Welcome to this last FOD of the year. Yikes, 2020!!! Who knew? Where have all the smiles gone? Behind domestic walls, behind the masks, and behind the OUT OF BUSINESS signs. How tragic. The de-humanization, the isolation, the deprivation, the depression, the sorrow, the economic suffering, the hunger, the crippling FEAR, and the overall anguish of billions of precious human beings around the world is impossible to fully comprehend. Given the state of our planetary dis-union, it is vital for each of us Bible believers to step back and look at the big picture, scripturally speaking.
First, you are BELOVED by your FATHER, who is the CREATOR. Second, you have the absolute guarantee of the GLORIOUS HOPE that our Lord Jesus Christ is coming back for us—at any moment—to usher us into a “forever” future beyond our wildest dreams. Third, you are privileged to understand most of God’s wonderful Word and have the freedom to share it with others. What opportunities we have as we live during this fascinating, though frustrating, time in human history, rejoicing in God’s goodness and fighting the good fight to make known His truth.
December is the only month of the year when the Word of God is broadcast in “public places,” so to speak. Radio stations, television channels, stores, restaurants, car dealers, and other commercial sites play Word-filled hymns heralding the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind. Some of that might sink in, especially if someone like you says something about it to one hearing the music. And, no doubt, “JOHN 3:16” banners will be hanging over the railings at sparsely filled football stadiums.
“God so loved that He gave His only begotten Son.” Jesus had free will, and did not have to die for you and me, but he too so loved that he gave his most precious possession—his life. From our present “Ekklesia Epistles” perspective, we see both our God and our Lord having practiced what they preach, if you will, each by giving the ultimate gift that cost them dearly. Furthermore, what they gave made possible the subsequent gift they have together given each of us on our “personal Pentecost”—holy spirit, the divine nature of God.
That permanently resident nature of our Father is the power source that energizes our faith/trust in Him and our love for people. We manifest that divine agape love by giving of ourselves to others, even when it costs us something. LOVE is GIVING.
Godly giving takes many forms, such as sharing the Word, taking time to serve others, and praying for people. It also includes material giving, and that is the context of Malachi 3:10, the only verse in God’s Word where He challenges anyone, in this case, His people Israel, to, “Prove me…” The Hebrew word means “to examine, to scrutinize, to test,” as in determining the actual value of a precious metal.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, says the Lord of hosts.
Surely the promises God expressed to Israel represent His heart in regard to how He will reciprocate to any of us Christians who so love that we giveof our finances, etc. 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 (not tithing). If you haven’t read them lately, I heartily encourage you to do so. How we handle our MONEY—actually, the money God has given us to steward—is one area where we can see quite clearly how much we trust Him. In fact, 2 Corinthians 8:24 says that financial giving is “the proof of your love.” Again, we see that LOVE is GIVING.
Martin Luther 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.” Did you know 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 out of every seven verses in the New Testament deals with this topic. The Bible offers nearly 500 verses about prayer, fewer than 500 about faith, and more than 2000 verses about money.
As one theologian wrote: ‘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.”
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. I just looked up “sacrificial”: “to surrender or give up, or permit injury or disadvantage to, for the sake of something else.” To be honest, I don’t remember ever giving money that resulted in my having to go without something I specifically wanted. I can say, however, that by being faithful to generously share what God has given me to steward, He has proven to me that I cannot out-give Him. I hope you can say the same.
If you are a regular TLTF contributor, THANK YOU!!! In the interest of “proving God” (and supporting the outreach of His Truth), why not prayerfully consider “pushing the envelope” a bit and increasing your gift in 2021. See what God does to prove Himself to you in this regard. If you do not consistently support our work financially, please consider giving a generous one-time year-end gift. In any case, PLEASE PRAY for our work to touch the hearts of new people who have the means to help us reach out much more than we have to date. Hey, there’s gotta be at least one bored billionaire, or some meandering millionaires, out there who would love to share with us in response to the life-changing benefits they receive from our unique ministry.
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. We believe that TLTF is in that category. And, as per 2 Corinthians 9:6, our giving is to be hilaros, a Greek word that means “boisterously merry or cheerful.” Adding an “I” and a “U” to that word (that is, I and you doing it) makes it come alive, and makes us hilarious givers!
Speaking of mirth, in this exhortation to “put your money where your heart is,” I decided not to use the unfortunate statement from a Head Elder in his church’s Sunday bulletin: “I upped my pledge. Up yours!”
And finally, please know that our hearts for you are 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 adequately express how much each gift you give means to us, 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. At the end of another calendar year, one like none of us have ever seen, we are exceedingly thankful that we, and you, are still “kicking” (the Adversary). On behalf of our dedicated and diligent TLTF leadership nucleus (Trustees Franco Bottley [Christina], Jon Touchstone [Christine], and I [Elizabeth], and Elders A.J. Beretta [Barbie], Don Chamberlain [Christine], Gary Lee Corns [Wendy], Marc Dickie [Maria], Janis Erickson, Mike & Dana Lewis, Jon & Sandi Lindquist, Greg & Linda Rogers), have the MERRIEST CHRISTMAS with those you love!