Turning Point

Do Not Rob God

[Malachi 3:8-12]

8 “Will a man rob God?Yet you have robbed Me!But you say,‘In what way have we robbed You?’In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,For you have robbed Me,Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,That there may be food in My house,And try Me now in this,”Says the Lord of hosts,“If I will not open for you the windows of heavenAnd pour out for you such blessingThat there will not be room enough to receive it.

11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”Says the Lord of hosts;

12 “And all nations will call you blessed,For you will be a delightful land,”Says the Lord of hosts.
In the final book of the Old Testament, the last of the Hebrew prophets urged the Israelites—those who had returned from Babylon to restore the nation of Judah—to make some improvements. The people were lapsing into complacency and apathy. One area that needed changing—their personal giving patterns. They failed to consistently give a tenth of their income to the Lord. Malachi put it as sharply as he knew how. They were robbing God!
“‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it’” (Malachi 3:10, NIV).
This is the only time in Scripture we’re invited to test or try God. When we give generously, systematically, and cheerfully to Him, He will open “the floodgates of heaven.” What a promise! What a challenge! Imagine the floodgates of heaven sliding open!
God loves a cheerful giver.
One of the reasons I tithe is because by doing it, every year and every month and every week, I am proving in my own heart that God’s truth is indeed trustworthy. He will take care of us.
~ David Jeremiah

Turning Point

Numbers 6:22-27 [NKJV]
The Priestly Blessing

22 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:

24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;

25 The Lord make His face shine upon you,And be gracious to you;

26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,And give you peace.”’

27 “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”

Fifty years ago, officials of Derry, New Hampshire, sealed items in a safe and deposited them as a time capsule at the old municipal building. When the time came to open the time capsule, several people gathered to see what memorabilia it contained. Some expected to find items connected to astronaut Alan Shepard, who was from Derry. But when the safe was opened, it was empty. “I was a little horrified there was nothing in there,” said the director of the town’s library. No one knows whether the contents were stolen or if the whole thing was a hoax.

How many people spend fifty years of their lives—or sixty or seventy or eighty—only to find they’ve been chasing empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. Satan’s philosophies are hoaxes, and he is a thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy.
We serve a great God who deserves to be first in our life. Seek Him. Let Him fill you with His blessings that will never disappear.
In contrast to the darkness and death, tears and trauma, sorrow and stress, the blessings of God drop like quiet dew… jewels from Heaven’s treasure store.
~ Anne Graham Lotz

Turning Point

Isaiah 1:18 (NLT]
Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord,“ 
Though your sins are like scarlet,They shall be as white as snow; 
Though they are red like crimson, 
They shall be as wool.

We’ve all met them: married couples who have been together so long they can finish each other’s sentences. They even give each other a sideways glance if one hears the other saying something that “doesn’t sound like you.” There’s no fooling people who know each other intimately.

God knows us intimately, but something else knows us just as intimately. And that is the Word of God. God is obviously “living and powerful,” but so is His Word. God can discern the “thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12) and so can His Word. Which is one of the benefits of reading Scripture consistently—to show us who we really are on the inside. And when we encounter a verse that lets us know we have fallen short of God’s glory, we can immediately go to God in confessional prayer and be forgiven.

Let the Word be a mirror for your heart. And let God cleanse you of any thought or intent that is not pleasing to Him.
We can’t really tell how crooked our thinking is until we line it up with the straight edge of Scripture.
~ Elisabeth Elliot

A Blessed New Year

Psalm 1 is the gateway to all the Psalms. In six verses, it gives us all we need to move into the new year.

The first word is Blessed. God wants to bless you in the coming year.

In verse 1, you are blessed by your separation—the things you don’t do and people you avoid (“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel in the ungodly”).

In verse 2, you’re blessed by your meditation (“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates…”).

In verse 3, you’re blessed by your maturation as God develops you (“like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth fruit”).

And in verses 4-6, you are blessed in your destination (“The Lord knows the way of the righteous”).

The coming year will be full of blessings for those who turn away from harmful habits, rededicate themselves to studying and meditating on God’s Word, envision themselves as trees by channels of water, and look forward to God’s leading every step of the way.
By God’s grace, that’s you! So have a blessed New Year!

Blessed, O Lord, the opening year, / to each soul assembled here: / Clothe Thy Word with power divine, / Make us willing to be Thine.
~ John Newton

Turning Point

Recommended Reading: Luke 2:8~20

Glory in the Highest

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.

Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright, Round yon virgin mother and child! Holy Infant so tender and mild, Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace. 
Think of the difference between Christmas Eve in 5-6 B.C. and Christmas Eve today. Then, there were no horns honking, no sirens wailing, no neon lights glaring, no videos streaming, no music blaring … it was a silent, holy night. It might have been noisier in Jerusalem, just eight miles from Bethlehem, but in Bethlehem, all was calm—and all became bright as the radiance of God’s incarnation was made known to a young couple. The quietness and peace of that birth reflects the peace that God offers to those who trust in Him: We pray and His peace guards our heart and mind in Christ (Philippians 4:6-7).
Don’t let the “loudness” of the Christmas season overwhelm your quiet times with God. Live and sleep during this season in “heavenly peace.”

Turning Point

Gratitude Attitude

Deuteronomy 16:13-17 [NKJV]
The Feast of Tabernacles Reviewed

13 “You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. 14 And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. 15 Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.

16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.

Research has shown that, in America, people in the bottom twenty percent of income brackets give a higher percentage of their income to charity than those who are in the highest twenty percent of income brackets. The wealthier may give larger amounts of money, but the lower earners give a higher percentage. Jesus noticed the difference between amount and percentage one day at the temple—and pointed out which was more commendable.

People were putting offerings in the temple treasury containers. The wealthy were putting in large gifts out of their wealth—that is, gifts that required no sacrifice—when a poor widow came up and deposited two tiny coins: “her whole livelihood.” Jesus commended the poor widow for her generosity and sacrifice, while declining to commend the wealthy in the same way. The wealthy gave more money, but the widow gave more heart.

Let your gifts to God and others reflect an attitude of gratitude for all He has given you.
The essence of Christian ethics is gratitude.

~ R. C. Sproul

Turning Point

John 7:37-39 (NKJV)
The Promise of the Holy Spirit

37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

In his book Timeless Healing, Harvard medical professor, Dr. Herbert Benson, recalls seeing the epic movie Lawrence of Arabia in a theatre in 1962—a film set in the scorching deserts of the Middle East during World War I. Because the original film was nearly four hours long, there was an intermission halfway through. Benson recounts how, at the intermission, moviegoers descended on the concession stand for cold drinks after watching nearly two hours of heat, sand, and wind!

The moviegoers weren’t dying of thirst, but they felt like it. Such can be our experience when we go through difficult times. We feel like the psalmist—parched in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. But there is spiritual water available through the Spirit as Christ announced at the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:37-39). Our thirst is quenched when we worship the One who sent His Spirit to meet our every need: “Thus I will bless You while I live” (Psalm 63:4).

Are you in a dry and barren place today? Drink deeply of the Spirit and be refreshed through worship.
Worry and worship are mutually exclusive.
~ John Blanchard