Thursday, March 30, 2017

March 30

Deuteronomy 13:1-15:23; Luke 8:40-9:6; Psalm 71:1-24; Proverbs 12:5-7

On New Year’s Eve this past year, my husband and I were trying to kill a little time while waiting for the ball to drop in New York Times Square, starting the official count down to the new year. So we did something we almost never do – we channel surfed. We ended up on Trinity Broadcasting Network and started to watch some of the interviews and highlights that had been on the show over the past year. Despite some of our stereotypes or previous opinions of TBN, we ended up being so encouraged by the testimonies we heard. In the past, both my husband and I had sort of discounted the “health and wealth” gospel that seemed to be preached on TBN. Yet, when I read today’s Scripture (and really much of Scripture), I can’t help but think there is actually a lot of truth in the “health and wealth” gospel.

Three times in today’s reading, the Lord promises to “bless [us] in all the work of [our] hands” when we generously and consistently tithe our produce and income (Dt. 14:29; 15:6, 15:10).  When we trust the Lord and don’t hold our wealth to ourselves, but instead give to the needy and the poor, and make our offerings and sacrifices, the Lord will bless in our work and “everything we put our hands to” (15:10). Every command to give is followed with a promise of blessing. And we are to celebrate as we give. We celebrate because we remember and rejoice in how abundantly good God has been to us.

My parents are such an amazing model of this kind of abundant and generous giving, and then receiving the Lord’s blessing in return. I have been astounded at how much money they have given away to the Lord’s work, to the poor or marginalized, and to each of their kids over the years. Sometimes I turn to my siblings and say, “Where did they get all this money from?" It’s like the oil from the widow’s jar (from the time of Elijah) that never runs out no matter how much they keep pouring from it. I mean, my dad has been a pastor or in ministry all of my life. My mom, a stay-at-home mom for most of her life. How can they have so much money to give away? My answer is: generous and consistent tithing and giving. There is my example of the validity of “health and wealth” gospel.

Does that mean Jesus’ people will always have it good and easy? No. In Psalm 71: 20 we read, “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.” When we stay faithful to him and show our trust in him by giving our money to him, even when it doesn’t seem financially sound, he provides for us. He takes care of us. Our giving is a testimony of our trust and confidence in Him as provider, not our own hands.

In our Luke 8 reading, we see someone who has much trouble and bitterness in her life. But I love this bleeding woman’s sheer desperation for Jesus. She just needs a touch of his cloak. She is confident that he can heal. Her trust and faith and willingness to risk all for Jesus - they truly pay off.

We have the same choices today. Where is our trust? In our money? In our own hands and skills? In doctors to heal? No, I trust in Jesus. I trust him to provide for me when I give generously to his work and to others. I trust him to heal me and restore me when I am sick and in want. Our Father delights to bless those who chose to follow his ways and commands.

- Mary Matthias

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