Friday, September 26, 2008

Street Level Devotions, God Makes A Way For The Poor

Luke 2: 22-24
The time came for Mary and Joseph to do what the Law of Moses says a mother is supposed to do after her baby is born. They took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem and presented him to the Lord, just as the Law of the Lord says, "Each first-born baby boy belongs to the Lord." The Law of the Lord also says that parents have to offer a sacrifice, giving at least a pair of doves or two young pigeons. So that is what Mary and Joseph did.

A while back I was visiting a church and was appalled at how they took up their offering. The pastor, stood up front in a nice suit asking the congregation to lift up their envelopes filled with their tithes and offerings. A tithe or offering are monetary gifts that people give. God uses these so we can show our faithfulness. One can often tell how much one loves God by the money they give or by how much time one spends doing work that shows God honor. Many people put their offerings and tithes for the church into an envelope so they can get credit for the gift.

The pastor had people hold up their envelopes, and told them to recite a saying that was on the overhead screen. “God give me a bigger house.” “Give me more money.” “Increase my 401-K Lord.” “God, let our pastor have the nicest Armani suits.” “Jesus give me that car I have been asking for!”

The congregation repeated these things after their pastor then took their offerings up and placed them in a box at the feet of the pastor. I was ready to leave but stuck around for the rest of the service. I have this saying; it goes like this, “If that message doesn’t preach in Bangladesh, it don’t preach here.” In other words, if the prosperity preached by so many doesn’t work in the poorest of poor countries, it isn’t Biblical. I would challenge, this church had issues with understanding the Bible as they clearly presented a message contrary to the Bible.

In looking at the story of Mary and Joseph we can see; they were poor, if anyone would have been blessed by God to become rich, it was these two. Joseph was a struggling carpenter, and Mary was a pregnant teenager. We know they didn’t have money because the customs of their time required them to make a sacrifice, a tithe or offering if you will.

One of the things about God some don’t understand is He made provisions for the wealthy and the poor. We see this in part from the Bible verses above. We know Mary and Joseph were poor because of the type of offering they gave God in celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Today many get upset and think they have to give a lot to God, yet the Bible has numerous stories of how God doesn’t expect the same types of gifts from the poor as he does the wealthy. He has a way the poor can show their love and it shows it is more about intent than amount.

We often make excuses as to why we can’t give to God. We need to realize, that while we may not have much to give, God still expects us to give of our time, and money no matter how little we have. This is something the poor seems to appreciate; at least I have over the years. When one goes out of their way to show me love, I am grateful and want to show appreciation. I challenge, none has given us as much, or loved us as much as God. While I may not be able to give much, I can give and frankly God deserves to know I love him. Remember we show this mainly with our pocketbooks and calendar. This is a universal truth no matter how much money you have.

This week, let’s not make an excuse as to why we can’t give to God’s work, whether it is money or time. As much as he has done for us, shouldn’t we show him our appreciation?

Thought for the day: God while I may not have much, thank you for what I do have. Help me be grateful for all of the little things you have provided.

The following is a video that shows a challenging way one can give. When we give finances to ministry, many can do things like this, but remember, God wants more than our money, he wants our time, therefore we can give like this more than in just the way of finance, but of time and effort. The video is challenging, but I challenge you to watch. Just click on the video, and if it don't appear, just click on the link.

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