First Things @ Things

Pastoral Perspectives;

We, at First have some ministry opportunities that will require a long term-commitment to prayer and personal participation on a myriad of levels. The time, talent and treasure that God has provided for us will all need to be given with joy to His work in Hinton over the next several years should the church decide to begin a ministry to Hispanics. And as is often the case, our participation will be filtered through our personal priorities. I pray that we all will join God where He is at work currently and where He will present opportunities in the future. These opportunities are not embraced without first surrendering our will to God and then supporting what God assigns us in the journey.

In approaching assignments that are larger or different, each of us must ask ourselves a series of heart centered questions.

1. Do I really believe there is a need?

Seldom does anyone engage opportunities where the need is not settled upon in our heart.

2. Am I responding out of pressure or because I really care?

When human beings are pressured, they participate more from a position of duty to men than devotion for God. Only love for God will provide the joy to continue.

3. Is my gift (time, talent, treasure) an appropriate expression of what God has provided for me or is it more of a last minute, knee jerk reaction that stems from an unplanned 'get it over with' type of response.

We cannot and must not compare our giving because God has blessed each of us differently. For some, an hour or two a week is not that large of an adjustment in the weekly schedule and for others it requires more sacrifice. For some, $100 dollars is a sacrifice and for others, $10,000 may not be. While the sum of time and treasure are different, the blessing to each is determined by the level of sacrifice each demonstrates from a heart of humility. Meaning, a lesser amount of time or treasure when offered from a pure heart to God to use as He determines may be blessed more by God than a larger sum of time and treasure given from resources that require no sacrifice. In God's economy, it's never been equal giving but rather equal sacrifice.

4. Have I prayed, or I am settling for giving impulsively, without care or concern.

In other words, do I treat the opportunities of God that are designed to produce eternal reward more like a bill than I do a blessing?

5. Is joy prompting me? Am I genuinely excited about what God is doing in my heart and in His church through my contributions of time, talent and treasure?

Joyless giving results in joyless living. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

6. Does generosity characterize my life?

In other words, ask yourself, am I consistently engaged in giving for purposes that glorify God?

I was reminded this past week that when Jesus decided to teach a lesson on generosity, he chose the poorest woman recorded in scripture. In Mark 12 and Luke 21, Jesus used the example of a poor widow who gave two mites. When placed together these two mites would have been the equivalent of the smallest Roman coin in the 1st century. Two mites would be worth six minutes of work. That's all she had. And she gave all; joyfully and sacrificially. Moreover, Jesus noted that she gave far more than those who gave from their surplus.

In a different application, when God determined to teach a lesson on generosity on a corporate basis, He chose the poorest church in Greece; Macedonia. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5

I was blessed to hear Dr. Charles Lowery, former senior pastor at Hoffmantown Church, in Albuquerque, NM last week at Timothy-Barnabas. Lowery stated, "you don't have to be rich to be generous, you have to be generous to be generous."

As the redeemed, we are instructed by God's word and inspired by the Holy Spirit to be generous in giving because Jesus was, and God is. Therefore, in being conformed to the image of His Son, we seek ways to give His time, talent and treasure for His purpose without complaint because God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 And as we do what His word says, God blesses us as we bless others.

Joy must be and remain the motivation for supporting His mission of ministry, both here as well as the uttermost parts of the earth and everywhere on the way.

Charles Swindoll shares this on the thought of extreme generosity in his book on 'Living Above the Level of Mediocrity.' "I think a unique way to look at this is to scare yourself a little. Remember when you didn't have much and you gave more than you should have given, at least for logic's sake. And because God is faithful to His promises, you made it. You didn't starve. Chances are good you are still rather well fed. And sufficiently clothed. But are you joyful?"

When we lose our joy in giving what God has given, we rob ourselves of His blessing and settle for the 'scraps' of life. Abundant life becomes nothing more than something we read about occasionally in church and may 'wish' for. The good news is that God is not dependent on the world economy or the prime interest rate being at a certain level for good investment. He owns it all and provides for His own when His own acknowledge His ownership in everything. As THE Priority of our lives, God is responsible for providing for all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

We as the redeemed of God through Jesus are responsible and accountable to daily place ourselves in the humble position of Jesus being Lord. There alone we will discover God's faithfulness to His word on an entirely new level of devotion that reveals itself in greater dependence.

How you and I respond to the challenges of ministry that lie ahead will determine how well we live the life that God provides through His Son with oversight from the Holy Spirit.

So, if you would like to turn the burdens of life into a blessing for life, give what He's given from a joyful heart and buckle your seat belt. Sure, there will be 'ups' and 'downs.' Plan on it! Better yet, prepare for it and pray through it! For it is in the 'ups' and 'downs' of a daily week, that a blessing from God awaits your response of obedience.

So, go ahead, scare yourself a little or a lot!

And you can tell others later of how exciting it was to have your heart rate up over something worthwhile!

God's best always!

Pstr K

Hebrews 10:35-36