1 Chronicles 29:16-18 – O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you search the heart, and take pleasure in uprightness; in the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our ancestors, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you.
At my church we just had Stewardship Sunday where we look at all the Lord has done for us and assess our own situation to see if our actions and priorities are lined up with our gratefulness to the Lord. In the service we had a guest preacher who did a wonderful job preaching on a subject many people don’t want to focus on. He pointed out that we are to give of our time, talents and treasure with a happy heart, and as a response for all the Lord has done for us (and all He has promised to do in the future).
O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own.
This scripture reading reminds me of that same sentiment. We are to remember that everything we have, EVERYTHING, is from God. He created all things and supplies all we need on a daily basis. When we talk about things we’ve purchased or been given, we almost immediately focus on ourselves. Everything becomes about me; my car, my house, my children etc. For me I think this is one of the areas of stewardship that I need to work on the most. I don’t acknowledge very often that all I have is because of the Lord. I often think that it is a result of my husband’s and my hard work. But even then, our intellect, our talents, they too are all from God. Without them, we would not have many of the things the Lord has allowed to bless us.
I know, my God, that you search the heart, and take pleasure in uprightness; in the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things
I remember reading this verse during a Bible study a few years ago, and I have to tell you it made me a bit uncomfortable. The idea that God would search my heart was scary. I knew what He would find there, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t uprightness. Webster’s dictionary defines uprightness as being “marked by strong moral rectitude”. Even just a few years ago (and a lot of times even now) I find myself not feeling very righteous. I’m afraid if I search my heart what I will find, much less if God searched it. But He does search our hearts. He knows us better than we know ourselves, but that’s not even the best part. Because of Jesus Christ, our righteousness is not dependent on our righteousness. Because Jesus died for us and saved us from our sins, when God searches the believer’s heart, He sees Jesus. Because we know Jesus and continue to grow in our relationship with Him, conforming ourselves more and more to His ways, we are freed up to do those righteous things that seemed so foreign to us.
In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things
I’m guessing for most of us, the uprightness of our heart, our response to Jesus’ righteousness for us is not always what it should be. But what joy it brings when we realize that our heart is being changed and conformed to the ways of our Lord. When by His saving grace we are able to act in an upright manner, offering freely of our time, talents and treasures. When we start living in God’s grace and taking full advantage of all of it’s goodness, we are able to enjoy the opportunities to serve and to give. They are no longer burdens but blessings.
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
I have been raised by good tithers, my parents always gave at least 10% to the Lord. I believe it was much more than that, but the typical tithe was what I remember as a child. We were never rich. We didn’t always have extra money, but the Lord did bless us and I can’t really say we ever truly went without anything we needed. Because of their example I have almost my whole life tithed of my treasure. in fact my mother would often say to both my grandma and I on Stewardship Sundays of the past, “This sermon was not for you, You all ready give more than you can afford.” I think I may have to disagree with my mom (sorry mom). I think that even if I gave away all of my money, the Lord would find a way to provide for me. God says test me on it. But the truth is I’m not sure I’ve really been tithing. I’m not sure if I have tithed with my talents and my time. I’m greedy about my time. I don’t like to give too much of it away. I like to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I can also be insecure, and I let fear hold me back from using my talents as well. So if I am truly going to tithe, I need to do some soul-searching and some honest evaluation of how I spend my time. Even now that gives me pause, because I’m pretty sure watching TV is not going to make the top of the tithing list. EEK. My comfort zone is getting invaded!
O Lord keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you.
This is my prayer today. That I would keep the Lord and serving the Lord in all things at the front of my mind. I pray I would not let earthly distractions pull me off course. I don’t want to let myself get over stressed about things I do not have control of and act as if one more thing would really be too much for me, when really He supplies me with all that I need to do the tasks He has called me to do. I know that I will not always be able to say yes to every opportunity, but I pray I am more open to things that might take away from “me time” and allow myself to feel the joy expressed in these verses.
Where are you directing your heart?