What Am I Giving?

Certain stories in the Bible humble me.  The story of the widow and her two mites being deposited in the offering is one of them.  While the affluent and the better-off gave a portion of what they had, this widow, she gave all.

Examining our lives, can we truly say that we have given God our all?  And I am not necessarily talking about money.  Our life, in general, is this huge opportunity to do something wonderful with our time on this earth.  Every day we have the chance to make something beautiful out of our days – to impact this generation and those around us with the love of God.  If we were to take an inventory of her mites and our portions, what would be the sum of what we have offered to our God?  As I read the words “she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had” (Luke 21:4), I couldn’t help but to stop and take a closer look at my life.

While the reference is clearly related to money, I still asked myself, what of my living?  What am I giving to God?

Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”  As recipients of God’s grace, in our “reasonable service”, what are we happily rendering back to God?  What is our daily offering we bring to Him?

No, we are not saved by our works, but “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).  No, we are not trying to work our way up the ladder of success of heaven, but we are in good company when our focus is on wanting to express our appreciation for all that God has done for us.  Even the psalmist once asked, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” (Psalm 116:12).

Like the woman pouring out at the feet of Jesus, when we have received so much, it seems our natural inclination is to want to show much love and appreciation for all the Lord has done for us (Luke 7:47).

So, the psalmist continues: “I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.  I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.” (Psalm 116:13-14).

No, and with that, no, I mean, NEVER, can we repay God for this great work of salvation He has done in our lives.  But like the widow and the giving of all her two mites, I can show my love and joy to my heavenly Father in the daily offering of my life by how I choose to live and what I choose to give.

So, I ponder, what am I giving?

“I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O Lord; for it is good.” Psalm 54:6

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Your Amazing IF

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IF has been around since the beginning of humanity.  IF usually comes with choice, consequence, and question.  But, what if the word IF can be a statement of faith?  What if the word IF can be a declaration of what you believe God can do in your life.

One of my favorite IF questions in the Bible led to a miracle occurring and the constraints of what is normally not possible being removed.  IF unlocks something amazing in one man’s life, never to be repeated by another human being except for Jesus Christ.  Tossed about in the waves of contrary winds, Jesus’ disciples are struggling in a boat in the middle of the sea when Jesus came to them walking on the water (see Matthew 14:22-33).  After Jesus greeted the men in the boat and calmed them, Peter asked, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water,” (Matthew 14:28; italics added mine).

I believe Peter knew wholeheartedly it was Jesus since some Bible studies use the word IF as SINCE.  Thus, I believe Peter’s IF is a statement of faith, even if it appeared to be an immature faith at the onset.  He believed in Jesus.  He believed if Jesus allowed him to, he would be able to do what is naturally impossible.  He, under the direction of the Lord, could do the amazing, and walk on water.

Now, many of us are very familiar with how Peter’s story here ends.  Seeing the waves his faith falters and Jesus is there to pull him up from his sinking condition and bring him back to the boat.  Yet, that isn’t the part I want to focus on here.  I want to focus on the power of the IF that drew him out of the boat in the first place.  Where other men stayed hidden, he literally threw it all to the wind, and with the chance of a lifetime, stepped out to experience the amazing.

We can laugh at Peter and put him down, but how many of us can honestly answer that we would have gotten out of the boat also?  You see, IF can be a hindrance that causes over questioning and actually act as a stumbling block for not moving forward into something wonderful.  But, IF can also be the catalyst to open a door of opportunity if it is approached with the idea that something amazing can come out of taking a chance with Jesus; to move on to the waters of the unknown with my eyes on Him.

The phrase “What if?” has birthed a lot of good quotes and with good reason.  In that two-worded question, we are daring to ask ourselves the question: “Do I stay in the boat or do I choose to walk on water?”  We are daring to see potential in ourselves to do more than the ordinary, to do something amazing with my IF.

Where is your “IF” calling you today or even this week?  What extraordinary thing may unlock for you if you take a chance with your amazing IF?  I believe God gives us dreams to pursue, but it’s our faith in active pursuit of that IF that will allow the amazing to happen for us, just like it did for Peter.  Jesus most certainly could have gotten to the boat without walking on water, but then Peter or any one of the other disciples would have never had the opportunity to ask and pursue something more.

Is Jesus calling you to walk on water?  Is He calling you to take steps of faith in pursuit of a particular IF?  If He is, keep your eyes on Him and allow Him to lead you to your amazing IF.

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Navigating the Days

Friends, this day is a day that we have never seen before.  As each day progresses into the new, we all walk on unfamiliar ground.  As we walk the paths that lead into each day, we never fully know entering in what its end will be.  We never fully understand what will happen on the road ahead as we put our feet to walking forward.

But we are here, dear friend.  We are at the beginning of a new day and already there is not lacking things that demand our attention, or things that stir up friction, trying to disturb the walk for the day before the day itself has fully begun.

How can we make the best out of these days if we have never navigated them before?

As God was preparing the Israelites for the conquest of the Promised Land, He gave Joshua, their new leader, incredibly detailed instructions on their going into this new territory.  He said,

“When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.

Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore,” (Joshua 3:3-4). 

Their story is such a great symbol of our daily living.  Each day we enter is new to us: “You have not passed this way before” (Joshua 3:4, NKJV).

The Ark of the Covenant represented God’s presence among His people.  The instructions were for them to leave enough space between it and them so that they could properly see it, follow it, and know which way to go.

God stood as their ultimate guide for going into the new, and He stands as our guide, too.

How many attempts are made daily of entering this fresh territory called today without proper guidance?  Without connecting our eyes and hearts with the One who knows our days before we do?

Every day, as we are entering in, we need to look to God.  We need to get connected to where He is leading, and then we need to follow His lead.

As the clock ticks on, and the hours go by, the days and years come and go – every single day that we open our eyes in the land of the living is new to us.  To make the most out of each day, to successfully navigate this day, we need to focus on Him who has gone before us.

Take comfort, dear friend, that you are not navigating the days alone.  As He once told the Children of Israel: “… he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8), I believe if we look to God, and follow His lead, we can be encouraged by the same promise.  Instead of being dismayed by what is ahead, we can find joy because our God has gone before us, and daily His presence is with us (Hebrews 13:5).

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Remember What the LORD Thy God Did!

“If thou shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them?  Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember what the Lord thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt;” Deuteronomy 7:17-18

Is there something overwhelming before you?  Are there new boundaries that you are looking to breach?  Has fear caused you to miss out on the best that God has for you?

The children of Israel could have answered yes to all these questions.  Forty years prior, they had a chance to enter the Promised Land.  They had a chance to possess everything the Lord had in store for them. But they missed out.

A bad report from some unbelieving spies rendered the people’s resolve for the fight useless (Numbers 13:32).  What they saw as an overwhelming obstacle and what they believed in their heart about themselves (Numbers 13:33) not only affected them, but their negativity spread throughout the entire camp (Numbers 14:1-3).

Because of this, they were made to turn away from what could have been, and they were forced to return to the wilderness of what was.

Approaching the verses above, they now are being prepared, forty years later, to take another shot at their promise.  Moses, in reiterating all the commands of God before they enter, is also teaching them how to overcome any doubts and fears they may have about possessing their promise.

Their fathers couldn’t enter because of unbelief (Hebrews 4:1-3), but Moses wanted this generation to make it.  He wanted them to gain everything God has for them.

They couldn’t do that if they didn’t remember.  Remember who was on their side (Psalm 118:6).  Remember who it was that was fighting for them (Deuteronomy 3:22).

Moses instructs them, when they cross over and when what’s before them seems to be too much for them – when they cross over and that whisper of fear begins to speak, he tells them to remember.  Remember what God has already done and draw strength from those victories.

We may not be trying to dispossess nations to obtain a Promised Land, but in trying to progress or move forward into our own promises, we can let fear stop us.  When we look across the borders of what can be, sometimes it seems daunting.  Overwhelming.  Down-right impossible.

In those times, we would do well to follow Moses’ advice: remember.  Remember what God has already done.

You have your own testimonies of God’s faithfulness and workings in your own life.  You have areas where His help stood out because of the circumstance you were facing.  You have those moments when He spoke to your heart during desperate times, showed you His love, or ushered a victory in for you.

Remember those moving’s of God’s might in your life.  Draw strength from His faithfulness and go and possess your promise.

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The Greatest Desire

 

“And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” Mark 14:36

When the will of God clashes with the will of man, which way will you go?

Jesus knew very well about facing this tough choice.  Yes, He was the Son of God with a heavenly origin, but He was also one hundred percent human and knew what it was like to experience and feel everything we feel (Matthew 1:22-23; Galatians 4:4; Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 4:15).

That day, in the Garden of Gethsemane, the prayer of His mouth was for another way.  “Take away this cup from me” were the words spoken when the heaviness and reality of all that was about to transpire weighed upon Him.  During the distressing prayer, His sweat trickled down like great drops of blood (Luke 22:44), so real was this battle.

Though His mouth prayed for another way, the heart of Jesus was settled that above all else, God’s will be paramount.  What the Father wanted from His life, from this moment, was the only choice to make.  With that, His greatest desire was spoken, “Nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.”

Taking everything into account in our lives, how many times do we face the choice to do or not to do the will of God?  Does what He wants for our lives become our greatest desire as it did for Christ?  Or are we insistent on satisfying our own way and pleasing ourselves?

The heart of Jesus was to do the will of the Father, always (John 4:34, 6:38).

Where are our hearts leading us today?

May we follow our Savior’s footsteps and order our lives with the same resolve: “Nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.”

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).

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My Soul Shall Be Joyful in My God! | Bible Devotional

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10

The work of the cross in my life is a reason for joy!  The salvation that flowed from Calvary’s hill is something to get excited about.  A great exchange has taken place.  My filthy garments have been discarded, thrown to the ground, and I am now adorned with a “robe of righteousness.”  The sinner I used to be now stands as a “bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”

Salvation is beautiful.  Salvation looks good on you, my Friends.  He has done a great work in our lives.  His redemption has made us new.  No longer are we what we used to be.  No longer do we carry the weight of the past.  The cross has performed for us what we never could.

In that, we are joyful!  Comfort has come “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified” (Isaiah 61:3).

Yes, our souls have many reasons to be very joyful in what God has done for us.  We have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19).  We have been brought in as children of God (John 1:12; Romans 8:15).  We have been cleaned up and made beautiful from the inside out (2 Corinthians 4:16).  And we are now called by His name (Jeremiah 15:6).

Yes, my soul is joyful.  Yes, my soul rejoices in my God!  “Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away” (Isaiah 51:11).

Everything on this earth that has tried to dull your joy will be stripped away when “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

With these promises in my heart, my soul SHALL BE joyful in my GOD!

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What Are We Giving God?

“Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.” Leviticus 10:3

The over-zealous Nadab and Abihu approached God in a way that was not pleasing to Him. Offering “strange fire” before the Lord, and not regarding the holiness of God, fire went out from God, and they perished (Leviticus 10:1,2).

As I pondered this scenario, I wondered how careful the modern-day Christian is in their approach of God. Do we take Him or treat Him as seriously as we should?

I believe this is a question we all must ask ourselves, both individually and corporately as the body of Christ. Dare I say in some cases, I see an almost flippant attitude in our congregations and service when we gather to worship.

Aaron and his sons were in the process of being consecrated for the services and worship of God. This was not to be taken lightly. When they came before God, their coming was to be done in a way that honors Him.

Are we careful in glorifying God in our worship?

Or are we offering Him whatever we feel is right?

God’s holiness demands that we regard Him as holy. The Bible tells us, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:3). His “unsearchable: greatness deserves more.

In a previous post found here, I wrote:

“The Bible commands us, “Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy” (Psalm 99:5). Throughout the Bible, God’s holiness is prevalent. When His holiness was disregarded in exchange for a bite of fruit, sin entered in, separation occurred, and mankind lost his place in the sacred garden paradise (Genesis 3). When God’s holiness was substituted, the people fell into idolatry with a golden calf, people died, names were blotted out of God’s book, sins would be punished, a plague would follow, and God sent an Angel to guide them for He said, “I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way,” (Exodus 33:3; Exodus 32:1-33:3). Throughout the times of the judges, prophets, all biblical history, and even today, every time the holiness of God has been forsaken, tragedy strikes, and people reap the consequences of their decisions. 

God does have a standard, and holiness is not only who He is, but it is His standard by which all else is measured.”

Whether it be in the sacred place of a sanctuary or the deepest recesses of our hearts, when we approach God, may we do so with respect and honor to the holiness that He is.

We ask so much of God, but what are we giving?

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” Matthew 6:13

Father God, I want to give You more.  Forgive me, for I have not always approached You in a way that was honoring to Your holy name.  At times, I have been lazy.  At times, I have not taken it as seriously as I should.  It is You I truly want to honor in all areas of my life.  Help me to live this life and to come before You in a way that is pleasing to You, and in a way that is glorifying to You. 

Help my heart and my mind to focus and truly reverence the Holy God of Heaven.  I want to bless Your name.  Not just with my mouth, but with my life.  Thank You for the grace and mercy you have shown me this day.  In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray, AMEN. 

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“A Prayer for Wisdom and Spiritual Understanding”

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;” Colossians 1:9

Although we may live in an age where information abounds, we also, in this time, live with more misinformation than ever before.  And through the various sources afforded to spread thoughts, ideas, information, and misinformation, the disease of misinformation not only spreads far and wide-reaching beyond unprecedented bounds, but it also spreads rapidly like a devouring fire bent on the destruction of all in its path.

When the Apostle Paul learned of the faith of those in Colosse (1:4), his immediate and urgent response was to pray that they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will “in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.”

God’s will, God’s Word, forever, will always be the right path to walk in one’s life.  But there will always be dangerous detractors that will try to pull people from God’s will and His Word.  But a heart of understanding will see the light in God’s Word and let it illuminate the pathway for fulfilling His will in their life.

While in prison in Rome, Paul, knowing the tender faith of these converts, did not want them to be imprisoned by false ways and false doctrines, by a stream of misinformation that would threaten to derail them from the truth they found in Christ Jesus.

Today, we need to, as the Apostle Paul did, prioritize praying for wisdom and spiritual understanding.  The same threats that sought to derail those in Colosse from their faith are the same threats that can do the same today – misinformation.

I would urge you to not only pray for genuine wisdom and spiritual understanding but to safeguard your own heart and faith against anything false, trying to infiltrate what you believe.

Take a proactive approach in minding what comes into you.  Many are careful to watch what goes into their bodies but neglect the same due diligence to their souls.

Another thing you must do is compare.  I know – there is so much taught to us about not comparing, but this is one thing you should compare.  Take what you hear and see and compare it to the Word of God.  The Word of God is always going to be right, and therefore, it will always be the proper compass to navigate your life by.

Lastly, watch who you listen to.  With the availability of social media and the various platforms for one to express their views, make sure what you are taking in is from good, solid Bible teachers and resources.

What we understand about our faith, the world, and the times we are living in needs to be viewed through the lens of godly and holy wisdom and spiritual understanding.

Do not neglect the study of His Word to gain the richest understanding of all.  And do not neglect to pray for His wisdom and spiritual understanding to direct you in His holy will and truth.

Father God, it is Your truth we need in our lives every day and in every way. 

” . . .let God be true, but every man a liar . . .” (Romans 3:4)  

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Listing and Lifting the Saints in Prayer

There has been such a burden on my heart for the saints of God lately. The body of Christ needs our prayers. Not that He, Christ, has lost any power, but the children of God need one another to lift them in prayer.

So much has been happening in our world, and I see so many who are dealing with confusion, and it seems to be upsetting their personal worlds in a way that is hard for them to comprehend. It is times like these when it is easy to lose focus on what really matters and to center ourselves in our faith, and what, and in whom, we believe.

Times like these can raise many questions in a heart, swaying them with insecurity and doubt therefore, we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, need to watch out for our family – watch out for the family of God. We need to see their concerns and empathize. We need to see their struggles and offer help if we can. We need to understand (as best as we can) where they are coming from and encourage them in their journey forward.

The community of Christ needs one another. This is not something we engage in as a one-time practice. The Bible teaches us to “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). As we walk through our day, we will likely face many people. And, these people may be facing many things, challenges, and worries (including the saints). What a difference it would make in their day to feel the comfort of fellowship holding up their arms in the fight as Aaron and Hur held up the arms of Moses (Exodus 17:12). Victories can be won in lives when they are encouraged through the right means.

We have all dealt with challenges. We have all faced overwhelming circumstances and, the right word, from the right person who was caring at the right time, made all the difference.

Even if we cannot come alongside someone physically; friend, we can lift and list their name and situation in sincere prayer, and with genuine, heartfelt concern, to the Lord. If the thought of a person drops in your heart today, do not hesitate to ask God to help them in the areas that are hard to figure out. Ask God to reach into the crevices of their heart and speak peace as only He can. If you see someone ready to crash under the weight of it all, ask God to intervene supernaturally to keep them from any seen or unseen danger or destruction.

We are so vitally important to one another. We are not designed to go about this life alone.   “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another…” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). The care and concern we show for one another speak highly of the care and concern we have for Christ and His body (see Matthew 25:40).

We all want to make it on this journey. And our concern for souls should compel us to be concerned for others, that they make it too. As you are in prayer and listing your personal petitions to the Lord, take the time to list and lift the saints of God, as a whole and individually, in your prayer as well. May God bless His church with added strength, grace, and encouragement, in the name of Jesus Christ, AMEN!

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

(2 Corinthians 1:3,4)

“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.  For even Christ pleased not himself. . .”

(Romans 15:1-3a)

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God, Our Shield | Psalms of Encouragement

“For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” Psalm 5:12

Defended.  Protected.  Covered.  God is our shield.

Held.  Watched for.  Wrapped in His love.  God is our shield.

Under His safety, we hide.  The umbrella of His grace is over us.  God is our shield.

He is over us as a mother hen is over her chicks.  He surrounds us with a hedge impenetrable.  God is our shield.

He stands at the ready, guarding.  He rebukes enemies relentlessly.  God is our shield.

He is our trust in the midst of the storm.  Our comfort when life hurts.  God is our shield.

It is to Him we run in times of chaos.  In Him, we are concealed from harm.  For, God is our shield.

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:1-4

God, Our Shield Encouragement from the Psalms:

“But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” – Psalm 3:3

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” – Psalm 18:2

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” – Psalm 28:7

“Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield.” – Psalm 33:20

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” – Psalm 84:11

“Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield.” – Psalm 115:11

“Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.” – Psalm 119:114

“My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.” – Psalm 144:2

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