Monday, December 13, 2010

My Cup Overflows!

Wow, God is amazing! His love is extravagant and he has truly lavished it on us.

To start with, after making travel arrangements for over Christmas, we wondered a bit at our financial situation and acknowledged that we may have to be more cautious in the future. As we were discussing it the next day, Mogi said that he knows God will provide, because he always has. We agreed that he is completely trustworthy, and that he can provide in ways we don't expect or aren't aware of. Then...literally seconds after finishing this conversation, Mogi checks his computer and finds out that he'd received a donation to his German bank account. The amount was just over what paid for tickets! We were amazed and humbled. God is GOOD!

Then, the other night friends of ours in our apartment, who are moving, came down and said they were clearing out their fridge and asked if we needed anything. That led to them bringing down boxes and boxes of food from their pantry that we ended up disbursing to everyone else in the complex. There were items that I had planned on grocery shopping for the next day, as well as specialty foods that we'd never buy for ourselves. God is Jehovah Jireh - our Provider!

The blessings haven't stopped all week...a gift certificate to a restaurant, amazing fellowship with friends, challenging reminders at church.

In a discussion last night, one of our friends made an interesting comment. "Why do we talk so much about giving, and so little about receiving? Why do we emphasize, for instance, the 10% we're supposed to tithe, and not discuss the 90% that we get to keep?" It's a good question. Giving is good...necessary...important. But our culture at large, and I know I personally, seems to feel uncomfortable in a place of receiving.

We talk about Christmas as being a "time for giving," but is it really? One of the most famous Bible verses would suggest otherwise: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son..." (John 3:16). God is the one who gave the ultimate gift, and Christmas is the celebration of the opportunity to receive this gift of Christ our Savior. All our gifts pale in comparison to this ultimate gift. 

This is not to suggest that we shouldn't be giving; that's not the point. The question is, have we learned how to receive well? It's humbling to be the recipient of other people's generosity, but it's also a blessing. And there's no way we can give to others unless we've first received. 2 Corinthians 9 gives us principles for generosity:

 "6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 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. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work...10Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God."

"Blessed to be a blessing" - that's the bottom line. God has been revealing himself to us this week as the Giver - the generous, lavish giver. And I know his purpose is so that we can pass it on. 

So I ask you...have you learned to receive? Have you received the ultimate gift of God's son and his offer of eternal life? It is only through him that we can be blessed so abundantly that we can abound in good works and be generous to others on every occasion. 

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