What the Bible Says About Giving

August 28, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Scolarici Wedding - Holy Childhood Catholic Church, Mascoutah, IllinoisTom & Valerie Wedding Day (I took this photo during the Scolarici wedding ceremony at Holy Childhood Catholic Church, Mascoutah Illinois using a Canon 5D Mark II, f/9 @ 70 mm, 1/80, ISO 2500, No Flash)

Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. - I Corinthians 16:1-3 (NIV)

I have done some figuring.  If I had in my pocket what I have given to the Lord’s work over the years I could:

  • Pay cash for a nice piece of property.
  • Pay cash for new car, truck, boat or even that Honda Gold Wing motorcycle that I have had my eye on for some time!
  • Pay cash for both of my children’s college and buy them a new car to drive off to school.

But, I don’t do those things.  Why?  Because my wife Debbie and I have learned over the years a few things about giving to the Lord’s work:

  • We can live much better on 90% than we can on 100%!
  • Then we learned we could live better on 85% than we can on 100%!
  • Then we learned we could live better on 80% than we can on 100%!
  • We have also learned the joy of making an eternal investment by giving to the Lord's work!

There is one Biblical principle that is often overlooked in our materialistic world today:  we, as Christians, are “stewards!”

That’s a Biblical word that means “caretaker.” A steward does not own a thing; he simply manages the possessions of another.  In our case as Christians, we simply understand that God owns it all and we are simply caring for His possessions!  All that we have: our possessions, our abilities, our energy, our time and our talents belong to the Lord!  Therefore, we should not be offended when He directs us on how to use what is His.

God’s Word, the Bible, has a lot to say about money.

  • In Matthew, Mark, and Luke one out of every six verses deals with money.
  • Of the twenty-nine parables told by Christ, sixteen of them deal with a person and his money.
  • The Bible has a lot to say about generous giving as well.

Allow me to share with you six biblical lessons about giving:

 

1. Giving is a universal practice.

Paul said this was not just for the believers in Corinth, but for the churches of Galatia also!  Jesus said in Matthew 10:8, “Freely you have received, freely give.” Because every believer has received so much from the Lord, every believer should give back to the work of the Lord.

 

2. Giving is to be a weekly practice.

Paul said that we are to give on the “first day of the week.” Early Jewish believers moved their day of worship from Saturday to Sunday to commemorate the resurrection of the Lord.  Therefore, Paul said to give on that day of the week.  We are not to give spasmodically, or when we feel that we can afford to give.  The bible indicates that giving is to be a part of our weekly worship!

 

3. Giving is to be a personal act.

I Corinthians 16:2 says, "Let each one of you…” Giving is not just for the comfortable and the wealthy—everyone should give—even kids!  Why? Because giving is part of our worship to God.

 

4. Giving is to be a predetermined plan.

I Corinthians 16:2 says, " Set aside a sum of money.” There are many people that give because of emotional appeals or special needs.  There are many that give a little week-by-week, almost like tipping the waitress at a restaurant.  But God wants us to have a predetermined systematic amount that we intentionally bring to worship to give to the Lord.  Waiting until Sunday to see what is left over IS NOT taught in the bible.

 

5. Giving is to be a proportioned amount.

I Corinthians 16:2 says, " Set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income.” We are to give in proportion to what we receive.  We are never to give equal gifts, but we are told in Scripture to make equal sacrifices!

 

6. Giving is to be handled responsibly.

I Corinthians 16:3, Paul says, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. The church at Corinth was to certify trustworthy people to handle the money.  We are to give sacrificially, then we are to handle God’s money responsibly and efficiently.

In closing, let us evaluate our lives in the area of our “giving.” Ask yourself these question:

  • Is my giving pleasing to the Lord?
  • Is He being honored and glorified with my management of His finances?
  • Do I really believe that God owns it all?
  • Am I being a good and faithful steward in the areas of my finances?

HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND

August 05, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Illinois National Guard Pilots fyling a C-135 AircraftIllinois National Guard 126th Refueling Mission (I took this picture while on an air refueling mission with the Illinois Air National Guard. Canon EOS 5D Mark II, f/2.8 @ 43 mm, 1/30, ISO 125)

I keep the Lord in mind always. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

What does it mean to set the Lord always before you?

It means that you choose to relate everything you encounter to your trust in God. What you choose to focus on becomes the dominant influence in your life. You may be a Christian, but if your focus is always on your problems, your problems will determine the direction of your life. If your focus is on people, then people will determine what you think and do.

In biblical times, the right hand was the most distinguished position, reserved for one's chief adviser and supporter. When you choose to focus on Christ, you invite Him to take the most important position in your life as Counselor and Defender.

Every time you face a new experience, you should turn to Christ for His interpretation and strength.

  • When people insult you and mistreat you, you should seek direction from your Counselor regarding the right response.
  • When you face a crisis, you should receive strength from the One at your right hand.
  • When you experience need, you should consult your Counselor before you react. 
  • When you face a fearful situation, you should take courage from the Advocate at your right hand.

Everything you do is in the context of your relationship to Christ.

What an incredible act of God's grace that Christ should stand beside you to guide you and counsel you and defend you!

How could you ever become dismayed over your situation with Christ at your right hand? What confidence this should give you!


Integrity Upheld

August 01, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Illinois Air National Guard refueling missionIllinois National Guard 126th Refueling Mission (Pictured taken while I was lying down in the back of a C135 aircraft with the Illinois Air National Guard during a refueling mission. I used a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, f/4 @ 70 mm, 1/500, ISO 200)

"You supported me because of my integrity and set me in Your presence forever" (Psalm 41:12).

The phrase in that verse, "because of my integrity" really caught my eye.  When I think about "integrity" I always think about Joesph. 

Joseph was a righteous man who had cultivated a reputation for Godliness in his community. Then word spread across the community that Mary, the woman to whom he was engaged, was expecting a child. There would be many who would assume the worst of this apparently scandalous situation. Joseph probably experienced gossip from some and even ostracism from others. Yet he was a man of integrity, aware that God knew the truth of his relationship with Mary.

There are times in your life that God will be the only witness to your righteous behavior. Sometimes God is the only one who will understand your motives.  I have experienced first hand that sometimes you will do all you know God has asked you to do, only to face ridicule from others. At such times all you can do is maintain your integrity, trusting that God always keeps His eyes on you. God looks favorably upon those who walk with integrity, doing what they know is right, regardless of how others perceive their actions.

The most important thing is not that people know the truth.

The most important thing is that you are a person of integrity before God.

When no one seems to understand why you have done something or when others question whether you have done all you should have done, your confidence should not be in the hope of vindication in the eyes of others. It should be in the knowledge that God keeps you in His sight. If you have this confidence, it will be enough to sustain you.


Self Discipline: A Virtue for Successful Leaders

July 30, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Kristen Cannon running half-marathon in St Louis (Picture taken in downtown St. Louis as my daughter, Kristen Cannon [top right, pick shirt, black pants, stripped knee-high socks] finishes her first half-marathon in the "Go! St. Louis Marathon" -  f/4 @ 80 mm, 1/1000, ISO 100)

"Do you not know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly, or box like one who beats the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified" (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

The Apostle Paul understood the importance of discipline.  In this passage he emphasized that as followers of Christ our spiritual lives form the core of our character.  As we spend time in the disciplines of the spirit, we're to be like runners or boxers.  During the course of a race, runners do not stagger from one lane to another.  They rivet their attention on the finish line and run a disciplined race toward it.  So also boxers train with purpose so the can absorb powerful blows without falling.  They build up their physical stamina so that their legs will hold out for the final rounds.

Paul trained for his daily spiritual journey like a world-class athlete.  Why?  Because he wanted to have the self-control to finish the race without being disqualified.  Godly leaders need to cultivate this same kind of spiritual fitness.  Doing so can and will affect others areas of your leadership life - how we treat others, where we go for answers to major decisions, and the skills we use in accomplishing our daily  tasks.

If you want to be an effective leader, identify the habits you need to build into your life so you can lead with diligence - habits such as physical fitness, balance between work and home, financial and personal accountability, proactivity in workplace, etc.  Strap on your shoes and get going.  Disciplined habits will give you the momentum you need to not only move forward, but also to run your earthly race with strength and purpose. 

Read I Corinthians 9:24-27 again to see how this amazing man disciplined his life so magnificently that he became God's champion!


A Faithful Steward

July 30, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

St Louis Zoo - Jon Cannon Photography

(Picture taken at the St Louis Zoo with a Canon 5D Mark II at f/13 @ 35 mm, 1s, ISO 100)

Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. - I Corinthians 16:1-3 (NIV)

I have done some figuring.  If I had in my pocket what I have given to the Lord’s work over the years I could:

  • Pay cash for a nice piece of property.
  • Pay cash for new car, truck, boat or even that Honda Gold Wing motorcycle that I have had my eye on for some time!
  • Pay cash for both of my children’s college and buy them a new car to drive off to school.

But, I don’t do those things.  Why?  Because my wife Debbie and I have learned over the years a few things about giving to the Lord’s work:

  • We can live much better on 90% than we can on 100%!
  • Then we learned we could live better on 85% than we can on 100%!
  • Then we learned we could live better on 80% than we can on 100%!
  • We have also learned the joy of making an eternal investment by giving to the Lord's work!

There is one Biblical principle that is often overlooked in our materialistic world today:  as Christians we are “stewards!”

That’s a Biblical word that means “caretaker.” A steward does not own a thing; he simply manages the possessions of another.  In our case as Christians, we simply understand that God owns it all and we are simply caring for His possessions!  All that we have: our possessions, our abilities, our energy, our time and our talents belong to the Lord!  Therefore, we should not be offended when He directs us on how to use what is His.

God’s Word, the Bible, has a lot to say about money.

  • In Matthew, Mark, and Luke one out of every six verses deals with money.
  • Of the twenty-nine parables told by Christ, sixteen of them deal with a person and his money.
  • The Bible has a lot to say about generous giving as well.

Allow me to share with you six biblical lessons about giving:

1. Giving is a universal practice.

Paul said this was not just for the believers in Corinth, but for the churches of Galatia also!  Jesus said in Matthew 10:8, “Freely you have received, freely give.” Because every believer has received so much from the Lord, every believer should give back to the work of the Lord.

2. Giving is to be a weekly practice.

Paul said that we are to give on the “first day of the week.” Early Jewish believers moved their day of worship from Saturday to Sunday to commemorate the resurrection of the Lord.  Therefore, Paul said to give on that day of the week.  We are not to give spasmodically, or when we feel that we can afford to give.  The bible indicates that giving is to be a part of our weekly worship!

3. Giving is to be a personal act.

I Corinthians 16:2 says, "Let each one of you…” Giving is not just for the comfortable and the wealthy—everyone should give—even kids!  Why? Because giving is part of our worship to God.

4. Giving is to be a predetermined plan.

I Corinthians 16:2 says, " Set aside a sum of money.” There are many people that give because of emotional appeals or special needs.  There are many that give a little week-by-week, almost like tipping the waitress at a restaurant.  But God wants us to have a predetermined systematic amount that we intentionally bring to worship to give to the Lord.  Waiting until Sunday to see what is left over IS NOT taught in the bible.

5. Giving is to be a proportioned amount.

I Corinthians 16:2 says, " Set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income.” We are to give in proportion to what we receive.  We are never to give equal gifts, but we are told in Scripture to make equal sacrifices!

6. Giving is to be handled responsibly.

I Corinthians 16:3, Paul says, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem." The church at Corinth was to certify trustworthy people to handle the money.  We are to give sacrificially, then we are to handle God’s money responsibly and efficiently.

In closing, let us evaluate our lives in the area of our “giving.” Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my giving pleasing to the Lord?
  • Is the Lord being honored and glorified with my management of His finances?
  • Do I really believe that God owns it all?
  • Am I being a good and faithful steward (manager) in the areas of my finances?
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