“When I win the lottery, I’ll give some of it to the church.”
“It seems like all the church wants is my money.”
“Better throw $10 in the offering this morning.”
Every had these kind of thoughts? Giving to the Lord through your local church is a primary opportunity to practice giving generously. However, sometimes we find it difficult. Ever thought this before giving?
“I won’t have enough money left for groceries.”
“I just got laid off and need to save up. God will understand.”
“I think $20 a week is more than most people give.”
The LORD has lots to say about giving generously. He wants you to enjoy it. He wants to bless you through it. He wants your generosity to reap an abundant harvest for his kingdom work. Here’s some truths of God to encourage you to give generously:
- Giving generously comes from a heart that loves the LORD, not money.
Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
- Giving generously is a response to all that God has given to me, not a bill to pay.
1 Chronicles 29:14 “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.
- Giving generously is a first priority, not an offering of leftovers.
2 Chronicles 31:5 As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, olive oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything.
- Giving generously is a planned percentage of income, not just an amount.
2 Corinthians 9:7 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.
- Giving generously is a regular activity, not just a one-time activity.
1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
- Giving generously is an exercise of faith, not an expense of finance.
Malachi 3:10 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.
Don’t wait. Don’t doubt. Don’t make excuses. Trust the truths and promises of God. Remember how God has shown his generosity to you. Enjoy giving generously!
Apply: Commit to apply these truths to your giving. Do it first. Set a percentage (work up to at least 10%). Do it regularly. Watch God bless your faith as you do!
Prayer: Lord, drive out all greed and reluctance to give from my heart. Help me trust your promises and give generously to you. Let me experience the joy of giving in response to the great generosity you have shown to me. AMEN.
THIS WEEK: Impact of Generosity
None of my carrots are growing.
I have good garden soil. I purchased fresh seeds. I even have a watering system rigged up to make sure they get enough moisture in the dry Texas heat. I have everything just right to have a bumper crops of carrots this winter.
I had good intentions at the end of August to plant the “fall garden” (you can do that here in Texas) and have fresh carrots in December and January. Instead of making my northern friends jealous with a Facebook post of me holding a handful of fresh carrots in January, I will have just as bare of ground as they do (only not frozen solid!).
I never planted the seeds.
The obvious logic of gardening says, “If you don’t sow your seeds, you can’t expect to reap a harvest.” Seeds left in a packet have no opportunity to grow and produce an abundant harvest. I can’t be upset at the soil, the water, or even the seeds. I can only recognize I held on to the seeds and never put them in the ground.
The same principle applies to generosity.
2 Corinthians 9:6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
The Apostle Paul a few verses later adds this thought:
2 Corinthians 9:11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
Yesterday we were reminded of the generosity God has shown us by treating us unfairly with grace and mercy rather than what my sins deserved. The Lord loves to expand on that and give us all good things we have. He “enriches us in every way.”
Why? So we can keep everything to ourselves? So we can leave the seeds in the packet on the shelf?
NO! So “you can be generous on every occasion!”
God has given to us all that we have so that we can use it to be a blessing to others. He doesn’t give us our talents, our abilities, our wealth, our relationships, etc. to just sit “in the packet on the shelf.” He has given us these things so that we can in return “be generous on every occasion.”
A person needs a bit of my time…I can give it. A ministry team needs my skills…I can offer them. My church has a special project that needs funding…I can give financially. A friend needs help finding a job…I can offer a referral. I begin to look at life differently. I begin to see the “seeds” God has given me and look for “soil” into which I can sow them.
“Whoever sows generously will reap generously.”
Watching seeds grow and reaping the harvest is always much more exciting than buying a pack of seeds and putting them in the ground. In the same way, it is exciting to see the impact of sowing generously and watching the return it brings. God will use your generosity to impact the lives of others.
To your glory? Nope. “Your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
Apply: Make a list of 10 ways God has “enriched” you. Next to each one write down one or two ideas of ways you can “sow” that gift from God. What reason for thanksgiving might God give you when you see the harvest? Keep track and see how “sowing generously will also reap generously.”
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for being stingy or lazy in failing to take the blessings of grace you have given to me and sow them generously. Let me not worry about the return, but simply trust your promise, “Whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” AMEN.
THIS WEEK: Impact of Generosity
“But it’s not fair!”
How many times have you used this phrase in your life? A few? You thought you were punished more than a younger sibling was. You thought you deserved a scholarship but didn’t receive it? You felt there was no one better at the job interview, but weren’t hired? You got blamed for a failure at work that you had little to do with.
It’s not fair.
We all want to be treated fairly. The challenge is that we want to be the determining person as to what is fair or what is not. We often like to determine the rules of “fairness.”
Our desire for fairness can affect our faith-life as well. From our perspective, we may find some incongruences to which we or others may cry “Unfair!” The two most common perhaps resonate with you. “It’s not fair that God would send a good person to hell.” Or “It’s not fair that that evil person can just repent and end up in heaven.”
Again, we become the arbiter of what is fair or not. AND we are judging the situation by the paradigm of “What I do determines what I get.”
God does and doesn’t work that way. Consider Titus 3:4-7.
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
If God were to determine the merit of us spending an eternity with him in heaven based on our performance in life, no matter how many good things we have done, we would fall into the category of Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
It is completely fair that God would send ALL people to hell. NO ONE has achieved the standard of perfection. This would be just.
But notice how God chooses to interact with us: with MERCY and GRACE.
God wants us to know that if he treated us according to the “righteous things we had done” it would never be enough. In fairness, he would have to tell us to depart from him forever.
Yet he chooses to be generous…to treat us unfairly…to show mercy and grace instead of what our sins deserve. A gift of mercy and grace he gives to us by his Holy Spirit “whom he poured out on us generously.”
The result of grace, mercy and God’s generosity? “We might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” The greatest gift we could ever receive, has been GIVEN to us.
Now that’s generous!
And…honestly…it wasn’t fair.
Apply: Take a moment today to reflect on the generosity God has shown to you. In addition to eternal life what else has he “poured out generously” on you?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for not treating us as our actions deserve, but rather showing your generosity by giving us Jesus and his perfect life to cover all our sins. Allow your generosity to us motivate us to be generous to you and to others. AMEN.
THIS WEEK: LOVE God! How?
It’s not just muscle power.
“Strength” includes all of one’s abilities and capabilities to do something.
What strength do you have?
It’s easy to compare ourselves to others…and in our own minds come out on the losing end. We minimize our abilities, down play our talents, and are blind to our capabilities.
It’s hard to love the Lord with all our strength when we believe that all our strength is our own doing. This leads us to use our strengths to love ourselves. It is also hard to love the Lord with all your strength when we fail to see ALL the strengths we have been given. This leads to minimizing our worth and value.
So let’s shift our minds to understand where our strength comes from…the LORD.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
To love the Lord with all our strength is to love the LORD who gave me strength! I want to start with the perspective that who I am, the abilities I have, the personality I exhibit, and the talents I possess are all gifts from God.
To love the Lord with all our strengths is to realize all he has given me has the purpose to serve him.
1 Peter 4:11 If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Love for the LORD shifts my focus to use all that he has given me to glorify him. So if I am using my talents in the work place, I use them to his glory. If I am working on my homework for physic class, I am studying to his glory. If I am making dinner for the family, I am serving to his glory. Loving the Lord with all my strength means I am using all my strengths to show my love for the LORD.
At times we feel physically weak or not capable of what is before us. When our strength is weak, our ability to continue also comes from the LORD.
Psalm 29:11 The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.
Ephesians 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,…
With forgiveness when we fail, we love the LORD with all our strength when we realize all our capabilities come from the LORD, all our strength is to be used to glorify the LORD and when we feel weak, we can depend on and rely on the strength the LORD gives.
Apply: How does your day change as you view every activity in which you participate as an opportunity to love the LORD with all of your strength?
Take my life and let it be; consecrated Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days; Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move At the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be Swift and beautiful for thee.
THIS WEEK: LOVE God! How?
“Tell me what you’re thinking.”
“If only I could read your thoughts.”
Our thoughts are very private. We can think things that no one else will ever know. We fear the ability of technology to “read our thoughts.” We want our thoughts to remain private.
However, our thoughts are not private…to God.
Loving God with all our mind is to align our minds to a loving God.
Our sinful nature can hijack our minds. It loves our thoughts to be selfish. It loves our thoughts to lead us to desire those things that are self-satisfying.
Ephesians 2:3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
So what does it mean to love the LORD with all our mind?
a) We fill our minds with the things that reflect the mind of God:
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
b) We allow our minds to be molded by the thoughts of God’s Word
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
c) We allow our minds to always be focused on Jesus.
Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.
d) All our thoughts are filtered through a Christ-centered view point.
2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Research is varied, but some suggest we have about 20,000 thoughts a day. To align all those perfectly to the Lord is impossible for sinful human beings. We need and have been given forgiveness. To align each of those thoughts to love the Lord, needs the power of the Holy Spirit. For that we pray!
Apply: What inputs are affecting your thoughts? Evaluate the inputs to your mind and allow only those things that will lead you to make choices that allow God and his Spirit to affect your thoughts more and more.
Prayer: Take my intellect and use every power as thou shalt choose…Take my will and make it thine; it shall be no longer mine. AMEN