“Rebuild the temple,
that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,’
says the LORD.”
— Haggai 1:8
Let me begin this chapter with a bit of encouragement, by sharing my first step toward looking to the Lord for His plan of getting my past/back tithes paid. As I gave it to Him again, and again, and again, I found that the first step was to get excited, rather than panic, and actually boast about my weaknesses. For, “He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Knowing I needed His power to dwell in me, big time, instead of sharing this with all my children at once, I took the time to share it with each of them alone. I also made a point of sharing my weaknesses, how I had failed to pay tithes, with some of my closest friends. I was ecstatic to find several opportunities that God opened up for me to share this with acquaintances and even some strangers. I knew that this boasting would give me the power I needed to press forward with the upcoming challenges I was about to face, which would ultimately change the course of my life.
The next step was to seek God for how to start. He showed me that I needed to begin with the first tithe I failed to pay, the largest one, which meant I had to tithe more than a thousand dollars “somewhere”, as I mentioned earlier in this chapter. Trust me, this amount seemed like a lot, especially because I had recently gotten several bank overdraft notices. Yet, this is how it usually happens. God loves to stack the odds, raise the impossibilities. So, here I was with no money in my accounts as I tried to hang on. In addition, I just got a notice that a new credit card had turned me down (a credit card I didn’t even want or apply for but what was sent to me)—that’s when I fully realized that God was just making a point!
And maybe you’re thinking, as I was, how could she have so many people (my wonderful “heroes” as I call them) who have been donating to her ministry, but her bank account is just barely staying open? How is this even possible?
Because, remember, my purse has holes in it!!
“Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Consider your ways!
You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes. Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Consider your ways!
Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,’ says the LORD.
‘You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away Why?’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house.’” (Haggai 1:5-9).
And if a purse with holes was not enough of a problem, add to this that the wall to my finances and my life has a huge gap in it!!
“I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30).
All I wanted to do was immediately sew up the hole in my purse and patch up that gaping space in my wall—but I had no money to buy mortar or a needle and thread!
What are you and I supposed to do?
Isaiah 55:1-3 The Free Offer of Mercy
“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.
“Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance.
“Incline your ear and come to Me
Listen, that you may live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
According to the faithful mercies shown to David.”
Darling, are you where I am too? And, wow, do you see? There is no fear. All we have to do is relax and give it to our Heavenly Husband to work out for us. He’s got the perfect plan— so why do we waste our time and effort by trying to think of our own plan that wears us out, worries us to death, until we give up—so we will finally turn everything over to Him?
“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8–9).
“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11).
My Heavenly Husband was way ahead of me (duh). Remember that tax return that I sowed as my “first fruits”? Well, guess what? Though I had planned to use it to help send RMI’s first missionary to Africa, due to the hole in my purse, a series of “autopayments” in my checking account had used it up. Suddenly, when I looked, if I had to help at that exact moment, I wouldn’t have had enough!
That’s what happens when we figure out a plan, doesn’t it? However, when we look to Him, and not ourselves, that’s when we find we are never short. The very day I saw this dilemma, I felt led to go out to my mailbox, and on my way there, I kept telling Him that I didn’t want to open it because that mailbox only brought me bills, overdraft notices, and cruel letters.
But, then, when I opened it, there it was—another government tax refund! How could it be? Believe it or not, I opened the envelope and received double just like He said I would!
“Speak kindly to Jerusalem; and call out to her, that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been removed, that she has received of the LORD’S hand Double for all her sins” (Isaiah 40:2).
No one could understand how I could possibly get a second refund check, and surely there must be some sort of logical explanation. After some time had passed, I thought that our government tax offices must have made a mistake and so I was going to find out what I needed to do to send the check back. Yet, God graciously spoke truth to me through my son, when he said, “Mom, what are the chances of you being right versus the government being right? Taxes are their job, they are experts, right? You did your own taxes, obviously, the error is on your side” and happily in my favor!
Well, there you go! The first back tithe was paid and used to send a missionary to Africa after all. I couldn’t wait to send the money for the ticket and began to shudder thinking that I needed to do it fast before anything else broke or we went completely under financially! Yet, God is never in a hurry, and He wants us to live hurry-free too.
Dearest bride, would you believe that just knowing the intent of my heart, all of a sudden, things that were broken God began repairing and replacing!?!
All of a sudden, my son fixed our kitchen table so now it is level and is sturdier than before. And my younger son watched as the Lord gave us immeasurable favor when he brought our broken water cooler to the store, and they gave us a brand-new cooler! And if that were not enough, as a man shopping showed up to get the cooler off the shelf and then another man showed up in the parking lot to put it in my car! If that were not amazing enough, when I purchased the first water cooler, it would not fit in my car. Yet, the replacement cooler slid right in even though they were both exactly the same size, the very same water cooler!
Other things that were broken began turning out to be blessings. Why? Because we have and can believe His promise, that I call my never-ending “get out of jail cards.” First is Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Better yet, do what I do and take one of my favorite promises found in Isaiah 40:2 that we already read. Read it again and again until it becomes yours! “Speak kindly to Jerusalem; and call out to her, that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been removed, that she has received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”
God’s grace and mercy are there for us, and our Beloved died so we could have them. So why then do we not use what He died to give us? Does it make me want to sin or mess up? No, of course not. Actually, the opposite is true. Having His grace and mercy motivates me to live free from evil. Evil will only keep me bound and unable to love or give what He has died to give to you and me!
What God has already done confirms that He already has a plan to help me pay all my back tithes. And my back tithes are not just from the big donations I failed to tithe, but from all my ministry’s increase.
In my finite and simple mind, of course, I have no idea how He is going to do it. Even if I gave everything I received somewhere, it means that I am still 10% short. So, do I give 90% plus 10%? And if I do, how can I pay my bills and not go under? Confused? I am.
But, guess what? I don’t have to understand or know any of the details. All I have to do is look to Him. “They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed” (Psalm 34:5). “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Isn’t that comforting? Isn’t this freeing? Isn’t this just too good to be true?! A lot like salvation isn’t it?
Just be sure you encourage someone today with this message — so many need to hear it.
Clarification. We all learned in Erin’s books that our tithe is given to our storehouse, Malachi 3:8–10, and our offering can be used as He leads Haggai 1:9. This is also true when it comes to our ministry’s tithe. Though my personal tithe always goes to RMI, my ministry tithe is often sent and used elsewhere.