Devotions

Category Archives: 1V1

Giving • Devotion #6: Sacrificial Worship

“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.’” Mark 12: 41-44 (NIV)

This is an interesting concept. The rich people put in larger amounts, so how is it that this woman put in “more?” The woman gave “more” because she sacrificed more. She felt it. She gave “all she had to live on.” Still, she trusted God. The rich people gave larger amounts, but may not have had to sacrifice or potentially even think about what to give.

This concept translates to more than just finances.

Mark 14:3-6 (NIV) says, “While he [Jesus] was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.’ And they rebuked her harshly. ‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.’” To others, what these women did with their money and their possessions did not make sense. For them, it was an act of worship.

Do we worship with our money, possessions, and time? Do we worship when it might inconvenience us, or make us uncomfortable? Or, do we only do it when it fits into our schedule?I would encourage all of us to take a moment and really try to imagine giving the way these ladies gave. While we do not necessarily have to give up all we own or donate an entire year’s wages, imagine what God could do with us if we trusted Him with everything we have?

Giving • Devotion #5: God and Yourself

For those of you that know me, you know that I have been blessed to be a musician. I remember when I was in 2nd grade, Mr. Duvall had a piano in his classroom, and one day during our “free time,” I walked over and began playing. To me, I was just practicing and having a good time, but to my teacher and my fellow classmates, they seemed amazed that someone knew how to play piano at such a young age. I was filled with euphoria after receiving so much praise and acknowledgment. That was when I realized that I was going to have a lifelong struggle with pride. 

One of the greatest desires of humankind is to be accepted by others. We long for connection and relationships and we were designed this way by God. Some will go out of their way to get attention from others. We all know someone that tries to “one-up” you after you tell a story and it is simply to receive praise and acceptance from you. It takes a lot of discipline and multiple moments of self-evaluation to keep yourself in check trying to be prideful of what you have done and achieved. Pride can also set in when you are working for the Lord. Whether you are a volunteer, part of the staff, or one of the board members of the church, it is easy to get caught up in the accomplishments of the church. Whether it is putting together an awesome program, building a stellar backdrop, or playing an amazing set for worship, it is easy to pat yourself on the back. 

In Matthew chapter 6, there are some guidelines given to help guide God’s people in the way they conduct themselves in their worship to the Lord. Matthew 6:3-4 says, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” God wants you to give to the cause with no intention of receiving praise for your generosity from others. Matthew 6:6 adds, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” As I have studied this chapter, it seems that if you want to further His Kingdom in a healthy manner, you must do it with the mindset that you are only doing so in the eyes of God and no one else. Matthew 6:17-18 says, “But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Do not tell or boast of your fasting habits. God will not reward your efforts of fasting if you do so in a sinful manner. I interpret these guidelines in a very simple way that has helped me overcome some of the most difficult struggles of pride in my life. When you are trying to worship and praise God in your walk of faith, do so in the mindset that it is just God and yourself in the room. When we worship, we sing and play to an audience of One. When we give our tithes and offerings, we give to the one true God. When we fast, it is to remind us how faithful God is in our lives and that we need to display true humility in the eyes of our Father alone. I encourage you all to do a self-evaluation and to make sure the way that you worship God is done in a healthy manner and that it is done in a “God and Yourself” way.

Giving • Devotion #4: Shut the Door and Open your Heart

I am a fan of personality and gift testing. I have done them all: DiSC, Myers Briggs, Enneagram, and Strengths Finder. I am a high I-D, ENTJ, 3 Wing 2, and the top 5 strengths are Belief, Responsibility, Significance, Futuristic, and Analytical. If you are familiar with these tests you would know that I am wired to get things done. I can be addicted to achievement and the recognition that comes with it. These tests have helped me understand who I am and be comfortable with that. They have also helped me understand that what is a strength God blessed me with can also be a weakness leading to unhealthy behaviors. 

Being wired for achievement and motivated by recognition has at times in my life lead me to use my gifts of execution for self-promotion. Being recognized for your accomplishments by others is not wrong, nor should it be discouraged. The core issue with a motive for recognition is self-seeking promotion. Though today’s social media platforms have permitted and expanded this characteristic, it is not a new problem. Jesus recognized over 2,000 years ago the potential flaw in humans. It was one of the first things he talked about in the very early days of His ministry. The famous “Sermon on the Mount” is recorded in Matthew chapters 5-7 as Jesus’ first sermon which covered many topics. For our purposes we need to zero in on Matthew 6:6, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”Whether it is praying, worship, giving, serving, or any of the spiritual disciplines taught in the Bible, they are personal, not promotional. God is more concerned about the work He wants to do in you and through you then He is with the response you receive from others. The actions of our own hearts must be driven by the recognition of the Heavenly Father not by attaboys, likes, and reactions. Jesus commands us to “shut the door” on the recognition of others and to open our hearts to the work He wants to do in us. 

Giving • Devotion #3: Glory from God

One of the easiest things to fall into is pride. The recognition from the world that we can receive may seem like an amazing thing. Hearing people say how great you are, how awesome it is that you do what you do, and wanting to hear these things is not completely bad. However, the struggle that so many people have is that they seek only the glory that can come from people and not from God. John 5:44 says, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” How are we supposed to serve the Lord out of the right heart if all we are seeking is the glory that comes from people? To go even further as the text suggests, how can we even believe in Jesus if all we seek is the praise of people?

The main reason for our existence is for the glory of God alone. We are to believe in the words of Jesus for the glory of God. We are to serve him only for the glory of God. We are to give only for the glory of God. Everything that we do is supposed to be only for the glory of God. This text in John chapter 5 is such a convicting piece of Scripture for me. When I read these words it causes me to examine myself. Why do I serve? Why do I give? Why have I surrendered my life to Jesus as Lord? If the answer to any of these questions has anything to do about me, then I may be missing the point as to why Jesus came down to this earth and died on the cross. Jesus says, “How can you believe” if you “do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” My hope is that you read these words in the book of John and examine your own life. Do you truly believe in Jesus and have a personal relationship with Christ? As John says in chapter 20 verse 31, “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” The words written in this book are there so that we may believe. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and ask you if the life you are living for Christ is for His glory or the glory that you receive from people.

Giving • Devotion #2: PT Cruiser

In the Bible, people gave various gifts to God, for various purposes. People had a duty to give, both for the work of God and to help the poor. We see in Scripture that God’s people gave a tithe, which was a tenth of their income. Not to give the tithe, was to cheat God.

Although it was a duty to give these gifts, God wanted His people to give with glad and grateful hearts, so He made wonderful promises to His people if they obeyed Him. He would show His kindness to them; they would see that a blessing would come from Him.

In my early years when I went to church with my family, when the basket was passed for donations, my parents would drop something in the basket. As an adult I did the same, I would drop in five or ten dollars. I knew that I was expected to give to the church, but had no idea what the Bible taught about giving. 

In 2 Corinthians 9:7, we are challenged, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Tithing was a difficult principle for me to learn as a new Christian. I really struggled to believe that God would ask me to give the first 10% of my income. I was ok with five or ten dollars, but 10%? My wife would try to help me understand what it meant to tithe and showed me different Scriptures includingLuke 6:38, “Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” I also spoke to our pastor about it; he too gave me Scripture to read and explained to me that I needed to pray about it. My wife had also been telling me to pray about it. 

A few weeks later the pastor and I spoke again about tithing, he asked if I had been praying about it. I said yes, I then asked him, “Should my tithe from our paychecks be “net or gross?” He just laughed at me and said, “Just give from your heart!”

I still did not understand tithing, but I wanted to obey what the Bible taught, so from that time and going forward, I started to tithe. Sometime within that year, I was at a work conference in Baltimore. They gave away many prizes throughout the conference. On the last day of the conference, they gave away the grand prize. It was a brand-new PT Cruiser. This was the year that they first introduced the car. God blessed me, and I won the car!

There were about 10,000 people in attendance. In my excitement, I called my wife and told her about winning the car. The first thing she said was “I told you that you cannot out-give God!” That is so true!

I am not saying God will give you a new car, but He will meet your every need.

Giving should come from the right heart. Each Christian should give out of obedience. What we give will look different for each one of us. God looks at the heart that gave it. 

“For where your treasure is,

there your heart will be also.”Matthew 6:21



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