Fellowship 5

2 Corinthians 9:6-7

I have never really cared for gift exchanges at work. I don’t like having to buy a present for someone I don’t know that well, especially a gift that is usually at a dollar value set fairly low. What can you get someone for $5 now days?

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I also don’t like getting gifts from co-workers in these gift exchanges. After all, they are simply giving a gift under the dollar limit, a present to a stranger, a gift that is pretty much impersonal and pointless. “I got everyone a coffee mug!”

Our gifts need to come from our heart. Our presents need to be offered with love. What we give God should be presented with a willing heart and true desire to honor Him.

Still addressing the church in Corinth, Paul has more to say about giving. What does he say about sowing and reaping? What is God’s attitude?

We have learned to trust in God and rely completely on Him. It is my desire to tithe to God. Therefore, my family and I contribute 10 percent to the church every pay period, and often exceed this amount through incidental offerings throughout the weeks. I have decided in my heart this is what needs to be given, and I give it willingly and not under compulsion.

Others do not feel they can spare 10 percent. Because of uncertain incomes presenting a tithe is not always practical to many people. Is that okay?

In many ways, yes, it is okay to give to God whatever you choose. Others may insist that anything less than a tithe is a sin, but this passage deals less with amounts and more with attitudes (My whole theology and faith centers more on attitude than anything else).

It is up to each of us how much we give to God. Our offerings to God should not be like those given at office gift exchanges. Our offerings to God should be given with a cheerful heart. If we choose to give sparingly, to sow sparingly, to do only a little for God, then we will reap sparingly. Our blessings will be small.

When we give in faith and we give generously – and also with a heart and attitude of devotion and love – we will be reap abundantly. The windows of heaven will be opened to cover us in blessings.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Be honest – what is your attitude in giving? Are you faithful enough to take a risk and give more?

Fellowship 4

Malachi 3:10

In today’s business world we have found ourselves buying many things over the Internet. We find something we want, submit our credit card information (hopefully, on a secure web site), and then wait until what we want is delivered to our door. This is an act of trust and faith on our part. We assume that what we have given money toward will be given to us.

Malachi speaks of another exchange of faith, an exchange between the faithful and God. What are we to do? What does God urge? What does God promise?
This passage speaks of the “tithe.” There are many who are not familiar with the term “tithe.” Simply stated, a tithe is ten percent.

I find it amazing that we will act in faith with businesses yet we do not trust God. We are taught not to test God, not to challenge the Almighty and make Him prove Himself. But this is one place where God actually encourages us to test Him.

God asks us for our tithe, one tenth of what we have. And in return God promises to prove Himself true. If we can offer to God a sacrifice of one tenth He will respond with so much blessing that there will not be room enough in our lives for all the goodness He will pour down on us.

And still there are those who will not take this step of faith. There are many who claim they do not have a tithe. And I wonder how a person can not have one tenth of what they possess. If you have a dollar, the tithe is a dime. If you have $100, the tithe is $10. If you have no money, then no money is asked, but there is always a tithe of your time and talents.

God encourages us to bring Him a Fellowship Offering, a sacrifice to Him, and one in which we will share. The tithe is like that. If we give to God our offerings we are invited into a relationship of blessing, taking part in all the goodness of God’s Kingdom.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Assess your income, your time and your abilities. Are you giving God one tenth of what you have?

Fellowship 3

2 Corinthians 8:12

Last year Peggy surprised me with a gift of a leather coat. It is beautiful – soft and warm, and quite stylish. I truly treasure that gift. (It was actually two years ago, but who's counting, right? LOL)

When I completed my schooling a few weeks ago my children gave me a card with brief messages from each of them. It is a beautiful card, and I treasure it very much.

One gift was very expensive and one was only a few dollars. One gift required some planning and effort; the other gift required some effort but not as much. Yet I value them both because they both came from the heart and were given in love.

We saw Paul teaching about the generosity and eagerness of the people in Macedonia in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5. Now what does he tell the Corinthian church, and us, about presenting gifts?

When it comes to giving there are all different attitudes and approaches to it. There are some very wealthy people who are stingy in their giving, limiting their gifts to God to a tiny amount. There are others who give a great deal because they have a great deal.

There are some who feel they do not have enough in life to spare anything for anyone. They claim they just can’t afford to give to God. Yet others give generously in spite of their poverty.
How does God feel about all this? Does he have a calculator where he adds up what is given? Is he pleased when He sees the big money rolling in?

Obviously, the answer to this is “no,” and I certainly hope you knew that. It isn’t the amount of money that is given. It isn’t the size of the gift that counts. What matters to God is the intention of the gift. What is important is the heart behind the offering – the “willingness” of the giver.

I believe even those who tithe or give beyond the tithe are not always blessed if the intention of the tithing, the heart of the offering, is misguided or missing. Our expressions of thankfulness, our desire to present offerings of fellowship and gratitude, need to come from a true and earnest desire to honor God and share in love. When our heart is true and generous we are blessed and the gift is precious, made valuable by our intentions and not by cost.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What is your willingness to give to God? Perhaps you can determine a monetary value to your gratitude as well as a list of actions you can do to honor God.

Fellowship 2

Leviticus 7:12-15

“Try it on! Try it on!” That has become something we say when we give gifts in my wife’s family. As soon as a person opens the gift – a sweater, a t-shirt, a pair of pants – we all say, “try it on.” It’s a joke, but it started as an encouragement to enjoy the gift right away. It was a way to share the gift, letting everyone see it being used and worn.

It is the same when a child gets a toy. One of the first impulses is to play with it. Sometimes that is part of the present – being part of the enjoyment of it.

In this passage from Leviticus we have some instructions on the Fellowship Offering. What is one reason for the Fellowship Offering? In verse 14, what instruction is given? What must be done according to verse 15?

While this may be a rather long and detailed reading, the key elements are at the beginning and the end. The Fellowship Offering is more than simply a gift to God. It is a sharing of fellowship – of being together – as an expression of gratitude and thanks to God.

A unique feature of the Fellowship Offering is that what is presented to God in sacrifice is shared by all. God is honored, the priests are sustained, and the faithful believer is invited in to take part in the abundance. After the offering is made the person presenting it must eat all of what was given – presumably, along with his family and with the priest.

It was a time of thanking God for His goodness and abundance. But it also involved sharing that goodness. And it involved getting something back from your expression of gratitude.

When we honor God with our gifts, when we present to God the offerings of our tithes and financial support, then we are blessed. We get back from God. Usually it is a deep sense of community with God and a feeling of elation at having helped God’s kingdom. When we give to God we sit down with the Lord and share in the blessings of His love.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Is there a way to share your thankfulness? Who needs to join you in your celebration of God’s goodness?