Daily Devotional for Thursday October 6, 2005
Those who Sacrificed for the Work of God
(Exodus 35:4,5,21, 36:4-7; 1 Chronicles 29:2,6)
I have always been challenged in reading God's Word about those who made great sacrifices for His work. When I read the Bible, I try to put myself in the actual scene that is being described. I wonder what it would be like to have been in the assembly as Moses told the people about the Tabernacle, and then challenged them to give all that was needed to build it. I can imagine being there as David shared the plans for building a Temple to God, describing all that would be needed to build God's house.
Judas was the treasurer of the disciples who followed Jesus. You don't need a treasurer unless you have a treasury. Obviously, during those 3 years of ministry, Christ and those who followed Him had to deal with the same necessities of life you and I do. They had to have a place to sleep each night, food to eat, clothes to wear, as well as whatever other miscellaneous expenses that were involved in their day to day lives. We read about a few of the people who gave to Christ during his ministry including Mary who anointed Jesus with perfume and Joseph of Arimathea who supplied the tomb Jesus was buried in.
Without a doubt, the person from God's Word I would have loved to follow and watch was Paul. Just the glimpse into his life we get from the book of Acts and the letters he wrote were amazing. Here was a man who was as sold out for Jesus as any man could be. He was faithful to his calling to serve the Lord with his life in bringing the message of Christ to the world of his day. We read about all of the real life issues Paul had to face in serving the Lord. One of those real life issues was raising the money he needed to accomplish all that he did during his ministry.
Lost by most people in reading his various letters to the church are some of the best fundraising appeals you will ever read. Last week I was flipping through the TV stations one evening and one of the large Christian networks was having their telethon they put on several times a year to raise money. In flipping back and forth over the course of several hours, I heard about every twisted use of Scripture, emotional plea, and guilt trip you could name to get people to go to the phone and give money.
To my knowledge, Paul never held a telethon, never sold "resources," never mailed out "prayer cloths," never promised people they would be debt free by giving to his ministry, didn't preach a powerful message then end his message with, "now give me money." No, Paul simply shared his needs, reminded the people of their responsibility to support God's work, encouraged them to give according to their ability, and give cheerfully out of a grateful heart for all God has done in their lives.
Even though I spent 4 years in the Christian television world and have seen every trick, every game, every Scripture that is used to induce people to give, I have done my very best from day one to emulate Paul in not only his fearless dedication in serving the Lord with everything he had, but in dealing with the reality of having to finance the ongoing work of God here at Liveprayer by simply sharing our needs from time to time and trusting God to move on people's hearts to help me reach the lost and hurting in this world for Christ.
The Bible tells us of the great sacrifices a few made in supporting the work of God. The fact is, it has been millions of faithful people since the Garden of Eden that have sacrificed to make possible the work of God throughout all of these years, people whose names will never be known by anyone but God Himself. Each month there are hundreds who faithfully and sacrificially give to God's work here at Liveprayer. Some can only give $5, others $10,000. The amount is not important since it is your heart that God sees. I pray daily for those who are led and able to give, knowing that they are part of a wonderful group of people that have made the work of God possible throughout the ages.
I love you and care about you so much. The tithe, or the tenth, is what was paid to the priest in the Old Testament. The fact is, 100% of everything we have belongs to God. When we give, we are simply giving back a portion of what God has entrusted to us as an act of obedience, sacrifice, and worship. My advice on giving is this. Sit down with God and work out your budget and pray about what you can give to Him each week. Come to a peace about that figure and then faithfully and cheerfully give your offering each week.
Even if you have very little, you can give God a dime, a quarter, or a dollar. Remember, the widow at the temple gave very little in terms of actual money, but Jesus said she gave the most of all since it was out of her need. God is never going to ask you to give what you don't have, only what you do have. Also, God may move on your heart to make special gifts from time to time. Simply be obedient and give as God directs you to and never forget that He is not impressed by the amount we give, but by our faithfulness and obedience to give it.