Archive for June 22nd, 2007

Did You Know You’re Going To Kenya This Summer?

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Today’s scripture: Philippians 4:10-20 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Jeff Miner):

Today’s Scripture passage was authored by the Apostle Paul. Paul is widely regarded as the greatest missionary in the history of the Christian faith. Paul spent several decades traveling the Roman Empire, planting churches in key locations. His subsequent letters to those churches form the core of the New Testament. God used Paul to transform Christianity from a regional movement to a global one.

Today’s Scripture passage is a letter Paul wrote to a Church he planted in Philippi, located in what is now the nation of Turkey. Apparently, the Philippian Church regularly sent money to support Paul’s ministry, and now Paul is thanking them.

As I ponder this passage, the phrase that jumps out at me is found in verse 17 – “the profit that accumulates to your account.” By giving to God’s work through Paul, “profit” was accumulating in the “accounts” of the Philippians. What does that mean? What form does that “profit” take?

Consider what Jesus says in Matthew 10:41, “Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward.” The term “prophet” means someone who is a messenger for God. In ancient times, prophets often traveled to spread their message. To sustain their ministry, they were dependent upon people taking them into their home and feeding them during their travels. According to Jesus, a person who does this — who uses his resources to support a prophet’s ministry — will receive the same spiritual reward as the prophet.

The Philippians were using their resources to support Paul’s travels. By doing so, they gained an “investment share” in Paul’s ministry. Think of it! Some lowly blacksmith in Philippi who gave a portion of his hard-earned money to his Church to support Paul was, by his generosity, becoming a full partner in Paul’s ministry. In God’s eyes, that blacksmith is partially responsible for every soul converted through Paul’s message, every person healed by Paul, every Church planted by Paul, and every New Testament letter written by Paul — because none of what Paul was doing would have been possible without the generosity of people like the blacksmith.

When that blacksmith stands before God, the significance of his life will be measured not just by what he did directly, but by what his giving made possible. By that standard, the blacksmith will receive the same reward from God as the greatest Christian missionary to ever live. Not a bad investment for the blacksmith!

Viewing our giving this way really helps us see how important (and rewarding) giving can be. Our giving allows us to participate in some of the most exciting things happening in the world today.

For example, suppose you put a $30 check in the offering plate at our Church last week. You cannot imagine the difference that generosity will make! Gifts like that made it possible for our Church, this week, to send 100 free copies of The Children Are Free: Re-examining The Biblical Evidence On Same-sex Relationships to a missionary who is preparing to spend two months this summer in Kenya, sharing a message of hope. He will lead gay Kenyans, who have only heard messages of condemnation, in small group studies of our book. They will meet in small groups, rather than one large group of 100, to avoid calling attention to themselves and igniting anti-gay passions in that repressive country.

Think of it! When you stand before God in heaven, you’ll receive the same reward as that missionary who is taking great personal risk to travel to Kenya this summer to share an underground message of hope!

Thought for the day: Your giving is having ripple effects that you will not be able to fully appreciate until you stand before God and hear the litany of wonderful things that occurred because of your generosity.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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