Just as we Americans have a Day of Thanksgiving in which we, and our families, pause to think about our blessings and give thanks to God for bringing us to this land and making us a nation, so Israel also had a Day of Thanksgiving. In Deuteronomy 26:1-19*, God gave them instructions, through Moses, on what they were to do and how they were to go about giving thanks to God.

1. God promised them their own land and they were to bring the first fruits of that land, as an offering, to where the presence of the Lord was:

Verses 1-2: When you have come into the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance and possess it and live in it, 2 You shall take some of the first of all the produce of the soil which you harvest from the land the Lord your God gives you and put it in a basket, and go to the place [the sanctuary] which the Lord your God has chosen as the abiding place for His Name [and His Presence].

2. They were to bring these first fruits and present it to the priest and make a confession to him of all that the Lord had done for them, their fathers, and their nation:

Verses 3-9: And you shall go to the priest who is in office in those days, and say to him, I give thanks this day to the Lord your God that I have come to the land which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us. 4 And the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God. 5 And you shall say before the Lord your God, A wandering and lost Aramean ready to perish was my father [Jacob], and he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and he became there a nation, great, mighty, and numerous. 6 And the Egyptians treated us very badly and afflicted us and laid upon us hard bondage. 7 And when we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice and looked on our affliction and our labor and our [cruel] oppression; 8 And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, and with great (awesome) power and with signs and with wonders; 9 And He brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

3. They were to worship the Lord with their offering and rejoice in all the good which God had given them:

Verses 10-11: And now, behold, I bring the firstfruits of the ground which You, O Lord, have given me. And you shall set it down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God; 11 And you and the Levite and the stranger and the sojourner among you shall rejoice in all the good which the Lord your God has given you and your household.

They brought the first fruits of all their crops and animals to God as evidence of their gratitude to Him. These offerings were used for Israel’s great feasts so that everyone could share and partake of the Lord’s goodness together.

4. The seventh year was a special Sabbath year and every third year of the six years between these years was a special year of tithing that went to help the poor, the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. The Israelites brought it before the Lord and made a confession of the integrity of this tithe:

Verses 12-14: When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce the third year, which is the year of tithing, and have given it to the Levite, the stranger and the sojourner, the fatherless, and to the widow, that they may eat within your towns and be filled, 13 Then you shall say before the Lord your God, I have brought the hallowed things (the tithe) out of my house and moreover have given them to the Levite, to the stranger and the sojourner, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed any of Your commandments, neither have I forgotten them. 14 I have not eaten of the tithe in my mourning [making the tithe unclean], nor have I handled any of it when I was unclean, nor given any of it to the dead. I have hearkened to the voice of the Lord my God; I have done according to all that You have commanded me.

5. Then they asked for God’s continued blessing – they asked Him to look down from Heaven and bless them and the land He had given them:

Verse 15: Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us as You swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.

6. The Israelites made a public declaration that they would continue to serve and obey the Lord their God:

Verses 16-17: This day the Lord your God has commanded you to do these statutes and ordinances. Therefore you shall keep and do them with all your [mind and] heart and with all your being. 17 You have [openly] declared the Lord this day to be your God, [pledging] to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes and His commandments and His precepts, and to hearken to His voice.

7. The Lord openly declared again to them His promise to always bless and keep them:

Verses 18-19: And the Lord has declared this day that you are His peculiar people as He promised you, and you are to keep all His commandments; 19 And He will make you high above all nations which He has made, in praise and in fame and in honor, and that you shall be a holy people to the Lord your God, as He has spoken.

In the same way, we should remember God’s goodness toward us by bringing our tithes and offerings. We should not bring it mindlessly, but we should remind ourselves of how good He has been to us, reiterate our commitment to Him, and remind ourselves of His promise to always bless and preserve us as well, so that He may continue to bless us and keep His promises to us.

Ministers Conference 2010 – David L. Testimony

Worship Soundtracks from RMIRiverSong on Vimeo.

For me, every conference at the River has always been about being saturated in the presence of God. This year’s Minister’s Conference was no exception. From the first service the presence of God was so strong in the place, it made me so hungry for more of His’ presence. I think that was the biggest change in me, was a greater hunger and thirst for the things of God.

As the meetings went on, I just grew hungrier and hungrier, not for seeing the outward manifestations, but just for being in His presence, for being in the Word, talking to God, singing out to Him, at church, in school, in my personal times, and at work too. Some of the nights I had to miss the beginning of the services but I would be at work, sweeping the back room just weeping in the presence of God, just crying out to Him; then as work would end I’d rush to get to church and into the service.

These meetings showed me so much this year. How God lives outside of time, so to Him the meetings never end, because the presence of God is always here. I love being in these meetings. The thing that really sums up these meetings to me is something that I’ve heard Pastor Rodney say before, that getting a touch from God is not about the manifestation, but in returning people to their first love, and causing people to gain a greater hunger for God. That’s really what I felt from this camp meeting, because I’m hungrier than ever!

Rodney Howard Browne – Melissa A. Testimony

Worship Soundtracks from RMIRiverSong on Vimeo.

Ministers conference was amazing.

I was hardly in any meetings. But God still did so much in my life that whole week. I volunteered to be a server in hospitality Mon,Wed and Fri. Tues,Thurs and Sat night I worked from 2- 8:00 and picked up Ps.Todd & Katies kids straight from getting off work, I’d go to the church and would drive the kids home, and tuck all three boys in bed,  and watched them until the parents came home. So in essence I started my week working hospitality Monday from 10:00-4:30, then I’d have to pull myself away and go do my housekeeping job in Thonotosassa from 5-10:30/11:00.(my boss gave me flexability on my hospitality days to come into work late)

Tuesday I went to part of the morning service and left at 1:30 to work by 2:00 my normal work hours are 2-8) and I’d wrk my normal wrk hours, and pick up the Holmes kids right after I’d get off work, and study til late at their house watching the kids, after tucking them in till the parents arrived.  That was my whole week. I made half of Tues, Thurs, and Sat. But Sunday was my break day and it was definitely the most special.

Phil Smithers laid hands on us all, and it really stirred me up. I told God I was so hungry, and wanted to get drunk and totally lost in the spirit Sun night because it was my time to relax. (Since Sun am I babysat Blake Holmes all service 🙂

God met me. I was pressing in like never before. God came down and spoke so many things to my heart that night. He let me know that even though I didn’t know my calling in the ministry exactly was, that He was still preparing me for it in every area. Through hospitality He was teaching me how to better my spirit of excellence. And how to be even more of a diligent servant. He was teaching me how to relate and work with people and kids, of all ages and types.  He said He is teaching me how to live my life as if I am really living in a glass house. Living pure in Him and doing my best to be the leader in Christ that I meant to be.

He said He’s enlarging my heart for the nations of souls out there.

I lost all reverent dignity of my outer expressions of emotions when Phil said to ask and the Lord, and He will give you the nations. I felt so unworthy. And when I spoke that to the Lord…He said He wanted to use my hands and feet…and that if would trust Him he would use me. He brought back to my memory when I was a small child that I’d dance people would get healed. The Lord told me He was still going to bring that to pass in my life. I was in shambles. Tears and messed up hair everywhere. Laughing and crying and overjoyed to be soaking in the Lord’s presence. I’d let so many things in my life I knew God might use me for go dormant, because I didn’t (and still don’t) know how they were going to come to pass. But God let me know His timing is perfect. And He has an appointed time for all these things in my life later on.  I was blessed beyond words and my joy was filled to the fullest. The week of Ministers Conference strengthened me in every way. I got to see how loving teamwork and organization of the body of Christ shows forth the precious spirit of God to the ministers that came seeking encouragement. And I got to love on the sweetest kids while providing childcare. God teaches us so much through children. If we will be like the least of these, we will inherit the kingdom of God.   When I learn to take the limits off of God and myself..God as the author and finisher of all things will truly become the God of the impossible for me.

God really blessed me with His joy and peace at the closeout service, and I was so drunk in the spirit my makeup was everywhere and my hair a crazy disaster. But through the makeup streaks and puffy cheeks….God birthed His strength anew; He put a peace inside to trust Him deeper than I ever have before.  He left me with the precious understanding that my life isn’t about my calling…..but about His heart. For it’s in His heart that my calling lies…and when I search in His word, and in His presence for what His desires really are, no matter where I am, or what I’m doing, that is when my heart beat will truly become one with His. And that is when my ministry will truly be what it is meant to be.  Being found, by being lost in Him.