

To God be the Glory,
Tori Lynn

Kings of Israel I: Hannah?

hannahandsamuelbiblestory

Yes, Hannah. Although she was not a king of Israel, her faith would go on to affect many of the kings to come. The only part of the Old Testament that I haven’t read all the way through recently is the portion between 1 Samuel and 2 Chronicles, largely written about the history and kings of Israel.

Interestingly enough, the first two books are recorded about the prophet Samuel and his interactions with the kings. Even more interesting is that the first chapter and a large portion of the second chapter focuses on his mother: Hannah.

1 Samuel 1:6 Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her.

You see, Hannah was barren. Her husband’s other wife bore children, but she felt forgotten by God and wept often. However, he despair did not take her away from God, but instead drew her closer to Him.

1 Samuel 1:10-11 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant, but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed…” Hannah set an incredible example that we could all do well to follow. What do you do when you’re feeling emotional? Do you overeat? Indulge in Netflix or a good book? Do you go on a run to clear your head? Do you take it out on or vent to someone close to you?
Although some of these things may seem harmless, there is only one way to truly solve our problems. Hannah had a big problem, she was barren and she wanted to give her husband children. Instead of praying angrily or selfishly, she decided to pray a sacrificial prayer. “If you will only… I will give him to the Lord.” This is a hard prayer. As a young, unmarried woman, I can’t imagine praying something like this. She was not simply “devoting” her son to God by ceremony, but promising God that her child would live in and serve in the temple. Hannah gave her firstborn son up to God before he was even born.

After the priest overheard her and they cleared up that she was praying and not drunk, like he assumed, he said the words she had longed to hear:

1 Samuel 1:17-18 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant what you have asked of him.” She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went away and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.

Hannah’s response shows her clear sense of faith in God. She did not remain sad until a pregnancy was confirmed, but trusted that God heard her prayer and went away joyfully. In time, God granted her request and she bore a child, naming him Samuel. Once he was weaned, she took him back to the temple to give him to God completely.

1 Samuel 1:27-28 I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.

Hannah did not complain later about her sacrifice, but instead willingly gave up her son to God as she had promised. She showed true gratitude and scripture is clear that God took care of her by giving her other sons:

1 Samuel 2:21 And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.

Hannah’s sacrifice was honored by God. He answered the deepest prayers of her heart, but He waited until she was willing to give something up before answering her. If you’re like me, you may have wondered why God would grant her Samuel only under the circumstance of taking him away. Although she was able to visit him in the temple, according to scripture, they only made that trip once a year.

1 Samuel 2:17-19 The sin of the young men was great in the Lord’s sight, for they were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt. But Samuel was ministering before the Lord- a boy wearing a linen ephod. Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice.

In contrast to the sons of the priest, Samuel ministered before the Lord. As always, God’s purposes are greater than ours. While Hannah only prayed for a son, even though she was willing to give him to God completely, God had something else in mind. There was much evil going on in this time, even in the temple. The priest and his sons had fallen into great evil, but Hannah still trusted God to take care of her son.

1 Samuel 2:35 I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his house and he will minister before my anointed one always.

If you know the story of Samuel at all, you know that he went on to anoint Saul and David, spoke to the people on God’s behalf and fulfilled roles as both a priest and a prophet during a time of spiritual darkness. And to think that God chose Hannah’s faith as the vessel for this great man who would turn the priestly office back to God. You don’t know what God’s goal is for your faith and sacrifice, but I can tell you that it’s going to be more incredible than you can imagine.

What if Hannah had refused to give Samuel to God after he was born? What kin of man would he have become?

I urge you, don’t hold back from God. I’m thoroughly convicted by Hannah’s faith and I’m looking forward to the rest of this study.

To God be the Glory.

“God Knows My Heart”

When I hear a phrase like this, it’s usually in a defensive form. It is the anthem of modern false Christianity and the very poison that keeps many people from seeing the true light.

The truth? Yes, God knows your heart. But what does a statement like that really imply? It’s most common use is along the lines of; “Yes, I’m purposely choosing to sin but God knows that I’m really a good person most of the time.”

Think about it. How many times have you reasoned that in your own mind? Before you get super defensive reading this, I realize that I’ve used this way of thinking to excuse my own sin before too, and it’s not okay. In my own life, I’ve used this terminology to justify my laziness. I love serving in certain capacities, but when it comes to “Domestic” ways of serving (Cooking, cleaning, ect.) I struggle with coming up with excuses. What about you?

This morning I was reading in Luke when I came across this particular passage:

Luke 16:14-15 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.

That didn’t quite feel like the cozy “God knows my heart” saying that passes around. You see, when Jesus taught a hard line message about not loving money, the Pharisees responded in their hearts with contempt. How do you respond to someone calling out your sin? Do you accept the correction or try to justify yourself?

The concept of “God knows my heart” saturates the scriptures pretty deeply. In response to this theology, I’d like to look at a few of the other passages that have similar statements.

Matthew 9:2-6 Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”
Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”

This passage gives another example of Jesus seeing clearly into peoples’ hearts, and what he saw was less than pleasant. God always sees the evil thoughts we entertain. Sure, maybe it wasn’t your idea, maybe it was something that Satan tried to slip into your heart, but did you entertain it? God may know your heart, but that is certainly not an excuse to live wildly. On the other side, Jesus also saw the faith of the paralytic’s friends. What does God see when he looks into your heart?

Proverbs 15:11 Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD– how much more do human hearts!

Nothing is beyond God’s knowledge. You can’t choose to only let him see the good in you, although many of us are guilty of doing that with the people in our lives, it doesn’t work with God. Your heart lies open before him. Even the things that you don’t quite understand or realize about yourself are as clear as day to God, and if you’re truly following Him, He will take the necessary measures to deal with the evil in your heart.

Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

If you will allow it, God’s very word (The Bible) will penetrate and reveal your thoughts and the attitudes of your heart. However, this only helps you if you actually read His word and allow it to cut into your heart. God sees everything, nothing is hidden from his sight. You’re right, God does know your heart, but guess what? He wants to change it.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

One of the saddest misconceptions is that you can “Follow your heart” and somehow get closer to God that way. The sad truth is that your heart is full of tricks and it doesn’t always want the best for your soul. Our hearts are full of deceit and seek to please our own emotions. God is examining our hearts, but we must change the way that we live if we’re going to be close to Him.

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Instead of using “God knows my heart” as an excuse to sin, let’s have the heart of David to have God search us and lead us in the right way. Don’t be deceived by your heart, let God’s word cut through those tricks and emotions to get you on the right path. If you’re interested in Bible Studies, please contact me and I’d love to help.

Tori Lynn.

Worthless Religion


Although my writing has been slightly neglected, I have not stopped altogether.  It came to my attention that it has been a while since I thoroughly read the Bible “cover to cover,” and I have taken on the project of not only reading all of it, but learning from it as I go.  For the minor prophets especially, I have been creating lessons based on some of the less-preached and somewhat intimidating portions of the Bible.

Malachi always struck me as fascinating.  When people talk about money, they are quick to turn to Malachi 3 in order to convict the selfish.  However, much of the rest is often left untouched, though it is just as rich.  If I had fully expounded upon my study, this article would have been much too long to retain the average person’s attention span, so I hope that this condensed version has just as much impact.

(A Study of the Book of Malachi)

1. You Have Shown Contempt
Malachi 1:6-14
“Where is the respect due to me?”
-God deserves our respect, moreso it is DUE to Him.
“But you ask, how have we shown contempt for your name?”

Contempt: Bazah
To despise, hold in contempt, disdain

Vs 7-9
By giving God the least of what you have, you insult and despise him.
How would a simple human-run organization like the IRS respond if you gave your taxes like you gave to God?
(I.E. When you feel like it, if you remember to bring money, if it’s convenient, only if you can pay your other bills first…)
vs 12-14
Do you see your giving as a burden?
Proverbs 3:9-12
Accept God’s discipline and honor him with your giving.
Do you bring God the best offering that you are able to?
2. You Have Wearied the Lord
Malachi 2:17
-Are you condoning sin, or calling it out?
-God is not pleased with the approval of sin

Wearied: Yaga
To make toil, to make weary, faint

By refusing to deal with sin, we make God tired of dealing with us.
The very Creator of the universe who only chose to rest after creating the earth and the solar system in six days grows tired of our tolerance of sin.

Malachi 3:1-5
We know that John the Baptist was the first messenger to prepare the way and Jesus was the messenger prophesied to bring the new covenant.
Jesus came, not to save us IN our sins, but to save them FROM them. The refiner of silver burns off the dross, cleaning the silver to perfection. This is how Jesus cleanses us through trials.
Luke 3:7-9
John the Baptist came preaching repentance, and he wasn’t light about it either.
Matthew 4:17
From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus also preached repentance.

Matthew 18:15-17
Are you wearying the Lord by not calling out sin?
Honor God by participating in purifying the people.
3. You Have Robbed God

Malachi 3:6-8
-Are you attempting to rob God?
-When we don’t give our whole tithe, we separate ourselves from God
Tithe: Ma’aser
Tenth part, payment of a tenth

Is your contribution less than a tenth of your income?
Are you constantly not hitting your contribution?
Although we don’t give only a “tithe” in the new covenant, your contribution should not be less, or we are robbing God.

Matthew 5:17-19
Jesus did not intend to destroy the concept of tithing, but to make it more about our heart.
If hatred is equated with murder and lust with adultery, how much more of an issue is it to rob God?
Malachi 3:7 “Return to me and I will return to you.”
God asks our repentance, how will you respond?

Ephesians 4:28
If you have been stealing from God in your tithes and offerings, find “something useful” to do, get a job or sell some things you don’t need so that you can repent.
“That there may be food in my house”
When you rob God by not giving your contribution, you are also robbing the church staff and missionaries around the world. The church budgets mission teams and churches based off of our pledge, when you don’t keep your word, you don’t keep food in God’s house and hurt those who are serving full time.
2 Corinthians 9:7
Have the right heart when you give to God, return to Him and He will return to you!
Malachi 3:9-12
God puts problems in our lives to help us realize what we are doing to Him.
When you stop robbing God, all will call you blessed because God will take care of you.

4. Those Who Revere My Name

Malachi 3:13-18
-Do you speak arrogantly against God?
-Or do you fear the Lord?

Distinguish: ra’ah
To see, look at, inspect, perceive, consider, observe, distinguish, discern…

God knows where you stand, and He knows the truth in your heart.
If we complain arrogantly against God, we are set apart with the evildoers.
Do you get tired of sharing your faith, being in the fellowship and giving?
Or are you among the faithful that God hears and spares?
Malachi 4:1-5
We know what lies ahead, eternal judgement or eternity with God. If you have a bad heart towards God, you will not be spared.
However, if we revere God’s name, we will prosper.
Deuteronomy 30:19

Choose life, don’t dishonor God’s name or complain about what you are being put through.
Hebrews 12:7-11
Trust in what God is doing in your life and fear Him.

There is no point in living your life as “kind of a Christian,” full of worthless religion. God does not want lip service.
Matthew 15:8
Honor God by serving Him with your whole heart, and you will be counted among those who revere his name and are spared.

Malachi finishes with a quick prophecy about John the Baptist, beginning the intertestamental period.  As we reflect on this time when the word of God was not preached, we must be careful to not waste God’s grace in our lives by giving us His word freely.

To God Be the Glory,

Tori Lynn W.

A Costly Left Turn

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Goodness, what a weekend.

Yes, in case you were wondering, that is a hospital bracelet. This is the weekend of our church’s annual Winter Workshop, a sort of leadership conference where people come in from all over the world and the nation. I woke up Friday morning very excited about the long drive from Antelope Valley to start this off. Minutes later, the front of my RAV4 was scattered across the intersection and the impact kept running through my head.

Many prayers and tears later, I had to laugh a little bit. I don’t pretend to understand what God allows vs what He causes to train us, but I definitely can learn a lot from this.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:17-18‬

The shattered pieces of my car suddenly seemed like much less than a catastrophe and much more like a wake up call.  I have developed the terrible habit of depending on my own strength instead of praying as much or as deeply as I should be.  After loads of anxiety about not having insurance and reflecting on everything, even the gigantic mountains we drove past felt like nothing.

God is greater.

One simple crash could seem like a lot if I focused on what I could see, but as the conference went on the crash seemed to shrink into the background.  Even as I limped around the conference center we were meeting in, the more stories I heard from around the world, the smaller my little bruises (and yes, that’s all I came away with) felt.

The fellowship was sweet and the lessons were fire, at the end of it all I’m just grateful that I stuck it out.

Yet, at the same time I had to handle some pretty big truths:

#1: Never EVER drive without insurance.  Trust me, it’s really not worth it.  You will truly save nothing at the end of the day.

#2: Don’t be afraid to take left turns, but know that things happen.  Sometimes you think you see everything, sometimes you can’t tell.

#3: God is in control and sometimes you have to take hits, but He still takes care of you in the end if you follow Him.

#4: Pray. Pray often, pray deeply, pray without ceasing, pray alone, pray with others.  It is certainly not going to do much good alone if you do not live your life for God, but it is most certainly necessary and is definitely powerful.

The accident itself was quick, I simply thought I was taking a left turn and going on my way as normal. I didn’t see anything until the headlights smashed into the side of my car. It felt as though time stopped for a moment while Biscuit spun into a pole on the other side of the street.  As I fumbled with my keys to pull them out of the ignition, everything inside of me felt shaken except for one. My faith. I was alive, for some reason the other car had hit me at the exact spot that didn’t cause any serious injury.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”‭‭ Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬

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As I left little Biscuit at the impound, I didn’t feel upset, angry or even that disappointed.  Sure, there’s a lot of muddy waters I’ve got to sort through right now, but I’m alive and there are still people to study the Bible with and I still have lessons to learn.  In the end, I know that I’ve really got nothing to worry about.  Although I feel utterly swamped, I am certain that  (Romans 8:28) everything is going to work out.

To God be the Glory.

Tori Lynn W.