Thanksgiving (Psalm 50:4)

What is giving to God? Think about it, you cannot give anything to him because he already owns everything. Giving isn’t a yielding, because he can take it anytime that he wants. So what is giving to God.

Giving stems from a desire and that desire should be to express how you feel towards someone. When we give to God, we express how we feel towards him. The Psalmist writes that the emotion behind his giving is thankfulness.

Offer unto God thanksgiving… ( Psalm 50:14)

A thankful heart is what God wants. Gifts to God result from thankfulness. These gifts aren’t given out of coercion, responsibility or even guilt. They come from hearts that recognize what God has done for them and are mere expressions of that thankfulness.

As I look back, I can see many occasions when my gift to God was nothing more than the relinquishing of my possessions to him. I guess I’ll see those items as wood, hay and stubble at the bema seat, but there were many times when along with the possession, I gave to God a heart overflowing with thankfulness.

To correct my errors, I have decided to check my heart before each offering to God and make sure that I am expressing gratitude instead of obedience or any other attitude. Secondly, I will guard my heart for complaining and instead ask God to help me recognize his plan so that I can be yielded and thankful for his sovereignty and provision.

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Half Hearted (1 Chronicles 13:8)

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Half hearted. Have you ever faced life that way? If not, you most definitely have met or worked with individuals that have. Their demeanor grates against your zeal and struggles to pull you down to their level of complacency. Half heartedness results from being motivated for something else other than the task at hand. Before we become too judgmental, we must recognize that we all have this tendency. What is your work progress like on Friday afternoon just before your two week vacation? How about just before the Christmas holidays? If you are like most, your work rate drops drastically because your mind and heart are focused elsewhere.

However there are other times when we have a great zeal for what we are doing and we do work tasks with diligence. On these occasions, our focus is either on the work, the goal of the work, or a person for whom the work is to be completed. Expressions such as “he’s doing it with all his might” or “he’s putting his heart into it” are used to describe such diligence.

When we are diligent for God, it pleases him. David, a man after God’s own heart, had such a characteristic. Although a tragedy soon followed after this passage, it does not negate the fact that David served God with all of his heart.

And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets. (1 Chronicles 13:8)

God wants us to serve him with all of our might. This service is not limited to actions in the church or for ministry. God wants us to serve him in everything that we do. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31). Whatever the task, God wants us to put our hearts into it. He wants us to do all of our work as unto him. Will it still be difficult to work just before that vacation? Of course it will, but we should battle to achieve our best for God who gives us nothing less than what is best for us.

Whom Should I Obey (Mark 14:6)

The woman with the alabaster box loved Jesus and wanted to present to him some gift or service to show her love and appreciation. While unknowingly anointing Jesus for his burial, others stood in opposition. They had a better idea and plan for how her money and service could have been rendered.

It is important for us to remember that our walk with The Lord is personal and one of devotion. When The Lord presses upon your heart to do something for him, it is because he desires it. Others do not know what your walk with The Lord is like and exactly what expectations he has for you. Therefore, they are unable to determine if you are correctly following The Lord or not.

And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. (Mark 14:6)

If your act of devotion is not contrary to clearly stated doctrine, do what The Lord has led you to do. You would be better to obey God than man. In this day, many have abused their position in the church and have adopted a view that they have the mind of God and can determine exactly what you can say and do and in fact how you should live your life down to the smallest details.

God does not want us to live a life of fear and bondage, but to enjoy life with him. (Romans 8:15) We should obey those that have the rule over us and to follow their example of faith, but not to the point of failing to follow God.

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Love Your Life – Hate Your Life (John 12:25-26)

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. (John 12:25-26)

At some point in the believer’s life, he comes to this passage and assesses himself by trying to determine if he loves or hates his life. Many may conclude that those who hate their lives can only accomplish this by denying themselves of any desires and live lives of abasement and self denial. Although this view may seem accurate, it is similar to living life much like the Pharisees did. In their own eyes, these individuals never seem to reach the satisfactory level of hating their own lives. They constantly seek for and add new regulatory guidelines for living the “hated” or “denied” life.

Thankfully, The Lord has made a life that pleases him much more easily attained and enjoyable. Jesus simply defines the life he desires by saying, “Let him follow me.” So before breaking out your spiritual scourging instrument and beating yourself into subjection and self denial, ask yourself, “Do I want to walk with Jesus today and am I willing to follow him where he leads me?” If your answer is yes, God is pleased. If your answer is no, he wants you to know that you will not gain what you seek and will lose whatever joy you already have.

It is understood that there will be people who are deceived in their hearts about their answers, but God is able to deal with their deception by bringing needed truth to their hearts. Until he does, our efforts of setting them straight will be of no avail. If your life is like most Christians, you may vacillate in your position as you live throughout the day. If you find yourself walking away from The Lord and seeking your own will, desires or gain, confess your fault to The Lord, believe he has forgiven you and begin following him from that point on.

Jesus came to give us life that is more abundant and free. When you are following him, you will experience the joy that comes with it. If you are not experiencing his joy, something is drastically wrong. I am not saying that circumstances in life that may result from following him will always be easy or pleasant, but you should be experiencing the joy of The Lord and the sweetness of his presence.

The Opportunity of Trials (James 1:12-16)

In the Christian life, there are so many blessings from God.  Our mates, children, jobs, health, answered prayers and abilities are just a few that can be mentioned.  However, this passage identifies one blessing that most of us would not have recognize.  God says that for those who experience trials and endure them, they will be blessed.  The blessing is two-fold: they will be happy and they will receive a crown of life.

Trials in themselves are not events that we enjoy nor do we look forward to them.  However, they are an ever present part of our lives.  This passage of scripture contains truths necessary to understand for us to be victorious through trials.

When you are in a trial, it has either come from God or has been allowed by God to occur.  It is intended for the purpose of putting you on display with the intent of proving something to be acceptable.  You are not tried to prove to see if you should be accepted by God because positionally you are already accepted in the beloved.  However, you are a vessel of mercy intended to prove that God’s grace is sufficient for every aspect of your life and your victory through each trial continues to display that to the world.  Your victory also displays in heaven the sufficiency of God’s grace just as Job’s victory did.

Another important truth to understand about trials is that in the midst of the trial, you will also be tested by your flesh and the enemy to disprove God’s sufficiency.  During the trial, you will be tempted to sin as a manner of escaping or delivering yourselves from the trial or in a way to deal with the emotion and struggle of it.

Some in the midst of trials have attempted to numb away the hurt, pain and fear with alcohol or drugs.  Others instead of exercising faith in God will try to orchestrate their own deliverance.  Some will just run away and attempt to avoid the problem.  All of these afore mentioned are sins that resulted from them first being enticed with a solution to their problem.  They were then lured away by their lust with the act of sin following quickly behind.  The end result was death, which means separation.  Just as those who are no longer alive are separated from us, these individuals were separated from God’s presence, power and joy.

You cannot allow this loss to occur in your life nor should you display to the world that God’s grace is insufficient. Although you may not feel his presence, he is present as he has promised.  Call out to God for his grace, hold fast to your faith and endure.

Keeping From Error (Mark 12:24)

As the unbelievers came to Jesus to tempt him, he identified their cause of error being in that they did not know the scriptures and failed to recognize the power of God.  For these people, they failed to understand marriage and also how the scriptures support that God resurrects people from the dead.  Had they known truth and believed in their hearts, they would not have walked in error.
 
Life is not any different today.  Identifying truth for life’s situations and recognizing the power of God will keep you from being led astray.  In order for this to happen, You must know truth that is pertinent to your life and then by faith walk believing that God will bless it and provide his powerful guidance and blessing.  If You fail to seek truth for your life, You will rely upon the reasoning of your heart and that reasoning will lead you to error.  There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Prov. 14:12)
 
God reminds us that the word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path. (Psalm 119:105). He will guide us to truth that will provide the direction we must go.  He will not illuminate the entire way, but he will show the next step.  Our part then is to believe and follow.
 
But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.  Edit. 4:29

Sacred (Mark 11:15-17)

There are some things that God sees as sacred.  Sacred is something that is set apart as holy unto God.  The tabernacle was sacred as well as all of the items inside.  Samson because of his Nazarite vow was sacred.  The silver, gold, brass and iron of Jericho was consecrated or considered holy unto The Lord.  In this passage, it was the temple.  When The Lord arrived, it appeared that it was being used for every reason other than for what it was intended.  There may have been offerings there, but the actions were mechanical and heartless.  Greed, profit and the mundane ceremonial practices filled the place that was intended for heart communion with God.

 
There isn’t any temple today and sacrifices are no longer needed.  So what is there that is holy to God.  As the temple and all other sanctified objects of the Old Testament were set apart unto The Lord, he wants our hearts set apart for him.  He wants our hearts to long for his presence and to occupy themselves with motives and desires that are holy.  The Lord admonishes us to keep his commandments (John 14:15).  The word keep in this passages carries the idea of guarding something.  The Lord wants us to guard our hearts so that only that which is pleasing to him will reside in it.  The Psalmist stated it this way, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer”. 
 
We cannot accomplish this task on our own, but with the power of his spirit and the working of his grace, we can have a heart like this.  As you walk through life today, continually ask for God’s grace to reveal that which you should shun and to direct your focus towards things that will motivate you to praise him.  We don’t have much to give back to him, but we do have a heart and all of its desires that can be presented to him daily.