Matthew Henry: Inheritance

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Matthew Henry: Inheritance

The LORD said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites.” Numbers 18:20

“A good reason is given why they must have no inheritance in the land, for, says God, I am thy part, and thy inheritance. Note, those that have God for their inheritance and their portion for ever ought to look with a holy contempt and indifference upon the inheritances of this world, and not covet their portion in it. “The Lord is my portion, therefore will I hope in him, and not depend upon any thing I have on this earth,” Lam. 3:24. The Levites shall have no inheritance, and yet they shall live very comfortably and plentifully—to teach us that Providence has various ways of supporting those that live in a dependence upon it; the fowls reap not, and yet are fed, the lilies spin not, and yet are clothed, the Levites have no inheritance in Israel, and yet live…”

Matthew Henry in Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Numbers 18:20.

Yesterday we looked at “portion” in Lamentations. Today we turn to the text Jeremiah was quoting from Torah, which celebrates that God’s servants, the Levites would have no inheritance of this world but the promise of God to provide. It’s such a beautiful truth.

Again, I pray this touches the hearts of all who serve God. To know that He will care for them in His Providence, as He cares for the birds and the flowers.

Thank you God for your care for me. Supply

 

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Christopher J. H. Wright: Portion

So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.” I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:18-24

“When he turns to more prolonged prayer in the second part of the chapter, it will be in a somewhat different tone. But when we get there we should not forget that the confession, protest, and appeals that we will hear there are grounded on the solid affirmation of faith here: YHWH (Yahweh) is the known and remembered God of proven covenant love, compassion, and faithfulness — bo matter what He has done or has not yet done. All His actions must be viewed within that light, even if it strains our theology to the limits (as it will)…Now, with his perspective transformed by what he has forced back into his mind, he can say something very different: I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion, therefore I will wait for Him’. ‘I will wait’ is the verb of the same root as the lost ‘hope’ of verse 18…

Israelite families had their ‘portion’ in the land — their inheritance from generation to generation. The Levites, however, were given no territory as their allotted portion of land (so they were dependent on the tithes, first-fruits, and offerings of the landed population). Instead, they were told, the Lord Himself was their portion (Numbers 18:20). They could live without land, so long as they had the Lord. That background may be what gives the man hope. Even without the land, city, king, or temple, he had the Lord.”

Christopher J. H. Wright in The Message of Lamentations (BSTS; Downers Grove; IVP, 2015) 113.

This post is for all those out there who are in roles where the operating income is funded by the charitable giving of God’s people. And the message contains a powerful use of our word for the year: remember.

Say it out loud: “The Lord is my portion.”

In hard times, there is always hope because the Lord is our portion. We may not have land but we have the Lord working for us, producing what we need. This truth aims to give hope to a specific group, the Levites.

Who are the Levites and why does it matter for us today? The Levites facilitated worship in God’s house. Today, this is akin to how people who rely on outside support might be described.

Say it again: “The Lord is my portion.”

For my part GTP is 7 days away from the end of the fiscal year and praying for $25,000 to having funds to build out our online platform and translate resources into many languages.

It’s what we think God wants us to do. So, we move boldly and trust Him to show up, to provide. And what gives us the courage to do this despite difficult times. We remember the Lord is our portion.

We’ve got this. God’s got us. But if you need inspiration along these lines, check out a recent podcast I did.

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John Rinehart: Training

But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. Luke 12:31-33

“Jesus talked more about money and possessions than anything else. He understood the pressures and anxieties we all face. He also knew the pull of the world to make money our ultimate goal. And He wants more for us than that. Jesus wants to train each of us to use the money He’s given us in a way that honors Him, loves people, and sets our hearts free. Giving is about more than money; it’s about our hearts.”

John Rinehart wrote a great book called Gospel Patrons. His next book will be called Giving Together. The thinking therein is rooted in “Ten Convictions about Giving.” Read them here. This post is conviction #2.

When our focus is on money, we feel nothing but pressures, pull, and anxiety. But when our focus is on obeying what Jesus wants to train us, we find the teaching sets us free. It trains us to honor Him and love people.

But we don’t learn this in a day. We learn it one step at a time, because it’s challenging.

Fear limits us when we think we have to supply our needs. But when we let go of what we have, we learn by experience that God sustains us and, in the process, become free of the pressures and anxieties that aim to enslave us. His training sets us free.

Want to learn from our journey? Visit this “It’s never about money podcast” that I recorded recently.

Jesus talked about money and possessions a lot because He knew how strong the pull of the world be. If I asked someone close to you what your handling of money reveals, what would they say about your giving and your heart?

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Warren Wiersbe: Sickness and Medicine

Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy. Psalm 107:17-22

“We meet rebellious fools who deliberately disobeyed God’s law and suffered for their folly. The “gates of death” led into sheol, the land of the dead. The Lord heard their cries and stopped them at the very gates and permitted them to live. They did not deserve this blessing, but such is the mercy of the Lord. In Scripture, sickness is often used as a picture of sin and its painful consequences, but not all sickness is the result of sin. Because the Lord healed these repentant rebels, they should praise Him, sing to Him, and bring thank offerings to Him. In verse 20, the Word of God is compared to medicine that God sends for their healing.”

Warren Wiersbe in Be Exultant: Praising God for His Mighty Works – Psalms 90-150 (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2004) 76.

All of us are guilty of disobeying God’s laws.

In Psalm 107, we are reminded that our sins take us toward destruction, like a sickness they aim to take our life, but God in His mercy delivers us, like medicine. What is our response to the healing that God gives so generously?

As we begin another week, I want to challenge you to join me in celebrating the healing we as “repentant rebels” have from the Lord. And consider responding with David by bringing thank offerings.

A thank offering was a response to God’s mercy. Pause to consider today what God has done for you, and delivered you from. In the Old Testament it took shape as cakes of unleavened bread.

Imagine a cake that was symbolically free of sin. We can make such cakes, such thank offerings to God, too. But how? Do something generous free of selfish motives that reflects God’s love and law to a watching world.

This kind of generosity shows the world a picture of God’s grace through the humble gratitude in our hearts. And in these pandemic times, it shows the world that God’s love is the only cure for the plague of sin.

Soak in Psalm 107 and ask God how your thank offering for His unfailing love should take shape.

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Warren Bird: Understand and Model

Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. Deuteronomy 32:7

What are the “New Frontiers in Nonprofit Fundraising” that Christ-centered ministries and churches are pressing into as they navigated the COVID-19 pandemic and the changing landscape that has resulted?

Which ideas and strategies to fund the mission are gaining the most traction in these new frontiers? Here’s what ECFA’s survey participants told us. Top 5 Findings:

1. The biggest fundraising needs are (a) new donor acquisition and (b) moving existing donors “up the donor pyramid.”

2. Having the right people with the right priorities for CEO and paid fundraising staff is the biggest distinction between effective and ineffective fundraising programs.

3. The biggest channel of pandemic giving was major donors, the most effective fundraising medium for new donor acquisition was direct mail, and the fastest growing technology is paid social media postings/placements, most heavily Facebook.

4. The most important priorities of the CEO or equivalent top leader are to understand and model a biblical approach to fundraising and generosity. The most important practice of the CEO or equivalent top leader is to effectively share the fundraising role with others.

5. In the most effective fundraising programs, one or more staff members have specific donors they are building relationships with.

Warren Bird in New Frontiers in Nonprofit Fundraising.

Click here to download the research from ECFA at no cost. All these findings are helpful for church and ministry workers to understand.

Perhaps the one that spoke to me most was point #4. As a CEO of GTP, I must understand and model a biblical approach and share the work with others.

With intentionality I am pouring each of the four staff that report to me to me to help them understand and and model a biblical approach to partnership work.

Do this at your church or ministry and watch the impact of your efforts multiply!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, including my dad, Jack Hoag. I’m thankful he understands and models generosity. It’s touched my life deeply.

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Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson: Empirical Fact

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

“The more generous Americans are in their practices, the more they enjoy greater well-being in their personal lives… Far from being a draining cost that leaves the generous giver at net loss, practicing generosity for the good of others actually tends to enrich the lives of the givers in ways that are of fundamental human value. Rather than leaving generous people on the short end of an unequal bargain, practices of generosity area actually likely instead to provide generous givers with essential goods in life–happiness, health, and purpose–which money and time themselves simply cannot buy. That is an empirical fact well worth knowing.”

Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson in The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose (Oxford: OUP, 2014) 43.

Part of what I love about generosity research is that it provides empirical data that corroborates what the Bible teaches. Generous practice bless others and us in the process.

In this study, Smith and Davidson provide the cure for many COVID woes like depression and anxiety. Serve others with your skills and resources.

Like the Dead Sea, if you allow flow to come in and not go out, it leads to poverty. Choose a better way that begets life in you and those you serve.

How can you refresh someone else today? Through hospitality, sharing, or providing assistance, aim at enriching someone’s life and see what happens.

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Annie Dillard: Life Preservers

“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. 

Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:28-35

“Why do people in church seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? The tourists are having coffee and doughnuts on Deck C. Presumably someone is minding the ship, correcting the course, avoiding icebergs and shoals, fueling the engines, watching the radar screen, noting weather reports radioed in from shore. No one would dream of asking the tourists to do these things. Alas, among the tourists on Deck C, drinking coffee and eating doughnuts, we find the captain, and all the ship’s officers and all the ship’s crew. The officers chat; they swear; they wink a bit at slightly raw jokes, just like regular people. The crew members have funny accents. The wind seems to be picking up.

On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us to where we can never return.”

Annie Dillard in Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters (New York: Harper & Row, 1982) 40-41.

Dillard’s passion reminded me of Paul’s words to the Ephesian elders. He was not messing around during his three years in Ephesus while laboring among them. Meanwhile, modern day churches appear to be run more like cruise ships with people lounging rather than laboring.

Comfort has become the idol rather than courageous service. Where generosity comes into view is that Paul would urge us to set an example of sacrifice and provide people what they need to flourish. That might mean we give them “life preservers” to make it through the storms of life.

So, here’s my shout out to you all in the same spirit. Most so-called followers of Christ flatly ignore the teachings of Jesus on money. They are chilling on Deck C in luxury and rationalizing their disobedience as acceptable. Are you among them?

Notice how Paul uses the word “remember” twice. Firstly, he wants us to we remember his example. Secondly, he locates his example in the words of the Lord Himself. In plain terms, generosity is better than anything they are offering on Deck C. And when we share this with others, we can literally save their lives.

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Donald A. Smith: Necessary Endings

All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing. Proverbs 21:26

“In his book, Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud suggests that all of us will need to give up something in order to move forward. In life, this might be ending a business relatioship, a personal relationship, or giving up a possession. In giving up something, space is then created for the birth of something new.

For organizations, especially established ones, the necessary ending may be with an employee or a habit that is no longer effective. Often, organizations such as churches need to give up a particular practice. This practice could be relatively new in its implementation but never gained enough traction to be fruitful or viable.

After all, sometimes even new practices are hard to give up when hard to give up when hurt feelings are involved. In many instances, the practice is longstanding tradition to which the leaders and people have become accustomed, and passing the offering plate is one of those long-established practices.”

Donald A. Smith in A Better Offering: 5 Unmistakable Habits of Generous Churches (2020).

Are there any longstanding practices in your life, church, or ministry that need to go so that generosity can flow?

Do this. List your cravings. They could be desires. They might also be practices that you think “have to” happen.

We actually become dependent on these props, which when broken down, often allow fresh growth to appear alongside old growth.

In this book, one point Smith makes is to expand the understanding of giving and the channels of generosity beyond traditional offering methods.

For example, we “have” to do Stewardship Sunday! But what about the other 51 Sundays of the year? Redefine generosity holistically in the context of discipleship!

Or we have to pass an offering plate! But what if automatic giving from bank accounts makes sense to most people? Create new channels and opportunities!

Every church and ministry can improve in these areas. Perhaps engage the next generation of God’s servants to help you see blind spots.

These are places and practices where “necessary endings” become a new beginning for generosity to flow in a variety of ways.

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Andrew Murray: Separation and Fellowship

“But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:21

“The faith that can overcome such stubborn resistance as you have just seen in this evil spirit, Jesus tells them, is not possible except to men living in very close fellowship with God, and in very special separation from the world–in prayer and fasting. And so He teaches us two lessons in regard to prayer of deep importance. The one, that faith needs a life of prayer in which to grow and keep strong. The other, that prayer needs fasting for its full and perfect development.”

Andrew Murray in With Christ in the School of Prayer (New York: Fleming H. Revell) 67.

Today I celebrate the gift of prayer.

When this Daily Meditation goes out, I will be gathering for prayer with brothers and sisters around the world. Together we will set aside our desires and all that is of the world and ask for God’s will to be done on earth, in the countries in which we live, as it is in heaven.

We will pray for provision where their is need, protection where there is danger, peace where there is unrest, and power where there is opposition. Let us remember to put this gift to work. It may be the most generous thing we can do for our context. Separate from the world and draw near to God.

Reply if there’s any way I can pray for you from my new place of prayer pictured above (path above new apartment)!

 

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J. Clif Christopher: Compatriots

With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God — gold for the gold work, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron and wood for the wood, as well as onyx for the settings, turquoise,stones of various colors, and all kinds of fine stone and marble—all of these in large quantities. Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple: three thousand talents of gold (gold of Ophir) and seven thousand talents of refined silver, for the overlaying of the walls of the buildings, for the gold work and the silver work, and for all the work to be done by the craftsmen. Now, who is willing to consecrate themselves to the Lord today?” Then the leaders of families, the officers of the tribes of Israel, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of the king’s work gave willingly. 2 Chronicles 29:2-6

“Now I would be greatly remiss if I left the impression that the pastor (drill instructor) can lead by himself or herself. No one is more important, but laity (fellow recruits) must also be willing to pick up the mantle. No one motivates better than a peer. When a fellow recruit gets out front and encourages compatriots to follow, the troops take notice. When they exalt, “You can do it and I will show you how,” others listen. It is one thing for a coach to suggest that players come in early or stay late, but when one of the players announces that he ior she will be there early and stay late, now that gets attention. For the church to become a generous community that Christ desires, there must be laity willing to step forward and lead in announcing their commitment. They must stand in front of a congregation or a Sunday school class and invite persons to follow them. They must share their stories as to how generosity is a priority in their Christian walk that keeps them grounded and close to Christ.”

J. Clif Christopher in God vs. Money: Winning Strategies in the Combat Zone (Nashville: Abingdon, 2018) 16.

In today’s Scripture, David brings his gift, then his compatriots pitch in. Their response has a domino effect. Then the entire community makes willing gifts in gratitude for all God had richly supplied to each of them. But notice the power and importance of the compatriots.

If we read on in the text we see the impact in verse nine. “The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.” Notice that the people did not rejoice at David but at the response of the next layer of workers.

We need more compatriots for generosity to spread in church congregations and ministry constituencies. As a CEO of GTP, I am expected (like David) to give sacrificially and invite generous giving. But the best way people can help me (and the best way we can all serve our pastor) is to rally others to join in the work by giving.

Be a good compatriot and rally others to rich generosity, with you!

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