Category: Giving (Page 2 of 2)

Generous on Every Occasion

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work… You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.” ~2 Corinthians 9:8-11

CupOverflowsBlueThe foundation of our Christian giving is knowing that God is the giver of all things. It’s a very radical thing to declare that God — not me, God! — is responsible for everything I have and everything I am. It’s huge. It’s an insight that is so simple, yet profoundly life-changing. Once you grasp the truth that everything you own, everything you have decisions over, comes from God, your whole outlook and lifestyle change.

It’s not that we care less about our possessions; it’s that we care much more about God’s purposes in giving us all these possessions in the first place which, ironically, is to give them away for the benefit of others.

Generous, over-the-top giving demonstrates our continuing confidence that God is always going to give us everything we need. Giving away our money is an act of dependence on God. To withhold our money or to give it grudgingly or with hesitation betrays an insecurity that denies the very thing Scripture’s talking about in 2 Corinthians 8-9.

We’ll justify conservative giving, though. Well throw big words at stingy giving to make it sound better. “Stewardship.” We’ve got to be “good stewards”¬†with God’s money. Usually when people say “stewardship” — and I’m talking about individual Christians and church leadership groups — they’re talking about not spending the money or saving the money or holding the money. I don’t know how that became the Church’s idea of stewardship when the Bible’s idea of stewardship is to give everything away and trust in God.

The fact that Christians ask all the time how much they should give, how much they have to give, how much they’re supposed to give, tells me we don’t get it yet. An amount is not the Bible’s point. The point is that our giving flows from a grateful attitude toward God and a faithful dependence on God. The underlying assumption in Scripture, the principle that undergirds everything, is that all of God’s people give as much money as they can to help as many people as they can to give God as much glory as they can. The only rule is to give freely and generously as an expression of thanksgiving and trust.

Peace,

Allan

Having All That You Need

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” ~2 Corinthians 9:8

CupOfBlessingOverflowThe four words in the middle of that verse — “all that you need” — could make you think that God’s interested in giving you a bunch of material things. But he’s not. “Having all that you need” is about contentment. We all have every single thing we need. I dare say every single person reading this post has every single thing he or she needs to make it through today and tonight and into tomorrow. We all have everything we need. We just might not have everything we want. But what we want isn’t always what’s best for us, right? Paul’s talking about a contentment, a satisfaction with what God is choosing to give us. This is about you being good with what God is choosing to give you and what he’s deciding not to give you.

It’s also about knowing that the truly important things, the eternal things, the things that really matter, he gives us in abundance. We have more of the really important stuff than we know what to do with.

“the surpassing grace God has given you” (2 Corinthians 9:14) – surpassing grace, overflowing grace, enough grace to obliterate every single one of your sins and restore you to a righteous relationship with God;

“his incomparable great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:19) – overflowing power, overwhelming power, more than enough divine Holy Spirit power inside you to annihilate sin and death and Satan and everything that might separate you from God;

“the incomparable riches of his grace” (Ephesians 2:7) – buckets of grace, grace in spades, more than plenty of grace to be saved, it says, and to join God in doing works;

“this love that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19) – incomprehensible love, love that blows your mind, divine love up to here, unconditional love coming out your ears; a surplus of love, it says, to fill you to the measure of all the fullness of God himself; this God who is able to do, it says, immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within you!

All that grace. All that power. All that love. Lavished on us. More than we need. Why? Why does God give us so much?

So you will abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8)

So you can be generous on every occasion (2 Corinthians 9:11)

So you can supply the needs of God’s people (2 Corinthians 9:12)

So you can share with God’s people and everyone else (2 Corinthians 9:13)

You and I have all that we need, and then some. It’s a simple concept, an easy thing to understand. But once we truly grasp it and begin to live out its implications, it’s profoundly life-changing. So, try it. Double up on your tip today at the restaurant. Buy the cold drink for the guy behind you in line at the convenience store. Let somebody else go first. Give. Give. Give. Because our God has given you more than enough.

Peace,

Allan

$477,094!

Central Missions LogoVickie has counted and re-counted, checked and re-checked all the numbers from Sunday’s missions offering here at Central (we could tell because of all the smoke coming out of her calculators downstairs). The official Missions Sunday total stands at $477,094, far surpassing the rather ambitious goal of $300,000.

Wow.

What to make of that? I promised yesterday I would stop analyzing it and just praise God for this lavish outpouring of his power and grace. But, I can’t help myself.

One, I believe God is telling us we’re not thinking big enough. We’re not planning on a large enough scale. We’re not dreaming or imagining as widely and extravagantly as our God desires. We think we’re doing a lot, but our Father keeps providing resources for doing even more. We can’t out-think, out-plan, or out-give our God; I think he’s making that clear.

Two, I believe our church family is telling us they have a heart for God’s mission. Like our Lord, our congregation is all about evangelism and ministry, seeking and saving the lost and serving instead of being served. This is a very mature congregation filled with folks who are being transformed by God’s Spirit into the image of Christ. That’s obvious.

Third, I’m reminded of the privilege it is to be the preacher here. This is a very mission minded, very generous, over-the-top giving church. They give. They give graciously and radically out of their genuine love and concern for all of God’s people all over the world. And I’m so honored to belong to them.

Peace,

Allan

$450K and Counting

Central Missions LogoThe goal for Missions Sunday here at Central yesterday was an ambitious $300,000 to fund our ongoing foreign missions efforts. But, just like last year, our merciful Father blew that goal right out of the water. God opened up our hearts and our wallets yesterday to the tune of more than $450,000! And the money is still trickling in today!

Three years. Three Missions Sundays. Three extravagant shows of abundant generosity. Three remarkable displays of God’s amazing power and grace. And I’m still…

“Surprised” is not the correct word. I’m not surprised. I always assume God is going to “meet all our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” and accomplish much “more than all we can ask or imagine.” I know that. Our God does stuff like this all the time. It doesn’t surprise me. At this point, the surprise would be only in falling short of the goal.

I guess I’m mainly just in wonder. I’m in awe. When most churches in most cities and settings all over this country are slashing their missions budgets and cutting their missionaries, why does God bless this church all the way out here in the middle of the Texas panhandle with so much? When traditional missionary training and sending organizations are wringing their hands over reduced contributions and most congregations are struggling to find new ways to raise missions money, why is God compelling our people at Central to give so much? When our Sunday attendance at Central has actually gone down over the past three years, why does our missions giving keep going up? And up?

I can’t figure it out. None of us can. And that’s the way it ought to be. Tim McMenamy spoke to us yesterday around the table about the mystery of God and how God works through Christ to do magnificent things we can’t wrap our brains around. This is one of those things. It doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t add up.

Vickie is checking and re-checking all the numbers right now; I’m going to have an official total before the end of the day. And in the meantime, I’m going to try to spend less time analyzing and more time just thanking our Father.

Praise God from whom all blessing flow!

Peace,

Allan

Live to Give

“But just as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us — see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” ~2 Corinthians 8:7

GivingConsistent and sacrificial giving is an act of Christian gratitude. It reveals a true grasp of the magnitude of God’s salvation gifts to us through Christ. It has very little to do with obedience and nothing at all to do with the size of your bank account.

Our giving is an act of Christian faith. It declares that God is the giver of all things and we are merely recipients. It reflects a confidence that our gracious Father will always keep his promises to provide for his children. It’s an act of dependence on him. To withhold our money or to give it grudgingly or with hesitation reflects and insecurity that denies the very thing the Church teaches.

We also believe real giving serves to sanctify us — to shape us and mold us more into the image of Jesus — which is the whole point of our being saved. When we give away our money, we’re becoming like Christ as we act in our context the same way our Lord acted in his. We give up our physical resources for others because of our spiritual riches in God. When we give, we’re considering the needs of others more important than our own. That’s what it means to “attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

Excelling in giving has nothing to do with personal resources. It’s all about experiencing and participating in God’s mercy and grace.

Peace,

Allan

He Gave

JesusCrossDark“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” ~Romans 8:32

Scripture says God gave the land to Abraham. The Lord gave success to Joseph. God gave his children manna in the desert. The Bible tells us our God gave his people deliverers when they were in trouble. Through Christ, God gave us the right to become his children.

“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” ~John 3:16

In the Gospels, Jesus says I give you eternal life. I give you my peace. I give you the Spirit. This is my body given for you. The Kingdom of God is given to you. I give you victory. Paul says God has freely given us of his glorious grace.

God created in order to give. Jesus came to earth in order to give. He lived and died and rose again and reigns at the right hand of the Father in heaven so he can give.

“Life a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” ~Ephesians 5:2

That’s the Good News. God gave. Now I give. Freely you have received, freely give. God through Christ gave. Everything. To me. Now I give. Everything. To him. That’s the Gospel. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Peace,

Allan

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