Rethink your Giving

Rethink GivingAs we end 2015, now is a good time to rethink your giving.

 For we live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 

Are you giving what’s right, or what’s left? 2 Corinthians 8-9

Is God blessing you? If so what are you giving back to your church, missions, or community? We can never just stay in the glory of great experiences and insights of worship and growth or even riches. There has to be a time when we take what we have learned and apply it. Not hoard, or be miserly with abundance.

How can we reset our thinking on stewardship? Be grateful for what you have and what Christ has done!

When the reality of Christ’s power and purpose hits us, we must also realize that others will not have the same beliefs and experiences. We see our friends with the latest phone or car or clothes or electric dog polisher, and we need to pray and ask, is it necessary? Then on the flip side, we will face the daily trivialities of life that seem to take a toll on us. We will face people who will reject us. We will try to put into practice what we have learned and we may fail. We can become frustrated and give up unless we focus, learn, and do not give up. We can best get through by our prayer life, and by our trust and reliance on His work!

Do not let your lack of willingness to grow in the faith rob you of His plan for you or rob what you are doing for others too. We can enjoy the mountain top or the wealth if you have it, but we also have to get busy in the valley where we live. When we do succeed, we need to be sure it is His success that is motivating us. Enjoying success and blessings is not a result of faith or what faith is about. Faith helps our relationship with God by bringing us closer to Him so He can use us more.

The Gospel is about One God Who is Sovereign and loves, while we are separated deeper and further than we can imagine from His salvation because of our sin. Yet, God is the One Who seeks us out with a love deeper and further than we can imagine and what to reconcile with us.

The Gospel is what we have that is true value. Remember, money and things are tools, not a lifestyle, Christ is to be our life and glorifying Him is to be our style. Our experiences and ideas tend to get in the way, so God has to sometimes knock us off our stool of pride and complacency, even greed, so we will look to Him (Job. 13:15; 2 Cor. 5:7).

Enjoying success and blessings is not a result of faith or what faith is about. Faith helps our relationship with God by bringing us closer to Him so He can use us more. Our experiences and ideas tend to get in the way, so God has to sometimes knock us off our stool of pride so we will look to Him (Job. 13:15; 2 Cor. 5:7).

What are you going to do so you do not let your lack of willingness to grow in the faith rob you of His plan for you?

 

A prime suggestion to better enable our financial giving

tithe budget

What are some of the things you can do to make sure that your heart is not set upon possessions; more exactly, how can you trust in our God as Provider?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5

All this is a result of His sacrifice of Christ’s redemption, His permanence, and His love for us. He lived, died, and rose again for you and me! All we are to do is trust and obey Him, and as we continue in this endeavor, He gives us even more empowerment for enduring life and performing ministry along with His special favor and peace! Even if we do not see Jesus, He sees us, loves us, and helps us persevere. This may seem unattainable or even unfathomable when we are under stress or the hostile occupation of life. However, we can do this because we have access to His empowerment; we are literally kept by God through faith. As we grow in our faith, we become even more precious to God and He will preserve us through trials and life.

From this passage we can see what we gain by our Lord’s grace, so how will that affect our budget and giving?

What we can do is view your promise to give to God that which is referred to as your tithe, like an income tax. Although it is not mandatory, it is a reflection of your character and response to His grace.

As the government so nicely swipes away your hardearned money from the top of your paycheck, consider joyfully setting also the top 10% of your net, or better yet, the gross income, for the Lord’s service– before the bills, expenses, and entertainment.

Do not include the tithe in your budget. Make your budget on the net assets you have after the tithe and taxes. Then, you will have a more realistic budget and keep yourself from getting into debt.

That way, it is done and out of the way. Then, carefully decide to whom it should go. The primary responsibility is first to your local church, and second to ministries that are doing the Lord’s work.  Remember, the people who set aside the first fruits of their resources to God are dedicating themselves to God, and not themselves to themselves.

This will also allow you to give more easily and continuously. Our real and true treasures are imperishable (1 Pet. 1:3-5)!

To help you do this, make a list of them, and put them in a place that you can see daily to encourage yourself. Keep in mind that true treasures are not material in nature, so look to relationships and character.

Do you realize that the prophets of old desperately desired and sought what we have—that which is free, and that we take for granted? Never take your faith or what Christ has done for you for granted. If you do, your spiritual journey will derail, your faith will stagnate, and the hopeless gloom of the world will be your only “vesper” (a bell that summons monks to pray). You will be seeking what is feeble and worthless and disavow what is real and jubilant. We are to declare our faith internally, see its veracity and application, and then declare it publicly.

Biblical Concepts on Generosity PII

Generosity in Practice 

Generosity is the realization we have His living water flowing in us. To keep it fresh, it must flow out of us, too (John 4; 7:38)!

This is like the Dead Sea in Israel, which is a dead body of water that has little to no life in it. There is no life in it because it has no outlet. It has a river flowing into it, but the water remains there, and becomes stagnated with harsh salts and minerals to the point that nothing can live or grow there. When we are stingy, we become like the Dead Sea–stagnant and lifeless. The living water within us will quickly become stagnant, like a mud puddle with mosquito larvae growing in it, useless, and even dangerous.

Here are positive examples from Scripture (Exodus 36:2-7; Luke 7:44-8:3; 10:33-37; 21:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8:1-7)

Here are negative examples from Scripture (Haggai 1:2-9; Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 25:31-46; 26:6-13)

Is the Character of Generosity working in you?

Here is how you can find out. Take a careful look at this character and Fruit of Generosity from God’s most precious Word by examining the passages below. Now ask yourself:

  1. How do I exhibit Generosity in my daily life?
  2. What can I do to develop a mindset to know that all I have in life belongs to God, and, since He supplies all I have and need, I can model His grace through being Generous?
  3. What blocks me from being Generous?
  4. How can I make Generosity function better, stronger, and faster, even in times of uncertainly and stress?

 A selfish Christian or a self-centered church that does not give, and only sees themselves as a charity, will become a Dead Sea rather quickly. How sad and pathetic that would be–an unconcerned, uncaring, and self-absorbed quandary to the neighborhood, and a disgrace to the Kingdom!

Think through the steps you need to take to put Generosity into action in a specific instance. If you are not a giving or hospitable person, seek to discover why. You are blocking God’s work in you. How can you release your selfish attitudes, and embrace the flowing in and out of His work in you?

The lack of Generosity will reflect a lack of faith and obedience! If you think there are no rivers coming into you, then seek what is blocking them. Is it sin, attitude, fear….?

God blesses those who steadfastly embrace His call, and who stay true to Christ. We need to stop looking for approval from society, and seek His approval. True Character will be the fruit of our encounter with Christ and the endeavor of how we are with others around us!

 

 

Charity that Pleases God PII

Matthew 6: 1- 4 

Jesus calls us to righteous giving. So, what have you done about it? 

This passage in Matthew 6:1-18, is in a set of three–giving, praying, and fasting. This is common, classic, Jewish teaching, which Jesus is following. Three has the significance of adding more emphases in power and meaning. The Romans did not believe in charity. They felt that people should work for their food and wages. If a person was poor, it was because they were too lazy to work, or their family forsook their responsibility. However, wealthy Greeks and Romans would build public works projects such as gyms, bathrooms, and housing, to gain popularity and support for their aspirations–personally and/or politically. As you can see, human motivations and thinking have not changed in thousands of years!   

Alms, or charitable deeds in most manuscripts, are from the Greek word eleemosunen, which refers specifically to almsgiving, or charitable deeds. While there are some older manuscripts that the NASB uses that have the Greek word dikaiosunen, which refers more to righteousness. The difference is that one is speaking in specific terms, while the other is more general. Since the context of the passage refers to several points from specific to general, either word would fit the context. However, there is greater textual support for the word dikaiosunen. 

We are not to exhibit righteousness, just to be seen by others! This does not mean to avoid all or any practice of righteousness (Matt. 5:16). Rather, it is to avoid doing them JUST to be recognized and self-glorified. We cannot secure the praise for God when we are trying to secure praise for ourselves! The consequences for our misplaced motivations are that we miss our real, and true reward, which is far richer, better, and more lasting than temporary human praises. What we do in secret will be made known (Ecc 12:14; 2 Cor. 5:10) to God, and even to others, if God so desires. 

No reward: This was a proclamation that submission to God was more crucial, and essential for life and faith, than personal agendas. By giving to the poor in secret, we are showing our love to God, rather than seeking personal glory (Psalm 41:1-3). 

Trumpet Jesus is using ‘hyperbolic speech’, which is exaggeration, to make His point. Obviously people did not blow trumpets when they gave, but they did make it known when, and how much, they gave. Also, the charity box at the temple was in the shape of a trumpet! Jesus is the Master teacher, and He often uses humor and word plays to get His point across that are clear in the Greek, but not in English. 

Hypocrites: This literally means acting, or an actor in a play. It is one who claims to have a relationship with God, and to be following His precepts, while actually doing the opposite. The ancient actors did this by holding up masks to proclaim their part in the play, and their expression of feelings, while their real feelings were hidden. The hypocrites in the Church seek themselves, and their agenda, under the façade of being a Christian. Sometimes their evil is so ingrained in them that they do not even realize they are hypocrites, as Jesus points out in chapter 23. Some of the religious people in Jesus time were very charitable. The Pharisees would give 10–20% percent to God (Luke 18:11-12). They tithed everything, even seeds (Luke 11:42). However, their deeds did not please God because their motivations were wrong!   

Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing: This is another word play. Many Middle Eastern cultures ate with one hand and wiped their rears with the other. You did not want to do these at the same time, or with the same hand! This means not only avoiding the praise of others but from yourself as well (1 Tim. 6:17-19). 

In classic Jewish thought the right hand represented a good deed, and the left, my good opinion about the deed.  This does not mean we are reckless with our financial giving. Rather, it means that it becomes second nature, without much thought, as anything we do in righteousness (Acts 2: 44-45; 4:34-37).Reward in full, or He Himself will reward you: This refers to the theme of a business transaction that has been repaid, a receipt for it.   

What do you need to do to make sure your motivation is submission to God, because that is more crucial and essential for your life and faith than any personal agendas? 

We are not to be reckless with our financial giving. Rather, it should become “second nature,” without much thought, as anything we do in righteousness should be. So, how can your giving reflect God’s precepts? 

What are the different ways to give? Remember, money is only one aspect of giving. We also have time, talent, and treasures. Can you think of others?

Charity that Pleases God PI

Matthew 6: 1- 4 

Do you think you are you a charitable person? If so, are you sure that your charity is pleasing to God? Why, or why not? 

This passage sets out to proclaim the true lasting motivations for our daily pursuits of giving, praying, and fasting, extending to other pursuits in the coming chapters (6:1-33). These motivations for rewards will show how we exhibit our piety before God and people. Such motivations can either glorify God or become of hypocritical contempt to God, as well as ridicule and shame for the Church. Jesus calls us to righteous giving, that we should only be giving to others in order to please God. We are not to seek to please ourselves, and certainly not others. When we only seek the praise of others, our giving becomes fuel for selfishness, and God is not glorified. Our reward will only be the momentary praise, and a much greater reward will become lost due to our misplaced motivations. God will not reward us twice, so, we must choose which reward we want, one from feeble temporary people, or one from the Great, Eternal God.   

Do not do your chartable deeds before men: Jesus is affirming the positive value of such deeds. But, He also warns that they must be done with the correct, proper attitudes and motivations. 

Classic Judaism states that our motivation for performing good deeds should not be for rewards from others. Rather, we should wait for our reward in Judgment. Jesus affirms this classic teaching, and challenges the teachers of the Law to uphold it. They, of course, did not, as they proclaimed elaborate displays, and speaking to draw attention to themselves when they gave, the opposite of what they thought (Tobit 12:8 Jewish Tex])! Charity was so essential to the Law that some rabbis were teaching that alms giving meant a sure place in Heaven. The Law did not teach this. The Law stated that you could give up to 20% of your tithe to the poor, but no more than that. Otherwise, the priests would not have enough funds to run the county. OT tithes were also state taxes. You could, of course, give more from your personal discretionary income, just as we do today. 

Have you ever considered that some forms of charity actually displease God? 

Remember Jesus taught His disciples to have a righteousness that exceeded that of the Pharisees, meaning they must be real in their faith, and in their walk in Christ (Matt. 5:20)! The Scribes and Pharisees were practicing the art of hypocrisy–not righteousness! Jesus does not pay any attention to the people who say one thing and do another, nor does He pay attention to misplaced motivations or religious gab and gossip! Is He paying attention to you?   

What would Jesus say about your true motivations in your daily pursuits of piety, such as in giving? Why are our motivations for rewards important? 

Motivations will glorify God or will be hypocritical and contemptible to God, as well as bring ridicule and shame to the Church. Why? 

It has been said that the check register or day planner is a great sign to determine the spiritual health of that person. How does your check register or bank statement reflect your relationship in Christ?