Giving

June 18, 2013

Giving

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Around Christmas time we all think a lot more about sharing and gift giving. We have learned that it is not just the joy of getting, but that it is the joy of seeing someone else’s face light up when they receive something that blesses and pleases them, that is the greater blessing. I guess we tend to give more around Christmas time because it is the season, but we know that it should be an attitude that we carry with us throughout the year.
You know, God is an extravagant giver. He doesn’t just give to us what we deserve it and His gifts aren’t even based on how good we are, because His love is unconditional and it can not be bought or earned. It has been the prayer of my heart for some time now, “Lord, make me an extravagant giver like You are.” We don’t want the giving that is based on how much we have monetarily or in possessions, it is an attitude of God’s nature within us that says, “make me a blessing.”
When Jesus came into the earth as God’s most extravagant gift to mankind, He didn’t grow up to take what He could have rightly claimed as His own, He came to give His life day by day. He cared about people and He showed that love and caring in personal and real ways. His richest gifts weren’t money or wealth; it was himself. Oh, that I might give myself to bless others as He has blessed us.
Christmas often gets caught up in commercialism and gift giving and getting, but our most important asset is a giving heart. In all we give and do, I know that God looks at our hearts. Proverbs 21:2 says, “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart.” In Matthew 12:35 Jesus says, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” Our giving then is not about how much, but the attitude of our heart in what we give. One day Jesus was observing the people giving their offerings. Many of the rich were presenting their offerings with great pomp and show. It didn’t impress Jesus, but He saw a little widow that humbly put in her two mites or about the equivalent of a penny and he said, “truly she has given more than them all, because she gave all that she had.” The Lord is looking upon our motives that same way.
“God so loved the world.” It is His love that makes us extravagant givers. In as much as He enables and helps me, I want to learn to give like our Father gives and with the same motive of heart, how about you?

Blessings,
kent

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Your Gift of God’s Love

November 2, 2012

Luke 11:4
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.

Your Gift of God’s Love

Remember that friend that betrayed you? The one you love and trusted and shared everything with? Maybe it was a husband, a wife, a close friend or relative.
Wow, how could you forget the hurt you felt when you discovered that betrayal. This was a person that you loved and would have done anything for. How could they do such a thing?
Now what? They are banned from your life forever. You feel you could never trust them again and maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe they repented, cried and asked for your forgiveness, but how could they dare, after what they had done? Now they are on your black list. Your list of unforgiveness, where they have been exiled forever, as far as you are concerned.
I know, who needs people like that in their life? That person you were so vulnerable with and told all of your secrets. Maybe it stirs up all of those raw emotions even thinking about it again.
Did you know Jesus had some friends like that? Some of them were His very own disciples that swore they would stick by Him even to the death, but when it came to that, they ran away. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples and friends even denied, cursed and swore he never knew him.
How twisted and sharp the knife of betrayal can be. How deep are its pain and wounds.
Why didn’t Jesus write off these, “so called friends” of His? Why wasn’t He wiser to pick more faithful and trustworthy people?
Maybe because they were a lot like all of us, who under the right circumstances, would act out of an unbecoming nature and character. Did it mean they didn’t really love Jesus? Did it mean they didn’t hate what they had done or how they had acted?
No, we see Peter, after realizing what he had done, weeping bitter tears for denying his Lord and his best friend.
Maybe those who have hurt and betrayed us don’t deserve our forgiveness, but Jesus showed us through the cross that forgiveness, though undeserved, it what sets people free. When we are the one that has been wronged, it sets us free as well. Forgiveness is a wall of un-love that we erect to keep out our offenders, but it doesn’t just isolate and separate them, it does something else. It separates us in our relationship with the Father.
Jesus says in Matthew 6:15, “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Did Jesus lead by example? What did He say on the cross concerning those who had beaten, tortured and hung Him there? “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Maybe today is a good time to forgive that person who has hurt you, physically, emotionally, spiritually or even in all of those ways. You are not saying they are right in what they did, only that you have enough of the love of the Father to release them and no longer hold their offense against them. When you set them free, you will set yourself free as well. The love of your forgiveness is one of the richest ones that you can give and, like God’s love, it is not given because it is deserved or earned, but because you choose to be like Jesus in His love for you. You and I didn’t deserve God’s forgiveness, but He chose to give it to us anyway.

Blessings,
kent

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