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 — 9 months ago
I’ve heard it said that pride is the only disease that makes everyone sick but the one who has it.
Last week, we saw how pride connives and manipulates. This week, let’s explore how pride disregards other people by returning to Abimelech in Judges 9 as an example. Specifically, he disregarded others by murdering and getting revenge. If you search your heart honestly, you might find yourself acting in the same ways.
Murder. Abimelech certainly disregarded his brothers by killing all but one of them who escaped. Jotham, the one who survived, gave a scathing prophecy to the leaders of Shechem in Judges 9:7-21. The “Fire from Abimelech” in that prophecy is exactly what happened. Not only did Abimelech murder his own brothers to gain power, but he even murdered people from Shechem to maintain that power (v.49), even using fire to accomplish the job.
Revenge. The leaders of Shechem eventually turned against Abimelech, especially when a man named Gaal moved into the city and took some shots at Abimelech. Shechem began trusting Gaal as a leader more than Abimelech. Abimelech wasn’t happy at all about that. An arrogant person can’t stand the thought of someone turning on him, so he unleashes his vengeance on Gaal and the people of Shechem, murdering many more.
You can read this and think that you aren’t that bad. But these actions (murder, seeking revenge) stem from motivations of the heart. Jesus taught this principle in Matthew 5 regarding murder:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matthew 5:21–22, ESV)
So, when you honestly check your heart, you will probably find more pride there than you thought. And pride will influence you to disregard other people, maybe through extreme ways of murdering and seeking harmful revenge, or by less subtle ways, like ignoring, gossiping about someone, acting in ways that purposely make life difficult for someone else, undermining authority, or destructively criticizing.
How else can pride influence people to disregard others?Post Views: 439
By Ryan Strother — 1 year ago
It has been amazing to hear the stories of Billy Graham’s impact on so many people in the last few weeks since his death. Billy Graham is a man who finished well.
I’ve been preaching through Judges some recently and we see a different story in Gideon. He didn’t end well. We can learn at least two ways to end well by looking at Gideon’s poor example. This post is the first way–stay focused. Stay focused on God’s ways for your life.
Two manifestations of Gideon not being focused on God’s plan:
Pursuing his own desires
Gideon didn’t finish well because he became consumed by pursuing his own desires. In Judges 8:4, he leads his 300 men across the Jordan toward the east to pursue two kings from Midian. God won a large battle for the Israelites over the Midianites (recorded in chapter 7), and used Gideon as a leader in that work. In chapter 8, though, there is no mention of the Lord working–just Gideon.
First, he pushed past boundaries that seem unwise. He crossed back over the Jordan, which would go beyond the area of the Promised Land that God gave. His motivation is clear: retaliation. The kings killed his brothers, so he wanted to kill them (Judges 8:19). Nothing seemed unreasonable to Gideon in that pursuit.
Being harsh with God’s people
Gideon could be seen as a brutal aggressor in this passage, even to God’s people. Succoth was established by Jacob initially, and Penuel was the site where Jacob wrestled with God and God dislocated his hip (Gen. 33).
Gideon asks them to supply bread and both refuse. Gideon’s response to Succoth when he didn’t get his way: “So Gideon said, ‘Well then, when the Lord has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, I will flail your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.’” (Judges 8:7, ESV) Woah! If you have that response to people who don’t go along with your plan, there’s something wrong with your heart!
Gideon told Penuel that he would break down their tower, probably referring to the defensive tower of the city. In other words, I’ll make you vulnerable and defenseless. Sadly, these weren’t empty promises (Judges 8:13,17).
Gideon wasn’t focused on the Lord’s plan all the way to the end. The last records we have of his leadership over Israel is this debacle and what we’ll look at next week.
What is your motivation, and how do you love others? Answering this will help you know if you are focused on the Lord’s plan for you.Post Views: 718
By Ryan Strother — 1 year ago
My mom’s name is Deborah, and I’m thankful for her. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
I am referring to the relationship between Deborah and Barak in the book of Judges (chapters 4 and 5). Deborah was a prophetess, meaning she spoke God’s word to His people. She was a wise woman, settling disputes under a palm tree. Barak was a military leader who faced the ruthless and technologically-superior Canaanites in order to deliver the Israelites from their oppression. This victory was an act of God’s grace for His people (Israel), and Deborah and Barak were major players.
In Judges 4:6-7, Deborah summoned Barak and said, “Hasn’t the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded you: ‘Go, deploy the troops on Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the Naphtalites and Zebulunites? Then I will lure Sisera commander of Jabin’s army, his chariots, and his infantry at the Wadi Kishon to fight against you, and I will hand him over to you.’”
When I was reading that recently, I noticed something–God had already told Barak what he was to do and had already promised victory. Deborah was admonishing Barak to be faithful to what God had already said.
My point: be thankful for the “Deborahs” in your life who admonish you to be obedient to Scripture.
God has spoken and we have that record in the 66 books the Bible. It can be painful to hear someone say, “Didn’t God say…,” pointing out sin in our lives, but we need to be humble as we’re admonished toward obedience to God’s Word.
Be thankful for the Deborahs in your life.Post Views: 710