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The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.- Exodus 3:7 (NIV)

Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. – Exodus 6:5 (NIV)

“I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’” – Exodus 16:12 (NIV)

Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” – Mark 4:9 (NIV)

In order to be helpful, you need to be able to hear.  You need to hear the outcries from the oppressed.  You need to hear the moans and groans of those under undue pressure from the powers that be.  You need to listen to people and learn what are the matters that occupy their hearts and minds.  You may be able to help them if you are able to hear them.

The Lord heard the children of IsraelHe heard their outcry from under the oppression of Egyptian enslavement.  He brought it to the attention of Moses more than once.  He heard them and He offered them help.

The Lord expects us to hear the hurting.  He wants us to be there.  He wants us to do more.  He wants us to be helpful.  He wants us being the church and doing the works of love through our ministry of reconciliation

Have you heard people out?

Have you been listening?

Are you ears open to hear?

Be sure to hear people out as you make a way to help people out.

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 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. – Acts 4:32 (NIV)

Running short on your street mission and shelter funding or praying that the bank doesn’t shut down your community youth center? There may be some simple solutions right at your fingertips and within your reach. You can get some contributions coming in to support the ministry that you have going on within the community.

Share What You Do

You have to tell what you do and make it known to every one you interact with on any given day. Become your biggest spokesperson. People will gladly help you when they know that what you do is almost part of your natural DNA.

Build on the Business Buzz

Truly, even with a recession like this one, you can create some unique “selling” opportunities. Identify some organizations or corporations who have found themselves in hot water lately. Imagine if you had gotten to BP right after the oil spill in the Gulf. What better way to make up for a mess than to change the public’s perception of you as a public servant, corporate leader, or a marketplace mover and shaker. Get with the Better Business Bureau or local chamber of commerce in your community to see who may be prime candidates in a position to give and get press. You may have to be prepared for a media event like a press conference or ribbon cutting for the new wing of beds donated in the name of who knows who, but the dog and pony show come with the territory. That’s the decision you need to make in analyzing who you approach for help.

Create Giving Opportunities

The ability to host gala events of $50-plate roasts and special events that sizzle with the pizzazz of all of the bells and whistles may not be something within the range of your budget or even scope at this point. Create a special event and add the things that will attract niche audiences. Attach a trendy theme to the event. Don’t rent that hotel ballroom. Go for the art gallery or the contemporary art museum, even the historical landmark site. Make the place special and off the beaten path. Use everything that sets your event apart to attract the “new” rich, i.e. techies, skaters, environmentalists, vegans, and others.

Hometown Heroes

Get your local hometown heroes to help out with your fund-raising efforts. Where is that high school phenom who went pro? Whatever became of that cute girl from around the way who went to the Olympics when they were in Atlanta? Wasn’t there a pop music artist who grew up near here? Make your hometown heroes advocates and spokespeople for your cause.

Attach to a movement that’s bigger than your ministry. Create your own opportunities. Develop a plan. Explore and exercise your options. There is a way that you can get more money flowing into your ministry so that you can do more work. It can be done.

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“I shape my own destiny.” – Laurie Beth Jones
Your special events are only as special as you make them.  Sadly, if your approach and attention to your special events resemble your regular routine, then you need to assess your readiness to make it a success.  You make special events a success by making them special.  You make them special by adjusting your approach to them.
  • Preparation: How you prepare will impact how you perform.  If you are lackluster in preparation, don’t expect to tap into some hidden gem of enthusiasm and energy that wasn’t present before it is time to perform.  Go full strength with your preparations.
  • Promotion: You have to talk it up and take it up a notch. You are to talk it up to get others talking about what’s coming.  If you don’t show any enthusiasm about what you are putting on, then you won’t see many people rushing to get there.  Talk it up and take it up.  Introduce something new.  Innovate it.  Put a new spin on an old idea. Let it wow your audience.
  • Presentation: Small budgets don’t have make your events small-scale ventures. Get others to partner and support your efforts.  Look at your vendors for discounts.  Do you always use the same caterers or order from the same local restaurants? Ask for a discount and offer premiere signage.  See where you can cut costs without cutting corners.  Keep your presentation flawless and fantastic.
Remember: You shape your own destiny.

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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.”
Outreach Magazine May/June 2008 Issue (5th Annual Outreach Resources of the Year, Volume 7, Number 3)
There is an open opportunity for out-of-the-ordinary outreach today.  People can reach out in all sorts of ways through various multimedia mediums such as social networking and viral marketing platforms.  You can make difference through community-based programs such as CDF Freedom Schools or AmeriCorps.  You can use traditional VBS or Christian youth camp.  You just need to put your trust in the Lord to lead you into the endeavor that He has for you to undertake.
Think through your next move.  Pray over your outreach opportunities.  Make the most of everything that will expand your demographic diversity.  Partner with other organizations to streamline your outreach resources for a singular focus.  You don’t gain any ground by remaining in the same place and not making any changes.
Visit National Outreach Convention for a special resource information.

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Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 
Malachi 3:8 (KJV)
 
 
Recently, I took some serious devotional and Bible study time to read Malachi. That’s a major undertaking when you consider what the Lord has to say through Malachi and to whom He is directing His words. The primary points of the biblical book are an accusation and warning to God’s people to act like people of God. Whew! That’s heavy stuff, even for seminary students, Sunday school teachers and simple, set apart and sanctified saints.
 
 
Old school Baptists sum up the prophetic book with quasi-biblical phrases such as: robbing God, opening up the windows of heaven, and bring all of the tithes into the storehouse.  These are certainly not verbatim and definitely not theologically sound when used in convenient contextual arenas.  Tithers hold fast to Malachi chapter 3, primarily verses 8-10, but this has nothing to do with introducing or ordaining the tithe.  It is about trusting God and upholding the practice of tithing as means of seeing that God is true to His promises
 
 
People have been utilizing such passages of the Bible to bully and beat up those who do not tithe for years.  Unfortunately, this is due to a failure to maintain a contextual view of the biblical passage and explore an expository and exhaustive explanation of the text in light of audience, intent and culture and history.  Some things may be lost in translation, but one has to keep in mind what type of Bible or study tools one uses.  A paraphrase will not give you an accurate translation since its main goal is to translate thought for thought, while a literal translation seeks to translate and interpret word for word. 
 
 
I would also like to add a warning about commentaries, especially when one is seeking a clear understanding of the text and its surrounding passages.  Understand what type of tool you have and how to use it.  The root word of commentary is comment.  When you read Matthew Henry’s commentary, it is just a comment by Matthew Henry on that book of the Bible or the entire Bible itself.  What you get is an insight into that particular person’s views on it.  If i use Matthew Henry, I am limited to the depths of Matthew Henry and the prevailing theology of his time.  Ever hear about the Dead Sea Scrolls? Were they discovered before or after Mathew Henry’s commentary? How about Martin Luther’s? Commentary usage requires careful steps to avoid slippery slopes.
 
 
Clearly, once one reads Malachi as an entire study, it becomes as glaring as Jeremiah or Isaiah, even Hosea.  The message is about God’s relationship with His people.  God desires a restored relationship with His people, but if they keep going the way that they have been going there’s no redemption or reconciliation.  God has to stop the nonsense and put the challenge before the people about testing and trying Him to see if He is faithful in delivering His promises.

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  Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.- Luke 6:38, NKJV

Giving should come out of the heart.  We are to give, as the Lord states, a “good measure” because by that same measure we will also be measured.  When you give a little, you can expect a little back.  When you give abundantly, you can expect an abundance in return.  Giving is measured proportionally.

Giving, whether it is time, talent or treasure, should be an offering of our best to the Lord.  Many have questions about the Lord accepting one’s offering and not the other’s.  Was there more to it than what Cain and Abel brought? Look at Ananias and his wife in Acts 5.  It was their own land and their own money.  What was the big deal? Peter speaks to lying to God,not man, when we do such a thing.  It is like when you feel compelled to sign up for a special offering campaign and pledge a certain amount, and then when you are questioned about it, you go into how things have been hard and you need people to get off your back, especially at church.  Or, it could be like when you give your contribution to the church and you equate every leaky toilet and creaking stairs to what your offering should have paid for, along with the pastor’s salary.  You gave it, but you never really let it go.  You are still keeping tabs on what you technically gave to someone else.  That’s pretty much how it is when it comes to what we give God in the form of money.  Did we truly and freely give without any hang-ups and holdouts?

Our attitude is just as important as our gift.  If we carry the wrong attitude, then we bring our offering in vain.  Paul shared that we should begrudge giving or do so out of necessity.  We should come as “cheerful” givers.  In doing so, our giving is measured according to what we bring and how we bring it.

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For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. . . Mark 14:39 (ESV)

Things are out of balance. The poor seem to continue to get poorer. Look at what the government is telling us about our national deficit and bailouts as well as restructuring organizations such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Even Ben Bernanke can’t seem to explain what is going on.  Don’t seek any insights from Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet either.  Look at what the Lord says.

The poor will be in our midst always.  Jesus put in real simple terms for us: “…whenever you want, you can do good for them…” That’s what we have to focus on today.  Those of us who can make a difference will need to step up and make a difference as the Lord directs us.  It came about in the days of Micah, men doing whatever they pleased while their neighbors suffered and struggled.   Haggai preached against such selfishness.  Many of the prophets spoke against it.  Let us do what we can based upon God’s leading and directing us.  Let us live like vessels that He pours into with His Spirit and pours out upon those in need of a spiritual uplift as we seek to meet their needs.

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8 (NLT)

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