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The Giving Season - A Devotion

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2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (NLT)
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.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

For many people, Christmas giving is quite overwhelming. Barely getting by for eleven months out of the year then faced with a list of recipients longer than a human arm, many will face anxiety and depression this holiday season. Whether from a generous heart or moral obligation, they set out to grant the wishes of all who depend on them to do so. Many parents will totally set themselves up with the magical myth called Santa Claus. I have nothing against Santa. For many years, I too laid in bed with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head sure that I heard the footfall of eight reindeer. But then the cold, harsh reality that there is no such man as I had children and tried to grant their wishes on a restricted budget as a single mother. I was devastated by my personal limitations as my love for them drove me to give them everything they wanted and so much more. Like many others, I struggle with that today even though they all know that there is no Santa. We celebrate Jesus Christ and His Birth. It is the joy of Christmas so why do I still struggle to give beyond my means? God is my provider. He sees inside my heart. Why does there never seem to be enough resources to give until my heart is content? Truth be told, if one of them really did ask for a hippopotamus for Christmas I might be ever so slightly inclined to find one!

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. Not reluctantly (in fear) or in response to pressure (the world), you must decide how much to give away of your time, talent and resources which are the summation of our life in natural terms. As believers, we are also asked to give our love away. Why is this so attached to monetary and financial resources? Because we spend our time, talent and resources to achieve such prosperity making it the greatest thing of worth in our life. God loves a person who gives cheerfully. Cheerfulness is not defined by worry, stress, anxiety and fear. Cheerfulness is to be happy, enthusiastic, and of a good disposition. Bah Humbug to that! Those who learn to be enthusiastic about giving will find prosperity. God will generously provide all that you need. You will always have everything that you need. You will have plenty left over to share with others. Giving begins in our heart. You must have a heart with something to give. Sin restricts our giving as our heart is indebted. Jesus Christ gave us the freedom to choose between life and death. Those who choose life will always have something to give. As our soul prospers…so do we! “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 1:2)

2 Corinthians 9:10-12 (NLT)
For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity[a] in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.

Everything belongs to God. (Deuteronomy 10:14) Look around you and know that even though you worked to make the rent or mortgage payment every element that constructed your house belongs to God. Every single blade of grass surrounding your house including the little mole that is bent on destroying it is God’s Creation and personal property. Every single penny in your bank account, wallet, or between the seats of your car are His Currency. Let’s get even more personal all the people who you love, care for and even provide for according to your recent tax return are His People not yours. Everything is on loan from God for the use of His Beloved. What does this mean? Well, to the farmer He gives seed to make into bread that will not only feed his house but his neighbor, too. Work will be required as seed has to be cultivated, harvested, milled and baked into bread so stop running to the mailbox everyday looking for a big fat check or the money tree to spout in your back yard. Our God has greater resources than that but is looking to produce a harvest in your life greater than what the world will give you. Remember the wicked servant you received a thrashing from his master for doing nothing with what he was entrusted. This is what God is after. He said that he did nothing in fear of the master. (Matthew 25:14-30) What you do with what you have should reflect your heart condition? God is looking for two things in our giving – that we show our love for Him by meeting the needs of others and that it will cause others to joyfully express their thanks to God. Our giving should be from a heart given to God by faith in our Father to provide all that we need. A generous heart is willing and liberal in giving. To be liberal pertains to a free man (or woman) who is favorable (not fearful) of progress and who is exercising individual freedom in life. Generosity is free from pettiness in character. It does not require an immediate return but can expect one from the Lord who blesses such a man. Generous people become full and plentiful because they are given fertility by God that multiples what they put their hand to because they are good stewards of all that they have.

Proverbs 27:23-27 (NLT)
Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation. After the hay is harvested and the new crop appears and the mountain grasses are gathered in, your sheep will provide wool for clothing, and your goats will provide the price of a field. And you will have enough goats’ milk for yourself, your family, and your servant girls.

There is no such thing as “easy come, easy go” in the Kingdom of God. This is not a godly mentality. Fear keeps many people from carefully inspecting their household with consideration to godly generosity and giving. For example, many say that they cannot honor God with the tithe because they simply do not have enough money. Yet they will go to the grocery store and buy food in addition to many impulse buys. Or what about this, many Christians who do not tithe go through a fast food restaurant a couple times a week (like many people do) throwing away hard earned money on nasty processed food that will stop up their heart and take years from their life (insert shudder) I mean come on have you ever seen how they make that stuff – it’s really gross. There is a reason why that hamburger does not taste like beef and it is not the secret sauce or anything else they piled on to mask the taste. I also question the validity of all white breast meat because that does not look like any chicken that I have ever cooked. Exit soap box and continue. What if for a month, the very same folks brought their lunch to work or had cereal for dinner (it’s not that bad and better for you) and gave that money to God? Proverbs says “put your heart into caring for your herds”. I do not believe God wants you to love your stuff more but rather realize it all belongs to Him anyway and that you are only unselfishly giving it back with a giving heart. Giving is an attitude. We have nothing to give God back but ourselves. We are simply stewards of everything that He has given us.

Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Is it possible that during the “giving season” that we forget how to give from our heart? Or is it possibly that our giving during this season reveals the contents of our heart? I for one am challenged greatly not to overspend during the month of December because I want to give the people I love everything that they desire to have. I must seek the Kingdom of God above all else. This means remaining true to His Word concerning my freedom. (Psalm 119:41-45) Five minutes of television commercials alone will convince even the most dedicated believer and budgeter that there is something lacking underneath the tree. But I also think that the enemy takes the joy of giving away by injecting fear of lack in our mind to invade our heart. I will seek first the Kingdom of God. I will ask God what is that I am supposed to give my family this year. I will ask Him to show me, provide it, and direct me to it because it all belongs to Him. I must live righteously this holiday season. I must choose to talk about Jesus more than Santa to others. Santa gives until it all runs out and then makes some more. Jesus gave it all on the Cross – it is finished! I can live every day for the rest of my life having all that I need, enough to give with overflowing storehouses. He will give me everything that I need because I am His Child. He is driven not only to provide but bless me as I much if not more than I desire to bless my own children. Wherever my treasure is there my heart will be, too! (Matthew 6:19-24) Nothing like the season of giving to clearly reveal how much you want to give and why you give it. Not sure where your heart is today in the midst of overload? What are you worried about? That is the root of the trouble. (Matthew 6:25-32) It is not your job to satisfy every single person in your life. In fact, there are some people who you could give the world and everything in it and they would still never be content. It is not your responsibility but God’s Job to do that. As long as your life and giving always in every way reflect the Kingdom and are given in love – you have done all that the Lord requires of faithful stewards and He will bless you!

Psalm 37:3-5 (NLT)
Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.

God wants to give you your heart’s desire! He is a Good Father who loves to express His Love to His Children in every way. Trust in the Lord. Do good. Simple instructions completely delineated in our life by His Spirit and Word (Truth). If you do what the Word says and live led by His Spirit, you will everything and more. God will bless you so you can bless others if it means that He will be glorified. But it must be all about the Lord and His Kingdom to do any good. Your heart desire is connected directly to God’s Kingdom. He put Eternity in our heart so anything less will never satisfy you completely. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) He wants you to turn your heart toward home like the prodigal son who came home by choice received by his dad’s unfailing love. God wants you to come home and have His Very Best in life now and forevermore. But you have to desire His Kingdom first and enough to pursue it in your everyday life. We have sensationalized Christmas to be the summation of our success or failure in the past year. I believe it is a time to get back to basics. A baby in a manager who was a King ready to sacrifice everything so we could make it home. He did just that. By faith, I am now free to give my life away to others without risk of loss or death. I can give and God will provide for me – if I have turned my heart toward home. The giving season is not for one month anymore but every single day of my life, breath of my being until step into Eternity and am finally home. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The devil is a liar. So I will commit everything I do to the Lord and trust Him!

Romans 6:13-14 (NLT)
Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

You have been set free by the Grace of God. Give yourself completely to God this Christmas if you have never tried it before. He will give you a brand new life. You will be set free from the overwhelming burden of stress and anxiety as you fully accept the Kingdom benefits offered to His Children who seek first His Kingdom. When you sense the overwhelming worry associated with the giving season, you will be able to rush home to your Father who will set your mind at ease. God doesn’t want anything from you. But a broken and repentant heart that can be reshaped and remolded to receive all the blessings and promises that will bring you the satisfaction and contentment you have been searching for. (Psalm 51:16-17) We wanted freedom and so God gave it to us. (Romans 1:24-25) Now it is up to choose life over death and make our way home for the holidays to remain there for ever more. It is time to find our way back this giving season set free from human expectation to allow godly expectation to prosper our life. (Isaiah 57:14-15) It is time to pursue a right relationship with the Lord so we have endless resources of fulfilled purpose to give from to the Glory of God. (Psalm24:3-5) Use your freedom to pursue the Kingdom. (Galatians 4:4-7) Not sure if that is what you are after, don’t worry you will know the blessing of the Lord comes with no sorrow attached. (Proverbs 10:22) Above all this giving season love others as you would have God love you. “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5: 13) Above all give with a generous heart and liberal attitude! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain in the season of giving. Stop worrying, start wrapping. Pray over each gift. Thank God for His Provision. Let God be glorified as we celebrate the Greatest Gift of Love ever given – His Name is Jesus!

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT)
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

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