Abundantly Blessed, Abounding in Doing Good

Paul is gathering an offering to help believers in Jerusalem who are going through an extremely tough economic situation.

People in the various churches throughout Asia and Greece have responded generously to Paul’s appeal. He specifically mentions the Christians in Macedonia for having been unbelievably generous in giving toward this effort.

Now as he continues his appeal in the province of Achaia with the Corinthian congregation, he begins by helping them recall the generosity of God. Everything we have ultimately comes from him. So, when we give, we are ultimately giving back to God only what he has first given to us.

Paul calls on the Corinthians to put their faith in God’s generosity. We can be confident, he writes, that just as God has taken care of us in the past, so also in the future he will meet every need.

In fact, far beyond that, he will bless us abundantly.

In turn, we will be able to bless others abundantly. Through the good that we will be able to do in his power, with his resources, because of his love — we can change lives.

That’s what Paul wanted the Corinthians to know too. Their generosity and goodness — inspired by God’s generosity and goodness — would make a huge impact on the lives of those suffering in Jerusalem.

“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” (2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV).

Lord, thank you for your generosity. You have generously met all my needs. Despite my often weak faith, I know I can be abundantly confident you will continue to meet all my needs. Give me the love for others that you have first had for me. Help me to be generous toward others who need my support, and to bless my neighbors who need my help.

Our Bible reading for Monday, September 7, is Isaiah 14:1 – 16:14, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, and Psalm 106:1-15.

Header image based on "abundance" by Luke, CC By-SA 2.0

The God Who Is Generous

David was nearing the end of his life. But he still had an unfulfilled dream. He desperately wanted to build a place of worship for the Lord, a home for the Ark of the Covenant.

He laid out careful plans for a temple to be built on the former site of the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. He began the process of collecting the materials needed.

But God said that David was not to be the one to build the temple. Instead, God told him, his son Solomon would come to the throne after him, and he would be the one to construct the temple.

As one of his last official acts, David made a large offering from his own wealth to help fund the temple. This gift became an inspiration to other leaders among the Israelites. They too immediately stepped forward to offer gifts for the construction of the temple.

With their gifts added in, the amount donated for the building of the temple more than doubled. And it all happened very, very quickly. No long campaigns. No passing of the offering plate multiple times. It was one generous gift from David, followed up by one question from David: “Now, who is willing to consecrate themselves to the Lord today?” (1 Chronicles 29:5b, NIV).

What happens next is even more amazing. David does not hold himself up as any great example of generosity. Nor does he begin by praising the Israelite leaders’ open-handedness.

No, he recognizes instead that everything needed to fulfill his dream of building a temple was coming from the hand of God. He and the leaders were merely conduits for the resources. They were not the ultimate owners of the wealth that had been donated.

God was. Because God is the generous, open-handed owner of everything in heaven and on earth. So David’s praise was reserved for him. David’s thanks went to the Lord. His acknowledgment was of the Lord’s greatness, power, glory and majesty.

Our God, David assures every one us, is a generous God! Generous with his heart. And generous with his resources.

Should we be surprised? How could we be when we know that this is the very same God who was generous with his one and only Son, Jesus Christ. This is the same God who is generous with his love, generous with his forgiveness, and generous with his power.

“David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,

‘Praise be to you, Lord,
    the God of our father Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
    and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
    for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
    you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
    you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
    to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
    and praise your glorious name'” (1 Chronicles 29:10-13, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Sunday, August 9, is 1 Chronicles 28:1 – 29:30, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 and Psalm 93:1-5.

Lord, I thank you that you are such an amazingly generous God. You have been generous toward me personally with your love, your forgiveness, and with your power. Most of all you have generously supplied me with a Savior from my sins. Graciously provide me with all I need for this life, and for the life to come.

Header image based on "Henri J M Nouwen" by BK, CC By-SA 2.0

Tightfisted or Openhanded?

When God was preparing to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, he was clear about the values he wanted the Israelites to espouse in their new home. He wanted his spiritual children to know how to live in a way that would put them firmly in the path of his blessings.

Generosity was one of those key values. And it was a value God had displayed many, many times to the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness. From manna, to quail, to water flowing from rocks, God had taken care of the Israelites’ needs each day for 40 years.

Now God asked the Israelites to do the same for each other in their new home. And he graciously offered them a promise of rewards to encourage them.

One can’t think of generosity without thinking of Jesus. He’s the epitome of generosity. How can one possibly give up more than one’s own life? And Jesus did that for each of us!

Now we have an opportunity to give up a small portion of what God has given us, in order to display the heart and hands of Jesus in our world today. Having been so richly blessed, we now get to bless others who need our help.

Open your hands and be a blessing to others, God says. Hardhearted and tightfisted is not at all what God has been toward you. Hardhearted and tightfisted is not the way for you to be towards others!

Open hearts and open hands give you a chance to say a big-time “thank-you!” to Jesus. Open hearts and open hands will also place you firmly in the path of God’s graciously promised blessings.

This message is actually so important, it’s not just in what Moses commanded the Israelites. It’s also in what Jesus taught a Pharisee…

“If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need… Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to” (Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 10, NIV).

“Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous'” (Luke 14:12-14, NIV).

Lord Jesus, you have an open heart and open hands toward me. There’s no greater example of this than what you gave for me on the cross. Send your Holy Spirit to help me grasp hold of that sacrifice of grace for the forgiveness of my sins. And in your grace, help me to show grace to others — with an open heart and open hands.

Our Bible reading for Saturday, April 11, is Deuteronomy 15:1 – 16:20, Luke 13:31 – 14:14 and Psalm 44:1-12.

Header image based on "Praise" by Ricardo Camacho, CC By 2.0