A Matter of the Heart

A stingy Christian is an oxymoron; or at least it should be. If Christians merely obeyed God’s command to tithe, it would radically change the world. Statistics I found online in a Relevant Magazine article show that only ten to twenty-five percent of a normal congregation is made up of tithers. Furthermore, only 1 out of 20 Americans tithe, with 80 percent of them giving only 2 percent. Finally, Christians tithe 2.5 percent in these abundant times, whereas during the Great Depression they gave 3.3 percent.

In his article, Mr. Holmes goes onto to described the impact the church would have if we were to tithed as commanded. He further states that giving is not a money issue; it is a heart issue. When I finally began to tithe as I knew that Lord wanted of me, it changed my heart. However, it didn’t change it about money; it changed my heart about materialism.

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Sending Heaven to Earth

If you’re like my family, one of the best Christmas traditions is watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” We especially like the part where Charlie Brown screams out during play rehearsal, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus then asks for the lights to be dimmed and he quotes Luke 2:8-14. Most call this the Christmas story.

Some like to say remember the reason for the season and might even refer to the above passage in the Bible. Jesus is the reason for the season and the “good tidings of great joy” indeed put Christmas in the light which it belongs.

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Dying To Live

Some days I don’t like you eavesdropping on my conversations with the Lord. Perhaps I want to put up a stained glass masquerade, even though I try to be a man of integrity in all things. Nevertheless, as this ministry has grown I’ve learned to be obedient to the Lord’s call and so here we go again.

There are days where I’ve gotten over Christ’s love for me. What I mean, is the fact Jesus loves me doesn’t always overwhelm me. I’m thankful for the knowledge and truth, but some days I’m not overwhelmed. Yesterday was one of those days.

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Having A Good Talk With Myself

Yesterday our pastor reminded us that sometimes we need to have a good talk with ourselves. Life can get us so cross-threaded that we look at it as though it is all we have. The Christian life is a sojourn on earth on our way to eternal paradise with Christ. We should not put our hope in things of this world instead of King Jesus:

    “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” (Psalm 42:5)

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Smelling Like Jesus

What would be your response if someone told you that you smell like Jesus? Would you think that person odd? Would have to seek clarification? Would you nervously thank him or her, look at your watch and hurry away? Or would you understand the tremendous compliment that had just been paid to you?

This may seem a funny topic, but yesterday in church our Minister of Discipleship and Evangelism Pete Belmain was preaching on “What It Means Not to Waste Your Life” and I was struck by something he mentioned. His fourth point was a life that is selflessly devoted to Jesus results in love-driven conduct. He was preaching from the familiar passage of Mary anointing Jesus with expensive spikenard. In John 12: 3 we read:

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Things That Are Dangerously Real

Defeat can be overwhelming. Whether it is in the arena of business, politics, or sports, defeat is always a hard pill to swallow. However, those defeats are temporary. Voluminous are the accounts of athletes, entrepreneurs, and politicians coming back from “the agony of defeat” to experience “the thrill of victory.”

What do you do when life defeats you? Where do you turn when the devil has his foot on the back of your head, seemingly grinding your face in the dirt? You turn to the Lord Jesus Christ:

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The Fullness of Christ

Have you ever been asked if you’re a “cup half full” or a “cup half empty” type of person? As born-again believers our answer should be, “I’m a cup runneth over” type of person. If you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then the Holy Spirit indwells within you and you have the fullness of Christ:

    “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:16-17)

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The Word Living Among Us

The Greek logos means “word,” and the Apostle John is the only New Testament writer who uses it to describe Christ. It denotes a collection of words or ideas and can represent what we think and what we express. Logos has been used to express the law and wisdom of God found in the Old Testament.

If you go back and look at the first three words of John’s Gospel, you will see it mirrors the start of Genesis: “In the beginning…” The latter introduces the start of creation, and the former reaches back into eternity. This means the Word has preexisted even before the heavens and the earth were created. Understanding this brings greater importance to the Word living among us:

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Every Thing Really Hurtful

Will_Of_GodHow can I know God’s will for my life? I get that question a lot from Christians. I’m currently working on a book on the subject, but I’m going to give you a sneak peek. I always answer that question with a question. Are you doing right now what you know God wants you to do? The responses, particularly facial expressions if I’m talking directly to them, are varied. Some people get it right away, which then bring different responses. Other people immediately say yes without really thinking it through. So let’s pretend this is your question and now I’ve answered you with my question.

Are you doing right now what you know God wants you to do? King Solomon warned:

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Chasing Healing

healingI just received a very encouraging email from one of my devotional readers that greatly blessed me. What was most encouraging is how this dear sister-in-Christ and her husband, stationed in Japan, have gone and are going through great trials and yet they are standing strong in their faith. God is using their lives to glorify Him and on occasion this devotional speaks to them. I am honored and humbled that the Lord has seen fit to use me as one of His conduits.

There are more than 230 of you receiving this devotional and no doubt each of you could testify to how God has seen you through tough times. Or perhaps you’re facing tough times right now and see no way out. Too often we try to fight a battle that isn’t ours. We need to allow our King to step into the fray for us.

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Confirming Their Expectations

checkmarkWe are one week from celebrating the birth of Christ, and it seems right that we understand this event in history. The birth of Christ was not just some unexpected and supernatural interruption of history. It was a long-awaited for event, foretold by the prophets of old and read of and retold by every devout Jewish home. And the vast majority completely missed it.

    “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56)

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The Priestly Work Of Prayer

child prayingToo often the Old Testament picture of a priest confuses us New Testament saints. We hear the word priest and we think, that must apply to some in the ministry profession. We think of the Levites performing the temple worship when we hear the word priest. But even the Old Testament gives a glimpse of what the New Testament priest was to become:

    “And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.’” (Exodus 19:3-6)

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Good Hope By Grace

this-world-is-not-my-homeLast week was a tough week for me. Dealing with the issues of life was trying enough, but knowing what our present government has become in light of the Benghazi hearings it is enough to think of our nation as hopeless. If I were to look horizontally, that is all around me, for signs of hope I would have good reason to think of things as hopeless. But while I am living in this world, I am not of it because I am a child of the one true King as the Matthew West song proclaims.

The early church in Thessalonica felt this same despair in worrying of whether or not they had missed Jesus’ second coming. The Apostle Paul assure this church they had not and that no matter what they were facing, or whatever we are facing, the church is to stand fast in the truth of the gospel. That seems easier said then done when we are hard pressed on all sides but Paul gives us the key ingredients to rock solid faith:

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Windows Opened By Hope

Faith Climbs StairsAbraham’s faith was accounted to him for righteousness. It manifested itself in hope. Hope in what? His hope, driven by his faith, allowed Abraham to believe God when He promised that Abraham’s seed would become a great nation. This promise came to Abraham at the ripe age of 75 and his faith in God’s promise caused him to take his family and leave Haran. The Apostle Paul reminded the Roman’s of Abraham’s great hope in God:

    “…who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be.’” (Romans 4:18)

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Spiritual Growth – Perseverance

My pastor uses a most excellent word for perseverance: stickability. It means sticking to the task no matter how great the challenges. It means never giving up on God because He is never giving up on us. It means giving all diligence to our spiritual growth.

    “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” (2 Peter 1:5-9)

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No Might Without Thee

We have many enemies in this world. Our greatest enemy, for those without Christ, is death. Death is the enemy of God. God created life; Satan created death, despair, and disease. Suffering is the antithesis to creation. As you read the creation story in Genesis 1 you see death, despair, and disease were not a part of the original plan. In fact when God finished, the Bible tells us:

    “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31)

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Slip Sliding Away

We never just walk away. We are prone to wander. That’s why Jesus called us sheep. Without following the sound of our Shepherd, by not remaining with the flock, we wander off. We walk into all types of danger. That’s why Jesus told the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Matthew 18 of the rejoicing of one found, not one saved, but of one found that has returned. (see Luke 15 for one saved).

    “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 10-14)

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When The Apprehensions Come

I want to write a little more on fear. Fear is a real emotion, but as the acronym teaches fear is false evidence appearing real. Yesterday I wrote we cannot be worried about what man will do to us. Our eyes must forever be on God:

    “I called on the Lord in distress; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:5-6)

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You Can’t Afford Not To

With the two percent increase in my Social Insecurity taxes, my annual take home pay is down around $1300 annually. That’s a big chunk of change for any family. That covers the annual maintenance we budget for both cars. Karen and I are going to have to be a little more cautious where we spend money. We love to go out and eat and just hang out and so perhaps that will have to be curtailed. Nevertheless, I can tell you where I won’t be cutting back. I won’t be cutting back on my tithing.

    “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.” (Malachi 3:8-9)

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