Bible, Blessing, Choices, Gifts, Giving, Offering, Sacrifice, Scripture

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

MICAH 6:7

“Does the LORD take pleasure in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give Him my firstborn for my wrongdoings, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

How much do you give to the Lord? Now, I am not asking you to divulge the exact amount. That is between you and the Lord. But have you ever asked yourself how much is enough? Our giving has fluctuated over the years. Some years were more than others. Most years, when I tally it all up, I am surprised we gave as much as we did. God surely made up the difference.

Micah keeps throwing out the questions. Thousands of rams? Ten thousand rivers of oil? Our firstborn? What does God want from me? How much is enough? Does He want it all? When will He stop asking? Micah is building to a point here. We will see that in tomorrow’s blog. He does, however, get our minds to ask the same questions.

APPLICATION

I have friends who are capable of giving tens of thousands of dollars. Some could even give millions. I have other friends who can only give a little. Which is greater in God’s eyes? It does not depend on the amount. It depends completely on the heart of the giver (I mentioned this in yesterday’s blog).

I am reminded of the story in the New Testament when Jesus witnessed the widow give her offering at the temple. We find that in Luke 21:1-4. “1 Now He looked up and saw the wealthy putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 And He saw a poor widow putting in two lepta coins.  3 He said, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; 4 for they all contributed to the offering from their surplus; but she, from her poverty, put in all that she had to live on.’”

I challenged you yesterday on your giving. I do not need to do that again today. Today, I want to praise you for your obedience in giving. I am trusting that you will follow the Lord’s stirring. And when you give, find that peace that only He can give you as you obey Him.

Take my offerings, Lord, and multiply them to reach the masses.

You can give to my ministry at www.twr.org/carl-willis

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Bible, Blessing, Gifts, Giving, God's Will, Promises, Sacrifice

WHAT’S IN YOUR HANDS?

MICAH 6:6

“With what shall I come to the LORD and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves?”

Do you remember making little crafts for your mom or dad in Vacation Bible School or Sunday School? Oh, how proud we were of those little projects. We made sure they made it home, and we made such fanfare of presenting them to them. We held them in our hands and placed them safely into the hands of mom or dad.

Micah asks the question here as if the people are concerned what they should bring to the Lord. They knew what the Law prescribed as acceptable offerings, but was that enough? Whatever they were to bring to Him would certainly not be enough to make up for their hardness of heart. You see, it is not about the offering as much as it is about the heart of the one giving it.

This is not a blog about tithing or giving our resources to the Lord. Now, that is important. Churches and ministries could not carry on the work of the Gospel without our gifts. The purpose of this blog is to ask you to examine your own reason for giving. Why do you give? Why do you give to the ministries or people you have chosen?

APPLICATION

I am a missionary of Trans World Radio (TWR). The ministry I serve is Every Man A Warrior (EMAW), which is the Men’s Ministry of TWR. TWR, EMAW and I depend on people like you to give to us. Your gifts allow us to do what God has called us to do. But I want to ask you to make sure you give to only what the Lord directs you. And when you give, give sacrificially, knowing the Lord will bless you.

There are several ministries which I support in our giving. I know each one personally and give to them because I know their mission and values. I do not have a lot to give (I am a donor-supported missionary after all, lol), but I find a peace in giving what the Lord tells me to give. Sometimes, He stretches me with that. Every time I am blessed by being obedient. Will you do that today?

Thank You, Father, for inviting me to give to You. I want my gifts and offerings to bless Your name.

You can give to my ministry at www.twr.org/carl-willis

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Encouragement, Following, Giving, Offering, Scripture, Testimony

THE OFFERING PLATE

AMOS 5:25

“Did you present Me with sacrifices and grain offerings in the wilderness for forty years, house of Israel?”

I realized when I titled this blog today that the offering plate has been seldom used during these days of covid. My church has replaced it with an increased online giving option, as well as a box on the wall in which to drop your offering. All of this is meant, of course, to reduce infections. However, that offering plate going down the aisle each week is a reminder of our responsibility to give.

That wasn’t the problem with the Israelites, or so it seemed. They offered sacrifices and offerings during the years in the wilderness and continued that practice after arriving in the Promised Land. We have hundreds of verses in the Old Testament which describes that. It wasn’t the offering itself. It was the manner in which it was offered that caused God to reject it.

APPLICATION

This has been a theme of Amos’ for several verses in chapter 5. But it bears repeating each time he brings it up in a verse. That’s why I love this verse-by-verse dissection of the text. You get to see those repeated topics and themes so clearly. God does not want your offerings given out of habit or guilt. He wants your heart.

My brother-in-law used to preach the Christ life so clearly. He seldom preached on giving because he believed that if someone was walking with Christ daily, they would want to give, not just to the church but to other efforts as well. I found that to be true in my own life.

So, I am going to ask you a question I have asked you before (if you are a follower of my blog). Why do you give? What is your heart motive? I pray it is simply out of love for our Savior. His sacrifice motivates you to give. Examine your heart today. The next time you write that check or give online to the church or to another mission, pray for God to take your offering and multiply it for His glory.

Lord, I give because I love You. Please take my offerings and use them to further Your kingdom around the world.

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WHEN OFFERINGS CEASE

JOEL 1:9

“The grain offering and the drink offering have been cut off from the house of the LORD. The priests mourn, the ministers of the LORD.”

One side effect of the covid crisis that has pillaged our economy is the reduction in giving in many churches. When covid shut down churches in 2020, churches that were surviving week to week just couldn’t hang on financially. A lot of churches closed their doors due to empty pews and empty coffers.

The same thing happened in the days of Joel. When the locusts came and destroyed their agricultural economy, the offerings that were normally brought to the Lord’s house ceased. And when they ceased, the priests went hungry since they depended on these. When offerings cease, many suffer.

APPLICATION

Are you suffering loss today? Have you stopped giving to the Lord because of it? It’s understandable. God doesn’t expect you to give out of nothing. But He will provide. We have to believe that. Have you ever been down to your last bit of food only to have someone stop by with a bag of groceries? That’s God.

God does not desire for His children to suffer. He doesn’t want us to starve. He longs to meet our needs. Just let Him know what that is. He wants us to cry out to Him. You may just be amazed at how He provides. Then you can give Him the glory for His provision in your life.

I never cease to be amazed at how He provides for my family. There have been times when we did not see a way out of a dilemma, but He always came through. Just recently, when I thought we were facing some major car repairs, it turned out to only be a bad battery. You may not see that as a God thing, but I sure do. He wants to do the same for you.

Father, You are so good to me. Even in times of suffering, You provide.

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Accountability, Bible, Blessing, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gifts, Giving, God's Will, Goodness, Obedience

INDIAN GIVER

HOSEA 13:11

I gave you a king in My anger, and took him away in My wrath.”

Do you remember as a child what we called someone who gave you something and then took it back? We called them an “Indian giver.” That phrase was really offensive to someone (not to mention how offensive it is to Native Americans). To give someone a gift and then demand it back is not very nice.

God had given Israel a king. He gave them Saul after they demanded one. He wasn’t happy about that. Hosea even says He did it in anger. Then after their repeated disobedience, His wrath fell. He sent them into exile. He removed their king, never to return again.

APPLICATION

Let me clarify something. God is NOT an Indian giver. That is not His style. That’s not what He did to Israel. God wants to give good gifts to you. In fact, He is just waiting to bless you. You can’t even begin to imagine how much He wants to bless you. He always has your best in mind. Every gift He gives you is custom made just for you.

So, why aren’t you asking for His blessings? I don’t mean you can just name it and claim or blab it and grab it. No! The problem most of us have with asking for God’s blessings is we aren’t living worthy of those blessings. We pretend to live for Him or we are outright living in sin. How can we expect Him to bless us?

I want His blessings. Therefore, I choose to live in such a way that He is able to bless me. What does that mean? It means I live for Jesus each day by surrendering my will to His. Just like our earthly fathers love to bless their obedient children, God desires the same. I don’t obey in order to be blessed. I obey because I love Him. And when I do, He give His good gifts.

Thank You, Lord, for Your good gifts. Help me live in such a way that Your blessings flow.

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REMEMBER

HOSEA 12:9

“But I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again, as in the days of the appointed festival.”

Oh, how quick we forget the Lord’s blessings. I have been guilty of that. In the past, I have prayed about a certain thing and received a blessing from the Lord. At the time, I was so full of praise and thankfulness, but as time passed, I forgot about that blessing. I began to take it for granted

Hosea is reminding Israel of their feast of tabernacles, the festival which commemorated their dwelling in tents during their wilderness years. They were reminded of God’s abundant provisions during all those years (water, manna, quail). As the decades had passed, the people had forgotten His blessings.

APPLICATION

Take out a sheet of paper and start listing all the blessings you have received from the Lord this past week. Think about the little things, not just the biggies. Hey, you woke up each day, right? You had food to eat. You had clothes to wear. Just start listing them.

Now think back further. Think about all the blessings He has bestowed on you since your salvation. When you start doing this, it is pretty amazing. How soon we forget. Maybe you could start writing down these blessings as they happen. At the end of each year you could sit down with your family and read through the list and praise Him.

I have known people who kept a blessing box. They would write down on a slip of paper each time they received some kind of blessing. They would put that slip of paper in a shoe box or something and then pull them all out and read them at the end of the year. If you have kids, get them involved in this. I bet when you reflect back, you will be amazed at just how blessed you are.

Father, You bless me in so many ways. I am sorry I am so ungrateful and forgetful. Forgive me.

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UNWELCOMED GIFTS

HOSEA 9:14

“Give to them, LORD—what will You give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dried-up breasts.”

Have you ever gotten a gift that you really didn’t like? Come on, now. We all have. It may have been a pair of socks from a relative at Christmas. It could be that really, gawdy tie you got at your office party. Whatever it may have been, you didn’t like it and didn’t want it. But now you have it. What do you do with that?

Israel got a gift in today’s verse that wasn’t welcomed. I won’t go into great detail. I don’t have to. God was going to cause them to be barren and not be able to have children. This was not a gift they wanted, but they couldn’t return it. In fact, they had earned this gift due to their rejection of God.

APPLICATION

If you could ask for any gift you wanted from the Lord, what would you ask for? Now, before you answer that, think long and hard about it. If you are a believer, you have already received the greatest gift – Jesus Christ. What else could you possibly want? He fulfills every desire you have. Am I right?

What is the worst the thing you could receive from the Lord? Suffering? Hardships? Trials? If you received those, would you want to return them? Once again, before you answer that, think about it. God only gives us what we need. If He allows all those
gifts to come into your life, He has a purpose. That purpose is to make you more like Him. Now that’s a gift.

They say it’s not about the gift. It’s more about the giving. Do you think that is true? God always has the perfect motive for His gifts. We can’t look at anything He gives us as bad. If we are walking with Him and trying to live a life that pleases Him, whatever gift we receive should be embraced.

Thank You, Lord, for the gifts You send my way. I may not always see them as a blessing, so open my eyes to Your intentions for my life.

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THE EARTH SINGS

HOSEA 2:22

“And the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine, and to the oil, and they will respond to Jezreel.”

I grew up in farm country in South Georgia. When I say “farm country” I mean that. My small hometown economy revolved around the farms that surrounded us. I loved seeing all those crops in the fields. It seemed to inspire life. Fields of corn, tomatoes, watermelons and etc. It did appear that the earth was singing.

Hosea 2:22 gives a similar picture. Grain, new wine and oil were about life during the time of Hosea. Everyone depended on the health of the harvest. When it was good, everyone celebrated. It was a festive time. When it was not, worry set in. They didn’t have the elaborate food economy we have today. It was literally hand to mouth.

APPLICATION

So, how does this apply to us today? We need to celebrate the life that the Lord has given us. Each day with Him brings new hope. We can face anything if we know He is with us. We do want the grain, new wine and oil, just like the Israelites. We may not call it that, but we live to celebrate new life.

What do you do, then, when things aren’t going so well? Do you pout and complain? Be honest – you probably do. But we shouldn’t. Even in the lean times, God is still on His throne. He is still with us. We can rest assured that He has not forgotten us and will once again bring in the harvest times.

What are you celebrating today? You can celebrate the fact that Jesus died for your sins. He hung on that cross to bear the sins of the whole world. He rose from that grave and ascended to His heavenly Father. He sits on His right hand interceding for you right now. Now, that’s worth celebrating.

Father, I praise You for giving me life. I praise You for promising life even on the darkest of days.

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YOU’VE DONE GOOD

3 JOHN 5

“Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers;”

I have been an employee and an employer a long time. As an employee I love being told I am doing a good job. It’s nice to know others appreciate the work you do. As an employer and supervisor, I also know the importance of telling your employees they are appreciated. You can just see their faces beam when you tell them “Well done.”

John is telling Gaius the same thing. He is so proud of how Gaius is serving the brethren and not just those he knows well. He is even faithful serving strangers. The word “accomplish” here actually means “to work for.” Gaius was actively serving the brethren. He wasn’t just sending others. He was doing it himself.

APPLICATION

Have you helped your children serve others? There are all kinds of ways to show them how to directly serve someone. It’s one thing to put a few dollars in the offering plate on Sundays or to give toward a mission cause. But to put their hands into directly serving someone can cause a lifetime change.

How about taking them down to serve at the homeless shelter serving a meal? You can get them to go down the street and rake leaves for an elderly neighbor. The point is getting their hands dirty, experiencing a hands-on service project. And make sure they see the response of those they are helping. And when you get home, talk about how they felt doing this. Tell them how proud you are of them. Then read them this verse.

When is the last time you got your hands dirty? Don’t you want others to say “well done” to you? We all want that, but don’t do it for that. Do it to please the Lord. Let Him be the one to tell you “well done.” And as you are serving others, pray for the opportunity to share Jesus with them. You may be serving another believer who just needs encouraging. You may be serving someone who needs Jesus as their Savior. Just be obedient, like Gaius.

Help me Lord serve others You place in my path. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty for You.

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A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS GIFT

2 JOHN 3

“Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”

Don’t you love getting exactly what you wanted for Christmas? I  can remember going through the Sears Roebuck Christmas catalog when I was little and circling all the things I wanted for Christmas. Of course, I didn’t get all those things, but my parents always managed to get me at least one of those things on my list. I can still remember some of those toys. Where they are now, no one knows. Lol

It just seems fitting that on this day, Christmas Eve, as we prepare for Christmas that we land on this verse in 2 John. I mean what else could you hope for? Grace, mercy and peace are given to us from the Father and the Son. And they give it in truth and love. I can just see the package all wrapped with their names on it as the senders. Merry Christmas from God.

APPLICATION

How long is your child’s Christmas list? Some kid’s list seems to be a mile long. Others ask for just one thing. You may be able to get them everything they want, or you may struggle to by just one. Don’t let the present buying get you down or break you. Remember that Christmas is not about buying stuff and giving presents. Your kids need to understand that.

What would happen if you told your children all they were getting for Christmas is grace, mercy and peace? I bet they would be confused and probably throw a fit. Am I right? But if their sole focus is on getting presents, you need to refocus them on what really matters. There is nothing more precious than those three gifts.

Would you be happy with those gifts from the Father and Son? Well, their yours. You just have to claim them. Those three things will give you all you need to walk with Christ in victory. In every situation you face you can apply those three things. Is that true for other gifts you might receive? Hardly. Enjoy your gifts.

Father, I am so thankful for the grace, mercy and peace You have given me. The only gift I can give You is my life. It’s Yours.

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