Giving Gifts

I am greedy. I love to get gifts and I really stink at giving gifts. I am not the only one in my family with this problem; however, I am the only one who is an adult. Ouch.

You expect for children to have difficulty with selfishness and some greed. All you have to do is examine a few Christmas lists to get a good idea of what I mean. But, they are innocent. They do not understad how the national economy and supply and demand make it very difficult for Santa to deliver scuba gear for the family pet dog and cat. They think big. Adults think big too but we have no excuses for our bad attitudes and greed. We should know better.

This Christmas I spent time thinking about some examples from scripture about giving.

The Rich Young Man

The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?”Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. Matthew 19:20-22
The Widow’s Mite

And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums.A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44

Ananias & Sapphira

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” Acts 5:1-4

James’ Faith

What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. James 2:14-17

Forgive me for the over simplification. So much more can be learned from these scriptures. For now, what strikes me from these verses are refusing to give up what is mine, giving out of my surplus, giving to get gifts (in this case fame), and ignoring the immediate needs around me. Truth hurts.

Well, the past is gone. Thank God for His Son’s shed blood. Time to move forward making some changes. Here are my suggestions.

  1. Give your things away. I like them, maybe someone else will too.
  2. Don’t buy junk. Give things away you would want or even need for yourself and don’t have.
  3. Give in secret. God said he will reward this kind of giving. Even if you never receive any physical reward, the spiritual reward is emmense.
  4. Don’t ignore the people around you. Neighbors, coworkers, people you pass on the street.

I know I can do better. I am looking forward to it. God bless.

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Resolutions 2008: Contentment

You have a lot of choices when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. You could pick the usual culprits, lose weight, eat better, control anger, get up earlier, exercise more, read you bible more, pray more, saving money, and etc. But what if you did something different?

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6

What if you decided to be content with everything you have in 2008? Everything? I mean everything.  Here is a list of things to be content with,

How much money you have, the things you own, house, car, clothes, shoes, your job, friends, family, your kids, your spouse, your sex life, how about pets or your lack of pets, your looks, and ultimately yourself.

I am not talking about grudgingly accepting your lot in life. I mean really learning to be happy with what God has provided and how God has created you. Remember, He gives good gifts and He loves you.

I have seriously considered trying to get through 2008 without buying any stuff. No new clothes, no car, no major new purchases of any kind. I would limit my spending to food, shelter, and family. Think you could do it? Think for just a minute about all the things you were thinking of getting for yourself next year. Just think about it.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6

God bless. Think more. Be content.

Free From Money

Do you feel as enslaved to things and money as I do? I really wish I could be content with what I have. Not wanting another thing. Free.

Impossible you say? (I am there with you.)

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6

The practical implication of these verses is fantastic! Never left alone, God as my helper? Can this be true?

Question: Will you trust him? Really trust him?

Answer: Pray

Lord, teach me to trust you.
Open my heart and my eyes.
I want to see your presence in my life every day.
Forgive my unbelief. Amen.

God bless. Pray like your life depends on it.

Self-Indulgence & Taking Life Easy

I mentioned how much I enjoyed Robert Fraser’s book Marketplace Christianity in a previous post. He has many lessons in the book that spoke directly to me. One was from Luke. Being the Luke-ophile I am, I could not resist passing on some of Robert’s thoughts. If you get the book you can find more about this topic on pages 157-158.

I think from a child I always dreamed of retiring early. It is the American dream. Work a little play a lot. I wanted that so bad. It affected the way I thought about work. Work being a necessary evil, was something I dreaded and trudged through. NOT, enjoyed, improved, mastered, and produced much valued in. Needless to say I was wrong. But I digress.

Our culture promotes self-indulgence and living lives of ease. When we wake up Monday morning we are looking forward to Friday. Luke talks about this in the parable of the rich fool.

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God Luke 12:15-21

From Marketplace Christianity, Robert writes..

But to seek a life of ease is to seek earthly reward instead of heavenly. It means we have ceased from our spiritual calling. It makes sense that in Jesus’ parable of Luke 12, God took the rich man’s life – it no longer had any spiritual purpose.

What is my spiritual purpose. To take life easy, or to live a productive life of giving that glorifies God. Hmmmmm. Not to hard is it?

A Thankful Heart

Do you have a thankful heart? Here is a good test… Sit down and write a list of all the things you want.

My Want list

  • New bike
  • Some bike clothes
  • Digital Camera
  • New Weed Eater
  • A new radio
  • Some new shoes
  • Big Yellow Pickup Truck
  • And the list goes on….

What do you have on yours? Okay now the test.

Put a mark next to each item on the list you already have. Bike check, bike clothes – check, Camera – Check, Weed Eater – check, check, check, check, check, check.

I fail. Because, I already have everything on my list, the only difference is the word NEW.

I find it very difficult to turn my wanter off. In this country I am bombarded with things to buy, all things I need desperately.

Paul warns Timothy about the love of money.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6 :6-10

To be content. That is what I desire. Contentment with thankfulness will give me peace of mind and bring me closer to God.

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7

God Bless.

Lessons from a Child: But I really Want It!

If you have children I know you have heard it before. “I want it, I want it!”  This chant can be heard at most grocery stores and shopping malls across the world. We could all stop reading now and start chanting the familiar chorus together now.

Well I have realized something. My own, wanter, won’t break. I want it turned off. I have found my self getitng onto my kids about all the stuff they own, how they do not play with the toys they have, or that they just had their birthday and don’t need any more toys. (I know my parents are laughing at me now.) And I realize I am no different.

I could make you a list of things I want a mile long. I was wondering the other day how long I could go without buying myself something. But more importantly, why can’t I just rely/revel in the love and supply of God.

 Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Luke 12:27-31

I believe I have no idea of how well God can supply my needs because I do not rely on Him to.  All I do is want more. It is the mantra of the world, “I want it, I want it!”

Lord, break my wanter! Help me to rely on you to meet my needs.

God bless.

What can you Live On

It is a common question we ask ourselves. What do I need to live on? How much money do I need? You start adding in all the things you need, food, clothes, housing, utilities, phone, car payments, gas, insurance, medicine, and the list goes on. Oh, yes, saving for retirement. I wonder how much I need for that. I want to be comfortable then too, don’t you?

I am so worldly. I want so much more than I already have. I could if I had too, live on less; however, I really like stuff. I believe the Christian’s life is to be about learning to rely on God not stuff. Jesus practiced relying on God. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry he deprived himself of all worldly pleasures and even necessities.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.'”  Luke 4:1-4

Jesus was quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3 when he answered Satan. Here Moses is reminding the Israelites how God was trying to teach them to keep God’s commands and rely on Him.

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:3

One of the main reasons we rely on God in this life is because we are looking forward to another life/home. Moses reminds the Israelites why they are “suffering” in the sort term. (I put suffering in quotes because they were not really suffering.)

Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey;  a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. Deuteronomy 8:6-9

We are looking forward to a time of plenty living in the presence of God. How often have I read the scriptures that remind us to rely on God today because he cares for us and loves us. How often have I gotten so caught up in the world that I forget that I am here for only a short time. When will I ever learn that, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

God Bless