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Monday, August 08, 2011

Live to Give (Isaiah 32:8)

Isaiah 32:8 NLT


But generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity. 


Isaiah is proclaiming (and then writing) God's words to Israel and Judah who continue to live in rebellion to him despite his faithfulness and generosity to them. His patience is about to run out. He will send Israel into exile soon and Judah will follow in about 150 years.


In Isaiah 32, God speaks about Israel & Judah's ultimate deliverance that will come despite their adulterous ways. One verse that stuck out to me was v. 8 (see above).


Observations


What stood out to me was that generous people plan to do what is generous. It's not just spontaneous acts of generosity that characterize generous people (though that follows naturally). It is premeditated, thoughtful wisdom coupled with sacrificial, generous giving that characterize people who 'live to give'.


I want to be that kind of person.


But I digress...this statement is quickly followed by the statement that those who plan to be generous "stand firm in their generosity." This is significant. It's one thing to decide to be generous. It's one thing to plan to give. It's another to stand firm in that. Because it's just when we decide to live generously that the enemy brings financial difficulties. He does this to tempt us to not believe that God will provide. He brings the fear of discomfort, failure, and shame tempting us to move from giving to hoarding; from faith to self-preservation. 



Application



We should be spontaneous givers. Absolutely. But I think our spontaneity is actually greater when we plan to live generously. It's making the decision in advance to be a generous person. It's walking by faith in the truth that God owns it all and that we are his privileged stewards.


Planning to give is simple taking the time to decide  how you (together with your spouse, if applicable) will steward the money and wealth God has given you above and beyond your needed money and wealth. Really, it's starting there first and then letting the rest fall into place. 


We start with giving back to God (tithing as a principle, not as law, then offerings and other gifts follow) what is really his. Giving to those in need (directly or indirectly) is also in view here. From a co-worker going through medical issues with no insurance to supporting your local crisis pregnancy center.


Remember, as Randy Alcorn says, "You can't take it with you, but you can send it ahead." (Treasure Principle, Randy Alcorn) If you do any kind of budget (highly recommended) then you simply start here before you move to taxes and other expenses. (Dave Ramsey as well as Crown Financial Ministries have terrific resources on this)


It's a decision we make in advance to live generously. A spiritual decision. Jesus said, "For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also." He also said, "It's more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35)


"Father, help me to be a generous giver as a steward of all that you have entrusted to me. Help me live with the attitude that you have permission to take anything that I "own" and use it for someone else's benefit. Help me live with my hands wide open instead of clinched holding on to "my" stuff for dear life. Help me get to the place where if you audibly told me to sell everything and give the money to the poor that I would do that. I repent of my greedy attitudes and ask you to transform me into a generous giver who plans to be generous. Transform your Church to be known for her generosity as well--especially in America. In Jesus' name I pray, amen."