Day 27: First Fruits, Cheerful Stewards

In Deuteronomy 26, we are taught to give of our first fruits to our local priest.  “First fruits” are the initial proceeds of the soil of the land that He gave to us.  And so, perhaps we are not so much giving what is ours, but we are returning a portion of what we have made of what God has given us.  Perhaps we are not so much a giver as we are a steward of God’s generous provision.  We don’t give or provide; He does.

Today’s M46 passage is Proverbs 3:9-10, which says, “Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase:  so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about giving tithes and offerings.  Discuss the benefits of honoring God with their money and the importance of being a giver.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that we’re considering the lesson of first fruits on what the proverbial Hallmark Nation celebrates as “Giving Tuesday.”  A modern era commercial concoction dating back to 2012, it’s typically the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.  A cynic may even observe that it’s a day of giving that follows a day of feasting and 2+ days of marathon shopping – something of a “Last Fruits Day” if sequence indicates priority.

I don’t know that I’ve ever had anyone tell me that they’re short because of their first fruits tithe, though I’m certain that many have said at one time or another that they’ve little to give after first satisfying all else.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for always providing for me and my family.  I thank you for your promise that as I honor you with what you bless me with, you always provide all that my family has need of.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Thoughts:  First fruits, tithing, and stewardship are easier and best learned early in life.  As our children begin to experience opportunities to earn money and receive gifts, we have an opportunity to teach them about tithing their first fruits and saving the next 10%.  If hard-wired early, these habits will reap benefits for their lifetime.

We will go to Proverbs 10 tomorrow for a bit on a long life of peace and prosperity.  Make it a great day.  I’ll see you then!

Keep it Lit,

T.

 

 

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Day 26: A Fool’s Mischief

“It is as sport to a fool to do mischief:  but a man of understanding hath wisdom.” – Proverbs 10:23

To be a fool takes little effort or exertion, though understanding requires effort, study, and reflection.  Mischief will find us, while we must seek understanding.  Even Bob Marley noted that we should “flee from…mischief…”

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about the consequence of doing the wrong thing, and associating themselves with others who like to do wrong things.  “Birds of a feather flock together.”  Talk to them about who their friends are.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, THANK YOU for giving my child wisdom in choosing her friends.  I ask that you bring friends across her path who love and honor You, and will be a reason why my children fulfill your purpose in her life.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thoughts:  Take inventory of your child’s friends.  Can you name the three friends s/he is closest to?  What are their interests outside of school and what do you know of their family?  Is s/he choosing friends wisely?  Now, same questions…regarding your own friends that s/he sees you associating with as you demonstrate your own wisdom.  (Hmm) And what are the potential consequences of mischief, versus wisdom?

On to Proverbs 3 tomorrow, with a bit about first fruits and cheerful stewards.  In the meantime, have a great day!

Keep it Lit,

T.

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Day 25: God Protects and Provides

I hope everyone enjoyed a restful Thanksgiving break with family and friends.

Today’s study is of Proverbs 2:6-8:  “For the Lord giveth wisdom:  out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.  He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous.  He is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. He keepeth the paths of judgement, and preserveth the way of His saints.”

This is teaching us that God provides wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, and that He protects those who walk with righteousness and decency (ESV uses “integrity”).

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about the importance of letting God’s wisdom be a guiding influence in their life.  Let them know that God will protect and provide for them as they listen to His voice.”

The M46 text refers only to verses 6-8, but perhaps the first five verses of Proverbs 2 best set the stage for our challenge.  Consider, “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”  (ESV)

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for giving my child wisdom.  I’m thankful for your loving protection and provision, and that you continue to show yourself in her life!  Help her to receive your words with open ear and open heart, to call out for understanding, and to seek your wisdom as her treasure.  In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Thoughts:  Wow, so simple, and yet…I don’t know about you, but I’m not always quick enough to open my ears and heart while crying out for insight and understanding.  Too often, I suppose I probably move too quickly under the guise of decisiveness, concluding that I have the answer – perhaps that’s the difference between having just knowledge, versus knowledge and wisdom.  It’s a difficult discipline to teach when still challenged by my own learning, but perhaps it’s a lifetime challenge for us all.

Tomorrow we’ll talk a bit about mischief.  In the meantime, I hope you have a great start to the new week ahead.  Until then…

Keep it Lit,

T.

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Thankful

Albert Schweitzer said, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.  Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

Thanksgiving started as an annual celebration of gratitude for the blessing and bounty of the harvest.  In today’s world, perhaps it is more of a ritual celebration of the practice of gratitude; a brief pause in an otherwise frenetic world where family and friends gather, feasts are shared, and some take the opportunity to “give back” in service to others.

Entering into Thanksgiving 2017, I’m thinking of those for whom I, as Schweitzer observed, have deep gratitude for – those for whom I am grateful, as they rekindled my own flame within.  To me, it’s particularly appropriate to think of these spiritual torchbearers, as the pause of Thanksgiving always seems to arrive just in time amid weariness and smoldering optimism.

Yes, I’m thinking of family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.  Likewise, I’m thinking of the homeless I am privileged to serve, as the time invested with them always provides very personal returns – and in spades.  And I’m thinking of our military and public servants who stand selflessly for me, their unmet protectee.  For each of them, I am thankful.

There is one, though, for whom I am particularly thankful this Thanksgiving.  She’s one who has rekindled my own flame within with the subtlety of a flamethrower.  Let me tell you a bit about her…

  • She has reconnected family and friends long disconnected and separated by miles;
  • She has confronted fear with the courage of a decorated warrior;
  • She has smiled through unimaginable discomfort;
  • She has refocused our priorities and reminded us of what truly matters;
  • She has brought strangers together in a time when unity and common purpose are more often than not difficult to fathom, much less to realize;
  • She has filled rooms with laughter when they may otherwise seem so hollow and dark;
  • She has renewed purpose for those called into her path to provide care and counsel;
  • She has brought countless people to prayer including, perhaps, some who would otherwise remain disengaged in their conversation and detached from their relationship with Him; and
  • In doing so, she has renewed hope in many, while ultimately…
  • She as served and pleased Him.

Indeed, she has “lighted the flame within us.”  And she is just four years old.

Today, friends, I am thankful for young Lelia and her example.  As she continues her battle with cancer, my prayer is that Lelia and family feel the gratitude and thanks of all who are blessed to know them, to pray with them, and to walk with them.

As we give thanks and “practice gratitude” today, consider…beyond material bounty, the protection of a secure home, and the comfort of a great meal, what are we truly grateful for?  Who has ignited the flame within each of us and how will we continue to use that flame to bring light and warmth to others…in keeping with Lelia’s example?  For a child to be born into this world and to bring such light with her is, perhaps, about as Christ-like as it gets.

And I wonder…what if we paused a bit each day to “practice gratitude” – not just the fourth Thursday of November…annually?  Think of the possibilities if each of us could emulate a little bit of Lelia’s courageous example, daily.

Keep it Lit, indeed.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.  My prayers are with Lelia and her family – Rebecca, Mike, Brendan, Micah, and Lelia, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and all who are warmed by Lelia’s light.  Yesterday we prayed that our children’s light may be a shining example of His glory; today our prayer is affirmed by Lelia’s example.

And my prayer for all today is in Numbers 6:24-26.  Grace and peace be yours.

Happy Thanksgiving!

T.

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Day 24: Shining Light

“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” – Proverbs 4:18

To me, this is telling us that the lighted path, through God, is the trusted and reliable path.  To step out of the light is to step into uncertainty.  Or, more simply – to do what we know is right is reliable, though, perhaps not always popular, but to do what is not right or just brings insecurity and uncertainty.

And so, we teach our children to do what is right without regard for what others may think, say, or do.

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about the importance of doing the right thing.  Reveal to them how, when you do the right thing, their life stands out in a GREAT WAY that will allow God to bless them.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for leading my daughter in the right path that honors you.  I pray that her life is a shining light of your glory that others can see You living in their life, as well!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thoughts:  As we teach our children right versus wrong, consider…Do we always do what is right simply for ourselves?  How do we feel when we know that we have done right, versus what we feel when we have done wrong?  Consider, too, that doing right is not only serving God, but may also be serving as an example for others looking to us for direction.  How do our actions and choices affect those around us?  And where have you seen a great example of God’s light shining through a child’s life?

Friends, tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Pause and consider all that we have to be thankful for.  Tomorrow we will take a brief break from M46…sort of…but will spend our time together recognizing a bit of all that we have to be thankful for.  Until then, be well.

Keep it Lit,

T.

 

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Day 23: Wisdom, Part 2

“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.  For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.”

In yesterday’s verse (Proverbs 4:7-8), we learned that wisdom begins with getting wisdom; finding begins with seeking.  To experience it, wisdom must be both desired and honored.

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about the value of God’s wisdom.  Why is it more valuable than money or gold?

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for the benefit of your wisdom and understanding.  Help me to teach my daughter the benefits of finding and adhering to your wisdom.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thoughts:  Inasmuch as there is wisdom in stewardship, how may we be better stewards of the wisdom He grants us?  Where does wisdom rank among our most valued blessings – and of which are we more impassioned stewards?  Ponder James 3:17.

As we approach Thanksgiving, we will spend a bit of time on Proverbs 4:18 and how God’s light may shine through our children.

Keep it Lit,

T.

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Day 22: Wisdom

Wisdom results from the collective application of past lessons, acumen, perception, and judgment.  As Christians, we believe that God grants and entrusts wisdom to us.

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom, and with all thy getting get understanding.  Exalt her, and she shall bring thee to honor, when thou dost embrace her.” – Proverbs 4:7-8

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about wisdom and understanding.  Talk to them about how to embrace and honor the wisdom that comes from God.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for freely giving me and my family Your wisdom.  Help me and my family to embrace your wisdom and understanding in our daily lives.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thoughts:  Perhaps it’s possible to have faith and understanding without wisdom.  Perhaps wisdom is reserved for those who transcend simple belief to a commitment to the path of God’s will, recognizing that our knowledge alone is wholly insufficient.  Believing is knowing, while wisdom is actively using what we know to pursue His will.  Simply put, wisdom is choosing His will over our want.  Think about how we commonly ask God for wisdom.  (Hint:  praying for forgiveness, freedom from temptation, and delivery from evil.)

More tomorrow on the value of wisdom – see Proverbs 3:13-14.  Until then…

Keep it Lit,

T.

 

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