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Convocation 1st Day Afternoon Session – Catholic Congregation of St. John, Preparer of the Way – ccsjchurch.org

Convocation 1st Day Afternoon Session

Convocation 1st Day Afternoon Session

Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines

1st Day of Convocation, Afternoon Session

July 25, 2017

God is a God of order and perfection. He has set everything in order. Genesis 1 shows the order of God. From the very beginning, He set the exact timing of all that He would create and provided a system whereby the first to be created would support the next. He created space, matter and spirituality or divinity. God didn’t create man without first putting in place a support system to take care of man’s needs so that he will not lack for anything in accomplishing God’s plans. This shows that when God asks us to do something, He will give us the ability and understanding to complete it.

Before the foundation of the world, God set all the principles for all time and for all people. He first brought light – not light as we know it, but wisdom and understanding so man would understand what God was doing. God has laid a foundation for everything that He has done, a foundation that will never pass away. “Heaven and earth shall pass away but My Word shall not pass away.” God’s Word holds together all that He has brought to existence. Everything that God has done is perfect. If we understand this, we will not be anxious or fearful. God will not fail. Scripture tells us that “the earth is the Lord’s and all it contains”. Nothing came into existence that He didn’t create. Even if we claim that we own things, we don’t; we are merely caretakers. We are servants of the Most High, created to bring to fullness all that He created.

Psalm 115:16 “The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, but the earth He has given to the sons of men.” God created a Garden, put man in the middle of it and then commissioned man to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth with what God has planted and make the whole earth reflect His perfection. Psalm 8 “O Lord, our Lord how majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor….” Scientists say that the earth is 5 billion years old. This shows how awesome God is. The entire universe – the sun, moon and stars do not collide; everything is in order. This is the God we serve, and He cares for us that everything He created is there to support us. He is a God of love. Isaiah 45:18 He did not create the earth a waste place. Genesis 1:1 says that in the beginning the earth was formless and void because at that point it hadn’t yet brought forth what God intended it to be. This is the way God works. We may not understand at the moment what He’s doing, but we only have to wait and trust Him. He starts with small things then builds up to bigger ones. He is a God of order. He created all things with a purpose and a plan for each.

Ephesians 1:11 “….having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” Nothing is without purpose and direction from God. Even when we walk through the wilderness and darkness and we think it’s over for us, it isn’t. God will turn it into something beautiful. Isaiah 25:1 “….plans formed long ago with perfect faithfulness.” This is from the Old Testament, and we won’t understand the New Testament if we don’t know the Old Testament because the latter contains the promises of God. These promises are fulfilled in the New Testament which contains the Word made flesh and made manifest to us. Ephesians tells of God’s favor upon us. He chose us before the foundation of the world. God is so desirous of giving us what’s in His heart that He was even willing to give us His Son to free us from the grip of the enemy. After His death, Christ went to Hades and freed its captives – those who died before Christ – so they wouldn’t be without the benefit of salvation from the cross. In my mind, the first person Christ called out after He harrowed the gates of hell was Adam, because he was the first son. He failed but God forgave him and restored him, an expression of His compassion and order. He will not allow anything, even our failure, to interfere with what He has planned for man.

God’s plans for our lives and His Church are progressive and have already been completed in Christ, but not yet fully manifested because we’re still learning and understanding who God is and what He has done for us. A day will come, though, when they will all be brought to us. Romans 8:28 All things will work together for good, for His eternal purposes which He manifested in Christ Jesus. Man failed so He sent His Son to bring man back to God’s family. If we only know how beautiful God’s plan is for us, we will no longer be in fear and anxiety. God’s plans were formed in perfection.

Numbers 23:19 “Has He said and will He not do it? Or has He spoken and will He not make it good?” When God says something, He will do it. When He says He will supply all our needs, He will do it if we trust Him. He will not give a promise and not fulfill it. We are the ones who give up and fail to hold on to His promises. We panic when trouble comes. “By His stripes we are healed.” It’s already done even before the problem comes. He will do it if we don’t give up, but even if we do, He won’t condemn us because He loves us. Hebrews 6:7 “….the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath.” He covered His purpose/plan with a covenant to assure us that He will fulfill it; to free us from anxiety. Isaiah 46:8-11 “….My purpose will be established and I will accomplish My good pleasure….I have spoken, I will bring it to pass….” Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” This is God speaking to us and His Words must be deeply entrenched in us. We need not worry because God’s plan for us includes prosperity – everything that will make our life joyful and complete – like peace and wisdom. Prosperity is wholeness in our being. God supplies our needs and He doesn’t need money to do this. Prosperity is health, strength, wisdom and peace.

God has set an order to everything He created and planned. A key component of that order is our participation – our faith, obedience and submission. Our unity with God brings the fullness of prosperity into our lives. This unity means we are concerned of and take care of each other, support those who need help. God created us for face-to-face relationships, and not to isolate ourselves with machines and without personal relationships. God wants us to be sensitive and participate in the set-up He established. In the Old Testament, the Levites were the religious leaders who took care of the spiritual life of the people. This means they had no time for anything else, so God instructed the people to support them by taking a small portion – 10% – of what He gives them as tithing. The leaders would get a bit more so they wouldn’t have to worry about how they were to eat. Leviticus 27 tells us that the tithing is sacred and belongs to God, and if we don’t honor what God has established in the tithe, we rob Him because we don’t do our part in the community to make sure that no one will be without. This is how God planted the seed.

Some think that tithing is not for today. This is partly true because now God asks us to give our all. After the Pentecost in Acts, the believers were selling properties to take care of the needs of others. This is now a higher level of giving than tithing, calling us to be more sensitive to the needs of others so they won’t suffer. Malachi 3:8-12 “….you are robbing Me….in tithes and offerings. You are cursed for you are robbing Me….Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house….and I will open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows….” When we fulfill God’s will, He will take care of us. This is how God ordered things. He takes care of us; now He expects us to take care of each other and His leaders so they can fulfill their responsibilities. “I will rebuke the devourer so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground….” He won’t allow the enemy to thwart our plans but He will bring them to fulfillment.

Here’s the unity that God wants us to have with each other, like two animals sharing a yoke. We are to give our all. God gets involved in our lives as we get involved in others. We help when there’s a need – with a prayer, words of encouragement, whatever it is. You determine what goes back to you by what you give. We give because God had generously given to us. We’re blessed to be a blessing. Tithing was legal, a compliance with the law. Christ has since done away with the law. Now we give because we want to and not out of compulsion. We make the choice. God is Sovereign, the Owner of all things. He allows us to use what belongs to Him but He expects something in return. 2 Corinthians 9:6-12 “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully….God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you….so that you may have an abundance for every good deed.” The abundance we receive from God is for good deeds, not for our own storehouse. When we use this abundance for the Kingdom of God, what we will get back will be more than enough to take care of us on a rainy day. “….He will multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality….producing thanksgiving to God.” When we give, we sow and giving is a righteous act. God gives to us so we can be liberal in being part of the answer to the need. When we get involved in taking care of the needy, we will be blessed. When we use what God has given us righteously to meet the needs of others (and not just keeping them for ourselves), we build the Church so it can give glory to God. When the Church is glorious everyone wants to be part of it. God wants us to be a glorious people, with the confidence, assurance, ability and compassion to reach out to those in need. We have to be willing to go beyond the tithe. It’s no longer just the law; now we choose to be what He wants us to be – His partner in taking care of His Church and people. If we want to be blessed, we must be givers even if we have nothing.

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