Giving

 

Matt. 6:1-4 "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  [emphasis added] So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synogogues and on the streets, to be honored by men.  I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

I don't know about you, but this passage of scripture convicts me to the core.  What are my motivations when I give?  What are your motivations?  Do we give so that others will like us, tell us how wonderful we are, what a blessing we are?  Or are we truly giving because this is something the Lord prompted us to do?   If we are truly giving because this is something the Lord prompted us to do, then we should be perfectly content to be anonymous and not announce it publicly.

In my study bible it states "if believers, whether laypersons or ministers, do good for the admiration of others or for selfish reasons, they will lose their reward and praise from God.  Instead they will stand exposed as hypocrites who, under the guise of giving glory to God, are really seeking glory for themselves."

It goes on to say in verses 5 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synogogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.  I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."  (ouch!)

I don't know about you, but I would much rather be acknowledged by my Father in Heaven rather than by man and acceptance by man.  I know me personally, my motivations in the past have sometimes been to give or even volunteer for various church activities so that someone might like me, or think I'm worthy to be a friend to, or give me kudos, or even for acceptance.  I believe God is changing my heart and has changed my heart to be okay if someone doesn't like me, or a certain group of people doesn't accept me — it really is okay.   I don't have to volunteer for everything on the planet or give just because I don't want others to see me not giving, I will do just those things that the Lord prompts me to, and if someone doesn't accept me or like me based upon those things — that's okay.  

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Wild Ride!

(There may be some typos in this, I'm so tired and need to go to bed!  I'll re-read in the am and fix all of them then!  I do hope this encourages you though and would love to hear your thoughts) 

All I have to say is wow to this last week.  It has been one wild ride on the Cotterill homestead, to say the least.  First, our oldest got to move back home with us, so there were lots of changes to be made in who was going to sleep where and how.  All of the kids seem to be adjusting alright to all of that and Lacey is doing great!  She loves the military, and is very excited about her future.  We are so proud of her!

Next came the car accident a couple of days ago.  Joe was in a collision on Highway 522, and unfortunately it will be considered his fault due to it being a rear-ender.  They were both in the passing lane (left lane), and the guy in front of him decided he wanted to make a phone call and turned on his left turn signal.  There was no shoulder to pull onto, so Joe thought he probably hit the wrong way and meant to go back into the right lane.  Then all of a sudden the guy slams on his brakes, and decides to stop while still in the passing lane.  It was wet and rainy out — you can guess the rest of the story.

Two days after that (yesterday), I got the opportunity to work for my old boss for about 5 hours, which I was very grateful for now with all these expenses growing and mounting.  I had just got off work, and was getting my hair cut when TJ (our oldest son) called and said he'd thrown up about 15 times.  I told him to get fluids, and I'd be home asap.  Long story short, we ended up at the ER and he had an emergency appendectomy!  It was crazy and scary at times, but I knew the Lord was with us. 

So during my quiet time with the Lord this am, He led me to several verses that I'd like to share:

Psalms 117:1-2 "Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol Him, all you peoples.  For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.  Praise the Lord."

During all of this, I kept thinking "what is going on?  Why is all of this happening?  Am I, or are we, doing something wrong?"  The Lord then took me to the book of Job.  During Job's trials, which were excruciating, Job states at Job 13:15 "Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him; I will surely defend my ways to His face."  Job stated this after he'd lost his children and much more.  Job continued to praise the Lord IN SPITE of everything that was happening. 

The Lord then took me to Job 14:5 "Man's days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed."  This just reminded me that God is in total control, even if it doesn't seem like it.  He knows everything, and He knows when our time is up.  He knows the beginning from the end!

Then after I was reading how Job's friends spoke to Job.  It really wasn't comforting or something he needed ON TOP of everything he was going through.  Job needed his friends just to shut up and listen.  Job's friends had no idea what was really going on behind the scenes.  After hearing speeches from two of his "friends" — Job says to them in Job 16:4-5 "I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; I could make find speeches against you and shake my head at you.  But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips."  When I read that I realized that Job had already forgiven his friends for their behavior towards him, but it also reminded me that when I come across someone going through a trial to refrain from long speeches or insights into what I think that the Lord must be doing, and just shut my mouth unless my mouth is used to encourage them and comfort them from my lips. 

James says in James 3:7-12 "All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man; but no man can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been and in God's likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.  My brothers, this should not be.  Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?  My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?  Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."

My study bible states "James emphasizes our inclination to sin in our speaking.  Sins of speech include harsh and unkind words, lying, exaggeration, teaching fale doctrine, salnder, gossiping and boasting.  Mature believers keep their tongues under control by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, taking "captive ever thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor.10:5).  Because of the tendency to sin with the tongue, James exhorts every person to "be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."  (1:19)

So, what I'm saying here is that when we go through trials or see others going through trials, we don't know what is going on behind the scenes — what the Lord is allowing in our lives, or why.  We should continue to praise the Lord if we're the one going through the trial.  And if it is someone else going through the trial, we should do as Job would have, which was to encourage them and comfort them.  Next time you come across someone in a trial, rather than going to advice you think they need, try just being that ear to listen, the mouth to encourage, and the arms to comfort.  God bless you today and always. 

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