It’s almost the end of yet another calendar year, and thus we are closer than ever to “The Big Snatch,” that is, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to meet all Christians of all time in the air and take us to “the heaven of heavens” and, I think, into the presence of God’s Divine Council, at least to say Hi. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, the Greek word for “caught up” is harpazo, which means “to snatch away, to carry off by force,” and—get this—”to eagerly claim for oneself.” Holy Harpazo, Batman!
After two thousand years since his ascension, how eager do you think the Lord Jesus is to come and rescue us from this present evil age (Gal. 1:4)? I’m guessing that the time we then spend with him is when we will finally become “the organized church,” so that, when we return to earth with our Savior, we’ll be ready to help him administer his Millennial Kingdom. Do we have a lot to look forward to, or what?!
Given the glorious truth of Christ’s appearing, I trust you realize that today (and every day) could be the last day of your life here. That means, as per the 1965 Rolling Stones hit, “This could be the last time, maybe the last time, I don’t know…”—the last time you pray, the last time you read the Word, the last time you share it with someone, the last time you fellowship with other brethren, and the last time you gleefully share of your material possessions to advance the purposes of God.
What if you got a tip from a loose-lipped angel that Christ is coming for us tomorrow? How would you live today? I doubt you would be “sweating the small stuff,” and I bet you’d be totally wired to share the Good News with everyone you saw. Think about this: because the infinitely resourceful CREATOR is our Father, and the risen Lord Jesus our big brother, we have plenty to anticipate EACH DAY. Talk about a great adventure! We can boldly proclaim God’s Truth, and we can also LIVE it moment by moment.
It’s hard to believe, but early in 2020, TLTF will turn ten years old. Time flies when you’re having fun in the Son. Only God and Christ know the impact this unique ministry has made upon people around the world, and that is due in large measure to the financial support that precious brethren like you have chosen to send our way in response to the blessings they have received from the work we have done. In this last FOD of 2019, I hope to inspire you to join that relatively small number of saints who cheerfully give of their income so that others can partake of the meat of the Word. And if you are already a faithful supporter of TLTF, I hope that what you read here will prompt you to consider increasing your gifts, even by a small amount.
As you probably know, 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 are the only two chapters in Scripture written to Christians that address the topic of material giving. Rather than exposit them here, I encourage you to read them as soon as you finish reading this missive. Seriously, if you have not read them lately, please prayerfully do so today. In that vein, I recently found the following quotes from a prominent Christian evangelist:
“It was Martin Luther who said, “There are three conversions a person needs to experience: The conversion of the head, the conversion of the heart, and the conversion of the pocketbook…” It is worth noting that money is such an important topic in the Bible that it is the main subject of nearly half the parables Jesus told. In addition, one in every seven verses in the New Testament deals with this topic. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, fewer than 500 verses on faith, and more than 2,000 verses on money. In fact, 15 percent of everything Jesus ever taught was on the topic of money and possessions — more than His teachings on heaven and hell combined. Why such an emphasis on money and possessions? Because there is a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money…In other words, the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. Over and over again, our Lord comes back to motive, and He addresses it when He speaks of giving…The point is, we are to keep things in perspective, recognizing that everything we have comes from God and that He provides it for us with a purpose in mind.”
MONEY is one area where we can see quite clearly how much we trust God and Christ. Each week I have the privilege of thanking each person who contributes to TLTF, and it is particularly thrilling to watch how some have systematically increased their giving through the years. One of the most striking examples is a single dad who started ten years ago giving $20 a month and is now sharing about $180 each month! I take that to mean that God is faithfully keeping His promise to him, as follows:
2 Corinthians 9:7-8
7 Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful [hilaros—the only use] giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.
I can speak from 50+ years of experience in regard to seeing our Heavenly Father abundantly bless us when we joyously give to those who minister to us, and when we help others in need. At the second of two fellowships in a city on our Western trip this Fall, I shared how I often err on the side of giving more rather than less, and how God has never failed to astound me with His generosity in response. A believer called me the next day to say that the first night he had put $200 in my omnipresent coffee can, and, when he heard me say that on the second night, he threw in another $100. The next day a woman unexpectedly called him and contracted to pay him $5000 for some work that he does. How COOL is that?!
You are probably familiar with the biblical record of the “widow’s mite” (Mark 12:41-44), and how Jesus spoke highly of her act of sacrificial giving. If I am to be honest, I’m not sure I have ever given anything that resulted in my then having to go without something I specifically wanted. I can say, however, that by being faithful to share of what God has given me, I have learned that you cannot out-give GOD. I hope the same is true of you.
As you may know, I have not received a salary from TLTF these past ten years. Thanks to the grace of God, the kindness of a number of brethren, and my teaching SAT Prep until 2017, I’ve had my needs met, but due to the medical bills I’ve had since 2014 that have now maxed out the amount that my Christian Share Plan will reimburse me, I might need to receive a relatively small stipend each month in 2020. We’ll see, and if so, it would help us greatly to cover that expense if more people share with our ministry, and if those who do can slightly increase their contributions. Why not try it and see what God does?
As you know, Christian giving is to be in response to a blessing, and purposeful giving is to sow your financial seed on good ground, that is, with someone who is faithfully teaching the truth of God’s Word in love. When it comes to TLTF, who else will support our work besides those relatively few folks to whom we are ministering?
In 2 Corinthians 9:6 (“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”), the Greek word hilaros means “boisterously merry or cheerful,” and is obviously where our English word “hilarious” comes from. Because we are not to “trumpet” our giving like the Pharisees did, I guess we’ll generally have to jump around and shout by ourselves when we send in our donations. So, how hilarious are you when you give?
And finally, my heart for you is as Paul said in Philippians 4:17, “Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.” I wish I could better express to you how much each gift means to those of us in the leadership nucleus of TLTF, and how much we value each donor and pray for your prosperity and health. It is a joy to stand with you for our Lord and our God. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!
On behalf of our TLTF Board of Trustees and Elder leadership household, we pray that you enjoy a blessed and mirthful Christmas season with those you love.
Now, go read and enjoy 2 Corinthians 8 & 9.