Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” 2 Corinthians 9:6
It’s interesting to me that Jesus taught more about money than any other subject. He consistently talked about the importance of generosity and the deadly danger of greed. To the man who asked Jesus to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him, Jesus responded by warning, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). And in Luke 6:38 Jesus taught, “Give, and it will be given to you . . . pressed down, shaken together and running over.” To disciples distracted by financial needs, Jesus assured them that the Father knows they need such things as food and clothes: “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well” (Luke 12:22-31).
God’s plan is simple—give to gain. In other words, give to the kingdom and God will take care of your needs.
The great British preacher Charles H. Spurgeon once learned about this kind of trust while trying to raise money for poor children in London. He went to Bristol hoping to collect £300 (which in those days was a huge amount of money) for London’s homeless children. At the end of the week of meetings, many lives had been changed and his financial goal had been reached. That night, as he bowed in prayer, Spurgeon was clearly prompted to give the money to a co-laborer of Christ named George Mueller.
“Oh no, Lord,” answered Spurgeon, “I need it for my own dear orphans.” Yet Spurgeon couldn’t shake the idea that God wanted him to part with it. Only when he said, “Yes, Lord, I will,” could he find rest.
With great peace, he made his way the next morning to Mueller’s orphanage and found the great man of prayer on his knees. The famous minister placed his hand on Mueller’s shoulder and said, “George, God has told me to give you the £300 I’ve collected.”
“Oh, my dear brother,” exclaimed Mueller,” I’ve just been asking him for exactly that amount!” The two servants of the Lord wept and rejoiced together.
When Spurgeon returned to London, he found an envelope on his desk containing more than £300. The Lord had returned the £300 he had obediently given to Mueller, with 300 shillings of interest!
Spurgeon learned what another generous believer once said: “I shovel out, and God shovels in, and he has a bigger shovel than I do.” And while the return may or may not be monetary, you can be sure that your heart will overflow with the joy of giving generously and seeing His kingdom prosper.
And you don’t have to look back a hundred plus years to discover stories about the overflowing generosity of God to people who cheerfully give their money to the needs of others and God’s work. Just ask those who have discovered the joy of giving. They’ve got plenty of stories to prove the point. Let me invite you to get a few stories of your own!
|May 1, 2017
Choosing to See Beyond Your Grief
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” Ephesians 1:18 (NIV)
I remember when I heard the news. I was elated and squealed and cried! I hugged our kids, my husband, the dog and anyone else close enough to grab!
I asked my son and daughter-in-law a million questions. And then, hours later, alone in my bed, I processed the news … alone in the reality of fresh loss. The sadness closed in like the final curtain after a beautiful play. Elation was replaced by reality — a reality that brought feelings I never expected.
The reality is, I’m blind. I am about to become a grandma, and I won’t see my grandbaby’s eyes. I won’t know if he has Clayton’s nose or Caroline’s mouth. I won’t see his smile. I won’t see his tiny hands balled into fists as he toddles on chunky little legs taking his first steps. I was deflated. I wept. I asked God a million questions as I hugged my pillow.
Lord, I won’t be able to care for him or take him to the park or color with him or even play peek-a-boo.
Will he think of me as the grandma who isn’t fun? Will he feel safe with me? Will I be the grandma he’s unsure of until he’s old enough to understand?
As I tossed and turned and prayed and cried, I thought of how much I wanted to feel gratitude, not grief. Joy, like when I first heard the news … before sorrow clouded my vision.
I lost my sight at 15, but now at 53, becoming a grandma is forcing me to grieve blindness in new and unexpected ways.
Grief and gratefulness can share the same heartbeat, but they don’t always share the same viewpoint. I want to see beyond grief and fix my eyes only on gratefulness.
That’s why I need to see with my heart. And, sister, I have a strong feeling I’m not the only one. But we can’t unless God opens the eyes of our hearts, as our key verse says:
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people” (Ephesians 1:18).
When God opens the eyes of our hearts, we can see the hope to which we are called. We’re not called to despair or constant grief; we are called to hope.
God wants to open our spiritual eyes so we can see hope with our hearts. When we see with our hearts, we see blessing and potential tucked within loss and disappointment.
When we see with our hearts, we focus on what we have, not what we’ve lost. We view our situations, our whole lives, through the eyes of gratefulness. And grateful eyes will always see hope.
Seeing with our hearts doesn’t mean we won’t still hurt. It doesn’t mean we see everything through rose-colored filters. Grief is still real, and grief still hurts. But when we ask God to open our spiritual eyes, we see beyond the loss.
I may not see little dimples and dancing brown eyes with my eyes, but I can feel wonder when I touch that satiny skin. I may not see that baby’s sweet face, but I can hear a thousand anthems of praise in his giggle. I can caress infant skin bearing the fingerprint of God and feel gratefulness and hope radiate through my grief. I can and will see that baby with my heart.
You may hold unexpected grief in your heart today. Maybe you carry a burden that makes you grateful or a gift that makes you cry. No matter what life looks like for you today, God can help you see it with the eyes of your heart.
I know He can, my sister, because that’s what He’s doing for me. When we see with our hearts, hope bursts on the horizon, no matter how cloudy or dark the day.
God is the one who opens eyes. He opens eyes of the blind and those who see perfectly but are blinded by disappointment, loss or grief.
So, if what you see discourages you, ask God to open the eyes of your heart and fix them on what is unseen. Because what is seen is temporary, and what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Dear Lord, focus my spiritual eyes so I can see Your hand, Your heart and Your purpose in all I experience. Let me see with my heart today and every day, so I can see hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Faith— Not Emotion
For a while, we are fully aware of God’s concern for us. But then, when God begins to use us in His work, we begin to take on a pitiful look and talk only of our trials and difficulties. And all the while God is trying to make us do our work as hidden people who are not in the spotlight. None of us would be hidden spiritually if we could help it. Can we do our work when it seems that God has sealed up heaven? Some of us always want to be brightly illuminated saints with golden halos and with the continual glow of inspiration, and to have other saints of God dealing with us all the time. A self-assured saint is of no value to God. He is abnormal, unfit for daily life, and completely unlike God. We are here, not as immature angels, but as men and women, to do the work of this world. And we are to do it with an infinitely greater power to withstand the struggle because we have been born from above.
If we continually try to bring back those exceptional moments of inspiration, it is a sign that it is not God we want. We are becoming obsessed with the moments when God did come and speak with us, and we are insisting that He do it again. But what God wants us to do is to “walk by faith.” How many of us have set ourselves aside as if to say, “I cannot do anything else until God appears to me”? He will never do it. We will have to get up on our own, without any inspiration and without any sudden touch from God. Then comes our surprise and we find ourselves exclaiming, “Why, He was there all the time, and I never knew it!” Never live for those exceptional moments— they are surprises. God will give us His touches of inspiration only when He sees that we are not in danger of being led away by them. We must never consider our moments of inspiration as the standard way of life— our work is our standard.