A Study in Stewardship – Week of December 2

Discovering God's Design

Giving Is Worship

Verse: Hebrews 7:1-22

The writer of Hebrews shows us that the priesthood of Jesus Christ is superior to the Levitical priesthood. One important way that this superiority is demonstrated is through the tithe that Abraham paid to Melchizedek after his victory over the Canaanite kings (see Genesis 14:18-20 . In a similar way, the writer of Hebrews identifies offerings as an important way of attributing honor and worship (or anything else for that matter) to God. The same holds true for us today. We are called to worship God persuasively with our possessions.

Theologian Mark Allan Powell talks about giving as worship.

Many people seem to think that the reason we have an offering during the Sunday morning service is because the church needs to pay its bills and also wants to do good things with the money that is collected. Your church does need to pay its bills, and it probably does do good things with the money you put in the offering plate … but that is not why we have an offering during the Sunday morning service.

The offering is an act of worship, an instance in which we are invited to give up something that we value—our money—as a sacrifice to God. In many ways, it is the high point of the liturgy. We come to church to worship God and at no other point in the service are we provided with so pure an opportunity for worship as this …

We are invited to put money in the offering plate on Sunday morning not because the church needs our money but because we want and need to give it. We have a spiritual need to worship God, and through our offerings we are able to express our love and devotion for God in a way that is simple and sincere. The motivation of the giver is what counts most, not the size of the gift or the degree of benefit to the recipient (see Mk 12:42–44). The good news of stewardship is that church offerings are not fund-raising rituals but acts of worship in which we are invited to express our heartfelt devotion to the God who is so good to us.

And author Randy Alcorn discusses the corporate nature of giving as worship.

By giving, we enter into and participate in the grace of Christ. We worship. By giving in concert with our brothers and sisters in Christ’s body, we jointly worship him, moved by each others’ example and mutual participation. In the building of the tabernacle, building of the temple, and repair of the temple, it was the corporate involvement of the community of saints in which the spirit of God moved so dramatically to produce extravagant giving. The same was true with the New Testament saints of Jerusalem in the early chapters of Acts and those in Macedonia spoken of in 2 Corinthians 8.

Think About It

•How is Jesus even greater than Melchizedek and the Levitical priesthood?
•Do you approach giving to God as something you want and need to do?
•In what ways does giving together with other believers enhance corporate worship?

Pray About It

God, thank you for your good gifts to me, for giving me everything I need. I pray that I will worship you fully by giving back to you with a joyful and loving heart.

This devotion is from the NIV Stewardship Study Bible by Zondervan. Used with permission.

WOW – The Big Picture 12/3

December 3A Perilous Voyage Ends in Shipwreck Acts 27;  Psalms 135:13-14;  Proverbs 25:19 And when it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment. So, entering a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us. And the next day we landed at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him liberty to go to his friends and receive care. When we had put to sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. And when we had sailed over the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy, and he put us on board.When we had sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone. Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea. Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.” Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul. And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to set sail from there also, if by any means they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest, and winter there. When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon. So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive. And running under the shelter of an island called Clauda, we secured the skiff with difficulty. When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven. And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship. On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands. Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up. But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. However, we must run aground on a certain island.” Now when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land. And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little farther, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms. Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come. And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow, Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off. And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing. Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.” And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat. Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves. And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship. So when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea. When it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible. And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore. But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves. And the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape. But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land, and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land. Acts 27WORSHIPYour name, O LORD, endures forever,Your fame, O LORD, throughout all generations.For the LORD will judge His people,And He will have compassion on His servants.Psalm 135:13-14WISDOMConfidence in an unfaithful man in time of troubleIs like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint.Proverbs 25:19

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Wisdom from the Psalms 12/3

December 3

Psalms 141:4
Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.The company had been after some low-income housing property for over a year. They hoped to put the new headquarters in what was fast becoming the disgrace of the city. Minority families lived in an apartment complex that had gone in ruin. Now, three weeks before Christmas, the company took ownership. The task ahead was to get the tenants moved out; the sooner, the better. As David sat looking at the notices, he felt sick to his stomach. He knew what the property meant to the company, but he also thought about what the housing meant to the people. He poised his pen over the notices a number of times, but something would not allow him to sign them. After hours of struggle, David turned in the blank notices, along with a resignation letter that stated he could not in good conscience continue to work for a firm with such shady values. Walking into the wintry air, David found that he was not sorry to leave, but that Christmas had come a little early. Prayer: Help me to stand firm against that which is evil. Let me not kid myself into believing that I can remain unaffected by the wickedness that surrounds me. Guide me to new avenues by which I might do good. Amen.

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The Secret to Prayer – Today’s Insight – December 3, 2020

Today's Insight from Chuck Swindoll

LIKE MANY PEOPLE, I approached prayer simplistically when I first learned how to pray. Ask God for what you want. If you ask Him correctly or impress Him sufficiently, He just might grant your request. Or not. Who really knows? But as I learned more about prayer, I discovered that much of my thinking had been clouded by misunderstandings prevalent in popular culture.

When you start from scratch and observe Scripture closely, prayer isn’t at all confusing. It’s profound but not complicated. James 4:2 puts it quite simply: “You do not have, because you do not ask” (ESV).

Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get the answer you’re looking for. Abraham went to the Lord with his petition to save Sodom and Gomorrah. God heard his request, and although He did not grant it the way Abraham had hoped, the conversation that took place between them deepened their relationship.

God wants to grant our requests, but we make it impossible for Him to do so when we ask for things that contradict His righteous, loving character. What would you do if your child asked for something that would cause him or her harm? Love for your child would demand that you deny the request.

We need to continually seek Him to ensure that our petitions and our motives are in line with His will. Then, whether He says yes, no, or wait, our prayers will draw us ever closer to Him.

REFLECT

What have you been petitioning God about for some time? Take a moment to evaluate your request and your motives. Is God saying yes, no, or wait?

You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

JAMES 4:3, NASB

Content taken from FAITH FOR THE JOURNEY , by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 2014. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

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