Friday, April 30, 2010

From God's Word to Your Heart

I think the state of the economy the last few months has prompted many folks to take a closer look at their finances and maybe, set clearer goals with regard to their savings.  My husband and I are no different.  We have been making a concerted effort to be better stewards of the gifts we have been given.  We spend more time discussing and considering our purchases, choosing more frequently to prepare for "rainy days ahead."  In addition to stewardship, we have devoted more attention to charitable giving.  We know we are blessed in many ways, and feel compelled to "pay it forward;" we have been actively seeking out those we can help.

Anyone who has ever remained on a budget knows the sense of accomplishment it brings.  Likewise, giving to others leave us with a feeling of pride and satisfaction.  These are humanity's rewards -- the immediate remunerations that come from human nature, feelings that fade with time and may even leave us second guessing our actions when our situation seems to turn for the worse.  There are heavenly rewards, however, that are much greater than these.

In Malachi 3:10 God tells us to test Him with regard to His promises, specifically the promise that He will bless us in our giving.   Luke 6:38 tells us to give and it will be given to us, according to the measure with which we give -- a loving, gracious heart, a merciful, generous reward.  Proverbs 11:24 promises generous people will prosper, but those who hold back will find poverty. Is payback the only motivation?  Of course not.  James 1:17 and 1 Corinthians 4:7 tell us that nothing we have has been achieved through our own toil, tears, righteousness or merit; it all comes from God.  Whatever we have is God's gift to us.  It is all about loving the Giver, not the gift.  Matthew 19:16-30 is the story of a rich young man who figured he'd been "good enough" to get to Heaven.  When Jesus suggested he give his money to the poor and follow, you could have heard a pin drop -- a needle really.  According to verse 22, the young man didn't even reply, just hung his head sadly and moved on.  Jesus told his disciples it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for someone who's heart has been given to money to enter Heaven.

On a personal level, my experience has been, what we give God not only replaces, but multiplies back to us.  When I notice the needle of my gas tank moves more slowly these days than it did before, I know God is stretching out the flour and oil as he did for the widow and her son (1 Kings 17:8-16).  When our refrigerator seems perpetually full, it is God multiplying our loaves and fishes (Mark 6:30-43).  When opportunities arise to supplement our income, God is filling every vessel we can find with precious oil (2 Kings 4:1-7).

The Lord may be calling you to share your blessings, no matter how small they seem, with others.  Why don't you give Him the chance to fulfill His promises?  He will be faithful.    

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