Devotions

How to Give #5 – #NoLack

How to Give #5 – #NoLack
Jen Combs | Wife of Lead Pastor

In America, we have so much. We do not mind giving when we have extra of something. We do not mind giving as long as it does not cost us something. However, we are taught when it comes to money, to just get more. The more you get, the better off you will be. Get, get, get, and stockpile it when you can. When you look at God’s Word He tells us the complete opposite. 2 Corinthians 8:1-3, “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means…” The Macedonians gave when they were in extreme poverty and under severe affliction. They gave when they did not have much to give, and it cost them. However, God used it. Notice Paul talks about their abundance of joy. How can they have joy but be in such poverty? They trusted that God would take care of them. I love what verse 15 says, “As it is written, ‘Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.’”

When Josh and I first got married, I had never “tithed” or given money on a consistent basis to the church. This was something new and foreign to me that I had to learn about. Every week we would set aside a certain amount of money to give back to God, it is all His to start with anyway, right? Now when you are newly married and not making a lot of money (or in our case none at all because he was going to school and I had not found a job yet), that is hard to do. You sit back and watch your funds dwindling and nothing replenishing them. Things start to get a little nerve wracking, but we knew we had to give even if it cost us. We stayed faithful and kept giving sacrificially as God had called us to do. I believe because we were faithful, God used that opportunity to show His faithfulness. When I had written the rent check, knowing that was the last one I could pay. God showed up that week. He supplied a job. It is not as if I had not been looking. I had been applying everywhere. Kohl’s would not even hire me. Looking back now, God had a mighty plan, and 14 years later, I have not forgotten His faithfulness. See when you look at Scripture it tells us to give sacrificially. It is going to cost you something. Whether it is extra clothes, a new car, not buy the bigger house, or the new gun you have been ogling over, or you do not golf every week, the list could go on forever.

When you get a chance read Mark 12:41-44. It is not necessarily the dollar amount you give. This lady gave a “penny,” but that was sacrificial for her. For some of you who have more, sacrificial is more. A penny is not sacrificial to most of us. God wants you to give sacrificially, so He can show up and show you how awesome He is. He wants opportunities to show you His faithfulness. Are you giving sacrificially? Is giving costing you something? If not, I challenge you to start. I would love to hear all of the ways that God shows up. So please share, and email me at jencombs@theriverchurch.cc

How to Give #4 – The Giving Garden

How to Give #4 – The Giving Garden
Jill Osmon | Assistant to Lead Pastor

It has been a little over 12 years since my grandfather has passed away. Twelve years, but there are still moments that I long for his advice, his guidance, and his unwavering love of people. My grandma and grandpa always had a huge garden when I was growing up. I always wondered why they did such a big garden, we had a big family but not that big, and then I encountered the reason for their gigantic garden. One Sunday, they started to unload their car full of baskets of vegetables and fruits and started giving them to people they picked up on the bus for church each week. I have a distinct memory of my grandfather, with a huge smile on his face, giving out something that had taken months of care, time, and money from him and his family. However, there he was, giving it freely and with such a joy, I still remember it to this day.

I have kept that memory and that lesson of that day in the back of my mind for a long time, and I remember it every time I read 1 Corinthians 9:6-7, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” We hold back so much of our time, our money, and our love because we want to keep it ourselves. I am sure there were times that going out and maintaining a huge garden was tedious, time-consuming, and expensive, but my grandparents had figured out something that we all need in our lives. They learned that giving joyfully, purposefully, and sacrificially not only benefited those they gave to but it benefitted them as well. Maybe not in the traditional sense but they knew giving with intention honored God.

We have been talking about money the last few weeks, a topic that can be sensitive at times but I believe the concept of giving, being a cheerful giver, goes beyond money and includes our time, our efforts, and our care. Next time you have the opportunity to give, remember that we are to give cheerfully, not reluctantly, and we will reap abundantly!

How to Give #3 – Happy To Do It

How to Give #3 – Happy To Do It
Ryan Story | Student Pastor

One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is Starbucks. Nothing is better than Peppermint Mocha. It tastes like Christmas in a cup. If you order five “seasonal beverages,” then they will give you one free. I generally have my fifth sticker before December ever hits. Needless to say, I go to Starbucks a ton. On one morning, my wife and I were going through the drive through, ordered breakfast, and my coffee. We get up to the window and the barista tells us that the person in front of us paid for our order. I was shocked because the total was around $20. While sitting there in awe and thanksgiving, “WWJD” popped into my head. I had the internal monologue go on about, “sweet free coffee” versus “here is a moment you can show the generosity of Jesus to someone.” I decided to keep the “pay it forward” mentality going, so I paid for the lady behind me. It was not necessary, it was not required, but I was happy to do it. After we had left Starbucks, we got on Saginaw Road and headed to drop my wife of at work and for me to drop my son off at his babysitter’s. Out of nowhere, my wife starts smiling and waving and saying, “No problem, you are welcome.” I thought for a moment she lost her mind, but she was talking to the car next to us.  Go figure, it was the lady whose coffee we just paid for.

I know at times we have all experienced buyer’s remorse. I have bought many useless things in my life and then regret using my money to buy set items. However, I have never experienced buyer’s remorse when I give with Jesus as the core reason why I gave. Now to list all the things I have been able to financially contribute to God’s kingdom is, well, pride and would then I would be sinning. However, I have never felt bad about giving to God. I have never felt like it went to waste. I have never questioned whether or not God was able to use the little I was able to give.

We live in such a tight-fisted culture where we must know for a fact that our giving went to something and helped a person. If we need to know our giving or generosity was used to better a situation to what our standards deem better, are we really giving faithfully? I did not buy that lady coffee because I knew it would give me the opportunity for me tell her about Jesus, I gave because I felt that Jesus would have done the same thing. In 2 Corinthians 9, it says, “For God loves a cheerful giver.” Maybe more people would see Jesus more if His Church was willing just to be happy to give. Maybe if the lost world we interact with every day would see that we were more focused on being cheerful, generous people, maybe we would start seeing more people come to Jesus. Who knows, maybe God can use a cup of coffee to bring a person to know Christ, just because I was happy to give.

How to Give #2 – Grumbling Gift

How to Give #2 – Grumbling Gift
Phil Piasecki | Worship Leader

Imagine that it is two days before my wife’s birthday and I still have not gotten her a gift. The reason I have not purchased her a gift yet is that I do not want to get her a gift. It takes too much time to figure out what she would want; I would rather spend the money on something for myself, and giving someone else a gift is not any fun for me. Begrudgingly, I pick something random off Amazon, have it shipped here in two days, and I give her the gift because “it is what I’m supposed to do.” I am sure by now all of you reading this are cringing. We all know this situation is not going to work out well for me in the end. Unfortunately, this is the way so many of us act when it comes to giving to the church. If I gave a gift to my wife with that attitude, she would be so disappointed. I am sure she would rather I just did not get her anything at all. This is the exact same way that God feels when our giving is done with a bad attitude. Let us get real here; nobody likes to talk about money. We do not like to talk about money with our friends, family, or especially at church. So, unfortunately, many churches and people ignore the topic completely, and they never get to experience something incredible that God designed.

2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

This verse so clearly and succinctly sums up how we are supposed to give. First, we are supposed to actually think about what we give. Take some time to pray and seek God asking Him what He would have you give. In the same way that I would actually take the time to think about what I should get my wife for her birthday, God wants us to put some thought into how He would have us give to His Kingdom. When we give, we are supposed to do it joyfully. If you are not able to give joyfully, then you need to take some time and examine your heart. A reluctance to give can point to many different deeper spiritual issues. Until those are resolved God would rather you did not give at all. Again, if I am giving my wife a birthday gift only because I have to, not because I want to, we all know she would rather I just did not bother. My gift to her should be a way for me to show my great love for her, not something given out of obligation. Lastly, throughout Scripture we see people giving sacrificially. The church in Acts 2 was not wealthy by any means, but they all gave sacrificially to the church to help each other. When we give, it should cause us to sacrifice some other luxury. We want to show God that He above all, He is most important in our lives. We can do that by giving back to Him some of what He has given to us.

How to Give #1 – The Price is Right

How to Give #1 – The Price is Right
Chris Cain | Women’s Ministry Director

In an attempt to teach a lesson, a mother gave her young daughter a quarter and a dollar for church. She told her daughter to put whichever one she wanted in the offering basket and to keep the other for herself. When they were leaving the gathering, the mother asked her daughter which amount she had given. “Well,” said the child, “I was going to give the dollar, but just before the offering, the pastor said that we should all be cheerful givers. I knew I’d be a lot more cheerful if I gave the quarter, so I did.” 

How many of us are like that little girl? Oh, we would be much happier to keep that money and grow our 401k instead of our 401h (h for Heaven). We would be much happier to go the dentist than to volunteer.  We wear a Grinch grin when looking onto our hoards of possessions. We squander our resources. If the Pastor preaches on tithing. we roll our eyes and think, “That’s what I thought, that guy only wants MY money!”

If that is your stance on giving, oh how you are missing out. Giving is an expression of love, an act of worship to God, the ultimate giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Paul is teaching us that we are not to give reluctantly and not to be insincere in our giving as those actions have no place in the lives of those who follow Christ. Think about it, would you really want to receive a gift from a reluctant or forced giver?  What is your heart attitude when the offering basket passes by?  Is it part of your worship?  God desires our heart to be in the right place.

 Paul is teaching us to do more than just give.  He says to give cheerfully, to give joyfully. The last time I checked, the word joyful meant “feeling, expressing or causing great happiness and/or pleasure.”  One of my all-time favorite game shows is The Price is Right.  The over-the-top crazy antics of excited contestants who leap for joy then tackle Bob Barker is the kind of enthusiasm that I imagine Paul is speaking of.  A cheerful giver of time, treasure, talents and resources is what God desires.

Do you know the joy of giving? Be a cheerful giver. . .you can’t afford not to.

The price is right!



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