Saturday, May 24, 2014

Ever think about the gifts God has given you? Are you a giver?

…The Giver…


1  1Praise 2the Lord!
How ablessed is the man who 3fears the Lord, Who greatly bdelights in His commandments.
His 1adescendants will be mighty 2on earth; The generation of the bupright will be blessed.
aWealth and riches are in his house, And his righteousness endures forever.
Light arises in the darkness afor the upright; He is bgracious and compassionate and righteous.
It is well with the man who ais gracious and lends; He will 1maintain his cause in judgment.
For he will anever be shaken; The brighteous will be 1remembered forever.
7  He will not fear aevil tidings; His bheart is steadfast, ctrusting in the Lord.
His aheart is upheld, he bwill not fear, Until he clooks with satisfaction on his adversaries.
1He ahas given freely to the poor, His righteousness endures forever; His bhorn will be exalted in honor.
10  The awicked will see it and be 1vexed, He will bgnash his teeth and cmelt away;
The ddesire of the wicked will perish.[1]

Loss.  Who among us have not experienced loss?  I have lost my mother and father to the snare of death.  I have seen two brothers and nephew gone to be in the hands of the Lord.  In recent months there have been others, in fact within this last month we have seen the loss of two others, a sister-in-law and a cousin…  It gets no easier, and the burden that is left to those alive gets no lighter.  There are costs associated with the passing of a loved one, funeral costs, burial costs and more.  Those costs have to be met, but that is not what this message is about. 

 The greatest cost is the uncertainty that the loss of a loved one brings.  How does the family left behind make it?  Who will step in and help?  Who can help?  How does God balance out these things?  He balances the loss by sending the giving heart.

And what is a giving heart?  Quite simple, it is the heart of God.  We see this heart all around us, in nature, in people and in situations.  Think about it – what has God given to us all?  He gave His love, His mercy, His grace; He gave us a world to live on, food to eat, water to drink.  As He did with the first man, He gave us the breath of life and He gave us His only begotten Son as cover for our sins.  The giving heart of God is especially evident because He also gave us His Word as found in the Holy Scriptures.

                What is sad though is that many fail to heed the words of God given to Ya’akov (James):

James 2:14-20
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith but has no actions to prove it? Is such “faith” able to save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food, 16 and someone says to him, “Shalom! Keep warm and eat hearty!” without giving him what he needs, what good does it do? 17 Thus, faith by itself, unaccompanied by actions, is dead.
18 But someone will say that you have faith and I have actions. Show me this faith of yours without the actions, and I will show you my faith by my actions!
19 You believe that “God is one”?d Good for you! The demons believe it too—the thought makes them shudder with fear!
20 But, foolish fellow, do you want to be shown that such “faith” apart from actions is barren? [2]

What does it profit a man to reap much, but plant little?

Ya’akov spoke about faith – faith that is put into motion with action.  We think of faith as being a source of belief, of trust, as a spiritual thing that ties us to God through His words and promises.  Yet I can believe, I can trust, I can do all the things I think faith is but if I do not work to carry out this faith, does it really live in me? Even the demons believe, and they tremble, yet are they saved? No, faith is more than belief – faith is belief, trust and commitment to God the Father and His will; and that means it must be something we do.

Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, spoke to them (the Corinthians) about a promised gift of support for the poor in Jerusalem that the Corinthians had pledged.  He boasted to the Macedonians of this – how generous the Corinthians said they would be.  But he had doubts.  The Macedonians were encouraged by the thought of the generosity of the Corinthians, so much so that they gave abundantly themselves. Now Paul was worried that the Corinthians were lax in their promises – so worried that he had to send people ahead to make sure the Corinthians were doing what they promised, out of their heart, not out of obligation…  He believed, he had faith that they would keep their promise, yet he worked out this faith by making sure the promise was kept.  He said in 2 Corinthians 9:5-9:

So I thought it necessary to urge these brothers to go on to you ahead of me and prepare your promised gift in plenty of time; this way it will be ready when I come and will be a genuine gift, not something extracted by pressure.
Here’s the point: he who plants sparingly also harvests sparingly.

 Each should give according to what he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion,
for God loves a cheerful giver.j
Moreover, God has the power to provide you with every gracious gift in abundance, so that always in every way you will have all you need yourselves and be able to provide abundantly for every good cause—as the Tanakh says,
“He gave generously to the poor;
his tzedakah (righteousness) lasts forever.” k[3]

Notice Paul quotes from the same Psalm as we opened today with, Psalm 112.  So what does this mean to us today? It is simply this:  God knows not only your situation, but your heart.  There are many who are just getting by, who do not have much.  What we all have though is heart.  Fix a meal for someone in need; help them clean their house; give them your hand to hold; give something of yourself , but give, not out of obligation, but out of the love and mercy of God that He has shown to you.  If you can afford to give your money, then do so to those that have need.  If you are giving to show off how much you can give, it is better you give nothing at all, for God sees the heart. It is all about the heart.  We either walk in the heart of God or we walk in the hardness of our heart, hardened to the needs of others and blind to the emptiness of our own souls. 

 Paul tells us in Galatians 6:7-10:

Don’t delude yourselves: no one makes a fool of God! A person reaps what he sows. Those who keep sowing in the field of their old nature, in order to meet its demands, will eventually reap ruin; but those who keep sowing in the field of the Spirit will reap from the Spirit everlasting life. So let us not grow weary of doing what is good; for if we don’t give up, we will in due time reap the harvest. 10 Therefore, as the opportunity arises, let us do what is good to everyone, and especially to the family of those who are trustingly faithful. [4]

                I am not here to put shame or guilt upon anyone.  All I am trying to say to you is that we have to be mindful of the gifts God has given us.  God gives the gift of wealth for one reason: so that we can share with those who are in need.  This wealth is not always money – sometimes it is our time and our love that needs to be shared, but if God has blessed you with the ability to help others with your wallet, then do what you can.  I know that at times I have wasted my money on things that have no Kingdom significance at all;  I have wasted God’s blessings on my pleasures instead of giving where it could have led others to praise God for the gift they received.  I try not to do that anymore – but I am not perfect.  I sometimes forget that I am the church, just as you are the church.  We are to love one another as Messiah loves His church, which in truth is just those He has called out of this world.  The institutional church, the system of religion and denominations, is not the “church”; it is simply an instrument in the hand of God to do His will.  The true “church” is people, called from the world to be light and salt, to be the givers of God’s heart to a lost, lonely, dying world.  We should give to the institution as it is only right; but if we neglect those in need, if you and I do not give from our heart, then our faith is dead, and the church does not exist. 

Remember the widow who Jesus watched give her tithe?

Mark 12:41-44 (NET® Bible) ([5]) ([6]) ([7])
12:41 Then80 he81 sat down opposite the offering box,82 and watched the crowd putting coins into it. Many rich people were throwing in large amounts.
12:42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins,83 worth less than a penny.
12:43 He called his disciples and said to them, “I tell you the truth,84 this poor widow has put more into the offering box85 than all the others.86
12:44 For they all gave out of their wealth.87 But she, out of her poverty, put in what she had to live on, everything she had.”88 [8]

Think about Psalm 112 for a moment. In the King James version it says:
9 He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour.[9]

What the widow gave was less than a penny, yet do you see what giving from her heart yielded?  For almost two thousand years her act has been remembered in the word of God.  Generation after generation have heard of her righteousness.  We do not know how far an act of the heart may go – but God never forgets.  It isn’t about money; it is about showing God’s love in whatever deed you do, in whatever way that the Spirit of God leads you.

Great faith comes from unselfish acts.  May we all be the giver of ourselves that the Lord wishes us to be.

May God richly bless you today my beloved.

1  Or Hallelujah! Blessed
2  Heb Yah
a  Ps 128:1
3  Or reveres
b  Ps 1:2; 119:14, 16
1  Lit seed
a  Ps 102:28; 127:4
2  Or in the land
b  Ps 128:4
a  Prov 3:16; 8:18; Matt 6:33
a  Job 11:17; Ps 97:11
b  Ps 37:26
a  Ps 37:21
1  Or conduct his affairs with justice
a  Ps 15:5; 55:22
b  Prov 10:7
1  Lit for an eternal remembrance
a  Prov 1:33
b  Ps 57:7; 108:1
c  Ps 56:4
a  Heb 13:9
b  Ps 27:1; 56:11; Prov 1:33; 3:24; Is 12:2
c  Ps 54:7; 59:10
1  Lit He has scattered, he has given to …
a  2 Cor 9:9
b  Ps 75:10; 89:17; 92:10; 148:14
a  Ps 86:17
1  Or angry
b  Ps 35:16; 37:12; Matt 8:12; 25:30; Luke 13:28
c  Ps 58:7
d  Job 8:13; Prov 10:28; 11:7
[1]  New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ps 112). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
d Deuteronomy 6:4
[2] Stern, D. H. (1998). Complete Jewish Bible: an English version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) (1st ed., Jas 2:14–20). Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications.
j Proverbs 22:8 (Septuagint)
k Psalm 112:9
[3] Stern, D. H. (1998). Complete Jewish Bible: an English version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) (1st ed., 2 Co 9:5–9). Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications.
[4] Stern, D. H. (1998). Complete Jewish Bible: an English version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) (1st ed., Ga 6:7–10). Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications.
[5] Authors note: Use of information from Jewish-themed websites should not be construed as these sites endorsing or confirming any thesis introduced by the author of this epistle. I present the information from their respective sites for instructional purposes only and/or to aid in the readers understanding of the subjects discussed.
[6] Author’s note:  Throughout this study I’ll be using the Net® Bible and  the Net® Notes: within the notes you’ll see symbols like this: ( א B Ψ 892* 2427 sys). These are abbreviations used by the NetBible© for identifying the principal manuscript evidence that they (authors and translators of the NetBible©)  used in translating the New Testament. Please go to and see their section labeled “NET Bible Principals of Translation” for a more complete explanation on these symbols and other items pertinent to the way the NET Bible uses them.
[7] Author’s Note: In these studies I have used the notes that come along with the passages I cite from the sources that I cite: these need a bit of a disclaimer though. As in all things, not everything that is footnoted is something that I necessarily agree with, especially if it contradicts what I believe pertains to any matters of the Torah or the commandments of God. I give you the notes as they are written by the authors of the material I cite from, so that you can see the information contained within them. It truly is not my place to edit or correct them; if they state anything that is in opposition to what I teach, then so be it. I will address these issues if requested, but for the sake of brevity (as if any of these posts of mine are brief ) I insert them and let them stand as they are. If I don’t agree with them, why do I include them you might ask? I don’t believe in censuring anyone’s opinions or scholarship; as I would not want mine censured, so I will not do to that to another. As Rabbi Hillel once stated, “What is hateful to you, do not do to another. That is the whole Torah. Go and learn it.” Torah leads me to respect others, even if I disagree; it leads me to present both sides of the coin, even if it could mean I’d lose part of the argument. That is not to say I should not challenge something I believe contradicts the truth of God’s word; that I will do in the main body of my epistles; that is where my gentle dissent belongs. Most (but not all) of the differences will come when I quote from the NET® Bible (but not exclusively); it has a decidedly Western/Greek mindset to it, but as a wise man once said “How do you eat chicken? Swallow the meat and spit out the bones..” I do though want to present the NET® notes because there is a wealth of information and research contained within them that I hope you find helpful.
·         [The following notes are taken from the NET Bible® footnotes, copyright (c) 1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press L.L.C. All rights reserved. Used by permission from, n.d. Numbering system is unique to NET® Notes..]
80 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
81 tc Most mss, predominantly of the Western and Byzantine texts (A D W Θ f1, 13 33 2542 𝔐 lat), have ὁ Ἰησοῦς (ho Iēsous, “Jesus”) as the explicit subject here, while א B L Δ Ψ 892 2427 pc lack the name. A natural scribal tendency is to expand the text, especially to add the Lord’s name as the explicit subject of a verb. Scribes much less frequently omitted the Lord’s name (cf. the readings of W Θ 565 1424 in Mark 12:17). The internal and external evidence support one another here in behalf of the shorter reading.
82 tn On the term γαζοφυλάκιον (gazophulakion), often translated “treasury,” see BDAG 186 s.v., which states, “For Mk 12:41, 43; Lk 21:1 the mng. contribution box or receptacle is attractive. Acc. to Mishnah, Shekalim 6, 5 there were in the temple 13 such receptacles in the form of trumpets. But even in these passages the general sense of ‘treasury’ is prob., for the contributions would go [into] the treasury via the receptacles.” Based upon the extra-biblical evidence (see sn following), however, the translation opts to refer to the actual receptacles and not the treasury itself.
sn The offering box probably refers to the receptacles in the temple forecourt by the Court of Women used to collect freewill offerings. These are mentioned by Josephus, J. W. 5.5.2 (5.200); 6.5.2 (6.282); Ant. 19.6.1 (19.294), and in 1 Macc 14:49 and 2 Macc 3:6, 24, 28, 40 (see also Luke 21:1; John 8:20).
83 sn These two small copper coins were lepta (sing. “lepton”), the smallest and least valuable coins in circulation in Palestine, worth one-half of a quadrans or 1/128 of a denarius, or about six minutes of an average daily wage. This was next to nothing in value.
84 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amēn), I say to you.”
85 tn See the note on the term “offering box” in v. 41.
86 sn Has put more into the offering box than all the others. With God, giving is weighed evaluatively, not counted. The widow was praised because she gave sincerely and at some considerable cost to herself.
87 tn Grk “out of what abounded to them.”
88 sn The contrast between this passage, 12:41–44, and what has come before in 11:27–12:40 is remarkable. The woman is set in stark contrast to the religious leaders. She was a poor widow, they were rich. She was uneducated in the law, they were well educated in the law. She was a woman, they were men. But whereas they evidenced no faith and actually stole money from God and men (cf. 11:17), she evidenced great faith and gave out of her extreme poverty everything she had.
·         End “NET®” notes
[8] Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Mk 12:41–44). Biblical Studies Press.
[9] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (1995). (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version., Ps 112:9). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.