What Good Can I Do Today?

Our greatest blessing is for our household to live our faith. Did you know we can be devout but not respect or revere God?

Acts 10:2, “A devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually.”

New American Standard Bible

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It’s interesting that the author, Luke the physician, listed “giving alms” before “praying continually.” God cares about those who cannot help themselves. Our charitable gifts are noted in heaven just as our prayers are.

Acts 10:4, “…Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.”

New American Standard Bible

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The first “act” of the church in Antioch was not to build a synagogue. It was to take a collection for the needy.

Acts 11:29, “And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea.”

New American Standard Bible

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The money was collected and delivered to the elders, before the famine started, see Acts 11:28-30. Another thing that impressed me was they gave knowing that the famine would affect them!

  • When there is a need, give what you can.
  • When hard times are coming, give what you can.
  • When walking through difficult times, give what you can.

We have more to give than money. We can give time, encouragement, services, or goods.

My friend Robin started a floral business. God nudged me to give her supplies. I am embarrassed to remember how long it took me. David dropped off vases, floral wire, green zip ties, and seeds. I invested in her business this way.

Charity is investing. It is stored in heaven like our prayers.

Acts 10:30 says, “Jesus went about doing good.” What good can I do today?

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Random Acts of Kindness

All of my life we have prayed for revival. We ask God to send people that need Him to our churches. As much as we love each other, and the new people coming in, we still will have problems. Look at the first church.

Acts 6:1, “Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.”

New American Standard Bible

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Complaints come from those being overlooked. In this case, the Hellenistic Jewish widows were not being fed. So, after fasting and prayer, they chose Stephen to ensure they were given food. Stephen was martyred.

Acts 8:1, “…And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.”

New American Standard Bible

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Disciples scatter. Apostles stay. How do we become an apostle? Spend time with Jesus.

The disciples did not abandon their faith. They preached everywhere they went. They were witnesses in their country, the next country, and to the remotest parts of the world, see Acts 1:8. But eventually, they had to come back to Jerusalem.

Acts 8:25, “So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.”

New American Standard Bible

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Those who scattered were sent, and the road they were on wasn’t pleasant.

Acts 8:26, “But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, ‘Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ (This is a desert road.)”

New American Standard Bible

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The disciples couldn’t avoid persecution by leaving town. It followed them.

Acts 9:2, “…so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”

New American Standard Bible

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Jesus stopped Saul on the road to Damascus. He went from being a persecutor to joining the persecuted.

Acts 9:22, “But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews…”

New American Standard Bible

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Where did Saul’s strength originate?

Acts 9:9, 11, “And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. 11) …a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.'”

New American Standard Bible

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Strength comes from fasting and praying. But no matter how strong we become, at some point, we have to return home, see Acts 9:30. Home is where they know you – the good and the bad. They know your history and will not shower you with honor, see Mark 6:4.

Your greatest witness is going home and letting them see how God has changed you. Your greatest testimony is how you treat your family, friends, and those in need.

Acts 9:36, “Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.”

New American Standard Bible

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It is easy to do “Random Acts of Kindness” for strangers. Charity begins at home.

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Winnowing is Like Spring Cleaning

Last summer, as I read about the seasons of Israel, I realized there are more than four. I decided to split my year into 7 sessions (since the week has 7 days) and assign one area to each session.

  1. January 1: Paperwork, Budget, Review Insurance, Income Taxes
  2. February 23: Writing Next Year’s Bible Reading Guide, eBooks, Books
  3. April 16: Spring Cleaning
  4. June 7: Painting, Maintenance, Improvements
  5. July 29: Organize Basement, Laundry Room, Storage Room
  6. September 19: Fall Cleaning
  7. November 10: Prepare for the Holidays

Today I finished the 3rd session – spring cleaning. I scrubbed the refrigerator, freezer, and oven. I emptied the cabinets under both sinks and wiped them out. I cleaned the windows and washed curtains, drapes, blinds, and valances. I got into corners and removed cobwebs. I wiped down the baseboards.

I tackled each closet and assigned 2 days for the linen closet and another 2 for the office closet. It was rewarding to toss or donate unused items, wipe down the shelves, and organize the remainder.

The office closet took 3 days. I pondered that as I spent an hour finishing up on Saturday. (I try to leave Saturday for fun projects.) I realized it took so long because I organized everything. I didn’t toss much or donate many items.

There is freedom in assigning tough tasks to a time with a deadline. I kept going because my 4th session starts tomorrow. I told myself anything that did not get cleaned could wait until fall cleaning. But I managed to finish everything assigned each day.

At Easter, I cleared the dining room and David’s “Man Cave.” I stacked the boxes in the storage room. I hung a curtain in front of it. (At Christmas, I hung the curtain in front of the “Man Cave.” No one bothered looking behind it, LOL!) 😉

Each time I went into the storeroom and dug through the boxes stacked to the ceiling, I reminded myself that this room will be decluttered, cleaned, and organized starting July 29th. When it is unbearably hot outside, I will be in the cool basement filling boxes to sell, donate, and toss!

The living room wall got scuffed at Easter by an office chair. Instead of adding it to my list of projects on Saturday, I remembered I could do it first on June 7th when I start painting and improving. I gave myself time to work on everything during the year instead of working on everything at once.

How is that like winnowing?

Winnowing is throwing the wheat into the air, allowing the chaff to blow away. We are winnowed every day as we become more like Jesus. We are “up in the air” about something and we don’t know where we will land! But we can trust Jesus because He is the one holding the winnowing fork.

Jeremiah 15:1, “I will winnow them with a winnowing fork…”

New American Standard Bible

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Anything lost was unnecessary and unfruitful. It was just dragging us down. Each time we let go of things it leads to more freedom. The things we no longer need are taking space that is needed for something new God has prepared.

Isaiah 43:18, 19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19) See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

New International Version

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After the events in May, we question God just as Jeremiah did.

Jeremiah 12:1, “Righteous are You, Lord, that I would plead my case with You; indeed, I would discuss matters of justice with You: Why had the way of the wicked prospered? Why are all those who deal in treachery at ease?”

New American Standard Bible

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God answered Jeremiah saying to strengthen himself and prepare for battle. Wars were fought in the thickets of Jordan.

Jeremiah 12:5, “If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, how will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?”

New American Standard Bible

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We are to wholeheartedly turn to God.

2 Kings 23:25, “Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.”

New American Standard Bible

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Jeremiah 22:3, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.'”

New American Standard Bible

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And on Pentecost Sunday, when we started reading Acts, we were instructed further on how to live.

Acts 2:46, 47, “…taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47) praising God and having favor with all the people. …”

New American Standard Bible

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Acts 3:19, “Therefore, repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

New American Standard Bible

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Like a good spring cleaning, times of refreshing are coming!

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Seeds

I filled out the giving envelope and put a dollar in it. It is an offering, not a tithe. We pay our tithes (or 10%) when we receive a check, but that isn’t every week. Deuteronomy 16:16 tells us not to appear before the Lord empty-handed. Each dollar I give over and above our tithe is an offering. God is in control of the amount of the harvest from my seeds.

Deuteronomy 28:8, “The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.” New Living Translation

If my storehouse is not overflowing, I need to plant more seeds. Some seeds are even smaller: a quarter, a dime, a nickel, or a penny. But they are all seeds. Storehouses were where they saved the grain. God blesses my savings. To receive his blessing, I have to plant and I have to save.

Dear Father God,

You are the Lord of the harvest. Thank You for the blessings on our storehouse. Thank You for providing seeds. Thank You for the freedom to attend church and present my offering. May I ever be grateful.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

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Giving

Yesterday was #GivingTuesday. Do you know what charities are doing today? Budgeting! God had a system to take care of those in need in the promised land.

Deuteronomy 14:28, 29, “At the end of every third year, bring the entire tithe of that year’s harvest and store it in the nearest town. Give it to the Levites, who will receive no allotment of land among you, as well as to the foreigners living among you, the orphans, and the widows in your towns, so they can eat and be satisfied. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all your work.” New Living Translation

The Levites had to be the best stewards. The tithes and offerings brought to the Temple for the first and second year had to cover the expenses of the Temple in the third year, too.

“A budget is people telling their money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” Dave Ramsey, daveramsey.com

I love the promise, “God will bless you in all your work” when you give to the needy. Our church puts the entire Christmas Eve offering in the needy fund. We need to ask God what He wants us to give.

Dear Father God,

Thank You for all the blessings you have given us. Show us what we need to pass on to others. Show us the amount to take on Christmas Eve.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

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My Assignment: Sender and Stuff Security

“In this letter (Jude) the writer reminds Christian leaders that they should help support those who go to other parts of the world to tell others about the Lord.” CEV Bible Notes

Jude 1:8, “We must support people like them, so that we can take part in what they are doing to spread the truth.” CEV

The missions team from Guatemala returns today. I wish I could have gone with them. Even so, I can take part of what they accomplished because we helped send them. I will receive a reward for my teeny, tiny part.

In 1 Samuel 30, King David was returning from a triumphant victory with a lot of spoils. The battle stretched over days, and some of the soldiers did not fight in the final day. They stayed with the stuff and guarded it, (see 1 Samuel 30:1-25).

The soldiers who fought the final day wanted to keep the spoils to themselves. But, in verse 24, David said the spoils would be divided equally among all of them. He made it a law in verse 25.

The day the missions team left, the E3 Center, which houses the youth ministry and “Cradle of Hope,” caught fire. Satan tried to steal the stuff at home while the some of the soldiers were away.

But a few leaders and the youth band members who remained behind were practicing at that time. They stayed with the stuff and kept doing the work God assigned them. A neighbor let them know about the fire and the damage was kept to a minimum.

In fact, the building has been cleaned and they will have the youth service there tonight!

Don’t discredit yourself because you are one God has assigned to stay with the stuff. Your job is important. When you give so others can go, you get credit for a part of their work.

 

Rich Through Contentment

1 Timothy 6:5-8, “…They have wicked minds and have missed out on the truth. These people think religion is supposed to make you rich. And religion does make your life rich, by making you content with what you have. We didn’t bring anything into this world, and we won’t take anything with us when we leave. So we should be satisfied just to have food and clothes.”

Monday our youth group sent a team on a missions trip to Guatemala. They were unprepared for the great needs when they went last year. This year they took food, clothes, school supplies and money to purchase beds and other basic items.

Seeing others going without raises our contentment level exponentially.

We are never richer than when we give something of ours: time, money, items, etc. to someone who lacks that very thing.

Make Up Your Own Mind

2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each of you must make up your own mind about how much to give. But don’t feel sorry that you must give and don’t feel that you are forced to give. God loves people who love to give.”

“Let the full consent of the free will go with the gift.” Critical and Explanatory Commentary, Volume II

November 14, 2013

On my birthday, my husband told me he would get whatever I wanted to eat. It was my day.

I had a bakery muffin for breakfast, a southwest salad and chocolate shake for lunch and a steak sandwich from George’s for dinner.

In Numbers 7, we see that each tribe had their day.

Numbers 7:12, “He who offered his offering on the first day was Nahshon son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah.”

“In dictating that each tribal leader have a separate day for his gift and in giving the reports equal space, regardless of the contrast in the tribes strength and rank in the camp, God had a definite purpose: that an equal honor might thereby be put on each several tribe…Thus, it was intimated that all the tribes of Israel had an equal; share in the altar and an equal share in the sacrifices that were offered upon it…He was letting us know that what is given is lent to the Lord, and He carefully records it, with everyone’s name prefixed to his gift, because what is so given as a labor of love (Hebrews 6:10) He will repay.” Amplified Bible Notes

The animals sacrificed were roasted on the altar, a portion was given to the priest, and the remainder given back to the one who offered it.

“Today is the Day” by Lincoln Brewster

November 7, 2013

“Clean out debris and clutter, making room for My Spirit…be willing to let go of anything…being satisfied with much or little, accepting either as my will for the moment…Instead of grasping and controlling…release and receive…trusting me in every situation.” Jesus is Calling by Sarah Young

I have to release to receive.

Leviticus 17:4, “And does not bring it to the door of the Tent of Meeting to offer it as an offering to the Lord before the Lord’s tabernacle [guilt for shedding] blood shall be imputed to that man; he has shed blood and shall be cut off from among his people.”

“This requirement, that an animal to be killed was to be brought as an offering to the Lord, was no privation for the owner, for after offering it on the altar of burnt offering he received most of it back as a gift from God.” Amplified Bible Notes

I have to let go to make room, and accept it is God’s will for the moment. Releasing gives back more than I give.

“Blessed be the Name” by Christ Tomlin