Monday, January 30, 2012

Giving of My Money & Time

I often view God and I as a tag team...especially when it comes to giving. I can picture God helping people then reaching out his hand toward me to see if I want to help too. I tag it, just like during a wrestling match, climb in the ring and start helping! Okay, that's probably a strange illustration but it's what came to mind during my ride into work. Seriously, what a blessing it is that God allows us to be a part of helping others!

I have a lot of convictions about giving. Whether with my money or with my time, I know God wants me to be sacrificial. The thing've got to have conviction and that conviction needs to come from scripture and prayer. In a series I put together for women who just made the decision to follow Christ, I have two small lessons focused on honoring God with your monetary giving. Any lesson on giving could be filled with tons of scriptures but I thought I'd give you some basics and allow you to do additional research, study, and prayer about God's heart on the subject. (Don't just take my word for it...go read the scriptures and go find more. Search a site like bible gateway on words like tithe, giving, contribution) Giving is awesome! Below you will find a basic lesson, a few of my personal convictions, and after that is a cool link I found to a website that allows you to give to someone anonymously. Enjoy!

Give to God first:
*Prov 3:9 Tithing was 10% in the Old Testament (including money, crops, herds...etc)
*Malachi 3:6-12 God blesses your sacrifice

2 Corinthians 9:6-11   

~ give generously & trust God
~ it is your personal decision to be made with prayer & study

Matthew 6:1-4 
~ your gift can be private; no one has to know the amount or who you are giving to and supporting

Mark 12:41-43 ~ it is not about the amount but the heart (motive)

Hebrews 13:5 ~ be free from loving money; be content with what you have..

Deut. 15:7-11 (Deut 14:22-15:11 for more background) & Acts 4:34  
~ it was encouraged to give to the poor & needy directly; we often give through an organization and that's okay but it is often more impacting to our own hearts as well as to others when we take part in finding a way to give directly as an individual
~ strive for no poor among us

2 Cor. 8:1-7 & 13-15;
~ you can give to the church to help others in need
~ you can give to provide for people on staff (1 Cor 9:1-18)

Pledges & vows: take them seriously!
~ Deut. 23:21-23; Numbers 30:2

I'll share some of my personal convictions here but I do so with great caution because this is a tender subject. The list of scriptures is huge that I build my convictions on from the bible. My convictions go beyond the traditions the American church has established. I've been challenged a great deal by leadership in my local fellowship about my beliefs not being unified with the body but by God's mercy, I've always had scripture to back up my stance. And ever since I really studied it out and made solid decisions based on scripture, God has totally blessed my giving!

Unfortunately, as in most areas of our lives as Christians, we don't ask God what HE thinks or wants us to do near enough! Since I get paid once a month, I ask him who he wants me to help and how much he wants me to give. One month it may be less than 10% while the next he may call me to give 30% so I give according to the needs and work not to be legalistic with a percentage. I've seen it bear so much fruit and help so many people that were hurting.

After years of prayer, God continues to put on my heart a preference for our money to go to people in need of basics like food, clothing, and shelter. Because of this, I do not give to contributions (like a special missions contribution) where only 4% or so goes to individuals and the rest goes toward buildings, salaries, or honorariums to bring in someone to speak. Always feel empowered to ask what percentage of your giving goes directly to those in need. It's eye-opening! And this can help you make a better decision. The majority of my giving is private. I love being a secret giver for both my heart and my spirit. I do not make pledges unless God calls me to nor do I feel compelled to meet a vow that  someone made on my behalf to another fellowship. I also give cash whenever I can.

I often ask others about their giving and the scripture they base it on to continue to build my faith in this area and it's been great! My dear friend, there has to be trust between us as disciples and trust in God. Please do inquire of one another only be careful that your questioning doesn't turn into sessions full of distrust. I've been wounded a lot by this. Trust that person desires to please God and trust in God to be working as well. GIVE, love, and trust God! Be happy in your giving...believe in what you and God are are doing! You are a tag team. You are pleasing God and He is totally glorified!
"Giving Anonymously began in 2005. We began with a few goals in mind: We wanted to relationally connect people through giving. We wanted to make it fun. And in the process we wanted to protect relationships from feelings of awkwardness and obligation. Anyone who wants to give anonymously often finds that they don't know if the gift was actually received; or what it meant to the recipient. We came up with the idea to have a phone number where recipients could call after receiving their gift.
One of the most exciting things about Giving Anonymously is for a donor to be able to hear the messages left for them by recipients."

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