Monday, August 8, 2011

Give It Your All!

Acts 20:35
"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

A week ago this past Sunday, my pastors concluded their five-part sermon series based on the book, The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, by Robert Schnase, with the topic: "Extravagant Generosity". Pastor Emily began with a touching story of her recent mission trip to Nicaragua. The abject poverty she described seeing there made the least of my possessions seem like treasures of unsurpassed worth. Yet, the adults and children she served while she was there were brimming with joy and understood the meaning of extravagant generosity. On their first day of teaching vacation Bible school, Emily and her co-workers were surprised and overwhelmed by an unexpected gift. The adults had Jerry-rigged a small wagon from whatever materials they could scrounge and each child had brought a fruit from the trees growing in their yards as an offering of thanks. The cart was overflowing and so were the emotions of those who received this unanticipated and heartfelt gift.

Pastor Wallace explained to us that extravagant generosity is based in faith, in trusting the Lord to take any monies or gifts we have, however meager, and multiply them; if kept to ourselves, they will only wither and die. He recounted a story told by Dr. Tony Campolo who was to be a guest preacher at a church when he was approached by a trustee and asked would he pray that God would give them $6,500 for an important project they wished to launch. Rather than asking God, Dr. Campolo pulled out his wallet and declared that yes, he would pray, but only if everyone in the room took out their wallets and empty them of all the money they contained. No one held back. When the money was counted, it far exceeded their goal!

Whether we give out of our poverty or out of our riches, when we ALL give together, we create extravagant generosity. I truly believe that if every church in this nation were to give to the goal of helping the needy in their neighborhoods and communities, there wouldn't be one family on welfare, no house foreclosed on, no children going to bed hungry, and no medical bills unpaid. The early Christians, through their mutual love and sharing, modeled for us the ultimate in generosity. Theirs was, indeed, blessed with extravagance.

Let us remember today the words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Psalms 89:1-18 or 89:19-52
2 Samuel 13:23-39
Acts 20:17-38
Mark 9:42-50


  1. Hi Martha:
    As promised this morning, I'm here. Your blog is definitely up my alley. Like that you wrote today about generosity. As I too believe the more we give, give from love and never expect anything in return the more we will get back.

    You're right! If everyone gave a little bit of themselves each day, and not just monetarily, but gave of their time as well we'd all be in a much better place.

    It's unfortunate that some of us haven't seen that the more we give the more we have. Here's hoping that will change before long.

  2. And, you are a man of your word! :) Yes, I agree, it's not just monetary giving, but giving in every way we know how. I didn't include this in the devotion as it would have made it too long, but for two weeks, our church was challenged to fill a five-by-five-by-five foot box with school supplies for an elementary school right around the corner. With everyone sharing in this giving, the box is now full to overflowing! It is in the shared giving, I believe, that we truly appreciate the depth and breadth of generosity.
    Thanks so much for your comments - they are so appreciated!

  3. Powerful message! Amen and amen to this: “ If every church in this nation were to give to the goal of helping the needy in their neighborhoods and communities, there wouldn't be one family on welfare, no house foreclosed on, no children going to bed hungry, and no medical bills unpaid.
    The church has missed its call by NOT following the early churches’ example. Where did we go wrong? Tony Campolo is a man with vision and heart. Just like those Nicaraguans!

  4. Debra, the government stepped in and took over where the church should never have lost ground; now look at the mess we're in! While I desire to keep politics out of my blogs and commentaries, it's so obvious today that it hurts beyond measure. Somehow, some way, we need to return to our roots. Anyone up for a barn-raising? :)

    Thanks for taking the time to leave your comments, wonderful as always, here!

  5. So often I find this to be true... those who have little give much and those who have much...hoard it and look for ways to gather more.

  6. Lynne, it can become an addiction for those financially blessed who feel that hanging onto that bottom dollar is all that matters. Jesus warned all of us against that mind-set. The rich, young ruler in whom Jesus saw great promise as He invited him to follow His ministry went away sorrowful and empty-handed, not, I believe, because he was wealthy, but because his wealth interfered with the freedom of will and choice in life to bless others through his riches; he did not know how to be generous.

    Oh, Lord, let me give as you give, see as you see, love as you love. Let every action in my heart be one of generosity. In Jesus name - Amen!

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