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The Heart of Giving

What’s your attitude toward offerings at church?  Do you consider it a necessary evil?  Do you look forward to the chance of investing in God’s kingdom?  It turns out that the Lord takes an interest in how we give.

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.  Many rich people threw in large amounts.  But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
Mark 12:41-42

There are some things about Jesus that you need to know, especially in regards to your giving.  As the pastor of a church, I know that where people choose to sit tells a lot about them.  Jesus chose to sit right in line with the offering boxes so that He could watch people as they gave.

It’s interesting that the literal Greek of this verse says that the Lord watched how the people put their money in the box.  Whether you know it or not, how you give is as important to God as what you give.

That’s because true giving is an act of the heart.  Jesus explained the underlying principle.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:21

This statement brings it all into focus.  At offering time, do you feel like you’re giving your treasure to God?  Or do you feel like you’re giving money to the One that you treasure?  In other words, is Christ your treasure, or is money your treasure?

As Jesus watched the rich give money, they weren’t affected by it.  They gave out of their overflow.  What they put in the treasury wouldn’t change their standard of living.

The widow, on the other hand, gave everything.  Money that could have been used for food or other necessities was now gone.  That made an impression on Jesus and He called it to the disciples’ attention.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything — all she had to live on.”
Mark 12:43-44

The Lord’s commentary is important for us to hear.  There’s a “break-even point” in our finances where our expenses equal our income.  He explained that the rich gave from above that point.  The widow gave all that she had, even though she had less than breaking even.

But there’s more Jesus said that we miss because of the translation.  In the original, the Lord said that the widow put in all that she had and her whole life.

She wasn’t just giving her money to God.  She was placing her very life in His hands.  That’s the attitude that’s needed in our giving.

It’s not just my money that belongs to God.  It’s everything that I have, even my very life.  All that I am – my time, goals, dreams, possessions – I must place it all in His hands.

Offerings are not simply a tradition of the church that we have to do each week.  It’s not something I do to get God off my back for another week.  It’s an opportunity to once again confirm to myself and the Lord that all of my life is His.

This widow may have thought that her giving had gone unnoticed.  But the truth is that God saw it, and it moved His heart.  I know without a doubt that God met her need and sustained her because of her faith.  That’s the true attitude of giving.

Question: What goes through your mind as you give your offerings?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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What Does Your Ministry Need?

What are the priorities of ministry?  What can we learn from the way Jesus handled the day to day logistical challenges?

In my last post, we saw Jesus teaching the crowds in a very remote location.  Now it’s getting late and there are some needs that must be addressed.

By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late.  Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
Mark 6:35-36

The first thing that happens is that the disciples see and recognize the need.  That’s the easy part.  Ask anyone what’s wrong with the church and they’ll tell you what it needs.

Notice the response.  It wasn’t the disciples’ problem.  The people needed to fix it.  If they were hungry, then the crowd needed to go out and find something to eat.

That’s the attitude of many people today.  “If they would do what they were supposed to do, the church would be better.”

Notice how Jesus turns that whole attitude around.

But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”
Mark 6:37a

That’s the response of a good leader.  Turn the responsibility over to the ones who are sensitive to the need.

“Pastor, this church needs a Men’s Ministry.”

“I totally agree.  When do you plan on starting it?”

I don’t think the disciples were prepared for that type of answer from the Lord.  It caught them off guard.

They said to him, “That would take eight months of a man’s wages!  Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
Mark 6:37b

Here’s where most ministries lose sight of the true vision.  The disciples immediately make it a resource problem.  Their first reaction was to throw money at it to make it go away.

But first – here’s an aside for those who think ministers of the Gospel should live in poverty.  The disciples DID NOT say, “We don’t have the money to feed them.”  They asked if Jesus wanted them to spend that much cash on the crowd.

In our economy, think about how much it would cost to buy 5000 fast food value meals.  Jesus had that much money on Him at the time.  But I digress.

According to Christ, it wasn’t a money problem, but a Word problem.  How did the Father want this need met?  Too often we ask for money before we seek the Holy Spirit to provide a miraculous solution.

Verses 38 through 44 of Mark chapter 6 tell us of the way Jesus heard from heaven and met the needs of over 5000 hungry people.  This is how we should be ministering to those around us.  We must spend time in the Spirit, and then walk out what we’ve heard from the Father.

Too many times I hear, “If we don’t get the donations, then we can’t do what God has called us to do.”  Personally, I serve a God who’s bigger than the donations.  He can make a way with or without the money.

We need to learn to be listening for His voice.  That way we keep in step with not only what the Lord is leading us to do, but how exactly He wants it accomplished.

Questions: Has God ever worked His plans through you without money?  How did He bring it about?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2018 in Faith, God's Provision, Ministry, Prayer

 

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Last Days’ Finances

What’s your attitude toward money? Is there a different view we need to take because we’re living in the last-days? James has something to tell us about this.

Because the book of James was the first book written in the New Testament, the following passage is the first mention of the last-days.

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.
James 5:1-3

Please understand that James is not condemning you simply because you have a lot of money. It’s the attitude that’s wrong. There are certain key words that give us a clue.

He keeps repeating the word “your” in this passage. Your wealth, your clothes, and your gold and silver. He explains that these were things that were amassed or reserved for your own use in the last-days.

This is in stark contrast to what the believer’s attitude toward wealth should truly be. Everything I own actually belongs to God – it’s all His property. He’s made me to be a steward over it while it’s in my possession.

The person who thinks that this wealth is all mine for me to do with as I please is acting according to their flesh. It’s selfish and has no place in the kingdom of God. That’s what James is speaking to. He takes it even further.

Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.
James 5:4

I believe that we’re very close to the coming of the Lord. I also believe that in our generation we’ll see a last great harvest of souls before Christ’s return. But the reality is that this harvest needs to be financed.

In the last days God is going to bring financial blessings into the lives of His people. But these riches are not for us to spend totally on our own pleasures. Much of it is to be used to preach the Gospel. We need to reach as many as we can before the end comes.

As a minister of the Gospel, I’m trusting the Lord for the finances I need to do my part in winning this generation. I have to admit, I’ve cried out to God, asking Him why there seems to be so many uncaring Christians. I’m talking about those who simply hoard up wealth with no thought toward missions giving, or even getting involved in any kind of outreach project.

You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.
James 5:5-6

That’s the problem. Not that they have money. But that they’re using it for luxury and self-indulgence. When we withhold money that God is calling us to use for outreach; men and women are condemned to eternity without God. Many of them could have been reached and saved if the Gospel was financed and presented to them.

Don’t fall victim to this trap. According to James’ prophecy in this passage you have a choice to make. If you hoard it up, with no though of God’s will, you’re going to lose it. If, on the other hand, you obey the Holy Spirit’s prompting on how to use it; you’ll have a rich reward now and waiting in eternity.

Question: How have you been blessed by financing the Gospel?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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Money and Humility

Fake MoneyThey say that the grass is always greener in the next yard. But is that the truth? What should our attitude be towards wealth?

If we want to do our best work for the Lord, then we need to deal with the issue of money. In our society you can’t function real well without it. So, we need to understand the Scriptural view. James had something to say about it.

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower.
James 1:9-10

The first thing that we understand from this verse is that James is not saying that we all need to be poor. He doesn’t contrast poor vs. rich, which references how much money you have. Instead, he’s dealing with humble vs. rich, which tells me that he’s talking about our attitudes.

I believe that God wants to provide abundantly for His children. But what I’ve learned is that He works with us individually. What I mean is this; abundant provision in the United States will look differently than abundance in Indonesia. Yet, in both places, the Lord blesses His people in order for them to be a blessing to others.

The problem is not about how much money you have, it’s your attitude towards it that makes the difference. I’ve seen people who have no real money – everything they own is on credit. Yet they act arrogantly as if they own the world and are better than everyone else.

I’ve also seen people who don’t have a lot, but they’re constantly blessing others. As a result, God is always continuing to provide for them.

We need to learn the lesson of attitudes. It’s never about how much money you have. There needs to be a walk of humility.

But what is humility? Some think that it means you have to see yourself as a nobody. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

At one point Paul told Titus to show true humility toward all men (Titus 3:2). The fact is that true humility is always directed at others and never at us. It’s how I need to view those around me.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Philippians 2:3

Humility never puts itself down. Instead, it lifts others up. Okay, but what does that have to do with money?

If you think that your money makes you great and important, then you need an attitude adjustment. Money is a tool that we use to provide for our needs and to bless others. Having it doesn’t make you any better than you were without it.

James makes it clear in his next statement.

For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.
James 1:11

One way or another we’re going to learn that the external is not what life’s all about. Either you develop the spiritual strengths that bring a mature walk or you find out that the material things you’re relying on are never enough.

If you put your hope in a big bank account, then it will fail you. Your willingness to trust God and bless others is what will see you through the challenges of life.

Question: How have you experienced that trusting God is better than a big bank account?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2017 in Faith, God's Provision, Spiritual Walk

 

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Proverb – What do You Value?

Proverbs 10:2
Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death.

This sounds like an oxymoron.  A treasure that’s of no value.  How does that work?  I guess it all depends upon your perspective.

In the natural realm, any treasure is good and valuable, no matter how it’s gotten.  That’s the trouble with us humans, we can’t see the big picture.  We look at what will make us feel good right now.  That’s why so many people in our generation have clawed and fought their way up the corporate ladder, only to find out it was leaning against the wrong wall.

We get trapped in the love of money and excuse it away.

“I’m doing this for you, so you can be comfortable.”

“This extra job is only temporary.”

It is only after we have lost those people who are dear to us that we start to question if it was worth it.

Righteousness – a life lived with God’s priorities in view, delivers us from death.  No, not the grave, but from a living death.  Living your life in God’s will for you will keep your relationships from dying.  It will keep you from an unfulfilled life.  Then, in your later years, you can look back with no regrets.

After all, what is value?  We are eternal beings.  Only a miniscule part of our existence will be lived in this life.  As wonderful as money seems right now, it is only an illusion.

Don’t get me wrong, I need money to get by, the same as everyone else.  But money has no eternal value.  It is only good for life on this planet.  I need to be storing up eternal wealth.  That’s where righteousness comes in.  It will last throughout the ages to come.

As I said, it all comes down to perspective.  What is important to you?  Better yet, what is going to be important to you one million years from today?  Remember, there will come a day when things that you highly valued will suddenly become worthless.  And things that you didn’t care about will suddenly become of supreme importance.

Start planning now for your life in eternity.  It will reap the greatest profit you could ever hope to achieve.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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