“Giving God Our Best” December 31

 

Giving God Our Best & Proverbs 31 -Happy New Year’s Eve,

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!

 

Today’s Readings:
Malachi 1-4
Psalm 150
Proverbs 31.10-31
Revelation 21 & 22

 

Giving God Our Best

 

Malachi 1-4:

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.

morning coffee tea bibleI 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:  Continue reading

“Are you a legalist?” September 23

 

Are you a legalist? - I've heard it said that we are all legalists at heart. Are you a legalist? You might be surprised at the subtle ways we fall into it. Also read about: Hezekiah's amazing prayer and how we can pray the same way. One way to start preparing for 2017 and get your time with God off to a good start.

I’ve heard it said that we are all legalists at heart. Are you a legalist? You might be surprised at the subtle ways we fall into it.

Also read about:

  • Hezekiah’s amazing prayer and how we can pray the same way.
  • One way to start preparing for 2017 and get your time with God off to a good start.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 37 & 38
Psalm 109.14-20
Proverbs 26.1
Galatians 1.1-24

 

Are you a legalist?

 

Galatians 1.1-24:

If I Do “A” …

 

The Galatians, who had received the Gospel of salvation by grace, had been infiltrated by Judaizers, men who wanted to impose their own legalistic requirements on them. It’s as if someone came into your church or mine and began to hold his own Bible study telling people they are not really saved unless they’ve been baptized, or unless they become vegetarians, get circumcised, take communion every week, worship on a certain day, or some other list of requirements. It may sound foolish, but if you don’t know the truth and have it firmly fixed in your mind, you will fall for anything!

Legalism is much easier to fall into than we might think, but sometimes it shows up in very subtle ways. Many people who sit in church every week, when asked if they are sure they’ll get to heaven will say “yes,” but when asked why, will say “because I’m a pretty good person.”

What is that? It’s salvation by works. It’s legalism! They may have received the gospel on an intellectual level, but in their hearts believe they must add something to it, and certainly must do something to keep themselves saved.

How else does it show up?  Continue reading

“Suffering, Crime & Child Sacrifice” July 16

 

Suffering, Crime & Child Sacrifice - What if you were called to endure suffering or hardship for the cause of Christ? Would you be willing to risk it all? Does crime sometimes pay? And what about child sacrifice? Is it something that only happens in pagan societies?

What if you were called to endure suffering or hardship for the cause of Christ? Would you be willing to risk it all? Does crime sometimes pay? And what about child sacrifice? Is it something that only happens in pagan societies?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 28 & 29
Psalm 84.8-12
Proverbs 21.6-8
Acts 19.21-41

This is a busy month for me and probably for most of you. I know it’s easy to get off track when kids are out of school and we’re taking vacations, etc., so I encourage you, to do your best to keep going. But, if you do miss a few days, just pick back up where we are. We have so much to gain from remaining faithful and so much wisdom to learn from His Word.

We still have all the epistles in the New Testament and the prophets in the Old ahead of us and I know God is going to show us great things!

bible mine

And if you’ve just recently stopped by to visit, I hope you’ll join us. Whether you started at the beginning or not, you will benefit greatly from a systematic reading of God’s love letter to us because:

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3.16-17).

On to today’s very important readings …

 

Suffering, Crime & Child Sacrifice

 

2 Chronicles 28 & 29:

Child Sacrifice & Abortion

 

Can you imagine a king (Ahaz) so evil that he would sacrifice his own children to false gods! And yet, it still goes on today! Children are sacrificed at the abortion clinic, to the gods of drug addiction and drunkenness, to the gods of sexual perversion, to the gods of “I’m too busy with my career” or “I want a divorce, because I just can’t be happy and I’m sure God wants me happy!” and many more.

Suffering, Crime & Child Sacrifice - What if you were called to endure suffering or hardship for the cause of Christ? Would you be willing to risk it all? Does crime sometimes pay? And what about child sacrifice? Is it something that only happens in pagan societies?You may think that I bring up abortion too often. I do so NOT to put any condemnation on someone who has had an abortion in the past:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8.1).

The blood of Christ covers ALL our sins when we come to Him in saving faith. But I do believe abortion is possibly the greatest evil of our day and we must be willing to stand up against it no matter how unpopular it makes us!

The lie that abortion solves “a problem” permeates our society. But conception is more than an “unplanned pregnancy,” more than an inconvenience, more than an accident. It is the beginning of a new life and ordained by God no matter what the circumstances (Gen. 29.31, 30.22).

Abortion doesn’t solve a “problem;” it creates a much bigger one. The pain and consequences of abortion, not only end the life of a pre-born human being created in the image of God, but also leave scars on the heart and soul (and sometimes the body) of the mother, and often the father, as well.

Suffering, Crime & Child Sacrifice - What if you were called to endure suffering or hardship for the cause of Christ? Would you be willing to risk it all? Does crime sometimes pay? And what about child sacrifice? Is it something that only happens in pagan societies?If you or someone you know is contemplating an abortion or has had one in the past, I want to encourage you to contact a crisis pregnancy center in your area. They offer help and counseling to those who are pregnant and post-abortive counseling to those who have had an abortion in the past. Many offer counseling to fathers, too. If you live in El Paso you can contact the Pregnancy Help Center and Fatherhood Help Services.

If you are being pressured to have an abortion, you have rights, no matter what your age. LIFECALL can tell you how to protect your baby and your rights. They can even provide an attorney free of charge. God loves YOU and YOUR BABY.  Continue reading

15 Ways to Enhance Your Quiet Time*

 

15 Ways to Enhance Your Quiet Time* when you have so littleDo you ever feel like your quiet time is just another thing on your to-do list? Or do you ever wonder why yours is ho-hum when everyone else makes such a big deal out of it? You want to enjoy it and be excited when that alarm goes off at 6 a.m., but every day you hit the snooze button again!

 

We all know it. A daily quiet time is important. But with kids … and a job … and so much to do everyday, sometimes it doesn’t happen.

If you have little ones, it may be like someone once said, “My kids wake up at the first crack of the Bible!” There’s no doubt about it, children, especially younger ones, make it challenging to find time for yourself and God.

We live in a culture that values activity. Most of us hit the ground running every morning: carpools, breakfast, kids to drop off, jobs, errands to run, homeschooling, email, social media, blogging, you name it …

We set the alarm a few minutes early, but hit the snooze button. We not only snooze through our quiet time, but through any margin we had, too. The next thing we know, we hurrying the kids, grabbing a bagel on the way out the door, and rushing off, only to get caught in traffic!

So how can we fit in a regular, daily quiet time and make the most of the time we have? Here are 15 suggestions:


  Continue reading

December 31 “Giving God our best”

your bestHappy New Year’s Eve,

Congratulations to those of you who have been reading all year and to those who started somewhere along the way. And I hope you’re looking forward to starting again in the coming year.

Let’s purpose in our hearts to give God our best in 2015. 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!

 

Today’s Readings:
Malachi 1-4
Psalm 150
Proverbs 31.10-31
Revelation 21 & 22

 

Malachi 1-4:

Giving God our best

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.

our bestI 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 Continue reading

How will 2015 be different?

read the bible in 2015It’s that time of year again: time for resolutions and new beginnings.

Sadly, many of our resolutions quickly fall by the wayside because we don’t plan.

Maybe you have resolved to read more of God Word, or follow a certain devotional, or read the “Bible in a Year” before, but failed somewhere along the way. That’s ok! Most of us tried and failed numerous times before we succeeded! I know I did!

How will 2015 be different? Will you know God and His Word better in December of next year?

It only takes 15 minutes a day to read through the Bible. 15 minutes! I know if I’m honest I waste more time that that doing things that don’t matter for eternity! Yet reading through the Bible can be life changing!

One of the best ways to develop a new habit is to encourage a friend to join you.

Is there someone who might join you this year? Forward this email, share on your favorite social media, and encourage them to sign up for the “Bible in a Year” email devotionals. Don’t wait, January 1st will be here in a few days!

You can, also, sign up to receive notices for new “Christian Living” posts (on marriage, parenting, communication, blended families, book reviews, wisdom from Proverbs, and more).

New Year’s Blessings!

Donna

September 23 “Legalists at heart”

images[4] (2)

We’re all basically legalists at heart and if we don’t have an understanding of the gospel firmly fixed in our minds, we can easily fall into it.

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 37 & 38
Psalm 109.14-20
Proverbs 26.1
Galatians 1.1-24

Isaiah 37 & 38:

That all the kingdoms of the earth may know

In yesterday’s reading, an emissary from the King of Assyria had set up camp outside the city trying to intimidate the Israelites into surrendering without a battle. When threatened, Hezekiah turned to God, not on the basis of what he deserved, but on the basis of who God is:

“O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see …” (vv. 37.16-17).

prayer, worshipThen he asked that God would move on their behalf but for His own glory:

“Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD, You alone” (v. 37.20).

This needs to be, not just the prayer of our lips, but the underlying desire of our hearts, as well, that God would receive glory through His work in our lives.

And sometimes that means walking through a trial instead of escaping from it. While it’s fine to pray and ask God to deliver us from tests and trials and difficulties, we must hold those requests in an open hand. Just as Jesus did, “… nevertheless, not my will, but Yours, be done, O Lord.”

But in this case, as He often does in our lives, God worked in an incredible, supernatural way, destroying the invaders without a battle! Continue reading

September 16 “The Rapture or the Tribulation?”

sky, sun, cloudsThere will be a day when, “… the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout … we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air …” (1 Thess. 4.16-17). There will also be those who think they’re ok with God because of all the things they have done. They may be religious, but will realize too late that they were not truly saved and that they’ve been left behind. What about you? Will you experience the Rapture or the Tribulation?

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 23 & 24
Psalm 107.10-22
Proverbs 25.17
2 Corinthians 8.1-24

Isaiah 23 & 24:

God will one day judge the world

Chapter 24 changes the pattern in this book. Instead of talking about God’s judgment on specific nations, the prophet begins to speak to the inhabitants of the earth. This prophecy is more general in nature.

It certainly had near future meaning, possibly either the devastation brought about by Sennacherib and his Assyrian army or by Nebuchadnezzar and his armies from Babylon.

But it also has yet future application concerning the period of history called the Tribulation. The book of Revelation talks about the incredible destruction that will take place during those horrible, terrifying seven years: fires, earthquakes like the world has never seen, pestilence and wars, among other things.

shockedThe next few chapters of Isaiah will continue talking about God’s judgment on the world, but there is also comfort contained in many of the passages for God’s people. Even in the worst of times, God cares for His own! And as for the Great Tribulation to come, I don’t believe those of us who have made a decision for Christ now will be around to see that time. I believe that time will be proceeded by the Rapture of the church:

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4.16-17).

But there will also be those who attend church, but who have never made a personal commitment to Christ and who will realize too late that they were not truly saved. Continue reading

June 25 “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming …”

dory[1]

Reading through the Bible is a great goal and worth persevering through. To quote that great philosopher Dory, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim, swim.”

On to the Word …

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 13 & 14
Psalm 78.1-11
Proverbs 19.20-21
Acts 7.22-43

1 Chronicles 13 & 14:

The horrible consequences of sin

God allows us to see the men and women He uses with all their warts and failings:

Verse 14.3, “Then David took more wives in Jerusalem, and David begot more sons and daughters.”

Remember kings had been specifically commanded not to take multiple wives (Deut. 17.17). Even though God allowed him to do so, He didn’t condone it. And the history of his life and family reveals the horrible consequences, including: infighting, jealousy, incest, and murder. So don’t be tempted to think the men and women in the Bible somehow got a pass on sin.

As a pastor friend of our used to say, “You can choose to sin, but you don’t get to choose the consequences.”

“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay”– unknown

Continue reading