Giving God Your Best Is . . .

Give God Your BestGod exhorts us to do all for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31) and to work at whatever we do with all our heart (Col. 3:23). And, we are to “do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17). 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved …” We read of our need to test our own actions (Gal. 6:4) and to “run in such a way as to get the prize … not like someone running aimlessly” (1 Cor. 9:24-27). Certainly verses like these suggest that we give God our best.

Before continuing on, please be sure to read the previous post for some clarification of what it does not mean to do or give our best to God. What follows must be read with an understanding that this is not about gaining merit or applause but rather honoring God and doing whatever we do through His grace, power, and strength, not self-effort.

What it Means to Give God Your Best

1) Your best involves giving God your total being.

Jesus quoted the greatest commandment as loving the Lord “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). The whole of who we are is the best we can give Him which is why this site refers to our best fit in ministry as that which involves all of who we are. To give God only a part of ourselves falls short of loving Him with “all” of who we are. To present ourselves to “as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” as commanded in Romans 12:1, is only reasonable in light of what God has done for us.

2) Your best involves giving God your first of everything.

Throughout the Old Testament we read of the Israelites giving God the first fruits and the best of the flock. We serve the same God, still worthy of the first and best of our time, efforts, and resources. To give Him leftover or misdirected time and energy isn’t giving Him the best He deserves.

3) Your best involves giving God your most superior work.

To give God a half-hearted or sloppy effort falls short of doing whatever we do “for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). How can we be “a workman who does not need to be ashamed” if we inaccurately represent Him (2 Tim. 2:15) because we didn’t take the time required to get it right?

In light of these three points, we must conclude that to give God our best, we can’t compartmentalize our lives — God time, me time, work time, family time. All of our lives, at all times and in every way, must be seen as God time. Wherever we are and in whatever we do, we do it all to the glory of God!

Giving God Your Best Isn’t …

Give God Your Best

Before looking at what it means to give God our best, we would do well to first consider what it does not mean. We want to make sure we’re coming at this biblically, not from a worldly, humanistic perspective.

What It Does Not Mean to Give God Your Best

1) Doing or giving our best is not to gain merit with God, for salvation or otherwise.

Scripture makes it clear that all our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). We all fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). We are saved by grace through faith, not by our good works (Eph. 2:8-9). We live our lives in Him just as we received Him — by grace through faith (Col. 2:6).

2) Doing or giving our best is not about getting applause for a job well done.

Our objective should be to honor God, to in every way “make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (Titus 2:10). We should do that whether or not we receive recognition. — “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters …” (Col. 3:23)

3) Doing or giving our best is not about self-effort.

Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). No matter how excellent we perform on our own, apart from His power at work in us, we will come short. As a branch draws its sustenance from the vine, so we must abide in Christ to bear eternal fruit. Remember verses like Philippians 4:13. — “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” We must “strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works” in us (Col. 1:29). We are at our best when we put all of who we are into all of who He is and watch Him work through us.

We’ve considered what giving God our best does not mean. In the next post we’ll look at what it does mean.

Let’s Rise Above

Have you ever cried out to the Lord with feelings similar to the Psalmist?

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. (Ps. 69:1-3)

By the time we get down to verse 30 of that Psalm, after rehearsing and assessing of his circumstances, we find him rising above in praise and thanksgiving.

How Can We Rise Above Our Circumstances?

  1. Perspective about this life helps us adjust expectations.

Rise Above the Mire
After speaking about how others mistreated him, we come to the “but” —

“But I pray to you, LORD” (v. 13).

He doesn’t deny the reality of what’s happening. Nor does he blame God or express that he shouldn’t have to experience these things. Rather, He turns to God.

When we get the attitude that we should be the exception to troubles in this world, that we shouldn’t have to suffer, that we’re entitled to a good life, then we’re bound to grumbling and complaining. However, when we acknowledge the truth as Jesus said, “in this world you will have trouble” (Jn. 16:33) and find the “but”, then we can have peace and rise above. — Immediately following His reality check about the difficulties of life, Jesus says “BUT take heart! I have overcome the world.”

  1. Promises based on the character of God help us regain hope.

If we read through the entire Psalm 69 we notice hope beginning to take hold as the Psalmist speaks of God’s “sure salvation” or deliverance (v. 13, 29). He remembered how the Lord “hears the needy” (v. 33). He trusts God to answer him, to keep His promises, out of the goodness of His love and great mercy (v. 16).

We too, in Christ, hold on to many promises that grow out of the character of God and let us know we can be overcomers (1 Jn. 5:4-5). In this we can find hope in the midst of great difficulties when we believe that the One in us is greater than any other (1 Jn. 4:4).

To Read:

  1. Purpose founded in who we are in Him helps us look at the bigger picture.

In Psalm 69 we see the Psalmist go from what was happening to him personally to how God is there for all the poor and needy (v. 32-33), and then a call for the “heaven and earth” to praise God, even “the seas and all that move in them” (v. 34). He was able to move beyond his own troubles and needs because he knew what he experienced wasn’t the end of the story. As a Jew, the Psalmist knew God had a plan for His people, a future restoration (v. 35-36), which in itself was cause to rise above the muck and mire of this life.

As Christians, we know God has a future plan for us, a home in glory with Him where there will be no more suffering, no more tears. And so, we learn to set our “minds on things above, not on earthly things”, to view life from our position in Him (Col. 3:1-2).

With a realistic perspective on life, we cling to God’s promises and find purpose based on who we are in Him and what He is yet to do. The troubles of life begin to pale in comparison and we find ourselves able to rise above.

Everybody Can Have a Part in Helping the Homeless

Everybody Has a Part Even in Ministry with the HomelessSometimes we do nothing about homelessness because we don’t know what real impact we as individuals, or even as a local church, can make. God never intended for one person to do it all. When everybody does their part, we can make a greater difference.

From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Eph. 4:16)

To know your part, start by identifying the spiritual gifts God has given you. Then look for ways to serve that fit your gifting.

Spiritual Gifts Help Identify the Part Everybody Can Have in Helping the Homeless

Below you will find suggestions for how people with different spiritual gifts might engage in ministry with the homeless. This isn’t intended to be all-inclusive but rather to provide ideas of what part people could have based on gifting. (Click on the name of the spiritual gift for a definition.)

Administration: This person could organize the details, scheduling and staffing of local outreach efforts or organize trips groups within the church will take elsewhere to distribute blankets, food, or personal items or perhaps to help rebuild homes destroyed by natural disasters.

Discernment: This person could help the church beware of pitfalls in such a ministry. For example, this person would see that handing money to a homeless person could very well go toward drugs or alcohol rather than food or clothing. This person would tend to differentiate between those who are first time in their homelessness due to a recent crisis and those who are more repeat or long-term due to choices, addictions, etc. Unless accompanied by other gifting, this person might not know the best way to solve these problems but should be consulted about potential issues that could be faced.

Exhortation: This person could come alongside of people who are homeless to help empower them by counseling or discipling them in financial management and life skills, GED preparation, employment assistance, etc.

Evangelism: This person could be in the forefront of efforts to take the gospel to homeless people where they are — street meetings, distributing tracts and Bibles, not just food and other items.

Faith: This person could hold up hope that where there is God, change is possible. This person could persevere in prayer for healing and breakthroughs in individuals’ lives.

Giving: This person might set aside a portion of his/her own non-essential spending to donate food, clothes, personal items, or blankets to be distributed to those who don’t have these basics. Or, perhaps financial giving would go to a rescue mission or other organization reaching out to homeless people. This person might also encourage the church to examine their ministry budget for where funds could be reallocated.

Helps: This person could come alongside administrators or leaders to make phone calls, type up schedules or promotional pieces, order materials needed, or anything else that would free up the leaders to keep planning and dealing with the bigger picture.

Hospitality: This person might open their home to those on the verge of homelessness until they are able to get back on their feet … thus preventing homelessness.

Knowledge: This person could pull together Scripture on homelessness and poverty to be used by others to promote an awareness of our God-given responsibilities. This person could research and develop referral lists of public benefits, legal assistance, and other community programs and ministries.

Leadership: This person could help the church look beyond their own backyard to the homeless situation in other communities and around the world by developing goals and ideas to partner with others in working toward bigger picture solutions.

Mercy: This person would want to go on outreach efforts to rub shoulders with the homeless, to show the love of Christ to them, by distributing coats, blankets, shoes, food, and personal items they might need.

Pastor: This person might become a chaplain to the homeless or at least have regular, on-going contact with the same homeless people so as to disciple or mentor them … perhaps setting up a regular coffee or breakfast (or any meal) meeting at a restaurant or other public setting to invest into their lives.

Prophecy: This person might tend to remind us of the reasons for homelessness and the need to address the deeper issues, to look at the big picture.

Service: This person could help behind the scenes in any way needed, like stocking food shelves, preparing meals, sorting clothes, etc. This could be through the person’s own church’s outreach efforts or at a rescue mission.

Teaching: This person could be the one to bring an educational awareness of homelessness to the church, helping people understand the causes of homelessness and solutions for it, particularly in light of principles from God’s Word.

Wisdom: This person could be the one to offer practical solutions to the pitfalls the person with the gift of discernment sees. For example, this person might suggest giving gift certificates in lieu of money, taking the person to a restaurant or store and paying the bill, wearing a coat you would be willing to give away, carrying some food items with you to give away, etc.

When everybody does their part, we can take a more comprehensive approach to homeless ministry while addressing specific, immediate needs.

Connected for a Purpose

Connected to One Another for a Purpose

The first part of Ephesians 4:16 shows us how God designed the Body, His Church, to be connected to one another.

But, for what purpose?

The second part of the verse answers that question. — It’s God’s blueprint for the growth of the Body.

Exposition of Ephesians 4:16b shows the Purpose for which We’re Connected to One another

“grows and builds itself up in love”

In the Body of Christ every connection adds into the whole Body. When we work together, with each part doing its work, the Body functions most efficiently, causing it to become all it can be. And, when we are who we should be, we see growth. Look at the example of the early church in Acts 2:42-47. As they lined up with God’s design, “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” That’s real church growth. We’re not talking about increase through transplants of people leaving one church to become part of another group.

But, it isn’t all about growing numerically. The Body “builds itself up” — an edification and equipping process done “in love” but also resulting in greater love. Hence, when the Church follows God’s design, we learn to love more. We live out His purpose for us to love Him and others, the Greatest Commandments according to Jesus (Matt. 22:37-40).

“as each part does its work.”

The word “as” denotes the measuring rod to which we will see this kind of growth and edification in the Body. Growth will be in proportion to “as each part does its work.”

“Each” of us holds a vital part in this process … each a part of the whole.

The Greek word for “work” – energia – used in the New Testament in conjunction with superhuman power is significant. What separates the church from other growing organizations is the power source. The true church isn’t a man-made institution but rather a living organism infused with the “energia” of an Almighty God.

What each “part” or member of the Body has to offer to the whole would be tied into spiritual gifts as seen in the context of this verse. Spiritual gifts can be defined as “special divine empowerments.” Given by the Holy Spirit, they enable believers to do their part supernaturally so that the body “grows and builds itself up in love.”

Also Read:

Connected to One Another

Connected to One Another in the Body of ChristGod provides the blueprint for Church growth in Ephesians 4:16.

The first part of the verse establishes our connection to one another which will be the topic of this post.

The second part of the verse shows the purpose or outcome of following God’s design — the topic of the next post.

Exposition of Ephesians 4:16a on How We are Connected to One Another

“From Him”

“From” is a primary preposition signifying origin, the point from which something happens or proceeds.

We find the identity of “Him” within the context. Verse 15 references Christ as the Head of the Body.

As the Head, He is the control center of the Body. He has both the authority to make the decisions and power to make it happen. (Eph. 1:19-23)

As the Head, He has first place. He is preeminent. It’s all about Him. (Col. 1:17-18)

Jesus, then, as the source, is qualified to bring the effect yet to be described later in this verse.

“the whole Body”

1 Corinthians 12 likens the church to the human body … a collective whole, yet made up of many individual parts. By using the adjective “whole” we must thus conclude that this verse pertains to every member, any and every one in the Body.

Without exception, then, what is yet to be described in this verse affects and is relevant to every believer.

“joined and held together”

Being “joined” together is more of a building concept, similar to framing a structure together. Ephesians 2:11-22 describes the institution of the church as “being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” When we are in Christ, we are no longer isolated entities. We belong to something bigger than ourselves. “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body … and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Cor. 12:12-13). Our identity shifts from “me” to “we” as we are one in Him, “fitly framed” together as translated in the ASV.

Being “held together” suggests that this joining together is meant to last. We are “knit together” (ASV) signifying such an intertwining that what affects one, affects the others (1 Cor. 12:24-26).

“by every supporting ligament”

The word “by” lets us know that we are going to be given the means through which we are joined and held together.

“Every” is the same Greek word used earlier translated “whole.” So, again, we must conclude that this affects any and every member of the Body.

The NIV use of “supporting ligament” fails to adequately communicate its meaning. Most other translations help us better understand by wording it as that which every joint supplies. These are connection points, the junction at which the parts are fastened or bonded together … the points where we connect one to the other.

Though every part doesn’t connect to all parts, by virtue of the point at which it does, it now belongs to the whole. Using the analogy of the human body, we would acknowledge that the arm is not directly connected to the leg. Yet, they are members of the same body. Where one goes, the other goes.

Certainly we must conclude that in Christ we are connected to one another, but for what purpose? — The topic of the next post.

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