Month: April 2019

Is He Inviting You to Take Part?

Matthew 14:14-21
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Written by: Jimmy Leaf

Has God ever asked you to give more than what you felt comfortable with? It could be more time, more money, more compassion, or more forgiveness. God is constantly challenging me in this area and since He asks me to love Him with all my heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37), He will probably always be stretching me to give more than I feel like giving.

Throughout my years of following Jesus, I’ve found that whenever I step out of my comfort zone and trust Him with any area of my life, He proves Himself trustworthy and honors my obedience.

When Jesus fed 5,000-plus people, He started with five loaves of bread and two fish from a little boy’s lunch. I can’t help but think about what was going through the boy’s mind when he handed over his lunch to Jesus. He was probably feeling hungry. He may have been worried about whether there would be anything left for himself. I also wonder if the disciples felt silly bringing so little to Jesus to feed so many.

But Jesus took that small act of obedience and blessed it. He took a small offering (which was everything to one little boy) and multiplied it to provide for everyone. And not only did He provide, but the passage says the people were “satisfied.”

Jesus could have found any way to feed all of those people. But by using the fish and the bread, Jesus gave the disciples and the boy the opportunity to be a part of what He was doing. I want to be a part of what He’s doing today!

By taking steps of obedience like giving and serving, I get to be a part of Jesus’ story today.

19-Devo-4.9Thought of the day:  Jesus is able to take what we give Him and do more than we could ever imagine. What blessing is He inviting you to take part? In what areas is God asking you to step out of your comfort zone and trust Him?

Prayer: God, thank You for being trustworthy to meet my needs. Please show me how You want to use me to be a part of what You are doing today. Give me courage to be obedient to Your promptings. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

The Smallest Can Be the Greatest

Mark 12:41-44
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, 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.”

Written by: Larry Van Laar

If you’ve been around church for very long you have likely heard these verses preached many times and there has always been a giving/tithing message associated with them. And for good reason. This scripture gives us such a great picture of the heart of God when it comes to generosity.

I always think in terms of stories, so this is how I interpret these verses.

Jesus and His buddies are looking for a place to eat their lunch and find a grassy area across from the temple. Understand that the temple was one of the greatest architectural and engineering marvels of the known world at the time and the sheer opulence of gold, marble, and bronze—plus the craftsmanship—would have been overwhelming. Jesus and His buddies are eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in its shadow.

As Jesus looks over at all the well-off pouring into the offering from their wealth, He pauses time and says to His buddies, “hey, Peter, John, come over here and look at this.” As they come closer to Jesus, this widow comes into their view. She is dressed like a vagrant and definitely stands out in this crowd. She reaches out and drops all that she has into the offering—two pennies. Nobody else saw what just happened. But Jesus did. He took the time to point out the generosity of a single human. He was so moved that it became part of that day’s teaching. Now, two thousand years later we are all still trying to live up to a widow who had nothing but gave everything.

19-Devo-4.8Thought of the day: Generosity was not invented by our culture or by man. Generosity was birthed in the heart of God. It is a part of who He is, and He has written on our hearts as well. In today’s culture we are taught to spend all we have. If you want to be more like Jesus, I challenge you to start being generous. This doesn’t apply only to giving to churches and non-profit organizations—instead, adopt it as a lifestyle. Give great tips, lone things out, and give your time and talents. Start small and work your way up.

Jesus is not calling us to be irresponsible and give everything we own away. We are called to be good stewards, but we must create margin in order to serve others. How can you start today?

Prayer: Lord, show me daily where I can be generous. Help me gain income so I can give it away. And help me be more accountable for what You have blessed me with and what I currently manage.

The Generous Will Prosper

Proverbs 11:24-25
One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Written by: Ian Rock

From a young age, we’ve heard “it’s better to give than receive.” For some of us, we first heard that after serving somebody for the first time and realizing how great it made us feel. Some of us might have learned that passively as a child, as our Christmas list was growing longer than our family’s resources. It’s a concept we’re all familiar with, and one that many of us have seen play out in our own lives.

Though it’s a virtue that’s taught by parents and grandparents to their kids, it’s actually a Biblical principle. Acts 20:35 tells us that the phrase comes from Jesus himself. Jesus, even though He was fully God, came to Earth and lived a life that was defined by the way He served and cared for those around him. He was a selfless leader, prioritizing the needs of those around Him over His own. This all culminated with His death on the cross when He served all of humanity in the most powerful way in history.

In our lives, many of us have experienced that feeling we get when we meet the needs of somebody else. Whether with time, or financial- or skill-based resources, there is a satisfaction and fullness that comes from refreshing others. The reason we feel that fullness is that we’re never more like Jesus than when we give and serve. You’re never more in step with God’s purpose for your life than when you make it about others.

This passage in Proverbs reminds us that, when we make our lives about serving those around us, God is faithful to meet our needs. Remember, everything we own is on loan. The gifts, talents, and treasures God has given us won’t follow us after our number is called. If we hoard it all for the sake of comfort and satisfaction, what have we gained if it’s not actually ours in the first place? When we refresh others by meeting their needs, we’ll be refreshed in return.

19-Devo-4.5Thought of the day: Have you ever had a time that you’ve been refreshed by serving somebody else? What stands out to you about that memory? What are some small ways you can serve somebody you work with or see regularly?

Prayer: Jesus, help me to find purpose and satisfaction in the way I meet the needs of those around me. Thank You for modeling what it looks like to live a selfless life centered around others. Give me wisdom on who I can serve today with the gifts You’ve loaned me.

A Matter of Heart

Mark 12: 43-44 Calling the disciples to Him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, 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.”

Written by: Shannon Swenson

Why do people get so weirded out when we talk about money in church? Perhaps it is because we think the one place we have control in our life is how we do or do not spend “our” money. Maybe the truth is the money has control over us and we have been mismanaging it or have our priorities backwards.

I remember times before I knew Jesus, and even when I was a young Christian and a single mom, I did all I could do just to keep a roof over our heads. It was really difficult for me to want to give even $5 back to God because I might need it for groceries, utilities, gas, or something else. It was a huge faith step for me to trust God with what felt like all I had.

Jesus reminds us it really isn’t about the amount. It’s purely a matter of the heart. He commands us in giving in faith. He sees beyond what man can see and doesn’t overlook what man overlooks. It isn’t about the size of our gift. It is about the size of our faith.

The widow gave sacrificially, and what she gave was literally pennies. She gave when it hurt. It is when we can least “afford” to give that God values our gift the most. That doesn’t take away from those who are financially able to give more because they have more. He honors that, too. It is all about the heart.

The truth is it takes more faith to live on $9 a day than $900 a day. And so, it is not so much about what we give, but what we keep. In the widow’s case, she kept zero and trusted that God would supply her every need according to His riches. (Philippians 4:19)

Trusting God with my finances is not about logic, reason, or rationality. It is about faith. Maybe you can relate to not feeling like you are in a position to give or tithe. Maybe you feel like what you have is so little to offer a God who deserves our best gifts. What matters most is your desire to be obedient, not the size of the gift.

Have you ever seen the excitement in a child when they save their pennies to bring to put in the offering or to put toward their goal at summer camp? That is the same kind of excitement and joy God feels when we trust Him with as little or as much as He has given us. If He has our heart, then we can trust He will provide and also multiply our gifts to help others meet, know, and follow Him. After all, He did feed thousands with two fish and five loaves of bread.

19-Devo-4.4 (1)Prayer: Father God, I humbly ask for Your forgiveness for being stingy or withholding that which You have provided me. Help me today to step out in faith, change my heart, and help me to trust You in all areas of my life. May You be glorified and praised for Your provision and ability to multiply. In Jesus’ name, amen.