2 Corinthians 8:1-7

We are continuing our Foundations series, where we examine how our foundation of faith impacts the details of our living, and would love for you to share these devotionals with your friends if it impacted you.

 

Adversity with Generosity

 

Read:

. . . their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-7

 

Reflect:

Even when things don't work out, they still work together. Intentionally praising God’s goodness, love and wisdom in the midst of pain and heartache, is a beautiful expression of faith in action – a living expression of trust knowing that “God makes all this work together for the good.” There's nothing more valuable to God than our praise during times of pain. There is a special blessing for those who do not become offended during tough times, but instead respond to adversity with generosity.

In the section of his letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul is writing about the Christians of Macedonia. Macedonians lived in northern Greece. These Christians had been going through a great trial of affliction. Under dire circumstances, most people would've saved their money to provide for their future. Not so with these believers. Their joy in God was so deep that when confronted by the needs of others, they reversed the instinct to hoard and heaped supply on others.

These Christians were concerned about their fellow Christians back in Jerusalem who were experiencing famine and poverty. Because Jerusalem was having a hard time, Paul was collecting gifts for the people there while traveling through various churches. But not all Christians were willing to be very generous. So, Paul mentioned the Macedonians as model givers, in order to inspire others to give generously. The Macedonians were generous despite having to deal with severe trials and extreme poverty themselves. 

Their generosity didn’t speak about their wealth, it spoke about their inner spirit. As Paul put it, they were richly generous. That means they had a very healthy spirit! Later in this letter Paul tells the Corinthians that each of them must make their own decisions about their generosity, or lack of it. It must be a voluntary decision with each person trusting God as provider, and remembering that “God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Generosity isn’t so much a matter of our prosperity or habits, as it is of our inner life — our heart.

 

Respond:

Dear Lord, I simply ask today that You will create within me a heart that is as generous as Yours has been with me. Help me show Your love by giving generously. In Jesus name, Amen.

Luke 21:1-2

We are continuing our Foundations series, where we examine how our foundation of faith impacts the details of our living, and would love for you to share these devotionals with your friends if it impacted you.

 

A Generous Heart

 

Read:

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and He was a poor widow put in two small all copper coins.” Luke 21:1-2

 

Reflect:

Times are tough. They were in Jesus’ day too. The religious leaders were swindling the poor and defenseless. This particular widow drops into the treasury trumpets what little she had to live on. Jesus sees her sacrifice and declares her gift was more significant than all the others. Jesus experiences and expresses gratitude at the sight of our generosity. 

It isn’t difficult to see that times are hard for many people around us and across the world. The economy, at least for many, offers challenges. Money is spent before paychecks arrive. It’s during times like this that we recognize the statement, “Charity begins at home.” However, sometimes giving isn’t based on charity at all; it is based on faith in the relationship that God has with us.

This applied to the widow, who cast her two mites in Luke 21:14, and there are other widows who show the importance of the combination of faith and charity. Such as the widow who shared her last cake with Elijah, or the widow of Zarephath and her bottomless cruse of oil. How interesting it is that those who have the least to share are the ones who are the most generous.

Today, we need not be concerned with how much we have to share, but how willing we are to share what we have. We show we have generous hearts with every penny given to feed the poor, every prayer given to feed a soul, every action to right a wrong. These actions show we are strong in faith as well.

As you pray to discover and fulfill the cause that God has put in your heart, know that all of the people with whom you have had any kind of relationship will come together to help prepare you for what God has planned for you.

 

Respond:

Lord, help me to be willing to allow You to mold me and work through me to learn to live a life of generosity.

2 Corinthians 9:7

We are continuing our Foundations series, where we examine how our foundation of faith impacts the details of our living, and would love for you to share these devotionals with your friends if it impacted you.

 

The Generous Heart of God

Read:

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

 

Reflect:

There is a difference between submission and surrender. Submission can be forced, where there is a superficial yielding, one where a coercive, rigid choice is required. The decision is made, but not willingly. In contrast, surrender is an act of the will, it is a moment when all our resistance ceases to function. The disciple no longer evades the call to stubbornly give, but enters heart, mind, and soul into a state of glad surrender. Cheerful surrender frees us from the battle of excuse-making. What results is joyful generosity – a cheerful, persistent capacity to give free from obligation, strain and conflict. 

Having received the undeserved gift of salvation from Christ, we have been given the bona fide gift of eternal life from God. So, in a very fundamental way, we have been shown great generosity. Abundance can take many different forms. Some have more material resources to pull from, others have time, and still others just have a big heart. Some have unique talents that can benefit people.

Quantity of time is something we all have, twenty-four hours a day. Why not use some of that time being a blessing and benefit others? After all, we are surrounded by those who are hungry, thirsty, with souls in need. When the need comes before us, what form will our dedication to Christ take? Our surrender demonstrates a wholehearted acceptance of the generous heart of God.

Generosity can be easily observed. Beginning with your support of the church and its support of ministries, such as, participating in missions, providing things for people in shelters, adopting orphans and giving them a full life, ministering to our military families. The ongoing process of a disciple’s productivity includes becoming increasingly more generous.

 

Respond:

Consider the talents with which have you been gifted. Take your talents and give them back to God. Ask God what He’d have you do with what He gave you. Use your God-given talents to give back to others and show them the love of Christ. God gives us talents to use and serve others.

Philippians 4:10

Although we have concluded our study through the Book of Mark, we will continue to offer devotionals daily. We would love you to share these daily devotionals by choosing the “Share” button at the bottom of each one.

 

Creative Supply

Read:

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; . . .” Philippians 4:10

 

Reflect:

God has lots of creative ways that He meets our needs. Sometimes He meets our needs with abundant supply even before we’re aware we have a need. Take your need to breathe, for example. God uniquely designed the human body to need oxygen. He also creatively designed all plants on earth to produce oxygen. You were born needing oxygen. God provided oxygen even before you were aware of your need. 

Discipleship requires the courage to risk everything on Jesus, along with the willingness to keep growing and the readiness to face failure. Paul had risked it all for the sake of the call. He daringly stepped out into the borderlands of God’s will, with no more than an inkling of what was next. Throughout his voyage of courage, he discovered the creative supply of God. God had used the Philippians to provide financial assistance for Paul and his work for the Lord. Part of Paul’s provision was from the Philippian church.

One of God’s other creative ways to meet your needs is by including other people in the process. God designed relationships like family, friends, and the Church to keep His abundant supply in circulation. So perhaps you need some encouragement today. God has put you in relationships with people who can deliver some of God’s encouragement, just for you. Maybe you need some support today. God has provided friends, family, and, sometimes even people you don’t know, who can be a part of meeting that need.

 

Respond:

Think on how God has done that in your life. You may have been unaware of God’s creative supply, but how has God provided for you through other people? When do you remember sensing some of God’s special care, delivered through another person? Think of how you are passing this along within your family. Take time to thank God for His provision. The apostle Paul rejoiced greatly in the Lord because of how He provided through other people. Can you do the same?

Luke 12:24

Although we have concluded our study through the Book of Mark, we will continue to offer devotionals daily. We would love you to share these daily devotionals by choosing the “Share” button at the bottom of each one.

 

For The Birds

Read:

“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?” Luke 12:24

 

Reflect:

Most descriptions of the Christian life do not match people’s reality of their life. Marriage doesn’t blossom into bliss, kids are difficult to raise, and careers can stall. Our clumsy attempts to be like Jesus with others cause more problems than they solve. Only Jesus knows how to put it all together.

When we remember God’s special care for us and embrace the truth that He is a need-meeting God, at least two things can result:

1. We increase our ability to see Him work in our lives and the lives of our family. We can see God more easily because we know He is trustworthy.

Jesus reminded us of God’s care on our behalf when He described the Father’s care for birds and flowers. Jesus described God’s care of the ravens and how God feeds the birds and carefully provides for them. In Jewish culture, this would have been particularly significant because ravens were considered unclean creatures that were the least respected birds of the day. Jesus pointed out that if God cared enough to provide for the ravens, He certainly will provide for you and me and our families.

2. As our faith in God increases we come to believe in God, count on Him and look to Him to meet our needs for the future. And consequently, we get to please God. Our demonstrations of faith in Him actually make God smile. He loves it when we trust Him. Without faith, it is impossible to please God.

 

Respond:

Take a few minutes to reflect on the many ways that God has provided for you and your family. Remember the ways He has noticed your needs and been sensitive to you and what you’re going through. Reflect on the ways He has responded to you and acted on your behalf. Remember the people God has brought into your life. Remember the special care Christ demonstrated on the cross. Now, because you know the truth, that He is a need-meeting God, declare your faith in Him for your future.

Psalm 136:1

Although we have concluded our study through the Book of Mark, we will continue to offer devotionals daily. We would love you to share these daily devotionals by choosing the “Share” button at the bottom of each one.

 

Spiritual Cosmetics

Read:

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!” Psalm 136:1

 

Reflect:

You can stop it now! Stop always trying to make yourself presentable to God. Accept it, God loves you. God is love, it’s who He is and it’s what He does. He loves, at all times. He’s not fickle or flaky, He’s not temperamental or unreasonable. Your deepest awareness is you are loved by God.

So you can stop lying to yourself. You don’t have to put on spiritual cosmetics to make yourself acceptable to God. God loves you, now bask in it.

Have you ever thought about the way God views you? What do you think goes through God’s mind when He sees you? What kind of expression is on God’s face when He considers your life? What emotions does He experience? You might be surprised to know that He even considers your life. He beams with pride when He watches you go about your day!

A key ingredient for coming to truly know and love the real God is gaining an accurate understanding of how He sees us. If we believe that God is distant and not particularly concerned with our lives, it will be difficult to feel that we can truly come to know Him. If we think that God is constantly inspecting us or disappointed with us, we will find it hard to love Him. It is only when we experience God’s delight in us, as His children, that we are free to truly experience delight in Him in turn.

Listen with your heart and you will hear the sweet sound of amazing grace saving you from amazing self-deception. God loves you as you are, He also knows you as you are, and you haven’t done anything to deserve it.

Let it sink into your spirit. God loves you, He’s proud of you. Now, let it flow out of you towards your own family. How do you show that you are happy about knowing them? Have you shown it in words or deeds? How would it be evident that you were proud of your parents or spouse and kids? 

 

Respond:

How is God’s love of you affecting your family? List as many ways as you can.