“Ephesians 1:3 states [the theme of Ephesians]: the Christian’s riches in Christ…The Father has given us every blessing of the Spirit, everything we need for a successful, satisfying Christian life. The spiritual is far more important than the material…The fact that Paul is writing about wealth would be significant to his readers, because Ephesus was considered the bank of Asia. One of the seven wonders of the world, the great Temple of Diana, was in Ephesus, and was not only a center for idolatrous worship, but also a depository for wealth…
When Jesus Christ wrote His last will and testament for His church, He made it possible for us to share His spiritual riches. Instead of spending it, Jesus Christ paid it all. His death on the cross and His resurrection make possible our salvation. He wrote us into His will, then He died so the will would be in force. Then He rose again that He might become the heavenly Advocate (lawyer) to make sure the terms of the will were correctly followed! In this long sentence [Eph 1:4-14], Paul named just a few of the blessings that make up our spiritual wealth”
Warren W. Wiersbe in Be Rich: Ephesians (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1984) 11-14, 29.
Over the next four days July 16, 17, 18 and 19 set aside time to read and meditate on the whole book of Ephesians once each day. Contemplate on the spiritual riches we have in Christ Jesus and consider the implications of that reality for your life.
“Because of the lack of success in finding and articulating such moral authority in a way that has encouraged Christians to be more generous, the risk is that Christian fundraisers will resort to other approaches for motivating donors. Yet these approaches may not only fail to engage potential donors on the ground of faith but may, even worse, actually encourage attitudes toward giving and patterns of giving that are contrary to the teachings of the Gospel. And sadly, these approaches to fundraising, when taken to the wider public in attempts to solicit funds from them, will give a false impression of the faith and values of most Christians as well.”
Thomas H. Jeavons and Rebekah Burch Basinger in Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000) 67.
“What is given away cannot be taken away. Money invested in God’s kingdom is immediately out of reach of the most turbulent of economic conditions. It is the most secure of all investments.”
Andy Stanley in Fields of Gold (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 2004) 115.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:19-20
“When I began to search for the meaning of life, I was at first attracted by the pursuit of wealth and leisure. As most people discover there is little satisfaction in such things, and a life oriented to the gratification of greed or killing time is unworthy of our humanity. We have been given life in order to achieve something worthwhile, to make good use of our talents, for life itself points us to eternity.”
Hilary of Poitiers in Celebrating the Saints: Daily Spiritual Readings comp. by Robert Atwell (Norwich: SCM Press, 2004) 36.
“At the core of the generous person’s heart is this penchant for Christ’s love-the desire to receive it and to give it to everyone along the way who is in need. The generous life is not about doling out extra amounts of money. It is about reorienting the human heart in the direction of Christ so that we become transmitters of the same affection and care that Christ modeled in his time.”
Gordon MacDonald in Secrets of the Generous Life (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 2002) 13.
“While American Christianity has emphasized getting people saved, it has not spent nearly as much time and resources teaching disciples how to lead the Christian life. And one of the most crucial areas where teaching is needed is that of the Christian’s use of money and possessions. Jesus said, “You cannot worship Gd and Money both.” (Matthew 6:24, MSG). God is not indifferent to our daily financial choices but is interested in transforming all our lives.”
Wesley K. Willmer in God & Your Stuff (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002) 23.
“How does a Christian move from being possessed by one’s possessions to delight in God and generosity to others? Consider the following principles.
Acknowledge that God alone is your highest good.
Through prayer and fasting determine how worldly possessions may have a grip on your life.
Loosen your grip on material things by enlarging your love for Christ.
Surrender your resources to God.
Remember that disciples through the ages joyfully gave up everything to follow Jesus.
A Prayer: LORD, my natural human inclination is to set my heart on, and find my security in, material things. Grant me the grace to be possessed, not by my possessions, but by You, the Lover of my soul.”
Bruce Demarest in Soulguide: Following Jesus as Spiritual Director (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2003) 101-102.
“The world we live in assails us on every side with useless appeals to emotion and to sense appetite. Radios, newspapers, movies, television, billboards, neon-signs surround us with a perpetual incitement to pour out our money and our vital energies in futile transitory satisfactions. The more we buy the more they urge us to buy. But the more they advertise the less we get. And yet, the more they advertise the more we buy. Eventually all will consist in the noise that is made and there will be no satisfaction left in the world except that of vain hopes and anticipations that can never be fulfilled.
I say this in order to show that very much of what we read in magazines or newspapers or see and hear in movies or elsewhere, is completely useless from every point of view. The first thing I must do if I want to practice meditation is to develop a strong resistence to the futile appeals which modern society makes to my five senses. Hence I will have to mortify my desires.
I do not speak here of extraordinary ascetic practices; merely of self-denial required to live by the standards of reason and of the Gospels. In present-day America, such self-denial is apt to require heroism. In practice it may mean giving up many or most of the luxuries which I have come to regard as necessities, at least until I have acquired sufficient self-control to use these things without being enslaved by them.”
Thomas Merton in Spiritual Direction and Meditation (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1960) 78-79.
“When I took on a stewardship role in my own congregation, I didn’t view myself as God’s messenger. I thought my job was to raise money for the church; i.e. fundraising. Once involved, however, I was surprised at how engrossed I became in the stewardship process, and the powerful sense of ownership that ensued. I felt my congregation wasn’t engaged sufficiently in the stewardship conversation–there was so much to discuss and learn. It has been a wonderful experience for me, and I hope it will be for you too.”
Michael Durall in Creating Congregations of Generous People (Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 1999) 9.
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 2 Corinthians 9:12
“Being rich toward God begins with giving to God that which we desires most of all. And what he desires most from you is you–your heart and devotion. Just as God can give us many gifts but the best gift is himself, so we can offer God our resources and acts of service, but the gift he desires most is us.” (cf. Luke 12:13-21).
John Ortberg in When the Game is Over it All Goes Back in the Box (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007) 28.