You've probably noticed that God's perspective can be 180 degrees different from the world's. Psalm 24:1 says, "The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains" is a good example. People who don't know God oftentimes find this verse disturbing, but believers derive comfort from knowing security in realizing that our heavenly Father owns everything.
We live on God's earth, drink His water, eat His food, breathe His air, feel His sun's warmth, and yes, spend His money. We are simply stewards or managers of all that He entrusts to our care. And since the Lord is the actual owner of everything we have, He has final say regarding what we are to do with it.
Ultimately, the possessions, money, and opportunities God gives us are to be used for His glory. Now, this doesn't mean He demands that we give everything away and live in poverty. The Lord graciously supplies us with good things to enjoy and use. But He also wants us to invest in what will last forever: His work, Word, and people. Everything exlse on earth will eventually turn into ashes.
I pray you find God's guidance regarding your stewardship of His possessions. Ask Him how He wants to use the goods, opportunities, and privileges He's given you. Then hold everything loosely, and let God's Word direct you into His good and perfect will.
—Dr. Charles Stanley
This Month's Scripture
1 Chronicles 16:28-34
28Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
Give to the Lord glory and strength.
29Give to the Lord the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come before Him.
Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!
30Tremble before Him, all the earth.
The world also is firmly established,
It shall not be moved.
31Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
And let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”
32Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
Let the field rejoice, and all that is in it.
33Then the trees of the woods shall rejoice before the Lord,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
34Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Normally, ‘grace’ is a form of thanksgiving to God for what He has provided. Some people call it ‘giving thanks’. Others call it ‘saying grace’. It doesn’t really matter what we call it, but it shows how in our language grace and thanksgiving are closely connected.
1. Thank God for Grace by Our Worship
When we begin to experience God’s grace, gratitude is the natural and appropriate response. The psalmist is overwhelmed by gratitude and worships God, saying: ‘Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever’ (v.1).
The psalmist says, ‘We’ve sinned a lot … We’ve fallen short, hurt a lot of people … forgot your great and wonderful love’ (v.6–7, MSG). They had ‘rebelled’ against God (v.7d).
But, the next verse starts with the word ‘yet’. This is grace. In spite of everything, first ‘He saved them for His name’s sake’ (v.8a). Second, ‘He led them’ (v.9b). Third, ‘He redeemed them’ (v.10b).
As a result of God’s amazing grace ‘they believed His promises and sang His praise’ (v.12). But ‘they soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for His counsel’ (v.13).
Let’s not be as they were – complaining every step of the way and always wanting what they did not have. Rather, let’s enjoy and thank God for what we have through his grace and kindness to us.
“Lord, thank You for Your amazing grace. Thank You that You are so good to us. Thank You that Your love endures forever. Thank You that You do not treat us as our sins deserve. Thank You that You save us for Your name’s sake. Thank You that You lead us. Thank You that You have redeemed us. Help us to believe Your promises and sing Your praise and not to forget what You have done for us.”
2. Thank God for Grace by Our Giving
In this passage Paul gives us at least ten reasons to give generously:
- It is the best investment we can make
Like the harvest, giving is planting seed. The farmer will reap far more than what was sown (v.6): ‘A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop’ (v.6, MSG).
This applies to everything in life. What we give to the Lord he multiplies – our time, our gifts, ambitions and money.
- It should be fun
Giving should never be forced or grudging, but rather voluntary and cheerful. ‘Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver’ (v.7). The Greek word for cheerful is hilaros.
- It takes away the burden of financial worry
Paul writes, ‘and God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work’ (v.8). Giving does not mean handing over financial responsibility to God – but it does mean handing over the worry and the burden of it.
- It produces a harvest
When God invites us to give, He is pleading to our reason, not to our emotions: ‘You will be made rich in every way’ (v.11). Materially, we will have enough to give away generously (v.11). Our characters will be enriched (v.10). God will be praised (v.11).
- It transforms our character
Paul speaks of ‘the harvest of your righteousness’ (v.10b). Giving purges the character from the constricting grip of materialism that destroys lives.
- It inspires others
‘Your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but it is also overflowing in the many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service of which you approved yourselves, people will praise God’ (vv.11b–13a).
- It meets people’s needs
Generous giving blesses other people and supplies the needs of God’s people – ‘helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians’ (v.12, MSG).
- It is evidence of real faith
Generous giving is an act of obedience which should accompany ‘your confession of the gospel of Christ’ (v.13).
- It makes you a stakeholder in the church
Paul speaks of ‘your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else’ (v.13b). The word Paul uses for sharing is koinonia which can also be translated ‘fellowship’. In the same way as when we share an aprartment or we share in the bills, as we share in the needs of the community we reap the benefits of that community. For example, every time someone comes to know Christ through the community of believers we share in the blessing.
- It is a response to God’s gift to us
Our giving is a response to God’s amazing grace. His ‘indescribable gift’ (v.15) is the gift of his Son. ‘Thank God for this gift, His gift. No language can praise it enough!’ (v.15, MSG).
“Lord, thank You for Your surpassing grace which abounds towards us. Thank You for the indescribable gift of Your son Jesus Christ who died for us and rose again. Help us to respond with generosity and grace to your amazing grace.”
3. Thank God for His Grace in Our Lives
This is one of the few passages in the Bible that hints at the origins of Satan and demonic powers.
The beauty of a diamond is best seen set against a black velvet cloth. The beauty of God’s grace is also seen in its full glory and brilliance against the darkness of evil. The prophet Isaiah speaks of God’s amazing compassion (14:1). The dark background is the evil of the nations around, in particular, Babylon’s cruelty, torture, persecution and slave trade.
In the course of his description of Babylon’s fall, Isaiah makes reference to an ancient Canaanite myth where Helal, the morning star, son of Shehar (dawn) attempted to rise above all the other luminaries, but was cast down by the sun:
‘You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of the assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you were brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit’ (vv.12–15).
Jesus similarly describes Satan’s fall (Luke 10:18). Perhaps it was pride and arrogance that led to an angelic fall before the fall of Adam and Eve.
But against this dark background there is also a hint of a beautiful diamond.
The tyrant toppled,
The killing at an end,
all signs of these cruelties long gone,
A new government of love will be established
in the venerable David tradition.
A Ruler you can depend upon
will head this government,
A Ruler passionate for justice,
a Ruler quick to set things right (Isaiah 16:4b–5, MSG).
Whatever the historical fulfilment may have been, there is only one person who perfectly fits this description – Jesus the Messiah, born in the line of David, who brought together God’s love and His justice. Unlike the satanic ‘I will’, Jesus denied himself and said, ‘Not what I will, but what you will’ (Matthew 26:39). The only response to God’s amazing grace revealed in Jesus Christ is to give him thanks with our worship, our giving, and our whole lives.
“Lord, thank You for the greatness of Your grace. Thank You that despite the evil and demonic powers we see at work in our world, we experience your amazing grace in our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank You for His love and faithfulness to us. Thank you that He seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness. Help us, like Him, to have a concern for the poorest of the poor and the needy.” AMEN