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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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The Needs of the Lord

As we continue to go through the Gospel of Mark, we’re coming to the culmination of the earthly ministry of Christ.  He is approaching Jerusalem, knowing that the cross awaits Him there.  As the Lord is about to enter the city, Mark records an interesting event that takes place.

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden.  Untie it and bring it here.  If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.'”
They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?”  They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.
Mark 11:1-6

We need to understand what’s happening here.  It has a lot to do with attitudes and faithfulness in the kingdom of God.

The first thing I see is that something is needed to fulfill the ministry of Christ.  It was foretold in the Old Testament that Jesus would enter Jerusalem on the back of a colt.  It was time for this to be accomplished.  In every ministry, there are needs that must be met in order for God’s will to be done.

Next, I see a supernatural revelation as to how this need was going to be filled.  Notice that Jesus didn’t say to His disciples, “Guys, I’m going to need to ride in on a colt.  You have to go out and find me one quickly.”

That tells me that to accomplish my calling, it will always require faith.  After all, there were other ways this could have been done.  Jesus could have purchased a colt in Jericho, the last town He visited.  Then He would have had it ready to go upon His arrival.

But that’s not how the Father wanted this to happen.  He desired the disciples to act in faith toward the instructions of Jesus.

Finally, it comes down to attitudes.  The disciples know what the ministry needs and how God intends to provide it.  The problem is that it all depends upon another party – those who own the colt.  All they heard was, “The Lord needs your colt to accomplish God’s will.”

Think about it.  How many times have we been in a meeting listening to a missionary share their excitement over the people-group that God has called them to reach?

“The Lord needs your money to accomplish His will.”

I know what you’re thinking.  The disciples told the owners that the colt would be sent back when the Lord was through with it.

“Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Luke 6:38

Why do we get the attitude sometimes, “Oh, no!  Another special offering.”  We need to understand that God looks at these gifts as loans to His kingdom.  He always repays with blessings we couldn’t ever get on our own.  But it all comes down to attitude.

Get your money or resources involved in kingdom work as the Lord leads you.  You won’t regret it.

Question: How have you been blessed by giving something to the Lord’s work?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2018 in Faith, God's Provision, Ministry

 

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The Test and the Offering

ClimberHave you ever noticed that sometimes faith seems to take you in the wrong direction? We have to accept things that look, in the natural, like we’re headed away from what God has promised us. This was illustrated in the life of Abraham.

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.
Hebrews 11:17-19

As we walk with God, we must first of all trust Him. As we do this, we see Him at work in our lives. We begin to receive blessings from His hand. Our lives start to change for the better.

It starts out small at first, but the more you put your faith in the Lord, the more grace you experience in your walk. So in this post, I’m talking about those who have received from God.

Now that you have begun to see God’s power at work in your life, you would think that things start to become easier. You would be wrong.

Abraham trusted God for many years in order to receive his son, Isaac. It required him to go through a lot of hardship and even some mistakes along the way. But God was faithful, and Abraham received the child of promise.

Then something totally unexpected happened. Just like us, Abraham’s faith needed to be tested. We’ve probably all heard the story of Abraham offering up his son Isaac on the altar. But do we understand how deep this test really was?

The Bible puts it very simply. By faith Abraham…when tested…offered. This is a powerful truth that every believer needs to understand. It wasn’t just for Abraham. When we’re tested, there’s something we need to offer.

When you begin to receive God’s promises, there’s a spiritual line that you cross. Like it or not, you enter a new level of testing. Unfortunately, many Christians don’t understand what testing is all about.

In the New Testament, the Greek word translated as test is that same word translated as tempt in other sections. The translators use either test or tempt based upon the context in which it’s used.

For instance, Satan tempts in order to entice us to do evil. God, on the other hand, tests us in order to bring us to a new level of walk with Him.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone…
James 1:13

Scripture is clear; God never uses evil in His testing process. God tests us by a call to a new level of obedience. Usually it’s something that we’ve never done before. It often brings us outside of our comfort zone.

In order to pass this test, we must offer something He gave us. So God doesn’t start testing you in this way, until you are receiving from Him. I want to take a couple of posts to talk about this testing process. It’s important for every believer to understand this in order to progress to their God given destiny.

Question: What’s the greatest test that you have faced in your Christian walk so far?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2016 in Faith, Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Cain’s Offering

GrapesAs I was reading the tiny book of Jude, I saw something that caught my interest. Jude is speaking about some false teachers who had secretly infiltrated the church.

In writing about them, he made this statement…

Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.
Jude 11

When I saw that line – they have taken the way of Cain – something struck a chord in me and I knew I had to look deeper into it. I wanted to understand this because of the false teaching evident in the church today.

As I studied the life of Cain, I came to a conclusion. We’ve really misunderstood him. We call him evil and murderous. But I want to take a fresh look at him. I think that you’ll be surprised at what I found.

Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.
Genesis 4:1-3

We know from the Bible that Cain was the firstborn. Abel came along later. What we don’t know is how much later. Actually, Adam and Eve had other children – many others. Some estimates say it could have been as many as 500 children during their lifetime.

In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord.
Genesis 4:3

Here is the first of a few things that caught my attention. As this story unfolds we are confronted by the fact that Cain loves God. Not only does he love God, but he’s grateful to God for the abundant harvest that he received.

Of course the growing conditions were ideal back then. I’ve heard some experts who said that the fruits and vegetables grew to enormous sizes before the flood. They were big enough that an ear of corn could be a meal for an entire family.

As a result, we see that Cain was a worshipper. He acknowledged that God was the source of his prosperity and brought an offering before Him. Then something happens that wasn’t expected.

…but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Genesis 4:5

God did not accept Cain’s offering. This brings me to a truth that many Christians have missed. Just because we offer the Lord something; that doesn’t mean that He’s obligated to accept it. God doesn’t have to accept our offerings, especially if He didn’t want it in the first place.

Too many people think that they’re impressing God with what they do, yet God never asked them to do it. They end up offering things to God that He doesn’t want. I want to take a few posts to look at Cain – and how to avoid taking his path.

Questions: Can you give a modern example of what Cain went through?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2016 in Spiritual Walk, The Church, Worship

 

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Obedience – the Highest Call

1 Samuel 15:22
But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?  To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”

In this passage, the prophet Samuel is rebuking King Saul.  He had disobeyed a direct command of God for “religious” reasons.  Saul said that he was going to give God a sacrifice instead.  In his rebuke, Samuel gives us a principle that we would do well to remember.

Obedience to God is always better than any sacrifice we can make.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re putting money in an offering plate or offering up a “sacrifice of praise.”  Obedience trumps sacrifice every time.

The reason is that sacrifice can be manipulated.  It can be motivated by self-will or arrogance.  Obedience, on the other hand, honors God by putting Him directly in the center of what we’re doing.  Usually, total obedience to God can only be accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit in us.  Not only is God the focus, but He is also the One who strengthens us.

A good example of this is Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.  As He cried out to God He said, “If it is Your will, take this cup [dying on the cross] from me.”  Then He told the Father that it was not His own will that was important, but the Father’s.  The Lord’s prayer that day was in accordance with the principle of Samuel.  What Jesus wanted didn’t matter – it was the Father’s will that was supreme.

Our “cup” and God’s will are two totally different things until we allow the Lord to merge them.  Our highest goal should be to know God’s will and obey it.  More than any other part of our lives, this is our highest call.

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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