Treasure your time

Mind Your Giving, my dad used to say. He was reminding me to watch where I spent my time and how my money flowed out of my life, not to mention what I was up to. Which was often no good in those days. As Jesus moves His sermon forward He reminds us to keep a check on our giving saying We must be sure our giving is producing the best return. Therefore, Christ Jesus says in Matthew 6:19~Do not lay up for yourselves treasures (θησαυρός thēsauros) on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, (ESV) The word (θησαυρός thēsauros) translated treasures is the word from which we get thesaurus, meaning treasury of words. That is why the Bible is so precious, it is a treasury of God’s words, offering believers words of life and hope, issuing us peace from the Prince, and holding His promises that are our eternal reward.

So what does it mean to lay up treasures in heaven? Well, this includes our tithing or giving but is not limited to it! It is about us being good stewards with all that God has given to us, knowing that our deeds will follow us. Have you ever squandered some money? My dad offered us a treasure of words in the form of idioms, like Don’t throw good money after bad, or Somebody else always has what you want, the trick is learning to want what you have. We all have talents and abilities given to us by God, who desires that we utilize and leverage them for His kingdom. Malachi 3:8~Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. (ESV) 

What are you contributing to God? A tithe is giving a tenth back to God through the local community of faith. Many believers give off their AGI, adjusted gross income. Throughout our marriage, April and I give back on everything we get. Knowing that we cannot out-give God. In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul assures the Corinthians that their generosity does not come at the risk of future poverty. On the contrary, he says, generosity is the route to prevent future deprivation. Writing in v8~And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (NIV) Jesus in sharing about forgiveness tells us of God’s giving principle in Luke 6:38~Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you measured, it shall be measured to you again. (ESV)

Sitting on Mt Beatitude, Christ Jesus says if you don’t tithe, you’ve robbed God. Do you know the difference between stealing and robbing? Stealing is theft or the wrongful taking and carrying away of the goods or property of another. We steal when the owner is not looking or is absent. While robbing is totally different. It is the felonious act of taking the property of another in his or her immediate presence. When we don’t tithe, we are not stealing from God; we are robbing God, while in His presence.

Jesus says to us, be good stewards with all that Father has entrusted us with. Others may ask, What is the difference between tithes and offerings? Offerings are what we give in addition to, or over and above our tithe. For example, gifts to missions like the orange envelope in this mornings bulletin. Offerings and gifts should never be deducted from our tithes, which goes to the local church. Listen to Jesus in Matthew 6:21~For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (ESV) God doesn’t want our money, because He doesn’t need it. He wants what our hearts Giving is about our heart condition, and God says to give freely, generously, open-handed.

Then Jesus shares that the Pharisees had a spiritual eye disease and it’s called greed. Speaking metaphorically, Christ Jesus talks about spiritual vision in Matthew 6:22-23~The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. (ESV) The body metaphorically represents the whole person. With their eyes, they were coveting wealth. That means our eyes provide light for our bodies, so we can walk around safely. Jesus continues, So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. (6:22) Good spiritual vision means we clearly see what God wants us to see. So, look at the decision that is in front of you, as Jesus reminds us that we cannot serve two masters. (6:24) Saints we need to put into practice 1 Corinthians 10:31~So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (NIV) Let everything within you live for God.

Our Takeaway for the week is: Treasure your time with the Lord. Do you treasure your time with the Lord?  As we continue to grow, and even begin to make new changes for God, we need the power of prayer at work in our lives through the Holy Spirit, sometimes He will lead us to fast and deny ourselves as He challenges us to give ourselves away, and be used of God. In these times here’s a helpful prayer from Psalm 119:18~Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. (NLT) In life, we have only two choices, God and anything else. As you pray today, as God to help you choose to respond in the moment of His in-breaking. To be an encourager and help, that your fruit stand would be full and ready for those who cross your path.

Prayer & Fasting

Have you ever asked, Why 40? 40 days is a prevalent period of time in the Bible. There is Captain Noah on the boat Salvation, Ole Mo on the mountain, Jonah’s call for repentance and judgment, and then there is Jesus fasting. Well, 40 days is a common period of time in the Bible. Though there is no specific verse to explain. However, psychologists tell us it takes about six weeks, roughly 40 days to break a habit or make a permanent lifestyle change. It takes 21-Days to create a new habit and almost twice as long to break a bad one. Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (now called CRU) Fasting is the most powerful spiritual discipline of all Christian disciplines. Through fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit can transform your life.

I truly believe that, because when we yield our lives to God, everything changes. A fast should always have a spiritual purpose. It’s not about weight-loss, detoxifying, or getting healthy, though these are all-natural byproducts. Did you know that intermittent fasting: improves brain function, various metabolic features, reduced oxidative stress and inflammation, as well as a reduction in blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. Fasting has many benefits. It might be to clearly discern God’s will, repentance, or for breaking a bad habit or addiction. It could be because we need God’s power to overcome a certain fear. The Pharisees fasted twice a week—likely on Mondays and Thursdays where they make this known in rebuttal. Luke 18:12~I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. (NIV) However, they were doing the right thing for the wrong reason. 

Under the assumption His followers will fast, Jesus says, in Matthew 6:17-18~…don’t look gloomy…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. (ESV) Again, we are met with practicing our spiritual disciplines before God. Where we anoint ourselves and wash in the water of the Word as part of our daily grooming. Do you anoint yourselves each day, asking God to guide and protect, to open and utilize you, to fill you with His Holy Spirit and do the good things He has planned? Many of you ladies would not go out without painting the barn, I tell you the anointing is so much more necessary.

Because God knows the purpose of our fast. He rewards us with things, such as courage, following His will, forgiveness, the power to break a habit and to be a witness. Christ Jesus never said anything to discourage fasting. He only condemns those who fast for the wrong reasons. Fasting brings a reward with eternal dividends. The real question is: Do you want the eternal reward and God’s treasure? If so then fast for the right reason! As you go before the Lord in prayer ask the Lord to reveal what is needed in your life and you can work towards maturing and growing in that direction.

Fasting 101

Today, let’s consider three reasons why we should fast in our lives. Reason #1—When you are guilty of sin. When the people of Nineveh repent, they call for a fast. Jonah 3:5~The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. (NIV) When we recognize sin, make a turn. 

Reason #2—When we are afraid. When life gets serious and we need the Lord to intervene, it’s time for a fast. 2 Chronicles 20:3~Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. (NIV) Life has a way of caving in, and we need the Lord’s help. Fasting is about surrendering ourselves totally to God saying help. 

Reason #3—When we face a major decision. Take the time to fast and seek God’s counsel. Listen to how the church at Jerusalem chooses the first missionaries. Acts 13:2-3~While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. (NIV) Notice how fasting is always accompanied by prayer. What fasting is not, is saying, I got so busy at work today, that I skipped lunch, and well I fasted. NO!

Again, we witness the same pattern later when Paul and Barnabas appoint elders in the churches they established on their first missionary journey Acts 14:23~Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. (NIV) Fasting is a much needed spiritual discipline in our growing faith. Well then, is fasting only food deprivation. When we turn to Daniel we learn a good example of a partial or selective fast. Daniel 10:3~I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips, and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. (NIV) This is our 21-Days to begins each year in the word, on our knees in prayer, fasting about our lives, families, and our community. Moreover, we have a number of people who fast the first Friday of each month as part of the Global Prayer Movement.

Another version of fasting comes to us as part of our journey during Lent. Where many give up sweets, or coffee for 40 days. Every time we are tempted to eat something sweet, we pray. Some fast TV, others fast social media, while still others only seem to fast—fasting, but that really isn’t the point. Fasting cultivates in our lives the need for God, it affords the realization that we need to be better about communicating with Him and listening to what He has planned. Ephesians 2:10~For we are God’s handiwork, His masterpiece, His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (NIV)

I want to encourage you today to take time to pray for others and the good works that God has planned for you today. Also, don’t forget to pray about the good works you did yesterday or last week. Maybe they need a touch, phone call or text, just to check on them. Just keep doing the good world God has for you.