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Archive for the ‘giving’ Category

Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”- Mark 10:21

Jesus offers some straightforward advice to a rich young man who thought he had it together.  We see that Jesus looked on him and loved him before He laid it on him.  Jesus put it out there in simple terms.

Go and give what you own away, then come back and take up your cross to follow Me.(paraphrase)

We cannot let what we have hold us ao firmly that we fear letting go of it.  It cannot grip us so tightly that we have no freedom to do what we should do for the Lord.  If we lose sight or perspective, we run the risk of making ourselves into materialistic people with little spiritual substance.

How do I figure that?

The young walked away.  He was disturbed and distraught.  He was disheartened and discouraged.  He felt defeated.

Jesus went on to say that such a sad situation was like trying ro get a camel through the eye of a needle.  His disciples asked how anyone could be saved if such a man couldn’t get into heaven.  The Lord’s reply is sufficient: the impossible is made possible by God who created all things.

Free yourself of the junk and the clutter.  Rid yourself of the extra baggage you keep dragging along.  Get yourself freed up.

Once you are free, take up your cross.  Take up that cross and serve faithfully.  Then you are going to sow seeds that have no earthly reward.  Heaven will hold all the treasure that you will need.

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If you want to give, your gift will be accepted.
It will be judged by what you have, not by what you do not have.
– 2 Corinthians 8:12 (NCV)

Usually, back when I was starting out in church, I would always hear the deacon say a prayer for the offering that somehow included the Lord’s love for a “cheerful giver.”  That always seemed to hit home in its own way.  The Lord, as shared by Paul to the believers at Corinth, does indeed love cheerful givers.  Yet, we may miss the mark if we fail to see the principles that Paul shared within the context of his message in 2 Corinthians.

Giving is noble.  The Christian is expected to give to worthy causes and unmet needs.  However, we should not be left feeling guilty when we hear someone else quote Malachi as if we are in the midst of robbing God.  We may have it in hearts to give, but we may not have it in possession to give like we desire.  In essence, Paul clarifies the matter by stating: It will be judged by what you have, not by what you do not have.  That means that you cannot worry about what you do not have to give.  Your concern should be about what you have to give and your willingness to give it.  Jesus shared so when He pointed out the faith of the widow who gave two mites.  It was not the quantity of her gift that was impressive.  It was the depths to which she dug into what she did have in possession that caught Jesus’ attention and caused Him to call attention to her act of willingness.

God wants us willing to give.  We may have big hearts with small budgets.  God can bless us beyond where we are today.  We are not looking for the blessing out of giving since we are already blessed with “true riches” (Luke 16:11).  We have to be willing to give of what we have without seeking to gain what we desire.  We should give with no strings attached.  We should give to God’s glory, not seeking approval or kudos from others.  When we give according to the right principles, God is pleased and we can be assured that our gifts are accepted by Him.

Give with a willing heart.  Give out of what you have.  Give that God may be glorified through your gifts.

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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 am aware that only God knows the total plan and that I am part of it.” – Laurie Beth Jones, Jesus CEO
Jesus, CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership

I always like to say that it is only special because of the special effort that you put into it to put it on and pull it off.  So, with that being said, you have to put something special into it for others to get something special out of it.
  • Special Attention: Red carpets, paparazzi galore, and loads upon loads of glitter should be on the agenda for gala bashes.  Disposable cameras or digital prints with sizzling frames printed on the scene for guests.  Guest books are great, too! If it’s an arts fundraiser event, have your guests leave their handprints in “cement” (use clay) like the Hollywood walk of fame and scrawl their John Hancock to be displayed in this week’s society section.  Jazz it up as much as you can without going over budget.
  • Special Attractions:  Yes, it sounds corny, but the real deal is the real deal.  People will flock to the dunking booth if the principal is on that plank.  How about the youth minister or the senior pastor? Got talent? How about the librarian who dresses like Lady Gaga or the softball coach who plays a mean violin– or, is that a fiddle? Either way, get people to attend your event by what you have to offer.  Try to find local talent.  Get in touch with local promoters and producers, club owners and talent agencies.  You never know what treasure is buried in your own backyard until you start digging around.
  • Special Appearances: Is there a local celebrity who may grace your event? How about the mayor as the fry cook for your Friday night fish fry? Could you get that ex-football player to talk to dads in the community about the importance of fathers and male role models for young boys? What about that Negro League player? Is there a famous professor who won the Nobel Prize or Pulitzer at the local university or college? Check out who lives in your town or area, even those born there.  There are those who love to visit certain areas who may be inclined to show their faces at such an event if you can get close enough to their people who will call your people, and then you all can do lunch and see what works.

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Give, and it will be given to you… – Luke 6:38 (NASB)

You may not be getting much because you are not giving much.  It may simply boil down to a simple survey of two major things:

  • What you have done
  • What you haven’t done

Unfinished business is simply that; it is unfinished and incomplete.  You do not gain anything by starting and stopping.  In addition, you surely will not gain anything by never starting at all.

Look at it from another perspective.  What do you have to offer? If you offer of what you have, that is related to stewardship and sacrifice.  Stewardship requires some discernment as well as discretion.  Sacrifice requires you to commit and contribute.  Let your sacrifice be in order and through obedience to God.

Give where you can and give what you can. Wait and see what comes of it.  Don’t expect your return on your blessing to come from the same source that you have blessed.  God may use some unconventional means to supply you.  The expectation of being “repaid” for what we give in the “same measure” does not mean it will be paid back to use in the same manner.  you may not receive money back for an offering or gift.  You may not receive the same thing back in the same way, but you may receive repeat business for sponsoring a Little League team.  You may receive new prospects for the volunteer work that you have done with social service agencies.  You may become connected to new business relationships for the table you bought for that gala fund-raising event for a worthy cause.

You just never know where your business blessing may come from next.  You just need to be sure to give and know that you should give freely.

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.- 2 Cor. 9:7 (NIV)

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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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Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal homeLuke 16:9 (NLT)

The issue is about how we use our “worldly resources.” Does what we do “benefit others and make friends?” Are we doing any good with our earthly treasures? Look at what we do with what we have and see what it is accomplishing.

If you are on the other side of the equation, we need to see where our resources originate.  Some companies seek to do good simply because their products or services are questionable such as alcohol, tobacco and some gambling institutions.  For many Christian ministries and nonprofits, it may be tempting to receive much-needed dollars to make good works work.  yet, what message would be sent by trying to present the King of Kings brought to you by the king of beers?  just think on it. Here are some simple strategies for getting support for your ministry and/ or charity during hard times like these;

  • Try companies that need to improve their public image.  Check out the news on Toyota and other companies that need good press.  Speak with local dealers who are feeling the impact of the negative press.
  • Look local.  Check out your local better business bureau and your chambers of commerce on the local level as well as local business associations and Christian business networks. 
  • Does your church have a business directory of congregates who own small businesses and purchase advertising? Check out the shepherd’s guide, “the Christians’ Choice of Yellow Pages.” See if there is something like this in your community.
  • Start with something small like gift cards, paper products or items from a wish list.  Find out who would be willing to supply or doante specific items from your wish list by distributing among local businessmen and through your email contacts.  Also, post your wish list at your local Starbucks coffee shop (after checking with staff, of course) or in the break room at your job, ensuring that you have stated your cause and your need in a brief message prior to the list of items needed.
  • Prepare an announcement for Sunday services and ask local congregations to partner with you for food drives, community events, rummage sales, and other things, especially volunteers and senior citizens.  You have to connect  it to faith and service, especially if you can relate it to the Scriptures.
  • Check out “church grants” like Urban Ministry and Church Biz as well as other church grant resources.   Also, try foundations such as Christian foundations and  other sources like Your Church.
  • Look at free and donated items as giveaways and prizes
  • Do good… others will take notice, and then they will support it by volunteering, offering money, asking what you need or simply staying out of your way.

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For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.- Matt. 6:21

I am trying to get some things in order as I continue my walk in Christ.  That’s a given for most of us who profess to believe in Christ.  Money is somewhere near the top of the list of things to get straight and in line with God’s standard.  I know and I read it, too.  Yes, money is “what is least” according to the Word.  I do agree with that.  Yet, money has a stranglehold on many of us for many different reasons.  Whether it be debt, saving, cost of living, or simply making ends meet, many people have trouble when it comes to money.  We need to ask for forgiveness, pleading with the Father for both grace and mercy, but we also need to take a realistic look at what we do with the money we do make.  It’s time for a check-up on our checkbook.

Jesus simply shared that you can tell a lot about us by what we spend our money.  Look at where you spend your money and you’ll discover what matters most to you.  People with family budgets that have “miscellaneous” and “emergency fund” listed are doing a slight shift by playing with words if miscellaneous is seeing something that I like and getting it, and if the emergency fund is for tires, brakes and other “incidentals.”  I think many of the materials published by Ron Blue, Larry Burkett, and Dave Ramsey speak to the need for people, especially Christians, to live within their means.  John Wesley’s sermon has often been paraphrased: “Make all you can,Save all you can,Give all you can.”  Money really does matter in a Christian’s life.

Try this on for size: Does what you do with your money honor God? Review your checkbook (or, if you’re like many folks, review your online check register) and see who you give most of your money to monthly.  Are supporting worthy causes or are you simply spending? Is your money going to support the ministry of the church? Are you saving anything? If there were a call for a special offering to help with Haiti or Chile, would you be in the financial position to help out or just pray? Here goes the big one.  Looking at what you have done with what you have, would you trust yourself with more? Better yet, should God trust you with more?  It’s a matter of stewardship.  Let God lead you, even with your money matters.

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