Visiting the afflicted

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27, ESV).

The call came to the administrators of Khulna Bible College. “Mrs. Baidya has had a stroke and would very much appreciate a visit from Mike Brooks.” This elderly lady is one of the original members of a rural congregation almost three hours drive from the college campus. She and her late husband had provided the land on which the small tin and wood church building which the church used for about 25 years had stood. One son and at least two daughters still live in the village and are members of the congregation. I was happy to comply with her request and, accompanied by several men from KBC, made the trip a few days later. Continue reading “Visiting the afflicted”

Christian generosity

The apostle Paul was planning to visit the Christians in Corinth. Among the reasons he was going back was to receive funds they were collecting to give to Christians in Judea to assist the poor (see Romans 15 as well). He had received word that they were not ready. So Paul included in his letter to them a prompt to be ready when he came and used the Christians in Macedonia as an example to spur them on.

“Brothers, we want you to know how God has bestowed his grace on the congregations in Macedonia. Though in a severe ordeal of afflictions, and in deep poverty, their overflowing joy abounded in rich generosity. According to their ability and beyond, on their own, they begged us earnestly to allow them the privilege of sharing in the needs of the saints. This was beyond our expectation, but they had given themselves first to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. Therefore, we urged Titus, that as he had made a beginning, he might complete this grace in you.” (2 Corinthians 8:1-6 McCord)

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Giving and receiving

If you give freely and generously of your time and money, what can you expect to receive in return? Should you expect anything at all?

One of the popular doctrines shared widely on television teaches that if you sow a gift (i.e., give money to a “ministry”) you will reap far more more money in return. Is that our hope?

Jesus does teach that if we give ourselves to him that the basic needs in life will be met (Matthew 6:25-34). But what of comfort and riches? If we give money to God should we expect more in return? The real story of giving and receiving is far richer, far deeper, and far more meaningful.

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Give our best

There is a principle found throughout the Bible concerning our giving to the Lord. The principle is very simple: you must give your best. When it came to animals that were sacrificed, here are the instructions God gave the Israelites.

“You shall not offer anything that has a blemish, for it will not be acceptable for you. And when anyone offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering from the herd or from the flock, to be accepted it must be perfect; there shall be no blemish in it. Animals blind or disabled or mutilated or having a discharge or an itch or scabs you shall not offer to the Lord or give them to the Lord as a food offering on the altar” (Leviticus 22:20-22 ESV). Continue reading “Give our best”

Being a generous giver

At the end of 1 Corinthians, Paul asked the Christians in Corinth to have the funds ready for the famine relief in Judea. When he wrote the letter of 2 Corinthians, he still had not been by to pick up this collection – and he was afraid that they still wouldn’t be ready (read 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, especially 2 Corinthians 9:5).

Although this was a one-off collection to help Christians in a country far away, probably Christians they never would meet, there are a number of principles that should be part of our lives as Christians and in particular as Christians who are generous. Continue reading “Being a generous giver”

The joy of giving

Yesterday was a day of giving for many of us, particularly those who live in the Western World. Christmas Day has become a time for the giving and receiving of gifts. Being a day of rest for most professions, we were able to spend the entire day with family, enjoying each other’s company, eating a feast together, and then playing games and watching films.

Although as children, our emphasis too often was on what we were “getting” for Christmas, as we grew older the enjoyment is what we are able to give to others. We realise the problem when we hear children who are more concerned with how many gifts have their name on them rather than wishing to see the joy on someone’s face because of the gift we gave them. Continue reading “The joy of giving”

Giving as God would have it

“Superman” was popular in my neighborhood in the 1960s. His two most amazing abilities were his x-ray vision and flight. We thought it must be amazing to be able to see inside buildings like Superman could.

There was a real person who lived who could see inside a person’s mind. It was Jesus Christ. In John 1:48, Jesus looked into Nathaniel’s mind and told him he was able to see him although they were separated by some distance. Continue reading “Giving as God would have it”

Ready for every good work

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:1-2 ESV).

Sometimes, even in the midst of terrible tragedies, things happen that reinforce one’s faith in people. Perhaps I should have said “especially in the midst of tragedies” because it is the response of Christians to victims of disaster that has prompted the above thought. Continue reading “Ready for every good work”