Well, adoption is fresh in my sight for a few reasons. For starters, my mother posted my adoption certificate on Facebook and reminded me that as of October 14, I celebrated 17 years of adoption. My (step)father sacrificially gave of himself to give me a brighter and better future. In addition, our Wednesday night Bible study, “The Family Project,” has been a constant reminder of the value of adopting parents. On top of this, I’ve been watching a series on Netflix called “Dexter.” As blatantly unwholesome as it is on the outside, one of the underlying narratives of the entire series is adoption. It is the story of Dexter Morgan, a damaged young boy turned violent sociopath, taken in by Harry Morgan, a law-abiding police officer bound to a virtuous moral code. The entire story line is wrapped in themes of brokenness, justice, and redemption through adoption. I was reminded of God’s love for us despite our fallen state as Harry Morgan says to young Dexter, “Remember this forever, you are my son, you are not alone, and you are loved.” [Read more…]
“When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:13-14
As we conclude our stewardship emphasis with the theme “Faithful God, Generous Hearts” we might consider sharing a Thanksgiving Sunday potluck dinner with people in our community who are poor, homeless, lonely, depressed, and handicapped. To do that, we would put a simple ad in local newspapers and see who shows up at 12:00 noon Sunday, November 23!
Of course, that would mean we would all need to bring lavish amounts of food including meats, salads, vegetables, casseroles, and dessert dishes. Our volunteer kitchen crews would have to work overtime and we would probably have to modify our usual worship arrangements and other accommodations.
Our honored guests would be first in line and we would have to welcome, serve, and fellowship with them just as much as we usually do with our own church family.
It just could be the most blessed Thanksgiving Sunday potluck dinner we have shared in a long time, maybe ever!
Kevin L. Wood
You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.
John Bunyan 1688
“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. We are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope! O Lord, our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you!” I Chronicles 29:14-16
King David was simply in awe of the generosity of his people in giving to the building of God’s temple. As he reflected further, he realized, as we should, the true source of that generosity:
Life itself, the beauty of creation, and the endless grace of a loving God make all of us rich beyond compare! Having come to Christ by faith, we are now “heirs of God and joint-heirs with
The greatest blessings we will ever have come from the hand of a God who spares nothing, not even His own Son, in saving us and securing heaven as our home. In light of that reality, how could we not prove to be the most generous people on earth? How could we not dedicate ourselves to bringing tithes and offerings to the house of the Lord? How could we not pray and work and give until the new sanctuary we have been called to build in our generation is dedicated to the glory of our God?
O Lord, your generosity to us is truly beyond our wildest dreams! Everything we are, everything we have belongs to you!
Kevin L. Wood
The only investment I ever made which has paid consistently increasing dividends is money I have given to the Lord.–copied
2 Chronicles 31:9-13 Hezekiah asked the priests about the heaps; the chief priest answered, “Since the people began to bring their contributions to the temple of the LORD, we have had enough to eat and plenty to spare, because the LORD has blessed his people, and this great amount is left over.” They faithfully brought in the contributions, tithes and dedicated gifts.
I believe the verse above describes this church family. You give unconditionally so that the church can operate efficiently. Then you go beyond and give more so that a new sanctuary can be built. I want to share a memory I have of the small rural Cumberland Presbyterian Church of which I was a part from birth until I left for college. (My parents made sure I was there for everything–Praise the Lord!) After I grew up, got married, had a family of my own & became a member of this church, that little country church decided to add a family life center, so they did. It was a great leap of faith for the small church. There was a retired contractor in the church who helped with plans and actually built the staircase and the kitchen cabinets. They built a Fellowship Hall the size of a half-gym, a pastor’s study, a ladies lounge, a kitchen, two classrooms, and restrooms. I remember the year that it was finished. It was 1996. My father died that year. He was a farmer as were most of the families in the church. And that year my father made more money from farming than he ever had. All the farmers in the community had plentiful harvests. I believe that their faith in stepping out and enlarging their church was fulfilled with a bountiful harvest and the congregation paid for their new building that year without a mortgage.
The LORD blesses his people.
Even your smallest acts of kindness will be remembered and rewarded. Matthew 25:37-40 The righteous will answer him. “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick and in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
This church has all kinds of opportunities for you to help people–the Back Pack Program; the Loaves & Fishes program; One Great Hour of Sharing and Gift to the King offerings, the Second Harvest Food Truck; The Angel Tree Ministry, the Stott-Wallace Missionary offerings; Operation Christmas Child and others. We can give and help other people who are in need here and around the world. Even the children give, as their Sunday School offerings go to the Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home in Denton,Texas.
The message God wants us all to understand is that we need to share. We teach our children to share. Christians should always be willing to share. We have opportunities all around us if we are open and willing to see them.
I challenge you to give to the outreach programs of your choice but also to have a willingness to see special needs around you and respond.
On my way to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family each year, I pass a church in a small town on the trip that has several cars parked there. I think that some church people are cooking Thanksgiving dinners for those who might not get a good meal very often, whether they are elderly, sick or just hungry. Then I get to my mother’s home in time to help deliver plates to her elderly or sick friends in her community. I think that is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is more blessed to give than to receive. June Perritt
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
Martyred Missionary Jim Elliott
Matthew 6: 2-4 (Jesus said) “When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Giving anonymously is so difficult because you crave the adulation of others. To give in secret realizing that no one will ever know what you have done is a sign of spiritual maturity. Whose approval are you seeking, God’s or man’s? When you give in order to get recognition, then that recognition is the only reward you will receive. To be recognized for an act of generosity is wonderful but has no eternal significance. When you give secretly then your only audience is God and your reward is eternal. Do you have an eternal perspective? If you do, then you will find it easier to never be recognized for what you have done. However, you can look forward to hearing God say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
He who bestows his goods upon the poor shall have as much again, and ten times more.
Matthew 6:19-21 (Jesus said) “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Read Matthew 6:21 again. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” These words of Jesus are not obscure. Jesus is clearly telling you that the best way to determine what type of relationship you have with Him is to look at how you handle your money. He is saying that money is so powerful it can replace Himself at the center of your heart.
Where is your treasure? One very practical way to answer this question is to remember your reaction to the financial meltdown of 2008. If your retirement account lost half of its value or you suddenly found yourself owing more on your house than it was worth, how did you react? Did you panic or did you pray? Did you lie awake at night worrying or did you rest in the Lord? If you felt that your life was ruined, then you need to spend some time considering that your treasure is on earth rather than in heaven. On the other hand if you faced the crisis with a sense of peace and protection, then that is pretty good evidence that your treasure is in heaven.
Are you less anxious and fearful than you used to be? Are you becoming more generous? As you grow in Christ, you should find yourself becoming less worried about money. You should find it easier to give.
If you ask people what they can “afford to give” to the Lord’s work or a special project, they will usually come up with a small amount that they feel they can handle. But if you ask people to
determine what God is prompting their heart to give, there is no telling what God will lead them and provide for them to do.
Isaiah 45:3 (God says) I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
In 539 BC, Cyrus a pagan king moved his troops into lower Mesopotamia, leaving Babylon as the last city he would conquer. The defenders of Babylon seeing certain defeat deserted the city, leaving the capture of Babylon as an easy endeavor. When Babylon fell Cyrus probably had no great sense of the Lord’s guidance or presence. He probably thought he was brilliant as a military leader and possibly just lucky. We often do the same thing; succeeding at things only by the blessing and pleasure of God, and never seeing the miraculous workings of our Lord behind everything.
After the fall of Babylon God gave Cyrus treasures that had been hidden for many years. God had also intervened early in the battle causing doors to open and fixing gates so that they would not shut. “I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gate of bronze and cut the bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel.”
Isaiah had prophesied all this 200 years before it actually happened, so that Cyrus would know and glorify God. But the Lord also did this so Cyrus would show kindness for the people of
Israel, granting them permission to return to the Promised Land from the captivity imposed on them by the Babylonians.
I pray that each day as the Lord gives us His secret treasures, we will recognize the true source, so that we may know the Lord our God, the God of Israel. The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to Him.
Dwight L. Moody
Hosea 12:8 Ephraim boasts, “I am very rich; I have become wealthy. With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin.”
Here we have Ephraim, a man who seems to be very pleased with his situation; a wealthy man who seems to think that because of his great wealth no one will accuse him of any wrongdoing. Here is a guy who in the verse just prior to this one admits to doing shady dealings, yet he still believes himself to be exempt from judgment.
In today’s society a person of great wealth seems to automatically have a shadow placed over him; how can a person acquire great wealth without treating others poorly at best, and at worst doing things illegally.
Since Ephraim has already admitted to shady dealings why would he be so confident when he states “they will not find in me any iniquity or sin?” Perhaps he thinks with all his money he can cover his misdeeds, or use his influence to persuade people to look the other way.
I was thinking about this while driving down the interstate the other day. Speed limit sign one after the other said 70 mph, yet as I looked down at my speedometer it reflected 75. Why would I not follow the speed limit? Who gave me permission to break the law? I had several answers for myself; everyone was driving at least as fast as I; I was in a hurry; everybody knows you get at least 10 mph over the limit; the state troopers have never stopped me before. The plain truth is; I had gotten so use to exceeding the speed limit it was “okay” to travel at
Was I any different from Ephraim? He probably had broken the law so many times that it became second nature; it was “okay.” God had never punished him, and because of that he could reason that God condoned his activity and actually helped him to become wealthy. Ephraim was very confident in his innocence just as I was; after all, the police had never stopped me either.
How much better to be honestly poor than questionably rich.
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him. “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?
If anyone has clothes on his back and food on his table and sees another person that is without food and clothes and does nothing to help then the love of God is not in him. Wishing someone well becomes meaningless in this situation. To show our faith we must help our fellow man. If we do not, then all we profess is just empty words.
We can look at the story of the Good Samaritan where the priest and the Levites each were religious but neither helped the dying man at the side of the road. Sometimes we are in the position of being the only one available to fill a need and we have to take action. As Christians we are called to be God’s hands; to help others when we see them hurting. It’s very easy to wish someone well or promise to pray for their needs. It’s more difficult to try to help God answer that prayer.
The little children sing the song, “They will know we are Christians by our love”. That’s what it’s all about. If we love and care for others then we will show Christ’s love and others will want to know that love.
You’ve heard of prayer warriors. What about giving warriors? God has entrusted us with so much. Perhaps He is raising up a great army of givers. And He’s calling us to enlist.