More than enough

Recently, I was shopping at Costco with my son. When we got home, I asked him to help me unload the car. There were lots of things to bring in so I handed him a box to carry. He told me that he could carry more than that, so I gave him more. Then I gave him more and more. “That’s enough,” he told me. The truth is, it was more than enough! He started laughing at the hilarious sight he knew he was, and attempted to carry in this tower of boxes.  He almost made it, too. It was when he tried to set them down that they all came crashing. We had a good laugh.

too-many-boxes

As I was reading Exodus 36 today, that picture of my son carrying the boxes came to mind. You see, Moses had been collecting offerings in order to build the tabernacle. People were so generous and just kept giving and giving. It was awesome! Then this happened:

Exodus 36:4-7  So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.” Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more,because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.

Moses, please tell the people to stop giving; we have too much! Can you even imagine a scenario in your life where this is the case? This is some pretty extreme generosity. You see, the people saw the need and wouldn’t rest until it was met. How awesome is that? They not only gave enough, but they gave more than enough!

I’m not so good and giving more than enough. Don’t get me wrong, giving is awesome. It’s really cool to get to help someone meet their needs. I don’t mind buying someone lunch. But the Israelites not only bought lunch, they went for dessert, too. That’s some extreme generosity!

All this causes me to reflect on my own heart of generosity. Do I give of my time and my resources up to the point I am comfortable giving? Do I look first at what I can spare and give that? Or am I like the people of Exodus who just keep on giving to the point of overwhelming someone with extreme blessing?  The truth is, I’ve never been told to stop because I was too generous. The truth is, I tend to look at what I am lacking instead of what have. But the people of Israel didn’t let that stop them, nor did it stop the church in Corinth. In fact 2 Corinthians 8:2 says “their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” 

With our generosity, God can take poverty and turn it into richness. He can take the very little we have and overflow us with joy as we give. I am challenged today to be more giving. As we enter this season of giving, let’s be mindful that no one has probably ever told us to stop giving. Until that happens, there’s room to grow our generosity.

 

4 Million Dollar Bonfire

Acts 19:18-19  Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.  A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.

moneyonfireDrachma: a day’s wages.  So let’s do some quick math.  Just to be conservative, I’ll lean to the lower end of the spectrum.  Let’s say that you make $10 an hour, which is just above minimum wage.  You work eight hours a day = 80 bucks.  Now multiply that by fifty thousand.  The result? $4,000,000.  Yes that’s right, 4 million big ones.  You might make more than that, so the figure could easily be 8 million or 12 million.  So let me restate Acts 19: they burned sorcery scrolls valued at over $4 million in today’s dollars.  That’s a lot of scrolls!   That’s a big fire.

I can’t even fathom burning a 4 million dollar bonfire.  It seems painful to part with valued possessions, to light fire to hard earned money.  But these former sorcerers had a new perspective; they saw it in a different way.  You see, at one point in their lives, these scrolls were an asset – possibly their biggest asset.  Most people I know don’t part with their assets.  So we could assume that because of finding Christ, these things lost their value.  But I don’t think that’s true either.  If they had a zero value, then maybe they would have just given them away to someone who could use them.  Or maybe just put them away in a closet until the next garage sale.

They didn’t go from being assets to being valueless.  They went from being assets to being liabilities.  When you have liabilities, you should make them go away.  You want to destroy them, maybe even burn them.  They discovered through the message of the gospel that these scrolls were a hindrance to true life.  They discovered that if they kept them in their life in any way, these things would ruin them.  Bonfire time, baby!

When confronted with God’s Word, we often find that there are things in our life that shouldn’t be there.  They might be things that we f0rmerly enjoyed.  Like magic scrolls, they were our livelihood.  Then God shows us that these things have not only lost their value, they will destroy us.   And the Christian responds by putting those things away in the closet, or giving them to someone who can use them.  The problem: we are either temporarily hiding our liabilities or giving someone else something that will hurt them.  That’s not what needs to happen.  We need to have a bonfire!  We need to get out the matches and the gasoline, friends.  Flame on!

*Would you be willing to have a $4 million bonfire?

*Are there things in your life that you have “put away” but need to be destroyed altogether?

I prefer the coast guard ship

Jonah 1:17 But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah was in a heap of trouble.  God gave him an assignment and he ran the other way.  As he traveled by ship, the seas grew restless while he took a nap.  The boat was going to capsize and there was no hope in sight.  That is… until the sailors threw Jonah overboard.  The sea chilled out but Jonah started to drown.  It seemed like he was doomed to die due to his disobedience.  Instead, the Lord sent the coast guard to rescue him.  No?  How about a life raft or at least a large piece of driftwood?  No, the Lord sent an enormous fish to swallow him.

Am I the only one who didn’t see that one coming?  The first three words of verse 17 are: “But the Lord provided.”  That statement gets me excited, makes me think about God’s great power and might.  Maybe God will even reach down from heaven and pull Jonah out of the sea.  The Lord is about to provide, Jonah.  Hang on – this is going to be awesome!  Chomp.  Down the hatch he goes.  Inside a giant fish or whale of some sort.  That’s provision?  That’s provision.

When God says that He is my provider, maybe I have put that statement in too small of a box.  I think that means a paycheck, the means to live comfortably.  I doubt Jonah was comfortable inside that fish.  Imagine the smell.  Barf-o-rama.   But it was the Lord’s provision, even if it didn’t look like a coast guard ship.  You know, the Lord promises that He will provide for His people.  He promises that He will take care of us.  Look, I prefer the coast guard ship, but I have found that He sometimes provides in unconventional ways.  It’s not about money, it’s about Him taking care of us.  He might send the life raft, but He also might send the fish.  Do you need the Lord to rescue you today?  Call out, but brace yourself for whatever He sends your way.  It might look strange, but it will certainly save the day.

Who’s the Boss?

Luke 16:13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Remember the show, Who’s the Boss?  There was always this tension in the house between Tony and Angela as to who was really in charge.  Of course it was Angela; Tony worked for her.  But he had gained respect as dad in the home.  So you had two bosses in the home.  Throw in grandma Mona and you had three.  While that’s all fine and dandy on a TV show, Jesus brought the idea of multiple bosses into real life.  It was during a time when he was talking about wealth and riches and money.  He makes a bold statement about our heart attitudes.

He says that you can’t have two bosses.  You can’t serve both God and mammon.  Now mammon in many of our Bibles is translated money, wealth, or riches.  But it literally means mammon.  You see, mammon was a false God of riches in that time.  Jesus wasn’t talking about having or using money.   He was talking about heart allegiance.  He was talking about the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”   Mammon can easily become a god to us today as well.

We work hard to earn a living.  We set our minds on being comfortable and having all that we need.  But we forget that God is the great and benevolent provider.  We forget that we should have our hearts set on Him.  We should work as though we are working for the Lord.  Jesus wasn’t saying that there is anything wrong with money.  The Bible says that it is the “love” of money that is the root of all evil.  Not money itself.  Money is just a tool.  It is just a pawn in our hands that is to be used for the purpose of our calling. 

Money should be working for us; we shouldn’t be working for it.  We should be money’s master, not the other way around.  We have but one master – the Lord.  And here’s how the relationships in this verse should work.  The Lord is my master, I work for Him.  Money is my servant, it works for me.  Let’s get this relationship right.  Let’s take money’s power and honor and glory away.  Then let’s give all that power and honor and glory to the Lord.  It will free you.

Trust me, you need less

Judges 7:1-3 1 Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. 2 The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, 3 announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. 

Here’s the scene: you’ve got 32,000 Israelite warriors ready to square off against a large number of Midianites.  By large number, I mean there were too many to count.  They were described as locusts and the number of camels was likened to sand on a seashore.  That’s a lot of bad guys!  So how in the world were 32,000 Israelite warriors supposed to defeat this massive force?  Well, they weren’t.  There were too many of them.  Too many Israelites, that is.  Now you might be thinking the same thing that I am: how in the world are there too many Israelites?  They are already outnumbered.  But when God says there are too many, you just go with it.

So Gideon releases 22,000 of them to go home, leaving them with 10,000.  God’s still thinks that is too easy of a victory, so He whittled this mighty army down to 300.  “Okay now Gideon, you and 300 guys are going to go and fight the massive population of Midian.”  The thing is, God knew what He was doing.  He even gives the reason that He wanted fewer soldiers – He wanted them to give Him the glory.  He wanted to make sure that they knew it was His victory, not theirs.  He didn’t want them taking credit for something He was about to pull off.  So He asked them to lay down their wealth of resources so that He could pull off a miracle. He wanted them to put their trust in Him, not in the greatness of their army.

Nothing much has changed, really since the days of Gideon.  We live our lives trying to build an army of 32,000 and never understand that 300 would be plenty for God.  We say, “but God, I don’t have enough money.”  He says that we have too much confidence in that money.   We say, “but God, I don’t have the abilities to take that on.”  He says that He has equipped us for everything He has called us too.  We look at our 10,000 and say it isn’t enough, but He wants to show His power to us with just 300.  This is the God we serve.  We must not have so much confidence in our army of resources that we take His miraculous power out of the picture.  If He is able to hand the victory to 300 Israelites, He is certainly able to take our lack and hand us the victory, too.  So what are we trusting in today?  Will we trust in our resources or His?  When you put all your trust in Him, He will get the glory and you will get the victory.