When I was growing up, I remember being held accountable for grades based on the actual grade. I was supposed to earn certain grades. Bottom line. I do things differently with my children. I want them to do their best, whether their best is an A or a B or whatever—I want them to know that whatever they do, they are to give their best effort. If they feel that they did their best, then they succeeded. If not, then we have a problem.
I have always tried to give everything my best effort. I’m sure you heard the phrase do your best because that is the best you can do. That’s what I always aimed to accomplish. The best. In Proverbs, “the best” is used when describing the things we produce. The Bible says that we are to honor God with “the best part of everything you produce.” This means, NO LEFTOVERS! Leftovers are not best unless we are talking about spaghetti.
To truly honor God, you bring before Him the best part of everything. He does not need your offerings. He doesn’t need anything from you or I—we need it! We need to be able to let go of the best part of everything so we can cling to God. He is better. We choose God over these temporary items because we have a desire in our heart for Him. If you are still handing over leftovers, ask God to open your heart so you open your hands and bring Him glory.
“Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.” – Proverbs 3:9 [NLT]
In Psalm 142, we read a statement that some people really couldn’t truthfully speak if saying what was truly on the heart. It is a statement that makes a decision that we each have to make. Some people will never reach this prayer.
First, the Psalmist prays, “You are my place of refuge.” We often will embrace this. We often will pray for this refuge. We will claim God is the One who provides safety and protection. But the Psalmist continues, “You are all I really want in life.” This separates people. This divides families. This causes chaos at work and school. This bold statement overflows from the heart of one who truly desires God. This is the desire we should all have.
Can you today say God is all you really want in life? Or is your life still the “God and … life”? Can you pray this prayer or is there something still between you and God? Is He all you really want? Ask the Spirit to reveal anything that may be keeping you from this prayer. Ask Him to remove anything that hinders this desire. May He be all you really want.
“Then I pray to you, O LORD. I say, ‘You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.’” – Psalm 142:5 [NLT]
I love reading Nehemiah 8, and picturing all of the people gathered to listen to the Word of God. I find myself sometimes grieving over what I see around me. There are so many people who are not looking to hear God’s Word. Rather than attending church with ears to hear the Word, people often have ears closed. Many times I see people scrolling along on their phones or I see people with roaming eyes. I have even heard people having full on conversations during the message.
As Ezra read the Word of God to the people who assembled, they stood around hoping to understand. They continued to listen as “he read it aloud from daybreak till noon.” They “listened attentively to the Book of the Law.” When they heard what God’s Word said, they “lifted their hands,” and they “bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces on the ground.” The passion, the desire, the love for God’s Word is simply beautiful. I have seen this before. I have felt this many times. It is my prayer that you have this constant passion, this ever-present desire, this unending thirst for God’s Word.
We are so very blessed to have God’s Word within reach. There was a time when there were only scrolls, and not many were accessible to all. People would gather to hear. We now have shelves with various translations. What a difference!?! But the passion they had for the Word when it was not so accessible often times seems to be greater than anything I’ve ever seen. Have you wept over God’s Word? Have you sought it out with great desire? Have you clung to His Word? Have you found yourself spending the day meditating and chewing on His Truth? Today, ask the Spirit to light a fire in you so you regain passion for His Word.
“So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law…Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, ‘Amen! Amen!’ Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” -Nehemiah 8:2-3, 5-6 [NIV]
You have a great opportunity. I would say it is the greatest opportunity you will ever have in life. All you need to do is to look. All you need to do is to seriously look. Do you want it more than anything else?
I remember when I was younger and I would take an interest in something. I would gather piles of books and search online and seek out all I could find on the topic so I could get to know more. I wanted to know more. It was a great desire. A passion.
God is not far from us. Our Heavenly Father promises that when you look, when you seek with all your heart, when you truly want to find Him and to know Him, He will “make sure you won’t be disappointed.” You can never use an excuse that you are having trouble finding Him. Today I ask you, do you want Him more than anything else?
“’When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
‘Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.’ God’s Decree.
‘I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you’—God’s Decree—‘bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.’”
-Jeremiah 29:13-14 [MSG]