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Wednesday, February 7, 2007

"God is Able" to make giving a joy!

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that having all contentment in all things at all times,
you may abound in every good work”.
2 Corinthians 9:8

“God is able.” Those have to be three of my favorite words in the whole Bible. In fact, several of my favorite passages begin with these same, or very similar words of encouragement. For example, consider, the following passages:

“God . . .is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:32

“[God] is able to strengthen you according to my gospel” Rm 16:25

“[God] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." Eph 3:20

“He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” 2 Tim 1:12

“He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” Heb 2:18

“He [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him” Heb 7:25

“[God] is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy. Jude 24

Now the thing that absolutely thrills my heart as I look at all these verses, is the astounding realization that not one of them depends on me for its fulfillment. In each and every case I am being told something God will do in my life as I put my trust in Him!

God will "build me up and give me an inheritance" among the saints. (Acts 20:32).
God will "strengthen me" according to the gospel (Rm 16:25).
God will "do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" (Eph 3:20)
God will "guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (2 Tim 1:12)
God will “come my aid" when I am tempted. (Heb 2:18)
God in Christ will "save me completely" (Heb 7:25)
God will "keep me from stumbling, and to make me stand in the presence of His glory
blameless with great joy."
(Jude 24)

All these things God will do, as I put my trust in Him and rest in His all-sovereign ability.

And then there is this matter of giving in 2 Cor 9:8. The larger passage says,

6 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;

Somehow we forget that the God who is able to save us from death and make us alive spiritually in Christ Jesus, is also able to supply all our needs physically as he teaches us to live a new life of open-handed generosity. In other words, God gives us all we need for His Kingdom and Glory! So why is giving what God has provided so darn hard? Why do we treat the things we own, as though they were the key to our supply of daily bread? Could it be because, like Calvin said, we are by nature idolaters at heart? Could it be that we find it easier to trust God for things we can't see -- like heaven -- but harder to trust him for what we can see -- like money and possessions? It's as though we believe God is able to save us from sin and take us to heaven -- and we know it because He's promised -- but we're not too sure he can provide for our needs physically and give us all we need "for every good work" -- as He has also promised in the very same Bible. (Or maybe we're just afraid he won't supply us in the manner in which we are sinfully accustomed?)

It's an age old problem. As far back as the prophet Malachi, God was urging His people, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows." (Malachi 3:10)

IN Christ Jesus, we must learn that giving does not flow from me to God as if I’m doing Him a favor. It flows from God through me and back to God again. It is when I trust Him and freely put all my possessions into His hands, that God grants me the freedom to enjoy the rich gain that flows into my life through a Christ-centered and God-honoring generosity! And by "gain" I don't mean that I'll always have the earthly wealth or riches my selfish heart often desires. I may have very little of this world's goods. But it means I will enjoy the "gain" of a free and generous heart that is no longer bound by it's love of things, but has discovered a deeper love and satisfaction in God that "things" cannot provide! And because I am satisfied in God, that makes it possible for me to enjoy being able to honor God with all I possess, giving freely to the poor and generously (like that widow with her two copper coins) to the cause of missions and God's glory in the world.

Well, that's my goal! As I write this, our church is preparing to consider once again the Bible's many promises to faithful stewards. And my prayers is that we will discover once again that we are not owners, we are stewards" -- and servants serve the Master by managing His possessions well and in a way that will accomplish His purposes and bring Him the most glory. Oh Christian, God has put all you possess into your hands that we might learn the joy of a glad and open-handed generosity. May God grant your heart such freedom so that Christ may be all in all! "Little children, guard yourselves from idols" ( 1 John 5:21)

Pastor Scott

PS - For any who may be interested, let me recommend a wonderful and helpful little book called "The Treasure Principle" by Randy Alcorn. We give this away to all our members and have used it more than once for a basic study in biblical stewardship. I urge you to get a copy and find the joy of making Christ and Christ's Kingdom your highest priority in the matter of money and possessions.

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