“Is God First?”

Is God first?

Haggai 1 & 2 Today, a refrain is heard: I have bills to pay, and whatever is leftover, I may give to the church. But, God is clear; your thinking is backward!  “Bring the entire tithe into the storehouse; Test me and see if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing for you until there is no room for it all.” [Mal 3 author’s paraphrase] The point being: when we put God first, He blesses, and as the Israelites were experiencing, the reverse is also true. Is it any wonder then that Haggai came to the people and rebuked them for wrong priorities?  Was it right for them to live luxuriously while the house of the Lord lay in ruins? Then he asked them to consider their priorities.

Haggai’s message was convicting! The people turned and put God first, and then God did just as Malachi said. Their crops rebounded, and their pocketbooks were replenished. God is clear: if I am first, I will be with you, and I will bless you.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” [Matt 6]

Is church and giving to the work of the Lord on the bottom of your list?

Where is God in your priority list?    

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Earthly Stones vs. Living Stones

1Kings 6 Peter uses the word picture of living stones for people building the “living church.” The Temple used manual labor. We, as “living stones,” are building the living church using the ‘manual’ labor of scripture reading, witnessing, and prayer. 

Hiram willingly assisted Solomon all because David had laid the foundation of a lasting friendship. What lasting friendships have we cultivated?

In Exodus, we saw how the people gave willingly to build the Tabernacle. Here in this passage, we read that David had accumulated the necessary materials to build the Temple. Are we giving voluntarily to build the living church?

 The Temple used stones from under the earth. Believers are “living stones” on the earth to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” [1Pet 2]

God led, but men did the work, all under the leading of the Holy Spirit.  God directs our work and records it in our Book of Life—if our name is there! It is only there if we have accepted Jesus as Savior. One day, the books will reveal what is in those books.

Are you ready to hear what the Book has under your name?

 Time is fleeting. Will your works be wood, hay and stubble or gold, silver, and precious stones?

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Are you a fool like Nabal?

1Samuel 25 to 28 Today’s COVID-19 is yesterday’s Nabal’s. Today many who go to the market but find the shelves bare and the person in front of you has the last package of toilet paper. Tempers rise, and the next thing you witness is a free-for-all in words and actions.  This is Nabal to a ‘t.’

Sometimes God sets out to protect his own even when they don’t think they need it. While David is caring for Nabal’s sheep, the fool Nabal cares only for his roll of ‘tp.’ He is a fool and selfish.  Nabal refuses to bless David for caring for his sheep.  When David’s men return with a ‘no’ answer, he makes a rash vow to rid the planet of Nabal just because he wouldn’t share. That is when God steps in sends in His cavalry in the most unexpected form: Abigail, who is “wise and beautiful.” She had planned for such a time as this and quickly prepared dinner for David and his men. While David is grumbling about Nabal, God is preparing a feast to humble him. It was Abigail’s plea that opened his eyes. 

 Back home, Nabal is feasting on his foolish response. But, God did not forget, and Abigail wisely said nothing until Nabal was sober. In the morning, Abigail tells Nabal that she provided dinner for David and his crew. Like Eli, Nabal had a stroke; dying ten days later. He had plenty to share, but it was his wife that got the glory.

There are lessons for us: share while you have plenty, be careful of your words; you may have to eat them. God uses the most unexpected person or persons to humble us when we fail to consult him.

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Meeting Needs of Others

Deut 23 love your neighbor2aDeut 23 “Be Creative as you Love Your Neighbor.”

Both Moses and Jesus taught us that we are to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and secondly, love your neighbor as yourself. Paul taught the Thessalonians that same principle; meet the needs of those who are your brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. God’s provision for ancient Israel was that if one became hungry while walking to the next destination, you were allowed to enter a neighbor’s grain field and pluck some kernels to eat, but not to collect the grain for another time. Jesus and the disciples followed that principle,  but the Pharisees had added to that principle by saying even if hungry, you cannot do that for it is work on the Sabbath.

Today in our fast food society we drive from place to place. We wait in drive-up lanes, not walk through a grain field. So how can we apply the principle today? We continue to have open hearts and eyes to the needs around us remembering the words of Jesus: “And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, I tell you the truth, he will never lose his reward.” [Mat 10:42 ] After we have filled our plates, why not purchase an extra dinner for someone behind you in the drive-up lane? Or a cup of coffee?

Be creative today as you go about your busyness. Stop and look where God might be working, and you can be His servant.

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