September 25, 2015

“Give, and it will be given unto you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

 

When I was a couple of years out of high school I worked as a bank teller. I started in the drive thru and worked my way up to head teller in a very busy and visible branch. One of the things they trained us to be ready for was a short change artist. This is someone who would come in and cash a check, or ask for change for a large bill, and then keep asking for different configurations of bills. The goal of this was to confuse the teller and get them to give too much money without realizing it. There are a lot of short change artists in life.

 

It happens in life when someone tries to work the system at work, getting ahead before they have truly earned it. It can happen in many walks of life. People are always looking for the easy way, the get rich quick type of shortcut. The problem is there is no shortcut in life. Nothing replaces hard work and hustle. Ultimately, people end up receiving whatever they give.

 

This is a principle found in the Bible. We have talked about it in the "Multiply" series. If you won’t give to God, you are going to lose it anyway. We give to God first so God will bless our gift. What God blesses and we give away will be multiplied. This principle begins first with our willingness to give to God the measure which God has given to us. We cannot hold back from God. We cannot hold back our heart, our time, our prayers, our talents, or our resources. God seeks all of us, everything we have, and to be surrendered to God’s will. Only when this happens will we truly receive all that God has in store for us.

 

It’s a little like what I experienced in banking. If you didn’t deposit a little bit of your paycheck in a savings, money market, or CD account you didn’t earn any interest income. If you kept it all, it was all you had. God asks for us to give back to God so that God will multiply our gifts. When we give with pure motivations, trusting God, we cannot out-give God! God will bless us abundantly and exceedingly beyond our wildest imagination. I do not mean financially. I mean in relationship with Christ and in eternity with God.

 

I look forward to sharing with you about this age old wisdom this Sunday. It is my prayer that we will all be generous givers, asking God to bless and multiply what we give. May God be glorified in all our life as we give our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness to the One who gives us everything.

 

September 18, 2015

I have this memory of learning about adding fractions together. My mom was trying to help me understand the principles of fractions and adding them together. To aid in this endeavor she used the example of an apple. She cut the apple in half and asked me what half of an apple plus another half of an apple would equal. My answer wasn’t one, it was two. There were still two pieces of apple. I’ve always seen things differently than others tend to. Eventually I understood that the answer that they were looking for was one whole apple; that half of something plus another half is one whole. While there were two pieces in front of me, together they made one complete item.

 

But what do we do when the answer isn’t what we expected? What do we do when one and one is not two? One cup of vinegar plus one cup of baking soda doesn’t equal two cups of mixed liquid – some becomes gas in a chemical reaction. We are so used to things adding up and abiding by the laws of mathematics, or physics, or whatever the governing laws at work might be that we do not even think about the possibility of there being another possible answer.

 

That was what happened with the disciples and Jesus at the feeding of the 5,000. The disciples didn’t expect a miracle. They wanted Jesus to send the folks away. But in God’s kingdom, one plus one doesn’t always equal two, and five loaves of bread and two fish doesn’t equal a meal for one, it equals the ability to feed a crowd – a crowd of 5,000 men!

 

God can do more with our simple gifts that we bring than we can ever do with them. God is not limited by our doubt. God is not limited by our reasoning. The only thing that can limit God is God. The question is are we willing to trust God enough with our offerings, our loaves and fishes, that it can be multiplied by God’s math? Are we willing to give away what we have in order to see it be used and multiplied in the kingdom of God?

 

 

September 9, 2015

“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything your land produces.” Proverbs 3:9 (NLT)

 

When guests come over things change. Recently I was serving as the house grillmaster for our family and guests. As I was grilling the food there was one piece of food that looked particularly appealing to me. It just happened to be the best piece of meat on the grill. As I was tending to all of the food on the grill I kept going back to that piece and watching it more closely. It looked so good, way better than the other pieces. Then the thought hit me…that one is for your guest! I didn’t want that to be true, but I knew it was. My guest deserved the best.

 

This thought is true of our life in Christ as well. The Lord deserves our best and finest. We are to honor God with the “best part of everything” that our life produces. The times in which Proverbs was written were agricultural. The context was that of crops, flocks, and herds. In our context we are more product and services driven. Our context is that of shops, stocks, and the web. In our modern-day context we need to rethink what the “best part of everything is.” It certainly still means our wealth – no matter how unwealthy we think we are. The things we produce are more intangible now than in Solomon’s time, but they are still real. Our everything is very different now, but it is still to be offered to the Lord.

 

So in our reality we are to offer the best part of our everything – our time, our energy, our thoughts, our family, our finances, our faith – to the Lord. We are to think of God first when we are calendaring our week, planning our family time, and managing our finances. We are to give God the best part of everything. It takes intentional effort, energy, and focus to accomplish this goal. It is what we are asked to do.

 

The amazing thing about this notion of offering the best part of everything is it is God’s idea. God did this first. God gave to all of creation the best part of everything God created. Think about it. Trees are perfect in form and function. Birds soaring on the breeze of a crisp blue sky are amazingly right. The sun warming your face while the ocean breeze flows through your hair feels spot on. God gives us the best part of everything God has to offer us. In the perfect example God, the Father, gave us Jesus, the Son. Jesus is the best part of everything God had to offer us.

 

So when it comes to living our life for God…give God the best part of everything. Do so because God did that for you. Give in this way because of the great sense of gratitude and joy you experience through God’s generosity toward you. Give the very best part of your everything and God promises to give you the very best part of everything.

 

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Pastor Tim Machtel