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By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted July 9, 2014

RELIGION – I read this week about a strange envelope of 854 dollars in cash that the Louisiana Baptist Convention received a few weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coastal states. Money poured in from everywhere to assist in the clean up and life sustaining operations of the area. But this odd offering came from a group of twenty men in Sumatra, Indonesia. Why would these men send money?

They sent the money because eight months earlier these men had seen their homes destroyed by a devastating tsunami and during their time of crisis, a Southern Baptist disaster relief team had arrived to help them. So when they saw the news of the catastrophic storm in America it triggered in these Indonesian men a desire to return the favor with a gift that represented great personal sacrifice.

These men were still in great need themselves, but they chose to give to others in need. I am guessing that most of us have never been driven from our homes by a natural disaster, but many of us can relate to being strapped financially. During these times, our natural instinct is to hoard our resources and give less to church and others.
But, it is during these times that it may be that staying faithful and generous is used by God to grow you in your conformity to Him. I have found that the words of Rod Rogers in “10 Steps to Lead Your Church to Biblical Giving” are true. He writes that “Stingy, selfish people who don’t give to God and their church are often the most unhappy, joyless people. You’ve seen a selfish child gripping a toy in both hands, refusing to share with her little brother, crying and screaming, “Mine, mine, mine!” She’s definitely not a happy child. Many Christian are holding their wallets in both hands and as they hear a message on giving they begin screaming, “Mine, mine, mine!” They are not happy people.”

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9:7-8  that “Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  (8)  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”
Giving when times are hard shows God that your trust Him to provide. An Old Puritan wrote “They are fools that fear to lose their wealth by giving, but fear not to lose themselves by keeping it.” The writer was referencing 1 Timothy 6:6-10  “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment,  (7)  for we brought nothing into the world, and[3] we cannot take anything out of the world.  (8)  But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.  (9)  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  (10)  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

 Holding on to our money promises us a false hope of a little security. Jesus offers and promises much better security Hebrews 13:5 Jesus says that “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Sam Storms comments that “If God really means that, then I don’t need to crave after money as the source of my security and identity and pleasure. I can find all that and more in the enjoyment of intimacy with the God who promises never to leave! The bondage to money and what it can do for us is only broken by believing that God can do far more. Money makes a promise. So does God. The question is: Whom will you believe?”

So, as you look at your bank account remember “Money will buy a bed but not sleep; books but not brains; food but not appetite; finery but not beauty; a house but not a home; medicine but not health; luxuries but not culture; amusements but not happiness; religion but not salvation – a passport to everywhere but not heaven.”
Be generous, support your church, give to those in need around you, pay for someone’s dinner randomly, think how you can use your money to bless others! Try out the promise of Proverbs 11:24 “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.”

So, when was the last time you gave a sacrificial gift? Reflect on all God has given you in Christ, and ask Him to make His generosity the source and the measure of your giving.

Pastor Phillip

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