100%

“…she out of her poverty has put in everything she had.” Mark12:35-44  This passage is often used for stewardship campaigns. It is equally, if not more so about faith. While teaching in the temple, Jesus warns against those who “devour the widow’s houses and for the sake of appearance, say long prayers.” Knowing this, why would anyone put anything in the treasury let alone 100% of all that they have, if not for their faith by the grace of God? Additionally, why would the widow give 100% of all she had when the law only required a 10th? It seems this act of faith isn’t about money at all but rather about trusting enough to give 100% of our life over to God.

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A Greater Rule

“Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Mark 13:1-13  A woman with two copper coins has just given all that she has as an offering in the Temple. Upon leaving, one of Jesus’ disciples is enamored with the building! How quickly we become distracted by the obvious and forget the basic rules of life. When people like this woman give all that they have great things do in fact happen. So it is, in this journey, we give all that we have and do what we are able out of glory and honor to God, that we may see the works of God’s hand and not of our own. My prayer for each of us today is that we not become distracted by the obvious and remember that God’s plan for us happens from within and is far greater than any building.

Mark 13:1-13 Then Jesus asked him, ‘Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.…and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 

Faith For The Benefit Of Others

Lent: Day 11 – Because of his faith in God alone who interprets dreams, Joseph is placed in a position to make a difference. He does so because he himself now has a family of his own. Thus, saving Egypt means saving his own family. Joseph’s wilderness was a good ten plus years, plenty of time to discern his relationship not only with God, but also with the family he as been separated from. He has time to discern the responsibility that his own attitude, arrogance and naïveté played in his endured and present circumstance. My guess is that initially, Joseph was angry. Perhaps he even thought about vengeance until his situation seemed to get worse, being falsely imprisoned, in spite of God’s favor. Yet ironically, being in prison saves his life. Joseph’s faith in God allows him to truly recognize and experience God’s wisdom in his life! Yes, Joseph suffered, but it was not his suffering that saved the life of his family but rather his faith in God. In this journey, we fight a lot of battles and suffer a lot of things for our selves and the people we love. To put our hope in those battles and suffering I believe is a disservice to God. I believe our hope should be in our faith and belief that God’s wisdom in the midst of our circumstance is greater than our own. Victory is only a matter of time.

Genesis 41:46-57 Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, ‘Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.’ … all the world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine became severe throughout the world.

1 Corinthians 4:8-21 We are fools for the sake of Christ, …To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly.

The Perfect Life

Tuesday:

What is good? Jesus himself admits that there is only one who is good. Anyone can keep the commandments but if we wish to be perfect all we have to do is sell every thing we have and give the money to the poor. You will have treasure in heaven but you will be broke as a doorknob. What’s a rich person to do: your money or your life? Well Comedian Jack Benny had to think about it, the rich man in Matthew’s Gospel had to think about, and if the truth is to be told we have to think about too. Certainly, the rich man went away wondering if perfection was worth the cost. Perhaps those of us who have no money have less to wonder about but if our primary focus is on financial provision we too risk traveling a journey that follows the money instead of life. Today, we could choose to become religious monks but I don’t believe this is necessarily what Jesus had in mind. I believe Jesus’ extreme recommendation is a wake up call to draw our attention to the relationship we have with money. There is no doubt that money is important in that it allows us to have what we need in this physical life. However, the lack of money should not hinder the greater importance of our spiritual life, our relationship with God, who is the great provider of all things, and ultimately our eternal life. If we are able to do this, surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life, and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Matthew 19:13-22 what do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Philippians 4:11-13   for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Almsgiving

Thursday

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 ‘Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them;… But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“Are you bragging or complaining?” is what we used to say when someone starting talking about themselves in a way that made them seem as if they were patting themselves on the back. With some people it’s hard to tell the difference. For example, why talk about not having any money because of the car you just bought your 16 year old? It’s a mixed message! So, what do we talk about? To begin with, perhaps we can talk about God’s mercy and grace in our lives. It seems to me that to not have any money and be able to buy a car is a pretty awesome accomplishment, certainly a celebration of God’s grace. So many of us don’t have either one, car or money, and yet go on to praise God anyway. Part of our survival as a Heavenly Kingdom on earth is giving, particularly for the support of the church. We have to ask people to give. Some churches do so in a very big way and others you hardly know there is an offering plate in the room. Either way when you give from the heart any sacrifice made is an act of love, alms that is well familiar with a God who sees all. Funny thing though, I have yet to hear of anyone bragging or complaining about not having money because of what they have given to or for God who sees all in secret, and yet rewards openly. Shouldn’t we praise God as openly as he rewards?

Psalm 116 What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.

2 Corinthians 9:7-11 Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.

James 1:17 Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Stewards Of God’s Gifts

Saturday

“How can you tell me what to do with my money when you don’t have a job?” These are painful words of judgment for any parent to hear from their own child. Of course those of us who are stewards of a household know that having a job and having money are two entirely different things. Eventually our children come to understand that it’s not what you have, it’s what you do with what you have. The longevity of wellbeing in the household comes about through planning, agreement, discipline and sacrifice. Paul makes clear that his ministry and that of the Apostles is a commitment to the stewardship of God’s mysteries, for the longevity of the Gospel that carries with it blessings of the Holy Spirit. From this gift the believers benefit even as the Apostles gladly endure persecution, slander and criticism to the glory of God. I am in awe of this first century stewardship, which remains a powerful and authoritative footprint for our own stewardship today. As we work to achieve wellbeing for our selves, family and our church, large or small, all that we have, is a gift from God. Using Paul as our defense, regardless of our circumstances, the ability to give our children food to eat, a place to live, and clothes to wear (among other things) qualifies us to at least make some suggestions. I am certain that the statement wasn’t made to be hurtful or destructive, but rather out of lack of understanding. One day when the connection is made between having a job and having money is made, what is hidden will be brought to light and the fruit of the spirit will have raised yet another faithful steward of God’s gifts.

1 Corinthians 4:1-13 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart… What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift.

Psalm 37:25-26 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are ever giving liberally and lending, and their children become a blessing.

Matthew 25:14-30 “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”

Stewardship

Friday

In today’s language a steward is someone who manages other’s peoples property or affairs. It’s important that we understand this because individually like the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) we are called to be responsible overseers of the church. The church in turn is called to be responsible overseers of its peopleThe relationship is a reciprocal one in which our giving of time, talent and tithe is returned back to us in spirituality, fellowship, and reconciliation with God and one another (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Some have a tendency to believe that the giving and the receiving is disproportionate. In the physical realm this is true. There are times when what is received is greater than what we have given in return. There are times when we give more than what we receive in return. But in the spiritual realm our giving comes from the heart and the measure you give will be the measure you receive (Luke 6:38-49). God has given us each different gifts (1 Peter 4:8-10). Regardless of our level of giving our first true offering is the heart and soul of the self. I believe the story of the poor widow and the two copper coins (Mark 12:35-44) is a reminder of  the importance of stewardship as an integral part of life. First we know that God doesn’t need our money (1 Chronicles 29:14-16) people do. Second, our stewardship is a testament of our faith. To give all that we have shows trust that God will provide for our needs in the same way (Proverbs 11:24-25). Third, our stewardship helps sustain the spiritual life. Much of what we understand about our relationship with God is experienced through our fellowship with the body of Christ. Without our support we risk diminishing the church’s ability to serve one another and possibly the kingdom relationship that God desires to have with the church and its people.

Mark 12:35-44  For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.

1 Corinthians 4:1 “Men should regard us as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God…Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a person be found faithful to his gifts.

Deuteronomy 16:10, 16-17 …No one shall appear before the Lord empty-handed, but each of you with as much as he can give, in proportion to the blessings which the Lord, God has bestowed on you.