Friday, November 18, 2016

Be a Blessing Part 2

This month I am the guest contributor for devotions at the His Kingdom Come community. Their focus this year has been on who God says we are; our Christian DNA. They have explored this theme through bi-monthly "I am" statements. November's theme is "I am blessed to be a blessing".  

TMD-DNA November 18, 2016
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35 
The above saying of Jesus is not found in any of the gospels, but, as the Apostle John says in his gospel, if everything Jesus said and did were written down “the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) Jesus shared many principles with his disciples that point us to live a lifestyle of giving – giving our time, our money, our stuff, and ourselves. The Bible offers us two main reasons why we are to adopt a lifestyle of giving. 

1. Giving imitates God. 
To say that it is more blessed to be a giver implies that giving is a great privilege. It is such a great privilege because when we make giving a lifestyle, we are most Christ-like. Giving imitates God. Look at just a few passages of Scripture that show what a great giver God is: 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—“ Ephesians 2:8 

“ For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9 

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 

“ (Jesus Christ) who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” Galatians 1:4

2. Giving is our response to God’s great generosity to us. 
Giving imitates the Father, who willingly and sacrificially gave His Son. Giving imitates the Son, who willingly and sacrificially gave His life. Through His Son, God gave us life, salvation and the gift of living with Him eternally. Our response to these incredible gifts should be to give to others willingly and sacrificially, out of gratitude and as an act of worship and praise to God. 

“Freely you have received; freely give.” Matthew 10:8 

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” 1 John 3:16-17 

“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. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:8-11 

As we respond to God by imitating His giving nature, we trust in Him to provide for our own needs. Sometimes what keeps us from giving, whether it's time or money, is worry about our own provision or that of our family. Read Matthew 6:25-34 this week and see Jesus' answer for our concerns. He begins the passage telling us, "Do not worry about your life....". He then gives examples from His created world of how the Father cares for and provides for them, and then reassures us in verse 32 that our heavenly Father knows what we need. God is our provider and our caretaker. The passage ends with Jesus' call on us to trust the Father for our needs to be met and not to worry. "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Many of us have learned this principle when we have stepped out in faith and began to actually tithe. When we trust God and obey His call to live by His ways,He provides. The same principle we learn with tithing is true for giving of our time, our stuff, and ourselves. God has called us to be givers and to be generous and sacrificial in our giving. Our role is to seek Him, trust Him and to obey Him. He's got the rest! The thing about stepping out and being involved in others lives to the extent that you are giving fully of yourself, is that you will find in the end that you will feel even more blessed than they do. We will be pleasantly surprised as we experience more of God’s power and Presence in our own life as a result of obediently responding to and imitating His generosity and love.

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” 
 Ephesians 5:1-2

Worship Video: "All That I Am" by Rend Collective (Click on title to follow link)