Friday, January 31, 2014

We Trust God in Our Pain

Scripture: Job 1:22
Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

Insights: Today’s verse tells us Job did not sin nor did he BLAME God.  What an amazing testimony.  I pray the Lord is able to say such a statement about me when I face trials and difficulties which result in incredible pain.  This verse is basically telling us that Job trusted God.  He believed God had a plan and a purpose behind this entire calamity.  Remember, Job did not know about the cosmic conversation between God and Satan.  Job, however, trusted in the reality that God is not a capricious God dangling him over the fiery coals of life.  God had a reason to allow Job to go through all of this and it was because God also trusted Job enough to know he was not going to sin and curse God.  In other words, Job was God’s champion before Satan, and Job won the victory for God.  Beloved, it is my prayer that you can display your love for God in the midst of your pain and suffering and He helps you realize He trusts you as well.  We need to be a champion for the Lord in these trying times of life. I know I don’t always live this verse out well, but I am going to apply yesterday’s lesson to my life and strive to be humble myself before the Lord.  From this state of dependence on God for my security I hope to not sin nor blame God for my struggles.  Beloved, let us be trophies the Lord is able to raise up before Satan and declare, “This child was found faithful!”  Trust Him today!

  1. Do you trust the Lord to be faithful to you no matter what you are presently facing?
  2. Can God trust you to be faithful to Him and bring Him glory as you experience your pain?

Prayer: Father, You see the big picture and I do not.  Forgive me when I look at my difficulties with grumblings and complaints.  You are working everything to my good and I need to learn to trust You more fully.  Grant me Your grace to live such a hope out before a watching world.  Amen.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

We Humble Ourselves in Our Pain

Scripture: Job 1:21
He said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD."

Insights: Verse twenty-one reveals to us the condition or standing Job took before the Lord God.  In other words, Job humbled himself before God.  He declared that he was naked when he entered this world and he would be naked when he departed.  His security and trust was not in his neighbors, his wealth, his family or even his own health.  His security was found in the Lord God.  Because of this humble attitude he was able to say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  Beloved, we need to get to such a place in our walk with the Lord.  This kind of relationship can only be cultivated and developed by spending time with the Lord Jesus.  We must daily open up His Word, the Bible, and read it and ask Him to reveal His truths to us.  As He illuminates His Word, we then must obey what He shows us.  As we grow in His Word, He will allow us to go through the difficulties of life and our response to those situations will reveal the depth of our relationship with Jesus.  My prayer is that you will be like Job and receive the difficulties of life well.  It is very easy for me to type those words, but I must confess it is very hard for me to live them out at times.  I will attest to this statement, however, I am able, because of the growth in Jesus, to humble myself better today than I was yesterday.  In other words, every day I grow with Jesus makes the next day easier to live out this life of humility before our Sovereign One.  It is my prayer that every year I grow closer to Jesus and am able to positively reflect this relationship to a watching world that is in desperate need of a Savior.  May God be glorified because of our humble position before Him.

  1. In what or whom are you placing your security?
  2. Are you willing to humble yourself before the righteous and holy God?

Prayer: Father, forgive me when I put my security in anything other than You.  Let my heart be a humble heart before You my King, Lord and Savior.  You are my all in all and I desire for my life to reflect this reality before a watching world.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

We Seek God in Our Pain

Scripture: Job 1:20b
and he fell to the ground and worshiped.

Insights: This entire week we have been and will continue to look at the proper response to pain.  Yesterday we learned that it is okay to mourn in the midst of our pain.  Today, however, I want you to notice the rest of verse twenty.  Immediately after tearing his close and shaving his head, the Scriptures inform us that Job fell to the ground and worshiped.  Job absolutely understood that his only hope was the Lord God.  This past week my father-in-law was telling me about a billionaire who had made a poor investment and lost two or three billion dollars.  His net worth went from around five billion to two or three billion.  Apparently, according to my father-in-laws retelling of the news story, he committed suicide.  His hope had been in his money and even though he had an amount of money that is beyond most peoples comprehension, it was not enough for him.  He was in pain and he did not know Who he ought to turn to for his sorrow.  Job, on the other hand, did know who to turn to and that was the Lord.  His hope was in the Lord God and because of that his mourning was a form of worship.  In our service Sunday, we had people who were in pain and sorrow to raise their hands.  After that we had the body of Christ to surround them and to pray for those individuals.  Afterwards, I closed in a time of corporate prayer for those who were hurting.  Beloved, as a bystander to those in pain, let me encourage you to worship the Lord on behalf of those in sorrow.  You are able to perform this act of worship by praying for those with whom you know are going through the storms of life.  If you are one who is in the storm, let me also encourage you to run to Jesus.  He truly is our only hope and the only One who can truly give us comfort and peace in our pain.  Let our sorrow be a worshipful type of sorrow as we run to Jesus. 

  1. When you are in the midst of pain and mourning, do you quickly turn your focus on the Lord?
  2. Is your mourning a form of worship to the Lord as You seek His comfort and will?

Prayer: Father, forgive me when I turn my pain into something that detracts from Your glory.  Help me to respond to the sufferings of this world like Job and quickly turn my sorrow into worship.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

We Mourn in Our Pain

Scripture: Job 1:20a
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head,

Insights: As we are chronologically reading through the Bible, we now come to the book of Job.  Job is a hard book for many people through which to read.  For many people it is because they identify with Job so well.  There are a lot of people who believe, act or even tell others that Christians are not supposed to suffer or experience pain and grief.  These kinds of thoughts are straight from our enemy Satan who is the villain of chapter one and two.  Beloved, let’s look at four areas in Job’s life in which he experienced pain.  As a result of such pain he tore his robe and shaved his head.  This external act of mourning shows us that it is okay and appropriate for us to mourn and grieve in the midst of difficult situations.  The first area in which Job experienced pain was in his relationships with his neighbors.  This relational strife was with the Sabeans and the Chaldeans who robbed job and murdered his work force.  The second area in which Job experienced pain was in his finances.  These economic struggles can be seen with his loss of manufacturing capabilities.  In other words, his assembly line of oxen and donkeys were stolen.  He lost his raw materials when his sheep, which produced his wool and reproduction lines, were burned up.  He lost his distribution system when his camels were stolen, and finally, he lost his labor force because they were all killed except for four men.  When you break it down like this, Job went from being the wealthiest man to the most unemployed and poor man in the region in a matter of minutes.  The third area in which Job experienced pain was in his family.  This domestic sorrow was a result of all his children dying in a storm that blew the walls in on the house they were all in during a birthday party.  If all of these situations were not bad enough, when we get to the second chapter we are introduced to a fourth area in which Job experienced pain and that is in his physical well-being.  This health situation was boils that afflicted him from the crown of his head to his feet.  Beloved, Job had reason and cause to mourn his pain and so do we when we experience sorrow.

  1. Are you able to identify with Job in anyway in regards to mourning pain?
  2. Do you ever allow Satan to lie to you and tell you it is not okay for a Christian to grieve through pain?

Prayer: Father, thank You for the grief process.  When I experience the pains of this world, teach me the proper way to grieve and mourn.  May my crises be a tool in which You are brought glory because I display before the world the proper way to deal with pain.  Amen.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Only an Advocate Can Get Us Out of the Pit

Scripture: Genesis 37:21-22
But Reuben heard this and rescued him out of their hands and said, "Let us not take his life." Reuben further said to them, "Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him"-- that he might rescue him out of their hands, to restore him to his father.

Insights: Our final thought this week comes from verses twenty-one and twenty-two.  Notice with me that Reuben acted as an advocate for Joseph.  It was his idea to put Joseph in the pit in order to save his life.  It was his idea to come back later and get him out of the pit and return him to his father.  It was his idea to save Joseph.  In some way, he did, because Joseph’s life was spared.  If Reuben had not spoken on Joseph’s behalf to his brothers, Joseph would have died that day and the dreams the Lord had given to Joseph would not have come to pass.  The point, however, is Reuben, in a flawed way, is representative of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the perfect advocate which God sent to this earth to get us out of our pit of sin.  Every one of us is in a pit of sin and is unable to get out of it.  Jesus speaks and acts on our behalf by dying on the Cross of Calvary and paying our sin debt.  He then intercedes on our behalf before His Father and tells Him of those who have received Him as Lord and Savior.  For every one who has Christ Jesus in his or her heart is saved the eternal punishment of slavery to sin, which leads to the Lake of Fire.  Beloved, I am so grateful God sent Jesus to be that perfect advocate for us.  Not only does He save us from our sin, but He gives us a relationship with the Triune God.  I promise you there is nothing greater than a relationship found with the perfect advocate, Jesus!

  1. Have you encountered the perfect advocate, Jesus Christ?
  2. Are you willing to receive His gift of salvation by receiving Him as Lord and Savior?

Prayer: Father, thank You for sending Jesus to be the perfect advocate for me.  Let my relationship with Him grow and flourish by Your grace.  Amen.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Greed Can Take Us Out of the Pits and Place Us in a Worse Situation

Scripture: Genesis 37:25-28
Then they sat down to eat a meal. And as they raised their eyes and looked, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing aromatic gum and balm and myrrh, on their way to bring them down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers, "What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood? "Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh." And his brothers listened to him. Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt.

Insights: Today’s Thoughts by Scott are very similar to yesterdays, but with a slightly different nuance.  What we observe in today’s verses is not the same as envy, but rather of greed.  In other words, yesterday the brothers were envious of Joseph’s position.  In today’s verses, however, they are greedy for financial gain.  Joseph’s pit just went from bad to worse because of the greed of his brothers.  It was bad enough to have been stripped of his tunic and thrown into the pit.  Now, however, he is going from the favored son to being a slave.  And for what does Joseph have to go through this transformation? Money!  Beloved, we in America are driven by the all-powerful dollar.  It drives us to work.  It drives us in our decision making.  It drives us in virtually every aspect of our lives.  And it will drive us right into the pits of life as well.  There is only ONE who can ever satisfy our hunger and greed and that is Jesus.  When we jump on the greed cycle we go from bad to worse because greed can never be satisfied.  Greed always wants more and more and more.  Just like yesterday in regards to envy, let me encourage you to run to Jesus.  Let Jesus be the fulfiller of your life.  Let Him be the One who lets you know you have enough and can be content in life with little instead of a lot.  Find Jesus!

  1. Is your life characterized as a greedy one?
  2. Do you understand that if you get the next greedy thing, then there will be another greedy thing around the corner?
Prayer: Father, protect me from my own sinful desires.  Help me become content with what You give to me and let me find my satisfaction in You and not the things of this world.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Envy Can Lead to the Pits

Scripture: Genesis 37:23-24
So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him; and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it.

Insights: Before I share today’s Thoughts by Scott, let me give you a little background about this particular part of the story.  In today’s verses Joseph’s varicolored tunic is mentioned.  This tunic is crucial in understanding the thought for today.  This tunic would have reached all the way to Joseph’s ankles.  It was a type of tunic reserved for students and scholars.  In other words, while Joseph’s brothers were out working in the heat of the day, Joseph was back at school drinking lemonade under the shade of a tent.  These brothers were in essence paying for the betterment of Joseph while they had no such option because they had to work.  This background helps us understand the second thing that can lead us into the pits of life is envy.  When we are envious of other people, we can quickly find ourselves in the pits of life.  The reason for this truth is because there is always someone who has a little more than we do or whose life is a little better than ours.  When we find ourselves playing the comparison game, we can quickly become envious of the other person and soon we will find ourselves in a relational conflict like we looked at yesterday.  Joseph’s brothers could not have what he did, and therefore, they hated him for it.  Their response was to throw Joseph into a literal pit.  We can find ourselves in a figurative pit of torment and strife if we don’t turn our attention to the Lord Jesus and find our satisfaction in Him rather than the personalities surrounding us.  Beloved, let me encourage you to run to Jesus.  Whenever you start to compare your life with all of its flaws and defects let me encourage you to run to Jesus.  Do not let envy lead you into the comparative gave that will end up with you living in the pits of life.  Let Jesus be your joy and life and you will be amazed at how good your life soon looks to you.

  1. Are you envious of anyone?
  2. What are you doing to lean contentment in who you are in the Lord Jesus?

Prayer: Father, I so often find myself comparing myself to others.  When I do, often times I become envious of the other person.  I ask, why do I not have a ministry like theirs?  Why do I not have an income like theirs? The list of questions continue.  Lord, forgive me for those kind of thoughts and help me to learn contentment in You.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Conflicts Can Lead to the Pits

Scripture: Genesis 37:18-20
When they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death. They said to one another, "Here comes this dreamer! "Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, 'A wild beast devoured him.' Then let us see what will become of his dreams!"

Insights: Before I expound today’s Thoughts by Scott, let me ask you to be in prayer for me this week.  In January I take a week-long prayer retreat and am presently on this retreat.  If you would please pray for me, I would be most appreciative.  Now, to today’s thoughts: As we journey though the Bible this year we come to a key figure in the shaping of the people of Israel.  His name is Joseph and he is the favored son of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel.  Joseph has had some dreams and been given a special coat by his father.  He thinks life cannot get any better than this, but he is going to quickly find himself in a literal pit wondering what is happening to him.  Over the next few days I want to mention three things that can lead us into the pits of life.  There are many more than three, but in this passage we find three.  The first is relationship conflicts can lead us into the pits of life.  Notice in today’s verses that Joseph’s brothers do not think very highly of their little brother.  The relationship had become so toxic that they were discussing murdering their little brother.  Joseph has created some of this hatred on his own.  The brothers call him a dreamer.  Joseph had been given a God ordained dream about his place over his brothers.  It is pure speculation on my part, but the way his brothers and father respond to his telling of that dream leads me to believe he was a little boastful and proud in his God ordained status before his family.  This speculation leads me to believe Joseph had caused some of the relational conflict that existed in his family.  We need to be aware that relationships can be toxic and lead us to the pit.

  1. What relationships do you presently have which are causing you conflict and difficulty?
  2. In what ways are you allowing these relationships to lead you into the pits of life?

Prayer: Father, I know that as long as I live on this side of eternity there will be times in which I find myself in the pits of life.  Help me to recognize in advance the relationships which may lead me down into those pits and give me the grace to be preemptive and heal those relationships before they are truly toxic.  Grant me Your grace, if I am already in one of those relationships, to know how to reconcile with my brother or sister.  Amen.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Have You Experienced the Grace of the Lord?

Scripture: Genesis 4:13-15
Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is too great to bear! "Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me." So the LORD said to him, "Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold." And the LORD appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him.

Insights: One of the themes we will observe throughout this calendar year as we preach through the Bible is grace.  In other words, the entire love story of God we are reading through revolves around His incredible love and mercy He bestows on us.  God’s story is a redemptive story.  In today’s verses we see Cain receiving grace from the Lord.  God’s standard and required punishment for murder is death.  Yet, just like Jesus and the woman caught in adultery, mercy and grace is dispensed.  God shows His love for Cain in His allowing him to live.  God goes even one step further and places a mark on Cain in order to protect him from the natural consequences from this world in regards to his death.  This act of love is exactly what the Father has done for us in Jesus.  We deserved death and eternal separation from the Father’s love because of our sin.  God, however, sent His Son Jesus to take the penalty for our sin.  Jesus bore the wrath which was rightfully ours.  He then extends to us the gift of salvation to all who will receive His love, mercy and sacrifice.  We receive this grace gift by entering into a relationship with Jesus.  We enter into that relationship by calling out to Him and acknowledging our sin and asking Him to enter into our hearts and to cleanse us of our sins.  He promises that if we do this and believe, that He will really save us.  What a picture of God’s redemptive story played out even in these early chapters of the book of Genesis.  Beloved, let us strive for a love relationship with the Lord and strive for His standard which is ruled and governed by grace.

  1. Have you recently experienced the grace of the Lord in your life?
  2. Have you ever received Jesus as your Lord and Savior?

Prayer: Father, thank You that You do not give me what I deserve.  You are gracious to me and Your love is overwhelming to me at times.  Let me never take for granted Your mercy which You bestow on me.  Amen.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

What Kind of Consequences do Your Sacrifices Reap?

Scripture: Genesis 4:9-10
Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" And he said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground. "Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. "When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth."

Insights: Every decision and action we make has a consequence.  Cain, for example, killed his brother.  The consequence of such an action was the ground would not cultivate crops for him and he would be a vagrant and a wanderer throughout the earth.  Just as Cain reaped a harvest of cursing for his action of murder, so we, reap a harvest of blessing or cursing for our actions as well.  Let me explain this from a positive perspective (considering Cain gives us a negative one).  We are presently reading through the Bible in one year as a church.  If you are joining us in this campaign, then you are sowing seeds of Bible reading in your life.  Now, do you think that as you read through the Bible there will be times in which you will read something and find that it applies directly to your life right now?  The answer is an obvious “yes!”  Do you think after a year of reading the Bible your attitude and way of handling difficult situations will be different?  Again, the answer is a resounding “yes!”  If you continued reading the Bible every day for the rest of your life, you would reap a harvest of righteousness that would amaze and astound you.  Beloved, we are called to live holy lives because the Lord our God is holy.  I encourage you to think about the consequences of your words and deeds before you commit to them.  There will be consequences.  Some consequences will be positive and helpful and others will be negative and harmful.  The amazing part is you get to choose how you are going to respond to every situation in your life.  Beloved, choose obedience to the Father.  I promise you it will be worth everything in the end.

  1. What are you presently reaping in your life from your previous times of sowing seed?
  2. What kind of seed are you willing to sow from this day forward?

Prayer: Father, I understand there are consequences to my action.  Some of those consequences are positive and some of them are negative.  I pray You empower me to sow seeds of faith and grace me with a harvest of righteousness.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What Kind of Relationship do You Present to God?

Scripture: Genesis 4:8
Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

Insights: This particular question we must answer today is the one that breaks my heart as a pastor the most.  At the same time it is one of the hardest areas for me when it comes to ministry.  I can say I truly do love those who the Lord has placed in my ministry path throughout the years.  That statement does not mean all of my relationships have been healthy or full of “kumbaya” experiences.  The church is one army that shots its wounded.  We are, unfortunately, very good at hurting each other when we are supposed to be encouraging one another.  As a result we avoid some brothers and sisters in the Lord and we stop participating in church activities.  In other words, we stop living out the purpose of the body of Christ and the church eventually shrivels up and dies.  Cain literally killed his brother and often times the church kills each other in our thoughts and actions.  Beloved, let me challenge you to go back one more time to those with whom you are having relational challenges and see if the Lord will restore the love relationship.  It is absolutely crucial to the health and future well-being of the local church.  Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  ‘By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.’”  A lost world is bound up in their sin and their relationships are horrific in nature.  They strive to please themselves only and put the concerns of others to the wayside.  We, the church, are to be an example of a different kind of life.  We need to love each other.  We need to care for each other.  We need to serve each other.  We need Christ Jesus to be brought glory through our lives.  What we must NOT do, however, is say, “God bless me and let Your favor fall on me, but I am not going to change my relational habits with those whom I am at odds.”  It is a complete contradiction to believe God is going to bless FBCBG while we retain our relational selfishness and pride.  Beloved, humble yourselves before the mighty hand of God and let Him heal you!

  1. Is there anyone who came to mind as you read today’s Thoughts by Scott?
  2. Are you willing to go to that person and attempt to reconcile the relationship?

Prayer: Father, relationships are so hard on this side of eternity. Help me to live at peace with all people as far as it depends on me.  Let Your Spirit guide and direct my relationships with people and may they bring You glory.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What Kind of Worship do You Present to God?

Scripture: Genesis 4:6-7
Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it."

Insights: As I have pondered these verses and thought about my preaching point regarding worship; I feel as if I did not preach this point very clearly.  FBCBG blog readers, please encourage those who attended the service this past Sunday to read this blog today for further clarification.  My point in the outline was What Kind of Worship do You Present to God?  At that point I began explaining about our churches attendance patterns over the past eight weeks and how many active and inactive members we have on our role at FBCBG.  Here is the connecting point I failed to make in regards to the verses for today’s Thoughts by Scott.  Notice God’s conversation with Cain for a moment.  God warns him that sin is crouching at the door and that it desires to consume him.  The Lord continues His admonition as He tells Cain he must master this temptation.  There is only one way we as believers are going to master the temptations in our lives and not enter into sin, which desires to devour us.  The one way is private worship of the Lord on a daily basis as we have our quiet times with Him.  Here is where the connecting point comes together.  As we spend private time with the Lord and gain mastery over the temptations in our lives, it will compel us to desire corporate worship with the body of Christ.  As we worship together it further strengthens us and encourages us to surrender to the Lordship of Christ Jesus and experience His deliverance over temptation in our lives—mastery of temptation.  Beloved, Satan desires to drive us away from our daily quiet times, as well as, our corporate worship times.  When we abandon these two aspects of our Christian walk, I can promise you it will not be long before you succumb to the temptations and walk the path of Cain.  Beloved, draw near to God and worship Him in private and corporate worship and allow His strength to be your strength.  Walk in the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ!

  1. How is your attendance in corporate worship?
  2. How is your involvement in daily private worship with the Lord?

Prayer: Father, You are the only One worthy of praise and adoration.  Spending time with You in private worship is the only thing that prevents me from falling prey to the temptations of this world.  Out of this private worship I am compelled to worship with my fellow brothers and sisters corporately.  May my worship be pleasing to You, my Lord and God.  Amen.

Monday, January 6, 2014

What Kind of Offering do You Presenting to God?

Scripture: Genesis 4:1-5  
Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, "I have gotten a manchild with the help of the LORD." Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.

Insights: In today’s world we no longer present offerings to the Lord in the form of animal sacrifice or produce gifts.  In modern day economy our finances exist in the form of money.  In today’s verses we observe the central truth regarding offerings to the Lord.  This truth regarding offerings is that the Lord requires our first fruits.  In other words, Abel gave of the firstlings of his flock; whereas, Cain just brought some produce and it was not the first and the best.  He kept those for himself.  Later in the Scriptures we learn God’s standard is a minimum of ten percent.  The word tithe literally means tenth.  Because of the grace gift the Lord gave to us through His death and resurrection, our tithe is the bear minimum of our offering to the Lord.  As a side note, this tithe comes off of the gross and not the net of our income.  There are a couple of things that amaze me about people and tithes.  One, is people do not give their tithes to the Lord, yet expect Him to bless them for the little leftover they do give to Him. Two, is the amount of ministry in which local churches are incapable of participating because of the lack of financial resources.  In other words, if every believer actually gave their tithe, then we would never have a financial crisis in the life of churches.  Unfortunately, the average “believer” only gives two percent to the Lord as a form of his/her tithe.  Obviously, two percent is not a tithe.  Let me encourage you, Beloved, to truly test the Lord in your finances this year and give your tithe to Him.  If you have been tithing regularly already, then let me encourage you to ask the Lord what kind of percentage increase the Lord would have you start giving to Him.  You will never out give the Lord!

  1. Are you tithing?
  2. Do you see the contradiction between blessing and disobedience to God’s command regard tithing?

Prayer: Father, You have told me to test You with my finances.  Let me see Your hand of provision as I obediently give to You my tithe of first fruits.  Amen.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Meaning of the Message: The Gospel is Jesus came to Die

Scripture: Matthew 2:11-12
After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

Insights: Today’s verses reveal the last aspect of the magi’s message.  Jesus was born for the purpose of dying for us.  Notice the three gifts the magi brought.  The first gift was that of gold.  Gold represents Jesus Kingly role He would one day have.  The second gift was frankincense.  Frankincense was a spice used by the priestly order as an aroma pleasing to the Lord.  So, the frankincense represents Jesus Priestly role He did fulfill as the intermediary between God and man.  The final gift was myrrh.  Myrrh was used in the embalming process by ancient Israel.  The myrrh represents Jesus death.  In other words, Jesus was born to die as a sacrificial Lamb for the sins of the world.  What an amazing Gift the Lord God gave to humanity.  Beloved, it is our job to tell the world about this unbelievable gift of grace.  We need to pray to the Lord that we would have boldness in proclaiming such truth to the world.  He needs to be exalted and lifted up and we must never forget why He came.  Even His birth points to His death.  What a beautiful picture of God’s grace and love.

  1. Have you received the sacrificial gift Jesus came to give to you?
  2. Does God’s plan ever overwhelm because of His unfailing love?

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your gift of salvation.  Thank You that Jesus came to die on our behalf.  You are glorious and good.  Thank You for the life You give to me.  Amen.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The How of the Message: The Gospel must be Sought After

Scripture: Matthew 2:8-10
And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him." After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

Insights: Today’s verses reveal another aspect of the magi’s message.  Notice they had seen the Christ Child’s star in the east and began their journey to Bethlehem. In other words, they sought after the Lord Jesus.  Now, I know it is true that no one seeks after the Lord.  He must be the One to draw on the hearts of men. After He begins the drawing process, however, it is man’s responsibility to search for Him.  Isaiah wrote it this way, “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near (55:6).”  The process begins with the Father and He is constantly drawing on our hearts.  We have the choice to pursue Him or our own agendas.  An obedient child of the King will pursue hard after Jesus.  Beloved, as we enter into this New Year, let us seek the Lord with all of our hearts, soul, mind and strength.  He is near and desires for us to call unto Him.  One of the ways we can draw near to Him and search for Him is through reading the Bible.  As you know we at FBCBG are reading through the Bible in a year in 2014.  If for some reason you fall behind, don’t worry.  Just pick up on whatever day we presently are reading and on those days you have a little extra time, then you can go back and get caught up.  The objective is to have a consistent daily quiet time with the Lord.

  1. Is the Lord drawing on your heart?
  2. Is there anything in your life preventing you from seeking after Him with all of who you are?
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your gift of salvation.  I pray that all who do not have a relationship with You will seek You while You may be found.  Let them call on You as their Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Where and When of the Message: The Gospel started in Bethlehem 2 Years Prior to the Magi

Scripture: Matthew 2:4-7
Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 'AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.'" Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.

Insights: Today’s verses also give us two more parts of the magi’s message for us to consider.  In many ways these two points are more factual in nature and less directive for our lives.  At the same time, however, there are life truths we can instill in our walk with the Lord. The first message of the magi answers the question where.  In other words, where did the gospel message originate?  The answer is Bethlehem.  Over this past month we have over and over again emphasized the sovereignty of God.  The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem also points to this divine reality because it fulfills Old Testament prophecy regarding the Christ Child.  The second message of the magi answers the question when.  In other words, when did the gospel message begin?  The answer is two years before the magi arrive on the scene.  We know this because Herod kills all the male children two years old and younger in accordance to the words he heard from the magi.  Secondly, when the magi arrive, Joseph, Mary and Jesus are living in a house.  If it had actually been on the day of His birth, then they would have gone to the stable.  Beloved, we can apply these historical facts to our lives.  Jesus does have a location each day in which He desires for us to serve Him.  Our job is to be pliable in His hands and obedient to His direction.  The same truth goes for the timing of our conversations with other people.  We need to make certain we know exactly when the Lord has ordained a time for us to speak and serve.  The way we know the answer to both of those questions in our lives is by spending time with the Lord daily in personal quiet times.  As we grow closer to Him we are better able to recognize His voice and promptings in our lives.  Today is the first day of the New Year.  We at FBCBG are reading through the Bible in one year.  What better way to begin hearing the Lord than starting today reading His Word.

  1. Where is the Lord asking you to serve Him today?
  2. When are you going to start your obedient service with Him?

Prayer: Father, You have a perfect time and place for my service to You.  Grant me the wisdom and discernment to know Your will in regards to my service to You.  Amen.