Tag Archives: devotional

What if we tithed 10% of our time?

Today, I have a special guest to share her devotional about tithing our time. Thank you, Sherri Wilson Johnson, for being here and willing to share your thoughts.

Giving your tithe. What a touchy subject for some people. When pastors talk about reaching into your wallet and putting 10% of your income into the offering plate, some of us become prickly like a porcupine. For some, however, giving 10% of their income is no biggie. But when it comes to giving of their time–of themselves–that’s when it becomes really challenging and they (or should I say we) become quite stingy.

Our days are SO full already! How can we take 10% of our time and give it back to the Lord?

There are 24 hours in a day. If we sleep 8 hours, we’re left with 16 awake hours. If we work 8 hours a day, we’re still left with 8 free hours! If we drive in traffic 2.5 hours a day, we’re left with 5.5 good hours to spend with family, cooking, cleaning, helping kids with homework, texting, practicing basic hygiene, watching Netflix, etc. My pastor recently gave us this breakdown and it was quite eye-opening how much time we waste each day.

Okay, so there are 24 fabulous hours in a day and potentially 5.5 free hours. If we stop to think about it, not every single minute is allotted to something. What if we tithed 10% of that 24 hours? That would mean 2.4 hours a day (might as well round that up to 2.5 to make it easier to keep up with) dedicated to doing the Lord’s work and to following His commands for our lives.

What would that look like? For starters, we could spend an hour a day in prayer and Bible study. Break that down and you’ve got 30 minutes of prayer and 30 minutes of learning God’s Word (15 in the morning, 15 at lunch or at bedtime). Your prayer time could even be combined with driving to work because the Lord knows there are enough crazies out there on the highway that it takes a strong prayer life to make it to the office and back.

What could we do with the other hour and a half? How about spending 15 minutes encouraging others? Shoot some texts or emails to your friends to lift their load and spirits for the day. Maybe take someone who needs to get some burdens off their shoulders to lunch (or spend your lunch time with someone who needs a little extra encouragement)? Include their needs in your prayers (your prayers will probably overflow and become more than the “allotted” 30 minutes).

What about the time spent in the car with your kids? How about taking that time, turning down the radio, and just letting them talk about their day? And really LISTEN. When my kids were little, I had a tendency to zone out while they were talking (mainly because I had my own issues I was dealing with and just didn’t have the emotional energy). But those little ones do grow up; they leave the nest and one day won’t be there filling the house with buzzes and hums of “noise.” Spend the time you have with them well.

See how I’m combining these things into your daily routine?

Random acts of kindness can fill up another 15 minutes of your daily tithe of your time. Hold the door open for someone, pay for someone’s coffee in the line behind you, walk a friend’s dog when they can’t get home from work in time, help an elderly person with their groceries, etc. There are all sorts of things we can do to GIVE of OURSELVES that don’t take much time. In fact, we probably already do many of those things. We just don’t realize we’re doing them.

Something else you can do once a month is prepare a meal for someone who is sick or who has had surgery, a baby, or a death in the family. Or on your way home from shopping or work, stop by the hospital and visit someone you may know who is in there.

How do these become a tithe of our time? I mean, anyone and everyone can do random acts of kindness and that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a tithe to God. Well, it’s the heart behind it and the attitude you express to people while doing it. When you put a smile on your face and tell people to have a blessed day, when you ask someone if you can pray for them, when you show them Jesus in your own unique way, that’s when it’s a tithe.

Next time you post a status on Facebook or Twitter or next time you post a picture to Instagram, how about you make it count? Think about it. If you’ve got 500-1,000 friends/followers, why blast them with some complaint you have about someone in your life who irritates you or about the current political happenings? Why not say something encouraging? If you don’t feel very encouraging right now, you’d be surprised at how encouraged you can become when you take the time to say something that encourages others. Social media is your platform to the world, make it count. Give that to God, too, as a tithe.

Now what can we do with the other hour of our tithe time? How about taking care of ourselves? The body is the temple of the Lord’s, and we should take care of it. This is an area that I so desperately need to focus on. If we spent JUST one hour a day doing some form of physical activity (even if it’s in 15-minute bursts), we’d live so much longer and be around longer to bless others and to serve the Lord and our churches. They say that sitting is the new smoking. Our lives are so much more sedentary than they used to be 100 years ago. We’re going to sit ourselves right into the grave!

I’m working on putting this time tithe into practice. Won’t you join me?

Photo credit: Girl with clock

Sherri Wilson Johnson is a multi-published Inspirational Romance novelist, speaker, virtual assistant and self-publishing coach. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and is passionate about writing, publishing, and marketing. She DSC_6140.jpgis the author of To Dance Once MoreTo Laugh Once More, and When Love Must Wait from her Hope of the South series, and Song of the Meadowlark and Secrets Among the Cedars from her Contemporary Suspense series, Intertwined.

Sherri has been published in 101 Simple Ways to Show Your Husband You Love Him by Kathi Lipp (Harvest House), Powerline 365 by Nicole O’Dell (Choose NOW Ministries), Open Hearts Family: Connecting with One Another by Jane Seymour (Running Press, Hachette Book Group), The Writing Academy’s Daily Devotions for Writers, and several homeschool publications.  

She lives in Georgia with her husband and her Chihuahua. She loves spending time with her adult children and friends or curling up with a good book or her current work-in-progress. Sherri enjoys doing jigsaw puzzles in the winter, watching Bob Ross painting videos (although she can’t paint), and counts the days every year until she can take another trip to the beach.

Sherri, thank you so much for sharing your insights and your heart today. I know I will join you in tithing my time to God. It isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it! Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I’ll see you Thursday with my interview with author Carol McClain, and on the 15th with another special devotional from June Foster.

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Doors

Revelation 3:8–I know thy works:  behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it:  for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

Have you ever prayed about something and felt like the answer would never come? I have, I’m sorry to say. I didn’t mean to get weak or let my faith waiver, but I am human and it’s happened. I can look back now at some of those long-in-coming answers and know that God heard me all along. It took two years before our adoption of our daughter was a for sure, 100% guarantee. That’s a lot of long days of wondering and waiting. God had a plan the whole way, and I may have gotten weak at times, but I am so thankful that He stayed by me.

After our son came to us, I was no longer able to work. Caring for five kids and a work-from-home job were simply too much for me to accomplish in one day. We chose the kids, obviously. But there were prayers that I sent up asking God what was next for me. Was it finally time to pursue my true passion, my true dream of becoming an author? His answer was a resounding yes. And now, almost exactly 18 months after choosing to focus on my writing career, He has opened the door for me to become a published novelist. Wow. No joke, it seems like a dream. I have literally thought about and longed for this day since I was a little girl, and never thought it would really, truly happen. Words cannot describe how thankful I feel.

There was a time when I wrote with an aim toward the traditional market. I prayed and realized I had to lay aside those words and pick up solely Christian-geared themes, tones, and writing. And God has opened doors ever since. One by one I can see His hand at work.

What do you need to turn over to Him? What leap of faith is He asking from you? Do it. He will open the doors you need to move forward.

 

(Picture taken by me at Biltmore in Asheville, NC)

Responsible Speech

Colossians 4:6–Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

When I was a kid, I got picked on quite a bit. I had glasses and I was “the smart kid” who actually liked to answer teacher questions and get good grades. For some reason, this was seen as a weakness to prey upon by a few of the other children. They would say the most awful things, and my response was to cry. Which, of course, only made it worse. Another weakness to be poked at. It wouldn’t be until hours later that I would think of that perfect, hot retort. This was after mulling over their comments, relentlessly torturing myself, and wondering why, oh why, I had to be the brunt of their cruelty. It was torture, and I was furious with myself that I couldn’t fire off those harsh words in the moment. I never got to say most of them to anyone other than myself.

There was one girl in high school that had a particularly vicious tongue. Like a whip that stung and tore your flesh. If you cast an accidental glance her direction it was likely to fly at you. I was terrified of her. I have no idea where she is now or what her life is like, but I hope it’s a good one. I’m also happy I wasn’t that type of teenager. I don’t think anyone was afraid of me. Ever. And I’m glad.

As a grownup I have learned to be thankful for this element of myself. That in the heat of a word battle, I usually go blank. And I’ve come to embrace it as a strength. For it’s kept me from ‘spouting off at the mouth’ many times. I’ve kept my cool, kept my peace, and not said things I’m sure I would regret later on. (Now, my husband might disagree from time-to-time, but let’s, for the sake of argument, look at interactions with people other than him. That’s a whole ‘nother discussion.)

God doesn’t want us to be sharp-tongued and nasty to people. He wants us to make sure we think through each and every thing we say. To meditate on the words and make sure they are wise (seasoned with salt) before we allow them to escape. Sometimes that’s easier said than done (pun intentional here). But, you know what helps? Prayer. When someone angers you and you are tempted to make a smart retort, pray first. Pray that you are speaking God-given words, not just ones that feel good in the moment. Sometimes you will find that God wants you to walk away, cool off, and come back with a level head before you address the issue. Sometimes you may never get a chance to address the issue, and that’s okay. But what if that person who just said something mean and nasty to you is someone who needs you to be a witness? If you spit back something inappropriate that makes them feel equally awful, how can you come back later and proclaim God’s goodness and love? They won’t be receptive because they will never forget the harsh words exchanged.

I am far from perfect at this myself. I definitely get angry right back when someone says something terrible to me. But I have to learn to ‘be angry and sin not’ by biting my tongue and continue to embrace the silent response until I am calm and reasonable again. With prayer and God’s help, I can make sure that my speech is always responsible and respectful. And therefore not tearing someone else down right alongside me. I want my responses to be helpful, not hurtful. The old adage is still around for a reason. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Hard at times. But true.

Do you have a story about bullying you’d like to share? Or a comment about how to keep from reacting negatively to someone’s mean comments? I’d love to hear them!

Trust in the Lord

Psalm 84:12–O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

Trust is a fragile thing. I have a trusting nature. I tend to see the best in people and give them the benefit of the doubt. I pretty much start out trusting someone and it depends on their actions if that trust remains or gets yanked away. I like living this way. Some may call it naive, but I find putting my faith in people usually is a good thing.

There have been times, though, when the trust dynamic has changed between myself and someone in my life. I still pray for those few people, but I don’t subject myself to their less-than-forthcoming ways.

Isn’t it wonderful that we never have to worry about that with God? This verse reminds us that trusting in Him brings blessings to our lives. No matter what the issue is, we can trust God with it. We can trust His answers and direction in our lives, even if we don’t yet understand the outcomes. God will never steer us wrong. He will never abuse our trust. Man will sometimes fail us, but God never will. I’m thankful I’ve had the opportunity to trust Him in my life. Aren’t you?