As 2013 draws to a close, many churches and faith based ministries in the USA are looking to the Lord to provide the financial resources for their ministries. Also, because of the IRS tax regulations, people are considering how they will share their financial “blessings” with their church and ministries that they care about before midnight, December 31. I find myself in both chairs, first because I’ve been richly blessed this year and want to share my blessings with ministries that I care about; and second, because I serve with a faith based ministry, One Challenge (www.onechallenge.org), I am looking to the Lord to provide for the needs of our ministry – and not only ours, but also the ministries of our many friends who serve with Cru, InterVarsity, Pioneers, Pioneer Bible Translators, ReachGlobal, The International Mission board, World Venture and Wycliffe Bible Translators – to name a few
Earlier this month, in the course of my regular Bible reading, I came across a relevant passage in 1 Kings 8. This is found toward the end of Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple.
“And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day requires, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no one else.” 1 Kings 8:59,60 (NASB)
Three relevant observations have “stuck” with me throughout the month.
First, Solomon prays that the Lord would “maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of his people.” Thus I find this a good prayer for any Christian worker or faith community to pray. Since God is the source of all blessings (James 1:17) should we not be looking to him to provide for his work?
Second, the prayer is to “maintain the cause… as each day requires”. I cannot help but associate this phrase with the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread”. Both passages highlight the “daily” aspect of God’s involvement in our lives. Although December is an important month for those of us in the United States for “year-end giving”, we should be seeking God daily to provide for all of our “needs according to his riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19).
Third, I find the purpose of the prayer and God’s provision in verse 60: “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no one else.” God has given his people the mandate to “declare His glory among the nations” (Psalm 96:3). We must not forget that we are here to make his wonderful deeds known among all peoples. God does not bless us materially – whether as individuals, churches, or ministries – to merely consume all his blessings ourselves, but to be a blessing to those who do not yet know the Lord. Psalm 67:1-3 also draws out God’s missional purpose in blessing his people.
God be gracious to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us– Selah.
That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations.
Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You.
I find it a perpetual temptation to hold on to all the blessings God brings my way. But when I call to mind God’s purpose to be known, worshiped and served by all peoples, I happily give to causes that are in line with this end.
A final thought. Last week in the course of a dialogue about stewardship with a co-worker, a favorite quote from the movie Hello Dolly” came to mind. “Money is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around…”
So how are you going to spread your money around at the end of this year?
Happy year-end giving!