You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘giving’ category.

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow”— when you now have it with you. Proverbs 3:27-32 (NIV) (Click on this link to read this passage in your preferred version of the Bible. You may select your version after the link opens. )

Who hasn’t yet heard about the earthquakes that devastated Port-au-Prince in Haiti last Tuesday?  It has been the dominating topic on all news casts on television and radio stations for the past several days. The devastation and needs are unfathomable.

What is the Christian response for those of us living in our comfortable homes as our TVs, radios, and computers bring the reality of these people’s sufferings into our living rooms. We can go to our kitchen sink or refrigerator and get a fresh glass of water or other beverage – they are unable to find water. We pat our stomachs after a full meal – they may have to fight to get or keep a serving of food. We can turn the TV off to give us a little distance from the suffering – they can’t.

Sadly, the first response many have to meeting the needs when crises like these occur is to run to our closets and pantry to look for things we need to give away – things we won’t miss. Some want to jump on a plane and fly to Haiti to offer physical labor and expertise. But a closer look reveals some bottle-necks that will keep any of these first responses from being helpful. In fact doing these things may only cause increased hardships for a while.

The airport in Haiti is small and can handle only a little traffic. The roads are so damaged that it is nearly impossible to move clothes and household goods, they are only in the way at this time. The shipping ports were also damaged for getting goods into the country. So initially we can only wait patiently until the bottle-neck is cleared.

As Christians, our first line of defense is prayer. There is no bottle-neck preventing us from praying for the people of Haiti.

The second thing that can be donated immediately is money. Cash is flexible and can be used to meet whatever need is prominent at the time. Unfortunately, it won’t be found on a neglected hanger in your closet or in the back of your pantry with the food that has been sitting in your pantry undisturbed for some time. Cash comes from the bottom of our pockets. In our current economy, reaching for cash calls for greater sacrifice.

We may think we don’t have cash to spare. That’s when we need to turn the TV back on and make some comparisons. Can we truly say we have nothing to give to these desperate people?

We can also start organizing other forms of help to have them ready when the bottleneck is cleared. The Haitian people desperately need water, food, clothing, and volunteers. Volunteers need to have these supplies ready for shipment as soon as the all-clear signal is given.

The following organizations are excellent for getting resources to the people. Not only do they work long and hard to meet the needs of the people, they also provide these services in Jesus’ name and offer spiritual encouragement as well.

Samaritans Purse

The Salvation Army

Mennonite Central Committee

World Vision International

United Methodist Committee On Relief

Global Aid Network

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Luke 3:1-20 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens. Better yet, read it in more than one translation.

Read this passage over and over to keep from missing the details. God speaks to our hearts through His Word if we will dwell there. I can only touch on a few highlights here.

As had been recorded in Isaiah hundreds of years earlier, John’s place in history was to prepare people’s hearts to accept Jesus. His message was repentance.

This message was not sugar coated. Speaking to the crowds who came to him in verse 7 he called them a “brood of vipers.” People weren’t attracted to him because of his smooth talk. They must have felt under conviction when they were in the presence of this holy man of God.

John challenged the people’s claim that Abraham was their father telling them that God could cut them down and bring up new children for Abraham out of the very stones that lay on the ground.

When the people asked, John gave them examples of what they should do. Give your extra coat to someone who doesn’t have a coat. Share your food with the poor. Tax collectors were to refrain from charging more taxes than were due. Soldiers were not to take advantage of their authority to get money from their subjects. The general people were told to be content with their pay.

These challenges are still appropriate for us today. We want more clothes and bigger closets to store them in, yet there are people around us who would be thrilled with only one of our dresses or coats. We stuff our cabinets with food and worry about some day in the future when we might not have enough. Yet there are people around us already with not enough to eat. Loan sharks greedily charge as much as they can get to make a profit off of those who have so little. What is legal isn’t always in agreement with what is ethical; yet we will use the law to justify our actions. And being content with our pay? Is anyone content? It appears that those at the bottom of the pay scale are the most likely to be content with their pay – they are the most likely to tithe.

As the people began to wonder if John was the Messiah that had been promised, he told them that he was not, and that he was not worthy to untie His sandals.

John had a following with many disciples, but because he would not compromise the truth, even to King Herod, he ended up in prison and was eventually beheaded at the King’s command.

Father God, help us to take your call to repentance seriously. Prepare our hearts so that we will have more room for you to dwell within us.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Add to Technorati Favorites

James 5:1-6 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

James describes the woes for the wealthy. God doesn’t offer any redeeming words to rich people who obtain their money by taking advantage of the poor. Neither does he condone persons who use all their wealth for self-indulgence. I have occasionally heard wealthy Christians wrestle with what the Bible says about wealth. As I understand the scriptures, both here and elsewhere in the Bible, the bottom line is whether the wealthy hoard for themselves, or hold their riches with open hands asking God to lead them to be good stewards of their wealth in service to his kingdom.

This question may put money in its proper perspective: Does your money own you or do you own your money? If you are consumed in worrying about your money (even your lack of it) that you can’t joyfully serve the Lord with it, then your money owns you.

I find it interesting that this passage isn’t one of the familiar passages we hear frequently in the pulpit or even in our Sunday school literature. James 5 was the passage for last Sunday’s lesson, but the writer of our literature ignored it completely and began with verse 7 to build his lesson. Read the passage again. James doesn’t mince words to avoid offending the wealthy.

Father God, Help us to hold our finances and possessions with open hands that we may serve you with our whole hearts. Give us the courage to make the changes in our hearts and lives that would be pleasing to you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Add to Technorati Favorites

Proverbs 3:13-18  Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

The world today puts great value on wealth and power. Unfortunately, even our churches give in to this kind of small thinking and give leadership roles to those who have “proven themselves” in the world. Out the window goes faith and even honor in too many instances.

But the true student of the Bible will come up with a different take on the source of true knowledge and wisdom. Read Proverbs 3:13-18. There is a wisdom that will bring riches, but not the kind that can be purchased with gold and silver. The riches include things money can’t buy: peace, joy, good will, a free conscience, respect and honor.

God is the giver of this kind of wisdom. It isn’t given to the greedy or to those hungry for power. It is given to those who are willing to seek it by spending time with him in prayer and by spending time searching through the scriptures for the lessons that only the Holy Spirit can teach us. And the riches gained from true wisdom include a relationship with Jesus Christ that will last through the end of our days on this earth and on into eternity. I’ll take riches of this kind over gold and silver any day!

Heavenly Father, incline my heart to seek thee more faithfully and deliberately. Help me to discern between Godly wisdom and the wisdom of this world, and help me to make seeking and applying godly wisdom a daily act of obedience to you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Add to Technorati Favorites

Matthew 6 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

As I read this chapter the same message seemed to come to me over and over…  It isn’t about me – it is all about Jesus Christ.  We must not fast and pray to be seen by men because it isn’t about us, and we will never steal Jesus’ glory.  Our possessions shouldn’t be hoarded for our own benefit here on earth – they are meant to be used to glorify Christ and to draw others to him.  If our hearts are in our earthly treasures we will waste away with nothing to show for our life on earth.  If we hold our treasures with open hands and allow God to work through us, then he will supply our every need, clothing us like the flowers in the fields and providing for us like the birds of the air.

Now if I can just remember this until tomorrow.  How easy it is to get our eyes off Christ and onto ourselves and our own circumstances.

Father, help us to embed these verses firmly into our hearts and our thoughts. Help us hold your blessings with open hands and a spirit of sharing.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Add to Technorati Favorites

Matthew 6:19-21  Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

What do you value most in life? What is it in your life that compels you into action? What would you go to great lengths to protect or preserve? Do you invest time in something or someone to see it develop and grow? What occupies your mind and/or keeps you awake at night?

If we ask ourselves questions like these we should discover where our treasure is. How does your treasure measure up to the passage in Matthew 6:19-21? Does your treasure have eternal value, or is it simply something that will make life easier for yourself? Are you working for your families needs or are you spoiling them by trying to satisfy all their wants? 

I’m so near retirement age that it scares me. Then I remember this passage. It makes me stop and think about where my treasure is. If I am overly wrapped up in meeting my own unforeseen needs I may be overlooking opportunities that are right in my path for laying up treasures in heaven. And those are the only treasures that are truly ours to keep.

Father, help me to value the things that you value. Help me to keep a check on the desires of my heart that they may be alligned with your purpose and will. Help me to focus my eyes on your treasures and not on self-centered treasures that have no eternal value.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Add to Technorati Favorites

Luke 6:20Matthew 5:3  Click on these links to read the passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

As I read the first of the Beatitudes in Luke I kept saying to myself that this wasn’t the way I remembered it. I searched several translations, but still couldn’t find one that started “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Instead I kept finding “Blessed are the poor.” I finally realized that I learned the Beatitudes from Matthew and not Luke.

So which is it? I could get all uptight over this and say that both should report this exactly the same way, but I have resolved in my heart to not let such minor differences unsettle my faith. In fact, quite the opposite. The fact that two different people reported the same instances with so many details that are the same bears witness to the fact that they didn’t need to consult with each other to tell the story. Both were capable writers and independent witnesses to the historical facts of Jesus’ ministry on earth.

So which is it? I believe that God was present in the Spirit when both accounts were written and both accurately express what he wants us to know. There are blessings that only the poor can know. Life can be simpler when you don’t have to worry about losing your fortune if the stock market crashes. The poor are less likely to have a child kidnapped for ransom. But even more importantly, the poor have learned to trust God to meet their needs.

Comparisons have been made on who is more generous, the rich or the poor, and it is the poor who will give the greater percent of their income to help others. This is perhaps one example of the freedom that the poor experience but that is elusive to the rich. Perhaps this is in part how theirs (the poor) is the kingdom of heaven.

The insertion of the words “in spirit” as seen in Matthew’s account changes the meaning a little, but it is still within the framework of the rest of Biblical teaching. Therefore I believe this is equally valid in the Beatitudes. When I think of being poor in spirit, I think of brokenness. We are a stiff-necked people, we make our plans and expect God to bless them (not the other way around). We tend to think we are in control of our lives, and when things seem to start spinning out of control we panic and fall to our knees making demands on God. Somewhere down in the bottom of all this turmoil is where we come to our wit’s end. This is where our spirit is finally broken, and where we look up to God and ask him to fix the mess we have made of our lives. The blessing God gives for a broken spirit is eternal life as we turn our lives over to him. This is the kingdom of heaven.

I have been worrying over my financial future as I face an earlier than advisable retirement in January. So now that I have wrestled through these scriptures, I need to re-read my own post. It is re-assuring that God has so much to say about trusting him with our tomorrows. Then to consider that I might be more fully blessed if I am poor than if I were rich… that boggles my mind in a comforting way.

I have been weighing out in my mind whether I should spend next week in a Salkehatchie Summer Service camp. It will be a last minute decision, but it is something I’ve been wanting to do for thirteen years, ever since the time I first learned about the program. I think this passage of scripture will take on even more meaning as I work through the week.

Father God, you know the blessings that are the best. Help us to see life through your eyes and not the eyes of the world. Help us to be satisfied, even generous, with what you have given us.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Add to Technorati Favorites

Proverbs 3:5-12 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens. 

Proverbs 3:5-6
     This proverb is one of the best. It challenges us to put God’s directions above our own judgement. Yet how many times have we responded to a scripture with a “yes, but…” and failed to do what was clearly set forth in the passage. Sometimes we can legitimately affirm that a particular passage was intended for a specific time and place in history, but we must be careful not to dismiss eternal principles such as love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you. If we want God to make our paths straight, we must be pliable in our spirits, and apply the teachings from his Word to our lives.

Proverbs 3:7-8
     This passage is similar to the previous two verses in that we are to consider God’s wisdom above our own and shun evil. God offers us health and nourishment through following him.

Proverbs 3:9-10
     Is this the passage that causes us to begin to fade away or drop out? Do we give to God from our firstfruits, or do we wait to see what is left over before we decide how much to give to him through our tithes and offerings? Is this one of your “yes, but…” verses? What priorities are you placing ahead of God in your giving.

Proverbs 3:11-12
     When the going gets tough do you find yourself warming up to God, or do you begin to nurture feelings of resentment toward him as if he weren’t giving you a fair shake for all you have done for him? I try to remember to pray that God will not allow a particular time of troubles and hardships go to waste, but that he will help me to learn the lessons he is trying to teach me through them. 
     With a poor father the kid is actually in charge; the father simply reacts. His discipline comes only when the kid irritates him. A good father is intentional; he has a plan for what he wants his child to become. God is a good father. God is in charge.
     We need to develop an appreciation for our troubles as even these are a form of God’s blessing. God has a plan for growing us up to make us the best we can be. Embrace his plan knowing that he is putting his trust in us with the amount of troubles we are called upon to endure. 

Father God, how blessed we are to have your Word to guide us. Open our eyes and our hearts to see your guidance and enable us to follow your directives. Satisfy our hearts as we seek and follow your will.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Add to Technorati Favorites

     18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

    19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’ “ 

    21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 

    22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  

    23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25  Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:18-25 (NIV)

Verse 19 tends to baffle many. Is Jesus saying he is not good? If you look closely, he did not say that–he only said that no one was good but God alone. It is as if he were revealing to the man that he was God, but of course the man didn’t pick up on it.

After responding to the man’s comment, Jesus moves on to the man’s question, and directs his attention to the Ten Commandments. Through Jesus’ eyes this man’s reply probably sounds quite self-righteous – he had kept the commandments since he was a boy. And he may have tried to do so in a very consciencious way – which takes us back to Jesus earlier comment that only God can be called good. No one can keep the Ten Commandments perfectly.

Then Jesus went to the heart of the man’s problem by telling him to sell all he had and give to the poor. It appears the man was unwilling to do this as Jesus answer made him very sad.

This account in the Bible is one that most Christians are quite familiar with.  Many read it with fear–those who are the most wealthy. Others, perhaps, should quake as well when we consider what we own in comparison to those in the impoverished third world nations. How much are we willing to share with the less fortunate? Where would we draw the line?

I believe God wants us to hold our posessions in an open hand remembering that everything we own belongs to God. We should tithe to our churches and give to Christian causes. We should be generous with everything else, yet at the same time be good stewards of what God has given to us. We need to give to those in need, but we must pray for discernment that we may be able to give that which will help others to rise above their circumstances, without enabling them to continue embracing the very habits that may be keeping them down.

Lord, help us to have a generous spirit.  Help us to remember that all we have comes from you when we are tempted to keep it all to ourselves.  Thank you for the reassurance that “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” (verse 27)

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Add to Technorati Favorites

     12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”  Luke 14:12-14 (NIV)

Why do we invite guests into our homes for a meal, or take them out to a restaurant? Are we trying to impress them, hoping to win their favor, so they will do good things for us? Business people do this regularly, and our income tax laws (USA) allow them to call these meals business expenses.

Jesus says not to invite those friends, neighbors and relatives who might be inclined to return the favor. Instead we are told to invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind because they will be unable to return the favor. This is true hospitality.

As I read these verses I believe it is our motives that are at the heart of the matter. As in all other forms of relating with people, we are to have a servant’s heart. If we invite someone to our home, we should look for someone with a need – someone we can help in some way.

If we are faithful to serve others through our hospitality, God will be the one who will bless us, though it may not be in this lifetime.  Verse 14 says you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Lord, give me a servant’s heart. Help me find ways to show hospitality to those in need, not to win their favor, but to reflect your love to them that they will seek to know you better.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Add to Technorati Favorites

Facebook

Fan me on Facebook

Blog Stats

  • 250,295 hits
Powered by WebRing.
This site is a member of WebRing.
To browse visit Here.