Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cheerful Giving

Image from: Stephanie Akerman for Illustrated faith.

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 47: Today, I am grateful for the joy in cheerful giving. 

The older you get... or maybe it comes with maturity and not years... stuff begins to lose it's value and pull on our hearts. What comes to matter most is time spent well. We have such a limited amount. We never know when the our time will come, so we have to choose well now. 

I don't say that create anxiety. Frankly, for those who know salvation.. to win or to die... we win. Sure, there are still many things I would love to see happen for my children and extended family, but living a full life really boils down to discovering how to love God and love each other on this one, granted day. 

Each day is a gift. I have a friend who used to say. "Make every day a holiday and every meal a feast." How will we spend our limited days? 

"We can give without loving, but we can't love without giving." -John Wooden

The image is from Stephanie Ackerman found on Pinterest on the Illustrated faith board. An image catches my eye and many times, it is from her hand. She is full of color, light, life and love. She inspires many of us who seek God through artistic expressions. She uses her creative God breath to his glory.  

This scripture was given when people were making rules for God on giving and tithe. They were talking about money, but it spills over into so much more. From our cupboards, from our hospitality resources, from our encouragement well and a helping hand. 

Sometimes we do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do and we know it. We have to answer to a much higher power if we don't. Yet, there comes a point that we might start to believe that doing the right thing is enough. It is not. 

Doing the right thing is good, but real relationship does not grow out of guilt behaviors. It comes out of growing and knowing a God who adores us and wants to be with us in a daily relationship. 

Many show up to Sunday church (or Saturday) with perfect attendance, but never bring their heart. That is 52 hours a year. Less than the hours on a 2 week paycheck. Think about it. God fans are everywhere. So many good people are in the fan zone, but our Lord longs to make each one a team member. He wants to draft all who will listen to his coaching and seek his heart.  He asks for trust and obedience...even when the play seems to make no sense... and more than a fancy ring or trophy, he offers eternal life and a crown. 

If we aren't giving cheerfully... the gift will always be missing something. 

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 
-2 Corinthians 9:7

There is a joy that comes from cheerful giving. Mother Theresa said you could not spend out love. Our God always provides more. He is love and the source is unlimited. We can give without worry. We can give of our money, our time, our food and any other resource he has granted us. 

Enough is enough. What we share is what fills our hearts and our lives. A tiny happy home that is full of love is far more rich than a big, empty mansion where "friends" last only as long as the money and family. 

Learning to open up our schedules, our pocket books, our homes for fellowship  and our hearts to those who are lonely, sick and hurting... there is joy in the giving. Try it. It is why our hearts leap a little to give at the holidays to chosen charities. Giving is not just for Christmas. It is a daily trust in a God who provides. 

If you feel financially stress, start with gifting encouragement. It's fun. It only costs a little time, and it is a great way to spend that limited resource. Then add in a Christian radio station or a local mission or food bank. 

Funny, it is when we open our hands and "let go" that we really start to receive and feel the fullness of his blessings. I am a learner... not an expert. 

I used to fear standing before my Lord at the end of my life with the list of sins I forgot to ask him to forgive. Now, I think that image... created by others and my youthful interpretations... was off. 

Now, the movie "Schindler's List" comes to mind and Liam Neeson's character, Oskar Schindler. He struggles with the pin on his lapel and any other item he might have sold to save another life. Each life was more precious than any earthly jewel or gold. Now, I imagine that it is the good I do not do and the gospel I fail to share that will be the very thing I must defend. 

"We have an advocate before the father" as Jesus knows our weaknesses and how Satan whispers fear. 

What do I cling to that keeps me from opening my hands and my heart to cheerful giving? 

Today, I am grateful for the joy in cheerful giving. 

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