Submit 5

1 Kings 17:16

From time to time our church will hold a dinner for all the members, and I know every time we do there are some people who have forgotten about the dinner or they just didn’t know we were having one. Unfortunately those people will not always stay and take part in the dinner because they haven’t contributed.

This is a shame because there is always enough food for everyone and they miss out on the blessings of fellowship. I have yet to see a church dinner where we ran out of food. Those who don’t take part don’t always trust that there will be enough food.

We can face the same doubts when we look at giving to our church. It is not easy to give away a portion of your money as soon as you are paid. You must trust that you will be able to cover all your upcoming expenses with what is left over.

Remember the story of Elijah and the widow? Elijah had asked the widow to give to God first by providing for his needs before she took care of herself. Even though she had only enough oil and flour for two meals, what happened when she submitted to God? How did this happen?

The widow took a big risk in giving away what she had. She submitted to God and took care of Elijah first. When she did that she was blessed by God. The oil and the flour did not run out as she expected. Instead there was food every day for Elijah and the widow and her son (1 Kings 17:15).

We are called on to take risks in our faith. We are called on to submit to God and be obedient to Him. We are called on to offer gifts to God first before taking care of our own needs.

When we do this we will be blessed by God. God will make certain we have what we need to get by. And when we submit to God we get to take part in His abundant blessings.

As we consider our gifts to the church and the kingdom of God we must confront our fears and doubts by remembering what happened to the widow who served Elijah. The flour was not used up and the oil did not run dry.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Are you willing to submit to God and trust in His blessings?

Submit 4

2 Corinthians 9:7

Over the years I have been blessed with many gifts. Some have been expensive gifts – like a nice leather coat. Others were inexpensive – like a small tray big enough to hold a glass of milk and a few cookies. But I treasure them all.

The reason I treasure them is because of the truth of the old saying, “It isn’t the gift but the thought that counts.” These gifts are important to me because someone I love cared enough about me to give me the gift.

When we consider our relationship with God and we look at how we can submit to God we may wonder how we should express our commitment to God through financial gifts. In the second letter to the church at Corinth Paul addresses the attitude we should have. How much should we give? What should our attitude be? Why?

When giving to the church we may be intimidated by the people who have the financial ability to be extremely generous. Those who have the means to fund big projects, to finance major renovations, or simply present a fat check can make us feel that our gift is not valuable. On the other hand we may look down on those who are not able to give as much as we do, people who are struggling to make ends meet or who have jobs with a lower income.

But it is not the amount of money that is given that is important. What is important is that we first determine how much we are willing to give, and then give it faithfully and joyfully.

No matter what our financial means may be – a little or a lot – we are called on to express our submission to God, our faithfulness to God through tangible contributions. Whatever the dollar amount given it should be a genuine expression of our gratitude and trust in God.

Whatever the size of the gift, whatever the sacrifice you are willing to make, it is a measure of our faith and submission to God. Our gifts should be offered cheerfully and willingly.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you be sure to give cheerfully?

Submit 3

Malachi 3:10

One of my favorite comedy routines is from Mitch Hedberg (now deceased). He talked about buying a donut and having the clerk try to give him a receipt. He said that he couldn’t imagine the circumstances in which he would need to prove to someone that he owned the donut.

There are many things in life that we may approach with doubts and skepticism, things for which we may want a guarantee, and often chief among them is anything to do with money. We are often of the belief that we should not test God. We should not make God prove His existence or His love. Yet this passage in Malachi has an invitation from God to do just that.

What does God ask for? What is the purpose? What will we receive if we give to God?

Many people may not be familiar with the concept of the “tithe.” Simply, a tithe is a gift to God of ten percent. We are called by God in the Old Testament to give God ten percent of what we have received. If we are paid $10,000 we should give one tenth to God - $1,000.

Some will point out that this is an Old Testament requirement and that we don’t obey all the rules of the Old Testament. This is true, but many faithful believers still adhere to this command from God. I offer a tithe because I feel in my heart that I should, and it makes the math so much simpler in my giving.

Whether we give a full ten percent or not we are called to make offerings to God and God’s work (the church) from our finances. No matter how much or how little our giving is there will be times when we may feel uncomfortable sacrificing some of our money. Giving up even a small amount of our income can bring about fears and doubts.

But God challenges us to make Him prove Himself. If we will have the faith to give God a portion of our money God will respond with extreme blessings. In God’s own words the blessings will be so abundant that we will not have room for it all. This is an invitation from God. We are challenged to find the proof of God’s faith. The question is, do we have the faith to give to God?

DAILY CHALLENGE: Can you make God prove His faithfulness and pour out blessings on you?

Submit 2

2 Corinthians 8:4-5

Most are familiar with the expression that there is “too much month left at the end of the money.” Almost everyone feels the need to have more income, more financial reserve, more ability to take care of bills and expenses in life. When confronted with all of our financial obligations we are easily convinced that there is absolutely no money to spare for anyone else.

In this second letter to the church at Corinth Paul makes reference to the giving of believers in Macedonia. The people in the Macedonian church were impoverished. They apparently had very little money available to them. What did the Macedonian believers want to do? How did they surprise Paul? Who did they give to first?

The giving spirit of the Macedonian church is an example to all believers. These people who had very little money for their own needs were still eager to share what little they had. They wanted to support ministry. They wanted to financially help others in need, to fund outreach efforts that helped others. They not only pleaded for the opportunity, they pleaded urgently to be able to share.

In spite of their poverty they were able to impress Paul with their generosity. They gave willingly and did not begrudge anyone who would benefit from it.

But it is also important to note how they gave. Paul says they gave to God first and then to those doing ministry. Like the widow who served Elijah the gifts given out of extreme poverty were first given to God. God was put before everything else, and we can imagine that this church was richly blessed.

We each may claim that we don’t have enough money to do anything that would help anyone else. We can fall into that fear that if we give away anything we will be depriving ourselves of necessities. But if we give anything out of our finances and we give it to God first and foremost, we will be blessed by God.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Can you give to God first and trust that the rest of your money will be enough?

Submit 1

1 Kings 17:13-14

When I was younger I had a friend who liked to assemble model airplanes and model ships. He complained to me once that the instructions were not always as clear as they could have been. He said they often began with “The first thing to do is glue Part A to Part B,” which he would do. Returning to the instructions he would read “Before doing that, however, sand the edges of both pieces.”

To be successful it was important to do things in exactly the right order. We see the same concept in the story of Elijah and the widow. Elijah has been sent by God to the city of Zarephath where God said Elijah would meet a widow who would provide for him. When Elijah encounters the widow he asks for food, but the widow claims she has just enough to feed her son and herself, and then they will die.

What encouragement does Elijah offer first? What instructions does he give? Who is to be fed first? What has God promised?

It always strikes me how pushy Elijah is in this story. He meets a woman gathering sticks to build a cook fire and he interrupts her to ask for a drink. She generously goes to get it, but then Elijah pushes for more – asking for a piece of bread.

The poor woman explains that she is essentially out of food – just enough flour and oil to make a tiny meal for her son and herself. Then she plans on dying.

Elijah doesn’t seem to be sympathetic. He tells her not to be afraid, and then tells her to make bread for him first. That seems rather selfish.

It would be difficult to obey such a request from a stranger. The woman was asked to give up her final meal so that a stranger could be fed. But that is exactly what she is willing to do.

The Lord promised that the flour and oil would not run out for her. She would have what she needed. The point here is that the woman needed to honor God first by taking care of Elijah, God’s prophet. By honoring God first, by being willing to submit to the will of God, the woman was taken care of.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What will it take for you to have the faith the widow had?