Andrew Spurgeon: Six Principles Concerning Offerings

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Andrew Spurgeon: Six Principles Concerning Offerings

With regard to the collection for the saints, please follow the directions that I gave to the churches of Galatia: On the first day of the week, each of you should set aside some income and save it to the extent that God has blessed you, so that a collection will not have to be made when I come. Then, when I arrive, I will send those whom you approve with letters of explanation to carry your gift to Jerusalem. And if it seems advisable that I should go also, they will go with me. 1 Corinthians 16:1-4

“Paul gave the Corinthians six principles concerning offerings: (1) gather the money in an orderly fashion—on the day they all meet together, (2) each person must contribute to the collection, (3) each person must contribute from everything he or she treasured, (4) the gifts must be what he or she deemed a ‘blessing’ from God, (5) collections must be taken before needs arose, and (6) collections must be handed over to trustworthy people. These were the same principles Paul taught all the churches, including the Galatian churches and the Corinthian church.”

Andrew Spurgeon in 1 Corinthians: An Exegetical and Contextual Commentary (India Commentary on the New Testament; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2017) 185.

Spurgeon serves as a professor at East Asia School of Theology in Singapore. In this piece he provides six solid principles concerning offerings. They are fantastic! Let’s look more closely at three of them.

Firstly, every person received the same directions and was instructed to contribute. To give or not to give is NOT the question for followers of Christ. We must all make margin for giving.

Secondly, I like the NET translation of this text which brings out the lingustic nuance of ‘blessing’ as Spurgeon notes. When God blesses us with resources we are to set aside a portion to bless others.

Thirdly, collections must be handled by trustworthy people. That’s what the work of GTP is all about: multiplying stewards and mobilizing peer accountability groups to build trust and grow local giving.

Singapore is part of the Southeast Asia region of GTP. Our work in this region serves Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

To support GTP’s work of growing stewards and helping ministries follow standards this region, check out the Southeast Asia Regional Campaign. It has 8 givers so far and is at $1,682 toward a goal of $5,000.

If you have been blessed, consider blessing brothers and sisters in that region by making a gift today.

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Graham Simpson: Acting in Tune

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

“Many no doubt think that true life is experienced in the acquisition and selfish use of material possessions. Here the opposite is said: true life is experienced in the generous sharing of our possessions. We grasp the life that really is life by acting in tune with the character and will of God. To be truly alive is to be like God; as He generously provides humans with all things for their enjoyment, so we are most truly alive when we act in the same way.”

Graham Simpson in The Pastoral Epistles, 1-2 Timothy, Titus: An Exegetical and Contextual Commentary (India Commentary on the New Testament; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2017) 120.

Simpson has taught New Testament in India since 1977. He articulates a powerful biblical idea from India which is particularly relevant in the States during this season.

The day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday. Already the marketers have started to bombard us with messages that life is found in buying all the things they have to offer at the lowest prices.

Don’t tune to their messages or your life will be off key. If you want to be most truly alive, act in tune with the character of God. Imagine instruments tuning for a Christmas concert.

Tune yourself to the character and will of God and take hold of abundant life. He will lead you to a place of enjoyment and sharing that you never dreamed imaginable rooted in His faithful provision.

Want to practice. GTP invites you to join our work in South Asia. To help us strengthen stewards and set up a peer accountability group in Nepal, make a gift to the South Asia campaign. It’s at $205 toward a goal of $1000.

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Babu Immanuel Venkataraman: Interior

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 gracewas 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

“There was more ot the economic koinōnia of the early Christians than meets the eye. If the outsiders saw just their seeming sense of oneness in heart and mind and their willingness to sell and share everything they had, to the extent that there was no needy among them, they would have thought of it as the microcosm of an ideal society. However, there was something in the interiors of the members that was not public knowledge: a cognitive dissonance or a mismatch between motives and actions.

Ananias and his wife Sapphire, being true to the spirit of their community and emulating Barnabas, sold a piece of their property intending to contribute to care for the needy. But they had second thoughts. They colluded with each other to keep part of the money from the property for themselves, and brought the rest to the apostles. It is not possible to pinpoint from the narrative the motive Ananias and Sapphira had.”

Babu Immanuel Venkataraman in Acts of the Apostles (India Commentary on the New Testament: Primalogue, 2015) 57-58.

This scholar from India helps us see that even when people are following God’s design, there can be more going on than meets the eye. There is always more going on in the “interior” of the members.

What’s going on in your interior? Are you enjoying and sharing God’s blessings richly? Special thanks to those who shared with the GTP South Asia campaign to build up God’s workers there.

Whether or not you give to this effort, attune to what God is doing in your interior. Is He nudging you to a deeper level of trust and generous giving because He wants you to depend on Him?

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P. K. D. Lee: Effective

But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 2 Corinthians 8:7

“Fundraising has been a neglected task within the churches in the Third World because of the free flow of funds from the western world…The ability to raise my support becomes the test of my ministry. If I raise funds from some other country, where they cannot see and assess my ministry, the support is purely by faith. When visits are made, those receiving the support put on their best show and the reality of the ministry is never seen.

I am speaking of sincere and godly ministries. The scams of course take the foreigners for a ride. Whether my ministry strategy is effective or not, the money keeps flowing and I have no pressure on me to develop the most effective strategy for the ministry. This absence of pressure due to an inadequate measure of the effectiveness of the ministry makes the ministry inefficient and sloppy.

Putting our ministry to the test of raising funds locally is vital to be able to assess whether what is being done is effective for the kingdom of God. This is the only test that provides both a quantitative and qualitative measure of one’s ministry. To be able to raise finances, we need both a large number of faithful supporters as well as spiritual supporters who can give liberally. So if my fundraising is effective, it means that I am reaching people and they are growing spiritually.”

P. K. D. Lee in Be Rich in Good Works (PDF) 58-60. Lee is a fellow Lausanne Global Classroom instructor with Ministry Fundraising Network. I also count him as a trusted friend in India. Learn about him here.

He paints the picture for the kind of giving we should stop doing to the majority world. We must stop making gifts to places like India that create dependencies, but rather give to build up effective disciples.

God’s servants everywhere must grow people so that effective ministry is locally funded. God’s design is not for church or parachurch work in one place to depend on ongoing support from others.

GTP has helped activate EFAC to help ministries follow standards for effectiveness and sustainability. Our efforts in South Asia next aim to strengthen stewards and set up a peer accountability group in Nepal.

So far the South Asia campaign effort is at $0 toward the goal of $1000. Consider a gift today. And to watch any or all of the four trainings we’ve done at GTP to help grow God’s workers in South Asia, check out this list.

Please, of give to ministries in India or Nepal, don’t feed the dependency for outside funds. Give capacity building gifts to entities like GTP to grow disciples who can to raise local funds through effective ministry.

 

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Youssouf Dembele: Looking

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LordI will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18

“The prophet places his entire confidence in the Lord and draws his strength from Him. He recognizes that God is the source of salvation. What an encouragement for us in Africa! In the midst of wars, famine, and social injustice, we can still rejoice on the basis of our trust in the sovereign God. God is doing great works in our continent. He is looking for men and women who will build up the wall and stand before Him in the gap on behalf of the continent so that he will not have to destroy it.”

Youssouf Dembele in Africa Bible Commentary: A One-Volume Commentary Written by 70 African Scholars, edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006) 1092.

Few books in the Bible have encouraged me more than Habakkuk during COVID. If you have not read it. Read it. It begins with lament, which feels fitting for the times, and ends with hope and praise.

While I don’t know this scholar from Mali, I appreciate his depiction of the Lord when all is crumbling around Him. He is “looking for men and women who will build up the wall.”

So what does this have to do with generosity? Don’t miss it. If you and I give our lives to building up what is broken, our generous God will meet our needs, replenish what we share, and refill what we dispense. It’s how God works!

What I’ve found in my global work is that when we help such people, God helps us. This isn’t prosperity gospel but God’s design for providing. So, again I invite you to join me in supporting the Francophone Africa regional campaign for GTP.

The aim is to raise $2,000 USD to build up these builders. They need stewardship resource and help setting up a peer accountability group. God supplied a gift yesterday but we are only at $131 toward the goal. Pray and give as God leads.

Let me add this about Mali. GTP’s programs have touched people there. Of the 155 givers to GTP last year, one gift came from Mali. That giver was so blessed they wanted others to be helped as they were served. All glory to God.

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Issiaka Coulibaly: Increasing Closeness

Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 2 Corinthians 9:10

“God loves a cheerful giver. In other words, there is no blessing for those who give against their will. But God will give a harvest of blessing to those who give joyfully to his work. In fact, He is able to give them all that they need to face any and every situation…God will supply and multiply the seed and increase the fruits of righteousness for those who give generously. God gives to us so that we can share what He gives with others, and our harvest of righteousness is an increasing closeness to God that expresses itself in prayer and fasting, which remind us that He alone is the source of the blessings we enjoy.”

Issiaka Coulibaly in Africa Bible Commentary: A One-Volume Commentary Written by 70 African Scholars, edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006) 1433.

While I don’t know this scholar from Côte d’Ivoire, I appreciate his description of the harvest of righteousness. It’s an “increasing closeness to God that expresses itself in prayer and fasting.” Think about that.

In setting aside our desires and communing with Him regarding the deployment of His resources to the things He cares about we draw closer to Him. Let’s all give generously so that we can experience this.

And speaking of Côte d’Ivoire, the Francophone Africa regional campaign for GTP needs help. We are trying to raise $2,000 to strengthen stewards there. Could you consider prayerfully joining me in this effort and making a gift?

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Kehinde Ojo: Discovering Wells

Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.

God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt. Genesis 21:14-21

“When we think of wells for the purpose of getting water, the immediate thoughts are of equipment and construction. However, when it comes to wells of generosity, God calls us to a change of approach. He invites us to think more of discovering wells rather than digging them, since He (The Almighty God) has dug the wells Himself!

There is certainly a great need for resources, in order to advance God’s mission in your location and beyond. Many people in the global south however, believe that such resources should come from the West. God’s word points us in a different direction – above, not abroad! In today’s story, God provided water in the most unlikely location – the desert!

This story in Genesis reveals one of the conflicts that we often deal with in the course of our journey as believers. A scarcity mindset or an abundance mentality?  Our limitations or God’s possibilities?

… As a result of God’s intervention, Hagar discovered what she needed most, water! What do you need most at this point in your stewardship journey? Ask God to show you where He has kept it for you…

When we experience transformation in the place of prayers, God helps us to discover what we really need the most. Note that when God eventually opened her eyes, what she saw was NOT a bottle of water; it wasn’t a drum of water; it was a well of water. We serve the God of abundance who gives us more that we ask…

The primary reason God provided water was to quench Ishmael’s thirst. In the same vein, the primary reason God provides us with resources is to ensure that His vision for us, our family and ministry is nurtured. How exciting to note again that God gives in abundance, not just what is enough but more than enough.

From Scripture, it is very clear that God will always look out for other faithful servants that He can trust with His resources, if the people entrusted with the resources prefer to hoard it than to give it away. May the Lord make us channels of His resources.”

Kehinde Ojo in “Discovering and Releasing Wells of Generosity in your Location” blog post on 13 November 2020 of the Ministry Fundraising Network. If you are not subscribed to this blog to get a global perspective on, click here to add your email to the list.

Kehinde is a Nigeria friend and brother. He makes many profound points in this piece. And I only quoted an excerpt! Click above to read his entire post. I want to drive home one point from the Scripture and his comments that really struck me.

We must shift our thinking from digging wells to discovering them. Hagar needed God to “open her eyes” to see what was in front of her and to use it to nourish herself and her son. Is it time for us to each ask God to open our eyes? Do it. Pray right now.

Now that your eyes are open, what do you see in front of you? What do you have? How can you use what you have to be a channel of generosity? Kehinde reminds us that we experience transformation in the place of prayers.

If there is brokenness and pain around you and great needs, don’t despair. Pray for God to open your eyes and help you discover the wells from which you can draw abundant supply. And in so doing, experience the joy of becoming a channel of generosity.

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Dachollom C. Datiri: Collection to Assist the Less Privileged

Now concerning the collection for the saints: you should follow the directions I gave to the churches of Galatia. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2

“Paul’s advice here is the same as that he gave to the Galatian churches: every member should give systematically and regularly in keeping with his [or her] income. The money should be set aside on the first day of every week…

Paul gave them simple but practical instructions on how the church members should organize their giving and how those who collected the money should act to make sure that it reached those for whom it was intended.

Christian congregations in Africa have made the occasional collection for missionary work but need to become more sensitive to the needs of others and to take up collections to assist the less privileged.”

Dachollom C. Datiri in Africa Bible Commentary: A One-Volume Commentary Written by 70 African Scholars, edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006) 1423.

For those who are interested in the Greek behind the English translation, this is the only instance of the word “collection” in the New Testament. In modern terms, I might rather render it “campaign” as it was an effort to rally God’s people everywhere to assist the less privileged.

Datiri is a Nigerian scholar who admits that congregations on his continent take up occasional collections. Perhaps that’s true in many other places too. I think he is right in urging us to “become more sensitive to the needs of others” and to demonstrate that concern by giving to campaigns.

Today I want to ask you to support one of the regional campaigns for GTP. Around the world, God’s servants need training to build strong ministries. This is not giving a handout that creates dependencies but giving a hand up to build disciples. Please demonstrate care by giving today.

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Sas Conradie: Mission Oriented

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16

“A more balanced approach in cultivating and sustaining a contagious generosity culture in a church, an approach through which the church understands itself mission oriented by nature just as much as it is generous by nature. Where mission awareness, mission education and generous giving become part of the same process, the church will better understand where to give to and generosity will become really exciting as people see how God uses their giving to take the gospel where it has not yet been heard.”

Sas Conradie in “Contagious Generosity – Towards Creating a Culture of Generosity” in Evangelical Review of Theology 37.1 (2013):17.

Sas is a friend and brother based with Tearfund in the UK and working primarily in Africa. He is spot on in noting that contagious generosity will flow not so much on helping your church focus on giving as helping them be mission oriented in this living, giving, serving, and loving.

When we are mission oriented in our stewardship then we live every day with a purpose. We use all we are and all we have to accomplish God’s purposes. What about you and your church? Are you mission oriented in your stewardship? Are you focused on doing what is good?

I returned home from Guatemala late last night. The meetings exceeded expectations. Christ was with us, guided and blessed. The standards that are starting to build trust and grow giving in Guatemala will spread to Latin America. More on that in the days to come.

For now, let’s all focus locally, doing good right where we are.

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Kar Yong Lim: Authenticated

Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it. 2 Corinthians 8:24

“Paul’s understanding of generosity in remembering the poor is not only the heart of the gospel but is rooted in the story of Jesus Himself, in which the ‘self-lowering other-regard’ paradigm is visibly displayed.

For Paul, the poor as mentioned in Galatians 2:10 do not have geographical restrictions – they are both the poor in Jerusalem and the poor in the local congregations that he established in the Mediterranean basin.

Paul’s understanding of generosity and his vision of the right of all to have a fair share so that no one has needs is timely today especially in many instances where the rich are getting richer, and the poor poorer.

Christian generosity requires that a relative proportion of giving should be guided accordingly. The wealthier should be challenged to give more in terms of higher percentage, compared to those who are poorer so that the confession of the gospel of Jesus Christ can be authenticated through love in action.”

Kar Yong Lim in “Generosity from the Pauline Perspective: Insights from Paul’s Letters” in Evangelical Review of Theology37.1 (2013):33.

I hope you like the new header photo I shot at a coffee plantation in Antigua, Guatemala. I’ll share more about it in the coming days. For now, let’s focus on what it means for our Christian love to be authenticated.

This NT scholar from Malaysia nails it! God desires that all of us exhibit the ‘self-lowering other-regard’ paradigm of Jesus. We do this by remembering the poor. Our follow-through authenticates our faith. Unashamedly, I invite you to join me, like Paul, in doing some cross-border giving to demonstrate proof of your Christian love. Authenticate it!

In November and December 2020, I am praying for God to supply $125,000 USD to fund GTP global efforts to multiply faithful stewards and mobilize peer accountability groups in 2021. Click here to give.

But for us, remembering the poor means that when God supplied us with a $50,000 USD matching grant, we allocated it to help the underserved regions of the world rather than keeping it for ourselves.

As most charitable work in the last century has amounted to handouts that create dependencies, GTP aims to give a hand up to build disciples. Join us in this capacity building work. Allocate a portion of your giving to helping build up people in different regions of the world.

Visit the regional campaigns page at GTP and pick a region to support. Don’t just think about the poor and how they are suffering. As Paul, put it, demonstrate proof of your love. Authenticate your faith through the loving action of generous giving.

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