BELIEVE: week nineteen: Giving My Resources

“Since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” 2 Corinthians 8:7

History tells us that during the Middle Ages, whenever a soldier was baptized, he would leave his right hand extended above the water. Why? This was the hand that he carried his sword in and he was not offering it up to God. Today we might see a person with that same hand extended above the water but with a wallet in it.

Paul challenged the Corinthian believers to drop that hand with the wallet into the water and excel in the “grace of giving.” Notice he didn’t say the “obligation of giving.” We often miss this. In the opening words of 1 Corinthians Paul wrote, “I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus” (1:4, emphasis added). Aren’t you glad that when Jesus was baptized, his whole body went down into the water? Aren’t you glad his whole body went on the cross?

So grab your wallet and baptize it along with the rest of you, so you can excel in offering the same kind of grace Christ offered to you.

"I give my resources to fulfill God's purposes."

[Excerpt from Believe: 31-Day Devotional by Randy & Roxanne Frazee, pgs. 41-42.]

Nuts For God...

Today's Devotional Thought: Nuts For God

2 Corinthians 9:7-8, "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."

Pastor Ken Shigematsu shares the following true story about his wife's pet chipmunk named Forte:

My wife Saiko's family loves animals. They regularly take abandoned cats or dogs or even an abandoned ferret into their home. In the city of Osaka, Japan, her family's home has become the neighborhood's de facto pet refuge. At one point she even took in a wild chipmunk. This chipmunk had been the runt of the pack and the veterinarian had said it would probably only survive for a few days. She named him Forte—with the hope that he would grow strong. He not only survived but he began to thrive.

When Sakiko came back to her apartment in the evening after work, Forte would wake up and run excitedly around her apartment doing figure eights. Or if Sakiko was working on her computer at home, he would scamper up and down the keyboard, pressing on random characters. She noticed that Forte would take his most treasured possessions—his walnuts—and place them where he slept. Apparently this was a kind of hibernation instinct for him. But as his relationship with Sakiko developed, he began to take half his walnuts and put them under her pillow. He somehow came to understand that Sakiko was the one who provided for him and was his family. So out of gratitude, he wanted to share with her what he had so freely been given.

Do you have enough nuts? I do. God has blessed us with nuts, if we’re honest. God has blessed us with an abundance of nuts so we can share those nuts. In 2 Corinthians Paul gives three reasons why we should share our nuts.

First, there is a need for nuts. Paul was taking up an offering for persecuted Christians who were in great need. When we see a need it is God’s way of saying to us, who have nuts, to help meet that need. As James says, Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:15-16).  God expects us to share. Every parent recognizes the necessity of teaching their children to share. God is no different.

Secondly, there is a principle of generosity. “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6). Paul is not talking about an earthly return. This isn’t a strategy for getting rich. At least not earthly riches. That which we will reap for being generous is heavenly wealth. It is spiritual wealth. Jesus told us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). An eternal perspective, which Christ gives, should give us an eternal motivation.

Lastly, we should share our nuts because of gratitude and love for God. For when you share your nuts in the name of Christ you are giving God glory. Those who receive our generous gift will thank God and praise His name. Paul says, “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11). Our giving shows our gratitude for a God who has so abundantly blessed us and that generosity will become to Him a gift of what He truly deserves--praise and glory.

Will you share your nuts today? Will you do it with a cheerful and grateful heart for all that God has done for you? Even a chipmunk knows that gratitude is shown by giving back some of the nuts that have been received. Freely you have received; freely give” ~ Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:8)

Prayer: Father God, we thank You for Your abundant generosity to us. Will You open our eyes to see the opportunities You have have given us to be generous? May our generosity bring You praise and glory. We love You. In Jesus name, amen.

Can a little make a big difference...


Today's thought:

Mark 12:41-44, "Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."

Have you ever felt like the widow who gave her last two mites? In verse 42 of Mark we read, "But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents." The Bible says that God was more pleased with her giving, since she gave all she had, than the rich who gave large sums. I can appreciate the gesture. The woman's love for God had a reckless abandon that pleased God. John MacArthur said, "Generosity is impossible apart from our love of God and of His people. But with such love, generosity not only is possible but inevitable." Generosity may be inevitable when we love God but what I wonder is the difference two mites can make? Can a little make a big impact? As I looked for examples of this I discovered a church in a very poor part of the world that is having more impact than many rich American churches.

Churches in the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram have a beautiful phrase to express the way they give to God—"Buhfai Tham.'" It means "one handful of rice at a time." Here's how it works: Families in the church set aside a portion of rice at every meal for God. When they collect enough rice, they donate it to their local church. The church turns around and sells the rice to generate income.

In 1914 they used the sale of rice to raise $1.50 (in U.S. money). But lately these Christians have been collecting $1.5 million as they support 1,800 missionaries, in addition to local ministry. People have also started giving in more creative ways, as vegetables, firewood, and other resources flow into the church's outreach for the kingdom.

One church leader said, "There are many ways of serving the Lord. Some people do great things. Some people are great preachers. Some people contribute lots and lots of money. But when we talk about this 'Handful of Rice,' it is very humble. The service is done in the corner of the kitchen where nobody sees, but God knows and he blesses it."

Another church member said, "It is not our richness or our poverty that make us serve the Lord, but our willingness. So we Mizo people say, 'As long as we have something to eat every day, we have something to give to God every day.'" [Adapted from Paul Pastor, "Giving Is Global," Leadership Journal (Spring 2013)]

Watch these generous believers share their story at:

Yes, two mites makes a huge difference. First it pleases God who loves when we show such reckless abandon out of our love for him. Secondly, when it is a community that gives out of its poverty, when it is "collective generosity," a poor church who gives out of its poverty will always be richer than a rich church that gives stingily out of its abundance. One cup of rice, or two mites, can make a huge difference. When God blesses two mites, which is nothing in our hands, it becomes a fortune in the hands of God.

You have a chance to be generous towards God today. We always do. Will you be able to say along with the humble Christians of Mizoram, "As long as we have something to eat every day, we have something to give to God every day?"

Prayer: Father, we thank you for your generosity towards us. The poorest among us can be truly rich in your eyes. Help us to understand the heart of true generosity and step into the suffering of this world to make a difference in your name. Be pleased by what you see in us today. In Jesus name, amen.