Here’s a quick, powerful lesson on the purpose of financially supporting ministries. At this time of the year, many ministries are asking for your year-end gift. Once you’ve discerned which ministries to support (which I hope includes your church!), you need to make sure you have the right attitude when giving.
Philippians 4:17 says, ““Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.”
Paul made this statement after acknowledging the Philippians’ financial support to his ministry. Here’s the lesson: We give because we want to see fruitful ministry. It’s not about the money we give; our motivation should be the ministry fruit that will be produced.
A perspective for ministries:
Be good stewards. Don’t just seek the gift to say look at what we got, but set your hearts on how to use that money for the most ministry effectiveness.
A perspective for givers:
Don’t boast in your gift (the amount or the fact that you gave). Boast in what the Lord does (the fruit) with the gifts of the faithful.
Let’s be generous and see more ministry fruit!
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By Ryan Strother — 1 year ago
You need to make sure that you are not an enemy of the cross. There are dire consequences.
Let me explain from Philippians 3:18-21. This passage teaches us the difference between enemies of God (or the cross) and citizens of the kingdom of heaven.
Some walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. They have enmity with, are in opposition to the cross of Christ–not just that they don’t like it or just refuse to accept the message of the cross, but enemies conveys that they are actively opposing the message of the cross.
What is the message of the cross? It is at least:
- the shed blood of Jesus Christ;
- the forgiveness of our sin;
- the breaking of the bondage to sin;
- the release from eternal torment and damnation apart from Christ;
- the fullness of life on this earth, filled with hope and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
And yet, some live in opposition to this! Philippians 3:19 describes the enemy of the cross.
Their end is destruction.
This makes sense because the cross represents the release from eternal torment. If you live as an enemy to the cross of Christ, then you are heading down a road to destruction.
Instead of destruction, though, Jesus made a better way: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV)
Their god is their belly and they glory in their shame.
Belly is a way to refer to appetites/desires of a person. Those who live as enemies of the cross are letting their desires take the place of God. “They glory in their shame” can be understood in at least a couple ways:
They glory or boast in things they should be ashamed of.
We see this today:
- The high school student bragging about girls he slept with;
- The drunkard celebrating his activities from the past weekend;
- People not only engaged in sinful behavior but parading it around.
They improperly boasted in glorious things
Some commentators think this passage refers to those who claimed to be associated with God but truly were not. They lived under the law and found their worth there.
Some Bible translations say “their glory is their shame.” The understanding is that they were boasting in things like circumcision and dietary laws they followed—things that would have been to their glory as the people of God—but because of how they spoke about it or because of their pride, they were actually shaming themselves.
Their minds are set on earthly things.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? The enemy of the cross doesn’t have an eternal perspective, so they can only set their minds on earthly things. Life is all about their desires, and the current situation becomes life or death to them because they have no other framework from which to evaluate it.
This is the life of an enemy of the cross. Does it describe you? If so, the good news that God has graciously allowed you to be a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. The next post will describe how that status affects your life.Post Views: 824
By Ryan Strother — 3 years ago
Not every Christian is called to adopt, but every Christian is mandated to care for orphans (James 1:27). A Child’s Hope Int’l states, “There are approximately 500,000 children in foster care in the United States. It’s estimated that 120,000 are eligible for adoption. With over 400,000 churches in the United States, if one person in every 3rd church would say ‘I’ll take one’ all of the children would have a home.” The church can meet the need.
Now consider this: I heard someone say once that the Church is not ready for Roe v. Wade to be overturned as many would desire. If the children who would have been aborted are not, but are given up for adoption instead, who will raise them? Is the Church ready to meet the need?
Think of the gospel impact the Church could have through adoption. To some degree, adoption is a picture of what Jesus did for us: reaching into a hopeless situation to bring hope and joy and fulfillment of life. Most churches could start by providing foster and adoptive families to their county children’s services. A need always exists there.
If you study soteriology (the study of salvation), you will know that adoption is an incredible part of our salvation. Christians are adopted into the family of God (Galatians 3:23 – 4:7; Romans 8:15-17), and we ought to be grateful! Millard Erickson defines adoption (spiritually) as the “transfer from a status of alienation and hostility to one of acceptance and favor.”
Now think about this: God created physical life and God gives spiritual life (through Jesus Christ, including the process of spiritual adoption). The Bible only advocates two ways of parents raising children: 1) through the physical process of a husband and wife bringing a child into the world, and 2) through adoption or orphan care (James 1:27). Therefore, raising and caring for children mirrors the work that God has already done.
Adoption illustrates and explains the love of Jesus. Is the church ready to meet the need?
How is your church meeting the foster and/or adoption need in your community?
 Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd Edition (Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, MI, 2013), 891.Post Views: 1,224
By Ryan Strother — 2 years ago
“I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
“Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.”
― Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam
“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
― Philippians 2:3-4
Pride is a topic in secular and Christian literature, but we find that the Bible is full of examples of pride and instructs us best in how to combat pride. Pride is at the root of any sin you will commit because ultimately you are acting on what you want more than what God desires and commanded.
We will use Judges 9 to identify key characteristics of pride in the life of Abimelech, one of Gideon’s sons. Hopefully it will serve as a litmus test for your life and help you search your own heart to rid it of pride.
Today we will examine one characteristic of pride from Abimelech’s life: Pride Connives and Manipulates. Next week, we will see that pride disregards other people.
Abimelech was unique among all of Gideon’s sons because only he was born to a concubine who was from Shechem. The rest of Gideon’s 70 sons were born to wives who were from Ophrah.
Shechem was a city in the land of Israel, right on the border of the the land alloted to Ephraim and Manasseh, and chapter 9 records Abimelech’s wicked plan to become the king of Shechem.
His conniving begins by going to his mother’s relatives in Shechem. He manipulated them by creating a power struggle that might not have really existed between himself and his brothers. He told his relatives to tell the leaders of Shechem that Abimelech should be their leader, and he even adds what is so common in manipulation: guilt. The guilt trip comes through these words: “remember I am your bone and your flesh” (Judges 9:2).
The relatives were convinced and participated in Abimelech’s corruption by giving him money from the house of Baal-berith, a place of idol worship! The amount they gave (70 pieces of silver) seems to indicate that the leaders of Shechem knew what Abimelech was going to do. They basically gave him one piece of silver per brother, whom Abimelech planned on exterminating.
Abimelech then hires “worthless and reckless fellows” (v.4) to follow him. I imagine if you are worthless and reckless that you’ll follow anyone to do anything. This was basically a hit squad who went with Abimelech to Ophrah to kill his brothers–seventy men on one stone.
His selfishness throughout this plan reminds me of something I read about Ronald Reagan. When he was governor of California, Reagan made a speech in Mexico City. About that occasion, Reagan said, “After I had finished speaking, I sat down to rather unenthusiastic applause, and I was a little embarrassed. The speaker who followed me spoke in Spanish — which I didn’t understand — and he was being applauded about every paragraph. To hide my embarrassment, I started clapping before everyone else and longer than anyone else until our ambassador leaned over and said, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. He’s interpreting your speech.‘”
Sometimes we applaud ourselves the quickest and longest. Abimelech was an arrogant man with a wicked plan. He manipulated the leaders of the town to equip him to carry out that plan, and then those leaders made him king.
My kingdom come, my will be done was Abimelech’s attitude, and he didn’t care what it took to accomplish his plan. Pride connives and manipulates, and next week we’ll see how pride disregards other people.Post Views: 861