September 8, 2014

843 Acres: The Rejection of Offerings

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Eze 11 (txt | aud, 3:53 min)
Ps 50 (txt | aud, 2:17 min)
Highlighted: Ps 50

Offerings: Employing a courtroom image, the Psalmist envisions God as prosecutor, witness, and judge. He has indicted Israel: “I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine” [1]. What is wrong with their offerings? Doesn’t he want us to make offerings?

Presumption: Yes, he calls us to offer our gifts—even our lives—to him as offerings. [2] The problem with the offerings of Israel, though, was that they were being presented to God with presumptuous and arrogant hearts, as if God needed their sacrifices. As if he was the dependent and needy one, not them. Yet as Paul tells those in Athens, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” [3].

Abundance: Why is God so insistent that we understand his independence? One reason is that he wants us to rest in his abundance, sovereignty, and generosity. Also, though, he wants us to see Christ. When we see that we bring nothing and he offers—indeed, in Christ, has offered—everything, our hearts offer gifts to him in gratitude, not presumption. As Thomas Brooks explains, “The only ground of God’s love is his love. The ground of God’s love is only and wholly in himself. There is neither portion nor proportion in us to draw his love.”

Prayer: Lord, Every day, we wake up with the hope that we will offer our lives to you. That we will contribute to the common good in our work, that we will seek your face in the morning, that we will love others to life in the gospel. Yet sometimes we act as though you need our work to accomplish your plans. Forgive us for our presumptuous hearts, as we increasingly know that “the one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me” [4]. Give us hearts of thanks. Amen.

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ____________________________________ 

Footnotes

[1] Psalm 50:9-12 ESV | [2] e.g., Romans 12:1 | [3] Acts 17:24-25 ESV | [4] Psalm 50:23 ESV

Tags: ,
September 5, 2014

843 Acres: Keep Calm and Be Still

by Bethany

843 Acres: Keep Calm and Carry On Be Still
M’Cheyne: Eze 8 (txt | aud, 3:13 min)
Ps 46-47 (txt | aud, 2:02 min)
Highlighted Text: Ps 46

Stillness: When I was in college, I went to a conference in Atlanta called Passion. On the second night of the conference, John Piper got up on stage and said, “Finish this verse: Be still … ” And with one voice, all of us replied, “ … and know that I am God.” Then I heard a few faint voices scattered throughout the auditorium continue, “ … I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” I had heard that verse a hundred times, but I had never paid much attention to its ending. Did it really matter?

Reasoning: The ending of that verse is the foundation for its beginning. We have the power to act in faith and be still—that is, to put all of our work down and pause in his presence—to the extent that we know he is exalted in the nations. When things need to get done, the last thing we want to do is be still. We want to act. Yet God calls, “Be still.”

Foundation: Over the years, as I’ve struggled to be still, I’ve also treasured the words of Isaiah, who similarly tells us that there is no other God “who acts for those who wait for him” [1], and the Psalmist, who sings that the Lord is the one who builds the house and “gives to his beloved sleep” [2]. To the extent that my heart trusts that he is in control of “the nations” and working in ways that I can’t even see, I can be still and know that he is God.

Prayer: Lord, When so many things must be done, it is counterintuitive to be still. Yet you long for us to know that you work for us and that you have everything—even the entire earth!—under control. Yet we confess that we struggle to believe your character and, as a result, rarely pursue stillness and quietness in your presence. Remove all stubborn unbelief from our hearts and, instead, put faith, hope, and love in us so that we may be still and know that you are God. And that you will be exalted among the nations and exalted in the earth! Amen.

 ____________________________________ 

M’Cheyne Weekend Readings:

Saturday, September 6: Eze 9 (txt | aud, 2:11 min) & Ps 48 (txt | aud, 1:20 min)
Sunday, September 7: Eze 10 (txt | aud, 3:17 min) & Ps 49 (txt | aud, 2:02 min)

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ____________________________________ 

Footnotes

[1] Isaiah 64:4 | [2] Psalm 127:2

Tags: ,
September 4, 2014

843 Acres: TBT Christ the Best Husband

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Eze 7 (txt | aud, 4:13 min)
Ps 45 (txt | aud, 2:01 min)

The Sons of Korah, Psalm 45:10-11

 A love song.

 Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear: forget your people and your father’s house, and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow down to him.

 George Whitefield, Christ the Best Husband

This psalm is called the song of loves … between Christ the beloved, and his church, which is his spouse … The marriage knot is tied here, in which are included four things:

Mutual Choice. The Lord Jesus Christ chooses you merely by his free grace; it is freely of his own mercy that he brings you into the marriage covenant. You, who have so grievously offended him, yet, he has chosen you; you did not, you would not have chosen him; but … you are drawn to make choice of the Lord Jesus Christ because he first chose you.

Mutual Affection. Your hearts are drawn out after Christ; your souls pant and long for him; you cannot be at rest until you are engaged to this Jesus: You are ready to cry out continually, none but Christ, none but Christ: this is the language of your hearts, if you are truly sensible of your need of him. The more acquaintance you have of this Lord Jesus, the more pleased you are with your choice, and the more your affections are drawn toward him.

Mutual Union. And here the marriage chiefly lies, in this union; Christ and souls are contracted, and the knot is tied so fast, that neither men on earth, however great they may be, nor devils in hell, though they should combine all their wrath and rage together, still they cannot dissolve it. By the Spirit, Christ lays hold on you; and by faith, you lay hold on him; and thus the match is made; Christ becomes yours, his person, portion, and all his benefits are yours; and you become Christ’s, your persons, your hearts, and all that you have is resigned up unto him.

Mutual Obligation. Christ obliges himself to love you here, he will not, indeed he never will leave you; he will live with you here, and at last he will take you to himself, to live with him forever. And you are engaged to him to be loving, loyal, faithful, obedient; and you are to stick close to him as long as you live; and then you will find yourselves to be married to the best advantage, both for soul and body, for time and for eternity.

*Adapted modern translation.

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ____________________________________ 

Tags: ,
September 3, 2014

843 Acres: The Anger of God at Idols

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Eze 6 (txt | aud, 2:39 min)
Ps 44 (txt | aud, 2:51 min)
Highlighted: Eze 6

Destruction: Ezekiel 6 is all about destruction. The Lord warns that, because of the people’s idol worship, he will demolish mountains, hills, ravines, and valleys. He will lay waste to cities and altars and bring devastation by sword, famine, and pestilence. With a particularly graphic image, he says, “I will lay the dead bodies of the people of Israel before their idols, and I will scatter your bones around your altars” [1]. Why is he so full of anger?

Counterfeit: The Lord hates idol worship because it dishonors him and destroys us. In Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller says that an idol is “anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only can can give.” Our idols destroy us because they lie to us. With empty promises, they get us to love them, trust them, and obey them. Money, sex, and power, for example, promise to give us success, love, and glory, but they don’t. Instead, they give us envy, jealousy, and corruption.

Love: This is why God is so angry in Ezekiel 6. He sees that their idol worship is destroying them and dishonoring him. Four times he gives the reason why he will bring destruction: “Then they will know I am the Lord” [2]. He wants his people to know that he alone is God and, therefore, he alone can offer them true success, love, and glory. Although he makes gestures of condemnation toward his people, his posture toward them is cultivation. He chisels and destroys that he may revive and create. [3]

Prayer: Lord, We confess that we worship idols. When we daydream, our hopes and hearts are often far from your purposes and, instead, focused on our own selfish desires. Forgive us, Lord, and destroy anything that you need to destroy so that we no longer love, trust, and obey idols. Even though this will undoubtedly cause us pain in the short-term, in the long-term, we will know that you are the Lord. Therefore, we beg you to refine our hearts. Amen.

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ____________________________________ 

Footnotes

[1] Ezekiel 6:5 ESV | [2] Ezekiel 6:7, 10, 13, 14 | [3] For more on this topic of gesture vs. posture, see Culture Making by Andy Crouch.

Tags: ,
September 2, 2014

843 Acres: The Space for Lament

by Bethany

843 Acres: The Space for Lament
M’Cheyne: Ez 5 (txt | aud, 3:29 min)
Ps 42-43 (txt | aud, 2:27 min)
Highlighted: Ps 42

Happiness: Our longing to be happy isn’t bad. According to C.S. Lewis, it’s required: “It is a Christian duty for everyone to be as happy as he can.” What happens, though, when we’re not happy? When things don’t happen as we hope or expect? Is it inconsistent to be a Christian and also to have feelings of sorrow, confusion, and depression?

Lament: The space for lament is when we see the gap between the way things are and the way things could be. Psalm 42 is a psalm of lament. In it, the psalmist struggles: “My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’” [1] He continues: “I say to God, my rock: ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning of because of the oppression of the enemy?’” [2] How does this psalm teach us to confront our feelings of sorrow, confusion, and depression?

Preaching: “Have you realized,” writes D. Martin-Lloyd Jones, “that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? … Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why are you cast down, O my soul? You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself … And then you must remind yourself of God, who God is, what God is, what God has done, and what God has pledged himself to do. Then, having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man, ‘I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.’”

Prayer: Lord, Thank you for inspiring psalms like Psalm 42 that do not end all-wrapped-up-in-a-bow. As we preach to ourselves, may we cling to your word, not our circumstances. Teach us to say, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? Put your hope in God!” May we be like trees that drink your water, not chaff that blows in the wind. Amen.

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ____________________________________ 

Footnotes

[1] Psalm 42:3 ESV | [2] Psalm 42:9 ESV

Tags: ,
August 29, 2014

843 Acres: Reader’s Choice: Hope for Troubled Souls: Everybody Worships

by Bethany

Reader: Brad Elledge: This devotional struck me because it so reflected my life experience. We were fresh out of B-School: from Chicago, Wharton, Harvard, Northwestern and part of a corporate planning staff where ambition ran like a bull market. “We all aim to be the King of France, running our own empires,” remarked our Chief of Staff.  Five years and three moves later, having worshipped at the altar of career glory, I was burnt out and empty realizing, having given it everything, my career wasn’t loving me back. It had literally sucked the life out of me. There had to be more than the endless cycle of beating sales quota, sacrificing for the next promotion … so in a moment of weakness, I accepted a friends invitation to go to church. And those strange people would invite me to a meal out of mere kindness and free me from my loneliness and self-sufficiency. They represented Christ and I was captivated by the alternative. Our redemption, truly, is found in Him alone. And with that redemption comes the true riches: friendships that span decades, family, community, knowing and serving the one true God. It is not about us … it’s about Him.

843 Acres: Reader’s Choice: Hope for Troubled Souls: Everybody Worships
Originally published on May 20, 2013.
Highlighted: Ps 73:25-26

Worship: “Everybody worships,” said David Foster Wallace in 2005. “The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing … is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough … Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths … Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you in your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is … they’re unconscious” [1]. 

Troubled: In 2008, Wallace committed suicide. He was 46 and best known for Infinite Jest (1996), a novel that “perceives American society as self-obsessed, pleasure-obsessed and entertainment-obsessed” [2]. The next year, he received a MacArthur grant, “the so-called genius award”. The NYT chief book critic once said, “[He] can do practically anything if he puts his mind to it. He can do sad, funny, silly, heartbreaking and absurd with equal ease; he can even do them all at once”. His obituary, however, read, “In contrast to the lively spirit of his writing, [he] was … consumed with his work and its worth, perpetually at odds with himself … a titanically gifted writer with an equally troubled soul”.

Injustice: In Psalms, we find several troubled souls. In Psalm 73, for example, Asaph is troubled because he wonders whether God cares about injustice. Yet he takes his confusion and emotions into the sanctuary, where he finds what Wallace intimated—that God alone will not eat him alive: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” [3].

Prayer: Lord, We confess that, when we look upon our imperfect and broken world, our souls are troubled. Yet we know that our redemption is found in you alone. Therefore, let our hearts rejoice that you are our strength and portion forever. Amen.

____________________________________

About Brad: Brad grew up in the Napa Valley before it was big time wine country. He migrated to Chicago for B-School and pursued a corporate career with stops in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Phoenix, Tucson (where he met the Lord), and Knoxville, TN. He now manages a manufacturing plant with 100 employees (his “flock”) in North Dallas. With his ‘noble soul’ wife of 30 years, Eileen, they have raised 4 children, 2 “domestics” & 2 “imports” (adopted Vietnamese). They now reside in Frisco, TX, where they attend Grace Church.

____________________________________

M’Cheyne Reading as Scheduled

Eze 1 (txt | aud, 4:19 min)
Ps 37 (txt | aud, 3:58 min)

____________________________________

 M’Cheyne Weekend Readings as Scheduled:

Saturday, August 30: Eze 2 (txt | aud, 1:20 min) & Ps 38 (txt | aud, 2:10 min)
Sunday, August 31: Eze 3 (txt | aud, 4:08 min); Ps 39 (txt | aud, 1:49 min)
Monday, September 1 (Labor Day): Eze 4 (txt | aud, 2:48 min); Ps 40-41 (txt | aud, 4:01 + min)

____________________________________

Footnotes

[1] David Foster Wallace. “Transcription of the 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address.” May 21, 2005. | [2] Bruce Weber. “David Foster Wallace, Influential Writer, Dies at 46.” New York Times. Obituary. September 15, 2008. | [3] Psalm 73:25-26 ESV

Tags: ,
August 28, 2014

843 Acres: Reader’s Choice: Prone to Wander, Lord, We Feel It

by Bethany

Reader’s Choice: Jen Pollock Michel: I appreciate this post for its clear presentation of the gospel: we are reckless sinners who need grace at every turn. Only the steadfast and patient love of God, expressed in Jesus, insures our hope of hearing and faithfully obeying the voice of God.

843 Acres: Reader’s Choice: Prone to Wander, Lord, We Feel It
Originally published on April 28, 2014
Highlighted: Heb 3:12-14

Exodus: When God rescued the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and led them through the Red Sea, they were full of celebration. With one voice, they sang, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously … The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” [1] Three days later, however, they complained about the way He gave them food and water. They said that they would rather be slaves again than depend on Him. Then, a few weeks later, they worshipped handmade idols, saying, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” [2] How did they fall away from the Lord so quickly?

Caution: Looking back on these events, the Psalmist warned, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts … when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that generation and said, ‘They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” [3]Hundreds of years later, the writer of Hebrews quoted the Psalmist and expanded the message: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called, ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence to the end.” [4]

Gospel: The Hebrews were slaves to Egypt; we are slaves to sin. They were released by the plague of the firstborn son; we are released by the death of the firstborn son of God. On the cross, the work of God is on display far greater than during the Exodus. How much more, then, must we cling to belief!

Prayer: Lord, We confess that, like the Hebrews, we can turn quickly from celebration to sin. Yet we do not have the strength to endure in faith. Therefore, we beg you to increase our faith. As we look to the cross, help us to remember your work and to exhort one another daily so that we will not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we admit that we are prone to wander. Amen.

____________________________________

About Jen: Jen lives in Toronto with her family. She’s the author of Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith. She also regularly contributes to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog and Today in the Word, a devotional publication of Moody Bible Institute. You can follow her on Twitter: @jenpmichel.
____________________________________

M’Cheyne Reading as Scheduled

Lam 5 (txt | aud, 2:01 min)
Ps 36 (txt | aud, 1:23 min)

____________________________________

Footnotes

[1] Exodus 15:1, 2 ESV | [2] Exodus 32:4 ESV | [3] Psalm 95:7-11 ESV | [4] Hebrews 3:12-14 ESV

August 27, 2014

843 Acres: Reader’s Choice: Unconditional Love vs. Contraconditional Love

by Bethany

Reader’s Choice: Brett Gaudin: I like this because it reminds me that what we refer to as God’s “unconditional love” is not without conditions. Those conditions are the law and it demanded of Christ his very life. And yet it was to his joy to give us his inheritance and take us as his. “What a love, what a cost, we stand forgiven at the cross” … perfectly ruled and perfectly free.

843 Acres: Reader’s Choice: Unconditional Love vs. Contraconditional Love
Originally published on September 18, 2013.
Highlighted: 2 Cor 7:9-10

LoveIn 1961, psychologist Carl Rogers popularized the term, “unconditional positive regard,” suggesting that we mustlove our children for who they are, not for what they do [1]. In 2004, TV personality Phil McGraw argued that what children want or need should be offered contingently until they “behave according to your wishes” [2]. Supernanny agreed: “The best rewards are attention, praise and love,” and these should be held back “when the child behaves badly until she says she is sorry” [3].

Grief: In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul called out their conflicts, divisions and immorality. He did not write these things to make them feel “ashamed,” but to “admonish” them as “beloved children” [4]. When he heard that his letter grieved them, he wrote again, saying, “I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” [5]. Paul did not have an “unconditional positive regard” for the Corinthians nor did he withhold his love from them until they behaved according to his wishes; his love was neither permissive nor manipulative.

Contraconditional: God’s love is something more than unconditional. As David Powlison has written, “God does not accept me just as I am; He loves me despite how I am; He loves me just as Jesus is; He loves me enough to devote my life to renewing me in the image of Jesus. This love is much, much, much better than unconditional! Perhaps we could call it ‘contraconditional’ love … Contrary to my due, He loves me. And now I can begin to change, not to earn love but because of love … You need something better than unconditional love. You need the crown of thorns … You need the promise to the repentant thief. You need to know, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ You need forgiveness. You need … a Father, a Savior. You need to become like the one who loves you. You need the better love of Jesus” [6].

Prayer: Lord, What wondrous love is this! Your love for us is neither permissive nor manipulative. How desperately we need your love so that we can live as Paul, loving others as you do. Give us the crown of thorns and the better love of Jesus. Amen.

____________________________________

About Brett: Brett is from Indiana and has lived in NYC going-on nine years. Brett works for Tegu, a socially-minded toy company, and is part of Redeemer’s Center for Faith & Work Gotham Fellowship Class of 2013.

____________________________________

M’Cheyne Reading as Scheduled:

Lam 4 (txt | aud, 3:32 min)
Ps 35 (txt | aud, 3:22 min)

____________________________________

Footnotes

[1] Carl Rogers. On Becoming a Person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961. | [2] Carl Rogers. On Becoming a Person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961. | [3] Carl Rogers. On Becoming a Person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961. | [4] 1 Corinthians 4:14 ESV | [5] 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 ESV | [6] David Powlison. God’s Love: Better than Unconditional. 2001.

August 26, 2014

843 Acres: Founder’s Choice: Bearing with the Weakness of Others

by Bethany

Founder’s Choice: Bethany Jenkins: The “stumbling block” passage, when properly applied, is one of the most beautiful truths in all of Scripture. To me, it’s one of the ways that we can live totally opposite from the wisdom of this age: Who in their right mind voluntarily puts down their rights for others? Here, Paul doesn’t tell “the strong” that they are wrong; in fact, he says, they’re right. Yet he calls them to lay down their rightness out of love and service to others who are “weak” and, he acknowledges, wrong. I rarely see such humility in my own heart. I like to be right, to win arguments, to live according to the rights that I have. I don’t want to lay down my rights to those who are wrong; instead, I want to show them how wrong they are. Yet when I see Jesus, who laid down his divine rights out of love and service to me (his wrong-headed and stubborn enemy), I weep as I embrace his kindness. This, in turn, enables me to lay down my rights—not because I’m wrong, but because I’m called to love and serve others as he has loved and served me.

843 Acres: Founder’s Choice: Bearing with the Weakness of Others
Originally published as a Tuesday Tweetable on September 3, 2013.
Highlighted: 1 Cor 8

Discerning Brokenness

We exclude people in three ways: (1) expulsion: get away from me, (2) subjugation: submit to me, (3) assimilation: conform to me.

Traditional intolerance says, “We have rules and, if you do not adhere to our truth, then you are out.” #expulsion

Modern (in)tolerance says, “We can live together as long as no one claims to have the truth. This is the only absolute truth.” #assimilation

Imagining Redemption 

Modernity says, To accept someone, you accept their beliefs. Christianity says, Accept one another, even if you don’t accept their beliefs.

How do we treat people who we think are wrong? We were saved by someone who entered into our humanity when we were wrong. #love #innerpoise

Eating food sacrificed to idols was not sinful unless it was in the presence of a believer with a weak conscience. http://ow.ly/mO6MK

Praying ACTS

Lord, On the cross, we see your intolerance for sin and your vulnerability for us. What a condescending, loving God we serve! #adoration

Lord, We confess that we are often impatient with others. Instead of being driven by other-love, we are driven by self-love. #confession

Lord, Thank you for bearing with our weak consciences, for being intolerant of our sin and for adjusting your life for us. #thanksgiving

Lord, Help us relate to others as you relate to us – on the basis of your grace, not our goodness, rightness or kindness. #supplication

____________________________________

About Bethany: Bethany is the founder of The Park Forum and the director of Every Square Inch, the faith and work initiative of The Gospel Coalition. She attends Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, where she was a Gotham Fellow in 2012-2013. She studied at Baylor University and Columbia Law School.

____________________________________

M’Cheyne Reading as Scheduled:

Lam 3 (txt | aud, 5:05 min)
Ps 34 (txt | aud, 2:02 min)

____________________________________

Footnotes

[For further meditation on this topic, I highly recommend: Tim Keller. “Receptive Grace.” Sermon. February 10, 2002. Redeemer Sermon Store: here.]

August 25, 2014

843 Acres: Reader’s Choice: How Generous Should We Be?

by Bethany

Reader’s Choice: Evan Shaver:  CS Lewis’ comments from “Mere Christianity” challenge me to never think about giving in numerical terms. As he eloquently states, “the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.” It’s a difficult rule to follow because it’s not a straightforward percentage of income. It’s a state of mind and heart. If we’re not constantly challenging our mind and heart to be uncomfortable, then we’re not sacrificing enough and trusting God with our lifestyle. I’ve found that as I apply these principles, I can consistently increase my level of giving because I learn to adapt to live within those tighter fiscal constraints.     

843 Acres: Reader’s Choice: How Generous Should We Be?
Originally published #TBT September 19, 2013

Paul. 2 Corinthians 8:2-5.

… their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.

C.S. Lewis. Mere Christianity. (an excerpt)

In the passage where the New Testament says that everyone must work, it gives us a reason: “in order that he may have something to give to those in need.” Charity—giving to the poor—is an essential part of Christian morality: in the frightening parable of the sheep and the goats, it seems to be the point on which everything turns. Some people nowadays say that charity ought to be unnecessary and that instead of giving to the poor, we ought to be producing a society in which there were no poor to give to. They may be quite right in saying that we ought to produce this kind of society. But if anyone thinks that, as a consequence, you can stop giving in the meantime, then he has parted company with all Christian morality.

I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditures on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities expenditure excludes them. I am speaking now of “charities” in the common way. Particular cases of distress among your own relatives, neighbors or employees, which God, as it were, forces upon your notice, may demand much more: even to the crippling and endangering of your own position. For many of us, the great obstacle to charity lies not in our luxurious living or desire for more money, but in our fear—fear of insecurity. This must often be recognized as temptation. Sometimes our pride also hinders our charity; we are tempted to spend more than we ought on the showy forms of generosity (tipping, hospitality) and less than we ought on those who really need our help.

____________________________________

About Evan: Evan is a former McKinsey consultant and currently works at PepsiCo in Dallas, where he lives with his wife and two young daughters. He is a member of Irving Bible Church and has been following The Park Forum since his consulting days.

____________________________________

M’Cheyne Reading as Scheduled:

Lam 2 (text | audio, 5:03 min)
Ps 33 (text | audio, 2:12 min )

____________________________________

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 155 other followers