What Shall I Give the Lord


It’s the day after Christmas. During Christmas, we spend this time remembering and celebrating the Lord coming to the world. Yet, instead of reading the Christmas story, I found myself continuing to read along in my daily study through the Bible. As I was reading the Bible on Christmas Eve, I came across an interesting passage. The passage asked a question that really provoked something inside me to need to answer it. It’s funny (or really divine providence) that I came across this verse the night before Christmas. I had read this passage many times, but never really thought about it.

Psalm 116:12 (NKJV) — What shall I render to the Lord For 
all His benefits toward me?

What shall I render the Lord for all His Benefits toward me? What a question the psalmist asks. It seems that we say Christmas is all about giving. Personally, I think it is all about receiving! Christmas is really all about a single gift. It is all about the Lord giving to us and about us receiving His gift. But the psalmist does still ask an interesting question. Is there something I can give back to the Lord? Before I could answer the question, I had to start thinking about all His Benefits.

It’s interesting; Over the years, what I consider the top benefits from God towards me has changed. I once thought it was success in a career. God has blessed me there, but I don’t think that is the top one. I even thought it was a wonderful family. I have a great family. I have a wonderful wife who is my help in this world. I have beautiful daughters that are grown now and ready to start lives of their own. Growing up, I’ve been blessed with a great family that lead me in a life that was always full of Jesus. I have great friends who are the kind that are lifelong who have walked this walk of faith with me.

I think all these things are way up there on the list of the blessings of the Lord. But they are not the top. All of these things are dear to me, but all would be meaningless without the very top thing. Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians the following:

Ephesians 1:3 (NKJV) — Blessed be the God and Father 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual
blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

Spiritual blessings are the real blessings. Paul goes on to say we have been adopted into the family of God as heirs. We are blameless before Him in love. We have redemption through Him. We are forgiven our sins. And, in all this, we have the Holy Spirit as a seal of this promise.

All these blessings are but the manifestation of the greatest blessing of all. Salvation is the real gift He has given us. There is nothing greater. “My grace is sufficient for you,” He once told Paul. And it is sufficient. We need nothing else.

So, what shall I give the Lord in return? What would be my Christmas gift to God. The psalmist goes on to answer it.

Psalm 116:12–18 (NKJV) — 12 What shall I render to the Lord 
For all His benefits toward me? 13 I will take up the cup of
salvation, And call upon the name of the Lord. 14 I will pay my
vows to the Lord Now in the presence of all His people....17 I will
offer to You the sacrifice  of thanksgiving, And will call upon the
name of the Lord. 18 I will pay my vows to the Lord Now in the
presence of all His people,

The first thing the psalmist says is he will Take up the Cup of Salvation! What an answer! The one gift we can give to the Lord is to accept His salvation. The Lord paid a high price for me. The very least I can do is accept it. I will take part in His great salvation.

I will then pay my vows before all His people. I will call upon Him. I will carry the cup of salvation and make sure that others know about it. The cup is freely offered to every person on the earth. And with that cup, we can offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving. This is the only thing we can render to the Lord. Amen.

Through the Bible Week 52, 1 John 1 – Revelation 22


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We have reached the end of our reading through the Bible in one Year.  I hope you were blessed by making it all the way through. I think it fitting to leave us where God leaves us in scripture. The last recorded words of Jesus Christ are found in the last chapter of Revelation.

Revelation 22:12–13 (NKJV) — 12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

Revelation 22:16 (NKJV) — 16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

Revelation 22:20 (NKJV) — 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

In these last words, Jesus says twice “I am coming quickly.” They don’t speak to the timing of His coming, but speak to the manner of His coming. These words are such an encouragement to me. Jesus’ timing is perfect. He says that God the father knows the day of His coming, but when Jesus is told to come, He will come quickly. He will come to the earth like lightening (Matt. 24:27). Jesus’ sole purpose through scripture is to come and to save.

Not only is He coming quickly to save, He is coming to reward and to give to each of us according to our work. As a Christian, we have been called to good works. Jesus will judge each according to what we have done for the Kingdom. For non-believers, there is a different judgment coming. Their judgment is a judgment to prove to them that they deserve destruction. But not so for us. We, as believers, have eternal life and our Lord is returning to reward.

Jesus then gives His credentials for this judgment. Jesus says that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. Jesus lays out that He is the eternal one, the ancient of days. These words mean more than that He was there in the beginning and will be there in the end. This could be better said “I am the origin and the culmination.” All things come from Jesus and flow to Jesus.

I’ll end with the same words as the Apostle John.  “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

In His Service, ScottYear

Through the Bible Week 51, Titus 1 – 2 Peter 3


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In this section of scripture, we cover quite a few different books. One of my favorites is the Book of Hebrews. This book is so rich from discussions on faith, true rest, true sacrifice, the discipline of God,  to simply how much better Jesus is than any other way to righteousness, if any other way were possible.

In chapter 4, Jesus is shown as our true High Priest and we are given many reasons why He is better than any other priest. Towards the end of the chapter, Jesus is shown as our compassionate High Priest. He is compassionate because He can sympathize with all the temptations we face. Because of this, we are left with a commandment/promise.

Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV) — 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It is a verse to which I cling. Look carefully at what this says. If you have kids, picture them.  Have you ever noticed that your kids know they have total access to you. They burst in anytime they need something. It doesn’t matter if you are in a meeting, on the phone, or taking a bath. They run to you the moment they need anything. That is exactly what this verse is talking about.

We can burst in before the throne of God! It says to “come boldly”. That means come without fear, come with purpose, come anytime. How amazing it is that the God of the Universe says we can come boldly to Him at anytime. So who has this right? Who can come boldly? If you ask any person, any Christian, I imagine you would get the same answer: The person walking with God and following God and spending time with God is the one who can come boldly. The good Christian can come boldly.

But, that isn’t what the Bible says. Look again at what we are coming to get: mercy and grace in a time of need. Why would we need mercy and grace? Because we are sinners. It is the sinner who needs to burst in before the throne to get mercy and grace in the time of need. It is not the righteous that needs to come boldly, but the sinner. It is so easy for us to turn our face from God in shame when we are in sin. We seem to think that we need to get right first before coming to God. Don’t be foolish. That is backwards. We can’t “get right” unless we come to God. That is why His throne is open to us at all times. I remember hearing these words from God once: “Don’t run from Me when you sin.  Run to Me!”

What a wonderful God we have that says to run to Him in the moment of sin. He is not there to condemn but to save.

In His Service, Scott

The Final Week’s Reading Plan (8 days):

  1. Day 1 – 1 John 1-5
  2. Day 2 – 2 John – Jude
  3. Day 3 – Revelation 1-3
  4. Day 4 – Revelation 4-8
  5. Day 5 – Revelation 9-12
  6. Day 6 – Revelation 13-16
  7. Day 7 – Revelation 17-19
  8. Day 8 – Revelation 20-22

Through the Bible Week 50, Ephesians 4 – 2 Timothy 4


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As we approach the end of our year through the Bible, it is Christmas time (if you started in the new year). The Christmas story is found in the gospels, especially detailed in the Gospel according to Luke. But, the Christmas message is found all throughout scripture. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he shares the truth of the Christmas message.

Ephesians 2:4–6 (NKJV) — 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

I love this passage. It really speaks to the heart of God. God, rich in mercy, loves us with such a great love that He has raised us up and has given us life even though we were dead in our sins. This is one of those “But God…” passages that gives me a chill (a good chill).  It really speaks to me about the heart of God. Even though we don’t deserve it, He has raised us up to sit in heavenly places in Jesus.

This makes me go back to the passage in Luke’s Gospel where the Angels speak to the shepherds about the birth of Jesus Christ.

Luke 2:13–14 (NKJV) — 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!”

I want you to really understand this moment. This is the moment where everything changed. Something gloriously new had come. Our whole relationship with God changed in a second. God declares peace on Earth and goodwill towards men. The way God deals with mankind changed that very night. God Himself hasn’t changed, but His manner of dealing with mankind changed. No longer was it floods and plagues and fire and brimstone. No longer was it conditional covenants and law. It was peace and goodwill. God declared peace between Himself and mankind. And in this peace, all the hopes of mankind were resting upon the shoulders of small helpless babe.

That babe would grow to manhood. He would know the hurts and temptations of each of us. He would weep with us and He would laugh with us. He would go to the cross and die for each of us. And because of this, we are made alive.

We always like to remember the baby Jesus on Christmas. But Christmas is the beginning of the road to the cross. It is the beginning of the road to our salvation. Paul clearly understands the real gift of Christmas. Just a few verses later, in Ephesians 2, he says this:

Ephesians 2:8 (NKJV) — 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

The Christmas gift is a gift from God. By grace we have been saved. It is the free gift of God that was set in motion before the earth was created. It is the free gift that was manifested that first Christmas Day and it is the free gift that came to completion on the cross. Paul is declaring this free gift to the Ephesians and to us. It is the only gift that matters. It is the free gift of salvation. As you continue to study the word of God, let this be on your mind. All of the word is about this free gift. How about we share this gift this Christmas season.

In His Service, Scott

This Week’s Reading Plan:

  1. Day 1 – Titus 1 – Philemon
  2. Day 2 – Hebrews 1-6
  3. Day 3 – Hebrews 7-10
  4. Day 4 – Hebrews 11-13
  5. Day 5 – James 1-5
  6. Day 6 – 1 Peter 1-5
  7. Day 7 – 2 Peter 1-3

Through the Bible Week 49, 1 Corinthians 15 – Ephesians 3


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As we continue through Paul’s epistles, we come to the epistles to the Corinthians. Paul has a lot to say to the Corinthians. They are a church of faith, but they seem to need a lot of correction. Towards the end of the epistle, Paul switches from correction to exhortation and leaves them with this one.

1 Corinthians 16:13–14 (NKJV) — 13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love.

Paul writes that we should do 5 things as we wait for the Lord. The first is to watch. We are to watch for the Lord’s return. This doesn’t mean to stand outside staring up at the sky waiting for Jesus. It means to be always expectant of His return. We should live our life as if any moment Jesus is going to call us up.

The second is to stand fast in the faith. The only way to stand fast is to stand on solid ground. Jesus says He is that solid ground. He is the rock we should build upon. Then, no matter what comes, we will stand fast. We then will not let anyone move us from the faith. If our belief and faith is in Jesus Christ, we cannot be moved.

The third is to be brave. Paul was writing to people who were literally being persecuted, even unto death. It’s hard to think about having to be brave as a christian in the United States. We generally don’t have persecution here. Yet, we still have to be brave. We can’t be afraid of the culture and the world and let it change us. If you want to be the little amount of brave needed here, just think of those people who are losing their lives today because of their Fatih. It makes our trials not look so bad and we can pray for bravery.

The fourth is to be strong. Paul writes in other places (Eph. 3:16, 6:10, Col. 1:1) that we are to be strong in the strength of God. This strength comes from the Holy Spirit. We are to be strong and stand in the face of persecution, temptation, and trials with Joy.

The fifth is the most important. It is a theme that runs through scripture. Let all that you do be done with love. I find this to be the hardest one to do. We really confuse the notion of love. We try to apply all kinds of hypocritical definitions to love. I think love comes down to this: no matter what someone is doing, no matter what someone is saying, no matter what someone does to you, you are to speak well of them, speak kindly to them, give to them, bless them, pray for them, and do for them all manner of things that you would normally do for yourself.

1 Peter 4:8 (NKJV) — 8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

In His Service, Scott

This Week’s Reading Plan:

  1. Day 1 – Ephesians 4-6
  2. Day 2 – Philippians 1-4
  3. Day 3 – Colossians 1-4
  4. Day 4 – 1 Thessalonians 1-5
  5. Day 5 – 2 Thessalonians 1-3
  6. Day 6 – 1 Timothy 1-6
  7. Day 7 – 2 Timothy 1-4

Through the Bible Week 48, Romans 8 – 1 Corinthians 14


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Romans 8:1 (NKJV) — 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

What incredible words to read. If we are in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation for anything.  Paul is writing to the Romans and is continuing to make the point that the law can not save us. Only the grace of Jesus Christ can save us. There are no rules we have to follow to be righteous. There are no rituals we have to perform to be justified. If we are in Christ Jesus, we have no condemnation.

It is interesting that Paul does include some evidence of someone walking with Jesus. Those who walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh.  Paul reiterates what he means by this just a few verses later.

Romans 8:5 (NKJV) — 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

The evidence of someone in Christ Jesus is where their mind is. I want to be clear about something here. I know where many of your minds immediately jumped. You started to think about that “Christian” that isn’t walking in the Spirit but in the flesh. If that is where your mind went, you have twisted this scripture. Paul is not talking to me about someone else. Paul is talking to me about me. This is not a call to spot the carnal people among you, but to spot the carnality in yourself.

Where is your mind? Is your mind on spiritual things or is it on worldly things? Is your mind at peace with the love of the Spirit or in turmoil with anger and pride? These questions cut me deep. I don’t want to have a mind set on things of the flesh but a mind set on things of the Spirit. So, how do we do that? How do we get rid of the flesh? Paul tells us.

Romans 8:13 (NKJV) — 13 …but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Paul says the only way to put to death the deeds of the body is by the Spirit. That seems to be contrary to how each of us tries to conquer the flesh. We try to put to death the flesh by means of the flesh. We think if we try harder not to sin, we will put to death the old man and no longer sin. So we try harder and harder. All that does is lead to more fleshly thinking and leads to more sin. We must put to death the flesh by the Spirit.

This is done by having our mind set on the Spirit. This is only done by prayer, worship, and study. We are called to be continuously in prayer (1 Thess 5:17). We are to always be in conversation with the Lord. We should be seeking God’s guidance in every decision we make, every word we say, every thought we have. We should be asking for more of the Spirit. Worship aligns our heart to hear from the spirit. We owe God worship (Ps 29:2) and the more we worship God, the more in tune with the Spirit our minds will be. We should also be in his word. The word is where everything we hear and think and do should be weighed. It is scripture that teaches us what righteousness is  (2 Tim 3:16-17). It is scripture that shows us the promises of God. It is scripture that proves His faithfulness. By these three things, we will find ourselves with a mind  set on the Spirit.

In His Service, Scott

This Week’s Reading Plan:

  1. Day 1 – 1 Corinthians 15-16
  2. Day 2 – 2 Corinthians 1-4
  3. Day 3 – 2 Corinthians 5-9
  4. Day 4 – 2 Corinthians 10-13
  5. Day 5 – Galatians 1-3
  6. Day 6 – Galatians 4-6
  7. Day 7 – Ephesians 1-3

Through the Bible Week 47, Acts 16 – Romans 7


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In this week’s readings, we come to Paul’s letters to the Romans. I believe this book is the great summary of the Gospel message. Paul lays out salvation, grace, and how to be a Christian in this book.

Paul starts out this letter making a strong point against salvation by works. We can’t be saved by works.

Romans 3:19–20 (NKJV) — 19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

We discussed this back in the gospels. The law can help no one. We can’t be justified by doing good deeds or keeping rules. By the law we only become guilty. The law has one purpose…it is to show us that we are sinners and have fallen short.  It convicts us and condemns us. We are all unrighteous and worthy of God’s wrath. Yet, there is one of those “But God” moments in scripture.  But…

Romans 3:21–26 (NKJV) — 21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Amen! Each of us, no matter our background, lineage, skin color, or language is guilty. Yet, each of us through faith is freely justified by the grace of Jesus. His death is the payment. His death took our place.

Jesus has freely given us salvation. He has freely paid the price for our sin. By faith, you can walk freely in that promise.

 

In His Service, Scott

This Week’s Reading Plan:

  1. Day 1 – Romans 8-10
  2. Day 2 – Romans 11-13
  3. Day 3 – Romans 14-16
  4. Day 4 – 1 Corinthians 1-4
  5. Day 5 – 1 Corinthians 5-8
  6. Day 6 – 1 Corinthians 9-11
  7. Day 7 – 1 Corinthians 12-14