My daughter went out to eat for her first sit down dinner with a group, where she was then required to take care of her own bill and tip accordingly. She was well prepared for the trip and was excited to have some time to spend with her friends dining out. When it was time to pay the bill, my daughter figured out the tip like I taught her using a simple math trick. She rounded up as well, something else I taught her. Hey, I like my kids to be equipped.
My daughter was ready to pay, but then a few people questioned the tip she was leaving. You aren’t leaving that amount are you?!? That’s too much. A few gasped at the thought. But she was determined to bless the person with a good tip like she saw in action so many times. Nonetheless, there were more gasps and some people telling her it was too much to give. Just an FYI, it was only $5 for a $15 meal; it wasn’t something outrageous. Even so, she didn’t give the tip she planned. She listened to her friends who told her it was too much, and followed their instructions to get change and leave precisely the exact percentage down to the penny as best she could get.
Often during tip time, people do what reminds me of doing a duty, giving what had to be given by society’s terms. Like paying union dues or a gas bill. My daughter felt bad that she caved in. I told her that for the next meal, she can say she wishes to bless the person and just give what is placed on her heart. This was the first time she was in this situation, and with her innocent eyes, she hasn’t witnessed people trying to tip the minimum. All she sees is an outpouring of generosity. Today, stand bold. Don’t allow the people around you to dictate your actions. God is generous, more generous than anyone. You will never out give God. Truth. If the Spirit leads you to bless someone, whether it be a nice tip, some cash, a gift card, some manual labor, etc., listen. We are blessed to be a blessing. And it’s such a blessing to be a blessing. This world is a dark place. We are called to be the light. Don’t hide it. Shine it. Be the difference. Show the love.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7 [NIV]
“And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35 [NLT]
Whenever I get to the pet store, I like to get a special treat for both of the pups. Today I decided I would get both of the dogs a large bone that I previously got for Max in the past. I always hesitated getting one for Marci because she is so small. It turned out that when I got Max one, Marci would take it and drag it all over the living room enjoying some chew time.
I quickly found out that when there are two bones, the dynamics change. All the sudden Marci, who was blessed to have this large bone for the first time, became a bit greedy. When she saw Max move away to lay down in one of his favorite spots, she took his bone and pulled it over to her bone. In doing so, she left him know that the bones were now both hers. Oddly enough, Max is insecure and Marci often gets the best of him. We found ourselves having to give Max his bone back and tell Marci to mind her manners.
The Bible speaks often of the sin of greed. John the Baptist said if you have two shirts, give one away. If you have food, share with those who are hungry. Abraham was blessed to be a blessing and so are we. We have a choice. We can choose to follow the teaching of the world, which points us to building castles here on earth and practice habits of greed. We can choose to live a life of generosity. When we open our hands, ceasing the ever-so-tight grip on the possessions of this world, we find that our open hands receive greater blessings and it is a pure joy to share as the Spirit leads. Bless someone today!
“John replied, ‘If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.’” – Luke 3:11 [NLT]
Over the years, I have seen the importance of having insurance. Car insurance. House insurance. Medical insurance. Fire insurance. Flood insurance. Life insurance. Insurance is necessary. You never know when something is going to happen and you will need it. I have sadly seen many people have the unexpected creep up and they were without insurance; the results were painful to watch.
In Proverbs, it says: “Good character is the best insurance.” The GOD’s WORD translation says, “Decent people are saved by their righteousness, but treacherous people are trapped by their own greed.” When I personally think of good character as insurance, it reminds me of some people I know with good character. When they got into a situation where they had a great need, dozens upon dozens of people came to help them. Yet when someone deemed a crook or a treacherous person also fell upon hard times, the floods of people didn’t head their way.
In Proverbs 11, it discusses a false balance and it goes back and forth between the upright and the wicked. It goes back and forth between the two types of people. Good character is associated with righteousness, with being blameless, with being humble. The one with good character is merciful, gracious, a guarantor for the stranger. As we read this Proverb, it is quite clear we want so badly to be the one of good character. To be this person, the only way to be this person of good character, is to know the One Who is Righteous and Holy. He is the most gracious. He is the most merciful. He is the greatest Guarantor. He is faithful. He is understanding.
“Good character is the best insurance;
crooks get trapped in their sinful lust.”
-Proverbs 11:6 [MSG]
Scales have a way to be leveled out to zero so that the weights are accurate. When doing business, you want to be sure that scales are zeroed out so that you are not overcharging or undercharging a person. When weighing yourself, you usually first check that the scale is on zero because you do not want any help adding more pounds to your weight.
Over the years, many people have done things to their scales to overcharge people. Extra weight was added to make it charge more. Gasoline pumps were configured to give less gasoline for the price. These things are actions of greed and God detests greed. The proverb continues to say that “he delights in accurate weights.” Accurate weights are true weights. They are honest weights. There is effort taken to be sure that they are accurate.
The person with accurate weights goes the extra mile to always ensure that the weights are accurate. They take the time because they are honest. They are of good character. They walk with integrity. The Lord delights in their honesty. The Lord delights in the Truth. Today’s a great day to check the scales in your life.
“The LORD detests the use of dishonest scales, but he delights in accurate weights.” – Proverbs 11:1 [NLT]
A big question stood out when I was reading Numbers 16 and the account of Korah’s greed. Does it seem insignificant to you? What a question for us to consider in life. Here Korah and others were aligned together with their selfishness fueling the way. God had given them great positions and blessed them well. All of this blessing was overlooked because they had eyes on Moses’ and Aaron’s calling. Why were they any different than these two men? Why could they not have the same honor? That’s what this group wanted to know. They questioned God’s judgment and were driven by greed.
In response to Korah’s great rebellion, Moses asks this question: “Does it seem insignificant to you…” Korah was chosen to serve the Lord in a way that required them to be near to the Lord. They had a very special position and yet they neglected to see the beauty of that calling upon their lives because they were too focused on Moses and Aaron. This hasn’t ended with Korah’s rebellion. It continues today. Did you ever find yourself looking around asking why God used someone it such a way while you were used so differently?
Remember something—we each have a special role to play in the Kingdom. God has designed us each to do great works through Him. Look at what God is doing in your life. Look at the special calling He has just for you. Does it seem insignificant to you? If it does, you aren’t serving the Lord; you’re serving yourself.
“Does it seem insignificant to you that the God of Israel has chosen you from among all the community of Israel to be near him so you can serve in the LORD’s Tabernacle and stand before the people to minister to them?” – Numbers 16:9 [NLT]
One phrase that is hurtful to anyone is “I hate you.” This morning I saw a little boy shopping with his mother. She was looking for cough medicine and after finding the bottle she wanted, her son said, “That’s mine.” She said “no” to him and then his response was loud. He yelled, “I hate you.” It hurt me hearing it and it was not even directed my way.
The boy was asking for adult cough medicine which was not his and could have actually killed him if consumed. Kids go through the “it’s mine” phase. Perhaps the kid just wanted to hold the bottle and it was simply a matter of having something to claim. But we see this every day. We see this same scenario played over and over again, not in a grocery store and not over a bottle of cough syrup. We say to God, “that’s mine.” That can be seen as an “I hate you” to a degree. Some people even go as far as to say that as well.
Today’s culture is all about having everything. We are taught that we deserve everything. We are entitled to everything. We can have whatever we want. If it isn’t given to us, we can take it. We are owed it. We even go as far as to think that God owes us. Why should we give our lives to Him? He should just fulfill my long grocery list prayer and be the God I want Him to be because I am entitled. It is sad. I thought of all of this when I saw this mother getting yelled at by her son. The mother said to the boy, “well I love you.” We may feel entitled. We may live for ourselves. We may even turn our backs on our loving Father. But still, He loves us. We are not entitled. But we are loved and we are shown grace that we surely do not deserve. Thank God today. Thank Him for His love and His forgiveness. Remember, you are not entitled to anything and nothing belongs to you.
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people!Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” – James 4:1-8 [ESV]
This lesson is on the Parable of the Foolish Rich Man. The passage to read is Luke 12:13-21. The key verse is Luke 16:13. The front page of the activity sheet is divided into two sides. The object is to have the children list what they think both types of people would look like in their opinion. The one side would be those who are rich toward God and the other side would be those who are like the foolish rich man. On the second side, there is an activity to look through the passage and notice all of the key words that focus on the self. There are a few verses included with the lesson for the kids to reflect upon further with parents at home.
To open the class, I am going to ask some questions that would give the children options of seeing how people could put God first or put money or themselves first. From there, I am going to tell the parable and have a few students read some verses. I got some granola (honey and oats) to share with the children as I discuss this abundance of crops. Then we will discuss further using the activity sheet I created (front and back). Our craft will be something I’ve seen around in the past. We will make silos using toilet paper rolls. I am going to get the tubes of toilet paper covered with white paper before class and glued at the bottom to save time. They will decorate the silos and then instead of filling them with crops, fill them with blessings from God. Then every night they can pull out a blessing and thank God. When the blessings run out, they are encouraged to fill the silos up (or even fill up as they see more blessings).
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I just finished working on this new project, Settling Down With God: A Study of 1 Kings. Funny enough, when God gave me the title, I initially thought that He wanted me to write about coping with AdHd in a biblical manner, because AdHd is something that both my daughter and I have learned to deal with over the years. Nonetheless, I waited for His direction and later learned that I was way off course.
I was very excited to dig deeper into 1 Kings for this project, as it is always a book I enjoy reading. There is so much there; I am always amazed.
For my first three books, and my 4th book (the Daily Good complimentary 14-day Devotional), I actually used my own personal photography. Each of the photos on all four of those books were taken in Australia. I wanted to do things differently this time around. My daughter is quite the artist and I asked if she could design the book cover. She merely was told that it was a Bible study book on 1 Kings.
As my daughter completed the book cover, I was working on the text. When we both were finished, my daughter sat by my side and helped to edit the cover till it was as she thought best for her vision. She told me that the puzzle pieces were used on the cover because it represents how each one of us is a special piece, we each are different, but we belong to one body. Then she said at the same time, our lives are made up of different pieces. I was so impressed by what she has already learned so far, to see her vision brought to life, and to work with her on this project.
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