The Daily Encouraging Word Devotional
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“You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give.” Ex 25:2 NIV
God’s people already possessed everything necessary to build the tabernacle. So Moses went to God for the plan, and to the people for the resources. And that’s still how it works! Pastor, don’t come up with a plan of your own, or one you got from somebody else, and then ask God to underwrite it. Ask God for His plan, because that’s the only one He will bless. And don’t feel intimidated about going to the people and asking them to give. Perhaps you’re reluctant to talk about finances because some folks in church complain and say, “All the pastor ever talks about is money.” Of course, if they’re right, you need to get back into balance. But generally speaking, people need clear biblical teaching on giving; to see it as a privilege and an opportunity to go into partnership with God. Over and over the Bible refers to giving as “sowing.” And when you sow, you should expect to reap. The law of giving is like the law of gravity, it never fails. God said, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest…will never cease” (Ge 8:22 NIV). Observe how it works: First you sow your seed, then there’s a time of waiting, and finally you get to reap. Money can be a touchy subject; it can stir up resistance and resentment. But God promised that when you sow generously you will reap generously (See 2Co 9:6). Now, either God told the truth or He didn’t. And you need to find out whether or not it’s true. The only way to do that is to try it and see for yourself.
“Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.” Job 22:21
When you find yourself in the wilderness, what’s the one thing you need more than anything else? God! That’s why the Lord told Moses to build the tabernacle and He used it as a teaching tool to show His people that: (1) He wants to meet with us regularly. The word “tabernacle” means “tent of meeting.” God wants you to spend time with Him. He wants you to get to know Him. Because when you do, you’ll worry less and trust Him more. The Bible says, “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.” It’s important to listen to God’s Word being taught, to meet with other believers, and be encouraged by their testimonies. But at some point you’ve got to stop trading in second-hand information and get “up close and personal” with God. James writes, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (Jas 4:8 NKJV). (2) God wants to be at the center of our lives. When Israel set up camp each night, the twelve tribes pitched their tents in formation surrounding the tabernacle, where God’s presence dwelt. Every man, woman, boy, and girl could stand in the door of their tent and see God in their midst. Could the message be clearer? When your deepest affections and greatest ambitions are centered around Christ, your life will take an upward swing. “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps 37:4 NIV). The formula for thriving in the wilderness is: Center your life on Christ and soak yourself in His Word!
“And there was none feeble among His tribes.” Ps 105:37 NKJV
Notice something else Israel enjoyed in the wilderness: divine health. Think of the health issues you’d expect among two million people walking through endless desert with no doctor or hospital in sight. Yet from the youngest to the oldest, “He…brought them out…and there was none feeble among His tribes.” That’s because they lived on a diet provided by God Himself. Their troubles began when they complained and wanted to go back to the food they ate as slaves in Egypt. Hello! There’s an important lesson here for those who live on fast foods that promote ailments like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Imagine pouring five pounds of sugar into the gas tank of your car and complaining that it won’t run. Now, when health problems run in your family, or economic circumstances force you to eat less than ideal food, God understands and you can go to Him with confidence, believing, “The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (Jas 5:15 NKJV). But when the choice is between exercising wisdom in order to have good health or exercising faith in order to be healed, your choice is clear. When Israel entered the Promised Land, God told them, “Serve the Lord…and He will bless your bread and your water…take sickness away from the midst of you…[and] fulfill the number of your days” (Ex 23:25-26 NKJV). Then He gave them dietary laws to live by that set them apart from the surrounding nations. Question: How many of us fail to “fulfill the number of [our] days” and the assignment God gives us, because we refuse to exercise discipline when it comes to our diet? Think about it!
“He brought you water out of hard rock.” Dt 8:15 NIV
What else do you need in the wilderness? Water! You can live without food for about forty days, but without water you’ll die much faster. It’s the same in the spiritual realm; you can get by in life without a lot of things, but you won’t make it without God. In the wilderness God was teaching His people a lesson He wanted them to remember when they arrived in the Promised Land: “Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord…who brought you out of…slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you” (vv. 12-16 NIV). Note the words “that it might go well with you.” In spite of what you’re going through today, God has great blessings in store for you. But in order to handle them properly you must learn humility, develop a heart of gratitude, and never forget that He alone is the source of every good thing you’ll ever have. Then God added this P.S. “If you ever forget…you will surely be destroyed” (v. 19 NIV). That’s how serious He is about making sure you depend on Him each day.
“He led them on safely, so that they did not fear.” Ps 78:53 NKJV
You can be in the wilderness and still be in the center of God’s will. “He made His own people go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock…He led them on safely, so…they did not fear” (vv. 52-53 NKJV). In the wilderness you get to know God in a way you never knew Him before. So, what else did Israel need to survive in the wilderness? Food! Someone calculated it would have taken about twenty-six train carloads of food to feed that many Israelites every day. The problem is there were no trains and no tracks! But they had something much better—God! For forty years He delivered manna, “the perfect food,” to the doors of their tents. The supply was according to each family’s individual need—and God never missed a day. So if the economy has you feeling anxious and wondering whether or not God can take care of you—this is the word for you today! God may not give you everything you want, but He will give you everything you need. The God we serve doesn’t suffer from lack or limitation! The Psalmist said, “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread” (Ps 37:25 NKJV). The old country preacher got it right when he said, “Where He leads me I will follow; what He feeds me I will swallow.” Think of it: For forty years Israel never missed a meal or went without. And their God is your God, so put your trust in Him today and stop worrying!