Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day 8 Widow with Two Mites

           God should not have to pry your hand open to give, for He should find you ready, willing and obediently desiring to furnish his house and children. The Bible is chalk full of promises regarding sowing and reaping, tithing and receiving, believing God will provide.  The Apostle Paul teaches the churches to give generously in most of his epistles.  To the church in Corinth he writes, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace about to you, so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
            My husband is a cheerful giver.  I believe one of his gifts given by the Spirit is a generous heart.  Tommy has followed the promptings of the Lord to pay monthly mortgages to single mothers, friends who were falling in to foreclosure, widows who could not make ends meet and Christian families who had no income or work.  His grandmother would tell me stories of when he was small.  Tommy’s grandfather would take him fishing, a wonderful pastime for him.  Having to pass through tolls, Tommy would lean over before his grandfather could produce the coins needed and pay the toll.  Even at a young age, Tommy’s hand was always ready, willing and open to those in need.
            I have learned valuable lessons from my husband.  The urge to not leave a tip for an undeserving waitress, was covered with a generous hand who would say, “Maybe she is having a bad day.” The urge to not provide for those who were struggling because we were financially strapped was blanketed with a generous hand saying, “I would want people to help me.” The urge to withhold a tithe when the mind wanders to “stored treasures that rust” is rebuked, when the opening of a generous hand says, “I received an extra check, please tithe to the church.”
            According to the Law of Moses, the Israelites were to give 1/10 of everything produced from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord (Leviticus 27:30). Our family believes in this principle, but also the principle from the book of Acts in 11:29, “The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea.”  Tithing is a very sensitive subject in the church.  I personally love our church’s philosophy, “If God presses on your heart to tithe, the tithe boxes in the back.” Pastor Bob Coy of Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale has never passed a tithe plate.  I believe as Pastor Bob, whatever God asks of you, do it with a generous spirit, a giving hand and knowing the tithe is for the Lord’s work. Some believe tithing is just from the Old Testament, but I will direct them to Matthew’s Gospel, 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” How else is the church to function, flourish and follow Christ if not for the faithful who believe in this principle?
Our family tithes 1/10 of our gross earnings.  If Tommy receives a check, immediately 1/10 either goes to our church, or if God presses to help someone in need, then the money goes directly to the individual.   There have been times I was the only one tithing on the money I received each month.  The Lord asked me to give my money to a single mother for a season.  I obediently submitted, Tommy in agreement, sending off a small check, praying to plant a seed.  When the check was received, this sweet single mother called in disbelief.  Not because of the check, but because of the circumstances around receiving it.  When I had mailed the letter, I forgot to write the address of my friend, only marking her name, city, state and zip code with a stamp.  We praised God, for whom could deliver such a letter of confirmation to his will, but the Lord. 
            Tithing is a blessing.  The tithe to our church in Plantation, FL, a satellite church of Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale can be seen in the freshly cut grass, the beautiful landscaping, construction for new improvements and well manicured walkways.  Walking into the temple of God, his sanctuary, his house of prayer, his church for sons and daughters for praising and worshiping, I desire to see a well kept house.  I desire God’s house to be better than my own.  I desire the House of Prayer to reflect his beauty, with cleanliness and an atmosphere of warmth like open arms.  I desire God’s temple to be colorful, as the rainbow in which he filled the sky, filling the ground with freshly planted flowers and shrubs.  I love seeing our small Plantation Church receive a new parking lot.  I love to see our Pastor describe missions’ trips, bibles being passed out and the Gospel being spread through Food Share and Operation Christmas Child. 
            I am THANKFUL my pastors receive a payment of their calling from the church so each can use their gifts and talents in ministry, and not having to pull the slack from a second job.  I am thankful to provide to our Pastor’s family, for if we receive sporting tickets, restaurant cards, parties, extra “things”, Galatians 6:6 springs forth in spirit, “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.” Our family LOVES to bless those in church.
            As my heart has been laid out for you, let us get to the widow with two mites.  In the Gospel of Mark 12:41-44, Jesus is sitting opposite the place where the offerings were given, watching the crowd put their money into the temple treasury. I love that Jesus just sat and watched! My mind imagines Christ sitting, standing or walking with us as we take our offerings to his house.  His desire for us to go deeper into giving, tithing and seeing the motives in which we give, inspire me to rise higher. 
            “Many rich people threw in large amounts.  But a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. 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.  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.” Can you picture it?  Watching the rich, “throw” their large amounts in to the offering did not impress Jesus, nor should it impress us.  Many who have much will be expected of much, but there can come a complacent attitude of just “throwing” the money, taking for granted the accountability of such a blessing and trust. How many “rich” people do you know, if something were to happen to their money, if it was all taken from them, would crumble and fall to pieces?  The bible does not say her emotional state of giving these small coins, but I can imagine if Christ praised her, it was a pure, faithful heart.
            When we give our money to the Lord, whether tithing or offering to help those in need, Tommy and I pray the funds are used properly for God’s purposes.  I believe this widow, following the commands in the Law, gave her money to God believing he provides, calling on the name of Jehovah Jirah, My Provider! There were times in our life we did not know how we were going to pay for food, rent, school or electric bills.  We did not know how God was going to provide, but we did believe he would never leave us nor forsake us. 
            During the years of tithing, believing, praying and giving, I struggled to understand God’s ways.  If I am giving, why am I not receiving?  If you ask the same question, then ask a few more, “Are your motives pure in asking God for more? Are you faithful with what has been given to you? Can the Lord trust you with more money? It is hard to ask God for more money, when given, you will spend it on a new purse.  It is hard to ask God for money if what you have is being given to movies, entertainment, electronics, gambling, phones, toys, bigger cars or homes you already can not afford.  It is hard to ask God for more money if you have not been faithful with what he has given you.  Do you pay your bills on time?  Do you honor your commitments on credit? Have you extended your credit card limit or have you purchased something you could not afford for entertainment or prideful motives?
            I believe the Lord had our family in a season of financial testing for our faith and believe in “security”, which rested on our bank accounts.  If you visibly have money, there is a comfort and refuge in believing your safe, you can provide for your family.  The testing comes when you are tithing, believing and your bank account is empty, unsure how you are going to pay the rent money.  This is when your faith is being stretched and continues to deepen as you persistently trust God, tithe and generously sow.
            My prayer Christian is you are the widow with two small coins, giving to God from deep within your pockets, sowing more into the Kingdom of God.  As I am writing, the Lord reminds me of man wealthy man in the bible, who stored up things for himself.  The Gospel of Luke 12:16-21 describes a rich man. “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself.’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”
            “Do not store for “yourself” treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and there thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 5:19-21).  Yes, Jesus brought Christians to a high standard, a greater expectation and responsibility than those living in the world.  We are to give generously, provide to those who instruct us in the Word and the House of God.  Our hearts and minds expect pastors to quickly respond to our needs, prayer lists, sick loved ones, blessing over new homes, teach us the word, tirelessly serve our community, so the least Christians can do is provide to those who work hard for the kingdom of God.
            I encourage you to prepare your heart for a lifetime of giving.  There is such joy in helping others in need.  I pray you are inspired to be, as Jesus watches you, this widow who gave all she had, knowing God would provide. 

Let us Pray and CONFESS the Word of God;

Father, Jehovah Jirah,
            I am thankful for your sanctuary.  I am thankful for the pastors, deacons, servants, worship leaders and volunteers our tithes pay for.  I am thankful for the dedicated hours spent in preparation to feed those who us who come in search of your Word and you.  I am thankful the church’s bills are paid, the expansion projects are under construction, the landscape is kept, the janitors who clean the House of God, and the time spend praying and worshiping you.  For the Bible declares to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in your house.  Father, you proclaim, “Test me in this, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.  I will prevent pests for devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit.  All nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land.” (Malachi 3:10-12)
            I pray for a generous spirit to withhold no good thing from the ones who instruct me (Galatians 6:6).  I pray for the trust I have in you Lord, to obediently response to the prompting of the Spirit to give, how much to give and where to give.  I know you will provide for our family as we continue to provide to the House of God. Show me how to be a blessing to those who need help, for I never want to be a Christian that walks away from an opportunity to help another.  Show me the widows, orphans, sick and elderly that need my help. Show me the areas in the church where I can use my own gifts and talents, or generosity to help fix.  Thank you Lord of opening my hand for I know you love a generous giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
            Father, help me to never be as the man who selfishly hoarded for himself, for you do not want us to store our treasures were moth and rust devour (Luke 12:16-21, Matthew 5:19-21).  Instead I pray to be as the widow who gave her last to Elijah and with that seed, her jugs never ceased to be full or oil and flour (1 King 17:7-16). Help to always give what I have, what you have asked me to and be a woman who can let it go (Acts 11:29).  I pray to never micro manage, demand my money back if you’ve asked me to give and to never judge another’s gift or offering to you.  I pray to never compare myself to another believer who either has more to give or is not giving at all. I rebuke a prideful, bloviating attitude, a meek and worthless attitude and a complacent attitude relying on another Christian to fit the bill (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
            I pray to be a giver and not a continual receiver, a servant who tithes faithfully and can be entrusted with more.  For I know the more I have, the more I will be held accountable for (Luke 12:48).  If I have not been faithful with what you have given me, I repent and ask for forgiveness.  I pray for godly Christina women to come along side me where I can glean and grow from their discipleship. Help me to pay my debts, take responsibility for where I am financially and help me to start fresh.  I believe I am a daughter of the Most High, a representative of Christ who should never be wasteful with what I have been given.  I pray for the balance and discernment as to what to purchase, ask my husband before I spend and maintain sensitivity to the needs of the family more than my own.  Help me Lord, become more like you. I believe I can do all things through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, amen

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