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 advent of wireless Internet is an amazing thing especially as we are traveling. It is especially fun that you are able to take part in some portion of all of our adventures. However, it also means we are at the mercy of the places we are. We have not been able to post as much because we lost the Internet at our abode. I guess it is in some ways a preparation for the lack in India,Cambodia, and anywhere else we have limited access.
This week, I was privileged to bring a message to our cell group. This is not a message that most people may accept, but the mature body of believers I spoke to grabbed ahold of the promise and the word and is running with it. I believe you will to!!! If you have known me for a time, you know that Moses is one of my favorite guys in the Bible. Even beyond that, one of my favorite passages of scripture is Exodus 20:18-21. Here, we see that after three days of consecration, the people of Israel see, hear, smell, and feel the presence of The Lord on Mount Sinai. It even reveals in Deuteronomy that they hear the very voice of God. Even though they had completely consecrated themselves to The Lord for three days, they saw and felt the Holiness of The Lord and were afraid that if they saw or spoke with God anymore that they would die. Moses, being no different than any of them (except maybe that he had murdered someone), knew the holiness of God and knew that nothing of this world was worth keeping in compare to being in the very presence of The Lord. He was not even afraid to die. He just wanted to be in the place that the presence of The Lord was the greatest.
If we think of Moses and how he was able to give up all the passing pleasures of this earth just to gain the prize of knowing God in an intimate way, we see how different he was than most of us. We are so commonly unwilling to give up sleep or food, most of which we get an over abundance of. If we are to know The Lord in the deepest way possible on this earth, we must give up the weights and snares that hold us back from knowing Him. In Hebrews 12:1, we agree that we should be rid of sin, but the weights may be good things that just hold us back or slow us down from knowing Him. Things get in the way, distractions, and we must remove them if we want to know Him. We can always look at others and say that we are more holy than other people because we do, or don’t do, more of any given thing than them. However, when we view our personal righteousnesses against the holiness of The Lord, Isaiah says they are like filthy rags (maybe used toilet paper in today’s language).
I would encourage you to spend some time with Holy Spirit and see if there is one or more things that you need to consecrate to him and not do, and do more of the getting to know Him that we are all so quick to be too busy to do. Several people in the group decided to cut out television and focus on The Lord. What will you do to get closer to The Lord? I don’t know about you, but I have no love of the things of this world, and I am trying to be willing to give up all this world has to offer for the knowledge of knowing Him. Holiness is a gift that brings us closer to Him, we just have to get all the other things out of the way so that we can be more like Him and be closer to Him!!!
Jeremiah, Man on Fire