“Giving & the Heart of the Giver” March 12

 

Giving & the Heart of the Giver - Do you ever feel like you have so little to give to God? So little in the way of talent or time or resources? What kind of giving does God desire and what does the heart of the giver have to do with it?Do you ever feel like you have so little to give to God? So little in the way of talent or time or resources? What kind of giving does God desire and what does the heart of the giver have to do with it?

 

Today’s Readings:
Numbers 21 & 22
Psalm 33.10-17
Proverbs 11.25-26
Mark 12.28-44

 

Giving & the Heart of the Giver

 

Mark 12.28-44:

Giving & Our Heart Attitudes

 

Jesus and His disciples are observing those giving in the temple:

“Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, …So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood'” (vv. 42-44).

The New Living Translation says she gave “all that she had to live on.” Bible dictionaries say these coins were worth less than a penny a piece. This poor widow humbly and quietly gave all that she had.

In Matthew 6.2 Jesus warned against following the example of some who, while the gifts may have been large, made a show of their giving:

“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full (NASB).

They wanted to be seen and heard by men, but this poor widow’s giving was seen and heard in heaven. God is not looking at the size of the gift, but at the heart of the giver!

How is your heart when you give? Do you give begrudgingly? Cheerfully? Sacrificially? This is not about earning God’s love. He already loves each of us enough to die for us. It’s not about looking good to others like religious people of Jesus’ time.

Even though God works through the giving of His people, He doesn’t need our money (Ps. 24.1, 50.10). He wants our hearts!

 

TODAY’S OTHER READINGS:

 

Numbers 21 & 22:

As Moses Lifted Up the Serpent in the Wilderness

 

Christ on the crossIn chapter 21 God had blessed the Nation of Israel with military success. He continued to feed them supernaturally, protect them and rule over them. Yet they continued to grumble, complain and turn against Moses. As a result God sent poisonous snakes into the camp. These snakes had a bite that caused a fiery inflammation.

But even then God made a provision for them to be saved from the consequences of their sin. He instructed Moses to put an image of the snake, the result of their sin, on a pole and anyone who looked at it, was saved from death.

John 3.14-15 says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

As a result of our sin, Jesus allowed Himself to be hung or lifted up on a cross so that whoever looks to Him will also be saved, not from physical death, but from eternal spiritual death!

According to A.W. Tozer in his book The Pursuit of God, looking and believing are synonymous. While Israel looked with their physical eyes, we look on or believe in with the heart.

 

Psalm 33.10-17:

Blessed by God, and Yet …

 

flag bible sq

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”

Like the nation of Israel, our nation has been blessed by God in so many ways: militarily, financially, with an abundance of food, protection, unheard of freedoms, and yet, we’ve turned to gods of our own making. The only answer is turning back to the One true God. That begins with us. We must surrender fully to Him in our own hearts, minds and lives, and pray for a great revival in our nation.

Whether or not our nation as a whole will turn back to God, we don’t know, but just as God protected individuals in the nation of Israel from what was going on around them, Continue reading

“What’s the Condition of Your Heart?” February 23

 

What's the condition of your heart? - What's the condition of your heart? Has the truth really penetrated and taken root? Are things that don't matter for eternity preventing real spiritual growth? Is the seed bearing fruit?What’s the condition of your heart toward God and His Word? Has the truth really penetrated and taken root? Are things that don’t matter for eternity preventing real spiritual growth? Is the seed bearing fruit?

 

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 15 & 16
Psalm 26.6-12
Proverbs 10.8
Mark 4.1-20

 

What’s the Condition of Your Heart?

 

Mark 4.1-20:

The Parable of the Sower

 

The Parable of the Sower is perhaps the most important of Jesus’ parables. Jesus Himself said:

“Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” (v. 13).

In it Jesus talks about four kinds of soils and relates them to the receptivity of our hearts to the gospel and God’s Word.

What kind of soil is your heart?

Is it the hard, often trod, wayside where it’s hard for truth to take root? Have you allowed the birds to come and snatch away the seeds because they never penetrated the soil?

Is it rocky ground? Do you let trouble and persecution keep the seed from growing and taking root? Are you more worried about what others might think?

Maybe the ground of your heart is crowded with thorns and thistles that use up the energy you need to become fruitful. Have you let the cares of this world (worry and anxiety) the deceitfulness of riches (always trying to get ahead) or the desires for other things (wanting what you want) to choke the Word so it bears little fruit?

Or are you good ground, someone who accepts the Word, believes it, trusts in it and allows it to bear much fruit? Praying that you are!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Leviticus 15 & 16:

Only the Blood of Christ

 

Chapter 16 covers the Day of Atonement. This was to be done annually because no matter how detailed the law for specific sins and sacrifices, there were continual sins of the heart and life, known and unknown, which were not covered. And it had to be done every year because the blood of bulls and goats didn’t do away with sin. It only covered it temporarily.

Only the blood of Christ can do away with our sin permanently and allow us to have fellowship with God. Jesus was temporarily separated from God the Father when He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matt. 27.46), so that we could be united with Him permanently.  Continue reading

“When Others Hurt You” January 25

 

The Sovereignty of God When Others Hurt YouHow do you respond when others hurt you? Do you trust in the sovereignty of God or do you become angry and bitter?

Jacob’s love for Rachel seems to be one of the great love stories in the Bible, but at the end of his life, he didn’t ask to be buried with Rachel. He made a very surprising request.

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 49 & 50
Psalm 14.1-7
Proverbs 4.20-24
Matthew 16.1-28

 

When Others Hurt You

 

Genesis 49 & Genesis 50:

The Death of Jacob

 

As we conclude our reading in Genesis, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. Genesis is one of my favorite books and chapter 50 contains one of my favorite verses, verse 20.

In chapter 49 Jacob is dying and he gathers his sons around him to speak to them for the last time. Commenting in depth on what follows in verses 2-27 would require more time and study than I can give here. But remember, God, who knows the end from the beginning, was speaking prophetically through Jacob. The things he spoke foretold future events, but also reflected each of his sons’ characters and their past.

But let’s take a minute and read back over his words to Judah in chapter 49:

8 “Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s children shall bow down before you.
9 Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
11 Binding his donkey to the vine,
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
He washed his garments in wine,
And his clothes in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes are darker than wine,
And his teeth whiter than milk.

Jesus was to come through the tribe, or descendants, of Judah and much of this speaks of Him. But as you think about Judah remember this is the man who in chapter 38 married a Canaanite woman, slept with his daughter-in-law Tamar because he had mistaken her for a prostitute, and then hypocritically condemned her to death.

But God was working and when he was confronted with the truth concerning Tamar, Judah said, “… She is more righteous than I …” (Gen. 38.26). He admitted his sin and repented.

In Egypt we get another glimpse of the change in Judah. When it looked like Benjamin was going to be arrested, Judah volunteered to take his place!

This should give us all hope that God can and does change people. It should also give us hope that He can use us in spite of the mistakes we have made, if we will repent and go His way.

 

When Others Hurt You

 

Genesis closes with the death of Jacob and a new set of worries for Joseph’s brothers. The old fears come back. They wondered if Joseph was just waiting for their father to die, so he could seek his revenge.

Verse 17 says that Joseph wept because they still didn’t get it. His response is one of the classic passages on the sovereignty of God:

“Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Gen. 50.19-20).

What has God allowed in your life? Has someone meant evil against you? Have you become angry or bitter because of it? Or Continue reading

“Giving: God Weighs the Heart” July 14

 

Giving: God Weighs the Heart - God is the One who weighs our hearts, but giving is one good indicator of the condition of our hearts.It’s amazing to me, how many people will spend $4 on a cup of coffee at Starbucks, or $25 to go to the movies, or $80 or $100 for a pair of tennis shoes, but who give grudgingly or not at all to the work of God. God is the One who weighs our hearts, but giving is one good indicator of our spiritual condition.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 23 & 24
Psalm 83.9-18
Proverbs 21.2-3
Acts 18.1-28

 

Giving: God Weighs the Heart

 

2 Chronicles 23 & 24:

Separation of Church and State?

 

Wicked Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, had killed all her grandsons and seized the throne in Judah. That is all except one, Joash, who was just an infant. His sister had hidden and protected him. John MacArthur says:

This is one of the most dramatic moments in messianic history. The human offspring of David have been reduced to one Joash. If he had died, there would have been no human heir to the Davidic throne, and it would have meant the destruction of the line of the Messiah. However, God remedied the situation by providentially protecting Joash (2 Chr. 22:10–12) and eliminating Athaliah (1 Chr. 23:12–21).

When Joash was seven years old the High Priest, Jehoiada, and other faithful men stepped forward and began to set things right.

¹ In the seventh year Jehoiada strengthened himself, and made a covenant with the captains of hundreds: Azariah the son of Jeroham, Ishmael the son of Jehohanan, Azariah the son of Obed, Maaseiah the son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat the son of Zichri. And they went throughout Judah and gathered the Levites from all the cities of Judah, and the chief fathers of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem.

Then all the assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And he said to them, “Behold, the king’s son shall reign, as the Lord has said of the sons of David. (2 Chron. 23)

They protected and crowned Joash king and killed Athaliah. With Jehoiada’s wise and godly counsel the King restored the temple and temple worship and brought about a revival. Sadly, after the High Priest’s death Joash fell into apostasy, even killing Jehoiada’s son.

We hear a lot about separation of church and state, which by the way is not even in our Constitution. But did you notice who God used to preserve the last heir to the Davidic throne? It was the High Priest, Jehoiada, who was not afraid to get involved in civil matters like who should be king. Just saying!

 

CHEERFUL GIVING 

 

generous

Then in chapter 24 we see the king commanding an offering be taken up to support the work of God (v. 9). Look how the people responded in verses 10-11:

10 Then all the leaders and all the people rejoiced, brought their contributions, and put them into the chest until all had given. 11 So it was, at that time, when the chest was brought to the king’s official by the hand of the Levites, and when they saw that there was much money, that the king’s scribe and the high priest’s officer came and emptied the chest, and took it and returned it to its place. Thus they did day by day, and gathered money in abundance.

Notice “all the people rejoiced” that an offering was being taken. How do you respond when the offering is taken? Do you rejoice in the opportunity to give to the work of God? Or do you give because you wonder what people will think or because you think God demands it? Do you give at all? Paul said:

“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9.7).

And look at today’s reading in Proverbs …  Continue reading

“Worry & Other Emotions: How Journaling Can Help” April 14

 

Worry & Other Negative Emotions: How Journaling Can Help

 What’s going on in your heart and mind? Is there peace and trust? Or worry and anxiety? How should we respond when anxiety or other negative emotions threaten to have their way? How might journaling help you in this area?

Even if you haven’t followed along lately, I hope you’ll take the time to read this post. Our thinking is so important and learning to think biblically makes all the difference in our emotional condition.

 

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 17 & 18
Psalm 45.6-17
Proverbs 14.6
Luke 12.1-31

 

Luke 12.1-31:

Our thinking controls our emotions

Verses 22-31 repeat much of what we read in Matthew 6 about worry and trust in God, but we can never hear these things enough. Verses 29-31:

29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

I especially like verse 29, “And do not … have an anxious mind.” Why are we so often anxious? What controls our emotions? It’s our thinking.

Matthew 15.18-19:

18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

We could extend that list to add many other things, good and bad, including worry and its opposite, trust. The Sovereign God who watches over all the details of life is watching over us. He knows what we need. Our focus is to be on doing the things that advance His kingdom. But if we’re not purposefully thinking and meditating on those things, our default modes of worry, anxiety, anger, gossip, etc., will take over.

 

Controlling our thoughts

So how do we learn to control our thoughtsContinue reading

“Angry Children & the Heart” + LINKUP

 

Angry Children & the HeartWelcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is The Heart of Anger: Practical Help for the Prevention and Cure of Anger in Chldren by Lou Priolo.

 

We’ve all seen them at school, in the grocery store, and dozens of other places. Maybe you have one in your own home. Angry children seem to be everywhere.

The world’s answers to the problem vary. They are labeled, medicated, coddled, and counseled endlessly. Too often angry children grow to be angry adults.

In biblical terms, anger is sin, not a syndrome or a disease. It’s a heart issue.

Chapter 1 of Lou’s book opens with Jim and Linda’s story of their struggles with an angry 10-year-old son. When they came to Lou for counseling, they had lost hope. Lou says: Continue reading

October 22 “Be careful … your thoughts run your life!”

sad blonde womanWhat do you think about? What hurts, disappointments, or cares? Will you let Jesus come into those broken places or will you let wrong thoughts run your life?

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 29 & 30
Psalm 119.41-48
Proverbs 27.19
1 Timothy 1.1-20

Jeremiah 29 & 30:

An incurable affliction

Chapter 30 contains one of the most descriptive pictures of the spiritual condition of the nation of Israel, followed by God’s amazing promise. It is also a picture of our spiritual condition apart from Christ and the redemption He purchased for us at the cross. Think about each phrase as you reread it: Continue reading

October 17 “The Rapture & Uncle Benjamin”

ancient wooden doorImagine your family sitting around the dinner table one night and there is a knock at the door … and there stands “Uncle Benjamin” whose funeral you had attended a few years before? And imagine what it will it be like a few seconds after the Rapture of the Church? What do those two scenarios have to do with each other?

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 19 & 20
Psalm 119.1-8
Proverbs 27.13
1 Thessalonians 4.1-18

 

Jeremiah 19 & 20:

Is the Word like fire in your bones?

Rather than believe the truth, the leaders of Jerusalem tried to intimidate Jeremiah into silence. Have you turned on the news lately? Sound familiar?

Even though Jeremiah was tempted to keep quiet, he said, “But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not” (19.9).

Is that you? Are you so full of God’s Word that it’s like fire in your bones? So much so that you would risk mistreatment, persecution or death, as Jeremiah did?

 

thoughtful riverPsalm 119.1-8:

Mind, will, and emotions

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and is an acrostic psalm. As it was written in the original Hebrew, it contains a literary device to drive home the truths contained in it—something like what we do when we say “A is for apple; B if for ball; … or when we use an acronym to help us remember the name of an organization.

While it is long, it contains some of the greatest truths about God and His Word, beginning with verses 1-2: Continue reading

October 16 “When someone says, ‘I’m going to hell anyway!'”

Burning fire hell flamesHave you ever heard someone say, “I might as well live it up, I’m going to hell anyway?” Or if that’s you, no matter what you’ve done, God is willing and able to forgive you.

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 17 & 18
Psalm 118.25-29
Proverbs 27.11-12
1 Thessalonians 3.1-13

 

Jeremiah 17 & 18:

God’s faithfulness to those who remain

Even in the midst of God’s judgment we have verses 7 & 8:

7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
And whose hope is the LORD.
8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

It’s important to remember that there were still faithful believers among the people who would soon be conquered and exiled. Daniel and the other young men we read about in the book of Daniel were taken to Babylon as a result of God’s judgment. So even though their nation and their way of life suffered, God was still blessing and watching over His faithful remnant.

Our deceitful hearts

Verses 9 & 10 are two verses which we frequently share in counseling:

9 “The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
10 I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.

It’s so easy for us to believe that we know what’s going on in another person’s heart—what they’re thinking, what their motives are, what they’re going to do in a given situation. But the truth is we can’t even know our own heart and we certainly cannot know someone else’s. Our own heart can deceive us, causing us to believe we’re somehow “ok”—justified in our actions, even when we’re focused on ourselves and not the glory of our God.

We must constantly stay connected to God, asking Him to search our hearts and show us the sin and deceit that resides there.

 

“I’m going to hell anyway!”

Chapter 18.11-12:

11 “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD. “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.”’”
12 And they said, “That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.”

We’ve all met people like that. They know what God’s Word says about the way they’re living, but they aren’t willing to do what God requires, so they just say, “I might as well live anyway I want, because I’m going to hell anyway!” Continue reading

October 14 “Our own undoing”

feelings sad confusedSin is following the “dictates of our own heart”—doing what feels right to us! It’s following the god of self. And all too often, doing things our own way is our own undoing!

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 13 & 14
Psalm 118.15-20
Proverbs 27.9
1 Thessalonians 1.1-10

 

Jeremiah 13 & 14:

Profitable for nothing

In chapter 13 God used an object lesson to illustrate the filthy spiritual condition of the people. He had the prophet bury a dirty sash (probably an undergarment) in a hole instead of washing it. He was instructed to leave it there until it began to rot. Then in verse 10 God said:

“This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, who follow the dictates of their hearts, and walk after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing.”

Their sin and rebellion had rendered them useless to God! Continue reading