“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

“Use what you have!” May 10

 

Use what you have! Use what you have! We often look at others and wish we had their gifts and talents. We think about our mistakes and, sometimes even, our family history. And we wonder … can God really use me?Use what you have! We often look at others and wish we had their gifts and talents. We think about our mistakes and, sometimes even, our family history. And we wonder … can God really use me?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 22 & 23
Psalm 59.6-17
Proverbs 16.1-2
John 1.1-28

 

1 Samuel 22 & 23:

Use what you have!

Have you ever wondered about your spiritual gifts? Or lamented the fact that you don’t have certain talents? Even wondered if you were good at anything?

It’s so easy to look at someone with great musical abilities or teaching gifts or success in the business world and wish that were you.

Perhaps it’s education you believe you lack … or experience … or opportunity.

Or maybe it’s your past mistakes or your family history or even your race that you believe keeps you from being used by God.

I hope you’ll take some time to read and consider today’s chapters here in 1 Samuel. Look at the men described here … men who would later be called David’s “mighty men.”

“… everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented …” (v. 22.2).

These were not the elite or the talented. These were not the princes or the royalty. They were probably not well educated or polished. They were the guys not making it some place else.

Yet … God would make a mighty army out of them. They would one day march into Jerusalem. They would become the king’s men.

But what if they had stayed home and simply bemoaned the fact that they weren’t well bred or well educated or born into different circumstances? Instead, they took a risk. They had to leave something behind and go where God was working.

What do you need to do to be used by God? Is there something you need to leave behind? Do you need to quit grumbling and complaining and get in motion? Where do you see God working? How can you join Him there?

keyboard computerMaybe you don’t have a degree in theology. Maybe you don’t have a degree at all. But you can go to a Bible study. You can pray and look for someone to disciple you. Perhaps you need to start working on that degree or get some other training. Maybe you can take classes online. You can read books … or listen to podcasts. There is a wealth of information out there!

Perhaps you don’t have the experience to teach a class right now. But you can volunteer to be an assistant and let that teacher mentor you. Maybe you aren’t the soloist, but you can join the choir. Start where you are. Use what you have available to you. God can do great things with those who will humbly and obediently make themselves available to be used by Him.

 

One example

I spend a lot of time helping and encouraging men and women who want to be involved in Biblical counseling, for example. There is an abundance of resources and opportunities to get trained today. Many of them are free and doable from home even with kids and jobs and other responsibilities.

Maybe you just want to be better equipped to help or able answer questions when friends ask for advice. There is a wealth of information and training available through the Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship … much of it absolutely FREE!

Many Bible teachers offer their sermons and notes online. There are podcasts, audios, and even, video recordings. (I’ve listed a few websites below.)

Get in motion! God can and will use you, if you’ll be faithful with the opportunities you have (Lk. 19.11-27)! God is a great Rewarder of faithfulness!

 

It’s not always smooth sailing

Let’s go on with our passage. Notice how David sought God in these verses, and as he did, God blessed and protected him. But also see how his decision in chapter 21 to deceive the priest, Ahimelech, had far reaching consequences. Continue reading

May 10 “Use what you have”

We often look at others and wish we had their gifts and talents. We think about our mistakes and, sometimes even, our family history. And we wonder … can God really use me?

can God really use me

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 22 & 23
Psalm 59.6-17
Proverbs 16.1-2
John 1.1-28

1 Samuel 22 & 23:

Use what you have!

Have you ever wondered about your spiritual gifts? Or lamented the fact that you don’t have certain talents? Even wondered if you were good at anything?

It’s so easy to look at someone with great musical abilities or teaching gifts or success in the business world and wish that were you.

Perhaps it’s education you believe you lack or experience or opportunity.

Or maybe it’s your past mistakes or your family history or even your race that you believe keeps you from being used by God.

I hope you’ll take some time to read and consider this passage. Look at the men described here … men who would later be called David’s “mighty men.”

“… everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented …” (v. 22.2). These were not the elite or the talented. These were not the princes or the royalty. They were probably not well educated or polished. There were the guys not making it some place else.

Yet … God would make a mighty army out of them. They would one day march into Jerusalem. They would become the king’s men.

But what if they had stayed home and simply bemoaned the fact that they weren’t well bred or well educated or born into different circumstances? Instead, they took a risk. They had to leave something behind and go where God was working.

What do you need to do to be used by God? Is there something you need to leave behind? Do you need to quit grumbling and complaining and get in motion? Where do you see God working?

can God really use me

Maybe you don’t have a degree in theology. Maybe you don’t have a degree at all. But you can go to a Bible study. You can pray and look for someone to disciple you. Perhaps you need to start working on that degree or get some other training. Maybe you can take classes on line. You can read books … or listen to podcasts. There is a wealth of information out there!

Perhaps you don’t have the experience to teach a class right now. But you can volunteer to be an assistant and let that teacher mentor you. Maybe you aren’t the soloist, but you can join the choir. Start where you are. Use what you have available to you. God can do great things with those who will humbly and obediently make themselves available to be used by Him.

One example

I spend a lot of time helping and encouraging men and women who want to be involved in Biblical counseling, for example. There is an abundance of resources and opportunities to get trained today. Many of them are free and doable from home even with kids and jobs and other responsibilities.

Maybe you just want to be better equipped to help or able answer questions when friends ask for advice. There is a wealth of information and training available through the Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship … much of it absolutely FREE!

Many Bible teachers offer their sermons and notes online. There are podcasts, audios, and even, video recordings. (I’ve listed a few below.)

Get in motion! God can and will use you, if you’ll be faithful with the opportunities you have (Lk. 19.11-27)! God is a great Rewarder of faithfulness!

It’s not always smooth sailing

Let’s go on with our passage. Notice how David sought God in these verses, and as he did, God blessed and protected him. But also see how his decision in chapter 21 to deceive Ahimelech had far reaching consequences. David recognized that fact and took responsibility for it in 22.22.

But what about the priests? Why did they have to suffer the consequences of David’s actions?

Walking with the Lord, even stepping out in faith to be used by Him in a new way, doesn’t mean their won’t be setbacks or struggles.

God doesn’t guarantee us a life free of pain and suffering, but in 1 Peter 3 we’re told, “… even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed (v. 14) … For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (v. 17). Continue reading

February 12 “More Than Enough”

What would happen if God’s people freely gave of all the gifts and abilities He has so graciously provided? Would there once again be more than enough, or even, too much as there was in Moses’ time?

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 35 & 36
Psalm 22.1-8
Proverbs 8.6-11
Matthew 26.26-50

Exodus 35 & Exodus 36:

All who had willing hearts

Several things in these two chapters caught my attention. First in chapter 35:

22 They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart, and brought earrings and nose rings, rings and necklaces, all jewelry of gold, that is, every man who made an offering of gold to the LORD. 23 And every man, with whom was found blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, goats’ hair, red skins of rams, and badger skins, brought them. 24 Everyone who offered an offering of silver or bronze brought the LORD’s offering. And everyone with whom was found acacia wood for any work of the service, brought it. 25 All the women who were gifted artisans spun yarn with their hands, and brought what they had spun, of blue, purple, and scarlet, and fine linen. 26 And all the women whose hearts stirred with wisdom spun yarn of goats’ hair. 27 The rulers brought onyx stones, and the stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate, 28 and spices and oil for the light, for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense. 29 The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to the LORD, all the men and women whose hearts were willing to bring material for all kinds of work which the LORD, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done. Continue reading