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Don’t forget to fill the envelope!

I love to talk about giving.

Wow!

God is amazing . . . and my wife and I are completely convinced that you can’t out-give God.

For us, giving is an act of worship.

Giving is an act of stewardship.

Giving is our statement that everything we have belongs to God.

Giving is an expression of our love for God.

Over the years, my wife and I have seen countless blessings (financial, physical, emotional, interpersonal, spiritual) that we are convinced are direct results of our stewardship of God’s money.

We shovel it to Him and He shovels it right back.  And He always uses a bigger shovel!

Now, I’m not preaching the “Health and Wealth Gospel” here.  A lot of the blessings we’ve received have been financial, but not all have.  We have had appliances work a lot longer than they should have, cars run well for long periods of time, clothes not wear out, doctors offer us complimentary treatment, bills mysteriously get paid, and on and on.

This experience is not unique to us. 

At Journey we are surrounded by Christians who have experienced the blessings of giving.

Based on the way they are giving, it seems that the people of our church have decided that they are not participating in the current financial recession.  Yes, we have people who have lost their jobs.  Yes, we have people who are hurting financially, but the people of Journey are giving faithfully and courageously and I praise God for every single person who is being a faithful steward of God’s resources.  Because of their faithfulness we are doing well financially, and–while other churches are having to lay people off–we praise God that we have been able to expand some of our ministries and hire another full-time staff member. 

Why are we doing so well during this difficult time?  I think it’s partially because of the following two facts:

1.  A ton of our people are giving more than they’ve ever given before.  As we started 2009 we challenged our people to “test God with the tithe” (Malachi 3:10) or to take a step of faith by giving God more than they did last year.  If they were giving 5% we challenged them to give 6%.  If they were giving 10% we challenged them to give 11%.  And so on and they responded in a big way.  I love these people, so much, and I’m so proud of them for giving faithfully to the Lord each week. 

2. We’ve been offering our people a lot of training.  We are currently hosting our 2nd wave of Financial Peace University.  We also hosted Dave Ramsey’s Town Hall for Hope last week.  To date, we’ve had almost 100 people who have gone through 13-weeks of intensive training with FPU.  I’m convinced this is one of the main reasons we are doing so well financially.  A lot of the core members of Journey are learning how to get out of debt, be better financial stewards of God’s money, and are learning the importance of giving.

As you prepare for church this weekend and for another opportunity to give, I want to share a story with you.

She was a good grandmother and a very generous woman who loved to get gifts for her children and grand-children for Christmas. 

For years her tradition had been to send a nice gift to each family, but this year she decided to do something different.

She decided to give each member of her family a Christmas card with a nice check.  In each card she wrote, “Buy your own present.”

She sent the cards out in time for Christmas.

Strangely, no one ever made any mention of having received a card. When some of her family visited her during Christmas, she asked them if they received her cards. They were polite but not enthusiastic. They acknowledged that they had received cards but barely even thanked her.

A year later, as she was preparing to send cards again, she made a grievous discovery. Underneath a pile of Christmas papers, she found all the checks. She had never included the checks in the cards she had sent.

And then, horrified, she remembered that she had written, “Buy your own present” inside each card–without a check!”

I’m so grateful God is such a generous God and—unlike us—he never forgets to put a generous gift in the envelope.  

This week, I pray that you’ll reflect on how generous God has been to you and not forget to put a generous gift in the envelope.

Read more about Eats with Sinners.

Read more about Devoted Discipleship.

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