Tag Archives: daily devotions

Deuteronomy 26-29; First-fruits

Do you follow a daily routine? For those of you who work outside the home, I imagine that is true of you. Those of us who don’t have the demands of a job might be less inclined to follow a regular pattern every day.

But I noticed in reading chapter 20 today, God didn’t make provisions for different life-styles. All Jews – everyone – were commanded to take the “first-fruits” of their produce, and give it to the Lord. Matthew Henry tells us there are three things we can learn from this:

  1. to acknowledge God is the giver of every good thing. Sometimes we pride ourselves on our accomplishments, or possessions purchased with the fruit of hard work and dedication. “I did it my way…” is applauded in our society. But the reality is, everything we enjoy is a gift from God. Moses is reminding us it’s important to recognize that, and show God that we are grateful.
  2. to deny ourselves. The Jews had labored in the fields over that crop. They planted, weeded, watered, harvested each grape, each sheaf of wheat. But they gave up their “rights” to the food and gave it to God.
  3. to give God the first and best we have. The first of the crop is the choicest, best part of the harvest. That was the produce these Jews brought to the Lord, not the leftovers.

It should be the same in a spiritual sense, too. I like how Matthew Henry put it: “Those that consecrate the days of their youth, and the prime of their time, to the service and honor of God, bring Him their first-fruits.”

So what is the “prime” of your time? Are you at your best first thing in the morning? Or when the kids go down for a nap? Or at lunchtime at your work desk? Or before you go to bed at night?

I knew an elderly pastor who was a firm believer that if you didn’t have your quiet time with the Lord early in the morning, you weren’t giving Him your first-fruits, and therefore were disobedient to Him. I’m not sure that’s entirely true, because I know some people who are NOT morning people. Early in any day is definitely not their prime time.

But if morning is not your best time, when is? That is the time of day I believe God would have you honor him, deny yourself, and give Him the best you have. That’s the time of day you need to be in His Word, praying, communicating with your Savior.

And it’s the time of day you should be setting aside to do that. If we try to “find” time to spend with God, there will be days, perhaps weeks, when we don’t get around to it. That, my friend, is not pleasing to God.

Instead, we need to be making time to spend with God. We make time to do the things that are important to us, right? Plan ahead, set aside, get into a routine and follow it.

When I was working, and going to grad school in the evenings, I remember thinking I was too busy to have daily devotions. I was on a golf league, and a racquetball league, I played the organ at church, and sat on a couple of boards. I was a busy girl. I could barely get up in the morning, and worked late into the night. There was no time to open my Bible. I knew I should. I felt guilty about it. But I couldn’t imagine where I’d find another fifteen minutes of my day.

I made the mistake of saying that to my pastor who immediately said, “If you are too busy to spend time with God, you are too busy.” He talked to me about eliminating some of the demands on my life. But I loved to golf, I loved racquetball, and I couldn’t just quit school or my job just to read my Bible.

He looked at me and said one word, “Priorities.”

Ouch. I realized God wasn’t a priority in my life, and He deserved to be my first priority. “First-fruits” took on a whole new meaning.

I realized then and there that the minutes I spend with God each day are the most important minutes of any day. It’s part of obedience to the God who deserves my full attention. And God blesses obedience.

I pray that you will enjoy quiet time with God every day. Read His love letter to you, listen for His voice, pour out your heart to Him, and let Him bless you, strengthen you, hug you. You need it. And He loves that time with you. That’s why He created you in the first place.

Don’t miss it. Give Him the best you have. You’ll be blown away when He gives you the best He has!

 

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Exodus 16; Give Us This Day

Manna intrigues me. It was something no one had ever seen before, or has seen since. It came straight from God in a very visible way. It was good, refreshing, and nourishing. The Israelites could bake it or boil it. And God gave exactly what everyone needed every day.

One commentator I read suggested I put myself in a Jewish sandal for a moment. Their food supply was spent. They went to bed hungry every night, and parents knew their children were starving. Is it any wonder they complained to their leader?

And is it any wonder that, when that first manna came down from heaven, some hoarded a bunch? They had learned to go to bed each night with no food in the fridge, and it was pretty understandable they wanted a backup plan in case the manna didn’t come again in the morning.

But the manna came. And their hoarded food spoiled. Lesson: Trust God even when things look  hopeless. The Israelites learned they could go to bed at night without any food in the house and no means of supplying food on their own, and trust that God would provide. Every. Day.

Sometimes I can lie awake in bed at night and worry over a situation, or plot a plan of action just in case. I need to learn from the Jews and trust God to supply exactly what I need. When will I learn to pray believing in every situation?

Scripture has been likened to manna. Jesus told us He is the Bread of Life. And Jesus taught us to pray “… give us this day our daily bread…”

Jill Briscoe, in her book “Here Am I… Send Aaron,” points out an important lesson from this account in Exodus 16. If God’s Word is manna, and Jesus is the Bread of Life, how’s my diet?

Most of us have probably been “hangry” a time or two in our lives. You know that irritable feeling that comes from being hungry. Isn’t it Snickers that has the commercial that tells us, “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry”? Been there. Done that.

But how many angry Christians do you know? Christians who complain about the pastor, who divide the fellowship with malicious gossip, who find fault in every decision, and who blame God when they don’t get their way. Jill suggests those kinds of Christians aren’t collecting manna.

We are all created with a hunger to know God. And God has supplied the manna in the pages of the Bible. But if we don’t read it, think on it, pray over it every day, we are starving ourselves. Too many people expect the pastor to feed them a week’s worth of manna on Sunday. They have reason to be “hangry” if that’s the case. They are starving!

Jesus prayed, “give us this day…”  God does. We just need to collect it this day, and every day. If we feed our souls, feast on God Word, ingest our Bread of Life daily, we will be healthy, productive children of God.

If we don’t, well… it’s not God’s fault.

September 20 – You Want Me To Live Where?

Haggai

How much is enough? God, through Haggai, asks us to consider our ways:

You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes. (1:6)

There seems to be two groups of people in our world today. One group works to get ahead, to buy the big houses, to drive the nice cars, to grow a portfolio. The other group wants what the first group has, feels entitled to it, and demands the first group hand it over.

They really aren’t so different, you know. One word can describe them both: MORE.

God told the people in Haggai’s day to rebuild the temple, His home on earth. And they do. But when it was finished God kind of said, “Seriously? Does this come close to the temple that was? You expect me to live here?” (2:3)

Got me to thinking about the temple called Connie. I’m a work in progress. But how much care am I putting into the building of this temple? How choosy am I as to what goes into it? Am I building a temple fit for a king, or a nice little tent that even I wouldn’t want to live in?

I know many of us have obligations and interested that pull us in many directions. We only have 24 hours in a day, right? Family, jobs, school, sports, cooking meals, and cleaning toilets are important things that demand our attention. So where does temple building come in?

Do we read the obligatory psalm at night when our bodies are weary and our thoughts are going in every which direction? Do we fall asleep during our nightly prayer? That’s like using cardboard to erect the frame of our temple. It’s cheap, and it won’t stand.

Building a temple fit for the King of Kings requires making it a priority. That means taking quality time with God every day. That means reading and studying His Word, talking to Him, including Him in every decision no matter how small.

Building a temple means turning off that questionable show on TV, shutting down the computer or phone, controlling our thought lives. It’s a choice to take time each and every day in the quiet Presence of God Himself.

Haggai has me asking myself if I am putting my efforts in things like he described in 1:6? Am I building a flimsy, ugly, neglected temple that I expect God to live in?

I do want the word, “More” to refer to me. But only in the sense that people will recognize I want more of God than I have today, I want to serve Him more, love Him more, spend more time with Him every day. And in doing so, I’ll be building a temple He will be pleased to inhabit.

I want God to live in me, and like it here!

July 20 – My Rock

Isaiah 23-27

Selling two homes, buying one, moving 600 miles away from family, packing boxes, moving vans, closings, finances, utilities. To say I’m feeling a little overwhelmed is an understatement. In the past two weeks I have contracts on my two condos, have gone through about twenty homes with my realtor, and put an offer on one. My head is spinning.

It’s times like this when I am reminded that, no matter how busy my life, no matter how many directions I am pulled, I need to protect my time in God’s Word. These intentional moments I spend with my Savior are really the most important part of every day.

Isaiah reminded me this morning to “Trust in the Lord forever, for on God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.” (26:4)

My footing right now feels unsteady. There are so many questions yet to be answered about this move. I may be stressed. But I have a Rock. I need but trust Him with today and eternity.

So with Isaiah I will pray “O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; for You have worked wonders…”

He has. And He will.

June 1 -Go Ahead And Read It

Psalm 119:89-176

It makes me sad when I hear someone say they don’t read the Bible because it’s too hard to understand. To me that’s like saying, “I quit eating because I can’t read a recipe.” Or a baby saying, “When I try to walk I keep falling, so I just won’t walk.”

Your handwriting ability improved with practice. You most likely weren’t successful riding that bicycle the first time, either. I imagine you kept trying, didn’t you?

When you realize the God of the Universe wants you to spend time with Him in His Word, that He wrote it with you in mind, that He will give you understanding, you’ll also realize you have no excuse for not reading it.

Verse 174 says: I long for your salvation, O Lord, and Your law is my delight.

Reading the Bible doesn’t have to be like taking that awful spoonful of medicine. Reading the Bible can be something you take delight in! Look forward to. The best part of your day.

I’ve read this precious Book several times, and I can honestly say I learn something every time I open its pages. God didn’t give me the ability to understand everything the first time I read it. He hasn’t given me the ability to understand everything even yet. But He gives me understanding as I am ready to receive it, and at just the right time.

If you aren’t in the habit of reading the Bible, get it out. Go ahead and read it. Pray and ask God to give you understanding (something He is eager to do anyway), then read expecting to have Him open your eyes to exactly what He wants you to know today.

This is God’s love letter to you! Let Him help you understand what He’s done for you. Let Him reveal Himself in the pages you have in front of you. I pray that you will delight in reading and re-reading God’s Word.

Beginning today.

Inspired

I love to read the Bible. When I do I am often reminded of a Truth that cements my belief in the Author. Or I might read something as though for the first time. When that happens I am often challenged, or convicted, or blessed. When I ask God to teach me, He does. When I ask Him to reveal Himself, He does.

Paul tells us:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The Bible was not given to us with the intent it sit on our shelves, waiting for that day when we take it down, open it to some random page, and expect God to give us a sign of some sort. The Bible was given by God to be our map, our owners manual, our text book, our iPhone, our love letter written by the One who loves us more than anybody else can.

When I started this blog in January of 2013, I wasn’t sure where it would go. But as time has passed I realize my burning desire is to encourage you to read and re-read the Bible, to study this precious Book every day, to think about it and talk about it, to pray that God will give you understanding.

Why? Because in its pages are the instructions for all of us to be the people God deserves, people who are holy, who love God and each other, and who are equipped to share the Gospel with a lost world.

Dearest Author, thank you for inspiring men to write down the things you wanted us – me – to know. Thank you that this Bible that I have in front of me is true, it’s understandable, it’s vital and relevant. Thank you that you loved us so much you wanted to put it in writing. May we cherish the pages, may we be faithful to read it every day, to commit it to memory, to think on it, and use it to be people eager to accomplish every good work, the work of sharing the Gospel. You deserve no less.

It’s Understandable

Paul said something in I Corinthians 4 that struck me today. He had been talking about being a servant of Christ, faithful. He said it didn’t matter to him if people judged him. He didn’t judge himself. “He who judges me is the Lord.” So like him – or not, agree with him or not. It’s God’s praise he wanted.

Then he said he wants us to learn something from his example: “… not to think beyond what is written…”

I want to be careful not to take these words out of context. But Paul goes on to say opinions are divisive. What you and I think is irrelevant in light of God’s truth. What does Scripture say?

What does it say?

In the context of this letter to the Corinthians, Paul is saying he really didn’t care what they thought about his teaching. He only cared about being a servant of the One who inspired Scripture, and being faithful to the written Word.

Is Paul really saying to take Scripture at face value? I think so. And it’s a theme that God has laid on my heart for a while now. Somewhere along the way we’ve come to believe the Bible is hard to understand, that it takes a theology degree to understand it. So too many Christians limit themselves to reading the New Testament or Psalms. Or they allow their pastors to read the Bible and just tell them what it says.

Paul says you are no different than anyone else, not the farmer, or the nurse, or the college professor with a ton of letters after his name. The understanding of Scripture is given to us by God Himself! But we have to read it. And God will be faithful to give us the understanding he wants us to have when we do.

We are already rich!

I believe that when we ask God to reveal himself through this written Word, he does! Read it expecting to get it. What does it say? That’s what it means.

God inspired every word written there. So it must all be important, relevant, understandable. So read it all!

Then read it again.