Posts Tagged 'giving'

Our Possessions Belong to God

JESUS SPEAKING

       And it came to pass, when he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that he sent two of his disciples, saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring here. And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went their way and found it just as he had said to them. But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought him to Jesus (Luke 19: 29 – 35.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       The book of Zechariah prophesied that the messiah would arrive humbly; “riding on a donkey.” Jesus therefore sent out two disciples to procure an animal for his triumphal entry in to Jerusalem. When the men were confronted by the owners, they did as they were instructed; they responded saying, “The Lord has need of it” (in turn, they were permitted to leave.) Much has been written about this brief encounter; many commentaries likely highlight the omniscience of God, the wisdom of Christ, and the faithfulness of the disciples (with good reason.) Yet in the midst of God’s glory, there exists a nameless stranger; a generous man (or woman) who immediately recognized that his (or her) possessions were divine endowments; gifts from God that were to be used to serve the creator whenever He had need of them.
       Every year around the holidays, a Christian organization known as ‘Operation Christmas Child’ begins working with thousands of churches throughout the United States. Congregational members are instructed to fill shoeboxes full of toys and other items and deliver them to their local pastors. The boxes are then transported to a warehouse where they are sorted by volunteers, packaged, and shipped to impoverished nations around the world. Some time ago, I and a few other Christians volunteered at a nearby processing plant; we examined hundreds of boxes; the gifts were beautiful (some givers chose to include pictures of themselves and many had even taken the time to write letters.) Millions of people across the country were asked by God to give of their resources; millions responded to His call; in turn, many have come to experience the love of Jesus Christ.
       Our possessions are not our own; our time, our money, and our resources all belong to God. We are simply stewards of what we have been given. When the Lord calls, we must be willing to relinquish control of our goods so that others may know the love of Christ. Be still, and the Holy Spirit will tell you what and when to give. Be generous, be faithful, and you will experience the joy of the Lord; and His peace will fill your heart, now, and forevermore.
      “Lord Heavenly Father, give us opportunities to use our resources to further Your Kingdom. May we be generous; may we be faithful; may we serve others with gladness and singleness of heart; and may we never turn away from those who are in need. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.” God bless all of you!

Sacrifice

JESUS SPEAKING

        But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10: 29 – 37.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        In this parable a man is badly beaten, and left to die on the side of the road. The Jews considered Samaritans to be Godless degenerates; yet in this illustration, the only one to show compassion and love for the wounded stranger, is a Samaritan. His love was expressed in the form of sacrifice. Unlike the Levite and the priest, the Samaritan sacrificed his time, his wealth, and his reputation to aid the injured man. Without sacrifice there is no real proof of love.
        Infants undeniably demand a great deal of time, attention, and resources. ‘Good parenting’ is therefore a synonym for ‘Sacrifice.’ New parents can expect to forfeit many privileges on behalf of their children. It is estimated that in the first year of a child’s existence, they will need to be changed 2500 times and fed every 4 hours (although the number varies widely.) Similarly, newborns must be burped, bathed, clothed, held, and played with regularly; actions which require great selflessness and sacrifice.
        Like the Samaritan, and like any good parent, Jesus Christ has asked His children to lay down their selfish pursuits to love and care for those in need. If we embrace a spirit of sacrifice, then God will provide us with opportunities to love our families, our friends, and our neighbors. As we accomplish the will of God, our hearts will know peace and we will inherit the eternal blessings He has promised to those who faithfully serve Him.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and ask for the courage and strength to embrace sacrifice; may we be filled with compassion; may we always seek the lost; and may continually love those in need. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, may we become more like You each and every day. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you.

Give Without Expectations

JESUS SPEAKING

        “And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back” (Luke 6: 34.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

         Even the cruelest individuals will give money to those who promise to pay them back. And yet, Jesus desired that his disciples be completely selfless. He therefore taught them to give without expecting anything in return. The mandate of everyone who longs to practice genuine Godliness must freely give, when they are able, to those who are in need.
         One day, as I was getting ready to leave the gym, I bumped into an acquaintance who asked if he could borrow $10 dollars. After giving him the money, he continued to insist that he would pay me back. (With this scripture in mind) I told him that the money was from God, and that I didn’t want any form of repayment. He immediately understood that it was a gift and not a loan; as we parted ways, I felt a warm blessing; because I had done God’s will.
         The Lord is pleased when His disciple’s standout; when they shine; when they are more loving and more charitable than those around them. Giving without expectation or the desire for repayment is just one identifiable characteristic of a true believer. Whether we pass by a stranger begging for change, or a family member who needs help paying the rent, we must be willing to freely give, when we are able. May we always choose to freely give; may we love without restriction, and may we receive the ultimate compensation for your unconditional obedience.
         “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to be obedient, to be caring, and to be generous. May we always freely give expecting nothing in return; for we desire heavenly rewards over earthly rewards. May Your love for others flow through us, that our faith might be a light to all those who walk in darkness. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.” God bless all of you!

Giving is better than Receiving

JESUS SPEAKING

            “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20: 35.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            The word ‘blessed’ most commonly translates in to the English word for ‘happiness.’  Those who live a ‘blessed’ life regularly experience joy, peace, and contentment.  Such a pleasant existence can only be achieved and maintained through daily acts of selflessness and service.  Sadly however, nearly all human beings are resoundingly selfishness.  In an endeavor to acquire as many possessions as possible, many become isolated, depressed, and discouraged. They aren’t aware that true happiness doesn’t come from selfish gain; rather, it is the product of selfless giving.

            Michael Norton, a Harvard business professor, sought to discover a link between overall happiness and daily giving.  He conducted an experiment in which a small amount of money was given to a group of test subjects.  Half of the participants were instructed to spend the money on themselves; the other half were told to spend the money on someone else.  When researchers contacted the subjects at the end of the day, they found that those who had spent the money on someone else reported feeling much happier than those who had selfishly squandered their’ allotted funds.  [Note:  In another study, Norton found that sales team productivity and relationship quality increased as salespeople were given money to spend on other team members.]

            Norton had discovered that, although selfish gain seems appealing, it also lacks the power to bring about lasting joy.  Genuine peace and contentment are the products of selflessness and sacrifice.  By serving and giving, we can demonstrate the generosity and love of Jesus Christ. May we never forget that happiness comes not from what we might receive, but rather, from what we are willing to give.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, pour out upon us Your many blessings.  As we love and serve our fellows, may we be filled with happiness and joy.  May our selfish desires come to an end; that through sacrifice, others might come to glorify Your holy name. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You; and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Being Charitable

JESUS SPEAKING

            And he said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.”  Then he spoke a parable to them saying, “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.  And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’  So he said, ‘I will do this:  I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’  But God said to him, ‘Fool!  This night your soul will be required of you; then whose things will those things be which you have provided?’  So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God?” (Luke 12: 13-21.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Jesus warned his followers to avoid covetousness; covetousness is the “excessive desire to acquire or possess more than one needs or deserves.”  Most people are unsatisfied with the bare necessities.  They, like the wealthy man in this parable, need abundance in order to feel secure.  When the rich man had fully filled his barns, he selfishly sought to keep the additional grain for himself; shamefully, he never considered the needs of the less fortunate.  The man’s plans for a comfortable future were short lived however; for death would visit him that same day.  The man lost his life, his possessions, and because of his greed, he lost his eternal place with God.

            When I was a child, my mother would often bake cookies.  When she had finished using most of the cookie dough, she would give the bowl and spoon to my siblings and I.  We would scrape the bowl and lick the spoon clean.  To us, every crumb was a nugget of sweet creamy goodness.  Whatever was not consumed was unfortunately wasted.  God as well is not fond of wastefulness.  Whenever one seeks to possess more than they can use, they engage in a worthless and futile endeavor.  The Lord is greatly pleased when His children utilize their wealth to bless those in need.  Nothing in God’s kingdom ever goes to waste.  When asked how to prepare for the coming of the messiah, John the Baptist said, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food let him do likewise” (Luke 3: 11.)

            Christians are required to employ their abundant possessions to glorify God, and to bless the needy.  If you are wealthy put your money to work for The Lord.  If you own property and you are not using it, offer it to someone who can.  If your closet is overflowing, gather up the overflow and bring it to the thrift store.  If you have excess time, don’t waste it; instead use it to love those who are hurting.  If God has given you abilities and talents, exercise them constructively; use them to serve your fellows.  No one is guaranteed tomorrow; put whatever you have been given in excess to work for God today.  May His generosity fill your hearts; may the desire to serve and to provide for the needs of others become a newfound principle in your life; and may you find comfort in knowing that your earthly charity will produce eternal riches.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and ask that You help us to be generous toward You and toward those who are in need.  Relieve our fears, so we can let go of greed and seek to use our abundance to bless others.  As we become willing to give, may we procure eternal riches; riches without end; riches reserved for us in Your Heavenly Kingdom.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Producing Fruit

JESUS SPEAKING

            “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.  Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.  He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12: 23 – 25.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Utilizing an agricultural metaphor, Jesus makes reference to His upcoming death, burial, and resurrection.  A single grain of wheat, when planted, can produce hundreds, thousands, and even millions of additional seeds.  Similarly, the Lords’ suffering and agony upon the cross (and ensuing resurrection) has produced much fruit.  His selfless sacrifice has inspired countless conversions, and enabled millions to receive the mercy and grace of God.

            In the 1800’s there resided a little girl from Philadelphia name Hattie Wiatt.  She lived in close proximity to a popular and very crowded Grace Baptist Church.  One day she approached the Church and asked to attend the Sunday school.  Sadly she was told that there was no more room.  Less than two years later, Hattie fell ill and passed away.  A pocket book containing 57 pennies was found underneath her pillow; it was wrapped in a piece of scrap paper; written on the paper was a note that read, “To help build the little temple bigger, so that more children can go to Sunday school.”  She had saved her pennies for 2 years intending to give them as a donation to the church.  The pastor told his congregation of Hattie’s selflessness.  Immediately donations began pouring in until they had collected nearly $250,000 dollars.  Soon the church was seating 3,300 people; the parishioners also chose to build a hospital as well as a university accommodating approximately 1,400 students (today, attendance at Temple University has grown to nearly 28,000.)  Hattie’s sacrifice, although small, has gone on to produce much fruit.

            Like Hattie, we are called to selflessly lay down our lives to “build the little temple bigger.”  To sacrifice our own wants and desires so that others may come to know the love of God.  When we serve our fellows, love our neighbors, and give to those in need, we bear much fruit.  Those who strive to live selflessly will come to know peace; true peace; heavenly peace; eternal peace; “the peace that surpasses all understanding.”

            “Lord Heavenly Father, You are truly an amazing and awesome God.  We desperately desire to be selfless; we yearn to lay down our lives so that others may come to know You.  Help us to enjoy and embrace serving, giving, and loving.  May we produce much fruit and bring many souls into Your everlasting Kingdom.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

God’s possessions

JESUS SPEAKING

             And it came to pass, when he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that he sent two of his disciples, saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat.  Loose it and bring here.  And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’”  So those who were sent went their way and found it just as he had said to them.  But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?”  And they said, “The Lord has need of it.”  And they brought him to Jesus (Luke 19: 29 – 35.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

              Zachariah prophesied that the messiah would humbly arrive.  Riding not on a horse or chariot; but rather, on a donkey.  Jesus therefore sent out two disciples to procure an animal for his triumphal entry in to Jerusalem.  When the men were confronted by the owner, they did as they were instructed; saying, “The Lord has need of it.”  In turn, they were permitted to leave.  Much has been written about this brief encounter; most commentators highlight the omniscience of God, the wisdom of Christ, and the faithfulness of the disciples.  Yet in the midst of these obvious truths, there exists a nameless stranger; a generous individual who recognized that his or her possessions were divine endowments; heavenly gifts that, at any time, could be used to serve God’s purposes.

               Every year around the holidays, a Christian organization known as ‘Operation Christmas Child’ begins working with thousands of churches across the country.  Congregational members fill shoeboxes full of valuable items and deliver them to their local pastors.  The parcels are then transported to a warehouse and sorted by volunteers; packaged, and shipped to impoverished nations around the world.  Some givers even include heart felt letters and pictures of themselves.  I myself have participated in this endeavor.  Seeing millions of Americans respond to God’s call is truly inspiring.  By giving of their time and resources, they have effectively revealed the love Jesus Christ to some of the least fortunate souls.

              Like the donkey in this scripture, our possessions are not our own; our time, our money, and our resources belong to God.  We are stewards of what we have been given.  When the Lord calls, we must use our assets to spread the love of Jesus Christ.  Be still, and the Holy Spirit will instruct you how, when, and what to give.  Through generosity and faithfulness, you will know the joy of the Lord; now, and forevermore.

             “Lord Heavenly Father, give us opportunities to use our resources to further the gospel.  May we be generous; may we be faithful; and may we never turn away from those in need; serving others with gladness and singleness of heart.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”  God bless all of you.


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