“Then I will rebuke the devourer for you.”
— Malachi 3:12
Once the Lord revealed the huge gap in the wall of my finances, due to my lack of ministry tithing, I began to notice that all the frustrations that I had been experiencing were due to the “devourer” coming in and taking what was rightfully his to take!
We can ignore it, but the fact is that God says that we are to “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,’ says the LORD of hosts” Malachi 3:10-12.
It seemed that everything I owned, all of a sudden, was in ill-repair or broken: a computer, our front porch lights, our kitchen table, our water cooler, our dishwasher, our kitchen water filter, and many more things that I can’t remember right now. The devourer also came in and rightfully stole from us, something dear to me—pictures on my laptop, which included all the pictures from our four years on our farm, and later, my around the world travel pictures—they were all gone.
It came to a peak when, in just one day, my daughter, bless her heart, broke the window shade in my bedroom and within minutes had taken the finish off the ceiling fan in our living room. That’s when I realized—we were being EATEN ALIVE!!
My Heavenly Husband was so patient, good, gracious, and loving (as usual) as He led me through past checks to confirm what He had laid on my heart—that I had not tithed from the second huge donation to our ministry. Then He showed me that is when all my books in my warehouse and ministry office had been destroyed. And not surprisingly, that’s when I realized that my lack of funds was all part of the consequences of my lack of knowledge because God said, “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” Hosea 4:6.
And yet, do I even need to tell you how good and gracious God is?!?
Just knowing that I needed to pay my ministry’s past tithes did not result in automatically being able to pay them. You might be thinking, “Well, of course, since you are in a financial crisis, how could you pay them?!” But that was really not the problem at all. From the moment that I set my heart to tithe, I found so many things that began blocking me!
It began with the first back tithe I owed. The Lord showed me would send a missionary to Africa. However, suddenly, at the last minute, she had no place to stay, so we waited; waiting a total of twelve weeks. In the meantime, all I could do was think about how (without that tithe paid) the devourer would continue to wreak havoc in our home.
Some people who knew about what was going on told me to simply pay it elsewhere; I mean, why not? The reason is simple: when God tells you to do something specific you should never deviate from it. And I will let you in on a little secret that will help you—be prepared for people coming out of nowhere to try to get you to change the path He’s leading you on. This is nothing new, we see it in the book of First Samuel 15:22–24 when it says…
“Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the Word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king. Then Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice.’”
Some people take this lightly, I don’t. I have chosen to live by each principle He’s revealed to me and it has cost me. Yet, whatever I have lost I have gained ten-fold. Most of what I have lost is my reputation and my friends. People tend to think you are crazy when you follow the Lord without question. Saul did and it cost him his crown.
Of course, I wanted to buy her ticket so I could be on my way to correcting my “back tithe” situation, but there was nothing I could do until the doors opened again for Africa. To pay it somewhere else would be to open myself (and my ministry) to destruction.
If you think for one moment that I would risk everything by trying to stray from the Lord’s leading, you haven’t read enough of my books. Besides, I have learned the secret of this well-known yet dreaded “waiting period.” Watching what happened, as a result, this particular wait will be forever engraved in my mind to help me see the future, past the wait, to what is waiting for me on the other side (but that, dear reader you will have to wait to read in a future chapter).
It was during the wait that the Lord began to gently show me that I needed to begin fixing my “back” tithe situation by paying “current” tithes. A no-brainer for you, perhaps, but for me, it was an exciting revelation! At that point, I felt my Heavenly Husband say that the last batch of the donations needed to be tithed to where the missionary would be going, an orphanage for AIDS babies in South Africa.
Yet, when I attempted to give there, I found that they were in the process of getting their new site up! Just trying to do what was right brought about nothing but delays, one after another! Sound familiar? So many Christians think that once they get past the hurdle of fighting their flesh to do what is right, that the rest comes easily. It may for a baby Christian, but for most of us, setting off to do what God has called us to do is just the beginning of the battle. Therefore, don’t give up, or worse—believe it wasn’t God’s will after all; that somehow you missed God. If you want to do great things for God, then when opposition comes against you it is a sign that you are on the right path after all.
Though I was being stopped, the greatest mystery is—God always and will forever see the intent and desires of our hearts. Did you know that? Isn’t His grace just beyond comprehension sometimes? Even though I hadn’t paid a single back tithe or even a single current tithe, things in my home and my life began to improve. Not because I performed the proper “task or duty,” but just because, as always, He looks at our heart “for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–10).
Getting my back tithes caught up and paid, I experienced each and every day that they were, for me, impossible. And that dear reader was really great news! Do you know why? For “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). To which I love to shout...
“Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You”! (Jeremiah 32:17).
Finances and Salvation
Now let me take this to a higher plane. In the Bible, God always compares our finances to salvation. That means that in the same way I am unable to pay my debt for my sins, He allowed me to see that I am totally unable to pay my debts, which now included back, or past tithes owed to Him.
Just as it would be foolish for me to set out on a journey to pay for my past sins, it also would be foolish for me to try to pay my debt, owed to Him, for past tithes.
The Lord then encouraged me (which means that He gave me courage) by using one of my own testimonies. He reminded me of the first task after my divorce that He laid on my heart with the building pledge that my husband ATT (at the time) had not paid. The Lord didn’t put that on my heart as a burden, but as a blessing—as I watched Him provide the thousands not yet paid. I knew I couldn’t do it, but God could, and He did within a two-week period. Impossible? Yes, but once again, nothing, not one thing, is impossible with God.
We read in Romans 13:8 that it tells us to “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another.”
How could the Lord tell us something that would cause a burden on us, when He came to be our Burden-Bearer? When He tells us to owe no man, so that we are free to just love them, it is not a burden, but a blessing! Because He provided the means to pay that debt (as we look to Him for it) as well as the love that we are to love others with!! What could be more beautiful?!
The question I had to ask though was “Why?” Why did I miss this? Why didn’t I know (been enlightened, had a revelation) to tithe from the ministry when I first took over the ministry? The answer is because God does create calamity. “The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these” (Isaiah 45:7).
God creates calamity in our lives, not so we can feel abandoned, ashamed, or so we can work our way out of it, but so He can prove to others, through our lives, that He is there for us and will see us through when others believe we’re through!! Can you shout, “Thank You, Lord!”?
God created calamity in the lives of so many of our Bible heroes; just sit for a moment and think about it. If Israel had not been in the calamity of bondage, the Israelites would have never seen the power and compassion of God; therefore, there would have been no need for Moses or his brother Aaron. Where would you and I be without the testimony of the Red Sea? Being fed with manna? And, after years of wandering, where would we be without the testimony of the Israelites finally crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land?
Being in a place like this, then, should be exciting and not frightening at all!
How many of you are in this place? I believe a lot of you are.
If you are like me, you’ve been stealing from God by not tithing, and suddenly this is a revelation to you. And, getting it paid may seem like the impossible dream—but God makes a way when there seems no way. All you have to do is give it to Him again, and again, and again!
That’s what I have done, and in the next chapter, I will share with you this portion of my life-changing journey.
Update: Years after this chapter was written, the pictures from our four years on our farm and my world travel pictures—suddenly were recovered. Without looking, without complaining, suddenly, they were back.