Friday, August 31, 2012

Does Your Worship Honor the Lord?

Scripture: Malachi 1:6-10
"'A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?' says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, 'How have we despised Your name?'  "You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, 'How have we defiled You?' In that you say, 'The table of the LORD is to be despised.'  "But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?" says the LORD of hosts.  "But now will you not entreat God's favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?" says the LORD of hosts.  "Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you," says the LORD of hosts, "nor will I accept an offering from you.

Insights: One last thought this week.  We read a passage like this one and our minds immediately go to Sunday morning worship services at church.  The reality is offerings were presented to God daily at the temple.  This mindset changes the focus of worship even more.  We now have to evaluate our daily walk with the Lord God.  Beloved, how often during the day do you think of our Lord?  The things you do, the decisions you make throughout the day ought to reflect a spirit of worship to God.  My fear, however, is we rarely think about our love relationship with the Father outside of “formal” worship settings.  To be even blunter, I am not certain how much we think about God during our “formal” worship services.  Even though the verses we have studied this week were written 400 years before Jesus, I think they could have been written by a contemporary to us in 2012.  We are a people who desperately want this world and all it has to offer and at the same time want God to bless and favor us.  James is clear when he wrote, “friendship with the world is hatred toward God (4:4).”  Until we come to the place we recognize our desperateness for God, then our worship, more than likely, is going to be defiled.  Beloved, repent and seek pure worship with our loving Lord.  Worship Him in truth and spirit.  Show your love in your obedience!

Questions:
  1. What kind of offering are you presenting to God on Monday, Wednesday or Friday?
  2. Do you even think about your worship and offering outside of the context of Sunday morning church?
Prayer: Father, may You be pleased with the offering I bring to You today.  Amen.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Just Go Home!

Scripture: Malachi 1:10
"Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you," says the LORD of hosts, "nor will I accept an offering from you.

Insights: There are so many verses in the Bible that are truly sad.  Today’s verse is one of those.  In modern day vernacular God is saying, “Just go home and shut the doors to the church.  I want nothing to do with you.”  E. Ray Clendenen helps us historically understand this verse.  He wrote, “According to 2 Chronicles 28:24, idolatrous King Ahaz of Judah ‘shut the doors of the LORD’s temple and set up altars at every street corner in Jerusalem.’  The present verse may be an allusion to that event, the point being that what the priests of Judah were doing was no better than Ahaz’s idolatry.  God ironically wished for another King Ahaz who would construct a visible barrier between God and His people like the one they already had constructed in their hearts.  After Judah’s great wickedness had brought about the devastating punishment of exile, it is amazing that the abundance of Judah’s gratitude for the Lord’s restoration should have reverted so quickly to empty ritual. . . . The Lord Is not dependent upon human offerings or service.  They are a means of testifying to His greatness and exalting His name, and He is pleased with sincere praise and worship.  Worship also benefits the worshipers, serving to nourish their relationship with God individually and to encourage one another in the faith.  But religious activity performed without genuine love and gratitude to God is not only useless but repulsive to Him because it slanders His character.  God does not need our gifts or our service, and His favor cannot be bought.  Gifts that are offered ‘reluctantly or under compulsion (2 Cor. 9:7)’ humiliate the recipient and place him under obligation.  The God who can transform the stones into followers (Matt. 3:9) wants no part in such a transaction.”  Today’s verse is a call to reflection.  It is time for us, Beloved, to evaluate what we are offering to the Lord.  If we are giving to Him anything but our best, then He is resolutely telling us to shut the doors and go home.  God will not settle for our trifles.  He wants all of our hearts and all of our worship.  We need to seriously approach the Lord with humility the next time we enter into His place of worship.  We need to be asking ourselves what kind of offering I am bringing the Lord today. 

Questions:
  1. Are you willing to give God the love, honor and respect He rightfully deserves?
  2. Or is your worship amounting to God saying, “Close the doors”?
Prayer: Father, may the day not come where all the church offers You is leftovers.  Send a revival in Your body and let us return to authentic worship.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Self-Centered Gall

Scripture: Malachi 1:9
"But now will you not entreat God's favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?" says the LORD of hosts.

Insights: The journey leading to today’s verse has been progressive in nature and we will review this journey a few times over the next couple of weeks.  The trek goes like this:  Israel did not love God, but ought to have.  If they did not love God, they ought to have at least honored Him, but they did not.  If they did not honor Him, they ought to have at least respected Him, but they did not.  And because they did not love, honor or respect God, they brought Him defiled worship.  These preceding statements were the path the Israelites walked leading up to today’s verse.  In previous days, I stated, and still hold to, the notion that the church of America is following the same pilgrimage the Israelites took.  And it is at this point that today’s verse is an absolutely pathetic joke and insult to the Lord God.  After not loving God, not honoring God, not respecting God, these Israelites had the self-centered audacity to ask God to bless them and show His favor on them.  This lunacy is communicated in the word “entreat” which means to pacify or appease someone.  Think about those two words for a moment, pacify and appease.  When we are pacifying or appeasing someone the majority of the time we are not really acting in the other person’s interests, but rather our own.  Think about a baby for a moment.  We even call the thing we give to them a pacifier.  The baby is crying for food and for whatever reason we don’t think it is the right time to give them food.  So, we give them a pacifier with which they can suck and pretend they are eating.  The baby is getting no nutrition from the pacifier, but the crying has stopped and about that is all we really cared.  Israel is giving defiled worship, but at least they are giving something; therefore, God is appeased and ought to grant their request.  Beloved, do you see the craziness of such a request?  God responds with a rhetorical question that has an obviously negative answer.  No, God is not going to answer such a request.

Questions:
  1. Do you have the audacity to give the Lord defiled worship and then proceed to ask for His favor?
  2. If you are living with this kind of self-centered gall, are you willing to repent and turn to God and give Him the worship He rightfully deserves?
Prayer: Father, forgive me for coming to You with my selfish heart and asking You to bless me.  Forgive me, especially, when I am giving You defiled worship and yet still make these kind of selfish requests.  May my heart be transformed and my love abound for You and You alone.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Worship Defiled

Scripture: Malachi 1:7-8
"You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, 'How have we defiled You?' In that you say, 'The table of the LORD is to be despised.' "But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?" says the LORD of hosts.

Insights: In verse seven God accuses Israel of bringing defiled food to His altar.  This word defiled is a play on words.  There is another word which is more often used to describe food that is bad or defiled.  But God wanted to compare their offerings to their attitude of despising Him found in verse six.  Look at these two transliterations of each of these words.  In verse seven “defiled” in Hebrew is ga’al.  In verse six “despise” in Hebrew is ga╩Żal.  Notice the only difference is the apostrophe’s direction.  So, God is doing a play on words.  He is really telling Israel the offerings they bring are really abhorrent and loathsome and it is because they despise God that they are bringing such worthless offerings to worship.  Some reading this thought might be saying to themselves, “This portion of the letter is really being writing to the priests or ministers.  It does not apply to me.”  Let me quote Ron Brown for a moment.  He wrote, “While the priests bore responsibility for the deficient way worship was conducted, the people weren’t exempt from the accusation.  Yes, the priests were guilty of offering defective offerings, but the offerings came from the people.  They too were guilty of dishonoring God by their misplaced priorities.”  Brown goes on to ask a potent question.  He asked, “How do we ‘blame’ our pastors and others when we’ve failed to worship?”  God created us to be a worshipful people.  We worship sports, materialism, jobs, family, hunting, power, etc.  What we have to be asking ourselves is this: Are we giving the majority of our worship to these substitute gods and bring the leftovers to the One True Lord or are we honestly giving God our very best worship?  My thoughts, as I evaluate the church, are many, if not most, are giving God the leftovers of their worship.  Part of the reason I believe this is because of comments I hear so many people make.  “Worshippers” complain about long services.  “Worshippers” complain about songs sung.  “Worshippers” complain about temperature.  “Worshippers” don’t exalt the Lord!

Questions:
  1. What kind of offering are you bringing to God during worship?
  2. Are you giving your best to this world or to the Father of our salvation?
Prayer: Father, forgive me when I do not bring You true and sincere worship.  I desire to bring You the very best I have.  Give me the courage to focus on You and You alone and may You receive my offering.  Amen.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Honor Lost

Scripture: Malachi 1:6
"'A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?' says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, 'How have we despised Your name?'

Insights: This verse has so many points to it.  It comes right after the dialogue God had with Israel about their lack of love for Him.  So, the conversation, in modern day vernacular, would have gone something like this:  “You, Israel, ought to have loved Me, but you did not.  If you refused to love Me, you ought to have at least honored Me for being your Father, but you did not.  If you refused to honor Me, you ought to have at least respected Me for My position as Master over your lives, but you did not.”  What a tragic conversation God was having with these stiff-necked people.  Let’s dig a little deeper.  The word translated respect in verse six literally means fear.  W. Eichrodt helps us understand biblical fear when he wrote, “Certainly ‘respect’ does not adequately express what God’s holiness should arouse in us.  Respect calls for politeness and such gestures as taking off one’s hat, but fear results in awe and obedience.”  I think the church has lost its fear and awe of God.  These priests in today’s verse, however, went even further.  Not only had they lost their honor and respect for God, they also despised Him.  E. Ray Clendenen helps us here, “it was not an ‘attitude of revulsion, but of treating something as if it were insignificant or worthless.’”  The particular participle used in this verse indicates this attitude was an ongoing contempt for God.  In other words, day in and day out, these “worshippers” entered into the temple and were unimpressed with God.  They saw His works as being insignificant and worthless and as a result stopped honoring and respecting Him.  Because of such an ongoing attitude, they despised the name of God.  By despising His name they were breaking the third commandment (Ex. 20:7).  There are always exceptions, but as a general rule, I really do believe this attitude is characteristic of the average church attender.  We go to church, but don’t really expect God to show up.  Because we don’t anticipate His arrival, we don’t really give Him honor and respect.  Because of such an attitude, our hearts truly condemn us.  This condemnation proves we down deep really despise God.  And because we despise Him, we break His commands.  Beloved, we need to repent and turn to God.

Questions:
  1. When you go to worship are you expecting God to wow you?
  2. Has God become unimpressive to you?
Prayer: Father, forgive me for not having proper fear and honor of You.  Forgive me for taking You for granted.  Let my heart be drawn to You and have the awe restored to my worship.  Amen.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

God's Majesty through Love

I will be out of pocket tomorrow.  So here is Thoughts By Scott early.

Scripture: Malachi 1:5
Your eyes will see this and you will say, "The LORD be magnified beyond the border of Israel!"

Insights: Why does God do all of this?  By all of this, I mean, punish those He loves.  Bring to destruction those He has prepared for wrath.  The answer is simple: to bring glory and majesty to His name!  For those that have been redeemed, they are able to look at the destruction of the wicked and praise God for His mercy on their lives.  For those that have been redeemed and have experienced God’s punishment, they are able to look at God’s guiding hand and praise Him for His persistent love.  For those that have been redeemed and are in a right love relationship with Him, they are able to look at God and reflect that love back to a world in desperate need of salvation.  And all of these things bring glory and majesty to God!  God will share His glory with no one and everything He does is intentional.  This intentionality is for His glory to be acknowledged in all the earth.  So, the means by which He works to create this glory is not for us to decide.  It is for us to obey!  Beloved, let us live our lives in such a fashion that we receive the disciplines of God well and praise Him for the rebukes.  Let us praise Him that He did save us from eternal destruction.  Let us praise Him that we are equipped and gifted to proclaim His love to a lost world and let us actually share this gospel.  Can you image with me what this world would look like if all God’s children lived this kind of life?  It would be extraordinary.  Let us strive to live this way and bring God the majesty He deserves!

Questions:
  1. Do you praise God for His amazing love?
  2. Are you ever awed by the magnificence of God’s love?
Prayer: Father, You daily display Your glory in Your love for me.  May I have eyes to see and ears to hear and the sensitivity of the heart to recognize Your love.  Then Lord, let me have voice to praise and magnify You as a result of Your grace.  Amen.

God's Mystery about Love - Part 2

Scripture: Malachi 1:3-4
but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness." Though Edom says, "We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins"; thus says the LORD of hosts, "They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the LORD is indignant forever."

Insights: Yesterday we learned salvation is not based on us.  Second, God desires that all be saved.  Third, God does the drawing on men’s hearts.  At this point some would argue that God must draw on all men’s hearts, but that is just not biblically accurate.  Our fourth point is God sometimes creates vessels of destruction.  Romans 9:22 reads, “What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?”  You might ask are their biblical examples of these vessels of wrath and the answer is yes.  Exodus 9:16 states, “But I [God] have raised you [Pharaoh] up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”  The purpose for which God raised him up was his destruction.  In fact, when you get to the plague of the boils, the Bible makes statements like this one, “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Ex. 9:12).”  So, God has created some vessels for destruction so that those saved by grace may better understand the gift they have received.  The final point, however, is God gives humanity free will to choose or reject Him.  Joshua in his famous farewell sermon said these words, “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”  So, God also desires for His creation to want to choose to love Him.  Now the mystery comes full circle.  God draws, but He does not draw on everyone.  Those He does draw on have the free will to reject His promptings.  If they choose to receive the grace offered in the drawings, then they are saved and the Holy Spirit comes and makes them born again.  How God works all of this out in His sovereign election, I do not know.  I just trust by faith God does and I am grateful He drew on my heart.

Questions:
  1. What will you choose today?
  2. Is there anything holding you back from receiving the love of God?
Prayer: Father, again this morning I thank You that You have drawn on my heart and allowed me to respond to Your grace.  Father, please keep drawing on all men.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

God’s Mystery about Love - Part 1

Scripture: Malachi 1:3-4
but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness." Though Edom says, "We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins"; thus says the LORD of hosts, "They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the LORD is indignant forever."

Insights: As a pastor, there are times I do not wish to preach the whole council of God’s Scriptures because it can get muddy, deep, confusing, and at times controversial.  Today and tomorrow I will venture into such territory.  In theological circles the subject is that of election.  Today’s verses start off with the phrase, “but I have hated Esau” and then proceeds to express God’s judgment on this nation.  E. Ray Clendenen wrote, “This did not mean that all Jacob’s descendants would be spiritually or eternally ‘saved’ or that all Esau’s descendants necessarily would be ‘lost.’”  Stay with me both days as we work through this process of Scriptural jumping around.  First, salvation is not based on us.  This truth is what today’s verses, as well as, Romans 9:10-13 are communicating.  Paul’s words are, “And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, "THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER." Just as it is written, "JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED."  So, God’s election is before we are even born.  Second, God desires that all be saved.  2 Peter 3:9 states, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”  So, God desires for everyone to come to a saving knowledge of His Son.  There appears to be a contradiction here.  It is for this reason I have titled these next two blogs as God’s Mystery about Love.  God’s love is a mystery.  Let me throw in one more Scripture today and tomorrow we will attempt to finish this thought.  Third, God does the drawing on men’s hearts.  John 6:44 reads, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”  So, if God does not draw on a person, there is no chance of them coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus.  God’s mysterious love!

Questions:
  1. Has the Lord been drawing on your heart?
  2. Are you willing to respond to His love?
Prayer: Father, thank You that You have drawn on my heart and allowed me to respond to Your grace.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Humanities Misunderstanding of Love

Scripture: Malachi 1:2
"I have loved you," says the LORD. But you say, "How have You loved us?" "Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob;

Insights: These Israelites did not understand true love.  God is declaring to them that He has always loved them.  But in the words of E. Ray Clendenen, “[They] like self-centered children had begun taking love for granted, Judah became blind to it and responded to the Lord’s discipline with, ‘You don’t love me.’”  Before the Babylonians came and exiled the people of Judah they were very prosperous; and in their wealth, they failed to acknowledge God and show gratitude to Him for His provision.  Now, after the return from exile the people of Judah are dirt poor; and in their poverty, they failed to acknowledge God and show gratitude to Him for His deliverance.  Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a great visual image of the children of Israel’s attitude toward God.  Give me, give me, and give me more is the cry of Israel.  Just as Veruca wanted an Oompa Loompa NOW and she wanted the golden goose NOW and when all the children got one everlasting gobstopper, she wanted two.  For Veruca discipline was not associated with love and the same is true of Israel.  They are asking God, “How have You loved us?”  In other words, they are saying “We are suffering, but You say You love us, how is this possible?”  They were incapable of recognizing it was because God did love them that they were experience all of these difficulties.  In fact the Hebrew word God used for love literally means, “a passionate desire to be intimately united with a person.”  In other words, God is saying, “I want such an intimate relationship with you that I am allowing you to experience My hand of discipline in order to bring you back to Me.”  Unfortunately, I believe this sorry expression of misunderstanding, as it pertains to love, is one of the problems of the church in America.  We want everyone happy; and therefore, no longer practice church discipline.  We coddle and cradle the squeaky wheels that cause murmurings and dissention and do not turn our hearts back to the Lord who is revealing His love to us through His hand of discipline.  We have turned love into niceties and friendliness and have forgotten longsuffering and faithfulness.  Just like these Israelites, if we are not getting our way, then it must not be love.  What a tragic commentary of the people of God.  Beloved, we need to repent and cry out to God asking Him to restore us back to Love.

Questions:
  1. Are you who does not associate love with discipline?
  2. Are you presently experiencing God’s hand of love through discipline?
Prayer: Father, thank You that You do love me enough to discipline me.  Help my wandering heart to receive Your love in a proper response of gratitude.  Amen.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Mysterious Love of God - Introduction

Scripture: Malachi 1:1
The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi.

Insights: The book of Malachi is truly a message for the modern world.  There are a lot of different thoughts concerning the time period in which Malachi is writing this book.  This blog, however, is title Scott’s Thoughts, so I will share with you my perspective as to when it was written.  Malachi would have been a contemporary to Nehemiah.  Nehemiah comes to Jerusalem after being burdened for the people and helps them rebuild the wall.  During this time period there is a mini revival taking place.  In fact, read the words the people have spoken about their sin, “Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and lovingkindness, Do not let all the hardship seem insignificant before You, Which has come upon us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people, From the days of the kings of Assyria to this day.  “However, You are just in all that has come upon us; For You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly (Nehemiah 9:32-33).”  In other words, these people truly recognize why the Lord led them into exile and acknowledge that He had dealt faithfully to them because of their wicked heart.  Nehemiah has to return to Babylon for a time and in his absence the community of believers falls apart.  It is so bad that Eliashib, the priest, has intermarried with the Ammorites and has allowed his close relative Tobiah, the one who tried to stop the rebuilding of the wall over and over again, to move into the Temple of the Lord as a resident (Nehemiah 13:4-9).  The people stopped giving their tithes to the Lord.  They stopped honoring the Sabbath day.  As implied with Eliashib and Tobiah, they began to enter into marriage with other nations.  The children of Israel went from revival to rebellion in a very short span of time.  It is my belief Malachi is written during this intermediary time period between Nehemiah’s return to Babylon and his subsequent return to Jerusalem.  Malachi is God’s messenger (Malachi literally means, my messenger) and his job is calling the people back through repentance.  Beloved, we also, it seems, to be a fickle people turning from obedience to rebellion in a heartbeat.  We need to hear Malachi’s words to us and choose repentance as well.  Side Note: the word “through” in this first verse means “by the hand of” and is pointing back to Moses.

Questions:
  1. Are you as fickle in your faith as the children of Israel?
  2. Are you as desperate as they were for a word from the Lord?
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for my wayward heart.  So, often I find myself running away from You instead of into Your arms.  Merciful Father continue to do Your redemptive work in my life and may I bring You glory as a result.  Amen.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Argentina Mission Report - Scott Tharp

Scripture: Matthew 28:18-20
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Insights: The final testimony concerning our Mission Trip comes from me.  Four of us were originally scheduled to leave Argentina on Saturday, but on Friday evening we received notification that the flight was cancelled.  You can only imagine how we felt.  The Mayo’s had not been away from their two year old daughter for that kind of length of time before.  The Tharp’s had to get back to work.  Now, however, they were going to be delayed a full day and would not fly out until Sunday evening.  Obviously, our emotions were running hot.  Now jump ahead to our flight from Dallas, TX to Montgomery, AL. on Monday morning.  Because of the cancelled flight Kristy and I were no longer scheduled to sit next to each other.  The gentleman sitting next to Kristy offered to switch places with me and she told him it was a short flight and that I was already seated and not to worry about it.  Ninety-eight percent of the time Kristy would have willingly accepted the man’s offer, but not this day.  As the plane was heading toward the runway, I asked the lady next to me if she was returning home or going for a visit. Immediately she began crying and I was saying to myself, “What did I say?”  As we continued to talk I learned her mother had passed away and she had been traveling back to Alabama for the funeral.  She had missed her connecting flight the night before in Dallas by twelve minutes.  She told me she grew up attending church, but that she was just not certain about eternity.  I told her the Bible tells us, “I have written these things so that you may know you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).”  I asked if she would like me to tell her how she could know for certain and she responded with, “Oh, please do.”  For the next two hours we got to talk about Jesus’ love and mercy.  Only God could have known this woman was going to miss her flight and be in such distress.   Only God could have known she needed to talk with someone like me; and therefore, cancelled my original flight and separated me from my wife.  God loves us all that much!

Questions:
  1. How well do you handle God’s alteration of your plans?
  2. Are you willing to look for God’s best in the midst of the alteration?
Prayer: Lord, I am grateful You know what is best.  Help my heart to accept Your will and obey Your commands.  Amen.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Argentina Mission Report - Jena Mayo

Scripture: Matthew 28:18-20
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Insights: As you have read throughout this week you know God really displayed His greatness and glory during this mission’s trip.  Today’s testimony comes from Jena Mayo.  One of the ministries we participated in this week was speaking at a school which taught English.  Like a lot of schools we were not permitted to bring up Jesus and the gospel unless the students initiated the conversation.  The team specifically spoke to three classes, but this particular portion of the testimony dealt with the young adult class.  Our team was introduced and the class then asked why we were in Argentina, first door opened.  The team proceeded to tell the students a little about themselves—marital status, occupation, etc.  When it was Jena’s turn she informed the class she was a science teacher, second door opened.  One of the men in the class was interested in science and had been reading books by Richard Dawkins, a proselytizing atheist.  The student asked Jena how she as a science teacher reconciled creationism verse evolution, third door opened.  Jena then had the opportunity to explain her beliefs and why she believes in a creator God.  Now we don’t know what has happened in this young man’s life, or the rest of the class for that matter, but all who were there have had the seeds of the gospel planted because of Jena’s willingness to share the reason for the hope of her salvation.  This testimony reminds me of 2 Timothy 4:2 where Paul wrote, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-- with great patience and careful instruction.”  Jena did not know she was going to get asked to defend creation and God against evolution and the world, but she was ready in season (her classroom) and out of season (on this mission trip) to give a good word for Jesus.  Baptist used to be known as people of the Book (referencing the Bible).  I don’t know how many of us can be classified that way today.  Beloved, study to show yourself approved unto God (2 Timothy 2:15) and be ready in season and out to give a reason for your hope in Jesus.

Questions:
  1. Are you willing to study and grow in order to give a good answer for the Lord?
  2. How equipped are you to give a good word for the Lord?
Prayer: Lord, You tell me I have the mind of Christ.  May my words display this reality and give me the boldness to proclaim Your truth at all times.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Argentina Mission Report - Donna Phillips & Kristy Tharp

Scripture: Matthew 28:18-20
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Insights: Today we are going to review two testimonies.  The first is from Donna Phillips.  I love her call to this mission trip.  She was at a ladies conference in which the speaker challenged the ladies to engage in international missions.  She willing said yes, but also said, “What do I have to offer?  I am just a grandmother who loves to cook and spoil her grandchildren.”  Claire Milstead, the missionary from Argentina, was at that conference also.  The next morning she told Donna, “You have got to come down to Argentina.  We have a lady who makes these wonderful cake toppings, but does not know how to make a cake taste good.”  Donna said right then, “I don’t know when, but I am going to Argentina.”  God used Donna on this trip to show love to this beautiful Argentine woman in a way only she could.  The key was Donna’s availability.  So often we say, I have nothing to offer God.  The truth, however, is God can use anything and anyone.  He just wants you available to say, “Yes, Lord!”  The second is from Kristy Tharp.  Her testimony really dealt with change.  Kristy grew up as a missionary kid in Spain and she speaks Spanish fluently.  So, she thought her job on this trip was to be a translator.  Little did she know our primary mission was to hold workshops on how to have a puppet ministry.  While she was in Spain she was a part of a puppet ministry team for eight years.  Kristy does not like to be in the lime light.  Now, she was the predominant figure at these workshops teaching the Argentine people how to do puppets.  Kristy, like all of us had to show flexibility in her service.  She had a plan and God altered her plan.  God says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways (Isaiah 55:8).  On a side note: before we left, one of the churches had already formed a puppet ministry team and had scheduled their first puppet practice for the Tuesday after our departure.  They were very excited to start sharing the love of Jesus to children and parents through puppets.

Questions:
  1. Are you making excuses and telling God you have no talent to offer Him?
  2. Are you flexible enough to allow God to change your plans?
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You can use anything to bring Yourself glory.  Please remind me this day how I can be used by You in order to glorify You.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Argentina Mission Report - Ben Mayo

Scripture: Matthew 28:18-20
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Insights: God did not just “show out” in the financials before the trip only.  Ben Mayo shared with us about God’s provision along the way.  Many of you have traveled internationally and know there is a fifty pound limit on luggage and passengers are limited to only one checked bag.  Well we had to bring down with us all the puppets we purchased, the material for the stage, all the supplies the Milstead’s had requested, plus Claire’s MS medicine (a significant amount worth).  After much weighing and shifting of items we got all the bags at fifty pounds or less (this repacking was done right there in the airport).  God then paused a tropical storm which was about to hit Miami literally minutes before we would have been rerouted (according to a pilot sitting just behind Ben on the plane).  Our layover was long enough that the storm blew out before our departure time.  We finally arrived, with all Claire’s medicine, in Argentina and we went through customs without one of our bags being opened (major miracle).  Originally we were supposed to leave the airport we arrived in Argentina and travel across the city to another airport.  We, however, did not have to do that and were able to stay in the one airport and fly out of there for Trelew later that evening.  Ben shared the beauty of that miracle was this: There was a baggage handler strike which started just before we left.  So, we prayed God would get these workers back to work.  If they had, we would have had to travel to the other airport and incur the taxi expense (about $150) and deal with our luggage.  God, however, knew best and saved us the money and luggage challenge and allowed us to leave straight from the same airport.  The luggage weight issue changes once you are flying domestically in Argentina.  The weight limit was thirty-five pounds, but because of God’s grace and miraculous provision, the extra weight fee was waved on both flights down and back from Trelew.  Ben shared many other miraculous things God did in terms of financial blessings on this trip, but there is not enough space for these thoughts.

Questions:
  1. Are you trusting God in the little things as well as the big things of life?
  2. Are you flexible enough to allow God to change your plans?
Prayer: Lord, I am grateful You are in the details of both the big and the small things of life.  Keep my heart centered on You and You plan.  Amen.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Argentina Mission Report - Tammy Smith

Scripture: Matthew 28:18-20
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Insights: This week the mission team that went to Argentina gave a testimony report at church.  This week’s Thoughts by Scott will be mini synopsis of each of the testimonies mixed with some of my perceptions.  William Carey once said, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.”  In many ways Carey’s statement is a consolidated expression of Tammy Smith’s testimony report.  She shared how the cost of the trip was going to cost around $20,000 and how we had a plan of raising $8,000.  Along the journey of raising funds Satan was at work trying to prevent this trip from occurring.  At one point Tammy was being attacked severely with doubt, frustration, and disappointment because it did not seem we were going to reach our goal.  The week in which Satan attacked the hardest was the week in which God said to Tammy (in Scott’s paraphrase), “I love you my daughter, trust me and watch me work.”  That week Tammy “ran into” two people.  The first said to her, “I have been reading your Facebook posts, how can I help.”  Tammy proceeded to tell her about items the missionaries, Grady and Claire Milstead, asked us to bring down with us.  The lady told Tammy to give her the list and she and the ladies of her church took care of every one of those items.  The ladies mother even gave a substantial check in order to cover an extra suitcase expense if we needed it.  The second person was a man that “ran into” Tammy at a gas station.  He said to her, “Last night our church voted to give you a $1,000 for your mission’s trip.”  The significance of that donation was it brought us to the $8,000 goal.  At that point, doubts, frustrations and disappointment left and Tammy boldly proceeded in faith.  God responded to the teams’ faith as well.  He said, “Watch this!” and prompted family and friends to give an additional $6,000 above the original goal.  God is great and greatly to be praised.

Questions:
  1. What was the last great thing of faith you experienced from God?
  2. What great thing are you presently expecting from God?
Prayer: Lord, thank You for stretching the mission teams’ faith.  May my faith presently be stretched as well.  Mold me into the type of person that hears from You and expects You to do great things for Your glory.  Then, Lord, please grant me the courage to follow through with what I have sensed You are doing and attempt great things for You.  Amen.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Abundant Relevancy

Scripture: Colossians 1:11a-b
for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

Insights: It has been an exciting week of discovering all the areas in which the Lord benefits our lives when we surrender our will to Him.  Today’s verses give us five areas of provision found in a sacrificed life.  Let’s jump into each of these with a question.  Do you ever feel like it would be easier to give up and not pursue the things of God?  Paul tells us when we pursue God’s will He gives us a steadfast devotion to Him.  Do you ever get angry and lose your temper?  Paul tells us when we pursue God’s will He gives us a patient heart.  Are you ever sad or depressed?   Paul tells us when we pursue God’s will He gives us a joyful attitude.  Do you ever feel like you are entitled to things, praise, or positions?   Paul tells us when we pursue God’s will He gives us a thankful heart that recognizes the gifts God gives.  In other words, we are no longer selfishly expecting our wishes and desires, but rather are grateful for God’s wonderful provisions.  One last question, do you ever get weighed down thinking this, whatever this is, is all there is to life?  Paul tells us when we pursue God’s will He gives us an eternal perspective.  If we are born again, then we are the saints in Light which will share in the inheritance for which we are qualified.  Our qualification has nothing to do with our goodness, abilities, or activities.  Our qualification has everything to do with the receiving of Jesus’ gift of eternal life purchased in His death and resurrection.  The point in seeing things in this life from an eternal perspective is the hope it gives us when we face difficult days.  In other words, it helps us recognize that this, again whatever this is for you right now, will pass.  If it does not pass on this side of eternity, it will when we see our Savior face to face.  These five resources are truly relevant as we pursue hard after the Lord.  Beloved, we have looked this entire week at the benefits of a life which has sacrificed its self-will to the will of God.  I tell you, a life of sacrifice is far greater than anything you could pursue in your self-will.  Sacrifice for Jesus today!

Questions:
  1. Are you utilizing all of the gifts the Father bestows on those who are surrendering their will to His?
  2. Is your heart comforted by the reality of our eternality?
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your abundant provisions which are relevant for my daily walk and pursuit after You.  Continue Lord, to help and guide me in the process of relinquishing my will and allowing Your will to be all I hear and obey.  Amen.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Powerful Resolve

Scripture: Colossians 1:11a-b
strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might,

Insights: Have you ever awoke in the morning after a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep and still felt exhausted?  Have you gone to work and the clock just felt like it had broken at 10 a.m. and the day just drug on and on?  Have your reflected on your life and just wondered why you were here on earth and what your purpose was?  I purport that you are living out of self-will if you can answer yes to these questions.  The reason I make such a boast is because you are attempting to live life in your own power and strength and you were not created for that kind of load.  Sunday night we discussed in our home group Bible study the misnomer of 1 Corinthians 10:13.  People have taken this verse which is talking about temptation and applied it to the pressures and problems of this world.  There is a great deal of difference between a temptation that is common to man and a burden because of a tragic event.  Yet people consistently say erroneously, “God never puts on you more than you can bear.”  There is a Greek word for that, bologna.  That is a lie from the depths of hell.  All that kind of thinking does is led people to fatigue, depression and isolation.  We are rather told by Jesus to, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7).”  Other translations use the word anxiety in the place of care.  Did you notice how many cares you are supposed to cast on to Jesus?  Just one or two, because He can’t handle them all, right?  Absolutely not!  When we let go of our pride and self-will through sacrifice and resolutely declare we want to know and follow after God’s will, then He gives us His strength.  He carries our burdens.  Notice from today’s verse with what kind of power God is strengthening us, ALL power.  This power is derived from His glorious might.  Now I want you to be aware, Beloved, just because we cast our cares on Jesus and He gives us His power does not mean life will be a bed of roses without thorns.  We are still going to be led through difficult days in order to prune our lives and let Jesus shine forth, but the point is we don’t have to be exhausted and alone in the process.  We have HIS strength!

Questions:
  1. Are you often fatigued?
  2. Does the routine of life often find you longing for something more?
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You do not leave me here alone on earth to accomplish Your will.  You give me the strength and power to walk obediently with You.  Continue, O Lord, to fill me with Your presence and power as I serve You.  May You be brought glory as a result of what You are doing through me.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Intimate Relationship

Scripture: Colossians 1:10d
growing in the knowledge of God,

Insights: Keep in mind the purpose of this week’s devotional thoughts.  We are investigating the benefits of a life whose self-will has been sacrificed and whose desire is to know and understand God’s will.  When one is pursuing hard after God’s will he/she will live a life of moral rectitude and will be characterized as having an evangelistic resurgence.  The third byproduct of a life of willful sacrifice is a more intimate relationship with God is cultivated.  This idea is what Paul is pointing to when he wrote today’s portion of verse ten.  My observation is most in the local church are not in a growing dynamic relationship with Jesus.  The percentage of “Christians” who actually have a daily quiet time with God is minimal and the proof is in the walk.  The Pareto Principle states that twenty percent of the people will do eighty percent of the work.  Why is this eight/twenty mathematical rule so accurate in the local church?  RELATIONSHIP!  In other words having an intimate relationship with God is hard work and most people do not want to invest that kind of time and energy.  Jesus was referring to salvation when He said these words, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14).”  The reality is, however, Jesus could have said something very similar about those pursuing a love relationship with Him.  What we do in our corporate life in the body is directly related to the personal life we enjoy in Jesus.  So, if we do not have a vibrant growing corporate involvement in the local church, we ought to examine our personal time with God.  I believe we will quickly see the correlation between the two events.  Beloved, sacrifice your will and pursue the will of God.  As you do your knowledge and love for God will increase and there is nothing sweeter than that reality.  Let me close with Jesus words when He was questioned as to what is the greatest commandment.  He replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30).

Questions:
  1. How are you daily quiet times with God?
  2. How well have you assimilated into the corporate aspect of worship in the local church?
Prayer: Lord, I know that I am as close to You as I want to be.  Forgive me for those times in which I am preoccupied with my own worldly desires and fail to pursue hard after You.  Increase my love with You and grow me in Your grace by Your mercies.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Evangelistic Resurgence

Scripture: Colossians 1:10c
bearing fruit in every good work

Insights: Yesterday we observed the moral rectitude of a life willfully sacrificed to the Lord. As we strive to know God’s will and His wisdom and understanding, we will have a true moral compass that governs our lives.  Today, we are introduced to another area in which our lives will dramatically change if we surrender our will to the will of the Father.  That area is in fruit bearing.  In other words, we will have an evangelistic zeal for sharing the good news with those lost and heading to a sinners hell.  Fanny Crosby’s hymn Rescue the Perishing vividly portrays the heart of one who has surrendered his will to the Lord and has pursued with vigor the knowledge of God’s will.  She wrote in the first verse of this hymn the following words, “Rescue the perishing, Care for the dying, Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; Weep o’er the erring one, Lift up the fallen, Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.”  The fourth verse is just as relevant at this juncture.  It reads, “Rescue the perishing, Duty demands it; Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide; Back to the narrow way Patiently win them, Tell the poor wand’rer a Savior has died.”  Notice in this fourth verse that it is the Lord who provides the strength for one to share the gospel.  It is not our job to do the saving.  It is our job to do the telling and the Lord gives us the strength to do so when we pursue His will.  Even Jesus’ words regarding the churches evangelistic zeal are interesting.  He said in Matthew 9:36-38, “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  ‘Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”  It is interesting because Jesus’ concern does not seem to be that the lost won’t respond to the gospel, but rather that the church won’t go and share the gospel.  Our heart desiring to know the will of God, however, will propel us to go and share the gospel to our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and uttermost parts of the earth.  Beloved, share the good news of Jesus work on Calvary and His victory on resurrection Sunday.

Questions:
  1. Have you made it a practice to pray and ask God to give you opportunities to share the gospel?
  2. Is your life characterized by evangelistic zeal?
Prayer: Lord, I am so sorry I do not look with more intentional eyes for the lost.  Change my sight and let me see with Your eyes.  Father, grant me the opportunity to share my faith with someone this very week.  I know the fields are white unto harvest.  Let me Lord, be one of those workers.  Amen.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Moral Rectitude

Scripture: Colossians 1:9-10b  
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects,

Insights: In verses one through eight, Paul has given his address to the church of Colossae and also thanked God for their salvation.  It is this eternal work of new life Paul is referencing in verse nine when he writes, “For this reason also,…”  In other words, because these recipients of his letter are born again, Paul is now praying verse nine will take place in their lives.  This ninth verse is the springboard for the second part of today’s thoughts and the remaining thoughts this week.  In verse nine Paul is praying for these born again believers to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will and have true spiritual wisdom and understanding.  Paul then proceeds with the two word phrase, “so that,” indicating the truth of a byproduct of knowing God’s will.  It is these five results of knowing God’s will that we will be looking at this week.  The first is one who knows God’s will is going to live a morally acceptable life before God.  It does not take much imagination to realize we live in a morally decadent society.  Even last week this moral exactness was displayed all over our national media with the attack on the president of Chic-fil-a for his comments regarding biblical marriage.  Are society has the most drug addicts, the most alcoholics, the most over-weight, the most sexually promiscuous, the most smokers and the list of moral outrage against a holy God could go on and on.  Paul’s point is if we know God because we are born again, then we can know His will and because His Spirit lives in us, we now have the ability to live a morally superior life.  Before we came to know Jesus as our Savior we were slaves to sin and could do no other than be a moral reprobate; but now, because of Jesus, we can live a morally pleasing life in God.  So, throughout this week, I am going to ask you to evaluate your life.  How well are you doing at sacrificing your will to God’s and allowing Him to purge your life of moral filth?  Beloved, live morally before a lost world!

Questions:
  1. Have you come to a place in your spiritual life where if you were to die today, you know you would go to heaven?
  2. Is your life characterized by moral righteousness?
Prayer: Lord, You are my only hope and salvation.  You are also the One who changes me from the inside out and molds my life to reflect the moral rectitude You so desire for me.  Let my heart truly surrender to Your Lordship.  Amen.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Sacrificial Joy of Giving

Scripture: Matthew 6:19-24  
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 "The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 "But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Insights: We have looked at the worlds answer to money – get all you can NOW.  We have looked at the believers answer to money – get out of debt in order to use your money for the advancement of the gospel.  We have looked at the motivation behind our answer – your heart.  We have also looked at what our answer proves about us – you are in allegiance with God or the world.  Now we come to crunch time.  These verses are a part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  What Jesus has been doing throughout that sermon is turning religious traditions on their head and raising the standard by which God holds us accountable. As an example, Jesus said, “You have heard it said, do not commit adultery, but I say if you look on a woman lust, you have already committed adultery in your heart.”  In this same sermon where Jesus is raising the bar we find these verses on money. We know we ought to be giving financially to God and we do that through the local church.  Our giving is an act of worship back to God.  As we have learned this week we are to strive to become debt free so that our money can be used to bring glory to God and increase His kingdom.  God wants us to be obedient and give to Him everything He tells us to give.  Below are two questions which are now appropriate in terms of your relationship with Jesus and your finances.  Who will you choose?

Questions:
  1. If you have stopped giving financially to your local church, have you come to the place where you know you need to repent and begin giving again?
  2. If you have not stopped giving, have you come to a the place where you are willing to ask God if you are giving the percentage He would have you to give?
Prayer: Lord, I want to honor you in all I do and my finances are no exception.  Work in my heart to draw me into obedience where my finances are concerned.  Amen.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What Your Answer Proves About You

Scripture: Matthew 6:24  
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Insights: We have looked at the worlds answer to money – get all you can NOW.  We have looked at the believers answer to money – get out of debt in order to use your money for the advancement of the gospel.  We have also looked at the motivation behind our answer – your heart.  Today we see what our answer proves about us.  Verse twenty-four clearly states there are sides to this war and you are not some secret agent whose loyalty is to one nation, but is actually serving in the enemy camp.  We are foot-soldiers in the kingdom of God.  Our allegiance is with Him or with the world, period!  Jesus says you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other.  Your heart is going to make a choice.  After it makes its choice, it is going to motivate the body to follow its guiding.  It is going to accept the worlds answer to money or it is going to accept the believers answer to money.  Whichever answer you choose proves on whose side you belong.  Now, here is the beautiful thing about God’s side of the war.  At any time, you can repent.  In other words, if you are a Christ-follower and you have entered into the enemy camp, you can repent of your sin and run back to Jesus.  If you are not a Christ-follower, then you are purely in the enemy camp and you need to receive forgiveness for your sins and enter into Jesus’ camp.  The point is you can ask God to change your heart motivation and your answer will be the believers answer and it will prove your allegiance to Jesus.  God’s grace is sufficient to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  His side is worth whatever sacrifice one would have to make to prove allegiance.  Beloved, choose to follow God and not wealth.

Questions:
  1. To whom does your answer reveal your allegiance resides?
  2. Do you want to repent and start showing your love to Jesus?
Prayer: Lord, I know I do not serve You perfectly, but my heart desire is that I do.  Please never stop the sanctifying process of molding me into Your image.  May I display my allegiance in the way I handle my fianances.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Motivation for Both the World and the Believer

Scripture: Matthew 6:21-23
for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 "The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 "But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Insights: We have looked at the worlds answer to money.  We have looked at the believers answer to money.  Today, we shift and look at the motivation behind our choice.  The motivation is our heart.  Jesus then gives an illustration as to the nature of the heart.  You can in some ways interchange the words heart and eye in these three verses.  The point really falls to allegiance.  In other words, if they eye or heart chooses to pursue the world and self, then the vision is full of darkness and the treasure is going to be temporal and self-serving.  If the eye or heart chooses to pursue Christ, then the vision is full of light and the treasure is going to be eternal and God glorifying.  One of the areas in which we delude ourselves is in our finances.  We live as if the money is ours and we can pursue our pleasures and at the same time have a vibrant love relationship with God.  Jesus is clearly teaching that a concept of that nature is impossible.  The reason is because the heart and eye are intrinsically connected to one’s treasure.  Tomorrow we are going to see this point more clearly portrayed as we look at verse twenty-four, but Jesus is already pointing to the conclusion here.  Everything we do points and declare our hearts allegiance.

Questions:
  1. What is your motivation as it relates to money?
  2. Are you deceiving yourself as to where you heart really has formed its allegiance?
Prayer: Lord, make my vision clear.  I want to see my life as it truly is.  Reveal to me the true condition of my heart and give me the courage to choose You.  Amen.