Finding JOY in Giving

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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.

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too,~Phil 2:4.

One of the major causes of depression is selfishness. You might think, “No way!” Yes way. When our focus is always ourselves we will not be happy or have joy. Why? Because God did not create us to be self centered.

We were created to connect first to God, then others. The God sized void can only be filled by Him. Once He fills us up, He intends for us to pour out. If we don’t, we implode.

Have you ever had a plant that grew wildly? I have. I have a set of plants that once they grow to a certain size they stop because they are root bound. They need split or repotted to keep growing. If I over water or over feed them, they die.

God intends for us to grow, to help others grow, & to enlarge His Kingdom.

We don’t give to earn God’s favor. We don’t give to primarily get from God-though He rewards givers with pure motives. We don’t give so people think well of us. We give because God’s love causes us to become generous. We give for His glory, His fame, and His goodness to be shed abroad.

It’s not about us or them. It’s about Him. It’s about the world encountering Christ in us. He’s what the world needs.

There’s joy in seeing other people encounter God. There’s always someone in a worse situation. That’s not to say God ignores where we are. He doesn’t. I do think at times He whispers to us, “Go help this other person. I will handle your problem.

Introspection, self pity, self focus, what about me?, look how bad it is for me, poor me,…has never solved anything. Jesus is the one we focus our eyes on and entrust with our burdens.

I can say this because I used to have pity parties. I’d even invite Jesus to come. “Jesus, don’t you see how bad this is…why me?” I love how God handles His children. His response, “Do you want my help? Or do you want to have a tantrum or pout? I will let you choose. I love you. I will be here when you are done.

God has brought great comfort in dark seasons of my life. In loss, tragedy, betrayal, sickness, etc…He never refuses comfort. He does not, however, enter into pity with me. He brings hope. Do you want help? If not, then I still love you, but I can’t force help on you.

Which leads to my last point. It’s incredible to help other people and love them. It’s a trap to aimlessly pour out. Some people don’t want help. Some people are in the situation they are in because they created it and trying to get them out will hurt them-they won’t learn from their choices. Some people want others to do for them what they need to get directly from God or for themselves. Some people are users and look for anyone they can drain dry. Some people will take what you give and throw it in the garbage. Giving, like anything else, requires wisdom.

When we do street ministry, we feed people, provide necessities, etc…we do not give cash. Many of the people, through their own confessions, have substance abuse problems. We love them. We don’t enable them. If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he’s naked, clothe him. Unless God prompts you to, I wouldn’t empty my bank account to some random person and say I’m generous. God intends for seeds sown to produce a harvest for Him. God is generous and wise. Just read about the parable of the talents (Matthew 25). God intends for us to do something with what He gives. Freely you receive, freely give,~Jesus.

If you have a million dollars and you give 1 dollar to a million people, have you helped them? Versus splitting it between 10 people. God knows where you should sow to yield the greatest harvest for His Kingdom.

I’ve spent years pouring into people and situations that yielded nothing but frustration. Why? It wasn’t my field of harvest. The people I targeted to love and pour into were chosen by me, not God. And since I was raised to be a giver, I chose to give 100% to everyone. That dear friends leads to burnout and being used and abused.

Jesus had 12 disciples and chose 3 of them to be closest to Him. We think God is out fixing everyone’s messes, but He’s not. That’s not good parenting. He allows us sometimes to face the earthly consequences of what we’ve done. If we repent we are forgiven in heaven, yet there are some consequences on earth.

Where’s the joy in giving?

You see heaven invade earth!

You see God move radically in the lives of others.

You invest in a Kingdom that cannot be shaken.

You imitate Jesus who came to serve, not just be served. You re-present Him to the world.

You demonstrate to the world who God is: generous, kind, compassionate, and loving.

When you partner with God there’s joy.

What we do primarily for ourselves dies with us. What we do for His Kingdom remains eternal. What can we do to partner with Jesus so He gets the greatest reward? Where does God want us to sow? How can we fix our eyes on Him and eternity not the temporary things of this world? There is joy in being a blessing to Jesus by investing in His Kingdom.

May our eyes be upward then outward. Someone needs what we carry. May we be led by the Spirit to bring Jesus the greatest reward!!!

Love in Christ,

Erin

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The Standard is Jesus

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Follow God’s example, as dearly loved children & walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us & gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering & sacrifice to God,~Ephesians 5:1-2.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing,~1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

Our lives will be measured by how we love. It’s not something that’s preached in many pulpits anymore, yet Jesus taught on it all the time. He taught we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind and love our neighbor as we love ourselves. He stated if we love God, we would obey Him. He also stated there would be many when they see Him face to face who will say, “Look at all the good things I did in Your name. He will reply-I was hungry and you did not feed me, naked and you did not clothe me, in prison and you did not visit me…whatever you did to the least of these, you’ve done to Me. Depart from Me, I never knew You-(Matthew 25:31-46, Matthew 7: 21-26).” These weren’t people who lived believing they’d miss heaven. They lived forsaking the greatest commandment; love. They lived not applying the Gospel to their lives. God cares how we treat Him and others. It’s all through the Bible.

Misunderstanding love:

Humans often equate love with warm fuzzy feelings or being able to have their way. Neither is biblical love. God corrects, rebukes, and provides consequences and boundaries for us so we can learn. He does not treat us poorly; He leads us to paths of righteousness so we are not destroyed by sin. No matter how we view it; sin destroys it’s host. As a loving parent, He can’t stand by and watch us kill ourselves. Though if we are super rebellious, He will give us over to our sin (Romans 1:28).

If we wait to feel love, we will only love a select few. God didn’t tell us to only love the happy, shiny, nice people. I wish that were true, but it’s not. He said love everyone! He gave His Spirit so we had 24/7 built in love. If I only loved when I felt love, gosh, that’d be 10-20 percent of the time and only a few people in my life. I’m not primarily a feeler; I’m a thinker. My brain dominates my heart. I’m learning to allow the Holy Spirit to direct my brain.

Love does not always equal friendship:

God didn’t tell us to give everyone full access to our lives or to be close friends with everyone. Trust me, you will be destroyed if you give everyone the same access to you. Be friendly, compassionate, a servant to all. Even Jesus only had a few disciples He pulled closest to Him. His love was the same, the level of intimacy was not.

I’ve upset many people in my life by ending relationships that causes chaos, drama, trauma, or simply weren’t helping me grow like Christ. My goal isn’t to please people; it’s to be in God’s will. If it’s destroying your relationship with God, it’s abusive, there’s never peace, etc…ask God what type of relationship it should be. Married people have a greater responsibility. If it’s a random person you befriended, love them…but set boundaries. Even married people are called to point their spouse to Christ by setting boundaries, correcting, and rebuking. Jesus corrected, rebuked, and had boundaries with people. Pray for, bless, do good, yet don’t let people continually destroy what God is trying to build.

The standard is Jesus!

Jesus is the standard. Even if the entire world stands against you; your role is to represent (Re-Present) Jesus. Love your enemies. Do good to those who hurt you. Bless those who curse you. It is the way of a disciple of Jesus. It’s not easy; it’s possible through Christ who gives you strength.

Lastly…

We are not mini saviors. We are called to imitate Jesus by walking in love! We are called to be His ambassadors of love in the earth. The world will know we belong to God by our love.

Be blessed today. You are loved with an everlasting love!

The key to loving well is abiding in the One who is love (John 15:5). We love because He first loves us. We recieve His love and let it pour out onto others.

Love in Christ,

Erin

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