Chosen

Each person chooses a mate with which to build a life. Raging hormones convince us that those feelings will last forever.

Love grows, but not in the direction we expect. Love grows roots. It deepens beyond those first exciting feelings.

Unfortunately, some prize the feelings over the roots. So, they tear their plant apart and try to begin again.

But roots take years to develop. They don’t have as many years left to grow. The shallow roots cannot stand up to the storms that inevitably come.

***

As individuals, we grow. We only have two options: grow closer to God or away from Him. A life away from Him is a life of hardship. He has a plan and a purpose for our life. Without God, we miss it and wander around in a desert looking for the path. Or worse, we end up in a prison of consequences for our actions.

The good news is: We can always turn back to God. Then He “plants” us and establishes our roots. He can prosper us right where we are, even in prison.

Look at the Life of King Jehoiachin

2 Kings 25:27, 28, “Now it came about in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, that Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he became king, released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison; 28) and he spoke kindly to him and set his throne above the thrones of the kings who were with him in Babylon.”

New American Standard Bible

***

Jehoiachin was a royal and became king when he was eight. But he had an evil heart and only reigned for three months, see 2 Chronicles 36:9, 10. He was a prisoner for the next 37 years. He must have had a change of heart because he became king again above all the other kings who served the king of Babylon. The Babylonian king provided him with clothes and a regular income, and he ate at the king’s table.

Living on Love

Most newlyweds start with very little. They are living on love! Slowly, with good planning, they build their net worth. Tearing the marriage apart does not divide the net worth equally because you can build it together more quickly than you can individually. It puts one or both of you in poverty. Those who stay planted in their marriage will have a harvest financially.

Children help a marriage. They give you a reason to get up in the morning. They help you establish routines and disciplines that lead to a healthy life: regular bedtimes, healthy meals, playtime, and time outside.

Grandchildren are all joy with very little work! They are your reward for the work you spent on your children!

We married young and will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary this year. We are going out of state for a few days for the honeymoon we couldn’t afford when we married.

You may think we are old, but we are not. God can lengthen the days of our youth or shorten them. We do not need to be old before our time.

Psalms 89:45, “You have shortened the days of his youth, you have covered him with shame.”

New American Standard Bible

***

Young and Beautiful

Flour, sugar, and oil are things we are instructed to avoid now. Could it be the portion sizes, not the food that makes a difference?

Ezekiel 16:13, “Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty.”

New American Standard Bible

***

Beauty is a reflection of God’s splendor. God’s Spirit in me makes me beautiful.

Ezekiel 16:14, “‘Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you,’ declares the Lord God.”

New American Standard Bible

***

Wise Words

“How to live wisely and well: 1) Time is precious; don’t waste it. 2) You’re making memories; make them good ones. 3) It’s not what happens, but how you respond that counts.”

The Word for You Today, 8-17-22

***

God exalts the low tree and makes the dry tree flourish!

Ezekiel 17:24, “All the trees of the field will know that I am the Lord; I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will perform it.”

New American Standard Bible

***

I pray that our children learn from our mistakes and don’t repeat them.

Ezekiel 18:14, “Now behold, he has a son who has observed all his father’s sins which he committed, and observing does not do likewise.

New American Standard Bible

***

You are Chosen

Ezekiel 20:9, “But I acted for the sake of My name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made Myself know to them by bringing them out of the land of Egypt.

New American Standard Bible

***

God freed them because He chose them. He freed them despite their wickedness because He promised to and He keeps His promises. He can free you, too.

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The Love of Money

The most misquoted verse in the Bible is 1 Timothy 6:10. They say, “Money is the root of all evil.” But the verse says it is the “love of money.”

1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

New American Standard Bible

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We assume this verse only applies to the rich. But the poor can be greedy, grasping, and discontent, too.

David and I have lived under the poverty level a few times. We had a choice. We could continue giving to God over and above our tithes (10%) or we could buy lottery tickets and try our luck at gambling. We chose the first option every time and God pulled our income back up.

I was sure we didn’t have a problem with money whether it was just enough or we had extra.

Then I read Hebrews 13.

Hebrews 13:5, 6, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have, for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ 6) so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’ “

New American Standard Bible

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Is my character free from the love of money? Do I rejoice when my friends get a new car, house, or go on a trip? Or do I think, “It must be nice?”

Am I “saving for a rainy day” or hoarding? Have I missed church working for money?

Am I content with everything God has provided or do I treat it with disdain wanting newer, bigger, or better? Do I clean and maintain them or treat them like junk?

Do I fill my refrigerator with food and then throw it away when it spoils?

God promises never to leave us. He helps us stretch our money to its greatest potential. He provides our food, (see 2020 post). We don’t have to be afraid of going hungry.

We need not fear rising gas prices. He will show us where to cut back on our spending to cover it.

He has a new car for us. Our job is to save to pay for it when it is delivered!

I look at external things. God is working on my character.

1 Timothy 6:17, 18, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18) Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.”

New American Standard Bible

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Dear Lord, keep my character free from the love of money. Amen

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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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She Owned the Land

The ruins of the homes in Jesus’ day were small. We toured a few replicas of ancient homes in the Nazareth Village. Most only had 2 rooms.

The landowner had more rooms and a second story. He had a cistern and olive press. He had rights to everything grown on his land – even when he moved away.

2 Kings 8:6, “When the king asked the woman, she related it to him. So the king appointed for her a certain officer, saying, ‘Restore all that was hers and all the produce of the field from the day that she left the land even until now.'”

New American Standard Bible

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Why was everything restored? Because she owned the land. Those who raised the crop got workers’ wages but she got the income from the former seven years.

The landowner’s water ran down the channel on the left. His olive press is behind him.

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Substituting Statistics for Trust

February 27, 2019: 2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21, 22; Psalms 30.

 

Trusting God with Our Budget

This is our third month using the free “Every Dollar” app. I love it! David is not convinced. He divides our income by our budget on an Excel spreadsheet. The salary-based budget does not reflect overtime, interest, tax refunds, etc.

I set up the March budget on “Every Dollar” and adjusted the spreadsheet to match. There are still areas we need to fund and that is where trust comes in. We trust God to either provide more income or show us where to cut expenses.

1 Chronicles 21:2, “Then David prayed, ‘I have sinned badly in what I have just done, substituting statistics for trust; forgive my sin – I’ve been really stupid.’ ”

The Message

Trusting God with our Savings

We also need to trust God with our investments. The “Parable of the Talents” in Matthew 25:14-30 is a story about investments. One servant was given $5,000, another $2,000, and the third $1,000. The first two worked hard and doubled their money. The third one buried it.

When the master returned he asked for an accounting. The first two pleased him but he was furious with the third. He told him, “The least you could do was deposit it and earn a little interest.”

No matter how much God gives us, our goal is to at least double it. Why? It takes money to spread the Gospel. It takes money to send missionaries, help the poor, provide for our churches and staff, etc. To give generously, we have to have it first.

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#bible

Another Reason They Stayed

Joseph was the only brother interred in Egypt. He was the last to die and he left instructions for his descendants to carry his bones back to Canaan when they left. Isn’t it funny that the brother who lived as a slave for 13 years lived the longest?

Genesis 50:26, “So, Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years old, and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.” Modern English Version

* * * * * * *

“Joseph’s body remained in Egypt until the exodus to the promised land of Canaan about 200 years later. Its final resting-place was Shechem, near Samaria, “in the parcel of ground which Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem” (Joshua 24:32). Here each of his brothers was also buried (Acts 7:15, 16).” Amplified Bible Notes

At least 12 times the Hebrews returned to Canaan to bury Jacob and the 11 brothers. Why didn’t they just move back?

One answer was found in Exodus 1:7, “…the sons of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty…” Modern English Version

“They had risen to great prosperity – as during the lifetimes of Joseph and his royal patron, they had, probably, enjoyed a free grant of the land…Having first obliged them, it is thought, to pay a ruinous rent, and involved them in difficulties, that new government…degraded them to the condition of serfs.” Critical and Explanatory Commentary, Vol. I

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The Last Will Be First

We strive to become rich, to rise above middle-class status and we even surrender to things we shouldn’t. We must always remember, in God’s economy the first will be last and the last will be first.

Jeremiah 39:9, 10, “Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive into Babylon the remnant of the people who remained in the city, and those who fell away, who fell to him, with the rest of the people who remained. But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left behind in the land of Judah the poor people who had nothing, and gave them vineyards and fields at that time.” Modern English Version

They carried off to Babylon all the upper-class and middle-class Israelites and the people of the city. The poorest of the poor were, not only spared, but given vineyards and fields. They went from having nothing to getting everything, and they retained their freedom.

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Much

We received our giving receipts on Friday. I checked to see how much we gave over and above our tithes or 10%. The amount is smaller than others, but the percentage of our income could be larger.

Mark 12:43, “Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. Many who were rich put in much.” Modern English Version

The first 10% we give is due to God. Anything above is seed we plant. God multiplies our seeds.

Dear Father God,

Thank You for meeting our needs last year. Thank You for the miraculous way you multiplied our seeds.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

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Miracles

Miracles happen every day, but we don’t recognize them. As I look back on 2016, I see the miracles.

We replaced a furnace, central air, washer, and computer without depleting our emergency fund. God provided in miraculous ways.

Our health insurance premium went up 50% and I had emergency surgery! Yet, we paid each premium on time and have paid almost one-fourth of the hospital bill. Those were a few of our miracles this year.

John 3:2, “After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. ‘Rabbi,’ he said, ‘we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.’ ” New Living Translation

I need to believe, pray for and expect miracles. Jesus promised them to us!

John 14:12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the father.” New Living Translation

Dear Father God,

Thank You for the miraculous ways you met our needs in 2016. I know you will continue to take care of us. I look forward to the miracles you have in store in 2017.

In Jesus Name, 

Amen

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Debt-Free

I ran into Ann on Friday night. She was so excited to see me and couldn’t wait to tell me she had paid off her mortgage.

I remember when she bought that house. It was a modest home in a tiny town and now it is all hers!

There is no better feeling than being debt-free. It’s a lifestyle.

2 Kings 4:7, “When she told the man of God what had happened he said to her, ‘Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.'” New Living Translation

Debt-Free Lifestyle

  1. Sell the extras.
  2. Pay off your debts.
  3. Live on what you make.

Dear Father God,

Thank you for taking care of us. When we give you a tenth, save a tenth, and live on the rest, we live peaceful, stress-free lives. You stretch that 80% further than we can stretch the 100%. Thank you for meeting our needs and helping us to reach our goals.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

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