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Tithes and Lives

According to the book of Genesis, the first family on earth felt compelled to make offerings to the Lord.  It’s unclear if God first communicated the concept of a tithe to Adam while living in the Garden of Eden or later on in life.  Nonetheless, sons of Adam, Cain and Abel began to practice what is referred to as first fruits.  As a farmer, Cain brought forth crops during the harvest.  Meanwhile, little brother Abel was a shepherd, not withholding any expense, presenting the Lord with some of his finest sheep.  These offerings often reveal who trusts God completely from those whom are still trying to control the steering wheel.

In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord, Genesis 4:3.

Like buying Christmas gifts, some individuals have the means to purchase anything they want.  Meanwhile, the majority have to set spending limits to avoid going into debt.  This limitation can create animosity between family members or friends over the holidays.  If you expect a certain amount of gifts in your mind, any type of high expectations can lead to disappointment.  From God’s perspective, He is the Creator of life, a spiritual father to all.  Unfortunately, human nature breeds selfishness, causing many to forget about God the Father, like the wayward child in the parable of the prodigal son.

And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, Genesis 4:4.

The prophet Isaiah uses the term Emmanuel to refer to the coming Messiah, Jesus.  When translated into English, Emmanuel means God with us.  Perhaps, this inspired three Magi to each bring gifts from their lands.  One brought gold, another frankincense and the last myrrh.  If there is a lesson people can learn from these three wise men it’s that tithes and lives go together.  Giving tithes and transforming lives go hand in hand.  As Christmas Day approaches, may the Holy Spirit inspire you to give back to God through tithes and a rededicated life to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

The Fruit of Lips

 

Unless you live in the Bible belt, portions of the south or in a friendly neighbor, an encouraging word is a rare sound.  Rather, misery loves company, spreading negativity into the air, leaving a trail of carnage in its wake.  In this current environment, the fruit of lips is disappearing.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name, Hebrews 13:15.

To combat harsh comments during the first century, the author of Hebrews suggests praising God can turn a foul mouth into the fruit of lips.  However, you still have to overcome any influences which alter your choice of words.  The term continually is added to insure this practice is consistent, not something here today and gone tomorrow.  Change takes time and making praise a habits will lead to a transformed vocabulary.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption, Ephesians 4:29-30.

The apostle Paul discovered that unwholesome talk grieves the Holy Spirit.  If the church is one body composed of many parts, any comment toward someone you don’t like or related to is like slapping God is the face, the Creator of life.  Therefore, to avoid failing into this trap, replace curses with praise.  Then, you will emulate the fruit of lips.

by Jay Mankus

R and R

R & R is a military phrase made popular by the 1970 television series MASH.  This abbreviation is slang for rest and recuperation.  In the show, nurses and surgeons would receive weekend passes throughout the year, usually spending time relaxing and recreating.  This break from the stress of life provided individuals a chance to unwind, before returning back to work.

For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works, Hebrews 4:4.

Perhaps, its time for busy Americans to apply this biblical principle.  Although, its hard to imagine the Creator of life needing to rest, God created the Sabbath for us.  In His infinite wisdom, the Lord knew the wear and tear a week takes on individuals.  Thus, the soul needs a break, to refuel on fellowship, prayer and worship.  Without taking a day to recharge, people will eventually, crash from sheer exhaustion.

For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish, Jeremiah 31:25.

One day, Jesus was disappointed by the lack of faith in those places where he performed miracles.  After lashing out at those who failed to believe, Jesus makes a plea to those in the audience who were hurting, tired or weary.  Within Matthew 11:28-30, the Lord lays out a blue print for finding rest.  First, don’t be ashamed to come to Jesus with your excess baggage.  Second, let go of your burdens, by laying them upon the altar of grace.  Finally, lean on the Holy Spirit to revive your soul.  In this, I pray that you will experience R & R.

by Jay Mankus

 

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