"I'm afraid it's going to be expensive," said my car mechanic.
I started to smile, realising I was in the middle of a mini-miracle. "How much?" I asked, knowing exactly what he'd say. And he said it. To the pound. He said it exactly.
Read Emma's post for more...
This week has been a frightening week for the nation financially – unless you’re Wayne Rooney. Or his agent. But for the rest of us it seems like tightening the belt is the order of the day. So you might have thought that this Sunday was a bad week to have chosen for our church Gift Day. Well we chose it months ago, but I think, in the providence of God, Gift Day has fallen in just the right week.
Because, in the bible, financial giving is never spoken about in the context of plenty. In the bible the giving that’s highlighted is almost always in the context of scarcity. (cf 2 Cor 8!)
And nowhere is that more clear than in Exodus. In Exodus you wouldn’t reckon they had ideal conditions for fundraising.
First they’re in the desert. They’re not in wealthy Egypt and they’re not in the land of milk and honey– they’re in the desert. Secondly, they have been saved out of Egypt and for that they can be grateful. But it does mean that each and every one of these 2 million Israelites is a slave, and they have been for generations. They have no transferable skills, no social security, no family wealth, no connections. They are the biggest refugee crisis in human history. Can you imagine fundraising in a Haitian refugee camp? Or in Darfur? Moses is fundraising in the midst of a humanitarian crisis – 2 million slaves who are only ever a day away from starvation.
It puts a double-dip recession into a bit of perspective doesn’t it?!
And yet the Israelites overflowed in generosity until they had to be restrained from giving more!
How did they do it?
Read more below.
Sermon audio here.
...continue reading "Giving in Exodus"
Just three little tidbits that struck me from this sermon.
1) Romans is a fundraising letter!
If our fundraising letters don't look like Romans (and they don't) it's a sign that we don't think about money or the gospel the way Paul does.
2) Galatians 6:6-9 is about giving
Check the context - v5 and v10 are clearly about contributing to the needs of others. Therefore financial giving is a way of sowing to the Spirit. It's investing in Spirit-life (i.e. word-life; gospel-growth) and not flesh-life (i.e. this-world life; gratifying-my-selfish-cravings life).
3) Philippians 4 - the joy of gospel partnership through giving.
Financial giving is 'partnering' (v14 - an important word in Philippians - 1:5; 2:1; 3:10) in gospel ministry. To partner with Paul in this way is even more for the congregation's sake than for his. (v17)
Some friends preparing for marriage asked for advice on money and giving as a couple. Looking at the Scriptures together - e.g. Exodus 35-36; 2 Cor 8-9; Ephesians 5 - we came up with three principles. A couple's giving should be generous, joyful and joint.
All giving should be generous and joyful (God loves a cheerful giver, He does not want your grudging sacrifice!). But there's an added dimension in marriage. If she's joyful and he's grudging it's not joint. You need to be jointly generous and jointly joyful in it.
For the partner who wants to give more, this calls for a patient trust in the grace of Jesus. Trust that He is your justification (not your level of sacrifice), and trust that only His grace can motivate the joyful generosity you long to see. The more generous spouse will be tempted to lay down the law in this situation. But on the contrary, this is a great opportunity to model the grace of Jesus and to see a real gospel motivation grow in their partner.
After discussing these three principles I wonder whether they can apply to many different areas of married life. Sex life, use of time, moving for gospel service...
A 2007 print media campaign for Cordaid: 'People in Need'.
Go here for full images. H/T Mark Meynell
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on." (Mark 12:41-44)
The way we usually carry on you'd imagine that Jesus watches the collection plate like a hawk, biting His nails to the quick, hoping against hope that we'll give enough to finance His kingdom aspirations. That's basically how we think anyway.
But Jesus is not like that. Actually He's watching us. He's not bothered about what we throw in so much as what we hold back. For Him it's not the amount but the sacrifice that counts. Because - honestly - He's not on edge waiting to see whether His gospel agenda is financially viable. He's interested in the givers not the gift.
I was once staying with some millionaires in the States. They had a massive house, massive swimming pool, even a man-made lake stocked with fish. They called it a pond. It wasn't. It was a lake. My friend was also staying there and one night I wondered aloud to him how much the kingdom would benefit if they gave their wealth away. My friend was wiser. He said 'Maybe. But if they gave away more of their money, the real benefit would be for them.'
Jesus is not watching the missions giving fund. He's watching the givers. That's where His real concern lies.
Preached on money on Sunday. Here's the sermon - Matt 6:19-24 was the text.
Here are some other sermons on money that have helped me. Check them out, but be warned:
These sermons could seriously harm your wealth (i.e. your earthly treasure !)
Mark Prentice on Matt 6:19-24 (seriously awesome)
John Piper on Matthew 6:19-34 - part one and part two.
Tim Keller on Radical Generosity (2 Cor 9:6-15), Treasure vs Money (Matt 6:19-34), Grace and Money (Acts 4:32-37), Two Men with Money (2 Kings 5:13-19; Luke 19:5-10)
Anything by KP Yohannan (Update: links now work!). Why not start with Christ's Call part one and part two. Or how about Investing Your Life in the Harvest part one and part two
And once convicted - why not give to Gospel for Asia. I dare you to find a better kingdom investment!