Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! 1 Chronicles 16:29
Last week we looked at God’s desire to be first in our lives. He deserves first place, beloved. After all, you and I wouldn’t even be here without Him. He gives life and provides every good thing.
I think you’ll find that He will never agree to be second.
And He has established by His Word that those who honor Him first will walk in the bounty of His blessing.
Is He first in your life, dear one? Does your life center around Him and His purpose?
Perhaps you’re wondering how to put God first. It’s simple, really. We put God first when we honor and trust His Word.
When you and I seek to know and understand God’s heart through His Word and choose to live by the principles He reveals, we begin to live by faith. And faith, dear one, opens the door to His marvelous grace.
Today we’ll focus on one particular principle woven throughout scripture: the sacred portion.
Let’s begin by establishing a truth I pray you already know.
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1
As the Creator of all things, everything belongs to God. Yet He chose to do something remarkable.
The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man. Psalm 115:16
God created a world by the breath of His mouth, and then gave it to the people He formed from the dust of its surface. He handed us authority (Genesis 1:26), allowing us to choose whether we’d walk with Him and live in His promises, or whether we would discover the hardship of life […]
“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
God has this thing about being first.
You can’t blame Him, really. After all, He is the First. And the Last. And He’s everything in between.
“Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last. My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together. Isaiah 48:12-13
The God who IS —who existed before time and created all things—longs for us to recognize His preeminence. And to honor it.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10
God created us to live in relationship with Him, fully dependent on Him as our source.
Source of what, you may ask? Of everything.
God gives life and He takes it. He commands the sun and the moon. He spins the earth on its axis. He created and governs time. He is our source of love, joy, peace and security. He gives and maintains health. He causes the rain to fall and the ground to produce so we can have food to eat. He gives us the ability to prosper.
Beloved, God simply asks for us to recognize His role.
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:16-17 NIV
Every good thing we long for can only come from God. And He longs to bless us with those perfect gifts. But to receive from God, we must acknowledge […]
Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. Revelation 3:4 ESV
You might be surprised at how many times scripture references clothes. Particularly washed clothes.
We find our opening scripture in Jesus’ address to one of the seven churches in Revelation, penned by the apostle John. John opens the book with a blessing included in no other book of scripture.
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. Revelation 1:3
I don’t know about you, but I could handle a little blessing. After all, the opposite of blessing is still cursing. And God declared that those who hear and keep His words written in Revelation are blessed.
Are you listening?
Since God has captured my attention with garments, we will focus today on Jesus’ words to the church in Sardis.
He begins His address with some unsettling words.
“I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” Revelation 3:1
Do you know your reputation, dear one? What do those who know you believe about you? Does it match what God sees?
I can’t help thinking of Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:27-28.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Jesus shows great concern that our outward appearance matches our inner reality. That shouldn’t surprise us, really, when we […]
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10
Today we press in close to Jesus as He tells the parable of the wedding feast. I’ll warn you, dear one. You may want to prepare your heart. Our story takes a rather unpleasant turn.
Jesus begins by comparing the kingdom of heaven to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. Only when he sent his servants to call the invited guests, they refused to come.
The patient king then sent additional servants commanding them to tell those invited,
“See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.” Matthew 22:4
Again the king received a disappointing response.
But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. (verses 5-6)
The invited guests were too busy with their own lives to bother with what the king had planned for them. They rejected him, ignoring his invitation, and focused instead on their own means of prospering themselves. Some of them even mistreated and harmed the people the king had sent to bless them.
Put yourself in the story, beloved.
I can’t help wondering how many times our King has invited us to dine with Him but we’ve denied His request. Think about it. He hand delivers an invitation marked with your name, only […]
But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4
Jesus made a powerful statement in our opening scripture. Perhaps you should read it again.
According to Jesus, every word that God speaks remains as integral to our survival as the food we eat. We can’t live without His words.
Do you believe Him?
Perhaps I should point out that Jesus said every word. Not just the ones we like, or the ones that first brought us to salvation. All of them. Even the ones we haven’t bothered to read.
Here’s the truth straight from the mouth of Jesus, dear one. You and I can’t live on food and water alone and thrive. If we want to sustain real life, we also need to feed on the Word of God.
Which is precisely why the enemy convinces us we don’t need it.
I imagine you’re familiar with his tactics. Have you ever felt an oppressive feeling rise up in you when someone suggested you needed to spend more time in the Word—as if the idea of spending time with Jesus was burdensome? Perhaps when you have a busy day the first thing you naturally tend to cut out is your quiet time. You don’t really need it, after all, and you need to accomplish the rest of the things on your list.
Do you know where those thoughts and feelings come from, dear one? From a deceiver who desires to render the people of God powerless.
Take a moment to ponder Psalm 138:2.
I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above […]
I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything. Galatians 4:1 ESV
A few weeks ago, our opening scripture took hold of me in my quiet time. I haven’t been able to let go of it. I don’t think Jesus wants me to.
You see, you and I are children of God—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)— entitled to the full riches of our inheritance upon maturity.
But we have refused to grow up. So we’re living as slaves instead of heirs.
Jesus wants to see us live out the riches of our inheritance. He lovingly demonstrated this to a woman suffering under a disabling spirit.
Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. Luke 13:10-13
Take a moment to picture the woman with me. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself (verse 11).
Perhaps the image hits a little close to home. Have you known oppression so heavy it seemed you couldn’t straighten under its weight? I have. And I experienced it as a believer.
I need you to notice something about this woman. She didn’t approach Jesus for her healing. He called her to Him.
I wonder, dear one. Had she so resolved herself to her situation that it didn’t even occur to […]