Congratulations to those of you who have been reading all year and to those who started somewhere along the way. I hope you’re looking forward to starting again in the coming year.
As we read in Malachi today, let’s purpose in our hearts to give God our best in 2017 … to offer Him the firstfruits of our time in the morning … to be faithful with our tithes and offerings … to use our talents and resources to further His kingdom, to bring Him glory in all we do, and to honor Him in our marriages or our singleness or whatever our situation!
Our final passage in Proverbs pictures “the virtuous wife.” How do the characteristics of this ancient model speak to us today?
Finally, as you read the final 2 chapters of Revelation, allow John’s vision of the glories to come excite your heart!
Revelation 21 & 22
Giving God Our Best
Finances, Time, Talent & More
As is all of God’s Word, this little book is rich with His truth. In chapter 1 we see the importance of giving God our best, not what is left over, whether that means finances, time, talent or some other resource.
God rebuked the people because, instead of giving the best of their flocks as a sacrifice, they offered the stolen, the lame and the sick animals.
Many times, instead of giving God our best we give Him what’s left over, if anything. We can’t tithe or give to the work of God because we are too strapped with huge mortgages and car payments. Perhaps we need to drive that older vehicle a little longer or adjust our budgets in other ways.
Instead of spending time with Him first thing in the morning, we rush off to work or get busy with our day, promising to read His Word before we go to sleep. At night, we’re too exhausted to read more than a few verses before we fall asleep without giving it serious thought or attention.
I don’t want to sound legalistic, because the Bible does not say we must spend time with God first thing in the morning. There may be some who are at their best at night. I also understand that some of you have young children who, as someone said, “Wake up at the first crack of the Bible.” But for most of us, morning is the time when we are most rested and when spending time with God is the most profitable.
In chapter 2 God rebukes the priests because, among other things, they took the covenant relationship of marriage lightly. And remember as new covenant believers we are all priests to the Lord (1 Pet. 2.5).
First, they knowingly disobeyed God by marrying unbelievers (2.11). Then those who were married were divorcing their wives:
13 And this is the second thing you do.
You cover the altar of the LORD with tears,
With weeping and crying;
So He does not regard the offering anymore,
Nor receive it with goodwill from your hands.
14 Yet you say, “For what reason?”
Because the LORD has been witness
Between you and the wife of your youth,
With whom you have dealt treacherously;
Yet she is your companion
And your wife by covenant.
16 “For the LORD God of Israel says
That He hates divorce, …
Because of their disregard for the covenant relationship of marriage, God had no regard for their prayers and offerings.
Then in chapter 3 of Malachi we see God’s heart concerning our giving:
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try 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 such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.
Do you trust God with your finances? Do you take Him at His Word concerning your giving? It’s the one area of life where God invites us to test Him. His promise is that when we give generously, He will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing so big we won’t be able to contain it. There will be overflow to give again.
So let’s purpose in our hearts to give God our best whether with our time, our talents, our finances, or our relationships.
Today’s Other Readings:
Praise the Lord!
Whatever your personal preferences in styles of music, it sounds like heaven will be a noisy place when it comes to music! This psalm says we’re to praise him with the trumpet, lute, harp, timbrel, dance, stringed instruments, flutes, and cymbals.
Praise the Lord!
The Virtuous Wife
Where do I start? There is so much in this passage. Even though this is a snapshot from another time and place, the principles still apply today.
Ladies, we are not consigned to a lesser role in society, but to a role that is valuable and precious in God’s sight.
“Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies” (v. 10).
So what are the characteristics of this godly woman?
“The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” (v. 11-12).
First and foremost, she is trustworthy, whether with finances, with her behavior and affections, or with her speech.
“She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar. She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants” (v. 13-15).
“She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness” (v. 27).
While we may not have servants, we certainly have many appliances which make our work easier and the availability of dry cleaners, grocery stores and restaurants that offer prepared foods that our sisters in biblical times could never have imagined.
“She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard” (v. 16). “She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle” (v.19). “She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants” (v. 24).
Whether she blesses the family financially by planning and budgeting and cutting coupons or has a home based business or works outside the home, she is an active participant and blessing to her family in this area.
She takes care of herself physically.
“She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms” (v. 17).
She is confident because she faithfully puts God’s Word into her heart and applies it to her life.
“She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night” (v. 18).
Her merchandise is good because her work is done as unto the Lord. God’s Word is the lamp that lights our paths (Ps. 119.105). The virtuous woman understands that she is not to let the light that is in her go out, but that she is to let others see God’s influence in her life.
Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5.16).
“She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy” (v. 20).
She plans wisely and prepares for problems and changes.
“She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet” (v. 21).
She is attentive to her appearance.
“She makes tapestry for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple” (v. 22).
But she understands that it’s the inner person that God is most concerned about.
“Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come” (v. 25).
“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet. 3.3-4).
Because she is faithful in her responsibilities, it frees her husband to do what God has called him to do.
“Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land” (v. 25).
“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness” (v. 26).
As a result …
“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. ‘Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates” (v. 28-31).
I want to say that I have met many Proverbs 31 women. Many of them are young which is so encouraging for me. Some of them work outside the home, others are stay-at-home-moms, many homeschool their children. Being a godly wife and mother takes time and effort, but they do it as unto the Lord and find joy in that calling.
Ladies, wherever you feel you are in this area and whatever your age, it’s never too late or too early. As you read through the characteristics of a godly wife, is there some area on which you know God wants you to work?
Parents, how are you doing with teaching these principles to your daughters? And are you teaching your sons the value of seeking a Proverbs 31 woman rather than what the world values in womanhood?
Glories to Come
These two final chapters give us a glimpse of the glories to come as we see the New Jerusalem where there will be no more tears and no more sorrow and where Christ is all the light we will need!
“… And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely … He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
Have a blessed 2017,
P.S. Those of you who finished the whole year … it’s OK to do a happy dance!
Getting ready for 2017
What will you do to make Bible reading an ongoing habit in the coming year? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible.
And I hope you’ll sign up for my daily email. It can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track. I try to make comments that are relevant to the daily struggles and questions that I hear in my counseling and discipleship ministries. Sign up between now and December 31st and you may win a copy of one of my favorite books, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney.
Start today so it can become a regular part of your day.
You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. Just click on the social media icons. But nothing replaces having the daily devotion pop up in your inbox each day. It, usually (once in a while life gets in the way), goes out at 3 a.m. MST, so it’s there for early risers no matter what time zone you’re in.
So will you join me and, possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. (Why not email or call them right now?) Let’s get ready and grow in our relationship with Him together.
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“Bible in a Year” posts have been edited and updated from previous posts.