December 9, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Meet a Joyful Giver
By Rachel Olsen, ETC Editor, Speaker Team Member
"You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully." 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NLT)
I get excited each time the catalogs arrive. Not the JC Penny's, Sears, L.L. Bean or Sharper Image catalogs, but the Heifer International and Samaritan's Purse catalogs. These catalogs are filled with practical gifts of food, medicine, livestock, blankets and building materials that can be purchased for needy children, families and villages around the world. You make the donation, they do the rest.
God has certainly done a tremendous work in my heart for me to get a kick out of giving. It's not that I am a cold-hearted woman, mind you. I am actually very encouraging by nature. It's just that in my "natural state," I am rather stingy with my money. Oh, I can spend it like it's going out of style, but was once uninterested in handing it over for others to spend. Over the years, however, the Heavenly Potter has molded this area of my heart as I've prayed for the ability to give cheerfully.
Now, I love the fact that my money is making a difference in someone's life that I otherwise could not have helped. The money I would spend on a restaurant dinner, for example, can train a young believer to win others to Christ in a remote area of the world. The money I would spend on a Starbucks Frappaccino can supply a hungry child with a week's supply of milk. I can give up relatively little and provide someone else with so much more. Not only that, but God will measure back to me what I have given out (Luke 6:38). Don't you just love God's economy?
I'll share with you my approach in deciding what to give once the catalogs come. First, I pray. Then I sit down with my children and let them pick what they'd like us to give. They usually pick the cute animals - furry goats for milk or fuzzy chicks for eggs. Then I decide what areas I feel a desire to "sow a financial seed into." For example, I am a home-schooling mom and desire God's help and blessing in this area, so this year I will give to third-world literacy projects. I lost my mom at a relatively young age, so I plan to give to orphans' care. Don't laugh... but I am not a great cook. I desire to improve in this area so I am giving to the Samaritan's Purse hot meals feeding program. You are laughing, aren't you?
If you are like me, you have a few people on your Christmas list that are hard to buy for. A few years ago, I began to donate to charities in their name as their Christmas gift. They receive a card from the charity letting them know of the gift what it will accomplish in the lives of the needy. The first year I worried how these alternative gifts would be received by my family and friends, but they have all appreciated it. It sure beats another coffee mug, neck tie or wool scarf!
I do not want to pressure you into giving to any ministry, but rather to share with you the marvelous work God has done in my heart, and the joy giving has brought me. I honestly love giving gifts in Jesus' name that meet the needs of a destitute child or a hopeless man or woman. I thrill to be partly responsible for someone saying in another language: "The Lord is good! He has been a refuge in my time of trouble" (Nahum 1:7). I take satisfaction in knowing that I am not only blessing my fellow man, but the very Lord I love.
Jesus, speaking of the future day of judgment, said:
Then the King will say to those on the right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.' "Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?' And the King will tell them, 'I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!' Matthew 25:34-40 (NLT).
My prayer for today:
My Lord: Thank you for the opportunity to bless others by giving, and for the privilege of giving to You. Thank You for the joy it brings my heart. Please continue to cultivate in me a heart that gives cheerfully, in Jesus' name.
Consider in what ways you will reach out to meet the needs of your community or world and show them the love of Jesus.
Consider donating to Proverbs 31 Ministries so that women across the world can receive these daily devotionals.
Do you agree to give when you are highly pressured into it, and then regret it later?
Has this happened so often that you've hardened your heart toward giving altogether?
Do you rationalize or worry that the recipient is not trustworthy?
Do you think you cannot afford to give?
Try praying before you agree to give any amount.
Try asking the Lord to lead you to the giving opportunities He'd have you participate in.
Ask Him to provide and replenish the funds you give with - and multiply it!
"Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." Luke 6:38 (HCS)
"Remember this: The person who plants a little will have a small harvest, but the person who plants a lot will have a big harvest. Each one should give as you have decided in your heart to give. You should not be sad when you give, and you should not give because you feel forced to give. God loves the person who gives happily. And God can give you more blessings than you need. Then you will always have plenty of everything - enough to give to every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NCV)
"The thing you should want most is God's kingdom and doing what God wants. Then all these other things you need will be given to you." Matthew 6:33 (NCV)
Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst
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