Thanksgiving – 6-17-22

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9 NKJV

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! And we pray for the peace of Jerusalem! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Second Corinthians chapter 8 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Excel in Giving

Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency [a]that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.

Christ Our Pattern

I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

10 And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; 11 but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. 12 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.

13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”

Collection for the Judean Saints

16 But thanks be to God who [b]puts the same earnest care for you into the heart of Titus. 17 For he not only accepted the exhortation, but being more diligent, he went to you of his own accord. 18 And we have sent with him the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches, 19 and not only that, but who was also chosen by the churches to travel with us with this gift, which is administered by us to the glory of the Lord Himself and to show your ready mind, 20 avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us— 21 providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

22 And we have sent with them our brother whom we have often proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, because of the great confidence which we have in you. 23 If anyone inquires about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker concerning you. Or if our brethren are inquired about, they are messengers[c] of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 Therefore show to them, [d]and before the churches, the proof of your love and of our boasting on your behalf.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 8:4 NU, M omit that we would receive, thus changing text to urgency for the favor and fellowship
  2. 2 Corinthians 8:16 NU has put
  3. 2 Corinthians 8:23 Lit. apostles, “sent ones”
  4. 2 Corinthians 8:24 NU, M omit and

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Acts 4:12- “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

I titled today: Thanksgiving – because, at least here in America we eat too much then eat some more. Today’s chapter is a buffet table prepared with an even greater abundance than the typical Thanksgiving feast! This is the rich meat. I hope you came hungry for God to speak to you through today’s word.

First a little 1st century history. In 1st Corinthians Paul thanked them for being willing to take up a special offering for the church in Jerusalem.  The disciples tried to run the early church the same way they lived together on the road with Jesus – having all things in common. They quickly went broke and prayerfully adopted the same financial system the temple had (which God established). On top of that they had the misfortune of a localized drought and food shortages. On top of that Rome was quietly putting pressure on Jerusalem (because of the temple and the Jews refusing to assimilate into the roman ways) so there were supply chain shortages and work shortages. Which we know all came to a head in the year 70 – when Rome destroyed the temple. (And for reference Paul penned this letter approx. the year 55.)
In this letter (in today’s reading) Paul is reminding them they still have not paid the special offering which they committed to – which Paul thanked them for in the first letter).
In Acts chapter 5, there is a passage about Ananias and Sapphira. This couple told God they were selling property and giving all of the money to the church. They changed their minds and did not want to give the whole amount. Instead of saying so and instead of prayerfully working it out, they lied to the church and said they sold it for less money and continued to lie when saying they fulfilled their commitment.
Be careful of your commitments to God. Once you say you will do something, you better. Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead instantly for this sin.
Let’s talk about money.

Money is one of the topic Jesus spoke about the most – yet it is the least spoken of topic from the pulpit. Because you cannot even begin to address money without starting with tithes and offerings.  Bringing your best to the Lord, as an offering was first recorded in Genesis with Able’s offering.  
Then throughout history the Bible records God blessing a cheerful giver. Solomon gave the biggest well planned offering and God blessed him with wisdom and abundant riches. The widow who fed Elijah and her pots never ran dry – she gave it all and was blessed.  And there is example after example.
Jesus praises the New Testament widow who gave her last 2 mites, she is recorded for eternity. And of course the lady with the alabaster box of expensive oil, who anointed Jesus – she definitely goes down as a memorable giver. My point is that today’s discussion will be long and can be cross referenced throughout the Bible. But, I will refrain from drawing comparisons with every testimony of someone giving in the Bible.

SO why isn’t it touched on much by the church – well a few false prophets in the 80’s ruined it for everyone most recently and now everyone is scared of being classified with them. I am not – because my ministry to you (of writing this blog) is not set up as an official organization and I cannot take donations or offerings. This is just something God compels me to do and I obey as an act of worship. An offering in a sense.

God is a God of prosperity and blessings – not to reap it unto our lusts and flesh, but we are blessed in order to bless others. The prosperity Gospel is truth – we cannot deny it or change the gospel in order to keep ourselves from looking like a false prophet prosperity preacher. If you do not have a mega church and you live modestly giving abundantly to God – you should NOT have any issue with preaching the exceedingly abundant blessings, including financial, of the Lord. If you aren’t asking for an amount or a gift in exchange for prayer or prophecy you are good.

And if you aren’t a Church leader – Never give an offering to God in exchange for prayer – I will pray for you for free, so will many others. DO NOT give in exchange for prophecy – I can prophesy for free that they will lie to you! ONLY GIVE TO THE LORD OUT OF WORSHIP>

Today, Lord, open our understanding and give us a mindset change. Tear down wrong thinking and teach us how to give AND receive. Break any strongholds that hinder our blessings. AND destroy all standing in the way of us giving to you like Able with a pure heart out of love – in worship of you. In Jesus name ~amen

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt 6:21 NKJV

If you love God, then your checkbook should show it – but moreover, because it is a heart thing, it is an act of worship and thanksgiving.

So let’s try to do this in one day:

Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.”

So the churches in Macedonia were poor. A poor region is different than a poor area of a city. This region did not have the same access to wealth, roman trade, and other things that a wealthy city like Corinth took for granted. Macedonians lived modestly, and traded with each other to sustain life, without money. So taking an offering from people without money should have been difficult.
But as we see in verse 1, the GRACE of God was bestowed on them. Heavenly Father, please pour out your grace on us as we eager learn how to worship you with our relationship with finances. Amen
And in verse two we see they had a great trial of afflictions – and in spite of it they had abundance of joy.  Listen, grief is normal and needed, but there is a time we must let Joy come in the morning. IF we do not we will give way for the demonic spirit of death to trap us in mourning. Just like God wants us blessed, He wants us joyful, regardless of the trials and grief.

For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.”

Paul himself saw this – they gave according to their ability and beyond their ability. We are going to get into it at some point, but I might as well touch on it here. God does not want you to borrow or go into debt to give an offering. I would LOVE to give a million dollars to the Kingdom of God to do His work. But I do not have a million dollars. Do not go into debt to give. So how did they go beyond their means. Well, the next chapter will explain it better – but in short, these people were so eager and hungry to give to this offering they asked God to bless them with more so they could give more!

And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.”

Every Sunday at offering time – are you in worship? Are you asking what you should give? Are you asking for MORE so you can give more? I am. And when I have no money, I ask God what do I have in my hands that you want me to give and I asks for more so I can give more of it too! Offerings, also include non-monetary gifts as well as acts of service.
God gave me a business and as many of you know it is going through new business struggles. I did not expect them, I expected grace to let me overcome and just succeed. But God has me going through it as well as dealing with attacks on my finances, like large dollar repairs and issues. I can confidently say: God is faithful. But am I? Are you? Not just in service where man can see – but in private, in your heart are you giving ALL of you to God first, then by the will of God to the offerings.

So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well.”

So Titus seems to be the messenger – Titus does not complete grace in anyone. Titus is supposed to pick up the grace offering for the church in Jerusalem. (and boy are those Christians about to need it!)

But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.”

Grace. Some always say it is God’s favor. But if that was accurate it is a stretch for Paul to use it to describe giving an offering here in verse 7. I always say grace has and is an action – it transforms / is transforming. This implies that Paul does not what them to just give an offering, but Paul wants them to give themselves to God, be transformed, into super-givers like the people of Macedonia. There is a little bit of a low-key challenge put forth here.

Ok but not only because Macedonia gave well – let’s look also at the example Jesus gave us:

I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”

I once heard that this verse was speaking of spiritual riches. In case you heard that too, let’s discuss it: 1st, why would Paul go from talking about money to talking about spatial riches then back to money. This is Paul’s offering call. 2nd, Jesus was never anything but rich in the spirit. Even as a child, wandering away from his family to discuss the word in the temple… Jesus was always rich in spirit.
Jesus was wealthy in heaven before he came to earth and he is still wealthy now that he sits on the right hand of the father:
For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.” Psalms 50:10-12 NKJV
I know that is different than monetary wealth.
‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts” Haggai 2:8 NKJV

So, Jesus gave it all up, so that we can access it, through Him. The enemy is busy stealing your inheritance right out from under your nose. God did not make us to be impoverished!

10 And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago;”

A year ago, they committed to taking up an offering. Then they had all sorts of problems as we have seen addressed in these letter. Isn’t that how it always works. I save up some money to give and then something breaks – I give the money anyway, because I committed to it.

11 but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have.”
You can’t just commit to it – you have to actually do it. Some of us may find this type of logic normal. We know the offering isn’t actually given until it is given. But to my surprise people really do think that having the intention to is enough and equal to doing it. Very recently, actress, Amber Heard, was very publicly embarrassed by her own lack of understanding that she must actually give the money to the charity not just pledge it. Yes – there are people out there who do not understand this.

12 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”

Give what you can – not going in debt. If you want, ask God to provide more so you can give more. Someday the church is Jerusalem may have an abundance and be able to help you out.
Some people get really excited to help in relieve efforts – other are greedy and do not help. Paul is trying to explain the concept of a community relief effort. In the USA, we often throw together relief efforts for wars and natural disasters. This is not a new concept to us. What Paul was doing was collecting for the FIRST global church wide relief effort.

So onto some housekeeping for Paul. Because obviously we must be VERY clear with these Corinthians:

16 But thanks be to God who puts the same earnest care for you into the heart of Titus. 17 For he not only accepted the exhortation, but being more diligent, he went to you of his own accord. 18 And we have sent with him the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches, 19 and not only that, but who was also chosen by the churches to travel with us with this gift, which is administered by us to the glory of the Lord Himself and to show your ready mind, 20 avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us— 21 providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.”

Titus and his team are working on this relief effort under Paul’s direction as Paul is administrating it. Paul is wise – he has removed himself from the money. This means he gets no praise – but no one can blame foul play on him if something goes wrong. But this “Lavish Gift” is not from Paul – but from the churches.
Wait, did you catch that? Did you ever stop to think about it? Paul did not collect offering for Himself at churches and Paul only worked when he was separated from the team, and only asked the churches for money when he was jailed and separated from his team. How did Paul afford to take a team and travel the world, starting churches? We know Paul’s family must have had some wealth, as they had Paul taught in both Greek and in Hebrew school.  Paul may have had family wealth to pay for these missions trips. It may have been money from the church in Jerusalem, who funded many missions trips out to start all the churches, besides Paul’s trips. It may have been a combination. All I know is that Paul was not a poor beggar, as many try to explain him to be. You take a team to the next country over and start a bunch of churches and feed them and shelter them and tell me if you can do it without money. You’d be hard pressed to even gather a team without assuring you could feed them.
Even Jesus had many wealthy women supporting His ministry. Why did He have an accountant if He was broke?
‘Hey, Judas, How much do we have?’
‘None.’
Next day – ‘How much today?’
‘Still none.’
And they gave to the government what belongs to the government and they made offerings in the temple.

22 And we have sent with them our brother whom we have often proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, because of the great confidence which we have in you. 23 If anyone inquires about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker concerning you. Or if our brethren are inquired about, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 Therefore show to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love and of our boasting on your behalf.”

Ok, so listen Kids, Paul says as fatherly as he can: Titus is with me and if anyone asks you say so and you defend him like you defend me. (To the same people who asked Paul for credentials and accused him of not being sent to them by God – when he founded the church. Paul has a LOT of faith in these people.)

And Paul concludes with asking them to make sure their offering is worthy of his boasting about how great the church at Corinth is. Above we had a low-key challenge to give a good offering, and here we have an outright challenge that they live up to their name!  Offering challenges are NOT just for children.

So today, start planning your offering for Sunday. Not your tithe, but your special offering showing God you are willing to read a passage about giving and immediately apply it to your life in obedience. Let God challenge you. Give yourself completely over to him and let his will be done. Ask God to give you more so you can give more. When God gives you a number (and if you still have money in your bank account) ask Him if that is it. Let us make sure our treasure and our heart is in the Lord. I mean, what can we give to the God who has everything? Nothing shy of our all!  Begin worshiping Him today with planning of what you’ll be giving. Maybe you need to loose something, and maybe you need to get to the bank and free something up. So start planning today.

And make sure you have a joyful and thankful heart as you worship God with your gift.  Like today was a Thanksgiving style buffet of deep riches, and we think about how much money we spend of thanksgiving meals, what is enough for our savior?!

Have a blessed weekend and may God give you the grace to apply this teaching. Please join us for the weekend wisdom reading from the book of Psalms. And join me again here on Monday to discuss the next chapter of 2nd Corinthians.

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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