It has been more than three weeks since we have posted and much longer since I personally have posted. Many people have probably ceased reading these posts since we are no longer traveling from country to country doing the Lord’s work as He opens the doors. Before I begin talking about giving, I want to first reflect on who really needs Jesus? Does the poor Cambodian girl living in the trash dump need Jesus more than the middle class American business man that spends more time working than with his family so he can get provide for them the necessities and all the extras (cars, boats, bigger houses, better clothes…)?
This time of the year, it seems that we are consumed with the extras, the things we do not really need. Black Friday is a tribute to this focus with too many people fighting over saving some money on the things that are not really needed. People die so that somebody’s son, daughter, brother, sister can get the extra they wanted but did not really need. Now, a few days after Christmas, no one is really happier and the extras are on the floor. Many people are ready to get away from their families because they are annoyed and have frustrations with them. Soon, they will return home and 90% of these extras will sit on a shelf, in a drawer, or in storage gathering dust. Who really needs Jesus more? We Americans who have it all and the extras or the those who have nothing but will give you whatever they have willingly?
As I was reading this week, it is interesting that God had me reading in 2 Corinthians chapters 8-9 the day after Christmas. These two chapters are talking all about giving, and I encourage you to read and meditate on them. Here, Paul speaks about a church that promised to give beyond their ability out of a generous heart. He describes this gift as the fellowship of ministering to the saints. He then goes on to say that even as they abound in important things (faith, knowledge, love), they should increase in the grace of giving just the same. Is the act of increasing in knowledge, faith, and love more important than increasing in giving???
In Vs. 15 of chapter 8, Paul uses a verse that was originally used about manna in Exodus to talk about giving. “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.” As I was reading this, I got revelation of a couple things. First, God gives us the things we need to go throughout our day. Both in the physical and in the spiritual. Not that revelatory, but worth mentioning. Second, some of the things He gives me are actually to help someone else make it through their day. If I have an abundance, and someone else has need, what I have is for them. What does it profit me to hoard that thing and save it for a rainy day or something I might need in the future if my brother is in need? The manna in Exodus rotted, and I do not want what God has given to rot, so I should be intentional about giving away what I do not need both in the physical and in the spiritual.
Finally, in Vs. 7-10 of chapter 9, it seems to me that Paul is saying that if we give with a joyful spirit, then God is able to make His grace increase toward us. We must have our giving with a right heart in order before we overflow with grace and abundance for every good work. Also, he talks about God giving us seed and bread, and how He multiplies the seed that has been sown to increase the fruits of righteousness. It does not say He multiplies the bread, but the seed. He does not multiply all the seed, but the seed that is sown and that is how the fruit of righteousness is increased in our lives. I would much rather have abundant fruit than just a little bit of seed and bread.
I want to return to the question I asked, who needs Jesus more? The answer is that both the poorest of the poor living in the trash dump and the middle class American that has the extras need Jesus. I could even argue that we as Americans have a greater need for Him because we can look to ourselves to work for and provide what we need. Some people, no matter how hard they work, will never have what they need. These people have to trust in something or Someone outside of themselves to get them through. I encourage you to meditate on chapters 8-9 in 2 Corinthians and discover the gift of giving that God has given us. It is not only for them, but it is for us. What is the proof of our faith and love? What is pure religion (James 1:27)? What do we have that others need? What has God given you for others that you have decided to hoard up for yourself? What is rotting in your storehouse that is meant for others? Joyously, give out what God has given you to give so that abundant fruit of righteousness may come to you and all the blessings that go along with it!!!
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!
The Lord gave us the privilege of sharing a nice Christmas meal, centerpiece of bacon-wrapped turkey, with a great family of the faith. We were welcomed in and had such great fun and fellowship with them. This was our first Christmas away from our physical family, but we were elated to spend it with such great spiritual family. As we were talking, Robin was talking about Fenwick’s window. (Here in Newcastle, this store spends copious amounts of money to decorate their window, and people stand for hours to see it. It is big part of the Christmas season here). He commented that in a previous year, one of the displays had been a Nativity. Apparently, a child looking at the window asked what this had to do with Christmas. For us, this was an unthinkable tragedy. The real meaning, the Truth about Christmas, had been taken out of the season. The way the world celebrates Christmas, we might as well rename this season Mas-presents or some such nonsense. In reading this week, I came across these verses from the final chapter of Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 13:8-10 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete. Therefore I [Paul] write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction.
As Followers of Christ, we must live by these verses. We must be careful not to ever do anything against the Truth, but for it. The world has launched a concentrated attack on Truth and are trying to replace it with personal relativism (whatever is right for you). It seems that it is the mission of some to exhaust themselves in service of the Truth so that many more might be made strong in it. No one can ever be whole or complete without the Truth, which is Jesus. We stand and battle for the Truth with all that we have in us, but at the same time, we cannot use or authority or knowledge to destroy or bring destruction. We must always bring the Truth in a way that encourages. Everyone knows that if you bring the Truth and beat someone over the head without, it does not help them. It can be likened to an ambulance driving up to someone who has been injured backing up and running over them. It is there to help them, but can cause a lot of damage to them if it is not properly handled. We must do all that we can to stand for the Truth and speak it in Love!!!
Do not forget to apply this to yourself as we also seek to. Ask Holy Spirit to reveal any area in your life that you may not be fully standing in the Truth. Seek to stand wherever He reveals. Also, ask Him to reveal how you can stand and speak the Truth in love and encouragement and not cause harm to those who need it the most.
We continue to love and pray for the Family of God as a whole and pray that you are blessed and encouraged by everything that we are a part of. If these blogs have been an encouragement to you, think about following them and sharing them with friends so that others may be encouraged and experience the Truth in a new way.
Blessings of Jesus, the True Reason for the Season!!!
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!