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Archive for January 27th, 2011

(Click here for this week’s Daily Bible Reading Schedule, or check out the faith tab above.)

“You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’ And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (NLT)

It’s time to print out the budget for next month, which is not an activity you typically associate with “joy” – at least not when your income is below the poverty level.  This month, like every month before it (including the last time my husband was unemployed 9 years ago), the first item in our budget is our tithe.  Ten percent of our pathetic unemployment check goes to the church, because I have yet to find a clause in the Bible that excuses poor people from tithing.  What I do find in the Bible are lots of verses, like the ones above, that tell me God wants me to trust him with everything I have so that he can give me so much more than my pathetic dollar store treasures.

In 1 Cor. 9:7, Paul first addresses the issue of giving cheerfully to God and others, not out of guilt.  So let me say right now, I’m not out to guilt anyone into tithing.  How you spend your money is between you and God.  But I can testify to the truth of these verses.  When I feel prompted by God to give, I do it joyfully because I am confident that God knows our needs and is every bit as capable of feeding and clothing us as he does the birds and flowers of the field (Matt. 6:25-33).  I believe God can’t wait to generously provide all we need when we “seek first his kingdom and righteousness,” and give cheerfully to others (v. 33).  Not only does Paul say that God will provide all we need, in 1 Cor. 9:8 he says we’ll also have “plenty left over to share with others.”  That’s why I give generously, even in when money is tight, because God has blessed us with so much.

One of God’s names in the Bible is “Jehovah Jireh,” which means “God our Provider.”  I love watching God provide for our needs in the most miraculous ways.  Like when we received an escrow surplus check for the exact amount of our tithe.  Or when a check comes from some random place for the same amount I gave to someone else.  The fingerprints of God are all over our finances. My favorite story is when I was on my way to the store to replace my worn out shoes, and God told me to use that money to meet a need for someone else.  What you need to understand is that I have ridiculously impossible feet to find shoes for because they spread during my pregnancies, leaving me with one size 8 foot, and the other foot a 71/2 wide.  I’ve found ONE type of shoe that is comfortable, and had planned that day to replace it with another pair like it because I’d given up on ever finding shoes again.  Oh, and the shoes were incredibly expensive.  But I obeyed God anyway, joyfully giving to my friend and doing my best to repair my old shoes.  Nine months later, my kids were in swimming lessons and there was another mom there who desperately needed to be told that she’s okay and her son’s okay.  God appointed me to that task, and so I sat during swimming lessons and listened to her pour out her heart, then told her the words God gave me to say.  On the last day of swimming lessons, she casually gave me 2 pairs of shoes she’d bought at a garage sale for $1 and didn’t care for.  They were brand new Sketchers, in dark brown and khaki (the colors I wear), that look nice enough to even wear on Sunday, and they fit my impossibly weird feet!  I’ve worn them through winters for a year and a half, and they still look brand new.  This is the gift of poverty – seeing Jehovah Jireh directly meet our needs.

Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” I have NEVER out-given God!

 

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