RSS

Tag Archives: offerings

The Heart of Giving

We’re continuing to study Paul’s exhortations concerning the grace of giving.  In my last post, we saw the principle of sowing and reaping.  Now we’ll move on to the next truth.

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7

This is another verse I’ve heard people use for their own agendas.  They explain to me that they can decide to give whatever they want…or nothing at all.  Is that what it’s really saying?

First of all, in the original text, the only place the word give appears is at the end of the verse – the word giver.  It’s also important to note that the beginning of this verse is not so easy to translate.

The Greek word translated as decided is only used this once in the entire New Testament.  I realize that all the major translations use words such as decided, purposed, and determined.  But in actuality, this word is pregnant with meaning.

It’s more than a simple decision.  It means to prioritize what you’re deciding to bring forth from your storehouse.  I understand why that phrase is hard to place into this verse and still have it be readable in English.

I think what Paul is trying to get across is that each person should bring forth what is the priority of their heart.  That puts a whole different spin on it.  That’s because what comes out of our heart is in direct relationship to what we’ve put into it.

In telling His disciples about how to recognize people by their fruit, Jesus said the following…

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Luke 6:45

In the context of this verse, Jesus is relating this to how someone speaks.  But I believe, based on how the Lord worded the principle, that this could be applied to any area of life.  It fits right in with what Paul was saying to the Corinthian church.

That’s why the apostle tells us that our giving should not come from grief or distress.  We’re not buying a blessing from God to relieve our problems.  I’m not giving because someone made me feel guilty.

I give because of what’s planted in my heart.  I continually put God’s Word into it.  Then, the Holy Spirit has something to work with when it’s time to give.  I hear from the Lord and I give from the overflow of what’s in my heart.

That’s the best way to be a cheerful giver.  This means that you feel good about what you give.  In that way, you will both be a blessing, and be blessed by this grace of giving.

Question: how you seek God when it’s time to give an offering?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 19, 2020 in Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Sowing and Reaping

As we continue through the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul gives us more principles concerning the grace of giving.  He will now deal with some truths that have a greater application than simply your money.

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
2 Corinthians 9:6

Here we have the principle of sowing and reaping.  It’s taught a lot in the body of Christ.  We mostly hear it before offering time.

In the context of Paul’s letter, he’s definitely applying it to money.  But we have to realize that it has a much greater range than that.

I think that one of our problems is that much of our teaching centers around the English reading of this verse.  Most of what I’ve heard can be boiled down to “if you plant a lot, you’ll reap a lot.”

However, that’s not what I get when I read it in the original Greek.  The word for sparingly means to keep back, avoiding excess.  It also means to be cautious and wary.

Contrast that with the word for generously.  It means to have a blessing attitude.  It implies that you give in such a way that it’s a blessing to the one who receives it.

This verse on sowing and reaping is more about your attitude in giving.  It has nothing to do with the amount you give.  Jesus brought this truth to light when He saw a widow put a penny into the offering.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything — all she had to live on.”
Mark 12:43-44

The word Jesus used for more, means more in amount.  Effectively, what the Lord said was that this widow planted more seed then the others who put in more money.  It was her attitude that made the difference.

That’s because it’s all about obedience.  I never want anybody to give simply because there’s a need.  I want you to pray and then give what the Lord prompts you to give.

It’s all about what the Lord wants you to invest in His kingdom.  When He urges me to give, how could I ever be cautious about it?  Why would I try and hold something back?

I want the blessing of God in my life.  I want to see a return on what I invest in God’s work.  Granted, it’s not always in the form of money, but it’s always good.

Some might complain about my attitude.  They say that I shouldn’t give expecting a blessing in return.

The fact is that I would give in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leading whether He blessed me or not.  But, because the Lord tells us that we’ll reap, I’ll look for His hand at work in my life.  Then, when I see the harvest of what I sowed, I’ll give God all the thanks and the praise.

Question: How have you experienced sowing and reaping in your spiritual journey?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 17, 2020 in Faith, God's Provision, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Principles of Giving

Paul is continuing to coach the Corinthian church in the giving of offerings.  It’s good advice for us as well.

There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints.
2 Corinthians 9:1

The first thing we see is that giving is a part of our servanthood.  Jesus said that if you want to be great in God’s kingdom, then you must be the servant of all.  (Mark 10:42-45)

A part of my service to the kingdom is fulfilled as I use my money to help others.  I might not be able to be physically present to help them.  But by giving my finances, I can help to relieve some of their burdens.

For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action.  But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be.
2 Corinthians 9:2-3

What you’ll find is that some believers are quicker to give than others.  Some people take a little longer to reach that decision.  That’s okay, as long as we’re all obedient to the Lord’s prompting.

The fact is, those who are quicker to give are an encouragement to those who need more time to think about it.  When they see the zeal of others, it stirs them to action.  Then, the blessing of service increases.

The word, eagerness, in the above passage is literally forward-passioned.  You are passionate about seeing God’s kingdom advance.  When you give, it’s not simply about the money.  It’s moving in answer to the call of God to advance His work.

For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we — not to say anything about you — would be ashamed of having been so confident.  So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.
2 Corinthians 9:4-5

Finally, we must always be prepared to give.  Be open to the Holy Spirit.  Let Him move your heart.

At one point I was stopped at a red light and I saw a panhandler coming towards me.  I felt the Spirit urging me to give. As I fumbled with my seatbelt trying to get to my wallet, eventually the light turned green before I could get the money out.

I felt bad about it.  Now I make sure that I have some money in the compartment between the seats so that if it happens again, I’ll be ready.

We need to be people who want to serve not just with our time, but our money as well.

Question: How prepared are you when the Spirit prompts you to give?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Financial Equality

We’re continuing to look at Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s talking to them about money and the giving of offerings.

As I’ve said, the churches of Judea were experiencing a famine and Paul wanted the Gentile churches to help out in this time of need.  He now explains a principle that we all but ignored in the modern church.

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.
2 Corinthians 8:13-14

What Paul says here is that he doesn’t want one part of the body of Christ at ease and relaxed while another part is under great pressure.  He wants to see an equal sharing of God’s work.

Unfortunately, we don’t see this in the church today.  Actually, it’s not been seen for a very long time.  In most cases, it’s every church for themselves.

Throughout the church, there are believers who could care less about the work of God.  They’re about going to work and making money.  They feel their part is attending church most weeks and giving a little something in the offering.

The way the world is right now, it’s time for the church to wake up.  We need to get back to the priority of sharing Christ.

At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need.  Then there will be equality, as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”
2 Corinthians 8:14-15

This verse says that your surplus will supply their deficit.  I praise God for churches who see beyond their own four walls.

Too many ministries have taken on the structure and attitude of corporate America.  American greed is at an all-time high.

The head of the company makes more money than they could spend in 10 lifetimes.  While their employees have to take on multiple jobs just to survive.

It shouldn’t be that way in the church.  We’re here to make Christ known.  What does the world see when they look at us?

There are ministry leaders across the country with multiple homes, cars, motorcycles, and jets.  At the same time, there are ministries that are struggling to survive.  What message does that send to the world?

What am I trying to say?  As much as it depends on us, we should be a giving people.  We should also seek to be a part of a ministry with open hands.  Giving is a part of the lifeblood of the church.

Question: What is your attitude toward the giving of offerings?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 10, 2020 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Giving by Desire

We’re continuing to look at Paul’s exhortation on giving in his letter to the Corinthian church.  A while earlier they had promised to give an offering to the churches in Judea who were experiencing a famine.

He’s now encouraging them to continue with their plans.  In my last couple of posts, Paul gave testimony about the giving of the Macedonian churches.

I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.
2 Corinthians 8:8-9

In listening to Paul’s words, we can get a fresh perspective of how offerings work; or at least how they should work.  Remember, he’s talking about offerings and not tithes at this point.  (Tithes are the first 10%; offerings are over and above that point.)

What we have to realize is that Paul is an apostle, called by God to establish and maintain the churches under his care.  As such, he had the authority to command them, if that was God’s will.

However, he made it clear that he was not commanding them.  Offerings must be given out of love, not obedience or guilt.

He wanted them to prove themselves.  Paul wanted them to see their love in comparison to others.  According to the apostle, the true test is the speed at which you fulfill your promise.

But now we come to the verse that brings on many arguments.  Paul uses Christ, Himself, as an example.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9

The words used for poor/poverty and rich are very important.  First, both the words poor and poverty means being absolutely and publically impoverished.  I believe that hanging naked on a cross is the definition of this.

On the other hand, rich means to be abounding in money and possessions.  That’s where the problem comes in.  I can hear it now.  “Oh no!  Another prosperity preacher.”

I do believe that God wants His people to prosper but listen to the Biblical definition.  True Biblical prosperity means that God abundantly supplies all I need to fulfill what He’s called me to do.  Then, on top of that, He blesses me with even more so that I can be a blessing to others.

But I digress.  The issue is about the willingness to give.  Paul gives a summary of this thought.

And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so.  Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.  For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.
2 Corinthians 8:10-12

Question: What are your attitudes toward the giving of offerings?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Giving Yourself to God

We’re continuing to look at the miraculous grace of giving.  Paul writes about it in reference to the Macedonian churches.  They were able to give supernatural offerings as a result.

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.
2 Corinthians 8:3-5

This is one of the most miraculous verses in the Bible. How can you ever give beyond your ability? I don’t know, but that’s Paul’s testimony of what they did.

I believe that the key to all this is found in verse 5. Paul said that they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us.

Your first calling is not to a church or a ministry. It’s to God Himself.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t commit yourself to a church. What I am saying is that committing yourself to a church without first giving yourself to God is counter-productive.

These Macedonian believers understood the principle of success.  You need to present yourself as a gift to God.  That means we give up all personal rights over to His will. Paul understood what this meant.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:57-58

The context of this verse is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Paul goes into great detail explaining the importance of His rising from the grave.

Paul concludes this section by talking about our victory in Christ. The resurrection is the foundation for our victory in this life. We know that the victory is ours in Christ, no matter what the situation may look like right at the present moment.

So in this passage, Paul uses the word, therefore. It’s because we know that Christ is victorious – past, present, and future – that we can give ourselves fully to God. We already know the outcome, so we can give ourselves willingly.

The problem is, that willingly and fully are two very different things. I can willingly serve God with only part of my life, time, and resources. The real victory comes when I willingly give all to Christ.

Please understand that this has nothing to do with your abilities. It has everything to do with your willingness to fully commit your life to God. That’s the lesson the Macedonian churches had learned.

It’s only when you first give yourself to God, that you can accomplish something beyond your ability. That’s when people notice that it’s God working in you. Only then will God get the glory from your life, and people will be attracted to the Gospel.

Question: How fully committed is your life to God?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 3, 2020 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , ,

The Grace of Giving

We’re continuing our study through the book of Second Corinthians.  The Apostle Paul will now begin a new subject.

And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.
2 Corinthians 8:1

I realize that many ministers consider the giving of offerings a taboo subject.  They’re afraid to offend and then lose some of their supporters.

I believe that understanding the Biblical way of giving is important for us as believers.  We need to know how God views it.

Some people get all upset when preachers talk about offerings.  Tithing, prosperity, and God’s provision are controversial in some places.

However, the fact that Paul devoted two whole chapters in his letter explaining this issue tells me that it’s a much-needed teaching in the body of Christ.

Even the way Paul approaches the subject lets us know the importance.  He tells us that he wants to explain the grace God is giving to the churches.  Yes, you heard correctly, giving is a grace that God bestows upon us.

That sounds good to me.  Because where there’s grace, there are miracles.  Giving is a way in which you can allow the Holy Spirit to work through you.  That’s exactly what happened in Macedonia.

Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
2 Corinthians 8:2

Do you really hear what Paul is saying?  Under normal circumstances these words don’t belong in the same sentence.  Especially since they’re describing the same group of people.

Paul says that they were experiencing a huge trial of pressure.  Yet, at the same time, they had an over-abundance of joy.  I know people who don’t have more than enough joy during non-stressful times.

Paul goes on to say that they were in the depths of poverty.  But in spite of that, they showed a super-abundance of wealthy liberality in their giving.

To me, the above two paragraphs are the definition of miraculous.  There is absolutely no way that Paul’s statements could be true apart from the intervention of an all-powerful God.

That’s the grace of giving at work.  I don’t know about you, but I want to experience this in my life.

Over the next series of posts, we’ll be looking at the principles that the apostle talks about.  So if you don’t already subscribe to this blog, you may want to so you won’t miss an installment.

Question: What is your present view on Christian giving?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Grace of Undetached Missions Giving

As Paul writes to the Corinthian church, he encourages them to give to the starving saints in Jerusalem.  Israel was experiencing famine at this time.  Paul was calling on the Greek churches to help them.

His words to the church should inspire us to adopt a whole new mindset concerning our missions giving.

Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.  On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.  Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.  If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.
1 Corinthians 16:1-4

The first thing that I see is that Paul’s exhortation was not something special for the Corinthian church.  He had prescribed this manner of giving for all the churches under his ministry.  In his command, I see four major truths associated with missions giving.

Missions giving is for everyone.  At least with these gentile churches, they met the first day of every week.  It was during this meeting that EVERYONE was to seek God and give according to how they were prospering.

Please note that this collection was not the tithe that went to the upkeep of the local church.  This was a special collection to be stored up for when it would be released to the specified missions project.

This is not just an exhortation for the well to do.  It’s for everyone, rich and poor alike.  God doesn’t look at the size of the gift, but the condition of the heart.  We give because we want to be a blessing to someone else.

How much you give is based upon how thankful you are.  This goes right along with what I have been saying.  It’s not about the quantity of the gift.

I have to look at my life and take inventory.  How has the Lord been blessing me?  Am I thankful for His blessing?  Do I want to be a blessing to others?

The fact is that when you pass on a blessing to others, you’re making room for a blessing in your life.  There are those who say that it’s wrong for me to teach this.  “We should give with no thought of receiving a blessing.”  If that’s the case, then Jesus is wrong, because He was the first one to tell us this truth (Luke 6:38).

Don’t simply send your missions giving, take it personally.  This is one of those areas where I think that the modern church has missed it.  We collect money for missions and then send out a check every month.  It’s neat, clean, and detached.

According to Paul, there should be a missions team in each church that goes to visit the missionaries.  They are the representatives of the church on the mission field.  American Christians would gain a whole new perspective if they could see what was required to serve God in other parts of the world.

Missions giving is an act of grace.  When we give to missions, we’re an extension of the arms of Christ.  We’re giving more than just money, especially if we bring it personally.

We’re giving love, encouragement, and fellowship to those who are in need of it the most.  In many cases, those in the field are away from family and friends for years at a time.  You may be that taste of home that gives them the strength to continue victoriously.

Please take Paul’s message to heart.  Be an active part of missions.  Give what you can.  Then, don’t let it end there, but trust God to bring you an opportunity to travel and visit a missionary.  It will be one of the best experiences of your life.

Question: How have you involved yourself in missions?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 4, 2019 in Encouragement, Missions, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

I Have the Right…

In First Corinthians, Paul explains to the church that as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, he has the right to ask them for support.  Those who work in the ministry should receive their living from that ministry.

Having laid that foundation, he now makes a very astounding statement.

But I have not used any of these rights.  And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me.  I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast.
1 Corinthians 9:15

Paul makes it clear that he absolutely had the right to ask them for support.  But, by his own choosing, he did not ask them for it.  He also wants them to understand that he’s not telling them this to manipulate them into sending him something.

There were some important reasons for this decision.  Paul knew the controversy that his ministry stirred up in the church at Corinth.  It was a church of many factions.  They argued over whether Paul was an apostle or not.

Because of this, he decided not to ask them for support.  He didn’t want to be the cause of strife in the body of Christ.

Of course, that didn’t let the Corinthian church off the hook.  They were called by God to support Paul, even if he didn’t ask for it.  So there were blessings and rewards that they’ll never receive because of their disobedience.

Paul was able to do this because of the position he was in.  Firstly, we know from Acts, chapter 18, that Paul had a trade that he could fall back on.  He was a tentmaker.  Besides that, we know from 2 Corinthians 11:7-12, that Paul was supported by other churches while he ministered in Corinth.

He was able to minister freely in Corinth because God was supplying his need from elsewhere.

Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach.  Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!  If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.  What then is my reward?  Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it.
1 Corinthians 9:16-18

This is the attitude of a true minister of the Gospel.  It’s unfortunate that many in the church use it to hold back support to those who need it.

A true minister is called to preach.  They’ll do it for Christ’s sake.  They’ll do it no matter how hard a church makes it for them to survive.

As a pastor and traveling minister, I understand this.  When God places a message in my spirit, I can’t help but preach it.  I serve Christ, not the church.

There have been times that I knew God wanted me to preach in a certain church.  I obeyed.  Then, whether by oversight or decision, I received no offering from them.  Am I going to be bitter or complain about it?  Absolutely not!  God pays my salary.  Whoever He uses to support me is up to him, not me.

On the other side of the coin, I don’t want to be found guilty of not supporting the Lord’s servants.  If I’m a member of a church, then I want that pastor or minister to be abundantly supplied.  I want their ministry to be a joy, not a constant struggle to survive.

This is an issue that many churches need to come to grips with.  They think that it’s their responsibility to keep their pastor in poverty.  It may not be until the Judgment Seat of Christ that the church board finds out what their greed and desire for control has cost them.

We need to support those in ministry as the Lord leads us to.

Question: Why is it better if the minister is not struggling to provide an income?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 26, 2019 in God's Provision, Ministry, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Ministry Support

We’re continuing our look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  We’re at the point where Paul is discussing his role as an apostle of Christ.  This is within the greater context of the principles surrounding the “grey areas” of sin.

This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me.  Don’t we have the right to food and drink?  Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?  Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?
1 Corinthians 9:3-6

He makes it clear that because of his ministry to the church, he should expect to be supported by those churches.  He shows this by comparing his ministry to others that they knew of.

This was the practice of the day.  Apostles and ministers were given some sort of income.  It could have been monetary, food, lodging, or other things that they needed.

Paul explains that this is only common sense.  If you work, you should be making your living from that work.

Who serves as a soldier at his own expense?  Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes?  Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk?
1 Corinthians 9:7

I think that it’s interesting to hear the words that Paul uses.  Nobody serves, plants, or tends without expecting to make a living from it.  These are all a big part of church work.  Why do some people think it’s so wrong for ministers to make a living from their ministry?

Paul shows that the Bible itself proves his point.

Do I say this merely from a human point of view?  Doesn’t the Law say the same thing?  For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.”  Is it about oxen that God is concerned?  Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he?  Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest.
1 Corinthians 9:8-10

Paul uses this Old Testament law to bring out a New Testament truth.   Ministers are worthy of being supported.  The apostle concludes this by using a very clear statement.

If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?  If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?
1 Corinthians 9:11-12

We want our ministers and pastors to be there for us.  We want them to pray for us when we’re in trouble, visit us when we’re sick, and encourage us when they preach.  Yet in many churches, they want all this and more while the minister has to work extra jobs just to feed his or her family.

There are others we look to in this way.  We want the Fire, Police, and hospitals to be ready to serve us at a moment’s notice.  So we pay their salaries accordingly.  How much more should we support those who keep watch over our souls?

Question: How have you been helped by a minister who was there in your time of need?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 24, 2019 in Encouragement, Ministry, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , ,