Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lessons They Taught Me On Generous Liberal Giving_Part 3

It was the second day of shopping. My first son was driving. The previous day, we did two shops in a record time. My son is a shoot the bull’s eye shopper—go in, pick the stuff on your list and head to the cashier. Typical shopping tactics of most men. It was the same on this day. It took the joy out of shopping for me but I dared not complain, my son was becoming support-fatigued.

The last one month had been packed with several back-to-back events, and I was directly involved in organizing them. The next one was in two days. I depend heavily on my family to support me in executing every activity I commit myself to and they know I don’t do half-measures.

We picked up my second son from school on the way home. And that began a discussion between the boys on how much Mum takes on. At the end of the last event I organised, they had asked me why I had to take the lead in every event that needs to be organized. My mother responded while I was still thinking of an appropriate answer, “When God gives you a gift, you have to use it to bless others.”

“Hmm! But why does it have to be Mum all the time?” he asked his grandma.

I responded this time, emphasising that we are expected to use the gifts, skills and talents God gave us to serve others (1Peter 4:10). But I heard him loud and clear. Each time I commit myself to something, I commit my entire family, sometimes over-committing them and requiring some sacrifice on their part. So on this occasion I knew where the discussion was going, or so I thought.

As we discussed the plans for the coming days and what I would require of them, they did not ask the same question again, they simply stated, “Mum is involved in so many things.”

“I am a Proverbs 31 woman,” I chipped in. That’s who I aspire to be.

“And we are compelled to be Proverbs 31 children without a choice.”

Whoops! I caught my breath. I thought carefully before going further. “Well, whatever we do, we must do as unto God. God loves a cheerful giver, so I really pray that you will also be cheerful Proverbs 31 children. God doesn't owe any man, He will surely reward your labour of love.”

My children were learning another hard lesson on sacrificial giving of self in the service of others, this time not of their own volition, but imposed on them by their mother’s passion to go the extra mile to be a blessing to others.

As I write the concluding part of Lessons They Taught me on Liberal Generous Giving today, my sons are uppermost on my mind. Noting that as we relentlessly pursue the goal of liberal generous giving, it will come at a cost. Not only for us but also for the significant people in our lives. Therefore, they need to be on board with us so that it does not become a drudgery for them. They also need to know that the seed of the righteous shall be blessed.

Giving, cheerfully and generously with a willing heart, has to be a way of life for the Christian who understands the grace of God. The person, who understands like David, that everything we have comes from God and that his life does not consist of what he has, will be a liberal giver. We are merely giving back what He first gave us. We know that for us to dwell in the full dimension of grace, where God causes all grace to abound to us, we must be willing to abound in good works as well, which requires generous, liberal, and often sacrificial giving.

Before became King over Israel and while he was still running from Saul, David exhibited the ability to be a generous and considerate giver. In 1Sam 30, we observe that David recognized that it was God, Who gave him victory and the ability to recover all he lost without fail and with interest, he was therefore willingly to graciously share of the plunder (vs. 25). He also remembered those who ministered to his needs during his season of wandering. This is the dictate of a grateful heart—to remember your helpers.

David affirmed in 1Chronicles 29:14, that all things come from God. He and his people considered that they, who were once slaves in Egypt and in poverty, had attained such affluence that they had liberal hearts and willing spirits to give in such a noteworthy manner, because all they have was given to them by God. They acknowledged God as the Fountain of goodness. David then prayed that God will keep this generous spirit alive forever in his people with their hearts firmly set on God (vs19).

It is my earnest prayer that God will keep alive a generous, liberal and willing spirit in us and our children always.

When David, in his bid to escape from Absalom, came to Manahaim. Three chieftains took care of him and his men. Barzallai was one of them. They said, “The people have become hungry and tired and thirsty in the desert… (2Sam 17:27-29). And they provided them with beddings, pottery and diverse kinds of food. They recognised a need and responded to it.

Another point to note is that Barzallai was an infirmed and very old man with great wealth. He considered it an honour to be of service to the King at his time of need. I learnt from him that old age or infirmities are no barriers to generous and liberal giving.

He proved that no one is too old to give, just as the young boy who willing gave his lunch of five loaves of bread and two fishes in John 6:9, proved that no one is too young to give sacrificially. This young boy gave his lunch for five thousand men to be fed with left over. I imagine that he must be one of those who went home with one of the twelve baskets left over.

The Wealthy Shunamite Woman:
She had a lifestyle of giving and hospitality. She willingly opened her door to the Prophet of God and displayed sensitivity to his needs. She went the extra mile to provide for his comfort.

She taught me to be on the lookout for those who might be in need of my support.

The Queen of Sheba:
Another wealthy woman. She blessed Solomon in his abundance. She sowed liberally the seeds of abundance into his life. And she did not return home empty-handed.

She taught me that I can be a blessing, not only to those in need but also to those who have abundance, in a way that will impact their lives.

“Those who consider God as the Giver of their abundance will dispose of it with fairness and liberality.”

The Proverbs 31 Woman:
She is very generous. She opens her hands to the poor and reaches out her filled hands to the needy. She works very hard to have enough to give to others.

This is the woman I want to be. She is a woman after my heart.

Hallelujah! How blessed is the man, how blessed is the woman, who fear God, who cherish and relish His commandments. Their children shall be robust (successful) on earth. And the homes of the upright shall be blessed. Their houses brim with wealth. And a generosity that never runs dry (Ps 112. The Message paraphrased). There is a blessing and reward awaiting liberal generous givers and their children after them.

All for God’s glory:
God must receive the all the glory for all the gifts He blessed us with, including the ability to be liberal and generous, the grace to be a giver. Everything we have and everything we give, we have received from God’s generous hands, these we must give back cheerfully and with a willing heart

Dear Friends, it has been illuminating for me to share with you these lessons I am learning on generous and liberal giving. I have been given a second chance at life. By the grace of God, I want this precious gift of life to make a resounding impact on lives to the glory of God.

My charge to you:

“Make your gift of a life count by deliberately choosing to live an extraordinary life, such that the world resonates with the echo of your impact.”
(From 2014 Return of the Helper’s Conference Facebook page)

I encourage you to live an extraordinary life of generous and liberal giving that never runs dry but keeps going on and on. It is a lasting legacy that will last forever, setting up your children for God's blessings.

This piece is dedicated to my two sons who selflessly and sacrificially give their energy and time to support me to fulfil my calling and live my dreams.

Ose and Ehi, your sterling and solid qualities shall impact lives for good always, in Jesus name.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Lessons They Taught Me On Generous Liberal Giving_Part 2

In my last blog post, I shared the first part of the Lessons I learnt from generous liberal givers in the Bible. The comments and feedback I got from families and friends were overwhelming. In today’s post, I will start with the lessons I learnt from the Ultimate generous and liberal Giver—the Lord God Almighty, the Giver of life, hope and all good things.

There are many reasons for doing so. Let me share two here:

-          On Monday, June 2, I celebrated one year of my brand new life. Life without external support for breathing, life without compressed oxygen blasting into my nostrils and its hissing sound in my ears, and life without the encumbrances of oxygen bottles, concentrators and reservoirs. This is because God gave me a second chance at living life to the full and to the overflowing. I simply can never thank God enough for this, even if I spend every breath I breathe praising God.
-          For seven years, my siblings and I, and our spouses prayed and interceded over an intractable family issue. At some stage, things went from bad to worse and we could not see light at the end of tunnel, save with the eyes of faith. We knew without a doubt that it would take God’s direct intervention to turn the situation around. The answer to our prayers began to unfold in March. To the glory of God, we saw the full manifestation of the answered prayers last night. It is a dream come true and far beyond our wildest imagination.

God, the Ultimate Generous Giver:
God delights in blessing His children. He does it with unmatched excellence. He is the Giver of good gifts. Every good and perfect gift, and all generous acts come from God, the Father of heavenly lights, in whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning. He is unchanging and there are no alterations in Him or His ways of doing things.

He gives us all good things to enjoy. There is nothing too small or too big to ask of God. My mother read Bedtime Stories to us when I was a little child. I learnt from these stories how to pray about everything and to ask God for whatever my heart desires. The story of a little girl who lost her penny and prayed to God until she found it left an indelible mark in my memory. It taught me that God cares so much about everything that concerns us and there is no minute detail of our lives that does not concern Him or any sphere of our lives where we cannot experience His liberal generosity.

Having such a generous liberal God as my Father, tells me that I also have generosity and liberal giving as components of my DNA. I cannot but be a generous liberal in the image of my Father. We derive the grace and ability to give from the Ultimate Giver. His giving are as diverse as the expanse of His creation. He gives without holding back (see Give Without Holding Back). He is the epitome of giving. It behoves me, who has been given so much, to give back as generously as He gives me the grace.

I learnt from my Father that giving must be with delight and joy. It must be done with a high standard of excellence. I learnt that there is no need too small or insignificant, or too big for us to respond to. God responds with delight to all our needs.

The Women Who Supported Jesus Ministry:
Jesus went from town to town, from village to village, preaching God’s Kingdom and spreading the Message. The twelve disciples were with Him. There were also some women in their company who had been healed of various afflictions and illnesses. Mary Magdalene, from whom seven demons were casted out; Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod’s manager; and Susanna—along with many others (Luke 8:1-3).

These women used their personal resources to minister Jesus and His disciples, and to provide for their needs. They helped to support the ministry with their personal belongings and out of their own means. These women had been forgiven much, they have been delivered from much and they have received much blessing from Jesus. Their response was positive. They were eager to be of service for the Kingdom and to use their resources for the glory of God.

They showed their gratitude to God for what has been done for them by giving generously. Two things struck me about these women:

        Though we know that Joanna is likely to be a woman of means, her husband being the manager of Herod’s household, but we don’t know anything about Susanna nor the financial means of Mary. I want to believe that these women worked hard to ensure that they have the means to support the ministry.
-          Whatever the source and magnitude of their resources, they did not hold back. They gave out of a grateful heart. And their names were immortalized for their generous giving.

The Bible says that God will generously provide all we need. So that we will always have everything we need and have plenty left over to share with others (2Corinthians 9:8). I have a sure promise that I will be enriched in every way so that I can always be generous. And when my gifts get to those who need them, it will result in praise and thanks being given to God.

The righteous gives without sparing or holding back (Proverbs 21:26). I know from the word of God that anyone who is stingy when it comes to the agenda of the Kingdom of God, cannot operate in the fullness of God’s grace. I also know that God loves it when the giver delights in the giving just as God delights in giving to us.

Here’s my declaration:

“I am a giver. I have the DNA of generosity and liberal giving. I am endued with grace to be a giver and a dispenser of good. I am a giver because I carry the blessings of God in my life.”

Here’s my prayer:

Thank You so much, dear God, for all You have done for me. I ask You to open my eyes to see the best ways I can be of service to You and to the body of Christ. Grant me the grace to use every gift, skills and talent You blessed me with to touch lives for good and for Your glory.

Dear Friends, are you a recipient of God’s rich blessing? Is your giving with delightful joy? What is your declaration? Share with us and let us encourage one another.

In the concluding part coming next blog post, I will share lessons I learnt from David, Queen of Sheba, Barzallai and the little boy who gave his lunch.