Thursday, February 12, 2009

I Can Only Imagine

As the offertory starts to play and the ushers begin to walk to the front of the sanctuary, the Pastor jumps up and begins waving his arms frantically saying 'Stop, Stop'. The music ceases abruptly and he explains. The people have already given too much. The budget has been met. Supply cupboards are overflowing with material. Resources for the homeless, unwed mother's, missionaries in foreign lands and widows have all surpassed expectancy. Finances for outreach endeavours and seasonal concerts are extremely well endowed. Everything has not only been provided for, but the income has far exceeded expectation, and quite honestly nothing more is needed at this time. The Pastor decides they will forego taking up an offering until further notice.

Sounds pretty bizarre doesn't it! Yet, in today's reading that's exactly what happened. Exodus 36:3-7 reads, "But the people continued to bring additional gifts each morning. Finally the craftsmen who were working on the sanctuary left their work. They went to Moses and reported, 'The people have given more than enough materials to complete the job the LORD has commanded us to do!' So Moses gave the command, and this message was sent throughout the camp: 'Men and women, don't prepare any more gifts for the sanctuary offerings. We have enough!' So the people stopped bringing their sacred offerings. Their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project."

Pretty amazing, isn't it! The people gave too much! What a wonderful problem to have in any situation. A plea is given and people respond with such generosity that an announcement must be made to stop the in pouring of gifts. Not only that, but we are told several times in the passage today that their hearts were stirred to respond and present these offerings. They had willing hearts. Hearts filled with so much love that they wanted to give all they had and do all they could to meet the need. These people were giving more than a tithe, they were giving their all.

In these times of economic crisis, the tendency is to hold on to the limited funds at hand. With each day bringing new uncertainty, we want to wisely invest and save our money. At the same time, the Psalmist says that he has never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread (Psalm 37:25). Finances is the only area in the Bible where God invites us to test Him. Malachi 3:10 says, "'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.'"

Did you catch the other very important sentence in the Exodus passage? Listen again as I repeat it here. "'The people have given more than enough materials to complete the job the LORD has commanded us to do!'" Makes me wonder. Are the lack of funds in many churches today the result of man's programming and not God's? Are we throwing money into purposes and plans that the Lord never intended. We need to pray up before we pay up.

My heart also thrills with the honesty and faithfulness of the workers. They could have stolen or pocketed the extra funds and no-one, but God, might have been the wiser, yet they chose to serve the Lord with integrity and a pure heart.

I don't know that I'll ever hear my Pastor petitioning his congregation to stop giving, but I know I can do my part. I am only responsible for my response, my motives and my heart. There is one area already where I know I have more than enough, and I'll let this song invite you to see if you've had this overflowing filling.

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B His Girl said...

Joy, what a wonderful devotional. You have a gift with words. You flow! I met you at She Speaks briefly in the blogging reception. I was not really blogging then, only commenting:) I felt so out of my element there. Anyway, I read on Tracy's blog you were speaking today. The Lord nudged me to come over and pray for you.
Lord, I pray that Joy will have a confidence today only found in YOU. Give her the flow in her talk today like she has on her blog. I can see you have poured much into her heart about you. Let her share that today, Your love in a REALLY BIG WAY. May every person who hears her voice be struck with AWE at your love for them. Thank you for the gifts you have given her. May she continue to grow in them and be an original for you. Help her relax in her talk, knowing you will supply every need she has. In your beautiful name Jesus I pray. Amen. God wants you to 'go for it!' B

lisasmith said...

Joy, I pondered what it would be like to announce to the people to stop giving. I wondered (hoped I would) if I would have been counted among those first to give as it says not all gave only those who were willing. Lord, make me willing.

beautiful insights here.
praying for you today.

Anonymous said...

Oh Joy,
I know that this song, "Enough" has been so important to me in my process of healing. When I was in the hospital the second time, the chorus of that song was running over and over in my head. I didn't know why. I don't remember ever hearing the song before that. I was clinging to those words in the middle of my despair... when I couldn't pray, when I couldn't read the bible. And that week, the song kept coming back... it has become the teaching theme from God for me this year. He is enough, He is more than enough for every situation, every need, and He fills me to overflowing with His very presence.
May you sense His Spirit filling you to overflowing as you speak today. May His Spirit flow through you to the ladies you are speaking to. May His words fill your mouth, and may the ladies be touched and blessed by God.
Love you my dear friend,