God’s Extravagance

From my 2009 Journal. Scott and I are out of town visiting our middle daughter who is pregnant with our first grand-baby. We needed some milk and a vegetable for dinner, so we sent Scott to the grocery store for these two items. Ladies, you can already predict what happened . . . He returned with three bags of newborn diapers (not needed for another five months), a box of cereal, some salad dressing (both of which we already had on hand but he didn’t know it), three bags of cookies, the milk, the requested veggie, and some tea.

I started to grouse about his over-kill when the Lord struck me with this thought: “This is like Me—an over-abundant, extravagant, generous, over-flowing, more-than-you-need kind of God. Do not spurn generosity.”

Thank You, Lord, for Your extravagant gifts and for my generous husband.

Groceries

Who’s Really the Teacher?

From my 2010 Journal. This morning I was teaching the story of David and Saul to my Grade 3 Sunday school class. Wanting to illustrate the subject of jealousy, I began the lesson by asking the children to look at each other’s eyes and tell me what color they were. We had 5 children with brown eyes, and 3 who had blue. Next, I told them that I had a special gift for each of the blue-eyed children:  a one-dollar gift certificate to McDonald’s. I instructed the brown eyes to clap and applaud for them. And then I paused, waited, watching for their response. I asked the brown-eyes how they felt about their classmates’ gift. One said she felt “left out.” Another said, “sad,” and another “unfair.” They all admitted to feeling jealous.ice cream

And then it happened. Little blue-eyed Ethan stood up and walked over to brown-eyed Holly (who had made a decision just this week to follow Jesus) and gave her his gift certificate. I praised him and then immediately handed him a replacement.

Next I told them the story of when handsome, beautiful-eyed, strong, courageous, musically-gifted David was anointed king (not because of his outward appearance, but because of his heart for God), about his brothers’ jealousy, about his slaying of Goliath, and Saul’s subsequent love and admiration for him. And then how the women sang “Saul has killed his thousands, but David his tens of thousands” and how Saul’s admiration turned to jealousy, to hatred, and eventually to attempted murder.

We discussed what things made 3rd graders jealous (toys, talents, privileges), and how jealousy can lead to bad things. We talked about how God gives each of us gifts—not for the purpose of self-glory, but to be used for Him and given away.

In conclusion, I instructed the other two blue-eyes to hand their gifts to two of the brown-eyes. Not fair? Oh no! Because when we give our gifts away to minister to others, God blesses us in return. And I handed each of the blue eyes a replacement. Once the point was made, I made sure each child had a gift certificate.

I told the children the gift was theirs to use as they wished. They could spend it on themselves, or they could give it away to bless someone else. It was their choice.

Brown-eyed Chandler said he was going to give his to his brother. Blue-eyed Ethan said, “I wish I could rip mine in half so both my brother and I could use it!” Melina observed that Ethan had given his away twice, and she tried to hand her coupon to him, but he declined. “It’s okay. You keep it,” he said. And then his creative solution: “I know! I’ll spend it on ice cream and I can share it with my brother that way!” Later, Melina sent me a photo of herself enjoying her ice cream.

I think the children taught me as much as I tried to teach them that day!

 

First Fruits

God evaluates my generosity by what I keep, not by what I give away. (Pastor Allen Jackson, WOC)

Back in fresh-organic-fruits-basket_1426-486.jpg2007, our church was beginning a capital stewardship campaign. After much prayer and asking God to unify Scott’s and my hearts, we each came up with the same amount to give. It felt very ambitious for us, but we trusted that God was able to help us fulfill our commitment. Next we had to decide how much to give in that morning’s offering. Scott suggested 10% of our pledge—the first fruits of our promise. Gulp. There went the money we’d been setting aside for our daughter’s wedding reception. But, in faith, we obeyed.

Journal 2007. I’d like to suggest to God how He can replace those funds for us, but I think He’ll figure out how to care for our needs without my help! And, so dear Father, in faith I write our check this morning with open hand and heart and trust You to bless it and multiply it and use it for Your kingdom.

I recall years ago when God asked Scott and me to give Him our roof-repair funds that we’d been saving up. It wasn’t until after we obeyed God’s prompting that Scott’s aunt offered to pay for a new roof for us. That experience was a faith-builder.

On the way to church this morning, I laughed out loud as I tuned into Irwin Lutzer’s sermon that began with, “Today I’d like to talk to you about giving a sacrifice to God that seems extraordinary.” It felt like God’s handprint of blessing on our decision. God’s timing is delightful.

Fast forward three months. I know God was smiling as He gifted us with in-laws who asked for the privilege of providing a reception for Cindy’s wedding.

It really is a waste of time to wrestle with God. When He says, DO or GIVE or GO, it’s much more productive to simply obey and move on and leave the results to Him. It’s like storing up treasure in heaven. I want as much in that heavenly bank as I can put into it for my retirement from this earth.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.