Monday, January 30 2023 - 7:17 PM

Sharing Scripture — January 14, 2023

God’s Covenants With Us

 

For use: January 8 – 14, 2023
Texts: Matthew 10:22; John 6:29; Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Proverbs 3:1-10; Malachi 3:7-11; Matthew 6:25-33

 

How can you tell if an offer is a good deal, especially when it comes to investing your hard-earned and often limited resources?

Many investors today are turning to machine learning (ML) to analyze potential financial ventures.

One advantage of employing ML is that it can review complex historical data and then come up with (theoretically) accurate forecasts. By crunching data from every available publication, article, and financial history of a company, the artificial intelligence can then compile a report based on that company’s trends.

There are drawbacks to ML, however. It can take weeks of research for an ML-based program to analyze all of the available data, and if it misses some important piece of information it can return an inaccurate forecast. Another drawback is that, even though ML may be able to correctly analyze past data and trends, it cannot predict future traumatic events, such as pandemics, weather-related disasters, or wars. Cost is another factor—it’s not cheap to allocate the massive amounts of computing resources needed to analyze the required mountains of data. (As always, it’s best to make investing decisions based on your own research with the help of a qualified financial advisor.)

How can you tell if you are getting a good deal in your relationship with God? After all, God asks an awful lot from us—our money, our time, our affections. Are we really getting a good return on our investments with God and the church?

Some of our pacts with God are based on us keeping our end of the bargain. God promises in Deuteronomy 28:1-2 that if we obey God’s rules we’ll receive a boatload of blessings in return. According to Malachi 3:7-11, if we return a faithful tithe and give some freewill offerings as well, we’ll receive more blessings than we can contain. And 1 John 5:13 seems too good to be true: if we believe in the name of the Son of God, we will obtain eternal life.

Some of God’s covenants with us require nothing on our part. Genesis 8:22 reveals that God provides the sunshine and the rain that raises the crops that feed us. God gives us air to breathe, water to drink, and energy for life. God does all this for us with no obligation on our part.

So, how can we tell if we’re getting a good return on our contracts with the Lord? Experience. God says “Put me to the test” in Malachi 3:10. God says, “Let’s get together and reason this out” in Isaiah 1:18. And David challenges us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). When it comes to our covenant relationship with God, past performance really is indicative of future results.

 

For Reflection

 

Connecting: How susceptible are you to sales pitches? Do you fall for anything that sounds good? Or do you throw up walls to block offers that sound too good to be true?

Sharing: Matthew 6:33 promises that when we seek first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, everything we need will be provided to us. What does it mean to seek God first in all things?

  1. Pray about everything—especially every one of your life’s decisions
  2. Make sure you tithe every bit of your income so that what’s left will cover your expenses
  3. Start each day in God’s word to get your attitude in line with heaven
  4. Avoid anything—particularly secular media—that distracts your attention from holy thoughts
  5. Focus on God as much as possible, and everything else will fall into place
  6. Other:

Applying: Find a friend or two to do this exercise alongside you. Do an audit of your contractual relationship with God. List out everything you can think of that you do for God and the church. Then list out everything you can identify that God does for you. Does it all balance out? Is God actually giving more to the relationship than you are? Discuss your results.

Valuing: After completing your audit, ask yourself, “Do I take God for granted?” If so, plan ways that you can remember to appreciate God more, and look for ways to show that appreciation.

 

~ Chuck Burkeen

 

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