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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Finances

We've been discussing the last few days about tithing and honoring God. The Lord challenges us to "test" Him in this act of faithfulness. Don't miss this blessing! We trust God with our eternity - doesn't it make sense that we should trust Him with our finances?

 Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty. Malachi 3:10-12

 The blessings are out of this world - the floodgates of heaven are opened! You can’t out-give God, and when we rob from God we are actually robbing from ourselves. Don’t rob from yourself the spiritual blessings of God’s provision in His church.
Sounds like God's way is the best way with our finances (and everything else).
Amen?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Consequences

Yesterday we looked at God telling His people that they were robbing Him! They were not tithing in the manner that He instructed them. There are consequences to their disobedience. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse,that there may be food in my house. Malachi 3:9-10

The curse came from disobedience, so it was self inflicted. There are consequences to our disobedience. We shouldn't tithe because we are afraid, but we are to give willingly in response to God’s Great Grace.

The storehouse represents the financing for God's work that is being done. It was a real place in the temple for storage. It always has been God’s way of financing His church, A tithe supports God’s work, but more importantly it puts God first in our lives. Remember the line from the movie, "Show me the money"? If you show me where you invest your money I’ll show you where your heart is.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Tithing

In Malachi 3:6-8 God reveals Judah's biggest offense against Him. “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’  “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 
The tithe is the minimum - it is what is expected from God's people.  In Hebrew tithe means 10%. The Bible talks of not one but 3 tithes. One for the priests, one for the Temple, and one every three years for the poor. That works out to 23+% annually if you're counting. You see God's tithe (that's what it is) is the floor not the ceiling of giving to the Lord's work. God’s tithe not "my tithe" is in recognition that everything belongs to Him. Anything less than 10% is not to be called a tithe but rather a donation or offering.  It all starts from the heart. 
Who do you trust in?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankfulness

Happy Thanksgiving! Today focus on giving thanks. Share with God and the world your gratitude. One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Psalm 100, and I'd like to share it with you.

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Remember we're told "to give thanks in all circumstances", so regardless... Be thankful.


“‘“May the Lord bless you
    and keep you;
 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”’

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Heart Issue

The worst offense of how people treated God as reported by Malachi was that they were robbing God (3:6-12). How? By withholding their tithes, by giving the worst instead of the best, by giving the least and not the most. Their attitude was, "How little can I give and still keep God happy?"

“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.
Prepare your heart and engage in an honest conversation with God today about your giving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Results of the Unfaithful

After 70 years in exile you would have thought that people would have come to their senses and be faithful to the Lord. The last book of the Old Testament tells us a different story. The people in Malachi's day treated God badly by robbing from him. They had become bored with God. Their worship had turned from relational to ritual. As a result:

They offered blemished sacrifices (1:6-14) They offered God their contempt, defiled food, blind, cripples, and diseased animals. They gave their "leftovers" instead of their best.

The priests had become unfaithful (2:1-9) They did not listen and dishonored God with  false teachings.

Divorce was commonplace and easy (2:10-17) They had broken faith and commitment with God and in their marriages.

Their words wearied God (2:17 read) They desired their own justice, and missed they always had a Just God!


Businessmen were cheating their workers, customers, widows, orphans and aliens (3:1-5).  Defrauded and oppressed those around them. There was no justice.

Before we pass judgment on this group let's look at what the New Testament has to say to us. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror  and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:22-25 
Application?

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Great Robbery

This Lifeway article title grabbed my attention: "Our Church Was Robbed Recently." The story that followed said:
"We are thankful that no one was injured physically, but it will be some time before things are back to normal. It's clear that more than one person is responsible - in fact, there may actually be many people who have been party to the crime. Two things are most unfortunate about the robbery - one is that we have no assurances that it won't happen again, and that is a bit unnerving! The other unfortunate element is that we're certain that those who carried out the robbery are members of our church. It's bad enough to know that a theft has occurred, but it's really hard to imagine that professing Christians would actually steal from God and the ministries of his church. We can certainly hope that anyone who has participated in this act will repent and repay what has been taken. It's reported that some of the stolen money has been used for vacations, cars, boats, designer clothes, athletic equipment, homes, and even dining out. We don't have a complete list of all the suspects, but there is consolation in knowing that God does.
"You haven't read about this in the papers and hopefully you won't. I realize that some of you will disagree, but it would be difficult to get a conviction in the courts given the clever way in which the robbery was carried out. You are probably also interested in how much was taken. The amount is undetermined, but at the very least exceeds many thousands of dollars.
"By the way, the robbery happened in full view of the church during Sunday services. It happened as the offering plates were passed during Sunday school and worship. It also happened as people who didn't come simply didn't give the Lord's tithe."

The people in Malachi's day had treated God badly by robbing from him. As we begin our study of this last Minor prophet ask God to prepare your heart to receive wisdom and instruction on how to give to God. It can change you life and make you more like Jesus.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pass It On

I came across an old sermon the other day. It's title, LIVING WATER for a Thirsty Soul. It's based out of the story of Jesus at the well with a Samaritan woman. You can read about in John 4:5-14. It asks the question: How can we find living water for our thirsty souls?

We can take on different world views:
1. It’s all about Me!
The woman at the well is honest and admits the truth about her life.
2. It’s really all about Jesus!
The woman at the well is open and accepts the truth about Jesus’ life.
3. It’s all about telling Others!
The woman at the well is enthusiastic and tells others about the truth she has found.

We need to pass it on - just like the woman did. Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.
They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” - John 4:39-42
Amen?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

What a Friend

I spoke at a Baptist nursing home this week. It was a beautiful time of sharing with these dear saints of God. One lady told me that they like to spend time thinking of heaven and God providing for them on a daily basis. She said most of the people there don't think about death. They'd rather focus on the love of God. It made me smile and think about the old song that speaks to the heart of all believers, What A Friend We Have In Jesus 

Stanza 1:
What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry Ev'rything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry, Ev'rything to God in prayer. 

Stanza 2:
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our ev'ry weakness; Take it to the Lord in prayer. 

Stanza 3:
Are we weak and heavy laden, Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge; Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms He'll take and shield thee; Thou wilt find a solace there.
Lyrics ~ Joseph Scriven, 1819 -1886
Music ~ Charles C. Converse, 1832-1918 

Amen?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Get Ready

Jesus makes reference of Zechariah in Matthew 23:35 and Luke 11:51(read).. He speaks of Zechariah and his murder Angels, visions, and end times play a major role in his writings, much more so than in any other book, and apocalyptic writing is given center stage. One of the main applications of Zechariah is his message of the coming Lord. This message drove the early church and should be a major emphasis in the church mission today. 

How can we be encouraged and driven with the anticipation of Christ's return?

Chapter 14 speaks of Jesus imminent return. So does Peter in 2 Peter 3:3-12. Even Jesus didn't know the time (Matthew 24:36, 25:13 and Mark 13:32), but we are called to anticipate and be ready.


What steps do we need to take as the church to be ready for Christ’s return?

Today spend time thinking about these things and ask God how you can be used to share the Good News.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Reigns and Restores

The Lord reigns: The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake. Great is the Lord in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations. Let them praise your great and awesome name—he is holy. The King is mighty, he loves justice— you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right. Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy. Moses and Aaron were among his priests,  Samuel was among those who called on his name; they called on the Lord and he answered them. He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them. Lord our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds. Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy. and worship at his holy mountain, or the Lord our God is holy. - Psalm 99

The Lord restores: For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)  and find out what pleases the Lord. –Ephesians 5:8-10

Amen and Amen - How does this look in your life?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Key to Power

The Bible tells us that if we confess our sins we will be forgiven of our sin and cleansed from all unrighteousness. This is the state of cleansing that God desires for us to be in. That's what Zechariah 1:3-6 is talking about - God’s people will be cleansed by their confession. 
Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.  Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord.  Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever?  But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors?
“Then they repented and said, ‘The Lord Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.’”

We see two things here:

1. Repent (Don’t be like your ancestors) - Don't repeat the history of turning from God like we've studied in the Minor Prophets! Turn to God instead!                                                                                   
2. Remember God’s Word is forever (apply it, Joshua 1:7-9) Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 

Do life God's way not your own way. Realize who is the true power source. So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty." Zechariah 4:6 
Amen?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Remembering

As I mentioned yesterday the name Zechariah means God has Remembered. Now it's not that the Lord forgot something and then remembered (like we do). It has to do with remembering His people. What does God remember about you? He is the God of the past, present,and future so He really does know all about us. There are some things that we would like to forget and change in our lives. The good news here is that God forgives and clenses away our sin. It is up to us to repent and start Doing Life God’s Way! 

In the past God’s people have been chastened for their corruption. In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo saying, "The LORD was very angry with your fathers. "Therefore say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Return to Me," declares the LORD of hosts, "that I may return to you," says the LORD of hosts.(1:1-3) People are judged and punished because of their sin, and unfaithfulness. We are reminded through this process a couple of things. 
1. Come Back to God. Love God with all your heart, mind, body, and soul - Jesus. Be in the right relationship.
2. Remember God  is almighty, powerful, and the Lord of Hosts.  

Psalm 89:5-8 proclaims,  The heavens praise your wonders, Lord, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him.  Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

It makes sense to live for God. What do you need to work on today?

Monday, November 17, 2014

God Reigns

Zechariah's name means God has Remembered. This Minor Prophet was a contemporary of Haggai and returned to Jerusalem with the first group of exiles. His writings have a lot of symbolism which the priest asks God to explain through a series of questions. In the first six chapters Zechariah asks no less than 10 questions regarding the visions that God was showing him. With each and every one of them he was given an answer to clarify the vision.


With the exception of Isaiah, no other prophet spoke more about the Messiah than Zechariah. Through his prophecies he manages to put a real awareness and eagerness into the hearts of the people with his messages of Messianic hope. He portrays Christ in His two advents; one as the suffering servant and the other as coming King. Consider both crucial aspects of Christ as we study Zechariah this week.

 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”Luke 19:38

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Make Me an Offering

 The word “Offering” is by Strong’s definition: The act of: bringing to; setting before; sacrificing; presenting; a gift. It is used 728 time in the Bible, most (over half) in Leviticus and Numbers. In the Old Testament it deals with the sacrificial system set in place by God and performed by the priest in the Temple. It is used only 23 times in the New Testament. Let's look today at these teachings.

Giving
Mark 12:41-44 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Giving from your heart)
Ephesians 5:2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Jesus)
Philippians 2:17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. (Giving all you have)

Involvement
Acts 10:4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. (Involvement with the “least of these”)
Philippians 4:18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. (Involvement in ministry)

Relationship
Mark 12:33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Relationship with God)
Matthew 5:23Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (Relationship with others)

Your Life
1 Peter 2:5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house [Or into a temple of the Spirit] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (Your life)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. – Rom. 12:1

Take your ordinary everyday life and place it before God as an offering.

Worship is saying: “I trust you” even when our eyes don’t see it - “Thy will be done” even when our hearts don’t feel like it-“I’ll follow you” even when our minds don’t understand it

No greater act of worship than giving God all of you. (Open your hands even if you have to pry them open)

Is this your prayer?


“Dear God,  take my ordinary everyday life, and make it an offering to You.”

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Be Passionate

All of us have different skills, talents, and gifts, but no one can have them all. In fact there are probably few characteristics all of us can share. There is one especially when it comes to being faithful and obedient to God's call on your life. We can all be passionate about Jesus! I love this quote:
Passion’s a lot like aspirin: it’s effective in many ways, but no one’s quite sure how it works. Passion is love that’s found a means of communicating. That’s why passion is important—because after the words we speak are tangled or forgotten, people will often remember the heart that communicated them.
So when you go about your business this day remember to be passionate about the things of God. It shows you love Him.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' - Jesus' answer to what is the greatest commandment in Mark 12:30 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Honoring God

The challenge to faith is the same in every generation: seek first the things of God and trust Him to provide the daily necessities of life. The glorification of any work we pursue comes by the presence of God in it. God calls us to commit what we are, what we have, and all that we do to him. Make the work of God a priority, both in your time and with your money. Understand that it is the presence of Jesus that produces glory.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. - 2 Corinthians 3:18. 
God blesses His people when they repent and get their hearts, minds, and bodies right with Him. Our focus should be vertical.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.- Psalm 24:3-4 

God always gives perfect direction.  

How can you honor God with your life today?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Feasting

The name Haggai means My Feast. God is having a party and He wants things done His way. The prophet preaches three messages (and gives directions) to the returning Jewish remnant. There is a lot we can learn as well.

1. Directed towards the people’s hands (1:1-15) It says, Reform. It is time to rebuild the temple but only under God’s instruction. A. God – “Build the temple!” The people say, “It’s not time”. They were materialistic, so even though they plant much they will harvest little. God says, ”If you build I will bless!”B. God’s spokesmen – God speaks through three of His servants: Zerubbabel (Judah’s governor), Jeshua (or “Joshua”, the high priest), and Haggai (Judah’s prophet). – What in your life do you need to rebuild or renew?

2. Directed towards people’s hearts (2:1-9) it says, Patience. There is weeping and rejoicing at the modest second temple’s dedication. Haggai attempts to encourage all as he speaks to the future magnificent millennial temple A. The buildings – God’s presence is more important than the structures. B. The builder – God himself will build the future temple after Christ’s return.  Is your heart full of patience or something else?


3. Directed towards people’s heads (2:10-23) It says, Ponder. think about are: A. Past problems – He asks two questions about holiness and being defiled. A person cannot pass on holiness, but can cause another to be contaminated with sin. B. Future Promises – If the people repent and lay the temple’s foundation, God will now abundantly bless them. What are some God things that you need to think about today?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Glorious Day

The third special day in Zephaniah is called the Glorious Day – A proclamation of justice. God gives us perfect instruction on how we are to live…turn to Zephaniah 3:9-13 and let’s look at His directions.

To the Gentiles (3:9) – their many languages will be unified and purified allowing them to worship God together with one voice. Then to the Jews (3:10-20) – Their re-gathering, restoring, refining, and rejoicing (3:14-17)

We see a call to Godliness here. Purify your heart and your speech will follow. Verses 3:9-17 (call it restoration) invite us to review our lives and the purifying work God desires to continue within us. Read God’s directions for us to have:

A pure language (9) Then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder.

Offerings (10), 10 From beyond the rivers of Cush my worshipers, my scattered people, will bring me offerings

Humility (11), 11 On that day you, Jerusalem, will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me, because I will remove from you your arrogant boasters. Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill.

Trust (12), 12 But I will leave within you the meek and humble. The remnant of Israel will trust in the name of the Lord.

Righteousness (13), 13 They will do no wrong; they will tell no lies.

 Truth (13). A deceitful tongue will not be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.”

 God will join in their happy song.


Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! 15 The Lord has taken away your punishment,  he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;  never again will you fear any harm. 16 On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. 17 The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you,  but will rejoice over you with singing.”

When we all get to heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!
Amen?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Veteran's Day Prayer

Almighty God,
You are our Creator and Sustainer.
You are our Light and our Fortress.
You are our Wisdom and our Strength.
Lord, you moved upon men to establish this great nation. You stirred men to hope and to dream for a land of freedom. We praise you for this great nation.
Lord, you have inspired many of our best and brightest to volunteer to proudly stand and defend our beloved country. You have given us brave and loyal men and women who have steadfastly served in their chosen branch of our military.
We gather today to remember our military personnel. We acknowledge that their service enables us to walk as free men and women in this great land.
Lord, today we seek to honor your sons and daughters who have served or who are serving our country. We are reminded that because of their service we can live in safety.
We ask that you abundantly bless those who have previously served. May their service time be rewarded in every way. May they gain earthly and heavenly blessings from their unselfish love of country.
Lord, we stop now and remember those who are currently serving. We ask that you provide them with your protection, your strength, and your peace. We ask that you would abundantly provide for all their needs. We ask that you would enable them to overcome every personal and professional obstacle. We ask that you would protect their families from hurt and harm.
May each of our veterans feel honored not just today but every day.
Father, we also give special recognition to our wounded warriors. We realize that many of our heroes are dealing with physical and emotional wounds that occurred as a result of their time of service to our country.
We ask that they would be given the best treatments available and that you would add your supernatural blessings to all the efforts given to them to help them. We ask that you, Lord, would show them miracles as they seek to gain health, stability, and wholeness.
We pray these things in Jesus' name, Amen