Category Archives: God

Thinking vs. Doing

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We have a little saying around our house that we use with our daughter Eleanor, “Obey right away without delay”. She has heard this so often, especially when she was in her three year old phase, that she could finish our sentence for us. We have been working very hard at teaching her the importance of obedience. We would explain to her why it was important to obey mommy and daddy, and we have had to teach her on occasion what results in disobedience.

Eleanor obviously still disobeys from time to time, but for the most part she is now a very obedient child. And the best part is that she’s respectfully obedient. Hopefully that will last to her teenage years 😉

So my four year old has obedience down pretty good; hummmmm……….and then there’s me………

I like to call myself determined, my husband however would call me stubborn. And at times I guess I can be somewhat stubborn in my obedience to God. Oh sure I give plenty of excuses, but my main ones are: what if that’s me and not God speaking; I will when ___________; let me just get the house cleaned first!

The first excuse is the main one I fall to quite often. I do not want to do anything God has not called me to do, but I have allowed myself to take that uncertainty of hearing from God and have allowed it to cancel out some of the things I know are from God. It took me three years to obey God in starting this very blog. Oh sure I tried to start it several times, but I faltered on my commitment.

My women’s group at church has been doing a study on Jonah. It’s called: Jonah, Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer. This is an awesome study if you’re looking for something to do with a group. This study has thrown the idea of disobedience in my face for the last four weeks. If you know anything about the story of Jonah then you know that he disobeyed God in going to Nineveh and therefore was swallowed up by a great fish and resided in the belly of that fish for three days.

Jonah 1:2 says, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before me.”

Well Jonah did arise and go, but in the completely opposite direction from where God was sending him. Priscilla Shirer points out in her study that, “it’s easy for us to impersonate obedience.”

People are great at deceiving others and themselves. It’s easy to go to church, to talk about what God is showing you and asking you to do as if you’re trying to move in that direction. Others might buy it. And in some areas of disobedience it’s not that you’re hiding something, but maybe just not doing something God has put on your heart time and again. For example, God could be asking you to tell someone about Jesus, and you come up with excuse after excuse to disobey. We don’t label it as disobedience, oh no we put a much better feeling excuse on it like: I’m still growing in the Lord; God’s still working on me; I’m still praying over it.

Maybe your area of disobedience isn’t involved in discipling, maybe it’s giving up alcohol or quitting smoking, or breaking up with a guy, or putting up blocks on your internet. Whatever it is obedience can be VERY hard.

We can’t do these things on our own, that’s why God has put His Spirit in us to empower us!

We need to connect our hearts with God’s. We need to connect our minds with His truth. We need to give all the excuses and fears over to the one who can take them from us and give us back strength, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, kindness, faithfulness and self-control.

What is it that you have been disobeying God on? What has He been speaking to your heart about that you need to stand up and do? God is a god of second, third, twenty-fifth chances. Jonah knows that well. In Jonah 3:1 it says, “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time”.

God is there waiting on you. Go to Him again in obedience.

God Bless! Have a great week!

It’s Gonna Be Worth It

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Yesterday at church we sang the song, Worth It All by Rita Springer. I have always loved this because it reminds me that choosing to live the life of a Christ follower will be worth it. My family is in full-time ministry, so we are constantly seeking after Christ in an effort to bring others to Him and help them in their walk with Jesus. I couldn’t imagine a better way to live life, but it’s not always easy. Actually, it can be quite hard, but I know that all of the sacrifice, long hours, committed weekends and counseling sessions will be worth it all. The only thing we can bring with us from this life into eternity will be other people. I want to bring as many people into the Kingdom of God as I possibly can, but that only happens through witnessing the love and grace of Jesus Christ to all who are around us.

It’s gonna be worth it all!

This song makes me think of a scripture that has been close to my heart since college: 1 Corinthians 15:58.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

It’s hard to live as a Christ-follower in this world. There are movies I really want to see but don’t because they either have nudity in them or tons of cussing or a thousand other things that go against the standards I’m trying to live my life by. Every now and then I think it would be nice to wind down with a glass of wine at dinner, but I don’t because I made a commitment to avoid even the appearance of sin. There are times I have wanted to just let someone hear a piece of my mind, but rather I chose to surrender my frustration to God and humble myself before Him and others. Soooo often I want to choose me, I majorly struggle with selfishness; it is a daily dying to self so that I can walk closer with Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:58 is telling us that as Christ-followers we need to stand firm. When temptations like movies, drinking, gossip, anger, selfishness and laziness try to pull us away from God we have to stand firm! It’s not easy, but I guarantee that it’s gonna be worth it all!

Here is a link to the song Worth It All. Check it out. I hope it encourages you stand firm; to give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because it won’t be in vain. Living a life for Christ is worth it all!

God Bless, have a great week.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQVmR0jV52A

The Armor of God (Fashionista Style)

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“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put o the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Eph. 6:10-18).

Knowing how to wear and use the Armor of God can, in an illustrative use only, be related to knowing how to be stylish! The Armor of God is all connected, it’s not separate pieces but rather it’s connected through God’s word. Similarly, the things we wear seem separate, but they should be connected with such a flow that it creates a certain style, and each piece adds to it. So let’s break down this huge passage and look at each part of the Armor of God, and why not look at it through the eyes of Fall Fashion!

Belt of Truth:

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“Wearing the belt of truth means knowing the Truth (Jesus), reading the truth (the scriptures), and living the truth (a life of integrity). All three are essential” (Lawless pg. 86). The truth of who God is and what His words say and how we should live our lives needs to be the focus of who we are. Much like how an awesome belt can become the center-piece of an outfit, Christ needs to be the center-piece of who we are.

Breastplate of Righteousness

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An essential Fall piece is an awesome cardigan. I love cardigans! They are so versatile and perfect for the changing temperatures. When thinking about the Breastplate of Righteousness I was led to thinking about a wonderful cardigan. We can be righteous because God has given us His Righteousness! It is through Christ’s death on the cross that we may be cloaked in the Righteousness of God. But being made Righteous by God doesn’t mean we have no responsibility; God has called us to live righteously, to show the presence of God in our lives by making Godly choices. Much like this gorgeous cardigan pictured above, we are covered in the Righteousness of God, but we have to wear it around, allowing it to set the standards for in which we live.

The Gospel of Peace

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Great shoes can do so much for an outfit! They can totally kill or complete the look. In the Armor of God, the Gospel of Peace is connected in scripture to putting on sandals. Basically it’s saying we need to be ready with shoes on and everything, to share God’s word whenever an opportunity presents itself. I know when I am wearing an awesome pair of shoes I feel empowered, ready to take on whatever. We need that same tenacity in how we feel about sharing God’s word. First we need to make sure we are ready by knowing how. Do you know any scripture that you could use to lead another person to Christ? If not, look in Romans 3:23, 5:8, 10:9-10, 10:13, 10:17. And secondly, we need to be seeking out opportunities to tell others about Christ. I know it can be intimidating at first, but the Holy Spirit is there to empower us and give us the boldness to share God’s word; lean on God’s strength!

The Shield of Faith

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Okay so I connected the Shield of Faith to those awesome Fall purses that are calling my name! “Paul used the illustration of a shield to help us understand faith. In Paul’s day, Roman soldiers covered their shields with leather and soaked them in water to defend against the Enemy’s flaming arrows. They were to press forward in war, not allowing the Enemy’s attack to hinder their forward progress. Using that image, Paul called believers to take up the shield of faith, meaning we’re to trust the truths and promises of God’s word when the Enemy aims his arrows at us. Faith means we press on regardless of the opposition’s ferocity” (Lawless, pg. 89). I hold a lot of important stuff inside of my enormous purse, and the purse itself protects those things. Our Faith protect us when we are going through a storm in life. It’s what pushes us on. I have definitely used my purse to push myself through some annoying crowds in the past. You know what I’m talking about! That big ole’ purse and a halfway nice sounding “excuse me” has gotten us through some of the tightest of squeezes, and so has my Faith. It’s gotten me through sickness, fear, frustration and doubt.

The Helmet of Salvation

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The Helmet of Salvation is not talking about our “final salvation in Heaven but about having victory every day through Christ. It’s about conquering sin in the present tense” (Lawless pg. 90). The Armor of God term is Helmet not Trophy. If it were the trophy of salvation, then after we acquired it we would put it on display and walk away. That’s not how it works nor is it the intention of wearing a helmet of salvation. Like an awesome trendy hat, we have to choose to put it on. It is an act of intentionality. We are all sinners and fall short so we need to each day focus our attention on putting on our salvation in an effort to resist temptations. Hats of all sorts have become quite the trend; however, the average person will not wear a hat with every outfit…that would just be weird….but as a Christian it is essential to always wear our Helmet of Salvation.

Sword of the Spirit

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The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. I cannot replace it or even use something else to represent it. It is so important to know and have with us our Sword. It is both a defensive and of offensive weapon. By knowing God’s word we can call Satan out on his lies. At the same time, we can offer Truth and hope to a hurting world. You know a great place to carry this sword around in, is an awesome trendy purse! Take the word with you. Make it a part of your daily routine and wardrobe.

So there you have it!  A Fashionista’s version of the Armor of God. I hope you all have a blessed week, and remember to check yourselves each day to make sure you are stylin’ that Armor of God!

Lawless, Chuck: Mentor:How Along-The -Way Discipleship Will Change Your Life

Take Down the Christmas Lights!

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Sorry in advance if I offend you in saying this, but it drives me crazy to see Christmas lights still strung up on the front porch in any month but December. I guess it can slide for the whole winter season, but seriously if it’s past February it’s time to move on and take down the Christmas lights!

This annoyance happens to bring a verse to mind that we’re going to take a look at today:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecc. 3:1-8)

Yesterday while on a walk in the new crisp air outside, I began to think about the seasons of year and how they so closely represent the seasons we often go through in our life. Spring: a time in our life where new things come forth, new normals are made, we start fresh again. Summer: a time in our life where things are in their prime, but eventually the heat brings on weariness. Fall: a time where life begins to change, a place of transition. Winter: a time of loneliness or void, where things that once were are no longer.

There is a season for everything under the sun. But often we don’t want to admit we are in, and we certainly don’t want to go through Fall and Winter. We like things to be somewhat predictable, change is scary at times, loss can lead us into a time of such darkness and self misery, that we would rather avoid it all together than go through it. But just like our four seasons are necessary to the physical environment, seasons are also necessary in our life.

There is a young lady who I am currently mentoring. She is in between Fall and Winter right now in her life. She has just transitioned out of a normal and happy place that she has been for the past four years and is stepping into a new environment that she neither wants nor likes. The recently past life is falling, changing into a new life that God has for her but she cannot quite see. Because of the unknown, she is afraid to move forward. To allow herself to grieve the fact that this chapter of her life is finished and it’s time to move on to the new season God is preparing.

As much as we hate the thought of living in a constant winter, it can become quite comfy.  We get used to our loneliness or anger or fear, and to let go of it and move on can be just as scary as when it was first thrown upon us.

The times of Winter in our lives are not meant for us to hibernate like the bears; to shut out the world and sleep away the void, rather it’s a time we should be hibernating in God’s word. By doing this we are allowing God to pour into us what He knows we will need for that next season in our life. The Winters in our lives can be overwhelmingly hard: a loved one has died, you or someone you love is diagnosed with a disease, a miscarriage, a divorce, a child moving away, leaving home and friends for the first time…..the list could go on and on. But isn’t it something how in the season that represents death and coldness and void is also the season God chose to send the Savior, the Resurrector, the New Life giver!

Praise God that we are not alone in our seasons! God is right there. He is with you in the Spring when all things are new and maybe a little unsure. He is with you in your prime when it all seems so beautiful. He is with you in the Fall when life begins to transition. And He is with you in the Winter, when you can no longer feel the warmth of life or the newness just a few months away.

Allow yourself to go through the seasons of life. They are needed. To reference back to our verse in Ecclesiastes, there is a season for everything and in every season you will find God is right there. But just as important as it is to go through each season it is also important that we don’t stay in a season. That doesn’t mean that what we move on from is forgotten, it just means we are trusting in God for each new step. So don’t be like the people who leave their Christmas lights up all year long, refusing to move on from certain times in your life, but be willing to allow God to heal your heart, to move you on, to put away the Christmas lights and step into your new season.

God Bless you today and I pray you are able to give God everything in each season of your life.

Modest is Hottest

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Modesty, or actually the lack there of, has become a major cultural issue in our society. It’s hard to walk through any mall or grocery store without seeing someone”s booty hanging out of the backside of their jeans, or every inch of cleavage proudly on display for all to see. And what’s scary is that a lot of people who dress immodestly don’t have clue that their way of dressing is inappropriate. Kids aren’t being taught modesty from the home. They are taking their modest clues from T.V. and magazines. And God knows we don’t need thousands of Miley Cyrus’ running around!

Christians need to be the ones setting an example for modest dress. However, it’s very common on a Sunday morning or at our youth group to see just as much cleavage and legs as I do at the local mall. The only way we are going to break this cycle is by stepping up as a young adult generation and show that modest is hottest, and for all of us young parents or parents to be to make modesty an important issue in our homes.

First though, let’s begin with God’s word. Because it doesn’t matter what I think about modesty, or what the world says; ultimately it comes down to God’s truth which is found in the word.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in          righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16)

Jami Balmet, blogger on Young Wife’s Guide, points out that, “scripture does not go into every detail. It doesn’t talk about hemline lengths or how tight is too tight. But it does give general principles on how to live a Godly life. From there we must go to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to convict our hearts and show us His way for modesty.”

“Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” (1 Tim. 2:9-10)

Jami also stated that, “while Paul does not speak to specific guidelines when it comes to dress, he does call women to be modest and to have self control. The New Testament church hearing this for the first time would not have been confused on what modest dress means. Many in the church that Paul wrote to were copying the fashion of the Roman ladies, which was provocative and extravagant. They dressed to seduce. In contrast, the woman of the church were expected to wear modest clothing that did not draw sexual attention to themselves.”

As Christians, we should not want to cause another brother to stumble. It’s hard enough for guys, and girls alike, to not visually lust after the opposite sex, so we don’t need to add to that temptation by dressing to appeal sexy.

C.J. Mahaney, author of God, My Heart, and Clothes, says that, “Modesty means propriety. It means avoiding clothes and adornment that are extravagant or sexually enticing. Modesty is humility expressed in dress. It’s a desire to serve others, particularly men, by not promoting or provoking sensuality.”

He also points out what immodesty looks like. “Immodesty, then, is much more than wearing a short skirt or low-cut top; it’s the act of drawing undue attention to yourself. It’s pride, on display by what you wear.”

I know how hard it is to fight the feeling that I need to look sexy all the time. It’s constantly put in our heads. But the truth is, the only person I should look sexy for is my husband. Single ladies, by dressing sexy in hopes of attracting a guy, you will more than likely attract the kind of guy you’re not going to want waiting for you at the end of the aisle on your wedding day. Dress modestly; allow the beauty of who you are and whose you are to be what attracts your future forever to you, because those are the things that last. External beauty fades.

If you’re not sure what in your wardrobe is considered modest or immodest, then do what I do whenever I buy something new: I do the bend check. Stand in front of a mirror and bend down. If my cleavage shows, the shirt is too low cut or too loose. If my backside shows, the pants are too low. For a skirt or dress, when I bend over it should still cover the back of my thighs and not ride up almost to the point of showing my booty. I try to wear dresses and skirts that come close to the knee. When dresses and skirts are higher than that it just causes guys to visually continue up your exposed thigh and think about what is at the end of that trail.

Yes, it’s not our job to keep another person holy, but it is our job to be humble, to have self-control, to dress modestly and to not cause our brother to stumble.

I encourage you today to not only dress modestly, but to influence those around you in the same manner.

God Bless!

Christian Atheist

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The book, Christian Atheist, by Craig Groeschel is an excellent and life-challenging read, and I wanted to take the opportunity to type up a review of the main points found in this book. At first glance of the title, I was perplexed at the idea of Christian Atheism; could there really be such a thing? And then I read the book and realized not only does it exist, but it is rampant among those who claim to follow Christ.

The main concept of the book is that a Christian Atheist is someone who believes in God, but lives as though He doesn’t exist. The book takes a look at how this can take root in twelve different areas of our life. Here are a few of those areas of Christian Atheism that Groeschel digested:

When you believe in God but don’t really know Him

When you believe in God but don’t think He’s fair

When you believe in God but aren’t sure He loves you

When you believe in God but trust more in money

When you believe in God but pursue happiness at any cost

When you believe in God but not in His church

Throughout the book, I was challenged to take a look at different areas of my Christian walk to make sure that I wasn’t only believing but also trusting and following my Savior. James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”

It takes more than believing to have a relationship with Christ. This book opened my eyes to that concept in such a new and important way. I do not want to merely say I believe, but have areas of my life that scream the opposite; I want to believe and for my life, in every way, to reflect the belief I have in Jesus Christ.

Christ desires for us to give Him all of who we are, not only parts of us. He wants us to surrender our money, our words, our weekends, our wardrobe, what we do and how we do it. He wants to be the center of it all. He doesn’t want to just be one aspect of who we are.

I know there have been times in my walk with Christ that I could have been classified as a Christian Atheist; what about you? Are you at a place in your relationship with Christ where you simply believe? Or are you daily dying to yourself and following Him in all you do and in all you are? We all have areas to grow in. I encourage you this week to be in prayer with God asking Him to reveal to you those areas of your life where you may not be fully following after Him.

If you have time to pick up this book, it’s an awesome read! Craig is a great writer, and is able to get across such deep revelations through humor and personal testimonies. I recently went through this book with the young adult small group I am over and they loved it.

If you have a chance to read it, or if you have already read it, let me know what you think.

God Bless! I hope you have enjoyed your Labor Day, I did that’s why this blog is being posted so late 😉

Tithing

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Reader’s Question: Every Sunday my husband and I tithe something but it’s not always 10 percent of our check is this bad?”

There are a lot of questions floating around out there for today’s believers on the area of tithing. Questions like the following:

“Is it relevant for today or is it just and Old Testament principle?”

“Do I have to tithe 10%?”

To begin answering these questions we must first take a look at Matthew 6:21; “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. When we choose to give God 10% of our income, it shows that our heart doesn’t belong to our money, but rather that we love God more than our money.

A lot of people get caught up on the thought that tithing is mandatory. As if it keeps us in bondage within our relationship with God. But God’s standards were not put in place to keep us in bondage but rather to bless us. There are a lot of standards throughout the bible that God desires for us to follow after. One such standard is to keep sex within the context of marriage. This standard isn’t to make us miserable, but to protect us from all the bad that can come from having sex outside of a life-long commitment to each other that is made through marriage.  Tithing is meant to be a blessing in our lives. It blesses us as we are able to help bless others through our obedience in giving God our first tenth. Again this not about our works saving us (we dealt with that on Friday); we are only saved by the grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus. Tithing is not a salvation issue.

As far as the 10% goes, does the amount matter? The reason I believe God puts a percentage on it is because He is aware of our selfish nature. God wants us to give out of a cheerful heart, but a lot of times we need to just take the steps in giving the full amount asked by God, which is 10% of our first fruits (before taxes). If it is hard at first, this gives God the opportunity to soften our hearts as He shows us the blessings that can come through being obedient in our tithing. It all belongs to Him anyways. My husband and I used to not give the full 10%; we were younger in age and in our spiritual walk with Christ. We found ourselves in some hard financial spots, to the point where we weren’t sure if we could tithe anything at all. Finally, my husband made the decision that regardless of the amount coming in the full 10% of our first fruits would go back to God. It was really hard to put that check in the offering plate at first, but through the first few months of being obedient we witnessed God step in to our finances and do amazing things with them. As we became more aware of the fact that we are stewards and what we have belongs to God, we became more careful as to where we spent our money. There were months our number of what needed to go out ended in the red, but we tithed and somehow we always had enough. Now as we continue to be faithful in our tithing, we are constantly seeing God provide for us in ways we couldn’t imagine. In ways I honestly think wouldn’t be there if we weren’t being obedient in tithing and being good stewards of what God has given us.

To answer the question about whether tithing is just an Old Testament principle or if it can be applied to the New Testament, I have chosen to directly quote Cortni Marrazzo from her article, Is Tithing for the New Testament Believer: (actually a lot of her thoughts line up with mine on the topic of tithing and I used this article as a guide for my post today)

 “Whether the tithe is only for Old Testament or if it is also included in the New Testament is probably the most debated issue.  The scripture most frequently referenced regarding the tithe is indeed in the Old Testament (Malachi 3:10-12), but the tithe is also referenced in the New Testament. In Matthew 23:23, Jesus talks to the Pharisees, condemning them for tithing to the penny but neglecting the more important issues of justice, mercy and faith.  He then goes on to tell them that they should in fact tithe, but that they shouldn’t neglect the more important things. Jesus recognized the importance of keeping the tithe and we should, too.

There are many practices in the Old Testament that don’t make sense to us today, yet many of these ancient ways carry over to the New Testament law of grace as part of Christ’s promise to not abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). For instance we no longer sacrifice animals but as believers we are called to offer ourselves up as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1).  Men no longer are required to be circumcised, but we all have a circumcision of the heart through the Holy Spirit (Rom 2:29).  Most of us don’t have grain and produce to bring to the storehouse, but we do have incomes that we can bring the first tenth of into the church. In other words, just because something is written in the Old Testament doesn’t mean it lacks application to us today in some way or another. While it is true that we are no longer under the old law, that we are under grace, we must not forget the purpose of grace: to help us live for God and do the things He wants us to do. Romans 8:4 tells us that Jesus came that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, not so that we could altogether dismiss it. And Romans 3:21-31 talks about how we have righteousness through faith and not through following the law, but verse 31 adds “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.” God’s grace gives us the power and ability to tithe!

I hope this is a good starting point in answering the questions I’ve been asked about tithing. If you have any additional questions, seek God! He will surely direct your steps.

Hope you all have a great week!