Tag Archives: giving

Exodus 35-37; Acts 3

One thing I love about this reading plan is that we alternate OT & NT. So many times one will shine a light on the other and illuminate the passage in a way I’ve not considered before. Today was no different!

Exodus 35:5, 10 ESV

Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze…

Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the Lord has commanded:

Exodus 36:3b-5 ESV

They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, and said to Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do.”

What a simple but impacting passage! I find it interesting that God appealed to their generous hearts, rather than just demanding; and how He asked them to donate not just possessions, but also their time and talents. While God asked for different things from different people, He asked for one purpose: Building His Tabernacle. What I love most is how the Israelites responded with intense generosity! In fact, they gave so much that Moses had to actually STOP them from giving any more!

The same generosity is seen in Acts 3. A lame man was begging at the temple gates when he asked Peter for money:

Acts 3:5-8 ESV

And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.

Peter had a generous heart. What the lame man needed in that moment wasn’t money. It wasn’t a sermon. It was healing. So Peter gave him Jesus. And it changed this man’s life.

I love the line, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you.” Sometimes it’s hard to feel generous because we don’t have much. But generosity isn’t limited to finances – many times our generosity is more effectively seen in our time and talents. It’s when I stop to encourage someone who is having a bad day, or when I give someone a ride when their car breaks down. It’s when I offer to help someone figure out their financial issues, or I when I take the time to explain a passage to a new believer.

When I recognize that my giving is not so much about the “what” as it is the “why,” it makes it easier to be generous with the things that cost me the most – things like my time, skills, and abilities, which are often harder to give than money itself.

I may not have a lot of money, but I do have time. I do have talents. And ultimately, I have Jesus. May I be as generous with Him as He’s been to me.

Father, thank you for showing me these examples of generosity in Scripture. Cultivate in me a generous heart that is quick to give to those in need, regardless of the cost or time that it requires. Help me to give generously, with great joy, in order to further Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Bethany Harris (drgnfly1010)

 

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Filed under Acts, Exodus, New Testament, Old Testament

2 Kings 7-8; 2 Chronicles 21; Matthew 6

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:34 [ESV])

This chapter of the New Testament is filled with many things of which we as Christ-followers need to be reminded. This chapter alone would be good subject matter for a week of devotions. Matthew covers the following topics in this chapter:

  • Giving to the poor
  • Prayer
  • Fasting
  • Worry
  • Doing good to others
  • Anxiety
  • Treasures in Heaven

And then he adds the concluding verse. If we focus on those things listed above we will have plenty of things to do to occupy our minds and lives for today. We won’t have time to put more worries in our little worry boxes. We will be so focused on what we need to do today that tomorrow will take care of itself.

How do you spend your days? Do you worry about what’s coming later in the week or next month or year? Do your thoughts go to issues you have no control over or ability to change. In reading through this chapter there is enough to occupy our minds and actions with for today. Let’s begin focusing in the here and now. Tomorrow comes way too soon.

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Filed under Matthew, New Testament, Uncategorized

Judges 4-6; Luke 21

While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.” Luke 21:1-4

I once heard a story about a young boy who thought he had nothing to put in the offering at a crusade. Though I can’t remember all of the details as it’s been years since I heard it, the gist of it is that a young boy was watching the offering baskets weave back and forth through the crowd, he was seeing all of the money given by the others, and he was getting sadder and sadder as they came closer to him. His pockets were empty; he had no money to give. He bowed his head in shame until he remembered he did have something that he could offer; and when the basket was handed to him, he laid it on the ground and stepped into it…”I give all of myself, Lord.”

I’ve never had a lot of money, as a matter of fact for most of my adult life I have lived below poverty level. It can be scary, literally some days not knowing where my next meal would come from, but the Lord has ALWAYS met my needs in some way – whether through the anticipated or {most of the time} through the completely mind-boggling unexpected.

In the beginning of my journey in faith, I felt guilty and full of shame because the small amount of money that I could afford to give for offerings never felt like enough. It felt meager and pitiful. As I continued, the Lord taught me truth through the story of the ‘widow’s mite’.

Giving isn’t about the dollar amount that is contributed. Sure, there are people in the world who are able to give thousands of dollars in one fell swoop, and that is amazing for the ministries and people who receive it; I can speak from personal experience that it means a lot when you’ve been given support in an area of need. However, the offering that God is hoping to receive is that of the best of what can be given with a heart of love, generosity, and willingness.

I may not be able to write a check for thousands, but I can give what I have – I can give my Bible to someone who, unbeknownst to me, had been praying for one the night before we met. I can serve someone in an area of need – cooking a meal, offering a ride, volunteering through a local ministry… I can give a hug, hold the door, help someone cross the street, and offer an ear to listen or a hand to hold.

As I listen…not to the voice of guilt that tries to make me feel inadequate because I don’t always have cash to give, but to the voice of Holy Spirit who shows me the ways that I can give my all to God. As I obey the promptings, some very easy and some that stretch my faith, I place myself in the proverbial offering basket.

Yesappa, Thank You for accepting the only offering I can give 100% of the time…myself. I pray that I am an incense pleasing to You. Show me how to give so that I can be a pipeline for You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 66 Books, Judges, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament

Malachi 3, 4; Revelation 22

 “I am God—yes, I Am. I haven’t changed…Return to me so I can return to you,” says God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

 “You ask, ‘But how do we return?’

 “Begin by being honest. Do honest people rob God? But you rob me day after day.

 “You ask, ‘How have we robbed you?’

 “The tithe and the offering—that’s how! And now you’re under a curse—the whole lot of you—because you’re robbing me. Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams. For my part, I will defend you against marauders, protect your wheat fields and vegetable gardens against plunderers.” The Message of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

 “You’ll be voted ‘Happiest Nation.’ You’ll experience what it’s like to be a country of grace.” God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so. Malachi 3:6-12 MSG

Whenever pastors give their exhortation on tithing I almost always get on edge. I am not sure if it is because it sometimes has the feel of stereotypical tele-evangelist trying to convince me I am going to hell if I don’t help them pay for their Mercedes or if it is a reminder that I haven’t always been faithful and diligent with giving back to God. I think sometimes it seems like what I can give isn’t enough and that makes me feel like a failure even though the Bible tells me otherwise (Mark 12:41-44 MSG)

Some pastors pass the plates and don’t say a word. Some just have a box in the sanctuary and trust people to do their duty. Some take time out of every service to guilt people into giving.

And then, there are those pastors who help me remember that giving to God willingly and joyfully is an act of worship no different than singing a beautiful praise song or dancing before the Lord with all my might. They reveal the blessings of obedience in giving. They share about being a pipeline for God.

At first, I was a little leery, but I began putting it into practice, this marvelous concept of trying to out-give God, of giving from a heart of love. I made it my goal to not let an opportunity to give pass me by.

GOD-of the Angel-Armies said, “They’re mine, all mine. They’ll get special treatment when I go into action. I treat them with the same consideration and kindness that parents give the child who honors them. Once more you’ll see the difference it makes between being a person who does the right thing and one who doesn’t, between serving God and not serving him.” Malachi 3:17-18 MSG

Amazing things began happening in my life. Just like those brilliant pastors said…blessing began flowing into my life. Gratitude. Joy. Financial gifts. Debt forgiveness.

I began giving whatever I could give. Sometimes it came from the tenth of the money I had earned. And sometimes, when I didn’t have anything but a bit of loose change, I would give it all wrapped within a Bible verse and tied with a prayer of abundance.

I continued giving by being obedient to what I felt like God was asking me to give. My marked-up, earmarked Bible to a hurting, homeless man who I found out later had been praying earnestly for one. A hug to a woman who was blind and now could see except through the tears that were clouding her eyes. A pair of flip flops to a man who could barely walk for the wounds of leprosy that plagued his feet. A prayer and a way out to a teen who had been fending off her uncle’s advances for months. Cooking a celebration meal for the widows in our church to remind them that they are loved and wanted.

When I got into the habit of giving it became an easy thing to do and yet at the beginning it was so difficult. I had this bucket mentality – when my bucket was full then I would give from the overflow. Only whenever I had an overflow, my bucket just got bigger and I still rarely gave.

I found that when I started intentionally giving to God and to others regularly it changed my attitude. I wanted to give more than ever before. I began looking for different ways to give. And it has come to the point where I would even be willing to give the shirt off my back if I was lead to give it.

It is the last day to give in this year. Some people will give today with the hopes of helping their taxes. Some will give because they are inspired. Some will give from their abundance. And some will give from their lack.

Regardless of where you are, consider reaching out. Give from your heart to someone in need. Meet them where they are with a hug, a gift, an act, a word, or a bit of your time. Share Christ’s sacrifice of love to a stranger. Hold the door for someone struggling with her grocery bags. Pay the toll for the car behind you. Visit with someone at a retirement home or hospice. Offer a meal to a homeless man. Give a donation to your church or an organization that shares your vision.

Be generous today and see where it leads in the new year.

The grace of the Master Jesus be with all of you. Oh, Yes! [today and in the year to come!] Revelation 22:21 MSG

Blessings – Julie, Vadipatti, India (written in the U.S.A.)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Malachi, New Testament, Old Testament, Revelation

2 Chronicles 22; Joel 1; 2 Corinthians 9

2 Corinthians 9

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”

12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

It seems that someone is always using the expression “for God loves a cheerful giver.”  It comes up every time someone wants to tap into my wallet for support of this or that and rarely in reference to any other resource, except money.  Usually it is accompanied by a heavy dose of guilt.  It always makes me wonder why, when addressing a group of Jesus followers, it is necessary to do more than just explain the need.  People who are following Jesus have been directed to take care of the poor and to share the resources that God has blessed them with.  In fact Paul claims that righteousness is tied to scattering your gifts to the poor.  He says that giving to the Lord’s people is actually a statement of thanksgiving to God Himself.  It is in fact “proof” of your faith.

Paul has acknowledged that God wants us to use all of the resources at our disposal, to carry on the work that Jesus has sent us to do.  This brings Glory to God’s Name and aids in the spread of the gospel which is so important to God’s people.  Why do we hold back?  How can we expect to reap generously when we have sown so little?

Father change my heart.  Help me to be a cheerful giver of all of my resources.  Show me where my resources are needed.  Share with me the areas you would have me give of my time and other resources.  Help me do my part in carrying on the work of spreading the gospel to all of the nations.

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Filed under 2 Chronicles, 2 Corinthians, Uncategorized