Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Grace That Leads to Joy - Part 3

                                                                       Wednesday, June 1, 2016
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  Philippians 4:23(NLT)
So far this week we’ve seen that there can, indeed be joy in life, and even in the face of tragedy, and that it can even make you joyfully-grateful that God allows such things.  Further,

Grace makes you a joyful giver

As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia.  No other church did this.  Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once.  I don’t say this because I want a gift from you.  Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness.  At the moment I have all I need—and more!  I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus.  They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God.  And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.    Philippians 4:15-19(NLT)
Giving is a touchy subject!  It is particularly so for those who have not yet gotten the idea that it is a joy to give.  But giving is never a touchy subject when the right conditions exist:

People give when hearts are touched

I have a friend who manages to put a few dollars away each month for the purpose of finding God's needy spot.  He prays about this money, that God will direct him to the need.  This is a heart that is touched with compassion and enthusiasm for the gospel.  I can tell it gives him a lot of joy to be able to give.  One church member confided in me that giving just a dollar or two above her tithe to help a needy child gave her more joy than anything else she does.  When your heart is touched with compassion for the needs of people, you give joyfully.  But then,

People give sacrificially when the heart is transferred (to God)

There is a difference in the joy of a gift, and a sacrificial gift.  Paul's pride and joy, the Philippian group were examples of sacrificial giving.  Richard Melick wrote:  Their giving was exemplary because they gave out of 'rock-bottom poverty.[2] 
What is it like to give sacrificially? 
A man who had been laid-off from his job for four years gave his wife a dishwasher at Christmas.  What a gift!  But there's more...the old house they lived in had its original wiring, and could not have handled the required installation.  There was no spot big enough in the kitchen for such a machine.  And they had not been able to meet even the interest payment on their mortgage in six months.  No large box appeared; no new plumbing or wiring.  There was just a small handwritten note on the branch of somebody's castaway Christmas tree:
"For one year I will wash all of the dirty dishes in this household.  Every one!"
And he did![3] 
Now, that's sacrificial (by most men's standards)!  And sacrifice only comes under the influence of love. 
I have a coupon booklet that I will always treasure.  It is from my three kids.  It was given to me one Father's Day.  The kids had no money because of "U.I.S." (Under the Influence of Seminary).  So they gave me 21 different slips of paper as handwritten credit vouchers.  One voucher was good for a car wash.  Another was good for a "no-gripe lawnmower usage" (I think the girls blackmailed my son into that one.)  Still another was for a whole day of kids being good without Dad having to remind anybody.  I want to tell you, I've never cashed a single coupon; they are too precious to me.  Those kids loved me, and gave sacrificially.  When you transfer your heart to God you will give sacrificially, and love it!

For You Today

God gave the ultimate in sacrificial gifts nailed to crossbeams on the town garbage dump outside of Jerusalem.
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road today…have a blessed day!


[1] Title Image: By Meghana Kulkarni from Pune, India (Happiness), via Wikimedia Commons
[2]Melick, Richard R., Jr., THE NEW AMERICAN COMMENTARY, 158
[3]Rogers, Judy, GUIDEPOSTS (Dec 1988)

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