Meditations

Home » Meditations

Peter Marshall: All is the measure of Christian giving

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.” Mark 12:41-44

“There is no measure short of our all which is due by us to God, due as that which we owe to Him. And there are passages which embody this spirit, e.g. where it is said, “Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are His” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). And again where it is said, “I beseech you, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service ” (Romans 12:1).

If I might translate the spirit of these passages, and such as these, with reference to the subject before us, it would be to say, that all we have, as well as all we are and all we enjoy, are His, Whose we are and Whom we serve: that, as being Christ’s, and thus bound to consider this human life, with all its energies and with all its capacities, moral, intellectual, and physical, as devoted to His service, so also we are to consider all our endowments of rank, wealth, and power, as only too unworthy a sacrifice to Him, from Whom we have received them all. This is unquestionably the spirit of the New Testament on the measure of giving.

Peter Marshall in his sermon “The Measures of Giving” preached in St. Ann’s Church, Manchester on 20 March 1862 in Money, And It’s Responsibilities: A Course of Sermons on Giving issued by a committee of churchmen (Manchester: Hale and Roworth, 1862) 18-19.

I am enjoying this PDF which contains five sermons on giving from 1862. This second one looks at the measure of Christian giving and sums up the New Testament teaching by proclaiming that “all” is the only right answer. It’s the only giving that Jesus celebrates.

So how would this measure compare to the measure of your giving?

For me, at least early on in my spiritual journey, I thought of it all wrong. I thought of money as mine and saw giving as me giving to God a portion of my money. I considered the rest as mine to keep for myself. I had it all backwards.

I might have been following the letter of the Old Testament law but I missed the spirit of New Testament giving. I discovered that all I am and all I have belong to God. That means He will care for me better than I can care for myself. But, I can’t just say that I trust Him; He wants me to show that I trust Him.

What does this have to do with generosity?

Fear kept us from giving “all” as we thought we’d end up empty. What we discovered in doing it is that Jesus is not trying to rob us but trying to help us trust in Him rather than to depend on ourselves to sustain us through life. When we trust God, we don’t end up empty, but rather, enriched.

Our only right response to Jesus is obedience. He explicitly instructs us to use all the money we possess and all of our capacities for Him and His service. It matters not what we say we believe. We show we are His by how we handle His money totally different from the world.

As Sophie and I make our way home to Colorado today after she has finished her college experience, I find great joy in knowing that she understands this and is marrying a young man named Peter who gets it too! And thankfully, our son Sammy and his fiancé, Emily, also grasp this mindset.

As they give their all, their generosity has limitless potential. This gives me hope for the future.

Read more

James Bardsley: Gratitude to God

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 1 John 3:16-17

“What are then the motives for giving, condensed into a few words? Gratitude to God. We are sinners saved by God’s mercy. “Ye are not your own,” says the Apostle, “ye are bought with a price;” and the price with which we are redeemed is, “not corruptible, things, such as silver and gold, but the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish.” “Greater love,” says our Lord, “hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” He could not perform a greater act of kindness, or lay a person under greater obligation…

If, then, we are thus purchased with a price, and are not our own, it is that we may glorify Him in our bodies and in our souls which are His. The love of Christ is to constrain us, not to live to ourselves, but unto Him who died for us and is risen again. The love of Christ is thus, my brethren, to constrain us…

Not only, my brethren, do we find multitudes in the present day not animated by the Spirit to lay down their lives for their brethren, but they will not lay down their estates for them, nay, they will not lay down the superfluities of their estates for them. We find multitudes in the present day, who profess and call themselves Christians, who spend upon their own personal paltry gratification money without stint; but ask them even for a trifle for God’s cause, and though they know that it is God’s cause, how ingenious they are in finding reasons why they cannot subscribe to this thing presented before them.”

James Bardsley in his sermon “The Motives of Giving” preached in St. Ann’s Church, Manchester on 13 March 1862 in Money, And It’s Responsibilities: A Course of Sermons on Giving issued by a committee of churchmen (Manchester: Hale and Roworth, 1862) 13-14.

The situation in England a century and a half ago sounds strikingly similar to where we find ourselves today. People profess to be Christians but they will not lay down their estates or superfluities for the sake of Christ, but instead “spend upon their own personal paltry gratification money without stint.”

Where do you fit in the picture?

When looking for kindness in this sermon, I noticed that it has been shown to us in Christ, but many do not extend it to others. Bardsley calls people to have that motive of gratitude to God for the kindness received out of love and to extend it likewise to others. Without strong motivation, people don’t pursue obedience.

So how do we grow gratitude to God?

That’s far less complicated! Pause to give thanks. Consider the things Christ has done for you. This may require you to turn of the television or other technology, to find a quiet place, and perhaps get a pen and paper. Make a list. Then see how He’s resourced you to be generous. Then ask yourself another question.

Will I someday have to give an account for my stewardship?

Since you will, go one step further. Determine what must change in your life to live differently. Chart a course. Take steps in the right direction, one at a time. You won’t figure it out until you live it out that this path will lead to life and position you for rich generosity. It starts with gratitude to God in your heart.

Nurture gratitude to God today (and every day) and see what happens.

Today Sophie and I are driving from Santee, California to Richfield, Utah, en route home. On the way I plan to play the Alphabet game. We will alternate turns through the alphabet and share things for which we are thankful. It will help pass the time and knit our hearts together in gratitude to God. Try it sometime.

Read more

Charles Kingsley: A serious divorce between faith and practice vs. a seriousness and godly fear

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

“Let us lay this to heart, and say, there can be no doubt — I at least have none — that there is growing up among us a serious divorce between faith and practice; a serious disbelief that the kingdom of heaven is about us, and that Christ is ruling us, as He told us plainly enough in His parables, by the laws of the kingdom of heaven; and that He does, and will punish and reward each man according to those laws, and according to nothing else.

We pride ourselves on our superior light, and our improved civilisation, and look down on the old Roman Catholic missionaries, who converted our forefathers from heathendom in the Middle Ages. Now, I am a Protestant, if ever there was one, and I know well that these men had their superstitions and false doctrines. They made mistakes, and often worse than mistakes, for they were but men. But this I tell you, that if they had not had a deep and sound belief that they were in the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven; and that they and all men must obey the laws of the kingdom of heaven; and that the first law of it was, that wrong doing would be punished, and right doing rewarded, in this life, every day, and all day long, as sure as Christ the living Lord reigned in righteousness over all the earth; if they had not believed that, I say, and acted on it, we should probably have been heathen at this day.

As it is, unless we Protestants get back the old belief, that God is a living God, and that His judgments are abroad in the earth, and that only in keeping His commandments can we get life, and not perish, we shall be seriously in danger of sinking at last into that hopeless state of popular feeling, into which more than one nation in our own time has fallen, that, as the prophet of old says, a wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets— that is, the preachers and teachers — prophesy falsely ; and the priests — the ministers of religion — bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so — love to have their consciences drugged by the news that they may live bad lives, and yet die good deaths…

Let us lay this to heart, with seriousness and godly fear. For so we shall look up with reverence, and yet with hope, to Christ the ascended king, to whom all power is given in heaven and earth; forever asking Him for His Holy Spirit, to put into our minds good desires, and to enable us to bring these desires to good effect. And so we shall live for ever under our great task master’s eye, and find out that that eye is not merely the eye of a just judge, not merely the eye of a bountiful king, but more the eye of a loving and merciful Saviour, in whose presence is life even here on earth ; and at whose right hand, even in this sinful world, are pleasures forevermore.”

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) in Sermon XXX “The Kingdom of Heaven” in All Saints Day and Other Sermons by the Rev. Charles Kingsley (London: C. Kegan Paul & Company, 1878) 282-284.

Today is a special day. Our daughter, Sophie, and her fiancé, Peter, graduate from San Diego Christian College in Santee, California, and Sammy’s fiancé, Emily, graduates from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa.

What excites me most is that Sophie, Peter, and Emily possess a “seriousness and godly fear” of God when it comes to biblical teaching on money in a day when most of their peers have a “serious divorce between faith and practice.”

In plain terms, most people find themselves slaves to mammon rather than God and they live as though the teachings of Jesus on money are optional suggestions rather than imperative commands. Here’s where this relates to generosity.

We cannot ever be generous if we are not obeying the commands of Jesus, especially the ones related to money. In my teaching around the world, I find the most receptive souls to sound biblical teaching on money are young people. They actually want the assistance.

If you have any graduates out there you want to bless with a gift, send them my book, Good and Faithful: Ten Stewardship Lessons for Everyday Living. It teaches them how to relate to money. Students around the world have found it helpful, including Sophie, Peter, and Emily.

Read more

J.R.R. Tolkien: Deep Roots

Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:7

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

J.R.R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (New York: Random House, 2012) 193.

The Tolkien movie releases this weekend. It is fitting that our dear daughter, Sophie Victoria, would graduate from San Diego Christian College at the same time. This quote is a favorite of hers. She’s a huge Tolkien fan!

Things of true value don’t necessarily glitter. Wanderers may in reality be seekers looking high and low for that which is good. People with true strength don’t wither but get stronger with years, and the secret to weathering challenging times is having deep roots.

The Apostle Paul told the Colossians where to put those deep roots: Jesus Christ. Those who do find strength in the truth and overflow with thankfulness.

What does it have to do with generosity? 

Unless we have the right perspective, we won’t handle gold rightly. We will wander aimlessly. We will grow weaker with years, and we will not have deep roots. We find that perspective only in Jesus Christ. He’s the only Source of abundant overflow and generosity.

Congratulations Sophie! For all readers who live anywhere near Littleton, Colorado, please reply if you want our townhouse address to attend her open house graduation party from 1-4pm on 18 May 2019. We’ve love to have you join us.

Read more

C.S. Lewis: One Good

This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:9-13

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened…

There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.”

C.S. Lewis (1989-1963) in The Great Divorce (New York: Macmillan, 1946) excerpts from chapter 9 and 11.

Why cite this work by Lewis in which the narrator finds himself in the rainy and joyless city of grey town?

It offers a classic view of eternal realities, our daughter, Sophie, analyzed it for her capstone project as an English major, and it contains priceless wisdom.

Related to generosity: we are on this earth not to accomplish our will but God’s, and we only do good when we look to Him.

These two ideas are not insignificant and related by the fact that there is only one good.

For Jesus to tell us to pray “Thy will be done” as our rhythm for life, He is instructing us to find that “one good” by exchanging our desires for God’s.

Will our generosity be and do good? It depends whose will is guiding us and to whom we are looking.

Read more

Richard Sibbes: Conduit

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32

“God’s children have these outward things with God Himself, they are conduits to convey His favor; and the same love that moved God to give us heaven and eternal happiness, also leads Him to give us our daily bread.”

Richard Sibbes in Divine Meditations and Holy Contemplations #6 (London: J. Buckland, 1875) 10.

I returned safely home from overseas and give thanks to God for a fruitful trip. Thanks for your prayers for me. Today  Sammy flies to Iowa to be with his fiancé, Emily as she graduates from Northwestern in Orange City on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Jenni and I are flying to San Diego tomorrow to celebrate two graduations from San Diego Christian College on Saturday, our daughter, Sophie, and her fiancé, Peter. Their wedding date is set for 20 January 2020.

They got great grades and received a handful of awards from the school, for which we are proud of them. More importantly, they served as generous conduits of God’s favor and love. We are so proud of them.

They live within their means. They trust God for daily bread. So much blessing flows through them that fellow students voted them the “power couple” of the year. Way to go Sophie and Peter! Faithful conduits!

We see “the same love” and generosity in Sammy and Emily. Their wedding date is set at 26 October 2019. Though their relationship has not lasted as long, their maturity has really blessed us. This will be a weekend of celebration.

Are you a loving conduit of God’s favor? Do you trust God for daily bread to enjoy and share? Or is your conduit clogged causing God’s blessings to stay with you? Do do the latter as it only leads to poverty!

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. Proverbs 11:24-25

Read more

Gerhard Uhlhorn: Regular System of Charity

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. Acts 4:32-35

“The opinion as to the world before the Christian era, that it was a world without love, requires some explanation, and in a certain sense some modification as well. Of isolated acts springing from natural pity there was never any want…The main point is this, that there is no trace whatsoever of any organized charity. It is not that here and there Christians gave gifts to the poor, or that they here and there assisted those in distress: the new thing, the thing hitherto unknown in the world, was rather that in the Christian communities there was organized a regular system of charity, designed not only to relieve the distress of the poor for the moment, but also to war against poverty itself, and to suffer no one to be oppressed by want.”

Gerhard Uhlhorn in Christian Charity in the Ancient Church (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1883) 4-5.

The ancient world was a place where people gave random hand-outs but the Church would set itself apart in “a world without love” by organizing “a regular system of charity” so that those who suffered got a hand-up in the name of Jesus.

Why explore this aspect of generosity? In my work with Global Trust Partners, I travel to many developing countries where there are “isolated acts” of giving but like the first century, they have virtually no training and few systems of charity making known the love of Christ.

I find inspiration to help them from the early church. When the Church follows the teachings of Jesus in community, something happens. Rather than give hand-outs that create dependencies, we see the early church give hand-ups to help people out of poverty.

That’s what GTP is doing around the world. By offering biblical teaching and replicable systems of training to trustworthy workers, we can give them a hand-up to build disciples. In so doing, we position them to shine and show God’s love in settings without love.

I am starting my journey home from Cairo now (pictured above): 10 flights in 10 days in India, UAE, and Egypt. By God’s grace I got to pour into 100 influential workers. As the saying goes, rather than giving these workers a fish and feeding them for a day, I taught them how to fish to feed them for a lifetime.

Read more

Connie and Dana Potvin: I Am With You

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20

As I pursue the vision of Global Trust Partners which is multiplying disciples of faithful administration and catalyzing peer accountability groups to increase gospel participation in every nation, I come to grips with the fact that it is indescribably rewarding work, and yet it requires great sacrifice.

My schedule is long days, great people, arduous travel, unforgettable experiences, and lots of time alone. But God has reminded me in Dubai (yes, that the Burj Khalifa pictured above) that I am not alone. Because our God is so kind and so generous, He reminded me that He is with me with this song from a friend. I pray it blesses you. Click to listen.

I Am With You by Calling Glory

Before I begin I just want to say,
that I love you in every way
You thought I had left you, you thought I was gone,
When I’ve been right here all along

And the fact is I remember,
every little prayer you’ve said
And every tear you’ve cried,
when you thought you were alone

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you
I am with you

And every time you feel you’re far away
Not looking inside this humble arms of grace
I see that you’re running I know that you’re scared
But if you’d lift your eyes you would know I’m there

When the fact is I remember,
every little prayer you’ve said
And every tear you’ve cried,
when you thought you were alone

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

Oh you’re not too far,
that I don’t see where you are
Even in the depths I am there
And if you’d come and call my name,
you would never be the same
I want you to know that I care

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you
I am with you
I am with you
Don’t you know that I am with you

Songwriters: Connie and Dana Potvin

Read more

Connie and Dana Potvin: I Am With You

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20

As I pursue the vision of Global Trust Partners which is multiplying disciples of faithful administration and catalyzing peer accountability groups to increase gospel participation in every nation, I come to grips with the fact that it is indescribably rewarding work, and yet it requires great sacrifice.

My schedule is long days, great people, arduous travel, unforgettable experiences, and lots of time alone. But God has reminded me in Dubai (yes, that the Burj Khalifa pictured above) that I am not alone. Because our God is so kind and so generous, He reminded me that He is with me with this song from a friend. I pray it blesses you. Click to listen.

I Am With You by Calling Glory

Before I begin I just want to say,
that I love you in every way
You thought I had left you, you thought I was gone,
When I’ve been right here all along

And the fact is I remember,
every little prayer you’ve said
And every tear you’ve cried,
when you thought you were alone

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you
I am with you

And every time you feel you’re far away
Not looking inside this humble arms of grace
I see that you’re running I know that you’re scared
But if you’d lift your eyes you would know I’m there

When the fact is I remember,
every little prayer you’ve said
And every tear you’ve cried,
when you thought you were alone

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

Oh you’re not too far,
that I don’t see where you are
Even in the depths I am there
And if you’d come and call my name,
you would never be the same
I want you to know that I care

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you
I am with you
I am with you
Don’t you know that I am with you

Songwriters: Connie and Dana Potvin

Read more

Hudson Taylor: Helpless Dependence

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

“God wants you to have something far better than riches and gold, and that is helpless dependence upon Him.”

Attributed to Hudson Taylor (1832-1905).

Do you live with “helpless dependence” on God? Some might say you are reckless or even crazy if you do. But who is the crazy one? Isn’t it the person who stores up riches and gold in the sight of the living God is watching?

When I travel to foreign countries, especially new places I have never been, I get that “helpless dependence” feeling. I had it last night upon arrival in Dubai. It leads me to pray perpetually and trust God to guide and care for me.

Perhaps, you can relate. You think to yourself, “Lord, what should I do?” And the best part, you are not only not alone, you are cared for providentially better than you could care for yourself. But I confess, I feel this way far less often at home.

Where am I going with this idea? What does it have to do with generosity? At home, we gravitate to comfort, a groove. We try to manage life as if we are in control. Consequently, we often put our trust in money as the power to sustain us.

I am learning, especially as God has me doing so much international travel, that “helpless dependence” is a place of peace and provision. Sometimes there’s suffering too, but I also have His presence with me so I can navigate any situation.

If you are not living with “helpless dependence” know that God wants so much more for you and your existence. He wants you to grasp abundant life, but taking hold of it is only found in enjoying and sharing everything!

Read more
Page 2 of 36012345...102030...Last »