Our last ‘put upon’ scripture for this Lenten season is meaningful as it teaches an attitude and practice that God desires of all committed believers. Paul is instructing the Corinthian Christians about the collection of offerings for the suffering Christians in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Christians were under extreme persecution at this time and believers throughout Asia minor were concerned and seeking to aid them in their time of need and distress. Paul was planning to go and take the offerings if he could, if not then he assured them that some other brothers would take their offerings to these suffering Christians.
1 Corinthians 16:1-5 “Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put somethingaside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. 3 And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.
What lesson was Paul teaching in his request for them to set aside a portion each week for these needy people? I am calling it planned generosity. Many of us can be generous on the spur of the moment, carried by emotion or emotional pleas but this was to be planned. They needed to learn to set aside a portion for God’s use each week. Since many of the people of Macedonia were poor, they needed to plan and set aside a little bit at a time and then amazingly they would have a lot to give. This relies on God’s faithfulness to provide and our faithfulness to be obedient and set monies aside.
I had not thought of planning for generosity, but I’ve done it. When you decide to set aside money to pay for a camp scholarship to be used in the future, when you know there will be a Pastor Appreciation month coming in October or the love gift at Christmas. In the case of the Corinthians, it was giving that was over and above their regular giving and needed to be planned for. Give this some thought. Next time you have a bonus or some unexpected monies, ask God what you should do with it and set it aside. You don’t have to give it right then as perhaps God has something else in mind for those funds. Set it aside as Paul instructs and wait for the project or time God wants you to give it. You will be blessed by the planning and blessed by the listening and following God’s direction.
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can depend upon God to direct my giving and allow Him to grow my obedience and faithfulness.
As we have seen throughout this Lenten season, God wants to grow and mold us into who He sees we can be in Him.
And the journey continues… into Job. Biblical scholars feel this book was written in the first or second century B.C. but the story contained within the book was probably much older and passed down orally before that time. The unknown author reveals a story with a unique beginning which records God speaking with Satan. The writer could not have known of this conversation unless it was revealed to him by God himself. The book begins with God asking Satan if he had considered his servant Job. Job was a righteous, blameless and upright man who feared and worshiped God. God allowed Satan to test Job’s faith by removing his physical wealth. When this did not cause Job to lose faith, Satan said it was because Job still had his health. God allowed Satan to touch his body removing his good health, but God told Satan that he could not take Job’s life. Job 2:6 This account of Job’s life reveals his true sufferings, the torment of his wife and friends as they told Job to curse God and die. In all this, Job does not waver and persists in faith. He clings to his faith in Almighty God. In the last chapters Job questions God and God responds that He alone is sovereign and a just judge. Job’s final words show what he learned about God through his suffering.
I particularly love Chapter 42 (the last chapter) when after questioning God, Job concludes Job answered God: “I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’ I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’ I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.” The Message Job 42:1-6
There are several important points in these last 6 verses. 1) Job was convinced that God is sovereign and in control of all things. He also now knows that nothing can upset, change or ruin God’s plans! 2) Job now has personal experience and knowledge of God Almighty. No one has to tell him about God- He knows first hand who God is and what He is about.
The book ends with restoration of Job’s wealth and a new family. I have personally experienced God’s restoration in my life. God does not bring us back what we’ve lost, but he restores our body, soul and mind so that we feel totally blessed and satisfied. God’s restoration is complete and fills the voids where we previously experienced loss. I believe it was this restoration that Job received from God.
If you need restoration today, humbly turn to God and acknowledge His sovereign justice, confess your attitude of pride and frustration as you yield to His will for your life. Ask God to fill and restore you in your heart, mind, body and soul. Ask God to reveal himself to you so you can experience Him and know He is real.