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“‘Bring to the storehouse a full tenth of what you earn . . . Test me in this,’ says the Lord All-Powerful. ‘I will open the windows of heaven for you and pour out all the blessings you need’” (Malachi 3:10 NCV).
If you give God your time, he multiplies it. If you give him your money or energy, he multiplies that, too. As I’ve mentioned here before, it’s like planting seeds. Farmers know that seeds must be sacrificed by being buried in the ground; they must be given away to do any good.
If you keep a seed in a sack, it accomplishes nothing, but if you plant it, it multiplies. For example, when you plant just one watermelon seed, you get a bunch of watermelons with hundreds of seeds in them. In the same way, God multiplies whatever you give him.
What’s the key ingredient in this seed planting? Faith.
But we have to understand the difference between faith and bargaining. Bargaining is when you say, “God, help me close this deal and I’ll give you part of it.” God doesn’t work that way. God asks for faith. He wants us to sacrifice in advance, without worrying about whether we’ll get anything in return; he wants us to let him figure out how to repay us.
One of the great lessons Kay and I have learned is that you cannot out-give God. Whatever you give God, he multiplies. Three different times in our marriage, God told us to give away our entire savings. Each time we obeyed, and each time, God restored our finances in greater ways than ever before.
Jesus makes us this promise in Luke 18:29-30: “Truly I tell you . . . no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life” (NIV).
And elsewhere in the Bible, we read this: “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV).
How have you experienced God giving back more than you’ve given him?
Think of God’s other blessings in your life besides finances (such as your time, your talents, your family, your energy, or even your home). How would the principle of God multiplying whatever you give him apply to these things, too?
And Jesus said to him, Why do you call Me [essentially and perfectly morally] good? There is no one [essentially and perfectly morally] good–except God alone.
— Mark 10:18
Unrealistic expectations can quickly steal our peace and joy. We usually desire a perfect day, with perfect people, being perfectly happy in our perfect little world, but we all know that isn’t reality. In reality, only God is perfect, and the rest of us are under construction.
The devil knows what steals our peace, and he sets us up to get upset when our unrealistic expectations fall apart.
After years of letting the devil steal my peace, I finally got it: Life is not perfect, and things are going to happen that we did not plan for and would rather not go through. My new attitude has become, Oh well, that’s life! I have discovered that if I don’t let those things impress me, then they can’t depress me.
Everyone has to deal with inconveniences, but we can deal with them and avoid a bad attitude. Remember today that only God is perfect and learn to trust in Him. He can always lead you past disappointing circumstances, strengthening you and helping you hold on to your peace.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. Psalm 146:5
The week before Christmas, two months after my mom died, holiday shopping and decorating sat at the bottom of my priority list. I resisted my husband’s attempts to comfort me as I grieved the loss of our family’s faith-filled matriarch. I sulked as our son, Xavier, stretched and stapled strands of Christmas lights onto the inside walls of our home. Without a word, he plugged in the cord before he and his dad left for work.
As the colorful bulbs blinked, God gently drew me out of my darkness. No matter how painful the circumstances, my hope remained secure in the light of God’s truth, which always reveals His unchanging character.
Psalm 146 affirms what God reminded me on that difficult morning: My endless “hope is in the Lord,” my helper, my mighty and merciful God (v. 5). As Creator of all, He “remains faithful forever” (v. 6). He “upholds the cause of the oppressed,” protecting us and providing for us (v. 7). “The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down” (v. 8). He “watches over” us, “sustains” us, and will always be King (vv. 9–10).
Sometimes, when Christmas rolls around, our days will overflow with joyful moments. Sometimes, we’ll face loss, experience hurt, or feel alone. But at all times, God promises to be our light in the darkness, offering us tangible help and everlasting hope.
Father God, thanks for inviting us to know and rely on Your unchanging character as the source of our eternal hope.
Psalm 146 is a psalm of contrasts. But the opening and closing phrases of the chapter are identical: “Praise the Lord.” This literary technique is called an inclusio. An inclusio sets the framework for understanding the content in between. In the case of Psalm 146, that framework is praising the Lord.
In verses 1–4 the author describes the frailty and ineffectiveness of the strength of humans—they are a breath; they cannot save. Then comes the contrast. In verses 5–9 God is described as the Maker and Ruler of everything. And specifically in verses 7–9 the author says that the Lord watches over and protects those who are in trouble. What greater reason to praise the Lord than that He does for us what we cannot do for ourselves!
In the midst of difficult circumstances the Lord is faithful. How can you remind yourself and others of this today?
A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.
If I could give you a gift this Christmas, the Word is what I'd give you. I'd rather give it to you than a check for a million dollars. Because you can run through a million dollars real quick, but the truth of God's Word never quits—and it will get you out of situations a million dollars can't get you out of.
Ken and I are just ordinary people. But when we latched on to God's Word, we latched on to something out of the ordinary, something that changed our lives. Every area of our lives.
Nothing that's happened to us has happened because of us. It's happened because of God's Word. In fact, I don't even have to know you to promise you this: If you'll give God's Word your full attention—and not be afraid of His will for your life—you're going to be happier and more prosperous than anything you could ever dream up.
Of course, if you do that, people may call you extreme. They say that about us all the time. But we don't mind. We are extreme. And if you'll set your faith on the Word of God, you can be extreme too. Extremely well. Extremely prosperous. And extremely blessed. Merry Christmas!
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared...which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs.
A covenant of grace. That's what you and I have with Almighty God. If you could truly grasp the significance of that, you'd never be the same again.
What exactly is a covenant of grace? It's a relationship of favor that gives you access to someone else's power.
An illustration of a covenant of grace is the covenant the old Sicilian "family" members have with the "godfather" of the "family."
In that group, a weak person might come in and ask the Don for a favor. The Don would say, "I will grant this favor and I will ask a favor of you, and when that time comes, I will collect it."
Once that was said, the weak person would become excited. Suddenly he knew he would no longer have this problem because anyone who tried to rough him up would now have to face the godfather, the one with all the power. Suddenly, that little guy's attitude would change. He would leave the presence of the head of the family in the full assurance that he didn't have a thing to worry about. He was no longer small and powerless in his own mind. He had gained favor (grace) with the powerful.
He'd walk out thinking, Everything is handled. All I have to do now is whatever the Don asks me to do—and the Don knows I don't have anything, so whatever he asks me to do, he'll provide the wherewithal to do it.
That's grace. God's willingness to enter in to blood covenant with you and give you everything He has in exchange for everything you have.
He took your sin to give you His righteousness. He took your sickness to give you His health. He took your poverty in order to meet all your needs according to His riches in glory. Whenever He asks you to do something, He provides everything you need to carry it out.
The great Jehovah, God of heaven and earth, is your Father God. Can you understand that? If you're under the blood of Jesus, you've been made a covenant child of the most powerful being in the universe.
The troubles of life can make us cranky and out of sorts, but we should never excuse these bouts of bad behavior, for they can wither the hearts of those we love and spread misery all around us. We have not fulfilled our duty to others until we have learned to be pleasant.
The New Testament has a word for the virtue that corrects our unpleasantness—gentleness, a term that suggests a kind and gracious soul. Ephesians 4:2 reminds us, “Be completely humble and gentle.”
Gentleness is a willingness to accept limitations and ailments without taking out our aggravation on others. It shows gratitude for the smallest service rendered and tolerance for those who do not serve us well. It puts up with bothersome people—especially noisy, boisterous little people; for kindness to children is a crowning mark of a good and gentle person. It speaks softly in the face of provocation. It can be silent; for calm, unruffled silence is often the most eloquent response to unkind words.
Jesus is “gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:29). If we ask Him, He will, in time, recreate us in His image. Scottish author George MacDonald says, “[God] would not hear from [us] a tone to jar the heart of another, a word to make it ache . . . . From such, as from all other sins, Jesus was born to deliver us.”
Dear Lord, I want to be a gentle person. Please help me to be kind and gracious to others today.
Humility toward God will make us gentle toward others.
The apostle Paul had a lot to say about gentleness. Paul was the founding pastor of the church at Corinth and taught there for eighteen months (Acts 18:1–11). Yet, soon after he left the city, the believers rejected him as a true apostle. Paul had every reason and every right to come down hard on these believers, but he didn’t. Instead, he appealed to them “by the humility and gentleness of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:1). In his letter to another church, Paul urged two feuding sisters to reconcile. Paul asked that their “gentleness be evident to all” (Phil. 4:5). In dealing with people who are not sympathetic to the Christian faith and are antagonistic towards us, Peter urged us to be ready “to give an answer to everyone who asks [us] to give the reason for the hope that [we] have.” But we are to do so “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
The Scriptures show us how we should relate to everyone—we are to be kind, gracious, respectful, and gentle.
Why is it so important to demonstrate gentleness in our interaction with others if we claim to be a follower of Christ?