“Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice”
—1 Samuel 15:22
“Samuel said, ‘Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams’” (1 Samuel 15:22).
“Because you have burned sacrifices and have sinned against the LORD and not obeyed the voice of the LORD or walked in His law, His statutes or His testimonies, therefore this calamity has befallen you, as it has this day” (Jeremiah 44:23).
There is a lot to learn from the mistakes of others; especially beneficial is learning from the mistakes we make ourselves.
Just recently I was blessed when I got an email from my oldest son about a financial crisis that had happened to him. He emailed me because he wanted some wisdom about what to do. Yes, I was honored, but before getting puffed up I had to first laugh because what a joke it is that he had asked me—due to my present situation. Nevertheless, I was honored and sought the Lord for what wisdom He wanted me to share with my son.
One of the first things my son thought he should do (and told me, so I wouldn’t be surprised) was to sell his very beautiful car. If you are one of RMI’s fellowship members, then you may remember I shared in a praise report about the car that the Lord blessed him with just a little over a year ago. Both of my sons were blessed with new cars (that they had each been praying for) that came in the Lord’s normal fashion, a crisis, when for three months in a row (mine was the third) there was a car accident (none were our fault) that resulted in my sons’ cars being “totaled,” which led to new cars for each of them (mine resulted in damage to me only, leading me to minister to a recent widow and her son). By far the most severe accident was my oldest son’s, which everyone said looked worse than most fatal car wrecks!
Due to these accidents, we all witnessed God’s mercy, His love, and His way of doing things in a new and amazing way: the cars that each of my sons got were proportionate to the accident that happened. My oldest son was blessed with a car of his dreams that cost him half of what it was worth. This was due to an “error” at the car dealership that they said was “too late” to change and so they said he was extremely “lucky”—he’s blessed.
When my son told me that selling his car was what he planned to do to help with his financial crisis, I told him that I doubted that this is what God was telling him to do. Instead, we discussed some of God’s principles—one of the most important being that God wants our obedience rather than our sacrifice.
There’s no doubt it would be a sacrifice to sell his car, and that his sacrifice would not impress God. How often have we tried to do something to make things right, only to find that we are in the same or a worse situation?
What kind of obedience was I talking about? Instead of sacrificing, learning to obey God’s principles in regard to his dilemma, in other words, what does God say in His Word regarding our money? Here are just a few principles I shared with my son:
Tithing: never steal from God. God asks us to give Him back 10% of what He gives us, and depending if you want to be blessed on your gross or net, tithe on that. Make sure, too, that you tithe to your storehouse, where you’re spiritually fed.
I confessed to my son that the moment I took over the finances in our family and ministry, I realized that I gave a larger tip of 20% when I went out to eat than I gave to Him! I told him from that moment on, I began giving that much to God because I wanted God to know that He means more to me that a server at a restaurant or the lady who does my nails. That is not sacrifice to do so; this is actually when we are mature enough to begin to give Him offerings.
“Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed Thee?’ In tithes AND offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!” (Malachi 3:8–9). So, I encouraged my son to ask God where to give a 10% offering just as He’d been faithful to show me.
Now let me quote from one of Erin’s books, in it, she says:
Laws of Creation: you must understand and obey the Laws of Creation. God set the entire universe into motion with physical laws like gravity, and spiritual laws like tithing. When you find that you have a lack of funds, that’s when you need to look at your life to see if you have violated any of those laws. If you fail to give to the storehouse, where you are spiritually fed, then God can’t rebuke the devourer because we failed to obey His laws.
“‘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 may not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:10–11).
The devourer is running havoc in many Christians’ lives as they watch their homes and lives fall apart. Their car or appliances are breaking and so are their relationships. If you try to keep fixing things in your life, without realizing where the root of the problems lay, the problems will continue. By simply following this basic rule of tithing to your storehouse and then growing spiritually so you then can begin giving above your tithe of 10% (giving at least as much as we tip those who serve us), you will save yourself hours of worry and you will have turned your life from a life of trials to a life of blessings—until your blessings overflow!
Give and it shall be given. This is by far, especially lately, one of my most favorite principles. Wow, get a hold of this one and your life will immediately be one of abundance! “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (Luke 6:38). Rather than give, especially when we are in need, we withhold and come to more lack in our lives. It doesn’t just mean giving financially, but in every area of our lives: relationships, friendships, patience, and love. Most women care more about these emotionally based needs, except, that is when we find ourselves in need of money—then our lack of money begins to take center stage.
“There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered” (Proverbs 11:24–25).
Storehouse sits empty. Because most Christians are ignorant of God’s principles they unknowingly violate the laws of God to their own destruction. In Hosea 4:6 it says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge…” One of the main focuses of many churches and many Christians, when they speak, is that of fighting with the devil, when in fact, the One whom they are fighting is actually the Lord of hosts.
“‘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 1:9).
Let me share something a bit sad. There are only a handful of women who keep RMI going, I know because I’ve helped with the bookkeeping. Only a very few women tithe so that everyone else can have spiritual food, and just about none of the men. In addition, only a handful of ladies, who, by the way, are the same ones who sow their tithe, also give their time and energy as volunteers. AND these are the very same women are who also the same who submit the most praise reports. Any correlation?
Of course! These women are the ones whom the Lord blesses the most because each and every one of His principles works! The men have just about no restored marriages, very little praise, and it’s simply because our society of women has become the only partner in the relationship who give to it!
Also, what’s extremely important is that if you are not giving to your storehouse, which most often is RMI, then you are not battling with the enemy, but with the Lord of hosts. We do hear often that our men tithe to their church, even though RMI is feeding them, and this is another confirmation that God does care where you tithe. The offering is where you can give somewhere else, like giving an offering to your church if that’s where He leads you. Just make no mistake, God does care about the details and the only person you’re fooling is yourself and deceiving those who are watching your life.
Second Corinthians 3:2 NASB, “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men.” If you profess to be a Christian, His follower, but your life is riddled with lack and loss, then what everyone is learning about God and being a believer, is that it’s better not to be.
Yet, when you learn that to give is more blessed, and you begin to practice this principle in every area of your life, then your life becomes abundant! That’s the way the entire universe was set up. And this is what everyone will also be a witness to. If, however, you continue to take or withhold, and that is your focus, then I can say without even knowing you that you are miserable and in constant need—in all areas of your life. And that may explain why none of your loved ones want to know more about the One who you want them to know.
Power to make wealth. When we are lacking funds, rather than checking to see if we have violated a spiritual law, we instead do as the non-believer does, we try to think of ways we can “earn” more. This is also due to ignorance because God says, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep” (Psalm 127:2).
Why? “Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth . . .” (Deuteronomy 8:17–18). Working hard only makes you tired, but it rarely helps you to get ahead of your debt. It is only when we look to the Lord, in all areas of our lives, that we find a “yoke that is easy and that burden that is pleasantly light”! (Matthew 11:29).
Stop worrying. “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You [wo]men of little faith!” (Luke 12:25-28).
Just recently I have found that I have fallen into a very bad habit of believing that I cannot “afford” something if it isn’t priced outrageously cheap. This is due to the fact that God has anointed my spending power when I shop for anything! I am known to get the most unbelievable bargains, and not because I am a bargain shopper (that a young man accused me of). Instead, when I need something the Lord always leads me to a particular store, and once in the store, I ask Him what He wants to show me. Simple enough.
The fact that I continually get something, often for less than it costs the store, caused me to think inaccurately—I began to think “cheap” was all I could “afford.” What I came to realize is that God does not want us to believe we can only “afford” something that is greatly discounted, but instead, this is how we can confirm what He wants us to purchase. Do you see that it’s the heart that’s different? Here are a couple of examples of when I got it right.
My daughters were asked to be in the upcoming wedding (that you read about in the last chapter; when my son got engaged). The youngest will be a junior bridesmaid, so the dress that the bride chose for her other bridesmaids would not fit her properly since she is a tween—not enough up top to fill it out. The bride told me she found a similar dress where she ordered her wedding dress, so it was discounted from $99 to $79.
Keep in mind that my finances are beyond crisis, so the enemy wants my emotions to result in panic; however, I know God’s principles, His love, and His longings. Therefore, I choose, daily, to keep my emotions in the framework of expectation rather than dread or fear. (Remember, I have daughters who need dresses and I am the mother of the groom!)
So, I told her that I believed that the Lord had something else in mind, not because it wasn’t affordable, but because she also added right at the end that it didn’t fit “all that well.” I assured her that if I hadn’t found something in a week’s time, I would run in and order the one she had found.
Ladies, because I could sense God wanted to do something, I didn’t even have to leave my home for Him to move, which was due to my faith and HIS love. A couple of days later the bride called me with excitement that she had found a better dress for half the price, then her cell phone died. An hour later my son called to tell me that she left there, went to another store and found the most perfect, and adorable dress for just $18. I never wondered if it would fit because I knew that God had gone before us and had that dress there just for my daughter. Sure enough, when she got home it fit beautifully!!
That blessing turned to yet another blessing when I headed to the same two stores at the suggestion of the bride. At the first store, I found nothing but continued to ask the Lord where to go. He led me to the second store and immediately after walking in, I found the exact blouse that I had described to my daughters that I wanted to go with a skirt I had but had never worn. I purchased it for only $13.35, which was originally $190. The same scenario happened with my daughter’s shoes!
A week later the Lord laid on my heart to buy my oldest son’s “soon to be fiancé” a winter coat. Please keep in mind that anyone looking at my finances would scold me and tell me to not even think about giving anyone a gift when I have no money. Nevertheless, when I walked into the store I spotted a shoe sale and told my daughter that we would find the shoes for the wedding there— after we bought the coat that I also knew was there. Sure enough, she did for just $20! Shoes originally sold for over a hundred dollars!
Once again, this is not because of how I shop for bargains, but the heart that I have regarding shopping. I am not afraid to purchase something even in the depths of financial lows, but I don’t go out to test God either. I simply have the faith and live the principles that He set in motion. Living these principles creates abundance and overflowing, or violating them results in lack and disappointment.
Begging bread. “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread” (Psalm 37:25). Honestly, this prophet might witness something else if he were living today. We might not necessarily be begging “bread” but we do beg others to help us financially—I know because I was one of them when I went seeking a loan. (More on this in a later chapter since that testimony is currently being written in my life.)
Conclusion? After I shared these and a few other principles with my son, he shared that he was living most of them, but in regard to trying to earn, rather than simply giving as a source of being blessed, he said was something he always did but couldn’t do recently because he was trying to work harder to get some more money (something we all do). So, he said what he was going to do after he hung up was to ask the Lord where he needed to give, no longer focusing on making money and that he’d reconsider selling his car.
Finances have since turned around for my oldest son, and he kept his car for eight more years! I hope that you too will take hold of God’s laws and choose to follow them by speaking to your Heavenly Husband and allowing Him to bless you. Do not be frightened about purchasing something, and always focus on giving.
And now, just to give you another testimony to help solidify what God can do when you obey His spiritual laws rather than sacrifice what He has not asked for, I find it amazing that the testimony that I had planned to share with you is about my oldest son and a blessing that will last a lifetime!
My Sixth of Many Financial Testimonies
In the last chapter, I was blessed to share about the honeymoon I was able to bless my son with. Well, as I have shared many times in many of my books, God promises us that we will receive double! When my oldest son found out that his younger brother was engaged he had a strange expression on his face. After drawing out the truth, I came to find out that he and his girlfriend had planned to marry the weekend just before, but had not announced anything due to the fact that they didn’t have the money to buy her an engagement ring.
The couple then had to discuss (after many tears on her side) that it would be wrong to get married before his brother and take the focus away from them. God saw their hearts and was about to bless them beyond imagination.
While going to order one of the bridesmaid dresses (that I mentioned earlier in this chapter), the lady sent me across the store, when about midway I heard the Lord tell me to turn around. I turned and tried to see what He wanted me to look at when I spotted a jewelry counter that had a blue sign that said: 60% off and a red sign on top of that one that said: “Take an additional 30% off.” Yes, I immediately did the math and headed to the counter. I didn’t even know why I was there or what “I” needed, but then my oldest son came to mind.
My daughters and I found a beautiful ring that was so inexpensive it was ridiculous. So, I excitedly called my son and told him to get down to the store and get it. He told me he “just didn’t have the money,” so I asked him “what about all the clients you have,” but he said that they hadn’t paid him yet.
It wasn’t until the next morning when a fellow RMI member wrote and blessed me and gave an outrageously generous donation that God convicted her of giving me when I realized that I was one of my son's clients who hadn't paid him!
Soon after my return from my last trip to Africa, I was supposed to pay the second half of an e-commerce site my son had built for me. When I told him I didn’t have the money to pay (back then), he did, in fact, tell me not to worry about paying it. He said that I had already blessed him and his company so much to get started by motivating them, that I never had to pay the final half of the bill.
Then, just before the New Year, Erin let me know that he and his company had tithed to RMI, and I saw it was more than what I had owed him. That morning, God, in an instant, had convicted me that I was indebted to him, which turned to utter joy at the thought of blessing him with the ring I saw!
When I called to shout the praises on my cell phone—that he probably would have been able to hear miles away from where he lived because I was so happy, I instead heard myself calmly ask him to meet me at a coffee café just outside the mall.
While there I explained how God had convicted me, and that I was there to buy him an engagement ring, but added that I wasn’t sure if it was what his fiancé would like. Then he pointed to the jewelry store where they had picked out the ring she wanted. Can you believe that out of my mouth, on the phone, I asked him to meet me just outside the exact jewelry store where the ring they chose was?!?
So, we went in to look at that ring and then went to the other store to see the ring I had found the night before. We soon realized that the main diamond was not the same cut, but nevertheless, I knew her ring was in that case! (It was my younger teenage daughter who assured me that it had to be the ring when I set off that morning.) After looking at two rings—there it was—it looked just like the one my son had just shown me—only this one had bigger diamonds, and included the wedding band (that also possessed a line of diamonds)!! The only difference was that it cost one-fourth of what he would have paid (had he been able to purchase it). Therein lies another principle: until we learn to follow His leading, we will find that He blocks a purchase because He has something better in mind when we finally seek Him for help.
God allowed me to bless my son for the thousand ways that he has blessed me—and my ministry. It was my son who got me up on the Internet, and it was he who convinced me that I’d be able to write books about what God was doing in my life. He is the one who had my books ready to be printed. And as I have said to him, and now want to say to you—if it were not for my son giving me the confidence and lending me his support, I would never have my own ministry. Yes, Erin and RMI are the first whom God used to turn my life around. But if not for my son, I know I would not be able to minister to anyone. I would still be a local speaker at a few women’s meetings at our church. Well, maybe not after my husband (his father) left again. Yet, again, it was my son who encouraged me to accept the first speaking engagement outside this country after his dad left us.
It wasn’t until my son had the ring in his hand when we turned the corner, that he took hold of my arm and with tears in his eyes thanked me, almost unable to speak. My oldest son is not in the least emotional, so to see him so moved was something I will never ever forget. He told me that after my call the night before, he went to his room and with his face to the ground, he cried out to God to help him get a ring. Yes, like Erin loves to say, “I [too]have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).
Today, this very evening, something special will take place in the Big Apple, New York City. My son will ask a beautiful young woman to be his wife and hold out that very special ring—hoping to make her his bride.