Friday, June 22, 2012

Generous Givers

A couple weeks ago, I volunteered at a week-long, Christian-driven day camp for youth run by a married couple who are close friends of mine.  I saw how they poured themselves into their ministry by ensuring that, in each of the well-thought out activities, all of the youth participated.  Some of the youth have attended the camp for years; for others it was their first time.  My friends had the youth change their seats throughout the week so that they could get to know each other.  As a result, new friendships were formed.  The youth learned about the importance of faith, enhanced their communication skills, and by week’s end, several had memorized and were able to recite the camp’s affirmation statement.

During my morning devotion a few days after the conclusion of the camp, I read 2 Corinthians 9:6-8; 10-13 and thought about this couple:

    Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.   Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not relunctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

    Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

Last night, I was with a friend who brought together a group of people to discuss concerns they had about their apartment building which had recently changed ownership.  She provided plenty of food and beverage and structured the gathering in such a way that all felt comfortable expressing their issues.  On numerous occasions I’ve seen this friend give of her time, talent and treasure to replenish and build up the Lord’s people. 

I am blessed to be surrounded by many friends like these, people who sow generously, whose service not only supplies the needs of the Lord’s people but overflows in many expressions of thanks to God.  Because of their service, others praise God!  They are role models for me and my husband.  While we have volunteered and financially supported our church and a number of charities over the years, we have become more generous in our giving, not in an effort to outdo anyone, but because we know “thanksgiving to God” is the result and others will “praise God.”  We can testify about His abundant blessings. 

Are you a cheerful, generous giver?  If not, consider moving in this (His) direction; remember, He will supply what is needed for you to bless His people.  If your response is yes, keep doing what you’re doing for God loves “cheerful givers!”

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sleepless in (insert your city)

Last night was another sleepless night for me.  I don’t know how well you are sleeping these days, but I don’t sleep through most nights no matter what time I go to bed.  While I’ve always been an early riser, I know there was a time when I slept regularly through the night…not that I can remember when!  I know I’m not the only one with this problem because others (some much younger than me) have posted on Facebook that they can’t get back to sleep.

There are several reasons why I have difficulty sleeping through the night.  The first one is because I’m a light sleeper…it takes a while for me to drown out internal and external noises.  The second reason is the permanent neuropathy (numbness) in my right foot bothers me more at night than any other time.  The third reason for my sleep difficulty is that every night after I fall asleep, my Bladder and Kidneys decide to torture me between midnight and 3:00 am.  I’ve been unsuccessful in ignoring them!   

When I return to bed, my Lower Back and Right Hip begin their nightly dalliance with Ms. Osteo and Mr. Arthur (osteoarthritis)!  The problem is after they get together, they never want to separate until I get up and move around.  Since I know the four of them have an addiction to each other, I occasionally take Aleve right before going to bed as a ploy to keep them separated.  Last night, they figured out my game plan, slipped past Aleve, and began jamming the night away. 

After a couple hours of intermittent sleep, Bladder and Kidneys got jealous of the foursome and decided to torture me again.  Ignoring them was useless.  I yielded to them again!  With sleep evading me, I began thinking about the seven relatives and friends I had visited during the week who are battling illnesses and bereavement.  It’s now 6:00 am on a Saturday morning.  I slip out of bed for the third time, grab my prayer journal and head downstairs where I spent the next hour in intercessory prayer. 

I think my inability to sleep through the night may be a ‘thorn’ the Lord has given to me... to keep me mindful of how blessed I am and prompt me to pray for those who are in the midst of a storm.  When you’re unable to sleep, consider those you know who are in a storm and intercede on their behalf.   I’ve learned there’s more than one way to feel rested!  But if you see me nodding or I come across as irritable, consider that I may have just had another sleepless night! 

Ephesians 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (NIV)