Category Archives: Giving

The Reward of Humility And The Fear Of The Lord

The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor, and life. Pause and ask the Spirit to guide you and speak to you as you read Proverbs today. May He open our eyes to the truth of God’s word and how it applies in our lives. May we be humble enough to identify and admit where we need to make changes.

Proverbs 22

On Life and Conduct

1A good name is to be more desired than great wealth,
Favor is better than silver and gold.

2The rich and the poor have a common bond,
The LORD is the maker of them all.

3The prudent sees the evil and hides himself,
But the naive go on, and are punished for it.

4The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD
Are riches, honor and life.

5Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse;
He who guards himself will be far from them.

6Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

7The rich rules over the poor,
And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.

8He who sows iniquity will reap vanity,
And the rod of his fury will perish.

9He who is generous will be blessed,
For he gives some of his food to the poor.

10Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out,
Even strife and dishonor will cease.

11He who loves purity of heart
And whose speech is gracious, the king is his friend.

12The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge,
But He overthrows the words of the treacherous man.

13The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside;
I will be killed in the streets!”

14The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit;
He who is cursed of the LORD will fall into it.

15Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.

16He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself
Or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

17Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise,
And apply your mind to my knowledge;

18For it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
That they may be ready on your lips.

19So that your trust may be in the LORD,
I have taught you today, even you.

20Have I not written to you excellent things
Of counsels and knowledge,

21To make you know the certainty of the words of truth
That you may correctly answer him who sent you?

22Do not rob the poor because he is poor,
Or crush the afflicted at the gate;

23For the LORD will plead their case
And take the life of those who rob them.

24Do not associate with a man given to anger;
Or go with a hot-tempered man,

25Or you will learn his ways
And find a snare for yourself.

26Do not be among those who give pledges,
Among those who become guarantors for debts.

27If you have nothing with which to pay,
Why should he take your bed from under you?

28Do not move the ancient boundary
Which your fathers have set.

29Do you see a man skilled in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before obscure men.

There is much wisdom, much treasure, in Proverbs. Read it slowly and carefully. Reflect on how each part applies in your life and the lives of others around you. Pray for insight and help to make necessary changes in your life to come more in line with God’s wisdom and advice rather than “how you have always done things” or “how the world does things” or what is “normal”.

Only God is truly wise, so let us listen and obey.

—-

Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Every Man’s Way is Right in His Own Eyes

Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the daily events in our world or locality. We can be overwhelmed thinking about all the things that can go wrong and are going wrong… about the wickedness and evil… about those who claim the name of Jesus Christ but do not submit to and follow Him with their lives.

I find it encouraging as I think about such things to remember that even kings and rulers are in the hand of YHWH and can be used by Him. He is ultimately in control and we can trust Him. Rather than allow ourselves to be paralyzed with fear of what may happen to us or our brothers and sisters in Christ, let us reflect on what God wants from us. God wants us to obey His commands, demonstrating righteousness and justice. He wants us to love Him with our whole heart and if we do… we will follow His commands and not consider them a burden, but rather a helpful guide to lead us through our life on this earth.

As you read through Proverbs today, do not hurry, but rather dwell for a moment on each verse, thinking about how it applies today and to your life. Every verse still has wisdom to help us if we study it and apply it.

Proverbs 21

On Life and Conduct

      1The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD;
He turns it wherever He wishes.

      2Every man’s way is right in his own eyes,
But the LORD weighs the hearts.

      3To do righteousness and justice
Is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice.

      4Haughty eyes and a proud heart,
The lamp of the wicked, is sin.

      5The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage,
But everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.

      6The acquisition of treasures by a lying tongue
Is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death.

      7The violence of the wicked will drag them away,
Because they refuse to act with justice.

      8The way of a guilty man is crooked,
But as for the pure, his conduct is upright.

      9It is better to live in a corner of a roof
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.

      10The soul of the wicked desires evil;
His neighbor finds no favor in his eyes.

      11When the scoffer is punished, the naive becomes wise;
But when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge.

      12The righteous one considers the house of the wicked,
Turning the wicked to ruin.

      13He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor
Will also cry himself and not be answered.

      14A gift in secret subdues anger,
And a bribe in the bosom, strong wrath.

      15The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous,
But is terror to the workers of iniquity.

      16A man who wanders from the way of understanding
Will rest in the assembly of the dead.

      17He who loves pleasure will become a poor man;
He who loves wine and oil will not become rich.

      18The wicked is a ransom for the righteous,
And the treacherous is in the place of the upright.

      19It is better to live in a desert land
Than with a contentious and vexing woman.

      20There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man swallows it up.

      21He who pursues righteousness and loyalty
Finds life, righteousness and honor.

      22A wise man scales the city of the mighty
And brings down the stronghold in which they trust.

      23He who guards his mouth and his tongue,
Guards his soul from troubles.

      24“Proud,” “Haughty,” “Scoffer,” are his names,
Who acts with insolent pride.

      25The desire of the sluggard puts him to death,
For his hands refuse to work;

      26All day long he is craving,
While the righteous gives and does not hold back.

      27The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination,
How much more when he brings it with evil intent!

      28A false witness will perish,
But the man who listens to the truth will speak forever.

      29A wicked man displays a bold face,
But as for the upright, he makes his way sure.

      30There is no wisdom and no understanding
And no counsel against the LORD.

      31The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
But victory belongs to the LORD.

—-

Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Contrast the Upright and the Wicked…Again!

YHWH has a lot to say about righteousness and wickedness. We should listen carefully, ask for His help and turn from wickedness and toward righteousness.

Proverbs 11

Contrast the Upright and the Wicked

1A false balance is an abomination to the LORD,
But a just weight is His delight.

2When pride comes, then comes dishonor,
But with the humble is wisdom.

3The integrity of the upright will guide them,
But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.

4Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
But righteousness delivers from death.

5The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.

6The righteousness of the upright will deliver them,
But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed.

7When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish,
And the hope of strong men perishes.

8The righteous is delivered from trouble,
But the wicked takes his place.

9With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor,
But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.

10When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,
And when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting.

11By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
But by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.

12He who despises his neighbor lacks sense,
But a man of understanding keeps silent.

13He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets,
But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.

14Where there is no guidance the people fall,
But in abundance of counselors there is victory.

15He who is guarantor for a stranger will surely suffer for it,
But he who hates being a guarantor is secure.

16A gracious woman attains honor,
And ruthless men attain riches.

17The merciful man does himself good,
But the cruel man does himself harm.

18The wicked earns deceptive wages,
But he who sows righteousness gets a true reward.

19He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life,
And he who pursues evil will bring about his own death.

20The perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD,
But the blameless in their walk are His delight.

21Assuredly, the evil man will not go unpunished,
But the descendants of the righteous will be delivered.

22As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout
So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion.

23The desire of the righteous is only good,
But the expectation of the wicked is wrath.

24There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more,
And there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.

25The generous man will be prosperous,
And he who waters will himself be watered.

26He who withholds grain, the people will curse him,
But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.

27He who diligently seeks good seeks favor,
But he who seeks evil, evil will come to him.

28He who trusts in his riches will fall,
But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.

29He who troubles his own house will inherit wind,
And the foolish will be servant to the wisehearted.

30The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who is wise wins souls.

31If the righteous will be rewarded in the earth,
How much more the wicked and the sinner!

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

How We Approach the Needs of Others Matters

Contrast the response to David’s request by Nabal and by his wife, Abigail. It is clear which is pleasing to the LORD. The LORD’s anointing was on David and his men had acted honorably and been helpful to Nabal’s servants. Nabal reacted with selfishness and arrogance and spurned them. Abigail interceded with grace and wisdom and a servant’s heart.

Let us reflect personally on how we respond to situations like this in our lives, even if they are not quite so dramatic as 400 armed men coming to get supplies from us. People around us do have needs. We should pray and ask the LORD to give us the right attitude.

1 Samuel 25:2-38

Nabal and Abigail

      2Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel; and the man was very rich, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And it came about while he was shearing his sheep in Carmel 3(now the man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name was Abigail. And the woman was intelligent and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings, and he was a Calebite), 4that David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. 5So David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, visit Nabal and greet him in my name; 6and thus you shall say, ‘Have a long life, peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. 7‘Now I have heard that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us and we have not insulted them, nor have they missed anything all the days they were in Carmel. 8‘Ask your young men and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we have come on a festive day. Please give whatever you find at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”

      9When David’s young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all these words in David’s name; then they waited. 10But Nabal answered David’s servants and said, “Who is David? And who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are each breaking away from his master. 11“Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men whose origin I do not know?” 12So David’s young men retraced their way and went back; and they came and told him according to all these words. 13David said to his men, “Each of you gird on his sword.” So each man girded on his sword. And David also girded on his sword, and about four hundred men went up behind David while two hundred stayed with the baggage.

      14But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, “Behold, David sent messengers from the wilderness to greet our master, and he scorned them. 15“Yet the men were very good to us, and we were not insulted, nor did we miss anything as long as we went about with them, while we were in the fields. 16“They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the time we were with them tending the sheep. 17“Now therefore, know and consider what you should do, for evil is plotted against our master and against all his household; and he is such a worthless man that no one can speak to him.”

Abigail Intercedes

      18Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves of bread and two jugs of wine and five sheep already prepared and five measures of roasted grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19She said to her young men, “Go on before me; behold, I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. 20It came about as she was riding on her donkey and coming down by the hidden part of the mountain, that behold, David and his men were coming down toward her; so she met them. 21Now David had said, “Surely in vain I have guarded all that this man has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him; and he has returned me evil for good. 22“May God do so to the enemies of David, and more also, if by morning I leave as much as one male of any who belong to him.”

      23When Abigail saw David, she hurried and dismounted from her donkey, and fell on her face before David and bowed herself to the ground. 24She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the blame. And please let your maidservant speak to you, and listen to the words of your maidservant. 25“Please do not let my lord pay attention to this worthless man, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name and folly is with him; but I your maidservant did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent.

      26“Now therefore, my lord, as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, since the LORD has restrained you from shedding blood, and from avenging yourself by your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek evil against my lord, be as Nabal. 27“Now let this gift which your maidservant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who accompany my lord. 28“Please forgive the transgression of your maidservant; for the LORD will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil will not be found in you all your days. 29“Should anyone rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, then the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living with the LORD your God; but the lives of your enemies He will sling out as from the hollow of a sling. 30“And when the LORD does for my lord according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you, and appoints you ruler over Israel, 31this will not cause grief or a troubled heart to my lord, both by having shed blood without cause and by my lord having avenged himself. When the LORD deals well with my lord, then remember your maidservant.”

      32Then David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, 33and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand. 34“Nevertheless, as the LORD God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from harming you, unless you had come quickly to meet me, surely there would not have been left to Nabal until the morning light as much as one male.” 35So David received from her hand what she had brought him and said to her, “Go up to your house in peace. See, I have listened to you and granted your request.”

      36Then Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk; so she did not tell him anything at all until the morning light. 37But in the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him so that he became as a stone. 38About ten days later, the LORD struck Nabal and he died.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Avoid The Christmas Hangover – Spending, Debt, and Stress

Christmas is a holiday with many competing areas of focus. Some manage to stay focused on the Lord, but there are many distractions. Some focus on family, but one can easily get caught up in a month long stress about the “perfect holiday” and “who is or is not coming” and “do we have the perfect gifts for everyone”,  etc. I have seen people who strive to genuinely follow Jesus yield a month of every year to stress associated with the Christmas holiday.

Others get lost in debt, convinced by marketing and our culture that to celebrate Christmas requires spending lots of money, often money they don’t have. For the record, even “good sales” cost you money unless you were going to buy that item anyway. It costs even more if you buy other stuff along with the thing that was on sale. That is why the companies selling you things run the sales… to make money, not to save you money! Often this debt creates stress that lasts for months after Christmas is over as the credit card bills roll in.

Rather than waiting for that after Christmas “hangover” to set in along with the credit card bills and extra 5 pounds you put on by eating too much… consider challenging some of the holiday cultural norms.

1- Reduce the number of people for whom you buy gifts.

Buying gifts for everyone you know is not necessary. Instead of buying gifts out of obligation for many with whom you are not close, just make a point to be nice to them all year round. Treat them with kindness and sensitivity and they will know you care for them even if you do not give them a gift. If they only like you when they receive a gift, then they are not really your friend anyway. If you are concerned they will buy for you and you will not have something for them, just have a real conversation with them about managing your expenses and budget responsibly and encourage them not to give something to you. If they are not close enough to you to have this conversation, then why are you even exchanging gifts with them? In some cases, it may be very important to someone close to you to exchange gifts… go ahead if you want to.

2- Reduce how much you spend on each person

Contrary to advertising… you do not need to buy a car, a diamond, gold jewelry, expensive electronics, etc. for people just because it is Christmas. If you don’t show them you love them throughout the year, you will not fool them with an expensive gift in December. For those with whom you want to give or exchange presents, you can set a reasonable budget for each person and then stick to it. This helps you set your overall Christmas budget in a predictable instead of impulsive way.

3- Save up your budget in advance and avoid credit cards you can not pay back before you have to pay interest.

Once you decide who you will get gifts for and how much to spend, you have a good estimate for your budget planning. Now divide by 11 and start saving it each month starting in January and continuing through November. Inevitably you will still have surprise expenses in December from the season’s activities, so you don’t plan on taking money for gifts from that months budget.

4- You can even consider replacing your current gift exchange traditions with a donation to a charity or family in need… someone you can give to in God’s name with no hope of receiving a gift in return. You will spend less money and honor God more.

If you find yourself condemning me as “Grinch”… I do not mind. You are not alone, but you are in fact also not correct. If Christmas is all about giving and getting gifts as the centerpiece and focus, then it has nothing to do with Jesus Christ and is simply a pagan festival where people want to get a lot of expensive stuff from each other. I wholeheartedly and enthusiastically reject giving (and receiving) gifts on the basis of obligation.

The alternative is to recognize that gifts are intended not as the focus, but as a means of showing those closest to us that we were thinking of them. That does not require spending lots of money, despite what our culture would have us believe. Besides, you can  give gifts to those you love any time during the year. You do not need Christmas as an excuse to give a present.

Many tell us that giving gifts is a tradition originated to honor God’s gift to us in the birth of Jesus Christ or because of the acts of the real man who came to be known as Saint Nicholas. Though many give with this in mind, the fact is that this is not the accurate origin of gift exchange. In fact gift giving to children in late December did not start with Christian origins, but rather as part of a pagan celebration of the sun god, Saturnalia, in ancient Rome. It is easy to research for yourself… even in Christian history encyclopedias such as by Zondervan.

Let’s explore the gift giving tradition further and test if it is even consistent with celebrating Jesus’ birth according to the principles of the Biblical record of that glorious event. Does this tradition point to or honor God, or is it just a tradition of men and a potential distraction from God?

Mary and Joseph did not get gifts for one another or even for Jesus and they knew who He was and that He would be born soon. The shepherds came to celebrate and honor God. They did what they were commanded by God to do… which did not involve bringing gifts. The wise men did not even come when Jesus was born… contrary to common tradition.  Scripture tells us they came and found Jesus in a house, not a manger. Herod killed all the male children two years and younger… not a week and younger, or even a few months and younger. It was likely they arrived over a year after Jesus was born. When they did come, they brought gifts to honor God. They did not exchange gifts with each other, nor did they expect to receive gifts in return from Joseph and Mary. I should not fail to mention that God came down as Jesus to die for us and while this is a great gift, He expects no gift from us in return.

So if you really want to focus on giving gifts to honor Christian traditions… give in a way that honors God to those who will not be able to give anything in return and convince others to do the same. You will honor God more, find more joy instead of stress, and spend less.

If suggestion number 4 seems overwhelming… start with suggestions number 1-3. The less focus you put on gift exchange, the more focus you will find is available to consider God’s gift to us in the person of Jesus Christ. You will have more time and less stress to enjoy the holidays and hopefully you will not have the Christmas “hangover” in January.

—-

Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

We Will Be Held To Account If We Misuse Our Wealth

James is clearly rebuking the rich who have misused their wealth in James 5. He is not condemning every person with money. Note the clear indication that he is speaking to someone who was dishonest and did not pay what he owed, someone who was focused on their own pleasure above other people, who put to death the righteous. This is not true of all rich people by any stretch of the imagination. Abraham is one quick example of a man held in esteem for his faith and he was wealthy. Job was another.

James 5

Misuse of Riches

      1Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. 2Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! 4Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 5You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.

We will be held to account for how we use what gifts YHWH provides to us, whether they are time, talent, or money. We do not have to give up all our money either. Quite the contrary, for those who have wealth, they have opportunity to help others with it, even if just to provide jobs and pay… it is not always about just giving it away.

Another thought to remember… a lot of people judge if they are wealthy or poor by comparison to others around them. However, in countries like the USA, compared to much of the world and historically speaking, almost all of us are wealthy. We have plentiful food, clean water, shelter… even TVs and smartphones. Do not be quick to dismiss the message in James 5 assuming it applies to those who are richer than yourself.  It applies to most of us, even if we don’t feel rich compared to “the other guy” who has a bigger house and fancier car.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Guidance Within The Church Regarding Widows

1 Timothy 5 is a very interesting passage. Paul lays out some specific instructions to help guide Timothy in his ministry leading a church body. He makes some distinctions that we do not often make in our society today. We do well to truly reflect on this passage and let it guide our behavior and focus as a church.

One interesting distinction is that he does not refer to all widows as one group with the same guidance for all. He separates it based on age, based on behavior and attitude. He suggests the church body should be focused on helping those who truly don’t have family to care for them. He also rather firmly asserts ” 8But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

1 Timothy 5:1-16

     1Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.

      3Honor widows who are widows indeed; 4but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God. 5Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day. 6But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach. 8But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

      9A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, 10having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work. 11But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, 12thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge. 13At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. 14Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15for some have already turned aside to follow Satan. 16If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed.

I think the guidance is good that is given in regards to treating elders as if father or mother when giving a rebuke, younger folks like brother and sister. This perhaps helps us limit the condemnation in our rebuke and focus our help as offered in love. The rebuke is still applied, but in a more gentle and loving way.

It is a good reminder that even the pagans take care of their own household. We are failing in our faith if we don’t take care of ours. We should not rely on the church body to care for our own household. In this way the church body can focus on those who are truly alone and without support.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Give To YHWH What Is His And Follow His Commandments

Let us remember to give to YHWH what is His and to follow His commandments faithfully and joyfully. This includes giving Him our first and finest of whatever harvest we may bring in. (That applies for us non-farmers also!) This is a way of showing our love and thanksgiving to Him for all He provides.

Deuteronomy 26

Offering First Fruits

      1“Then it shall be, when you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance, and you possess it and live in it, 2that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground which you bring in from your land that the LORD your God gives you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name. 3“You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time and say to him, ‘I declare this day to the LORD my God that I have entered the land which the LORD swore to our fathers to give us.’ 4“Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the LORD your God. 5“You shall answer and say before the LORD your God, ‘My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; but there he became a great, mighty and populous nation. 6‘And the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, and imposed hard labor on us. 7‘Then we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction and our toil and our oppression; 8and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror and with signs and wonders; 9and He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.10‘Now behold, I have brought the first of the produce of the ground which You, O LORD have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God; 11and you and the Levite and the alien who is among you shall rejoice in all the good which the LORD your God has given you and your household.

      12“When you have finished paying all the tithe of your increase in the third year, the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the stranger, to the orphan and to the widow, that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. 13“You shall say before the LORD your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion from my house, and also have given it to the Levite and the alien, the orphan and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed or forgotten any of Your commandments. 14‘I have not eaten of it while mourning, nor have I removed any of it while I was unclean, nor offered any of it to the dead. I have listened to the voice of the LORD my God; I have done according to all that You have commanded me. 15‘Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel, and the ground which You have given us, a land flowing with milk and honey, as You swore to our fathers.’

      16“This day the LORD your God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul. 17“You have today declared the LORD to be your God, and that you would walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments and His ordinances, and listen to His voice. 18“The LORD has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments; 19and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honor; and that you shall be a consecrated people to the LORD your God, as He has spoken.”

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Claim Your Inheritance

The more I study the Torah (1st five books of the Bible), the more I come to realize that YWHW was really trying to emphasize the importance of His instructions to the people. He repeats Himself to generations of Hebrews, which we now experience if we read and study the Torah. It was important enough to mention over and over again. He wanted to make sure we understand and do not ignore it or forget it.

Deuteronomy is one of those sections of scripture. It reminds us of YHWH’s intent for the Levites to be focused on Him and not working their own land or flocks or herds. He was their portion… their inheritance. He provided means for them to be provided for by the rest of the tribes.

I am not going to propose that the Levitical priesthood is replaced by missionaries and pastors today. However, it is not a stretch to conclude that the Lord would approve of our supporting those who set aside their lives to teach others about Him. However, we do need to take care. We are warned in many places, though not in Deuteronomy 18, beware of false prophets or wolves in sheep’s clothing. There are many teachers that teach a false doctrine, whether or not they realize it. The Lord does not want us supporting them but rather avoiding them and rejecting them. There is no way around it… we are each accountable to read and study the Bible so as to test those who preach and teach and minister in the name of our Lord.

Deuteronomy 18:1-8

Portion of the Levites

      1“The Levitical priests, the whole tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the LORD’S offerings by fire and His portion. 2“They shall have no inheritance among their countrymen; the LORD is their inheritance, as He promised them.

      3“Now this shall be the priests’ due from the people, from those who offer a sacrifice, either an ox or a sheep, of which they shall give to the priest the shoulder and the two cheeks and the stomach. 4“You shall give him the first fruits of your grain, your new wine, and your oil, and the first shearing of your sheep. 5“For the LORD your God has chosen him and his sons from all your tribes, to stand and serve in the name of the LORD forever.

      6“Now if a Levite comes from any of your towns throughout Israel where he resides, and comes whenever he desires to the place which the LORDchooses, 7then he shall serve in the name of the LORD his God, like all his fellow Levites who stand there before the LORD8“They shall eat equal portions, except what they receive from the sale of their fathers’ estates.

As a perhaps deeper point of reflection, we should also consider that YHWH considered Himself to be the inheritance or portion for the Levites. He was not “shorting” them or giving them a “raw deal”. Rather, they got the best of it. They were invited to serve YHWH full time and He provided for their needs.

We should not overlook that we are now all invited to have a direct relationship with YHWH thanks to Yeshua. Do not miss the opportunity to claim that portion and inheritance for you in your life just because you are pursuing business and other affairs. You will truly be missing out on a glorious invitation from our Creator to personal relationship with Him.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Characteristics of Worthy Men and Women

Neither a husband nor a wife can truly be evaluated as “great” or “worthy” by simply looking at their “careers” or “accomplishments” without first considering what kind of husband or wife they are and what kind of father or mother they are if they have children. How do they treat the poor and needy?

These are elements that must be valued far more than just another independent person who accomplishes much in the eyes of the world, but in they eyes of YHWH neglects their responsibilities for the family. Men may celebrate worldly accomplishments, but YHWH looks to see if we took care of our primary responsibilities to Him and to our family first.

Proverbs 31 is often quoted for its description of a worthy woman, but there is solid guidance for men as well in the first part which describes the advice of a mother to her son. Don’t dismiss these things as outdated because they are addressed to people thousands of years ago. Neither human nature nor YHWH have changed.   Rather consider how to update and apply the concepts in our lives today.

Proverbs 31

The Words of Lemuel

       1The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him:

      2What, O my son?
And what, O son of my womb?
And what, O son of my vows?

      3Do not give your strength to women,
Or your ways to that which destroys kings.

      4It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
It is not for kings to drink wine,
Or for rulers to desire strong drink,

      5For they will drink and forget what is decreed,
And pervert the rights of all the afflicted.

      6Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to him whose life is bitter.

      7Let him drink and forget his poverty
And remember his trouble no more.

      8Open your mouth for the mute,
For the rights of all the unfortunate.

      9Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.

Description of a Worthy Woman

     10An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.

      11The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.

      12She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.

      13She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.

      14She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.

      15She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.

      16She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.

      17She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.

      18She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.

      19She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.

      20She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.

      21She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.

      22She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.

      23Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.

      24She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.

      25Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.

      26She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

      27She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.

      28Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:

      29“Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”

      30Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

      31Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.

There is one more perspective through which we should consider these verses. For a man, consider if you measure up to the advice given to Lemuel. For a woman, consider how you measure up to the description of a “worthy woman”.  Take this as an opportunity to pray and reflect on whether there are any changes you should make in your life. Discuss it and pray over it with your spouse if you are married.

Do not submit to the world’s definition of greatness, but rather that of YHWH. Consider also how Yeshua described greatness.

Matthew 23:10-11

10“Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11“But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.