September 20, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (2 Corinthians 9)

Submitted by Rick Y. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

2 Corinthians 9:10-15

  • In what ways have I experienced v. 10 in my life?

I think for the most part, God has blessed me financially.  My parents were immigrants so money was scarce for most of our lives.  It was something that motivated me to do well in school and be successful and wealthy.  But after surrendering my life to Christ, I knew this was an area of my life that I had to work on so when I graduated college back in the mid 90’s and got my first job, I experienced the loosening of the grip that money had on me by contributing to different opportunities to support the work of God.  By participating in these ways, I got to experience God using what little I gave to support people on mission trips, help fund the ministries of all the church plants that our church has planted around the world, and see our church resources being used for the various ministries at our church.  And when I look back on the impact that each of these things have had on my life, it’s true that I’ve been able to increase in the harvest of my righteousness as I see the lives of the people who were directly affected and many who have come to know Christ.  These people who I would have had nothing to do with, are now part of the harvest that I can claim for God.

  • Reflect on the relationship between my generosity and men giving praise to God. 

As I think back to how I viewed people prior to becoming a Christian, a big part of it had to do with their attitude about money.  When someone was stingy or calculative, I didn’t have a very positive view of that person.  And in contrast, when I experienced someone who was really generous, someone who was not petty with their money, it really caught my attention and drew me closer to him.  I felt like here is a guy that I can trust and isn’t really out for his own gain.  I think when I, who call myself a Christian, demonstrate this kind of generosity, it shows that I take God seriously and I trust Him to provide for my needs so I don’t need to hoard wealth for myself.  It can have the effect of lowering barriers to God, and perhaps even open a dialogue about God.  But if as a Christian, I demonstrate stinginess, then my testimony falls on closed ears and the opportunity for God to be praised is lost.  People look at Christians to catch a glimpse of what God is like and what kind of difference God makes in a person who claims Him as his Savior and Lord.

Submitted by Johnny Y.  from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

2 Corinthians 9:10-15

  • In what ways have I experienced v. 10 in my life?

Growing up, one value deeply ingrained into me was that money is scarce, and it is to be treated with highest care, and I should never be loose with money. I believed that I have to store up financial security for myself, because when it comes to money, you cannot depend on even your relatives or close friends, you cannot trust anyone but yourself. Growing up with that value, I was always a stingy person, very selfish with my money, I could not spend money on anything or anyone without feeling that tightness in my heart.

After I became Christian, this old habit did not die easily. I knew that the Bible says I should not store up treasure for myself on earth, it says that God will provide for my needs, and I knew I was suppose to use earthly possessions to win eternal friends, but it was extremely tough. Even when I try to be generous, it was extremely calculative and painful. I was aware of how much I gave and struggled within my heart because I felt it was money that I did not have to spend.

Over the years, God has been patiently dealing with me in this area, even when my heart was slow to change. God gave me chances to be generous in small and more significant ways. Through those times of obedience, God slowly loosen my grip on money and made me realize that it is actually not that hard to let go.

God also taught me that He is the ultimate provider so that I do not have to give in to the lie that I need to fight for myself financially. After being laid off a year after graduating because of my company’s downsizing, I stumbled upon this unemployment insurance, that provides money for employees who were laid off. And because of the economy was so bad, government decided to extend the length of that program again and again, that I did not have to experience lack even during that time of unemployment. Even when I started to look for a job again, with a less than ideal resume, God was again able to provide. Through a friend’s referral, I got an interview for a position I probably was under qualified for, and eventually received a job. Experiencing God’s provision was powerful in how I view money, and realize that ultimately all my financial blessings came from God. It was like God telling me again and again that I can trust Him in this area, I really do not need to be so fearful and so tightfisted.

Remembering how miserably enslaved by money I was just a few years back, I am so thankful that God was able to help me become more and more free from the snatch of that tough slave master, by allowing me to experience who is truly in control. It was He who gave me everything that I have, and thus the master over all my possession, and because of that I do not have to worry about grasping for myself, but can rest in assurance that He will provide as He had faithfully done so.

  • What is the purpose of riches according to v. 11, and to what extent have I been faithful to this?

I remember as when I was a freshman, when I was new to Christianity, although I was not very spiritually interested, one thing that intrigued me about our church was that I noticed the generosity of people for one another. People seemed to be genuinely free with their money and possession, willingly paid for each other and lent each other when there was a need. I was also a recipient of such generosity. I remembered being taken out many times by the upperclassmen and my leaders, and all the times that the leaders provided me with rides, food, or just about anything else, without hesitance. Because of it, the message that they said carried that much more weight, when they preached about God, and how He is the number one priority above all else, it was backed up by concrete action that I could point to. By being generous, I did not have to second guess about who these people are, if they were simply paying lip service to this God business, but I was able to give my trust very early, and that really helped my spiritual walk to God.

Because of what I had experienced when I first came, I know that being a group of generous people is something that a newcomer would notice right away. So now as one of the older ones in the ministry, I also want to make a point to pass down this culture and help the younger ones to experience what I had experienced. Why do I need to be hesitant about using what was God’s in the first place, to do God’s work? It is very freeing to treat people out to dinner without thinking twice about it. And I know that over the year of ministry, the willingness to be generous, to use God’s money to do God’s business, was a major way to lower the guards of people whom I am ministering to.  It is such a blessing to be able to honor God in this way, to be proven genuine in trusting God as the ultimate provider. I can say with confidence that God is the ultimate giver, the little I was giving was nothing compare to how much He could do and help me to experience with it.

Submitted by Lois B. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

2 Corinthians 9:10-15 

  • What is the purpose of riches according to v. 11, and to what extent have I been faithful to this?

For believers, the riches we receive aren’t for our own pleasure or indulgences, but our riches are to be given to others generously so that people will give thanksgiving to God.  The biggest gift that God has given me is the Gospel through many people who chose to be generous with their time and money and heart.  God has given me person after person in my life who chose to be boldly generous, giving whatever they could give in their circumstances so that I could be ministered to somehow, even just as a child who might not have understood much of what they were saying.  For example, I remember how when I was in high school, there was a college junior who came faithfully every week to our youth service to help out.  She could have done a lot of other things with that time, like study for her classes, hang out with her friends, etc., but she would come every week by herself and spend most of the day with us because she felt like we should have someone to look up to and talk to at church.  What were her “riches” at that time in her life?  It was her time she spent with us, her money she used to take us out on meals, her knowledge of the Gospel, and her heart that she filled up with these youth kids like me even though we didn’t have much at all to offer her. I have been enriched with memories of people like her and many others who gave out of submission to Christ.  God used the offering of their riches to make Christian life come alive for me.

Even as I remember how I have been enriched like this, I tend to forget that the purpose of that enrichment is to be generous with all of it.  When this is not clear, I start feeling entitled to what I’ve been given.  I feel entitled to hold onto whatever energy I have left after a long day of work.  I feel entitled to keep some pocket of time for myself.  I feel entitled to indulge in some emotional comfort and avoid the pain of being vulnerable to the people I am called to love.  In all these ways, I am a stingy person.  The truth is I’ve received the sacrifice and love of God and many people in my life, and it’s not meant to end with me just receiving them.  My riches is not meant to be stored up within the boundaries of my own life, but to be shared freely so that others will also be able to praise God.  It’s selfish and just offensive to praise God for what He’s given me, but then turn around and decide that it’s all for me to enjoy on my own.  This is not the way that the Gospel has been passed down to me.  It’s been passed down through the generous heart of God and his servants. I thank God because he is a God who somehow wants to keep giving me things even though I am this stingy person. He gives me the Gospel.  Not only that, but He also allows me to experience Him more deeply by calling me to be a minister of the Gospel.  Considering all this, I really haven’t been very faithful to making this verse true in my life.  I need to pay more attention to whether the riches I’ve received are flowing through me to others, or whether they stop with me.  As I want to become this person through whom God’s blessings can flow to others, I need to be more intentional in looking for the needs around me and actively offering my riches, so that it can result in “many thanksgivings to God.”

Personal Prayer

Lord, I thank you for being a generous God.  You have given me so many riches, including the treasure of the Gospel.  Lord, I recognize how stingy I am when I want to just live a selfish, comfortable life. I see how offensive this is to you considering that you loved me enough to send Jesus to die on the cross for me.  I see how this is wrong in light of how the Gospel has been demonstrated to me through many people who chose to be generous with what you gave them.  Please forgive me for my selfishness.  Lord, please help me to become generous in every way, so that you can multiply my offering and more will be able to give thanksgiving to you. Amen.

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