News Flash: Quarantine has brought up a whole lot of things about myself I had forgotten…or maybe had just been ignoring.
Has this happened for you too?
I think I was distracted, or busy, or able to hide because of the hectic nature of my life.
But after these 3 months of being mainly at home with the same people and less of the “extra” things keeping me hopping – I’m more aware of the way I cope, the way I cling, and the way I cower to my own insecurities.
We’ve talked about this idea before – and we’ve described these things we cling to as “heart idols”.
These are the things in our life we think about, obsess over, and look to for joy, fulfillment, security and purpose.
Maybe, like me, you’re realizing that your hands and heart is a little more clenched than you realized.
In this series on generosity we are learning that living with a posture of plenty really stems from our connection with the ultimate source of life, our Father God.
And while reading these passages in Deuteronomy do not at first glance seem to address generosity at all, I’ve found that reminding myself of God’s plans and ways and laws actually shows me how He is always calling us to a life of abundance and generosity IN Him!
As a quick reminder, this section of Deuteronomy is essentially Moses re-explaining God’s law for His people so that they can have a relationship.
As you read I hope that a new gratitude for Jesus will well in your hearts.
And while yes, Jesus certainly came to fulfill the law so that many of these “rules” no longer need to play a part in our relationship, these rules point us towards a generous God who longs to shower His beloved people with blessing and life if only we’d follow Him.
Day 1: Read Deuteronomy Chapter 13
For me, one of the things that keeps me from being generous is the comparison trap. Whether it is the way I look, the vacations I go on, or the home I keep if I fix my eyes on others I more often than not feel “less than”.
This chapter is calling God’s people to keep their eyes on HIM! To not be enticed to follow other gods – no matter who else is or what the other god’s seem to have done or accomplished. God is calling His people to remember and rehearse the way he “brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery” (v 5).
Spend some time now remembering God’s goodness to you. If you’ve created a “Give Thanks” wall, speak aloud all the things your family has recorded as blessing over the past week or so. End by thanking God for His faithfulness to you and admit to Him the areas of comparison that keep tripping you up. I know He’ll want to help you with that!
Day 2: Read Deut 14:1-19
Clean and unclean. We scoff. No one really believes that food is clean and unclean anymore, do they? But let’s be honest. How much of your day revolves around thinking about, planning for, dreaming about what you will – or will NOT – eat? Or maybe its not food.
Maybe it’s the way you look. Clean = in shape, fit, fashionable. Unclean = out of shape, a little soft, out of style.
Or maybe its your household. Clean is literally clean, and unclean…well, you get the idea.
Maybe it’s just me, but when I look at the people I follow on social media, the articles I read or the conversations I’m drawn to it seems to me that whether its food, or fitness, or fashion – it’s all about control. If I just plan better, cook smarter, work harder, organize better then I will be happy and I’ll have the time and resources to help others.
But if there is anything that this pandemic has taught us it’s that control is an illusion.
How has the need for control hindered generosity in your own life?
Take 3 minutes to quietly sit before the Lord, and ask Him to show you how and where you need to release control. Ask what habits you have, people you follow, etc. that you need to stop to live in a posture of plenty.
Releasing Money…and more
Day 3: Read Deut 14:22 – 15:11
I am convinced that God’s call to tithe is because He wants so much FOR us, not FROM us. And so if you haven’t experienced the freedom of giving – either to The Well, or any other faith community or organization or person in need – I would encourage you to begin! Don’t wait! The lie is that you’ll ever feel ready – or that you’ll ever have “enough”.
In this passage we see a glimpse of God’s heart when He calls for the year of cancelling debts. Wouldn’t that be amazing? I wish our banks followed this for our mortgages…just saying!
But God says that “ If anyone is poor among you…do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward them”. (v7). Instead “give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to” (v 10).
But what if God isn’t just talking about money? What if he’s calling us to release our grip on money to bless others…and self-righteousness to stop judging others…and our stinginess on complements to affirm others? What then?
Be honest – where do you find yourself most prone to being stingy? Is it with your money? Is it with other resources – time, gifts, abilities? Talk to God about how you can release your grip on these things.
Day 4: Deut 15:12-23
My kids are growing up – I can pretty much look them in the eye. I can share their shoes. My grocery bill suggests more than just 4 people live here.
And the reality that they will soon be leaving home and adventuring into the world is starting to sink in.
What is it about humanity that we try to hold back time or change – even though we know it is futile? Why are we so prone to approach our relationships from a posture of scarcity instead of plenty.
I’m wrestling with what it would it looks like for us to hold our relationships loosely – not carelessly – but freely. That we would be generous with our attention and praise and encouragement – that we would support our kids to be the people that God has created them to be instead of worrying that they will leave us and never come back?
What if we introduced and included and expanded our groups of friends to encompass others – not worrying about whether they will connect with others more deeply but excited about the richness that comes from a tapestry of relationships.
What if the definition of family moved from basic blood identification to heart alignment between a diverse group of people united in purpose and passion?
Imagine how counter-intuitive it was for the Hebrew people to release their staff every 7 years…who would do the work? How would they survive?
Talk to God about how you’ve been operating out of a scarcity mentality when it comes to your relationships. Ask Him to call to mind specific people/ways you struggle with this. Ask Him to help you and listen for specific ways He’s calling you into relationship generosity.
Day 5: Read Deut 16:1-17
Praising God for who He is and the things He has done not only celebrates His generosity to us, but trains our hearts and our minds to take a posture of generosity in response. If you are anything like me I’m prone to take credit for success, and lay blame for failure or disappointment. Releasing praise and celebrating our loving and benevolent Heavenly Father reorients us to truth & grace in a profound way.
Our worship team sang a beautiful song for us on June 14th called “So Will I” by Hillsong.
Take some time to meditate upon the words and offer up your praise to God for who He by singing along, or composing a prayer or poem of your own.