Sunday, December 13, 2015

Season of Giving, or Getting?

“But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”                             Luke 12:20-21  NKJV

Christmas is rapidly approaching and along with it comes the normal anticipation of just what we might find waiting for us under the tree on Christmas morning.  I’m sure most of us have memories of when we were children and the hopes we had looking at all of the presents that had our names on them.  As parents, I’m equally sure we have the memories of our own children and how excited they were at this time of year as they counted down the days until Christmas morning.  Yet while we enjoy this time of year and all that accompanies it my question to you today is this; in all of the excitement of the season, is it possible you have overlooked the one person most deserving of a gift?

Many of us are familiar with this passage from Luke, but as is often the case, sometimes we can overlook parts of the passage by generalizing the message.  You see, if you ask ten people what this passage is about they would probably say greed or selfishness.  Yet what would you say if I said it was about stealing from God?  Now if that sounds a little harsh, I suggest we look pay attention to the phrase “and is not rich toward God.”   Why “toward” God?  The answer to that lies in the realization of where all that we have comes from in the first place.  The Word is very clear on that subject; all that we have comes directly from God the Father.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.  James 1:17  NKJV

Have you ever received a gift from someone at Christmas whom you didn’t expect to get one from?  What was your reaction?  If you are like me, your first thought is to run out and buy one for them as well.  It would just seem to most of us to be a natural reaction when receiving a gift from someone else that you would want to reciprocate in some way.  Yet if we apply that train of thought to our relationship with God, and acknowledge that the Word is clear about the source of our gifts, are we really as concerned with giving back to God the way that we should?  If not, exactly how does that appear to God?

You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.    Malachi 3:9-10  NKJV

Holding back from God is considered to be robbery.  Now while most of us might not look at it quite that way, God makes it perfectly clear He sees it that way. The phrase “try me now” is also translated “test me”.  It is the Hebrew word “bachan” which literally means that God is telling us that if we don’t believe Him, test Him!  See if He won’t deliver on His promise to literally give us more than we know what to do with.  It introduces something I have come to call the circle principle, which God has proven to me over and over again.  It is simply this; as He gives to me, I simply give back all that He has asked for.  As long as I do that, God has always given me more.  As He gives me more, I then give Him more, and the end result is an increase in blessing.  I now find that what I am left with after giving God what is His, is steadily more than what I used to have when I held back.

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”                         Luke 6:38  NKJV

What I failed to do, and what many other believers fail to do, is to take God at His word.  As I thought about that, it occurred to me that in essence, I was really calling God a liar.  As hard as it is to admit, that is really what it comes down to.  You either choose to take God at His word and believe Him, or you don’t.  For quite some time I found very reasonable excuses to give back to God a little less than I should have and then always wondered why I could never get ahead.  Thankfully there came a time where I realized what I was doing and made the choice to test Him as He asked, and as you would expect, He kept His word and blessed me more than I even expected.

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.      2 Corinthians 9:6-8  NKJV

This is the season in which we celebrate giving.  Not only did we receive the greatest gift of all, God’s Son in flesh to deliver us from our sins, we also, by receiving that gift and becoming a part of God’s family, receive the promise of His generosity towards us in ways we cannot even imagine.  All we need to do is simply remember Him when it comes to our giving, and give to Him first all that He so richly deserves. We all love to receive gifts, especially at this time of year but the question remains, have you first given to God that which is His?  Test Him and see.

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  John 10:9-10  NKJV

If you have never made the choice to accept His gift of salvation to you, I pray you would do it today.  Just pray and ask Him to forgive your sins and to take control of your life, because you believe His Son, Jesus Christ was born, died, and rose again so you could have life, and have it more abundantly.

Keep watching.