Glamping 

Exodus 25:2
“Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.”

A few years ago I heard a word I had never heard before, or ever dreamed could be real. That word was “glamping.” “Glamping,” according to the urban dictionary, is “a form of glamorous camping done by urban types.” Those who “glamp” turn tents into elaborate structures with all the comforts of home. Once inside the tent, you are sure to forget you are in the wild. Of all the glamorous tents ever constructed by these wanna be campers, none could compare in beauty or cost to the Tabernacle Israel built in the wilderness. At the current value of an ounce of gold, the Tabernacle would have cost more than $50 million just in materials. The question is, where did all that money come from?

“Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.”

Moses laid out the building plans for the Tabernacle, then instructed the people to go home and consider what part they would play in the construction of the Tabernacle. Each family was to prayerfully consider their financial condition, in light of the work that God wanted to do. In the end, the people were to give willingly to the work.

I am sure many factors were considered as families got together to examine their finances. They needed to look at their net worth, what expenses they had to cover, and to keep in mind that the future was unknown, and they could not be certain what kind of provision was around the corner. I am sure, in addition to looking at their needs, they also considered some wants. If they gave to the work of the Lord, that would mean they had less to spend on pleasure, amusement or vacations. Another factor they needed to consider, was that by giving to the Lord, they were giving to something bigger than themselves; a work that would continue long after they were gone. So much of our expenses are spent on things that don’t last, giving to the Tabernacle was giving to something that would be used for the furtherance of the kingdom for years to come.

When considering your finances, and what to do with them, it is important to carefully examine what you have, but it is also important to consider what kind of lasting impact you are making for the kingdom of God. Perhaps it is time to prayerfully consider what investments you are making in the furtherance of the Gospel.

Pastor Jim

Giving 

2 Corinthians 9:7
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

As Paul was writing this letter, conditions in Jerusalem were very difficult. Persecution, famine, and perhaps a bit of mismanagement, had left the church in Jerusalem financially destitute. In order to help those in need, Paul assisted in organizing a financial gift from the gentile churches. This passage lays out the guidelines for the giving and receiving of that gift. The principles Paul presents should help to govern our giving, which we often refer to giving as tithing. The word “tithe” means tenth and refers to the Old Testament Law where the children of Israel were required to give a tenth back to the Lord. The New Testament, while not requiring a tenth, does clearly teach the need to “give back” to the Lord.

“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart . . .”

Notice Paul writes, “each one give”. Regardless of our financial condition, we all must consider that God wants us to trust Him; part of that trust is to give from what He has provided for us. He adds, we should each give as we purpose in our own hearts. Rather than giving being a requirement of the law, Paul wants us to see it as an act of worship. Each Christian should sit down before the Lord, lay out his finances and determine what part will be given back. That can often be very difficult. For some, we fear giving because we are not sure how we will manage our budget if we give some of our income away. For others, it is complicated by the fact that we have been so touched by Jesus, we want to give it all away. We may even feel guilty about the portion we keep for ourselves. To help us in our decision, Paul gives a serious of principles that should govern our giving.

“. . . not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

If, when you give, you do it bitterly, then the best thing to do is go back to sitting before the Lord and determining why you are unwilling to give back to Him. Our giving should be joyous, as we celebrate all that God has done for us.

“He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6

Paul compares giving to planting. At the end of the season, the farmer does not want to have a pocket full of seeds, but a basket full of fruit. When we determine what to give, we must consider that great spiritual benefits are derived when we give back to the Lord. In the previous chapter, Paul gives a few more principles. He writes,

“For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” 2 Corinthians 8:12

While it is important that we trust the Lord and give in faith, believing He is able to meet our needs with less than 100% of our income, Paul warns us not to give what we do not have. If you don’t have the money to give, it would be foolish to give on credit. The value of giving is not in the amount, as much as it is in the willingness to trust the Lord. Perhaps we need to reevaluate the way we are spending, if we have nothing left to give.

“And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.” 2 Corinthians 8:5

Finally, those who gave to the church, first gave themselves to the Lord. When we give, we are giving to the Lord. We are trusting He will take the little we offer, and use it in a big way to accomplish His purposes. One of the great things about the church is, we are part of a much larger body. When I was in High School, I rarely had much cash.. I can remember going with friends to get pizza. We all pitched in and we all ate till we were full, but we did not all pitch in the same amount. I think I threw down fifty cents. Giving is a little like that. I take from what the Lord has provided for me, and give it back to Him; you do the same, and the Lord accomplishes His purposes with it. Perhaps today would be a good time to sit before the Lord, reevaluate your finances, and determine what He would have you give.

Pastor Jim

 

Giving 

2 Kings 12:9
“Then Jehoiada the priest took a chest, bored a hole in its lid, and set it beside the altar, on the right side as one comes into the house of the Lord; and the priests who kept the door put there all the money brought into the house of the Lord.”

Young king Jehoash began his reign by repairing the Temple of the Lord. In order to fund the work, he had a large box built with a hole in the top, where people could place their offerings. He instructed the people to give as they “purpose in their hearts.” This freedom allowed each person to go home, sit with his spouse and pray, regarding what portion of their income should be given to the work of the Lord. Once decided, they would simply drop the funds into the box, without any fan fair or recognition. When the money was received, it was set apart for the work of the Lord. This is a very clear illustration of New Testament giving. Paul instructs us that we should give “as we purpose in our hearts” (2 Corinthians 9:7), and Jesus said, “we should not let our left hand know what our right doing” (Matthew 6:3). The New Testament model for giving is one that allows for “freedom.” Each one of us is free to give as we see fit. However, we must guard against misusing this freedom, by failing to take the time to sit before the Lord and determine what part of our income should be given to the work of God. There are at least two common mistakes we make that negatively influence our decision to give.

First, we think, what we have to give, is so inconsequential that it will not make a difference. This is the same thinking that keeps some from serving the Lord. Keep in mind, it was the widow’s mites that received Christ’s praise, not the golden coins of the rich (Luke 21:1-4).Giving is more about you expressing love for Christ, and trusting in His provision, than it is about the dollar amount of the gift.
Second, we often fail to give because we don’t think we can make ends meet with less than we have. We look at the bills, the kids, the desire for a family vacation, and we wonder how we could ever give any portion to the Lord on a regular basis. I think it is important to keep two things in mind. First, we are exhorted to store up treasures in heaven. When we put aside an earthly gift for the work of the Lord, we are storing up a heavenly treasure. Second, God is in the business of doing more with less. I have been amazed at the ways God has blessed me and my family, as we have served Him over the years.

He is Faithful to meet all your needs.

Pastor Jim

 

Learning From Widows

1 Kings 17:13-14
“And Elijah said to her, ‘Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.'”

Sometimes, God chooses the most unlikely candidate as His teaching vessel. Here, and again in New Testament, we find poor widows, with almost no resources, being used to illustrate the principle of giving.

While at the Temple, Jesus pointed out a poor woman who put two small coins in the offering.  He declared, she had given more than anyone else, because she gave all she had. We learn, in God’s economy, gifts are measured, not by their dollar amount, but by the what it costs the giver.

Here, in 1 Kings 17, we learn that giving to the work of the Lord should be considered a first priority. We find a woman, with limited resources, being challenged to make an offering from what she has, before using what remained for her family.

I have found most people struggle to bring in enough resources to provide for their needs. Teenagers barely make enough to put gas in the car, and have a few fast food meals with their friends. Young married couples struggle to pay rent, and set aside enough in case their beat-up old car breaks down. Then when a baby comes, income appears to go down and expenses rise. It seems,  as life goes on, we tend to have just enough resources to survive, and rarely do we have any extra. Because of this, many believers never practice giving.  Somewhere, in the back of our minds, we think that once we get a little more, we can start to give, and rarely does that time ever come. Paul wrote,

“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”  2 Corinthians 9:7

Instead of waiting until you have an excess, take some time to sit before the Lord and determine what you can offer in faith. It might be a dollar or ten, but at least you are taking Him at His word and investing in the kingdom.

Pastor Jim

 

Willingness

Exodus 35:5
“Take from among you an offering to the Lord. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the Lord: gold, silver, and bronze; . . .”

IMG_1459Moses had been instructed to build the Tabernacle. It was to be an elaborate facility with a solid silver foundation, golden walls, intricately woven tapestries and highly detailed furnishing. Every detail was given to Moses, including it’s size, shape, and purpose. However, two things had been left out; materials and labor.

At one time, Moses, as a prince of Egypt, had been an extremely wealthy man with all the resources of Egypt at his disposal. For a nation that had erected structures like the pyramids, building the Tabernacle would not be beyond their means, and Moses could have underwritten the entire project.

However, those days were passed. Moses had forsaken all the riches of Egypt. In a word, Moses was broke. Where would the resources come from to build? The answer is found in two words that are repeated over and over in Exodus 35: stirred and willing. After explaining to the people the vision he had received from God regarding the building, he instructed them to go back to their tents. It was there, as families gathered together, that their hearts were stirred by the Lord. They determined to offer the Lord a portion of what had been given to them. We read, those with a willing heart brought a free will offering to the Lord. For some it was golden earrings, for others necklaces, rings or other jewelry. Some brought precious stones, while others brought their abilities as an offering; making themselves available to be part of the construction team. In each case, we read they brought willingly of what the Lord had given them, and that all the labor was directed and empowered by the Spirit of the Lord. As the project gets underway, the leaders find they are facing an interesting problem. They examined the plans and realized the people had given too much. Moses has to instruct the people to stop giving to the Lord. They had more than enough supplied to accomplish the task.

We learn some very important lessons about giving and receiving from this text. First, note that Moses was only interested in building what he had received directly from the Lord. He did not take on a additional projects that were more than the Lord wanted. He sought the Lord and built what the Lord desired. Second, Moses did not attempt to coerce the people. He allowed each man to go home to his family and determine what they would willingly give to the Lord. In the church today, too much pressure is being placed upon God’s people to give. We need to encourage people to seek the Lord, and give willingly. Finally, people gave a variety of things. Those who had wealth, gave gold and other precious things, those who had skills, gave their abilities, but all who gave were richly blessed as the Tabernacle was completed, and served as a place for people to meet with God.

Pastor Jim

 

Glamping

Exodus 25:2
“Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.

IMG_1443A few years ago I heard a word I had never heard before, or ever dreamed could be real. That word was “glamping.” “Glamping,” according to the urban dictionary, is “a form of glamorous camping done by urban types.” Those who “glamp” turn tents into elaborate structures with all the comforts of home. Once inside the tent, you are sure to forget you are in the wild. Of all the glamorous tents ever constructed by these wanna be campers, none could compare in beauty or cost to the Tabernacle Israel built in the wilderness. At the current value of an ounce of gold, the Tabernacle would have cost more than $50 million just in materials. The question is, where did all that money come from?

“Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.”

Moses laid out the building plans for the Tabernacle, then instructed the people to go home and consider what part they would play in the construction of the Tabernacle. Each family was to prayerfully consider their financial condition, in light of the work that God wanted to do. In the end, the people were to give willingly to the work.

I am sure many factors were considered as families got together to examine their finances. They needed to look at their net worth, what expenses they had to cover, and to keep in mind that the future is unknown, and they could not be certain what kind of provision was around the corner. I am sure, in addition to looking at their needs, they also considered some wants. If they gave to the work of the Lord, that would mean they had less to spend on pleasure, amusement or vacations. Another factor they needed to consider, was that by giving to the Lord, they were giving to something bigger than themselves; a work that would continue long after they were gone. So much of our expenses are spent on things that don’t last, giving to the Tabernacle was giving to something that would be used for the furtherance of the kingdom for years to come.

When considering your finances, and what to do with them, it is important to carefully examine what you have, but it is also important to consider what kind of lasting impact you are making for the kingdom of God. Perhaps it is time to prayerfully consider what investments you are making in the furtherance of the Gospel.

Pastor Jim