Thanksgiving Tuesday

Luke 6: 38

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.

Today is giving Tuesday. It has been harder for generous people to give this year. Some of the places where you volunteered time were shut down for months. Some programs are still struggling for volunteers. Many, many charitable organizations have suffered tremendously. While some people have been able to buy a takeout meal at a local restaurant to help sustain the restaurant during these troubled times, non-profit organizations have not had the same opportunities. Churches and ministries have been among those most hurt by the coronavirus. We have all been, truly, living on faith.

At the same time, many ministries and churches are experiencing higher than normal costs. Money has, needfully, been invested into websites and online platforms. The cost of sending out God’s Word has escalated while revenues have plummeted. On this day, a day dedicated to giving, the balance sheet can be impacted for great good.

This year I am explicitly asking you to give to ministries. Giving Tuesday is about giving to organizations doing all kinds of good works. They are all worthy. How can one say that St. Jude, or the MS Society or any of the other great organizations are not doing great work? They are! But, where is the church in our giving plan? This Giving Tuesday I want to make it about what Christians can do for all the ministries that have been working so very hard this year to keep believers built up and encouraged. Ministers have suffered in their own spirits crying out to God for the words which would help believers during this challenging time. It is the closest most of us will ever come to sweating blood.

I want you to know that your pastors and ministers have toiled on your behalf and prayed their throats almost raw. It has been a tough year to be a minister, but I cannot think of a year when the job has been more important. So, this year I am asking you to bless the ministers and pastors in your life and the organizations through which they serve. It is a day to show appreciation and to encourage those who have tried so valiantly to encourage you over the last many months. Let your heart of compassion well up within you to show your appreciation and love. And may your gifts be multiplied back to you a hundredfold.

My Heroes

Luke 6: 38         KJV

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

I don’t use the King James version very often because I don’t speak Elizabethan English. Occasionally, though, there are verses that I just hear in the old KJV and you may as well. This is one of those verses. We understand, at least at one level, what this verse means. Taking a look at it in a modern version, though, is like hearing it in “plain English.” Here is the Passion Translation’s take on this verse, “Give generously and generous gifts will be given back to you, shaken down to make room for more. Abundant gifts will pour out upon you with such an overflowing measure that it will run over the top! Your measurement of generosity becomes the measurement of your return.” I like what the God’s Word version says too, “Give, and you will receive.” I mean, just say it plainly, right? Now, just in case we hadn’t noticed, this is Jesus speaking. What, then, is his point? Is he trying to get us to give, or to receive? It seems to me that he is teaching us how to receive. What do you think? I can imagine a question like, “Jesus how do I receive what I need and want?” Here is his answer, give!

I have some absolutely lovely friends whom I met through the MS bike ride. Recently when I inquired about bike racks, they made me one. WHAT?!! Crazy, right? They are so generous! They do a lot for their team, but they also do a lot for others. They are just crazy givers. I said to a friend, “How can they even afford to do all they do?” She answered, “Because they are givers.” Duh Ivey! Yeah, God pours into their lap because they give generously. That’s what Jesus said would happen, after all. Oh, me of little faith. Why didn’t I see that right off the bat?

We read these words, even believe them, at least in our minds, but they are only effective when they sink in and become a part of us. You can’t talk people into being givers, they have to get there on their own. You can encourage them, but the key is that if we really believed Jesus, we would all generously give. Jesus’ words can infect your heart and boy, when they do, it is awesome. I mean, you just want to be around people like that.

I want us all to learn to be generous in our giving. I should lead by example but then come with me. I want you to give so you receive, and then I want you to give again and receive again, and . . .. I want us all to be like these folks because not only do I have a beautiful bike rack for my team, but even better was the feeling they gave me in my spirit. How can I repay them for that? I cannot, but I pray to my dear Lord that he will bless them for their kindness, and I am confident that he will.

The Golden Rule

Matthew 7: 12

Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

I have a couple of observations about this verse today. First, I don’t hear this proverb bantered about these days like I used to. Is it still in vogue? I think Jesus would say it is still applicable.

Another observation, Jesus said that this one principle satisfies the entire law as well as all the instruction from the prophets. In other words, today’s verse, when we live it, fulfills everything that was written in the Old Testament, all the Mosaic law and all the books of the Prophets. That’s big. Follow this one maxim and you have fulfilled the law. That is amazing. It also shows the Father’s heart. If it fulfills the law then the core of His message.

The most interesting part of this verse, though, is that it begins with the word, therefore. “Therefore,” announces the conclusion of what has gone before. In this case, before this verse Jesus was talking about prayer. From verse seven through eleven, Jesus is giving encouragement to pray saying, everyone who asks receives, etc. So, what does today’s verse have to do with prayer and receiving answers to prayer? In verses one – six Jesus was preaching about judgment telling us that we should not judge others. So, this chapter looks like this: don’t judge; ask, seek and knock, treat others as you would like to be treated. There is his message. If you want to be happy follow Jesus’ outline. Treat others well, don’t judge and expect the goodness of God to manifest in your life.

Ask God for what you want. Expect Him to give it to you but don’t fail to recognize that the asking, seeking and knocking is sandwiched between non-judgment and kindness towards others. Give and it shall be given to you (Luke 6: 38). Be kind and you shall reap the kindness of God.

Give a Little

Luke 6: 38

Give, and it will be given to you.

Sometimes I believe everything important can be learned from children’s shows. In fact, I am not sure why we don’t express the same life values in adult programming. I found this verse in Santa Claus is Coming to Town. It is the story of the Christmas Spirit, the story of giving.

Santa, Kris Kringle, is confronted by many ornery characters in the story. As he traverses the mountain between Kringle Village and Somber Town, where he intends to deliver toys, he is accosted by a mean wizard known as Winter Warlock. Santa, however, knows how to unlock even the coldest heart, with a gift. The simple act of giving a toy to the evil wizard melts his frozen heart. Winter then becomes good and a lifelong friend and companion of the Kringles.

In town, Santa explains to the children that whatever you wish to get, you must first give. If you want a little love, give a little love. He sings, “Whenever you take, give a little back.” Oh that we actually taught our children this important lesson. Even better, that we should not only be reminded of it ourselves but also embrace the philosophy. The Living Bible rendition of today’s verse is, “For if you give, you will get!” Pretty simple, huh?

Santa wins over Jessica with a gift and later she becomes Mrs. Santa Claus. He built a culture of giving but in his version, people give back. We live in a culture where people take and take. There seems to be little charity among us. We walk by the Salvation Army kettles like they are an annoyance to us rather than allowing ourselves to be motivated to support a group who is doing the work of helping others. This is not our essential nature though. It is not who we are. We are kind and generous in our union with Christ. We just allow the culture and our schedules to poison our attitudes.

So, here is my Christmas wish for you. Go get the collection of old-time Christmas animated classics. Get a big bowl of popcorn and watch them with your loved ones. Listen and watch for the message of Christ and let it melt you. Allow your love and generosity to bob to the surface. Let your tenderness show and let it have its say. I wish for you to receive greatly but I know that you must give if you want to get. Let Jesus fill your heart and bless you abundantly. That is my wish for you, immeasurable abundance of Christ in you and with you. Merry Christmas!

The Result

Isaiah 58: 8

Then your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will speedily spring forth; and your righteousness will go before you; the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

Do you want to know what precedes the above? What comes before your light breaking out like the dawn? It is verses 6 and 7 which were from yesterday, doing for others. God does not ask you to do things for others for their sake only. He is trying to get something to you. God knows the law of sowing and reaping. He knows it is the principle by which he created the earth. He also knows if he can get us to sow a little seed, he can make it grow into a glorious dawn. Think of what the light of dawn is like. Have you seen a dawn recently? It is glorious. Moreover, it cannot be held back. It lights the earth as far as you can see and beyond. That is how God wants your light to be. Your righteousness, which you have in Christ Jesus, will go before you and God is going to bring up the rear. How glorious is that really? In the middle is everything you need and more than you can think or ask. God wants to sandwich you in His goodness and he is showing you how to enable Him to do just that. Give and it shall be given unto you (Luke 6: 38).

Good Measure

Luke 6: 38

Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap.
For years I didn’t really understand what this scripture was trying to get over to us. I understand give and it will be given to you. That is a clear direction from God concerning being generous in our giving to others. What is all of that other language for though? We do not have represented here a simple one to one ratio vis-a- vis giving and receiving. Rather, God is telling us that when we give, he gives back a vastly multiplied amount. It was one day when I was filling a container with a dry ingredient that this verse’s meaning became evident to me. As I poured my dry product into the container it began to fill while I still had more to fit into the container. So, I started tapping the container on the counter causing the substance to pack more compactly. Doing this allowed me to put much more substance into the container. Then I realized that is what “pressed down” and “shaken together” is all about. Maybe you could also press the dry material down with some sort of tamping tool so that you can fit more into the vessel. 

You see, God does not just give back to you in equal measure. He gives back an ample supply. He presses down and shakes down the substance so that he can get more into the container. And even then, he still runs the container over from his generous giving. He causes all things to come to you in abundance so that you cannot even contain it all. Well, good! Then you can take the overflow and give it away. But have plenty of pots and canisters available when you do because he is going to give back to you again, good measure!

Fulfilled

2 Corinthians 9: 8         Amplified Bible

And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity.

In Luke 6: 38 we see Jesus importuning us to give. We have briefly pondered the question of why Jesus wants us to give.  I gave you a Biblical Principle that you can hang your hat on. Specifically, everything Jesus tells us to do is for our own good (see devotion from Wednesday, January 27, 2016). If you will always begin with this premise, you will arrive at right conclusions. Let me suggest some other reasons why Jesus encourages us to give.  

The first one is so simple and so obvious that it has almost become invisible. Jesus tells us to become habitual givers because he loves us. We have all heard people saying that the preacher on wants to get something from them. I don’t doubt there are preachers who put pressure on us to give for that reason but I innocently believe they are in the minority. Jesus pushes us to teach on giving not because he wants to get something from you. He is trying to bless you. He is trying to give to you but he needs your seed so that he can multiply it. Just look at Jesus’ life on earth. He was always giving away. He continuously blessed the people. He hasn’t changed. He still is trying to bless everyone.

In today’s text, the Apostle Paul provides two additional reasons for why Jesus teaches us to be givers. Those reasons are so that we will always have sufficient resources to meet our needs and so that, from our abundance, we will be able to help meet the needs of others.  

If you look closely, if you peer inside these ideas, you will see the Kingdom of God financial laws at work. Through our giving, we increase. With our increase, we increase others, who then contribute to meeting the needs of others, and on and on. God is in the business of growing. With the obedience of just a few people, He can start a garden growing which truly can spread across the entire earth. Let me just say this plainly – there is power in giving. Do not underestimate this primary tool of the Kingdom. Give and it shall be given unto you, then give again. Your crop will overflow so that you will have an abundance for every good work.