Archive for the ‘Giving’ Category

Why Do I Have All That I Have? (Ezekiel 34; Psalm 83-84)

October 1, 2014

“The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the stayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.”  Ezekiel 34:4

“Wow,” he sure has a lot of stuff.  This was the commentary of a middle-class teenager as he spoke of the stuff that a rick kid possessed.  But little did he know that a kid down the street, who had very little was saying about him, “Wow, he has a lot of stuff.”

Question, “Why do you and I have what we have?”  This certainly could have been the question God asked the leaders in Israel during Ezekiel’s day.  The above verse is a scathing rebuke of not only those leaders, but it could be of my life as well.

It seems very clear that the leaders were using all that was in their possession for themselves.  God was going to judge them for not using what God had given them in the right ways.

Think it through:

1.  Why has God blessed you and I with all that we have?

Answer:  To meet our needs and to meet the needs of the people around us (so that God might be glorified).  In the book of Philippians 4:19 Paul writes, “My God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory.”

Our God delights in meeting the needs of His people.  Our God delights in giving us extra resources so that we can meet the needs of the poor so that they might see God’s grace at work.  When this happens, people come to Jesus.  I am reminded of how Jesus is our Great Shepherd who gives his life for the sheep, John 10:9-14.

2.  What causes us to waste the extra resources we possess?

Answer:  “We want more than we need.”  It is in this moment that my heart cries out, “Lord help me to conqueror the old man who is always lying to me about what I need.”  The fact is, I have a constant battle between wants and needs.

Today, I want to become a person who praises God for meeting needs, showing me others needs, and uses me to meet the needs.

Our response:

1.  Take time to consider what God says is really our needs.

2.  Take time to evaluate the difference between needs and wants.

3.  Release the wants and use the revenue to meet others needs for the glory of God.

Advertisements

What Are You Hearing?

June 13, 2012

“He also said to the disciples, ‘There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions.”  Luke 16:1

One of the most subtile sins that I deal with on a daily basis is the sin of gossip.  I often find myself, in the flesh, wanting to hear and to share gossip.  It’s kind of like hearing a siren blaring from a fire truck or a police car and you want to follow to just see what is taking place.  Sadly enough at the end of the road is always heart ache and sorrow.

This mornings More For Christ readings, Lk 16:1-18 gives us not gossip but a real story about the life of a man who was embezzling from his boss.  This man was hired to mange the properties of a rich man.  Apparently this man was charging more than what was fair.  The news began to spread and it reached the ears of the rich man.  So the manager is confronted with his sin and is told that he is going to be fired.

Shockingly he becomes creative in his deception and rewrites all the bills for his clients and now they are only going to pay half (Actually what they owed).  He did this to gain favor in the sight of the people so that he would get help from them when he lost his job.

As you read Jesus story, it takes a strange turn when the rich man commends this manager for his shrewdness.  The passage becomes even more strange when Jesus says, “And I tell you, make friends for yourself by means of unrighteous wealth.”  

One might think Jesus is encouraging us to follow the path of this manager.  But this is not the case.  What Jesus is teaching is simply, “We should be wise with our resources for Kingdom advance. We must become a people who serve others with the resources God has given us.  In this way, people will see the gospel being lived out and they will be receptive to the Word of God.”

Brothers and sisters this causes great evaluation in my life. I ask myself, “What am I doing with all God has given me?”  What are others hearing about how I handle God’s resources?  How are people spreading the news about my life?

This day I do not want to be known as a shrewd man, but a man who is sold out to Christ purposes for my life.  This day my prayer for you is that people who hear and share the story of how God’s impact on your life has transformed you from a grabber to a giver.

I would like to suggest a great resource to you from the hand-writing of Timothy Keller “counterfeit Gods.”  

 

The Three P’s of James 5

May 10, 2012

“You have condemned and murdered the righteous person.  He does not resist you.”  James 5:6

Someone once said; “Each day is filled with its challenges and opportunities.”  I think that man must have been Solomon.

As I began my day, “I had on my mind two things:  1) Hear from God (His word) and talk to God (Prayer)  2) The events of yesterday.  How did I do in obeying God’s directions for my day.  I can honestly say, “God did a number on me this morning as I read James 5.”

This morning we consider James 5 in our More For Christ readings.  The book of James gives us our marching orders in faith.  Years ago I preached through this book and I entitled the series, “Faith in Shoe Leather.”  Certainly God’s shoe leather was walking all over me this morning.  It was needed and I pray God does the same as you read James 5.

Here are the three P’s of James 5:

1) Possessions, Vs: 1-6

2) Patience, Vs: 7-12

3) Prayer, Vs: 13-20

In each of these P’s I found much work I need to do.  But for our time together, I will only write about the first.

James begins Vs: 5 with a deep emphasis on the misery that awaits those who mishandled their possessions.  James speaks about a day when the rich (I am rich) will stand before God to give and account for how they handle both their possessions and the people who were affected by their possessions.

In this particular context, the poor are the example of the people who are affected by the possessions of the rich.  I must confess that I found great conviction and great challenge as I considered all that I have and all that I am to do with what I have.

Consider the following:

James teaches us: “The things we hold onto will someday perish.”

When we hold possessions as our dearest friend or our God we have assured truth of its little worth to our lives.  I have been challenged that all I have is to be used for His glory.  If I keep possessions from God they will be of no lasting value.

James teaches us: “The people we are supposed to help are witness against us that we did not help.”

Some day, I am sure, “God will mention names of people and names of people groups that I could have helped if I would have only taken seriously the proper use of what He had given me.  This day I want to cast aside all that I hold onto and I want to give myself to giving away all the idols I once held dear.

James teaches us: “God will not force us to give.”

We must become people who seek to give and we must seek to give for the Glory of The Lord.  You and I can continue in our path and God will not stop us.  But on that day we stand before Him, we will suffer much loss.

Today, I want to leave you with this truth:  Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ gave all he had (Phil 2:5-9) in order that we who are poor (Spiritually bankrupt) might have his wealth (II Cor. 5:21) “The righteousness of God.”

Today, I want to leave you with this task: “Use your possessions to get the gospel to the spiritually poor of this world.”

 

As We Have Opportunity

December 29, 2011

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially to those who are of the household of faith,” Gal. 6:10

This morning, I found myself confronted with a reality that comes very timely for me.  Here is what I was confronted with, “For there will never cease to be poor in the land.  Therefore, I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to the poor, in your land.” Deut. 15:11.   

Reason would argue, “If people needing help never ends, then what is the use?”  Such a question is asked by many people in the world.  Question, “How would you answer such a question?”  Certainly we can and should respond, “I can’t make a difference in everyone’s life but I can made a difference in many people’s lives.”  This is a great answer.  However, could I possibly suggest an even better answer?

Lord, you have created me and you have selected for me many opportunities to make a difference in Jesus name.  So please teach me to be mindful of the opportunities you give me.”

This morning, I was lead to pray this way because of my readings in Galatians 6.  The first ten verses can be broken into two points:

I.  A description of the people we have opportunity with:

1) People who are caught in trespasses, Vs:1.  These are people who are sinners and their guilt has left them broken.

2)  People who are burdened, Vs: 2.  Something has left their life out-of-place and they need help.

3)  People who are bearing a load, Vs: 5.  Every child of God has issues of life that give us opportunity to help.

4)  People who are ministering to others,  Vs: 6.  This very day, God has placed others in your path who have ministered to you.  Now is your opportunity.

I. A description of the proper way to help:

1)  Resist the flesh-do not spend your life on yourself.  Invest in others.

2)  Reside in the Spirit-do not walk in the flesh (Old Nature).  Walk in the new nature (Spirit-filled).

3)  Reach out in grace-the world around us is facing abuse after abuse.  Some is inflicted by others. Some is inflicted by self.  Either way, the aroma of Christ is a welcomed and eternal gift from heaven.

This very day, opportunity is all around you.  Cease the opportunity for the glory of Christ with the confidence that you have been called to make a difference.

AT The End Of The Year

December 28, 2011

“You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year.” Deuteronomy 14:22.

Most likely when you read the title of this blog you thought, “The subject is going to be about finishing well at the end of 2011.”  If you thought this, you are correct.  However there is usually a part of our finishing well that we often overlook.  The part I am writing about is, “Tithing.”  Most people do not have on their radar, making sure they have tithed correctly at the end of the year.  But some people do.

Personally I check my tithing record at the end of the year because I want to make sure I honored the Lord with my first 10 percent of income.  This year, as is the case in our family every year, has been a great blessing to us.  We have seen the Lord do many magnificent miracles this year. God has provided every need and has provided far more.  We have been on an overseas mission trip, given above our tenth to many fine groups that are sharing the gospel around the world.  We have watched our church stay in the black in an economy that is anything but in the black.  We were even able to take two family vacations this past year.  (We were so blessed).

So how could we not give back to the one who has given so much to us?  Moses in Deuteronomy instructs the people concerning their year-end giving.  When the harvest came in, they were to give the first 10 % to the Lord as a testimony to the fact that he was the giver of all they had.  This was a sacrifice of praise and a sacrifice of proclamation to the world that God was their source of all things.

Question, “does your life reflect praise and proclamation in the area of giving?”  The fact is, the only way you will know is if you examine your accounts to even know.  This is easy for those who are poor, all you have to do is check one account and you will know what you have given.  However it is much different for someone who is rich.  Such a person can give large amounts and still not give a tithe as they should.

I want to ask each of you to consider, ‘Your finances at the end of the year.”  Have you and I given to God what He requires and have we given to God even more because we love Him?

My wife and I can both testify of the great blessings in becoming a giver for the glory of the Lord.  So, why you still have time, catch up and experience the joy of giving to the one you love for than anyone else.