Thursday, September 25, 2008

Giving Makes "Scents"

I have a sweet friend who brings me Dunkin Donuts coffee on a regular basis. We both love it, and she often brings me a big cup when she comes to church. It is such a thoughtful and enjoyable gift! I certainly don't expect it, but it means a lot when someone gives you something out of the kindness of their heart.

My husband is also a considerate and wonderful person. He recently brought me a beautiful bouquet of roses! I love it when he surprises with something like that. Think how I might feel, though, if I found out he only did because he felt it was duty, or that he really didn't want to buy me roses at all. Thankfully, that isn't the case. A gift can lose it's value if it is not given sincerely or freely.

I. The Ministry Is Giving

Today, we want to think about the aroma of our ministry. Ministry is giving to the Lord. Often, when we think of giving to God, we only think about money; but God desires that we give of our substance, and more importantly, of our selves. God describes the right kind of offerings and gifts in the Bible as a "sweetsmelling savour." Ephesians 5:2 tells us, "And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour." Christ is our example, and He admonishes us to remember, "...freely ye have received, freely give." (Mt. 10:8).

In Philippians 4:18, Paul spoke of the gift he had received from the church, "But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God." As this church was obedient to Christ, and they gave to Paul, they encouraged him and met his needs.

What kind of aroma does my ministry have? As I give of myself to the Lord, and to those around me, is it "sweet smelling"?

II. The Measure of Our Giving

God does not look at the amount of our gifts compared to what others give. He looks at the amount of our gifts compared to what we could give. Think of the story of the widow with two mites. Jesus called the attention of the disciples to those who were giving to the treasury at the Temple. He said that "many that were rich cast in much." However, His praise was for "a certain poor widow" who threw in two mites. He told His disciples, "....this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."

Many times, I think we hesitate to give our talents and our time to God, as well as our treasures, because we think it isn't enough. We get caught up in comparing ourselves with those around us instead of just doing our best for God. God says this is not wise. (II Cor. 10:12). God will hold us accountable for giving out of what He has given us.

He also tells us in Luke 6:38, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." We were talking in Phebe Fellowship last week about giving. I was telling the ladies that I always think of brown sugar when I think of this verse! When you measure brown sugar, you pack it in, and add a little more, and pack it down some more. That's what I think of when I think of "...good measure, pressed down.....". The end of this verse is very important though, because God tells us that He will measure to us the way that we measure to others. If I give to God and others with a "teaspoon", that's how God will give to me. If I give with a "cup", God will fill it up and give it back. What if I give with a bushel basket?

God doesn't measure the way that we do. If we want to see the blessings of God on our homes, our families, and our ministries, we need to give everything we have to Him. Hasn't He given everything to us?

III. The Motives of Our Giving

God not only measures differently than we do, He sees the motives behind our giving. God is less concerned with the amount of our gift than He is with the attitude in which we give it. Consider II Corinthians 9:7, where God says, "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." Just as I would not want my husband to give me a gift because he felt he "had to", so God does want us to give to Him in that way. Am I doing my service for the Lord "grudgingly", dragging my feet, wishing I could do something else? Or, am I giving "of necessity", because it's my "duty" to do? God isn't pleased with either one. God loves cheerful givers. He wants us to give to Him because we love Him and desire to please Him.

When we give to the Lord cheerfully, we can be assured that it is a sweet smelling sacrifice to Him. How precious it is to receive a gift that is given out of love. How wonderful that God desires our gifts! Let's determine to "serve the Lord with gladness" and give our all to Him.

These are the lyrics to a song I wrote last year (the music is not yet in print....sorry!). I pray that I can do what this song says.

I Must Give All

Christ left His throne in glory, and dwelt with sinful men,
His perfect blood was offered in payment for my sin.
He gave salvation freely; not one part did I earn,
What can I give Him in return?

I must give all! I must give all!
How can I dare to bring Him less when at His feet I fall?
He paid the highest price to be my sacrifice,
A portion of myself will not suffice,
I must give all!

He asks that I would love Him with all my heart and soul,
My mind, and strength, and body placed in His full control,
And when I look into His face, and at His nail-scarred hands,
How can I question His demands?

I must give all! I must give all!
How can I dare to bring Him less when at His feet I fall?
He paid the highest price to be my sacrifice,
A portion of myself will not suffice,
I must give all!

Copyright 2007 Niki Lott

Tomorrow's Topic: "Note"-able Scents

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