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Posts Tagged ‘Generosity’

Scripture: Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”  Luke 6:38 (NLT)

 

Observation:  Bosom The gathered fold of the wide upper garment, bound together with the girdle, and thus forming a pouch. In the Eastern markets at this day vendors may be seen pouring the contents of a measure into the bosom of a purchaser. In Ruth 3:15, Boaz says to Ruth, “Bring the vail (the mantle, so Rev., Old Testament), that thou hast upon thee, and hold it (hold it open): and he measured six measures of barley into it.” Compare Isa. 65:7, “I will measure their former work into their bosom; also Jer. 32:18. In Acts 27:39, the word is used of a bay in a beach, forming a bend in the land like the hollow of a robe. Similarly, the Latin sinus means both the hanging, baggy bosom of a robe and a bay.[Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Lk 6:38). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.]

 

Application:  As I look at this statement from Jesus, it strikes me that He could have simply said something like, “give and you will get in return.”  Instead, Jesus describes the superabundance which comes as a result of generosity.  We repeat often the words of Jesus that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 (NKJV)  We believe the principle behind these words and have even seen it practice when we gather things or food to give to those in need and how good it makes us feel to do so.  And yet, sometimes we forget that it is not simply giving things and food to the needy where the principle of generosity should be applied but in our relationship with our spouse.

In marital relationships, after the honeymoon period ends, there’s a period of accommodation during which each spouse tries in some way to bring their newly formed family more in line to the family in which they grew up.  We all feel more comfortable with those practices, with the food, or with the practices of our family of origin that we think that’s the way things should be in our marriage.  We believe the words that “the two should become one;”  the question is, “which one?”

What Jesus tells us in today’s text is that when we practice generosity at home, starting with our spouse, the return will be a more harmonious relationship than we even imagine.  He encourages us to practice generosity in helping around the house, generosity in serving and helping our spouse, generosity in how much we compliment them, generosity in our words of love, affirmation, and appreciation, generosity in our intimacy with them, generosity in forgiveness, generosity in patience, generosity in kindness.  And what He promises is a greater gift in return.  If both spouses aim to be generous with each other, the return will be beyond measure and will continue with them for as long as they are together and continue to give generously to one another.

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, help us to give generously of ourselves like You gave generously to us.

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Scripture: Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. Proverbs 11:24 (NLT)

Observation: Not every kind of scattering brings an increase. Careless giving often does harm both to the giver and to the receiver; but the loving, thoughtful endeavor to use one’s means to alleviate the sufferings and aid the struggles of those in need, brings wealth to both. The more the giver’s means are used to help others, the more he receives. The same is true of contributions made for the work of God (see v. 25). Withholding more than is right tends to poverty, both spiritual and material. [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 3. 1977 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (986). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

Application: The Bible teaches of the blessings of generosity in various places. Just a couple will suffice: “Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.” (2 Cor 9:5) “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7).
Often we think of generosity in respect to money or things, which is true and accurate. God has blessed us with so much we take for granted. Generosity in returning God’s tithe and in giving of what we have left for the church and to help others was not just a good plan from God to keep His church going; He wanted to teach us lessons of generosity because it is indeed good for us. Those who hoard their blessings end up paranoid that everyone is out to get them and rob them and they end up being lonely and sad. Stories abound of people who have given large amounts of money to benefit others. Many of those stories are about people that others thought were poor, or who limited themselves to living in meager conditions but gave generously to others in greater need.

But when the Proverbs say to give freely I think it also refers to the time, the kindness, the attention, the help, and the love we give to those closest to us and even to those we are not related to. Don’t be stingy with these things, starting with your spouse, your children, your family. It is as if sometimes we reserve these things for others or we just simply don’t share any with anybody. The result is similar to those that hoard their money. . . we become lonely, cold, and sad. It is like Ebenezer Scrooge, rich but lonely and sad.

Give generously of yourself, starting with those closest to you. . . you will be richer than when you try to keep it all to yourself.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, Help us to recognize that everything belongs to you and you give us so much more than we deserve. In return, Father, as you have blessed us, help us to be generous so we may share your blessings with others.

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Give Generously

Scripture: Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them. Proverbs 3:27 (NLT)

Observation: The wise man turns suddenly to practical matters and begins each of the next five verses with a statement of prohibition. There is a timeliness about deeds of kindness that multiplies their value. To withhold good that is within one’s power to perform is to rob God as well as man. The Son of man upon the throne of judgment regards those who neglect the least of His brethren as neglecting the Master Himself (Matt. 25:45).
If we delay the payment of a lawful debt when we are well able to settle the account, we are defrauding our creditor of the use of his own money, and we may seriously inconvenience him. In the same way the withholding of assistance from one in need aggravates unnecessarily his trouble. We may find, when eventually setting about to offer the help so much required, that it is too late. The evil may already have overtaken the unfortunate one, or some less dilatory benefactor may have gained the blessing we were too slow to secure. [The Seventh©day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 3. 1977 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

Application: The Christian life should be characterized by generosity in light of the fact that God has been so generous with us with His grace, His love, His forgiveness, and His salvation. In Old Testament times, God made provision for the widows, orphans, and the poor by telling those who owned land to leave some of what was being harvested behind for those who needed it. This was an act which benefitted the poor, because they didn’t have anything, as well as the wealthy because it should inculcate in the spirit of generosity.

Many give to special projects, charitable organizations, or people in their time of need. Recently I heard of a young man with cerebral palsy who has received donations to help him with a surgery which would help him greatly by providing more mobility. However, that young man heard of a young child, also with cerebral palsy, and also in need of surgery, so he gave all that had been donated for his own surgery so the young child could have it instead. What an act of generosity on his part!

The widow who gave everything she had, and was given special mention by Jesus, is another example of giving sacrificially. She didn’t just give some leftovers, or a small portion while keeping a good portion, or any portion for herself. Instead, she gave everything she had.

How generous are we with those closest to us? I’m not referring only to financial generosity, however. How generous are we with our appreciation for them? How generous are we in expressing praise and affirmation for what they do? How often do we shower them with words that lift them up, encourage them, bring joy to them? We may think great, warm thoughts about them, but do not tell them. Our text today reminds us to not keep inside those words, when we have them, when it is in our poser to give them to our loved ones, to those closest to us, or to those with whom we work, to our neighbors, to those who go to school with us. Shower them with words that will help them, encourage them, and strengthen them. The right word, at the right time, my just be what they need in their time of need.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, help us to be generous in our praise of others that we may alleviate their burdens and encourage them when they’re down.

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Giving and Having

Scripture: Everything I have is yours, and everything you have is mine. John 17:10 (GW)

Observation: The words of our text today come from the prayer of Jesus on the night that he was betrayed and arrested. This prayer was pronounced in the presence of His disciples while they celebrated the Passover meal together in the upper room. While we think of “The Lord’s Prayer” as the one Jesus taught His disciples earlier in His ministry as a pattern for them to follow in their own prayers, His prayers, contained in John 17, are very particular and specific to and for His disciples of all ages.

Application: While the words of our text refer to the relationship that Jesus and God, the Father, have, they also serve asa good pattern for the type of relationship that husbands and wives should enjoy. Often we are asked questions that have to do with financial matters in marriage. Who should be in charge of the finances at home? How should money be spent? Should the husband and wife have separate bank accounts?, etc.
Once we enter into the marital relationship, not only are our bodies united into one, but so should our possessions, our interests, and our future plans be. There should be no such thing as “what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours.” When we begin to look at things, information, or feelings as only a personal thing, not to be shared with the other, we prevent true and complete intimacy from taking place. When we consider everything we have as the communal property of our marriage, then we will use it all to benefit us as a family, we will make short and long range plans that will be good both for our family now and for generations to come.
There’s another way in which we must understand that all we have and are is ours, and that is with our bodies. Paul wrote that in 1 Corinthians 7: “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” 1 Corinthians 7:4 (NKJV). Having said that, Paul continues his advice: “Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” 1 Corinthians 7:5 (NKJV)
So much trouble could be prevented if we stopped thinking and acting as if what we have and what we are is our individual property and instead were more willing to give to our spouse all that we are and all that we have – our funds, our property, our bodies, our thoughts, our plans, our feelings! And the relationship would benefit so much more when receive the same in return!

Prayer: Father, may the same unselfish spirit that reigns in the Godhead reign also in our home and in our marriage. Since everything really belongs to You, help us then to remember that what we have in our marriage is simply Your loan to us. Keep us from assuming possession of what You give us and instead help us to gladly share it with the person You gave us to be married to.

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Scripture: (1 Sam 17:45-47 NKJV)  Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. {46} “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. {47} “Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

Observation: Goliath, the Philistine giant, taunted the Israelites and their God.  David, who had come to bring some food for his brothers accepted Goliath’s challenge.  Both sides of the battle field were drawn and watched as the two contenders came face to face: on the one side Goliath, a large man with great experience in battle; on the other, young shepherd David.  Goliath, presumptuous and arrogant, threatened David, and being self-confident, he took his helmet off.  David, whose faith was child-like, relied not on the king’s armor by on God’s power to defeat this giant.  David used what he was skilled at and what was at hand – a sling and five smooth stones, but all he needed was one which found it’s target on the head of the giant who fell down and was decapitated by David.

Application: We not have to battle a Goliath, but during these times of economic uncertainties, high unemployment, etc., just surviving seems like we’re fighting an invincible giant.  I have some suggestions that could help you, if you apply them to your personal and family finances:
1. Transfer Ownership of Everything to God.
All things that we have  belong to God; we are the stewards!  Nothing really belonged to us. Our house, cars, clothing, children, and jobs were all gifts from a loving father and we were simply stewards of those gifts.  A steward knows that his responsibility is to care for the possessions of the owner. He never sees them as his own. God gives to us not so we can possess, keep, and hoard them, but so that we can be vessels and pipelines of His blessing to others. When we are trustworthy, it makes it possible for Him to bless us even more. His ownership has a single goal: to use all of His resources to be a blessing to His children.
2. Tithe and Give Offerings Joyously.
You don’t have to understand all about how tithing works; you just need to know that it does. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-8. God “prefers” our giving and tithing to be accompanied by which characteristic?
3. Work Hard.
God intended us to learn this important value of character. According to God’s plan for the family, we are to earn our bread by the toil and sweat of our brow. Work is satisfying, molds character, and develops gratitude, appreciation, and value.
4. Make a Realistic Budget and Keep Accurate Records.
The culprit in family finance problems is not the big-ticket items. It is the steady drip, drip, drip of spending on little purchases that no one tracks. You hit the ATM machine all weekend and end up broke on Monday with no idea where the money went. The absence of an accurate record of spending keeps couples from making good financial decisions.
5. Get out from under the Bondage of Debt.
Your attitude toward money will make a huge difference in the success or failure of your family. A familiar phrase from wedding ceremonies, ‘”Til death us do part,” has tragically become, “Til debt us do part!”  If you have credit card bills which have built up to thousands of dollars, and you no longer even have the disposable items that created the debt, that is the bondage debt about which we speak. If the item for which you went into debt does not provide collateral that is worth more than the indebtedness held against it, you have a problem in the making. To get out of debt, follow these principles:
• Pay Your Bills.
• Get Help.
• Change Your Lifestyle.

May you be victorious as you battle the economic giant that threaten to consume us and our family.

Prayer: Father, everything there is belongs to You and yet You give us so much of it for our benefit.  May we never forget to return joyfully the small portion You require of us, and help us to give generously so that others may come to know You.

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Scripture: (Judg 9:4-6 NKJV)  So they gave him seventy shekels of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men; and they followed him. {5} Then he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers, the seventy sons of Jerubbaal, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, because he hid himself. {6} And all the men of Shechem gathered together, all of Beth Millo, and they went and made Abimelech king beside the terebinth tree at the pillar that was in Shechem.

Observation: In previous chapters we learned of the Gideon and how he tested God with a fleece, how he destroyed Baals altar, and how he defeated the Midianites.  But not all of Gideon’s experiences were positive.  Toward the end of the last chapter we read he built an ephod in his town of Ophrah and people came there to worship and prostituted themselves and became a snare to Gideon’s family.  Gideon had many wives so he also had many children, seventy of them.  Abimelech emerged as the leader among Gideon’s children and did it by winning the support of the people of Shechem who paid him to become their king after which he killed all but one of his seventy brothers.

Application: Stories like this make me cringe to thin of how one person could deal with his brothers in that  cruel way, and all for the sake of power and money.  And yet, I personally know of two families where a brother has dealt in similar ways (except for killing them) with his siblings by robbing them of what rightly belongs to his siblings, by taking advantage of them, and by enriching himself at their expense.  When it comes to money, some people will do anything they have to even if that means taking it from their own family members.  What is the point of selling your soul for money while your siblings or those closest to you suffer?  If the funds God gives us are not used to help others, then our selfishness will destroy something that is much more important and worth a lot more and that is our family relationships.

Prayer: Father, help us to never place material things over our family or any other person.

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Scripture: (Josh 18:4-6 NKJV)  “Pick out from among you three men for each tribe, and I will send them; they shall rise and go through the land, survey it according to their inheritance, and come back to me. {5} “And they shall divide it into seven parts. Judah shall remain in their territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall remain in their territory on the north. {6} “You shall therefore survey the land in seven parts and bring the survey here to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.

Observation: As Joshua nears the end of his life, he wants to ensure that the land is conquered and settled properly, so he send men from every tribe to survey the land and then to divide it among the remaining tribes yet to be settled.

Application: Joshua was a very conscientious leader and wanted to make sure everything was done properly before his death.  I think as Christians we must be careful with all our accounting, that we do things rightly, justly, and correctly.  I’m thinking of at least a few areas:
1. Tithes and offerings.  As much as we need to do things legally in this world, so much more with God.  The tithe is ten percent of all our income and it belongs to God.  In addition to the tithe, God expects us to be generous and give an additional amount of offerings.
2. Taxes.  As much as we may dislike paying taxes, it is those funds that for the most part take care of the expenses of our country, state, city, or community where we live.  We benefit from the taxes we pay and what others pay as well.  We must be careful that taxes are paid properly and that we do everything legally.
3.  Make sure the accounting of our funds is done carefully.  We should make sure to reconcile the checking and savings accounts every month to make we have what we believe we do and not overdraw our accounts.
4. Budgeting is important to control our expenditures and save for future needs of the household.
We may not be accountants of hold a masters in business administration (MBA); however, simple accounting of our funds can save us a lot of headaches and will help us be faithful with the means God provides us for our sustenance.

Prayer: Father, help us to be faithful in our accounting of Your gifts and to remember You first of all as we manage these funds.

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