Scripture reading for April 17th: Ruth 3-4, Psalm 37, Acts 4
Key Scriptures: Acts 4:32-35 “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’s feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”
The early church brought many diverse people together in unity around Jesus Christ and His vision to reach the world and make disciples. Material things took a lower priority and believers shared their goods. Great power and grace rested on the apostles and their preaching brought new souls into the kingdom. Believers’ hearts were filled with generosity and love for each other.
Faith Confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for this amazing revelation of the early church and its love and generosity. Help me to be powerful in Your grace through the Gospel message and generous to those in need.
Ruth 4:13-14 “So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, Who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, . . .”
Psalm 37:4 “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.”
Scripture reading for August 8th: Psalm 79-82, 2nd Corinthians 9
Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 9:6-8 “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”
As Paul was encouraging the Corinthians to give an offering to help the needy in Jerusalem, he shared the spiritual law of sowing and reaping. When you give, it is like sowing seed. Seed that is sown has the potential of producing a harvest. If God blesses the seed, it will increase and you will reap. The more seed you sow, the greater the potential of great increase. God loves to give increase and bless those who sow in faith into His kingdom. They abound in grace and have sufficiency!
Psalm 79:13 “But we Your people, the sheep of Your pasture, will give thanks to You forever; from generation to generation we will recount Your praise.”
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your great generosity in blessing Your people’s giving. Help me to keep a generous spirit and be a cheerful giver. Thank You for the abundant harvest. Amen.
Scripture reading for July 14th: Proverbs 7-11
Key Scriptures: Proverbs 11:24-26 “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell.”
God’s wisdom is the opposite of what the world thinks. The world thinks that when we give, it is gone for good. God says that the generous man will prosper and those that refresh others will themselves be refreshed. Those that give gain even more. Giving is a spiritual character trait that is like the heart of our Father, the ultimate giver! When we give, we reflect God’s heart and He blesses that! It takes faith to give and trust God for His promised return. Without faith, you can’t please Him!
Blessed by generosity: “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 you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)
Scripture reading for August 8th: 2nd Corinthians 8
Key Scriptures for over-comers: 2nd Corinthians 8:1-5 “And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.”
God is a generous giver! His love compels Him to bless His creation and especially His people. Paul cited the Macedonians as an example of what a committed relationship to God the Father produced in their lives. Although the Macedonians went through severe testing and extreme poverty, they had overflowing joy and a desire to give towards God’s work and His people. They gave willingly and generously and the result was super-natural! God’s grace works extreme generosity in those who are cleansed and forgiven!
Observations for over-comers: The grace of giving, even beyond natural ability, marks over-comers. A relationship with Jesus Christ, faith in God’s provision and vision for His work produces the grace of giving. “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from your hand.” (1st Chronicles 29:14)
Scripture reading for January 28th: Matthew 20
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.” (Matthew 20:1-2) Jesus taught his followers through this parable that each person who comes under the Lord’s authority and agrees to salvation and kingdom work does so voluntarily. The denarius was a fair daily wage for a laborer of that day.
During the twelve hour work day, the landowner hired workers at the third, sixth, ninth and eleventh hours. “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going to the first.’ (Matthew 20:8) The workers were all given a denarius for their day’s work! This upset those who had worked all day and they grumbled against the landowner. They thought he should have given them more for a whole day’s work! “But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?’ (Matthew 20:13)
God ultimately pays everyone well, no matter how long or short our time of service. We all get more than we deserve because of the generosity of the One who owns it all! “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children for My sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:28-29)
Scripture reading for April 22nd: 1st Chronicles 28-29
“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all you that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2nd Corinthians 9:7-8
Preachers are sometimes pushy or manipulative in asking the people to give. There are so many needs and money is often a limiting factor in the work of the church, at least in our minds. The love of money keeps many from giving and holds back God’s blessing in the people as well. This area is a touchy area for many because of the various abuses and the strongholds of idolatry to money and materialism in this land.
King David set forth his personal giving to fund the vision of building the temple of the Lord. A good leader will always lead the way for those he is calling to help. David gave of his personal treasure 188 tons of gold, 375 tons of silver, 675 tons of bronze and 3,750 tons of iron. This was a fortune by today’s values! From this position of personal dedication, he challenged his other leaders to willingly too.
The leaders caught the spirit of generosity that King David had modeled. They also contributed “willingly and wholeheartedly” to the Lord. (1st Chronicles 29:6-9) David rejoiced with a psalm of praise to the Lord! He attributed everything that he had to God’s grace! (1st Chronicles 29:11-12) We can boast about nothing! He alone is to be praised!
David prayed for the people: “And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. O, Lord, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever and keep their hearts loyal to you.” (1st Chronicles 29:17-18) That is my prayer for each of us today! May you have a willing heart to give! If you are a leader, may you set an example of extravagant giving. May your heart remain loyal to the Lord and open to be generous forever!
Scripture reading for February 25: Deuteronomy 12-16
In many cultures, the poor and needy are viewed as under the judgment of the gods. These people are despised and live in the worst conditions on the fringes of society. Children born in the families are destined to live in poverty, sickness, and usually have an early death. India has millions living in the caste system and viewed as nearly untouchable by their peers. The Hindu religion and the teaching of reincarnation and this caste system keeps the bondage in place.
The God of the Bible, creator of heaven and earth, is compassionate and merciful. When He formed the nation of Israel and delivered them from slavery, He instructed them in the care of those society had looked down upon. The orphans and widows were singled out for care by the Lord. (Deuteronomy 14:28-29) God promised to bless the Israelites for caring for them. The alien was also to be cared for, because the Israelites were also aliens and strangers in Egypt and could identify with what it felts like to be in a strange culture and on the outside of the economic and political power system.
God said that there should be no poor among His people, however. (Deuteronomy 15:4) The reason given was that if they fully obeyed the Lord in keeping all His commands, God would so bless them that they would have an abundance to help others. They would lend only and not borrow. (Deuteronomy 15:6) They would also rule and not be in servitude. “The rich rule over the poor, the borrower becomes the slave of the lender.” (Proverbs: 22:7) This is God’s heart desire for His people. (3 John 2)
God seems to contradict Himself later in Deuteronomy 15:11. He only seems to because here God is telling the Israelites not all will fully obey. Some will be poor and they will need help. Those who are fully obeying the Lord are to be generous with the poor. They are not to be “tight-fisted” or “hard-hearted” towards their poor brothers, but are to be “open-handed” and “freely lend”. (Deuteronomy 15:7-10) God even goes so far as to say it is sin to be stingy toward the poor brother! He is indicating His care for those who are truly needy. God always pays well when we help the poor. We can’t outgive God!
“A generous man will prosper and he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25)
“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their maker, but he who is kind to the needy honors God.” (Proverbs 14:31)
“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done.” (Proverbs 19:17)