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
Was that mingling into sin worth it?
- That outburst of anger that seemed to relieve some pressure;
- That venture into pornography that seemed to fill a need;
- That indulgence of pride that increased your confidence even at the expense of other people’s feelings;
- That bout of drunkenness that made you forget some of your troubles until you came to your senses with your troubles intensified;
There is pleasure to sin. But the Bible is clear that sin’s pleasure is fleeting. The writer of Hebrews uses Moses’ life to illustrate this point.
“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:24–26, ESV)
Moses could have continued to experience the lavish and at times unrighteous lifestyle of growing up in Pharoah’s court, but instead, he chose to fully associate himself with the people of God even though it would lead to mistreatment (since the Israelites were slaves at that time to Egypt). He considered mistreatment for the cause of Christ to be more valuable than all the treasures of secular Egypt.
The pleasure of sin is fleeting. It goes away. Then you’re back to where you started–the pressures, the needs, the confidence, the troubles–the things you desired or tried to eliminate are still there, and sometimes even more complicated because of the sin in which you engaged.
The problem is that you’re left with the same result after sinning than what you had before: the guilt of sin that has been passed down to every person since Adam (Romans 5:12), and the result of sin: spiritual death (Romans 3:23 & 6:23).
So how do you fight past the temptation of sin’s pleasure? You keep your eye on the reward. That’s what Moses did. He knew there was something greater coming in the Lord than what the world would offer. Moses wasn’t perfect, and neither are we. There will be times we give into sin, but remember that whatever you believe is being offered by that worldly temptation, there is something so much greater in Christ.
Look to the reward of Christ, not the fleeting pleasure of sin.Post Views: 1,247
By Ryan Strother — 1 year ago
Joni Eareckson Tada became a quadraplegic at 17 years old. Her faith resounded despite the obstacles and she leads an organization for people with disabilities. In her book, When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty, she wrote: “Subdue your heart to match your circumstances.”
My guess: it is hard to bring our hearts under control when our circumstances seem out of control.
Circumstances arouse feelings, emotions, and words, which are the overflow of our hearts (Luke 6:45). Perhaps they lead us to not think clearly through certain situations. In fact, many circumstances can lead to confusion, anger, and resentment to the point of not seeing the reality of our circumstances because our hearts are out of control.
We might wish we weren’t in a particular circumstance, but we have to face the reality. Joni had to realize that she was going to be in a wheelchair. She talks about her earliest struggles, but at some point she chose to accept her reality and glorify God through it.
While you should have many supporters and might seek counseling and medical care during difficult circumstances, the Apostle Paul reveals two foundational ingredients to a mindset that will lead to persevering and glorifying God: prayer and the Holy Spirit.
Now that might sound so simple, but sometimes we neglect even the most simple, foundational things during difficulty. Paul wrote to the Philippians:
“… Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:18b–20, ESV)
He was in prison when he wrote that. His confidence through difficulty came through prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit. In other words, our attitude through difficulty must start with a humble reliance on God’s help.
Are you struggling? Start with prayer and asking the Holy Spirit to guide you through your reactions and actions.Post Views: 785
By Ryan Strother — 2 years ago
Have you ever gotten too close to something and intrigued by it that you just couldn’t leave it alone? Go back to the school bus in middle school with me. There was a hole in the upholstery of the seat in front of mine. It was awfully tempting to touch, pull, put stuff in, etc. Eventually, that hole became larger because of my curiosity! I probably wouldn’t have remembered this episode if I wasn’t called in to the Vice Principal’s office one day with the threat of having to pay to have the seat reupholstered!
My point–if you keep putting yourself around temptation, it’s easy to give yourself over to it.
Last week, I introduced the concept of religious pluralism and today I want to give the first of two dangers of religious pluralism: it can put you dangerously close to sin.
Look at the historical context of Judges in the Bible. The Israelites were led out of slavery in Egypt by Moses, then Joshua took over leadership after Moses’ death. After Joshua’s death, there was no leader in Israel to help the people stay true to the Lord. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.
Israel faced 3 major hindrances during the period of the judges: 1) not ridding the promised land of pagans; 2) idolatry; 3) intermarriage with pagans.
Pagan practices of the nations they failed to drive out heavily influenced Israel to idolatry. The phrase they failed to drive out/take possession appears 8 times in 13 verses from Judges 1:21-33. Repetition is important to note in the Bible because it alerts us and tells us something important. God’s response: He would not drive them out (Judges 2:3). Instead, those nations would be a thorn in their side and their gods would be traps to the Israelites.
Here is religious pluralism.
One Danger of Religious Pluralism: We Can Get Dangerously Close to Sin
Judges 1:28-35 mentions 4 times that the Israelites committed some of these groups to forced labor. It’s almost like the conversation went like this:
God: Manasseh, Zebulun, Nephtali, Dan— remove the Canaanites.
Israelites: It’s okay , we can handle them. In fact, we’ll commit them to forced labor like the Egyptians did to our forefathers.
The command is to cut them out of the land. But the Israelites say, no, we’ll
- subdue them
- limit them
- tame them
- master them
And look what happened.
Now think about your own life: 12So then, brothers and sisters, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, 13because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:12–13, CSB)
The command is to cut sin out of your life. Put it to death.
But we say, no it’s ok, I’ll
- subdue it
- limit it
- tame it
- master it
Well, how’s that going for you?
“Can a man embrace fire and his clothes not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27, CSB)
The Israelites thought they could just get along with these other nations. They would master them and not be affected. They thought: surely this is a better plan than God had. And those pagan cultures became a snare for the Israelites.
What are you getting too close to right now? What do you need to guard yourself from right now?
- Alcohol. There might be some who struggle with the temptation and lack of self-control leading to drunkenness and they need to keep it far from them. But one of these people might say I can have it in the fridge and it will be fine.
- Gambling. There are some who might struggle with greed and just don’t even need the temptation to step foot in a casino when invited by friends to go.
- Pornography/sexual immorality. Some might struggle with self-control and lusting, but they think they don’t need internet filtering or don’t need to limit their interaction with a certain person. They think they can subdue it. And sooner or later, they’ll get burned.
One of the dangers of pluralism is that we can find ourselves entertained by every ideology and begin to soften on our convictions. We begin to believe that maybe everything is true, which leads to pursuing whatever we want.
What are you trying to master by your own power?Post Views: 1,055