Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why Do You Give?

Remember this: the person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart - not out of regret or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.  2 Corinthians 9:6-8

There is serious talk in our government about reducing tax deductions for charitable giving. Does that matter? It will matter to virtually all religious and nonreligious charities in this nation, because it will likely reduce the amount corporations and other large sustaining donors give to those charities.

In an opinion peace published at ChristianPost.Com, Dr. Richard Land put it this way, "The proposal to further cap charitable deductions in the federal tax code is a threat aimed like a dagger at the heart of America's charitable nonprofit entities, secular and religious. It will weaken most, kill many, and harm all" So, it will matter to people served by organizations like the Red Cross, St. Jude's, etc.

Will it matter to you?  The proposals of our government will probably not effect most of our giving, because the cuts in deductions are related to those making over a quarter of a million a year. Most of us don't make that kind of money, but what if the government cuts the deduction for all charitable giving? Will your church see a drop in contributions?  Will missions suffer?

The answer reveals your heart. If you cut your giving when you no longer get a tax break, you were not a cheerful giver in the first place. You were motivated, but only by self-interest. You may have been generous, but you were selfishly generous.

If, however, they take away the deduction and you continue to give as God directs, with cheerfulness of heart, you will have demonstrated your faith. You will prove that you trust Him, that you believe that "God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work."

If this happens, it will not be easy or pleasant. It will be a test. Yet, every test and trial is a matter for joy for the Christian. Our Lord promises that He will use every test and trial to prove and improve our faith and the Character of Christ within us, to His glory and for our good.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Only A Legend

Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

There is a legend that God once sent two angels to the earth to gather all the prayers of His people. One angel was assigned the task of gathering all the prayers of petition, all the requests for God's help. The other was to gather all the prayers of thanksgiving. Each angel departed. Soon the second angel returned to God's throne. The Lord asked him where his companion was. He informed the Lord that the first angel was still on earth, unable to return to Heaven, for his load of petitions was so heavy he could not bear them back to Heaven alone. God then asked the second angel why he had returned so quickly, what he had done with his burden of all the prayers of thanksgiving. He replied, "They are here Lord," and he opened up a single hand where he had been able to carry them all.  (Anonymous)

God does not tell us to only give thanks. To fail to ask is to fail to receive. However, we seem far, far better at asking for help than at giving thanks for it. Trusting Christ is not just asking for help, it is thanking Him for it, especially when we have yet to see the results of our requests with our eyes.

Fill up the second angel's hands, overload him this Thanksgiving season.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chest Thumping

I have not been a huge college football fan. However, if you have a daughter at Louisiana Tech (#19 in the AP poll), live in Louisiana a.k.a. an LSU fan (#8), a brother-in-law who played for Texas Tech (#23), are now a closet A&M (#9) fan because they beat Alabama (#4 and headed downward), and want something relatively wholesome to watch on TV (relatively), then it doesn't hurt to become one. So, I have.

There is one thing in all professional athletics that makes me laugh and cringe at the same time.  (Don't kid yourself. College football is professional athletics.)  That one thing is chest-thumping.  From Usain Bolt at the Olympics to virtually every college player who makes any kind of play, chest-thumping has become the norm. "Look at me! I am bad! Look at me!" And, we love it. When our team thumps, we thump, too.

If you are a devoted fan of Jesus, you will notice that he never thumped his chest. He said his ministry would be invalid if he did . . . "If I testify about Myself, My testimony is not valid." (Jn.5:31)  Instead, he glorified his Father, trusting his Father to glorify him . . . "The Father who sent Me has Himself testified about Me." (Jn.5:37a)

His statement, "I do not accept glory from men," (Jn.5:41), was epitomized in his life in his refusal to thump. He did not thump after the victory over temptation in the wilderness, nor after the deliverance of demoniacs, nor after the healing of thousands, nor after the feeding of thousands, nor after walking on water, nor after rising from the grave. Jesus refused to thump.

He didn't have to. He thrived on glorifying his Father . . . "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work," (Jn.4:34a) He thrived on humble obedience to his Father.

None of us will thrive any other way.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Bow Before You As God

But at the end of those days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven, and my sanity returned to me. Then I praised the Most High and honored and glorified Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are counted as nothing, and He does what He wants with the army of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth. There is no one who can hold back His hand or say to Him, "What have You done?"  Daniel 4:34-35

For it is God who works in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose. Philippians 2:13

Looking Into Our Own Lives - Day 2 - 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting

Nebuchadnezzar was a pagan king who, in his pride, was granted an opportunity by God. God caused him to lose his mind. This earthly king lost his mind, lived with the wild animals, feeding on grass until he bowed down to the God of heaven. At that point, his sanity returned and he proclaimed over all his kingdom who God is. It does not take insanity to drive us to sanity if we will acknowledge what Nebuchadnezzar had to learn this way. God works in the hearts and minds of his children, giving us the desire to do His will and the power to carry it out, if we will bow before Him, acknowledge His Lordship, asking for Him to do in us what we cannot.

Prayer Starter: I bow before You as God. You are in charge of everything. Please give me the desire and power to obey You every moment.