‘Far be it from us’ Joshua 24.16 VOTD

“The people responded, ‘Far be it from us to abandon the Lord so we can worship other gods!'”

Joshua 24.16

At the end of his work, Joshua urges the people to reject idolatry and serve only the Lord. The people’s confidence in their affirmation did not always translate into coherent action.

Israel’s response reminds one of Peter’s declaration to never deny the Lord. How could both have improved their responses?

#VOTD #confidence #action

Perspectives on Giving

King David declared, to a very generous Jebusite who was willing to give him everything he needed to sacrifice to God – “‘No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing.’ So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver” (II Sam. 24:24).

Although studying this context would be productive, our attention in this lesson will instead be directed to the concept of giving and various perspectives toward it. David, although he had sinned recently, here displayed an excellent attitude about giving to His God. However, for every person who has a proper attitude on giving, there are countless others who cling to inappropriate views.

If we slightly modify David’s statement to generalize the focus upon giving to God in general (as opposed to giving a burnt offering), it would read: “I will not give to the Lord that which costs me nothing.” If we then break that statement apart, we can see four unique perspectives on giving. The first three are not proper, but the fourth most certainly is. Let us consider each perspective at this time.

1. I WILL NOT GIVE…
This is the perspective of the individual who loves himself and himself only. He will not give to anyone (whether mortal or divine). Such an individual fails to realize the benefits of giving to others. Indeed,”it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). People of this sort are dead inside, even while they live, for they lack compassion and wisdom, trusting in their money and possessions (cf. I Tim. 6:17).

2. I WILL NOT GIVE TO THE LORD…
This is the perspective of the individual who is an unbeliever. He may happily give to secular charities and to the less fortunate. However, such a one will not give a cent to the Lord or His church. He sees no purpose in giving to God. He fails to realize the source of every blessing he enjoys (cf. James 1:17). He does not fathom the countless blessings the heavenly Father has showered upon him (including His patient waiting for this man to develop faith and come to repentance!).

3. I WILL NOT GIVE TO THE LORD THAT WHICH COSTS ME…
This is the perspective of the individual who believes that one should give to God, but not too much! From his view there are numerous priorities that must come first (in fact, pretty much everything else comes first before the God he claims to love). His money will be devoted to his needs (food, clothing, shelter) and wants (hobbies, entertainment, recreation, etc.). He’ll spend big bucks on vacations and vehicles and even save gobs of money for retirement (or a “rainy day”), and will take what little is left over and give it–a trifle sum–to the Lord. He would not give anything to God if it weren’t for a sense of duty that troubles his selfish heart from time to time. He knows that he is supposed to give (even though it pains him to even give a small percentage of his earnings). This type of person may attempt to justify himself by claiming: “I don’t like the way the church uses its money, so I’m not going to give very much.”

4. I WILL NOT GIVE TO THE LORD THAT WHICH COSTS ME NOTHING.
This is the perspective of the individual who loves God, like David did. This person is not perfect (David certainly wasn’t), but he does understand where his blessings (including forgiveness) come from and he cheerfully gives freely to the Lord and to those in need. He takes Paul’s words to heart in II Corinthians 9:6-8 – “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” Liberal givers who truly trust in God to provide for them will not be hindered by the thought that they might give “too much” and then wind up in need themselves. They, unlike many who are only partially committed to God, refuse to give anything but their best to God, even financially. They will not offer God their “leftovers,” so to speak. They give to God first and sacrificially, knowing that the Lord will take care of them. They deny themselves things they want, knowing there is a better use of the funds God has entrusted into their stewardship. Such a giver will not allow others to “pay his way.” His faith and discipleship are real, and he proves it by his gifts to Almighty God.

Dear friends, what about you? To which perspective do you subscribe? Take a look at where your money has gone within the past year (by percentage) and you’ll have your answer. May we adopt the attitude of the man after God’s own heart when it comes to giving!

A difficulty that needs to be addressed

Reflect on Proverbs 18:19 for a moment or two. As you look at the three translations below, it is easy to see that each version conveys the same idea. To separate oneself from another by thought, words and/or actions makes for a difficulty that must be addressed.

The KJV read, A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle. The ESV reads, A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle. The NET reads, A relative offended is harder to reach than a strong city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a fortified citadel.

What does the word “offended” mean? We are not to understand the word to mean “What she said offended me!”  Instead, what is in view is something much different. One Hebrew scholar used the word “wounded” in this context. A wounded person is one who had been attacked. Another scholar gave this sense, “The proverb is talking about changing a friend into an enemy by abuse” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary-Revised). Continue reading

#offense, #sin, #unity

Snails Kill Thousands

When we consider deadly animals, we normally think about venomous snakes, ferocious sharks, crocodiles, or bears. You might be surprised to learn that the animals or organisms most deadly to humans don’t match our mental picture of dangerous creatures. The creature that kills the most humans per year (between 750,000-1,000,000) is the lowly mosquito. Because of the various diseases it spreads, such as malaria, mosquitoes are the animal kingdom’s leading human killers. Another creature that has proven to be extremely deadly is the harmless looking freshwater snail. Read >>

Eve not excused for being deceived

After Adam and Eve sinned, the Lord came looking for them in the garden. In his conversation with the two, he asked Eve what she had done. She tried blaming the serpent.

“Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate'” Gen 3.13 NIV.

It is notable here that Eve was not excused for being deceived. She had been given a clear commandment. Her conversation with the serpent showed that she understood the commandment. No one twisted her arm. She let herself be deceived.

She allowed the conversation with the serpent to lead her away from the word of God. Continue reading

‘Wandered away’ 1 Timothy 5.14-15 VOTD

“So I want younger women to marry, raise children, and manage a household, in order to give the adversary no opportunity to vilify us. For some have already wandered away to follow Satan.”

1 Timothy 5.14-15

The apostle Paul considered laziness and gossip two severe sins that ruined examples.

Fulfilling well our God-given roles brings glory to his name.

#VOTD #Satan #sin

What does the Bible say about hope

By Douglas M. Williams Sr.

“For we are saved by hope, but hope that is seen is not hope: for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24-25). Colossians 1:27 “…Christ is in you, the hope of glory.”

The Bible speaks of the “hope of eternal life” (Titus 1:2; 3:7). We can look “for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

Our hope is “an anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). And 2 Peter 1:3-4 reads, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.”

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

“And now abideth faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Hope is the moving force behind our activities. Sophocles stated, “It is hope which maintains most of mankind.” Our world is one of hope! Martin Luther said, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” The Bible says, “he that ploweth should plow in hope; and he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope” (1 Corinthians 9:10).

Hope of a crop encourages the farmer to drive the plow; hope of victory urgest the soldier to fight; hope of winning makes the athlete run; and hope of the incorruptible crown inspires the child of God to run in the race of life (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

Our hope is in God, and it is powerful! Our hope is obtained from the scriptures (Romans 15:4), and as long as there is life, there is hope. Our greatest hope is for eternal life in heaven. No matter how many times we lose in this life, we can look forward to eternal life where we win and never lose.

#bible-study