God’s Promise


Deuteronomy 13-15 (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  When we honor Him with our tithe, He blesses us beyond measure

We enjoy honoring our friends for their birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, new births, graduations – the list seems endless.  These celebrations are little respites for each of us from our day-to-day lives as we are honored with cards and gifts.  I love finding just the perfect gift for a friend, something that shows that I have taken time and effort to give honor.  When I run into a store for a birthday card, my husband knows it is anything but a run.  He settles back for a good 15-20 minute wait because I am compelled to find the perfect card to honor my friend.  In the same way, I always want to do my best to bring the most perfect gifts to the Lord to honor and celebrate Him.

@ Deuteronomy 14
“You must set aside a tithe of your crops—one-tenth of all the crops you harvest each year.  Bring this tithe to the designated place of worship—the place the Lord your God chooses for His name to be honored.” (22-23)  It just makes sense to give our tithe at the designated place where we worship as long as His name is honored there.  I would never take my gift for the friend I am honoring to someone else’s celebration or throw it up in the air and hope it lands somewhere useful.

In Malachi, God cursed the people for neglecting their tithe – help! – and instructed them, “’Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!’” (Mal3:10) What a promise!  We give our tithe at the storehouse where we’re being fed so that the storehouse, our church, is able to provide all that is needed for the work of the Lord, and in return we are abundantly blessed.  Well, I’ve tried it, I’ve tested it, and it works!

“Doing this will teach you always to fear the Lord your God.” (23)  Tithing doesn’t teach us to be afraid of the Lord, but this fear refers to reverence. Just like the gift for a friend, it is our opportunity to show honor and respect for the Lord.  A weekly or monthly tithe is a continual statement to the Lord that we honor Him with our provision, the thing that keeps food on the table and a roof over our head. Our provision is meaningful and needful to us, yet we honor Him with it.

“Now when the Lord your God blesses you with a good harvest…”  (24) And isn’t this the bottom line?  All that we have, our provision, is from His hand anyway.  Our tithe is our acknowledgment to Him that our income and resources come from His hand of blessing.

My tithe, my tenth, is a natural expression for me to show honor to the Lord. It is my continual gift to honor who He is to me and what He has done for me, and I could only bring it to a place of worship where I know He is honored and His work is carried out.  And believe me, in response to my giving, He has opened the windows of heaven for me and He has blessed!

Moving Forward:  Today I am assured more than ever that I just can’t out-give God.  He always seems to outdo me because that’s just the way He is. 

Tomorrow @ Ezra 1-5

I Peter 4-5 (NLT)

Discover His heart:  He will one day reward us with crowns for our faithfulness

“There she is, Miss America. There she is, your ideal……”  What little girl hasn’t dreamed of having that glittering crown placed on her head as she walks the aisle to begin her reign as Miss America.  There’s something about a crown that adds validity to a role.  One time I toured the Treasury of the former rulers of Austria, and let me say, those folks knew how to design a crown.  Extravagant crowns filled with large diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires were beautifully displayed, all behind glass and security.  No doubt the weight of each crown was excruciating, but don’t we love their beauty.  Well, one day we’ll see some crowns that could only be described as priceless. 

@ I Peter 5
“And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches…when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.” (1,4)  The life of a pastor is often difficult with few accolades, but Peter declared a crown of glory and honor that will last forever for those faithful pastors.  How do you put a price on that?

“After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! Yes, you are our pride and joy.” (I Thessalonians 2:19)  The crown of rejoicing will be given to those who have led others to the Lord, but I believe seeing them in heaven will be reward enough! Priceless!

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)  This is the crown that marks us as one who loves God, and this is the crown for which we have been waiting.  It is our identity, it is invaluable!

“And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8)  For those who are not tied to this world and its riches but looking for the return of Jesus, this crown of righteousness will be given.  More precious than gold!

These are the crowns we will receive from the Lord when He returns for us, and their worth puts all others since the beginning of time to shame.  However, I don’t think we will be displaying them in our heavenly homes or wearing them around heaven.  No, I believe we will follow the example of the 24 elders, “the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne.” (Revelation 4:10)

How could we not give to Him, the One who loves us most, our prized possessions, the treasures we value most?  With all of heaven we will sing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come… You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power.” (Revelation 4:8,11) 

Moving Forward: I’m looking for Him today, staying faithful to the end and bringing along as many as I can to heaven with me.  Hoping to adorn Him with many crowns! 

Tomorrow @ Deuteronomy 13-15

Haggai (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  His blessings follow our obedience to Him

Many books and movies tell the story of the farmer who plants the seed and then waits for the sun and the rain to bless his efforts and bring about a bountiful crop.  Because he has invested all he has on the seed, his investment is lost if the rain doesn’t come.  The drama of waiting for a dark cloud, even a small one, to form in the sky is heart-wrenching to watch, and sometimes the families are on edge as they struggle with what to do next.  Anytime a blessing from the Lord seems to be withheld from our lives, it gives cause to consider the reason.

“Look at what’s happening to you!  You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:  Look at what’s happening to you.” (Haggai 1:5-7)  The Israelites returned to Jerusalem with the specific instructions to rebuild the temple, but instead they built their homes and had not worked on the temple.

When life is not going well and our efforts seem in vain, it never hurts to examine what’s happening to us and make certain we are following His plan for us.  God’s love makes Him longsuffering, but He will do what is necessary to get our attention.  When the Israelites realized their disobedience, they turned to the Lord and His gracious response was, “I am with you, says the Lord!” (13)

A drought or dry season in our life may have nothing to do with our willfulness, but it may be a testing time to develop character and prepare us to be used by Him.  I’m sure the 40 years that Moses spent on the backside of the desert caused him to search his heart and question what was happening to him, but God was preparing him for great things.

When our efforts bring little reward and we feel that God’s blessing is not on them, it’s not time to blame Him or to resist Him.  It’s the perfect time to look at what’s happening to us and evaluate our situation.  Are we doing our best to follow His direction for us?  If so, we can be certain that He “causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)  His blessings will come in due time.

Our obedience to God will bring a promise to our lives like the one given to an obedient Israel after the foundation for the temple was laid, “Think carefully. I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you.”  (2:18-19)  Regardless of how it comes or when it comes, obedience brings the blessing of the Lord to our lives. 

Moving Forward: I am certain of His blessings in due time as I walk in obedience to Him. 

Tomorrow @ Acts 13-14

I Peter 1-3 (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  He rewards our belief in Him with the salvation of our soul

The thought of man flying through the air was a dream and imagination in the minds of many great thinkers a century ago.  Imagine one’s feet leaving the ground and soaring above the earth to destinations unknown.  The thought propelled man to draft and build models of what would one day become the airplane.  They believed.  They had never seen it, but they believed in it.

When I fly to somewhere in the world today, I don’t have to imagine the airplane.  It’s my reality.  Visionaries like Leonardo DaVinci and the Wright Brothers would be thrilled to see the realization of their dreams.  When men today speak of everyday families reaching into the galaxy through space travel, I wonder if this will one day be realized.  Help! 

@ I Peter 1
You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.  The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.  This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you.  They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.  They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.” (8-12)  Peter had a wonderful message for all those who believe in the risen Lord through the eyes of faith.  Even though we have not seen Him, we have received salvation!

We have received something that the Old Testament prophets only dreamed about as they prophesied about Jesus.  Well, Moses and Elijah had that little sneak peek on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 7:3); and then most believe that all the Old Testament saints met Him when He preached to them while in the tomb. (I Peter 3:19)  For the prophets, that must have been a glorious meeting – the airplane really does fly!

For 2,000 years the saints have been waiting for the ultimate flight when the trumpet sounds, “It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.” (I Corinthians 15:52)  Just as the early prophets believed in the promise of Christ, let’s be steadfast in our belief of the promise of eternal life in Heaven.  Let’s live each day with our ears tuned to the trumpet, our eyes looking for His glorious appearing and our hearts ready to break the sound barrier on our flight of a lifetime.  He’s coming soon.  I believe!

Moving Forward: I don’t know how long God will wait until He sends His Son to receive us, but what I do know is that I’m ready for the flight and doing my best to bring many others with me! 

Tomorrow @ Deuteronomy 10-12

James 4-5 (NLT)

Discover His heart: He has provided help for us to resist the devil

Dieting – the great American pastime, or is that baseball?  This is a subject I could write about all day – dieting that is, well, maybe baseball as well.  The Weight Loss industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and I’ve certainly added to its coffers.  My favorite weight loss program is the “eat all you want and still lose weight” approach.  It doesn’t work, but it’s still my favorite.  My husband thinks diet programs are a waste of time because he says that losing weight it is simply of matter of burning more calories than you eat. This is what he does, and it works.  I must admit, I really resent him for it.

Over the years, I’ve tried just about every angle to weight loss, and there is one thing that I know for certain.  We can resist that chocolate cake all day long, but if we’re not submitted and committed to a program, a prayer or a strait jacket, we’re eventually going to eat that chocolate cake. Forgive this trite analogy, but we need to know that there is more to resisting the devil than meets the eye.

@ James 4
“Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (7) Of course the Word is true, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” but the success of our resisting is far greater when we first submit ourselves to God. Sometimes we forget about the first part of the verse, but He is the one with the strategy to overcome. And sometimes we forget exactly who we’re resisting, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.” (I Peter 5:8-9)  Just like with the chocolate cake, on our own we may waver in our resistance, but surrendered and humbled before the Lord, the enemy is no match for us.

When a soldier reports for active duty, he has surrendered his personal goals and way of life all the way down to the uniform he wears.  God has provided a uniform of sorts for all who are submitted to him.  We will resist our enemy best when we are in our military dress, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil…Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.” (Ephesians 6:11-13)

If we truly want to resist the devil, it’s time to suit up. “Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:14-17)  Submitted to our leader and dressed in our armor, we won’t waver, we won’t give, and we’ll be all that we can be and then some.  Not only will we resist the devil, we’ll send him fleeing!

Moving Forward: I may have trouble with that chocolate cake, but I will submit to the Lord today, suit up, resist the enemy and see him take flight!

Tomorrow @ Deuteronomy 7-9

2 Chronicles 11-15 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He rewards those who seek Him and obey His commandments

As parents we’ve always been told that praises and rewards given to our children should outnumber our scolding and disciplines, and of course, this is worthy advice.  However, sometimes these precious little ones go through stages where we wait with great anticipation throughout the day for just one behavior or attitude to praise.  We don’t want to discourage our children with our constant disciplines.  We want them to know that we love them and that we’re on their side, and we look for every opportunity to bless them and reward their good behavior.  And we need to understand that God feels the same way about His children.

In our reading today, the kings of Judah gave God reason to bless them on occasion, and no doubt God was looking for every opportunity to bless His children.  They were His special treasure and He loved them, but just as with our children, He often had to wait for an opportunity to reward.  When Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, and his leaders humbled themselves while under Egypt’s attack, God did not allow Egypt to kill them.  He had been waiting for an opportunity to bless.  Unfortunately, Rehoboam’s moments of surrender to God were few and far between and so were his blessings.

Abijah, his son, experienced a great moment of God’s protection and blessing while under the attack by the northern tribes of Israel when he proclaimed, “But as for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not abandoned Him,” (13:10) and God gave them victory.  But, we learned in I Kings 15 that Abijah was most often unfaithful to the Lord.

The next king was Asa who did what was pleasing to the Lord for the first ten years of his reign.  He responded to the prophet Azariah and removed idol worship from Judah and repaired the altar of the Lord.  God was waiting to bless, and He wasn’t disappointed.

King Asa and the people of Judah entered a covenant with God to “seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul…They earnestly sought after God, and they found Him.  And the Lord gave them rest from their enemies on every side.” (15:12,15)  Hebrews offers this promise to us, “Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek him.”(11:6)

There’s something to be said about seeking to do what God is already blessing rather than only asking Him to bless what we are doing.  When our children act on our desire that their rooms are clean and orderly and go about cleaning them on their own volition, a reward and words of praise are pretty much a slam dunk.

Jesus gave us a heads up about what we can do that He is already blessing, “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him…God blesses those who mourn…God blesses those who are humble…God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice…God blesses those who are merciful…God blesses those whose hearts are pure…God blesses those who work for peace…God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right.” (Matthew 5:3-10)   Blessings to you as you sincerely seek Him!

Moving Forward:  I pray I’ll give Him plenty of opportunities to bless today. 

Tomorrow @ Psalms 117-118

Acts 1-2 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: He has promised us a gift, and He keeps His promises! 

The check is in the mail, the package is on its way or any similar promise will send us running to the mailbox each day until it arrives.  I was working on a project one time and needed additional resources so I contacted an individual with the information and heard the promise, “It’s in the mail.”  After several days, I realized that it wasn’t.  Quite upset by this, random thoughts flooded my mind about the possible hazards in starting one’s car or 1000 camels, but then who hasn’t failed at one time or another to keep a promise?  Well, the answer to that would be God – He always keeps His promises!

@Acts 1 – It’s in the mail!
“Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before.  John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (4)  Jesus reminded the disciples before He left for Heaven that the promised gift would soon arrive.  I think Luke, the writer of Acts, was the perfect believer to give to us the historical account of Pentecost and the early church.  As a doctor, his writing may not have been very legible to those who had to transcribe his words, but he sure did manage to present a methodical and descriptive accounting of the early church. He let readers know from the start that this baptism in the Holy Spirit was not some fluke.  It was promised by God, and it was expected!

Jesus went on to explain what this Holy Spirit baptism was all about, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”(8) Power!  The disciples would be receiving power, taken from the Greek word dunamis where we get our word dynamite.  I, for one, am hesitant to receive a gift of dynamite, but if it’s coming from the Holy Ghost, bring it on!  The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an explosive power, empowering us to be an unstoppable force, obliterating darkness around the world and spreading the light of the Gospel.  Have we used our dynamite power today? 

@Acts 2 – Promise Delivered!
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (1-4)  God’s promised gift was delivered!  The power of the Holy Spirit was the gift and speaking in other tongues was the evidence that the gift had been delivered, the Delivery Confirmation if you will.

The Holy Spirit plays so many roles in our life – convicter, comforter, counselor and teacher – just to name a few, but in Acts 2, He is our baptizer.  Has your Gift been delivered…with your Delivery Confirmation?

Moving Forward: I’m so thankful to have received God’s promised gift long ago, but I’m reminded that it’s not a gift to be placed on a shelf.  It’s a powerful gift to be used every day in sharing His Gospel. 

Tomorrow @ Hebrews 5-7

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