“But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.”
— Psalm 37:11
There’s something about to take place in all of our lives—can you feel it? While at the same time, there’s something also happening that is trying to stop it—can you see it?
Many have noticed both. Just recently I received an email from a friend saying that for the first time, she can’t pay her taxes that are due. I’ve seen the same thing creeping up on many of the faithful women who tithe, but who are, for the first time, not able to pay their bills. Maybe you’ve gotten an overdraft notice from your bank; you’ve gotten a past due letter from your credit card or mortgage company. So, what’s happening?
We are teetering on the brink of ruin or prosperity.
The question is, which way is our mountain going to fall: into the sea, or will it come crashing down on top of us? That’s the picture the Lord gave me, when I asked Him to show me what’s happening. We’ve envisioned our mountain of debt falling into the sea, seeing ourselves debt free and living in prosperity. Unfortunately, for some, the mountain is about fall forward on us. An avalanche of rock and mud, and with it all the dreams will be left under a pile of rubble, as we sit, surrounded by shame, pain, and confusion—wondering what happened.
Which way will your mountain fall?
Mine, I am determined, will fall into the sea. Though the enemy wants to use fear and intimidation to make me believe I am headed for ruin, not blessings, I refuse to believe it, and the way to prove my trust in Him is through my actions. The same goes for you; what you do is going to prove what you believe. It is not what we say; it’s what we do that is the determining factor.
Yet, what we must do is terribly difficult, and for me to say it isn’t difficult wouldn’t be honest. When faced with financial and/or personal ruin, each of us must come, first, to the place of searching where we went wrong. It is called humility—a character quality that is almost absent in the world today. Unlike the Psalmist who asked God to “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23–24), today most say “‘I have done no wrong,’” as the adulteress said in Proverbs 30:20. Or they find someone or something else to blame.
Yet, this is not the characteristic of those who are His. Each time I have come up against something that has the potential to ruin me, I instinctively go to the Lord to see where I have gone wrong. Time and again, I’m thankful when He tells me that I have not made a mistake, but to simply trust Him. But when I began hearing that close friends of mine, whom I’d ministered to, were coming up financially short, unable to pay their bills, that’s when the Lord CONVICTED me of where I had gone wrong.
There was no shame in the revelation, none at all; I felt only conviction. Conviction is different, because it’s a strong desire to make things right at any cost, whereas “condemnation” is hopelessness coupled with blame and shame. Condemnation, therefore, is not from God. God convicts; the enemy condemns.
Immediately after I was convicted, suddenly, the light went on, and I realized that in my quest to move my mountain of debt, I failed to teach you, my readers (failing to feed the flock He has entrusted to me), the proper principles about giving. I failed to share with my closest friends the foundation to moving mountains of debt. Specifically, I failed to clearly explain that tithing begins with giving to your storehouse. I suppose that I assumed I was teaching you “by example” and that was enough. It wasn’t. Not only did it prove to almost bankrupt my own ministry, even worse, it caused a lot of you (who were ignorant of this scheme of the enemy) to also come to the place of financial ruin or collapse, due primarily to a “lack of knowledge” when it comes to giving to your storehouse.
The only readers who are going to make it through, avoiding a catastrophe, are those who learned the principles and practiced the principles of giving to your storehouse, which comes with God’s warranty—tithing and giving cheerfully equals prosperity! That’s His promise.
Did you know that tithing is an act of obedience that always appears to be impossible to do? No one who faithfully tithes will tell you that it was easy when they began tithing. Every one of us looked at our income, what we brought in, and mentally (or often on paper) calculated, only to see immediately that if we tithed, we wouldn’t be able to pay our bills. Yet, we each chose to trust God by what He SAID, not by what we SAW. That’s called faith. “And without faith, it is impossible to please God…” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV).
So, once each of us stepped out and tithed to our storehouse, we discovered that, not surprisingly, we had more than enough! We found, time and again, we could not afford NOT to tithe!!
So, what then is your storehouse? Your storehouse is simply where you are being spiritually fed. Unfortunately, many of us begin tithing, then soon become legalistic and religious with where we tithe.
When I was going to church, I was being spiritually fed there, week after week, so it was easy to know where to tithe. Even though I wasn’t fed well, I was fed. Yet, the real struggle came when I let go of my church, which is a struggle in and of itself. First you wonder what everyone, including yourself, will think, when you’re not going to church. That is followed by dealing with those who often begin to judge you.
Soon after I let go of my church, I got my first paycheck. So, like I do with everything, I simply asked my HH where to tithe. Immediately I heard, “Tithe to RMI.” Yet I thought, “How stupid.” First, it’s not a church. Next, I thought, why would I take my paycheck from RMI (being my main income) only to turn around and give back a tenth? How ridiculous. But I went ahead and did it anyway, and that’s when God confirmed to me that this was exactly what all pastors or people who work for churches do.
*Important note: One thing I learned early on from Erin is that following the Lord, and obeying God, often doesn’t make sense. It’s impossible to understand fully, until after you obey. Prior to being obedient (taking that step of faith), our minds are blind to understanding. Again, understanding fully only happens after you obey; that’s when He will open your eyes to help you understand why, and it will make sense.
So, after I followed what He said, immediately I envisioned several of my previous pastors dropping their tithe in the offering, week after week, giving back to where they’d been paid. Thus, it wasn’t a strange thing to do at all. Yet, I thought, it was easier for them. They tithe to a “real” church, with a real building. However, God showed me that RMI was my true storehouse, because RMI was where I was being fed.
When I was attending church, I only benefited slightly, twice a week. However, since coming to RMI, I was fed daily and fed with much more “meat,” as it says in Hebrews 5:12 NLT. Like many of you, before coming here, “You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food [meat].”
Soon after, I began being spiritually fed for the first time—right after I read Erin’s first book. Then, just like the verse says above, I did find myself able to teach others. As I began reading the praise reports and all the testimonies—even being fed by the many I had submitted myself and a few books I had personally written—I was no longer starving for the truth, and I began teaching more and more women.
When I asked for Him to enlighten me more, He went on to remind me of how important it was to give my praise and share testimonies and truths I’d learned, all due to my newly gained spiritual strength that I’d received. He said, by submitting praise and testimonies to be used, it was like I was donating my own blood for surgery, or bone marrow for my own transplant. By giving, encouragement would be ready for me when a crisis hit my own life. And I know I’m not alone. Many of you have experienced the very same thing, when you read your own praise report or testimony that is posted; it appears just when you (and others) need to hear it. Each bit of encouragement has fed you with an extra boost, when you were really struggling. It was just perfect, just what you needed to overcome what was about to destroy you.
Though you’ve probably heard it before from Erin, let’s be sure you have one thing straight: God doesn’t need your money! He owns everything. He is only providing you with an opportunity to invest into what He’s doing! When you tithe, you are going to reap the blessings of every life that is changed! When you give to your storehouse, which is where God tells you to tithe, which is where you are fed, God allows you to share in all that the ministry or mission does: with their giving, their sowing, and their changing lives in your community or around the world. Giving to our storehouse is where we need to invest our money, instead of investing in stocks or property—whose sole purpose is to make more money, not do the work of the Lord. And what’s even better news is that, even if a ministry or a mission falls, God will cover your losses and bless you with outrageous rewards (usually more than doubled) for your cheerful, giving heart!!
“Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, and instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land, everlasting joy will be theirs” (Isaiah 61:7).
All this comes from tithing, along with His assurance for you to stop the devourer. “Then I will rebuke the devourer for you…” (Malachi 3:11).
After coming to terms with the act of tithing, still, many of you will then begin to struggle, wondering where you should tithe. Maybe you’re a member of a church that you haven’t gone to recently, or you have a church that you still tithe to (but no longer attend), or maybe you have recently been watching an encouraging television evangelist. To add to the confusion, you come daily to RMI to read the books for free, take the courses for free, and you are encouraged by real truth, each morning for free. So, now you are not sure where you should be tithing.
*By the way, tithing means 10% of your income: on the gross (or full amount). So, you can choose if you want to be blessed on the gross (or full amount) OR be blessed on the net (or your take home pay.) If you want to be blessed on the smaller amount (the net or your take home pay), guess what? God leaves that up to you, just like He does everything else. Yes, the choice is yours! You can choose to follow Him or decide that it is too great a price, so you turn and walk away from the opportunity.
Where do you tithe?
It’s simple. You tithe where you are being fed, where you receive what you need to keep you going day after day. For me and for many of you, this means RMI. But for those of you who are primarily fed by your local church, tithe there, but that doesn’t absolve you from giving to RMI or another ministry who also feeds you— no more than your primary grocery store or food club is the only place you pay for your groceries. If you go to a specialty gourmet store for the items that make your life a bit easier or more enjoyable, I don’t think they would understand (nor should they) that you only faithfully pay your bill down the street where you are a food club member—not if you’ve been coming and taking from their storehouse!
Let me share something with you. About a year ago, a light came on when I went to Bible Gateway, and I realized that I had never given a thing to them, even though I go there regularly. So, I sought the Lord for an amount that I knew was past due, and even though it was a very large sum of money, I gave that donation amount—only to be enormously blessed almost immediately, receiving double. Isaiah 40:2, “Speak kindly . . . 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.”
Soon after first writing this chapter, I realize that I needed to put Bible Gateway as one of my monthly auto-payments, just as I do with my tithe and other giving or offerings that the Lord has laid on my heart. When I did, I had to laugh. After I paused my writing to go to the site and set up an auto-donation (so I wouldn’t forget), it brought me to the amount to give each month. So, like always, I asked Him, and He led me to put in a monthly amount that was almost three times the amount I had planned on giving them.
UPDATE: After donating a substantial amount each month as an offering to Bible Gateway for years, I discovered their donation button was gone. Then while searching their site, I read that they no longer accept donations. What a shame. Instead, it stated they’d begun to advertise. So, I asked Him for a way to pay. That’s when He showed me two things. First, how I don’t go to their site as I once had been doing. Instead, He led me to put all Erin’s books, all my books and all the verses I used over and over again into one document that I can search. And should I not be able to find a verse, months before I began just Googling key words to discover the scripture reference. In other words, right when they stopped accepting donations, I’d stopped using their site as I once had. Like everything, His wonders never cease to keep me in a state of constant awe.
Secondly, though I do it nowhere else, He also led me to often click on some of the advertisements that they know I would be interested in. With the little I know, I do believe each click pays Bible Gateway a small amount. Again, I never even see the ads on other sites, and I’ve yet to click on them. This is only due to how I live. “He leads me” (Psalm 23) is how I live with my HH, walking hand in hand every waking moment. Yes, it’s heaven.
Many of you have embraced the principle of tithing, but soon after you will be called to go higher. Maybe the truth is: all of us will be “called” to go higher, but only a brave few will choose to actually begin to make the climb. For me, my first major climb was immediately after my divorce, when I knew that I was facing financial ruin. I had been faithfully tithing, and so had my husband while we were married, but when he told me emphatically that we were about to lose our home (and probably right after the divorce), it was actually God calling me to go higher. Like all crises, this enormous crisis was His way of leading me toward a new path He wanted me to take.
Funny thing is, when I got the word from God on what to do, His solution is something my ex-husband tried to stop me from doing. God’s solution, not surprisingly, was to GIVE. [By the way, if he had been my husband, of course I would have submitted without question. However, once divorced we do not submit to an ex-husband, no more than if he asked to sleep with him.] Also, as a way of teaching you a key principle, watch for increased opposition, when He’s asked you to do something. It’s a clear sign that what’s up ahead is intended to bring about a tremendous reward. Just be certain it’s not God who is trying to stop you from danger, like Balaam in Numbers 22:21-39.
Please remember too, it’s human nature to want to pull back when we are faced with things that cause fear. Financial ruin causes fear. People reminding us of our “foolishness” causes fear. Nevertheless, I knew that without God I was completely ruined anyway, and therefore whatever He told me to do, I would do. So, He laid something HUGE on my heart, during a time when all the bills and financial commitments I already had were burying me. He chose to remind me of something that had been neglected, a pledge to the church we’d been attending, a pledge my husband and I both had made almost two years earlier.
*Many of you who read my prior book, Poverty Mentality, know my testimony. Yet each time I think about it, or share it, its message encourages me enormously. So, I hope you won’t skip ahead and miss being strengthened, when I share this testimony again.
As a couple, we had made a pledge to our church for $10,000, and it had not been paid when he left me. Only a very small portion had been paid over the two years, and there were only 2 weeks until it was due, when the Lord reminded me about it. Here I was with the possibility of losing my home (which is what my ex-husband believed and why he, in the divorce he filed, had his attorney draft a judgment against me to get the equity in our home awarded to him, without the judge presiding over the divorce knowing about it).
Then, when the efforts of my ex-husband didn’t work to stop me from paying the pledge (again, because he was no longer my husband, so I knew I couldn’t submit to him), that’s when he began rallying my children to try to stop me. Yet, I knew that all I had was the Lord, and without HIM I was ruined. Therefore, I had to follow and do what was right, no matter what.
Though fear tried to stop me, and doubt that I was doing the right thing plagued me, He showed me a way to pay what was due. I obeyed what He said and chose to pay the remainder of that pledge, and within only 2 HOURS, someone emailed me saying that they’d just written a check and they were sending me a check for $10,000—which was the full amount of the pledge—not just the portion I just had paid, but the entire amount!!
Now I know that the real blessing was not the money at all; it was the faith that He built in me that day. The blessings were the principles that God implanted in my heart that day. He had proved to me, through this crisis, that each time that you or I choose to do what God says—no matter what—even if met with opposition from others and from within us (feelings of fear and doubt that what you or I will do is the right thing) and we do it—magnificent blessings are on the other side just waiting for us. In addition, I learned that by telling my HH I would do what He asked if He helped me, no matter what, He would make it happen, as I walked forward holding His hand.
Even though I didn’t have the money to pay that pledge, no matter how hard I tried to find a way, along with the deadline for the pledge coming and going too, no matter how many times everyone tried to tell me that God did not expect me to pay it, and the church (if they knew my situation) would not expect me to pay it—God continued to urge me to trust Him and not pull back. And the result, again, was not just that huge amount of money, the full amount, being given back to me two hours later. Nor was it being told that I was right (by my ex-husband). No, the greatest benefit and gift was the FAITH that He built into me that day, faith that no one can ever take away. Also, I now have this powerful spiritual arsenal, my testimony, that I’ve given to countless others around the world.
Now, here I am again at that place where it looks like I am going to go under. Since there is much more at stake, the tests, understandably, are harder. His first test was asking me to choose to take the first fruits and sow them into lives that would be changed, rather than to pay my taxes. Reason and guilt (and maybe a bit of a “religious” spirit) made me feel I needed to pay the taxes first, because it looked (on paper) like I wouldn’t have enough to pay my taxes. But as I spoke to my HH, the Lord, I knew the first fruits needed to be sown into what He was doing in the lives of so many who need Him. So, that’s what I did.
Just two days later, AFTER I chose to resist fear or my religious spirit, I was informed by our state tax department to wait to see if I did indeed need to pay the taxes! They contacted me, informing me that they believed there was an error when I filed (my error, not theirs). Correcting my error meant that I owed nothing, in the exact same way my federal taxes turned out. My mistake in my federal taxes was what led them to give me a refund that ended up as a direct deposit in my bank account, my first fruits, which was the exact amount needed for my daughter’s ticket and documentation to go to Africa. Each time, by making a “mistake,” God had set it up so I would have money ready when I needed it.
*The term “first fruits” means that we give the first portion of what we get back to God. It’s like giving your first-born son to God, as Samuel’s mother did, only to be blessed with more children. In my situation, my income had totally dried up, with just a trickle coming in, when I got this very large and unexpected check for overpayment of my taxes, which they said was due to an error when I did my taxes myself. Even though no one found an error, when all was said and done, nevertheless, the money was there and ready.
So, even if we make a mistake, God is right there with this promise, “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” (Romans 8:28). This promise and principle, alone, should always be used to help us move ahead, when we are too afraid to move forward—all we have to do is utilize its power by acting on it.
Gosh, what if we get lost, though, and lose our way? Not surprisingly, our HH has that concern covered too! “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4). Though this verse is key for salvation, it also is a principle that works when you or I get lost, or feel we are. I know.
Though sowing those first fruits was difficult, to say the least, the second test, which I believe is what I hope to be my “finals,” makes the first pale in comparison. All through my journey of moving my mountain of debt, I have told God and anyone who would listen that it would be GOD who would supply all my needs!
Desperate to make it happen MY WAY, as I said, I neglected fully teaching the principle of tithing, primarily sharing that RMI was my storehouse and was probably yours too. Then, I realized it was somewhat purposefully that I did it, when I realized that each time I was prompted, I was afraid women who have felt led to donate to my ministry (or to RMI where I am paid) would give to their storehouse—when I wanted it to come straight from God! Doesn’t the way we think often make you question your sanity? Hmmm, well, maybe it’s just me.
Knowing full well that when anyone fails to give when and where she should, she soon would come up lacking or short on funds, I continued to resist encouraging all of you to make sure YOU tithe and YOU give to your storehouse—no matter where it is. Honestly, I didn’t consciously know I was doing it—until the Lord opened my eyes to what was/is happening to so many of my close friends, women I minister to. Once I realized this truth, I came to the crossroads that would determine my future and yours. What was I going to do now?
By telling many of you that you have failed to GIVE to your storehouse (which means there is not going to be food enough, nor even a storehouse), it will certainly mean that many will judge my motives and conclude that I am using you to make my own mountain fall. People are quick to judge. Yet honestly, my struggles go even deeper than what you may think of me. My greatest and deepest struggle is that I didn’t want it this way! I wanted, and asked God again and again, to bring my resources from outside the ministry (not through increased donations or more book sales by adding a new book). Instead, I wanted to give to RMI and give to others, needing nothing from anyone other than from God!!
Then, just the other day, God reminded me of how I told Him how I wanted all His promises to me to be done prior to writing Finding the Abundant Life. I wanted Him to change and radically transform my husband (so that we could minister together as a couple) and hoped that God would give him the same passion that I had, something that he lacked. Instead, He chose to remove him—the most scandalous and hardest way He could have brought about His promises!!
“‘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).
Right now, I know that if I don’t tell many of you that you have been robbing God (Malachi 3:8–10), because you have not faithfully tithed to your storehouse, I know you will go under financially. Though this is probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make as a minister of His truths, I am washed up anyway if I don’t choose to step out and obey the Lord. “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). Instead, I must risk being thought of as trying to get your money and making my own mountain fall myself, by my pressing you to give.
However, whether or not you give is not the determining factor, but whether or not I will do what He has called me to do— will I speak the truth no matter what you or anyone else thinks? Asking you to give is what everyone has been telling me to do, but I didn’t want to do it. And when I have taken this to the Lord, He has reminded me of two other chapters, where I wrestled with Him all night, not wanting to write what I have revealed to everyone. But I did, no matter what anyone thought, including how I thought about myself. By far, I have been my greatest opposition in all of this; I really see it now for the first time, at least the magnitude of this “self” that is just struggling to stay alive when I want the self in me to die. I just hope and pray and plead with God that by doing what is right, no matter what, it will mean that that the SELF will die.
Here is what I know: if I do what is right, God will make my mountain come down, and He is going to choose how to do it. The point is this—and it’s what I have said all along—it will be GOD who supplies all my needs (not you, not my books, not a pay raise: not by donations or book sales). It’s not going to depend upon my ability to get my point across or even how accurately and deeply I share my heart with you. It will all depend upon God’s faithfulness to His word, when we trust Him, and we prove so by our actions.
“But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18).