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That thing about GIVING….

God loves a Cheerful giver

God loves a Cheerful giver

It’s offering time!!!

Many have been turned off or avoid the church because of methods employed for giving and offerings. Yes?

Sometime last year I took part in a focus study group for my pastor as he was completing his doctoral project on GIVING. We were given a handbook and a diary to write our reflections, thoughts, and feelings after every session. Like everyone else, the sacrifice of time was worth it to show support and love. As a Christian, the topic of giving is not unfamiliar, so I was expecting more information as a refresher. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

The first two sessions covered rudimentary information; Old Testament faithfuls like Abraham and Jacob, tithes, agrarian vs monetary systems etc. But I believe it was the third session that caused a massive struggle. We learned that Tithing was NOT required. Huh? What do you mean? I’ve always known about the 10% that I was supposed to give, and within the past few years had gotten to the point of giving that consistently, so what was this all about?

I looked at the scriptures in my handbook Leviticus 27:30-33, Deuteronomy 14:22-29 and Malachi through different eyes. I felt a little flustered as I read because it is very nerve wrecking when something that one believes as foundational is challenged.

Leviticus 27 talked about being able to redeem one’s tithes if the giver so chose. In Deuteronomy the giver was to have a celebration with the tithe as thanksgiving to God. And also to take care of the Levites since they had no land (they served in the temple). In Malachi? Well, the key here is not “Will a man rob God?”…..but “How shall we return?” (v.7). God was done with the Priests and was not going to accept any offerings from their hands; they were bringing Him lame and sick animals etc. The priests were not upholding the laws of what was to be sacrificed to God. We no longer sacrifice animals….Jesus was our sacrificial lamb.

At this point I was thinking of every place in the bible that I could find something about tithing; Abraham and Jacob! Well, I looked at that and obviously they both chose to give a tithe before there was any law. Abraham in Genesis 14:20 and Jacob in Genesis 28:22. They both did it out of love for God and his faithfulness. I couldn’t find anything that substantiated mandatory tithing in the New Testament. There is nothing to redeem….Jesus already DID that!!

I went home grappling with what this meant. I did some more research and realized that this information is out there but I have NEVER heard anyone speak on this. Understandably so, because there is a fear that if people know they don’t HAVE to give, then they wouldn’t!

I sat on my little foot stool in my closet and thought to myself “Man, if I don’t HAVE to give I can save a lot of money!”. As soon as the thought left my mind God asked “Were you giving because you LOVE ME, or just because you thought you were obligated to?”

I sat there for a long time digesting this.

Obligation never equals love. Love is doing it when I have a clear choice not to.

I repented.

My heart changed in that moment. God has been so good to me! And especially faithful.

I have the opportunity to appreciate God just as Abraham and Jacob did when they decided what they would give without a legal standard.

I thanked God for the opportunity to check myself. It’s easy to SAY we love and trust God until we are faced with putting it to the test. I couldn’t imagine the courage, trust in and love for God that my Pastor had to work through to first embrace this information and then share it. He risked people stopping their giving, because they didn’t HAVE to. But, giving is a form of worship and must be as natural as singing, reading scripture and prayer. There is a basket at the door and you can drop an offering of your choosing (if you so choose), on the way in or on the way out.

Ten percent is merely a barometer. Some choose that as their minimum offering to God, but it can be more or less. Plus whatever the Holy Spirit prompts.

There is SO much to say in this post, but it is better summed up in the book Cheerfully. A book prompted by this study after more research and a compilation of the findings.

Our pastor graduated as scheduled but completed the doctoral process a changed man.

Graduation

We each completed the study, experiencing a myriad of emotions with this new knowledge. Some anger, some acceptance, some struggling with sharing this information to their own congregations.

The TRUTH is what it is: God loves a cheerful giver! Giving to God based on love is Worship. A cheerful giver is motivated from within not based on any external stimulation.

SO, that thing about GIVING…? Make sure you do it CHEERFULLY!!! 🙂

Have a great week!

Blessings

JC

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Posted by on August 17, 2015 in Love, Worship

 

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Flashback ~ Jerusalem~

 

The Golgotha Altar.....the crucifixion site.

The Golgotha Altar…..the crucifixion site.

Today we celebrate Good Friday….a ‘good’ Friday for us, but it was not so ‘good’ of a  Friday for Christ. Sometimes I don’t think the magnitude of what Jesus did for us really sinks in.

About fourteen years ago I was able to take a tour of Jerusalem, Israel. I was deployed with the military and we had stopped in Haifa, Israel; I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tour Jerusalem.

In the past couple of months I have done more studying on the significance of this week than ever before, in preparation for a sermon on Palm Sunday and one last night; Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday. It really made me think back on this trip many years ago, being just a babe in Christ then.

the city of Jerusalem in the background....it was hot!

the city of Jerusalem in the background….it was hot!

Last night we celebrated Communion as Christ did with his disciples. But the gospel of John recorded that Jesus also washed the feet of his disciples (John 13). The one thing I remembered from my trip was that it was hot and dusty. Back then they wore sandals everywhere so foot washing was normal. But it was considered a menial task and one only the lowliest of slaves did. But Jesus, the ultimate servant, did it. Showing us that we are supposed to serve each other with humility. Like Rick Warren says, “humility is no thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less”.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher...

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher…

I guess I am in somewhat of a reflective mood at the moment. Because sometimes I don’t think watching the Passion movies and reading about the crucifixion really causes the magnitude of the price paid for our sins to sink in. I really think reflecting on what that personally means for each of us is what is most humbling.

It’s not just watching it unfold on the screen, but personally knowing that it’s my addiction on that cross, my lies on the cross, my fornication on the cross, my abortion on the cross, my hatred on the cross, my unforgiveness on the cross etc….and He paid it all! What does the cross mean to you?

May each of you have a wonderful celebration on Resurrection Sunday.

Blessings always

JC

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2014 in Daily Inspiration, Love

 

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Worship that Costs….

splendid creation.....splendid Creator

splendid creation…..splendid Creator

One of my favorite characters in the bible is King David. A lot of people give him a lot of slack for the indiscretions that he committed. But no one could beat him at repentance and having a heart that sought after God. On my ride home from work yesterday morning I was thinking about one of his stories that has touched a tender place in my heart; 2 Samuel 24:24. I wanted to write a quick blurb about it.

David is in trouble for conducting a census without God’s consent. His punishment is in full effect and he is instructed to go and build an altar to God on the threshing floor. Well the threshing floor belongs to Araunah. Araunah offers to give the threshing floor to David for free. But David’s response is so beautiful to me; he says “I will buy it from you. I will not offer sacrifices to God that cost me nothing”.

In other words, I will not seek after You to worship You if it costs me nothing (even if I just messed up). What a heart…..no wonder he was a man after God’s heart.

Are we willing to pay a price to worship? To lose a couple of friends and pick up a couple of haters? To be rejected by people and be under constant attack from the enemy?

Can we sacrifice some time to be patient with someone else? Sacrifice some time to spend extra quality time with God? Sacrifice financially to invest in the temple and further the work of Christ?

I pray that I will pay the price to bring my worship before an AWESOME God; even when the price is me!

I will not offer God worship that cost me nothing.

Be Blessed

JC

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2013 in Daily Inspiration

 

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