Daily Devotions

It's All God's!

main image

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it. (Psalm 24:1)

 

 

For years I taught the tithe, giving ten percent of what we earn, back to God. It was an easy way to help people know what God expected from them. But in the gospels, Jesus mentions the tithe primarily in a negative way, describing how the tithe is falsely interpreted. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith” (Mt. 23:23). Over time, the ten percent has become like the Christian tax.

 

I cannot count the number of times people have come to me, asking about the tithe as if I was some religious tax preparer. They ask questions like, “Is the ten percent before or after taxes?” “Can I include the money I give my children as part of my tithe?” Etc. Etc. Etc. The meaning is in the knowledge that it is all God’s bounty, otherwise the gift is somehow diminished.

 

Instead of making a law out of the tithe, perhaps it is better to rethink our stewardship. In reality, ten percent of our income isn’t God’s, but all of it is God’s. When we realize that it is all God’s, it challenges us to rethink every dollar we spend. It is far more challenging and spiritual than simply paying the Christ tax. It forces us to ask, “Is this expense what God wants us to make?” Now, we are forced to consider the home we live in, the car we drive, the trips we take, the furniture etc., that we spend. God wants us to have enough to find meaning and not be a burden on others, but not so much as to be selfish, when there is so much need around us. It requires prayerful reflection on all our spending.

 

Today, think about the ways you are using God’s money that was entrusted to you. Pray for God to give you the wisdom to use God’s money well, so you have enough, but not too much. Then, pray for God to help you learn how to give in ways that strength the “body of Christ,” and those in need. Finally, thank God for the financial resources you’ve been given that have blessed your life. This isn’t about guilt, but about being a good steward of God’s resources.

 

I Hate Change!

main image

 

I love the quote by Winston Churchill, “To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.” Change is necessary for growth, but change is often fearful, chaotic, and filled with a feeling of loss. I was discussing the role of the church with a group of about thirty participants. When discussing the future of the church, one person spoke up and said, “I dislike change!

 

The entire world is constantly changing around us. People are born, others die. Job security feels like a thing of the past. Natural disasters scar the landscape. We want it all to slow down, or even stop, so we can just catch up. So, when everything keeps speeding by, we want our church to remain the same. But that, like everything else is a sad fantasy.

 

Death is the only thing that doesn’t change. We cannot foolishly try to live in fantasyland. The best response we can make is to try and be a positive influence over the change. Sticking our head in the sand, or screaming “stop,” is simply childish. It calls us back to 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.” This isn’t to belittle our desire to stop change. It is just a reminder that we must move forward in a mature manner.

 

Today, ponder the change that makes you feel uncomfortable. What is it that creates the discomfort? How have you responded to these uncomfortable situations previously? Is the anxiety warranted, or misplaced? Addressing these issues helps view the change realistically. Once we see the change as practical, it is easier to view it without anxiety or discomfort. Then, offer the uncomfortable emotions to God, and allow the Spirit to guide your decision-making, so you can make the best of the inevitable change in our midst. 

12345678910 ... 272273