"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Raising The Standard: Generosity Is Giving The Right Amount At The Right Time

This is the last key point on Generosity and the end of the second volume. Unless moved, I will rest and refresh and will not begin the 3rd volume until Jan 2011. Blessings be upon you and the love of Jesus is my prayer for you, any of you who read or have ever read here. Merry Christmas...
"As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." ~ Galatians 6:10
From The Pages Of Scripture:
Faith and giving go hand in hand. True generosity is a result of faith, and true faith results from generosity. The greater our faith is, the more we can see spiritual realities and the more free we are to let go of temporal possessions. Giving what we have to God sets in motion spiritual laws which return to us more than we gave and demonstrate to us the reality of God --- the true source of all provision. One of the greatest men in Scripture was not only a great man of faith. but he was also a great man of giving. His generosity was rewarded by God and used to establish a basic precedent in giving.
How Does Scripture Illustrate Generosity By Giving The Right Amount At The Right Time?
There is a time when giving money results in gain and a time when keeping money results in loss. Who gave a gift that resulted in God's blessing and then refused a gift that would have diminished God's glory? Abraham (Genesis 14) Five terrified kings lost all sense of dignity. They fled from battle and stumbled into treacherous slime pits. They had gone out in pride but retreated in disgrace. The invading army shouted with delight as they watched these kings and their men fall in the slime or scramble up the mountains to hide in rocky crags. Many were taken captive. A breathless runner raced from the battlefield. Soon he reached his destination --- the encampment of a very influential man. The runner poured out his story of the kings' defeat. Then he said, "your nephew has been taken captive." The words stung like a whip. This great man quickly assembled his servants and armed them for battle. Their hastily formed army pursued the plundering invaders. They neared the enemy camp and waited until nightfall. Then they divided into three groups for an attack. The unsuspecting enemy was totally surprised and fled in panic, leaving behind all the captives, wealth, and possessions. This victory was one more blessing of God upon the life of a very generous man. Years earlier, a conflict had arisen between him and the nephew whom he now rescued. There had been insufficient grazing lands for both of their flocks. This great man demonstrated his generous spirit by inviting his nephew to choose whatever lands he wanted. Then he took the lands in the opposite direction. Now two more tests of generosity faced him. As he and his men returned to his nephew's city, the priest of the Most High God came out to meet him. This priest, who was also the king of Salem, gave him refreshment and blessed him. Immediately this great man took a gift of his own and gave it to the priest of the Most High God. Then a king of one of the five cities which had been defeated said to this man, "Return to me only the captives that belong to me and keep all the goods for yourself." Quickly and wisely this great man refused that gift. He explained why he did so. He said, "Lest thou shouldst say, I have made Abram rich." The one who offered the gift was the king of that wicked city, Sodom. Abraham did not want anyone to rob God of His rightful glory as the true source of his wealth. Meanwhile, the gift which he gave to Melchizedek was an action which illustrated giving the right amount at the right time. All of his physical and spiritual descendants were to follow his example. Abraham gave a tenth of all that he had and established the principle of tithing. (Genesis 14)
Why Was Abram So Prompt To Give Aid To His Nephew, Lot?
Abram's faith in God is evident in his decision to rescue Lot. Considering that this northern confederacy of kings had just conquered every obstacle in its path, it would be foolish to a natural mind to try to overpower them with only 318 men and a few Amoriet allies. Not only did they risk immediate defeat, but they also risked retaliatory action in the case of an indecisive victory. There are two good reasons for Abram's decision. First, the Lord had promised to give the land to him and his descendants (Genesis 13:14-17). By faith, Abram was protecting his descendants from northern oppression by breaking their yoke fro the present possessors of the land. Second, he was committed to the welfare of not only a member of his own family but also a fellow believer in the Lord (2 Peter 2:7). As the father of our faith, he demonstrated the New Testament teaching of loyalty and commitment to one's natural and also to one's spiritual family. Lot was a member of both.
How Did Abram Give At The Right Time?
When Melchizedek, the priest-king of Jerusalem, learned of the important victory that the Lord had given Abram, he desired to express his gratitude. He did so in two ways. First, he brought a tangible expression of food and drink for Abram's hungry, tired soldiers. Second, through his office of priest of the Most High God, he pronounced a blessing upon Abram. In an expression of fellowship, Abram received the physical refreshment; and in an act of faith and humility, he received the blessing. Abram recognized that it was the right time for him to give a gift to Melchizedek. He gave him a tenth of his share of the spoil and by this act acknowledged Melchizedek's right to bless him. He knew that Melchizedek was one of the few priests who remained true to God and desired to share in the support of his ministry.
How Did Abram Give The Right Amount?
Abram had taken an oath, swearing that he would not take a thread or a sandal thong from the king of Sodom lest he should say that he had made Abram rich (Genesis 14:23). This vow may have been motivated by two different experiences. The first occurred recently in Egypt when he went to obtain food. Because of his need and desire for provisions, he compromised his integrity by deceiving the king. As a result of that compromise, he received much. When Abram was dismissed from Egypt with his questionable gain, he was probably distressed over the fact that he had dishonored his name and hence the name and reputation of his Lord as well. His disgust may have prompted him to promise himself never again to accept favor from a heathen king. A second reason may have been the example of his nephew. Lot seems to have been motivated by the desire for material gain. He chose the best and most productive land. His association with the city of Sodom was in all likelihood motivated by the same desire for gain. Abram, observing Lot's increasing tolerance of the sinfulness about him, may have sworn not to let this temptation master him, too. He knew that the right amount to give Melchizedek was ten percent. The right amount to give the king of Sodom, was one hundred percent. He refused to accept anything from him. The lord's reputation was more important to him than his own personal gain.
Illustrated In The World Of Nature:
The alligator is endowed with a constant grin. The curvature of its jawbone gives the impression that the reptile is continually smiling and content. Whether in fact is is or not, it should be. For as an adult this large, powerful reptile is master of its domain and has few enemies --- except for man. The American Alligator inhabits the swamps and wetlands of North America's southeastern regions. Lazily, this contented-looking creature sprawls out on the shore or in open water to bask in the warm sun. It does this for a reason. Like other reptiles, the alligator is not equipped to warm itself, and it is therefore classified as a cold-blooded animal. Records indicate that the alligator can live as long as fifty years and can attain a length of nineteen feet.
How Does The Alligator Illustrate Generosity By Giving The Right Amount At The Right Time?
Sprawled awkwardly on a heap of decaying vegetation, the large, scaly-skinned creature crawled in circles working its low-slung body over a soggy mass of material. The Spanish called this reptile a lizard or "el largato." The English adopted the name but ran the two words together to form "alligarter." Mispronunciation changed the name further, and from this distortion came alligator --- the name by which it is known today. This particular alligator had a definite reason for its strange behavior. The female had just laid twenty eggs and covered them with loose material. Now she smoothed out the rough mass of vegetation and added the final touches to complete the nest. Once this was accomplished, she slipped back into the water to wait. Unlike most reptiles, the female alligator has not completed the responsibility of parenthood after laying its eggs. She maintains a long and constant vigil over her nest against predators such as snakes, raccoons, and even man. She is aggressive and has little tolerance for the unwanted intruders. The alligator is not afraid to use sharp teeth and a very powerful tail against any enemy. For the next two months the female will stay very close to the nest, maintaining and repairing the structure when necessary. She keeps a constant vigil against any threat. Meanwhile, deep within the mass of decomposing vegetation, heat is being generated to warm and incubate the eggs. Then one day, weeks later, the female will do another strange thing. She will return to the nest and actually tear it apart with her mouth until she reaches the eggs. Then she will carefully grip each one, one at a time, and gently release it from the heavy mass of material. She also helps the young escape from the leathery-like confinement of their eggshell. How could the alligator know when to return? How could she have known when they were ready to hatch? The answer is simple. She asked the eggs! As time grows near for the alligators to hatch, the mother returns to the nest and, laying her head next to the structure, gives a low grunt. Then she waits to see if the young inside the eggs answer. If there is no reply, she will go back into the water and wait for a day or two before she returns to inquire again. If the mother is not aware of the right timing and uncovers them too soon, the eggs will lose the heat necessary for incubation and will not hatch. If she returns too late, the young may have been able to cut themselves free from the eggshells without assistance, but the heavy mass of vegetation would have suffocated them. This ability of the alligator to give the right amount of assistance at the right time helps ensure that the young will hatch successfully.
Scriptural References To The Alligator:
The alligator and the crocodile may be considered cousins. The crocodile was the master and terror of the Nile in Egypt. It was ravenous, crafty, fierce, relentless, keen-eyed, and swift in devouring its prey. In spite of these deadly traits the Egyptians venerated it, pampered it, and paid divine honors to it. There is evidence that Pharaoh thought he became invincible like the crocodile by wearing scaly armor. Thus, the prophecy against him by Ezekiel: "Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, the great dragon (tannian crocodile) that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself. But I will put hooks in thy jaws, and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales, and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers..." (Ezekiel 29:3, 4) This prophecy has a background in the description of the crocodile given by God to Job: "Canst thou draw out leviathan (crocodile) with an hook... canst thou put an hook into his nose... Who can open the doors of his face? His teeth are terrible round about. His scales are his pride." (Job 41:1-2, 14-15)

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