Posts Tagged ‘giving’

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2

I love this song.

As far as contemporary Christian, Christmas songs go, this could very well be my favorite.  What I have done here is taken the liberty of pulling out the chorus for a moment so we might first examine the stanza.

How Many Kings

Follow the star to a place unexpected
Would you believe, after all we’ve projected,
A child in a manger?

Lowly and small, the weakest of all
Unlikeliest hero, wrapped in his mother’s shawl –
Just a child –
Is this who we’ve waited for?

Bringing our gifts for the newborn Savior
All that we have, whether costly or meek
Because we believe.

Gold for his honor, and frankincense for his pleasure
And myrrh for the cross he will suffer
Do you believe?

What a wonderfully prophesied, significantly acute lyric. After all we have sought, assumed, and predicted; the Father shows up and does exceedingly abundantly more…with less…and in a word, we are astonished.

“Is this Who we’ve waited for?

We answer the first of the six questions with a booming proclamation,

Yes! Without any doubt, this is our Messiah!

And as the affirmation pours out from our hearts; as His Spirit bears witness with our spirit (Romans 8:16), it’s understood by all believers that this is more than just an emotional, religious gesture — we know how this story ends! Therefore, whatever our all looks like, He is worthy to receive it.

Five More Questions

  1. How many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
  2. How many lords have abandoned their homes?
  3. How many greats have become the least for me?
  4. How many Gods have poured out their hearts to romance a world that has torn all apart?
  5. How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

I find it intriguing that six questions are posed and that the Solution to the mystery; the only conceivable answer, is realized in the historical seventh position: the place of Sabbath and rest.

For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath…Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 12:8; 11:28

It’s Who we’ve waited for…only One did that for me.

In the best possible way, the saints are convicted.

With un-scaled eyes we realize that kings never freely tender their platforms, monarchs don’t voluntarily vacate their palaces, large doesn’t routinely pursue small, false idols cannot redeem, and dads won’t willingly sacrifice their boys.

Only One did that.

Only One could do that.

So in gratitude we cling firmly to doctrines of reasonable service and nonconformance to worldly canons, despite having access and freedom in all things. He has lovingly revealed that not all things are helpful (1 Corinthians 6:2) nor do all things bring Him glory. We’re submitted to restoration, because it testifies to what is good and what is acceptable and what is perfect in God.

As the lyricist declares, ‘because we believe,’ all that we have, precious or modest, we willingly sacrifice, knowing He is the sole provider. Our faith, our time, our talent, our audience — He has given it all. Therefore, whatever we do, we forego personal gain and do it all for the glory of God, giving Jesus Christ the recognition in every opportunity, so that others might come to know Him as we know Him (1 Corinthians 10:31-33).

If we’re invited to a thousand celebrations we know it’s only right at each occasion to seek out and thank the host — failure to do so is the grossest of insults. God gave His all and will continue to give His all and to the degree we understand what this means, is to the degree we give our all too.

Only one question remains.

Do You Believe?

As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. John 15:9-16


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Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem. Ezra 1:3-4

70 Years Earlier

Israel was taken into captivity by the Babylonians and after 70 years, King Cyrus comes on the scene and is moved to release the two million or so Jews. Interestingly, it was Daniel (who we recall was also in Babylon), who brings Cyrus to the Bible and points out in Isaiah how 170 earlier the Lord through His prophet spoke of Cyrus releasing the Jews from captivity! Cyrus, apparently floored by seeing his name prophetically mentioned in the Bible, was moved to be obedient to the prophesy. I guess so.

“Who Wants to Go Home…”

Cyrus asks. Incredibly, at least to me, only about 49,000 or so desired to make the 900 mile trek back to Jerusalem. The truth is that during the 70 year exile in Babylon, most of these Jews had settled in and were now comfortable with their circumstances. Cyrus recognized the situation, which is why he proclaimed, “And if you don’t want to go back, then help out financially those who do.” (paraphrase mine)

Left Behind-ers

At this point we might think that those who chose to stay behind and support those who were going might somehow be lessed-blessed then those who went. I suppose this is how some might feel about those who today support missionaries in the field, but are either unable or unwilling to go themselves. This is simply not the case. We have as one example an admonition from King David found in 1 Samuel 30:24b

But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike.

In this situation, some of the king’s men were to weary to continue in battle, so they were directed to stay behind and guard the camp and it’s supplies. After the battle was won, there were those who felt the spoils of the victory should be denied those who did not physically participate in the battle. King David set them straight—everyone gets an equal share; those who fought and those who support!

An Important Attribute

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

Whatever we give, our Father wants us to give it willingly and cheerfully. Why? Because everything belongs to God, that’s why. Is it not a silly notion to begrudgingly give away that which does not belong to you to begin with? If you loaned me your car and then told me to give it to someone else, it would be absurd for me to object or bemoan the request—wouldn’t it? The fact of the matter is that when we give willingly and cheerfully, God lovingly appreciates that we recognize this spiritual principle—He loves that we understand that we’re giving away His stuff and not ours. That’s what Jesus was looking for as He sat opposite the treasury in the account from Mark’s Gospel. He wasn’t looking to see what was given, but how they gave it—the quality and quantity were irrelevant.

Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” Mark 12:41-44

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My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:2-5


A very cool thing just happened. During a time of fellowship this morning, we found ourselves discussing and then praying over a crisis that had developed inside the church involving a particular family. As we gingerly approached the subject matter, we were very careful not to react to the situation in our flesh or allow ourselves to be guided by our emotions. As we processed what we were receiving from the Lord, someone hit us with a snowball.

What if…

Have you ever played the ‘what if’ game? In our situation this morning we did. As we approached the problem we began to makeup scenarios in our heads, “What if we do this thing and others come along and need similar help? As the word gets out we will be inundated with cries for help!”

To Embrace or Dismiss the Snowball

Do we embrace the (snowball) vision or do we dismiss the vision…That is the question? The answer to both questions is, “Yes!”

First we are to dismiss it. Why? Because when we create scenarios in our heads that are a result of what may or may not happen, inevitably they become the stumbling blocks that prevent us from doing any good thing. The end result is that we know (from God) what it is we are supposed to do, but fear prevents us from doing it. This exactly what James was referring to when he penned these words in James 1:22:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

James prefaced that remark by telling us we need to remove all the ‘junk’ that would interfere with our being obedient to that which God has taught us. One of our biggest pitfalls as Christians is ‘knowing’ God’s word sufficiently, and falsely believing that knowing it is sufficient.

After having removed the obstacle, we are then free to embrace it. As it happened the morning, as a result of a good deed, we envisioned droves of people lining up for provision. While it was correct to dismiss it as the obstacle that it was, it is also right for us to embrace it as ‘possibly’ God’s bigger picture for the church.

A Big ‘Ouch’ Moment

The irony is that the pastor of this church had been given a vision years ago of people ‘lining up at the doors of the church’ and ultimately the pews being filled to overflowing with most (if not all) accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I confess that when he first shared this vision, in my mind’s eye I saw a bunch of middle-class, working stiffs marching into the pews. Right now I see the make-up of this assembly quite differently.

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place, ” and say to the poor man, “You stand there, ” or, “Sit here at my footstool, ” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? James 2:1-5

Don’t Fear the Snowball

As a result, obedience ends up being a catalyst to Kingdom building. The Bible is quite clear; we are to give to everyone who asks. In so doing we should not allow the vision of an avalanche freeze us in our tracks-of-obedience to the request. However, that same vision provides for us an opportunity to be consistent givers and in accordance to God’s will. So while it is true we are to give to everyone who asks, the Lord is giving us an opportunity to respond as Peter did in Acts 3:6,

“Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

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