The joy of giving is the joy of Christian virtues - Why Give? - Day 35

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Welcome to the POG Blog!

Today is Sunday which means YOU get to start the discussion on today’s devotion and scripture!  What is it saying to you today?  How does it relate to your life right now?  Enjoy listening, reading, meditating, and sharing your thoughts with others today!

 Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. (2 Corinthians 8:7 NLT)

The joy of giving comes from motivating others to give - Why Give? - Day 34

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Welcome to the POG Blog!

Today is Saturday which means YOU get to start the discussion on today’s devotion and scripture!  What is it saying to you today?  How does it relate to your life right now?  Enjoy listening, reading, meditating, and sharing your thoughts with others today!  

So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish this ministry of giving. (2 Corinthians 8:6 NLT)

[Jesus said,] “Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men.  I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." (Matthew 6:1-2)

The joy of giving comes from Christs example - Why Give - Day 33

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And they did not do as expected, but they gave first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.

The 1st thing that hit me regarding this verse and meditation was “expected”.  Pastor always preaches about thinking outside the box (not thinking or doing what’s expected).  That is really hard for me because I like having a plan and sticking with it.  I like a beginning point and an end point.  Then when I get to that end point, I’m done!  I can check that thing or action off my to do list.  I get really frustrated if everything doesn’t go according to MY plan!  Therein lies the problem-MY plan not His plan!  My expectations, not HIS!

But this verse says they did not do what was expected.  They did not pay the rent or mortgage, buy the groceries, buy the new car, buy the latest electronic toy (Apple I Phone 6,7 or whatever number they are on now).  They did not make sure they had enough left after paying the bills or buying a new toy, to tithe or donate to the Storehouse, or to the Love Fund or to Gifts of Grace.  They gave first to the Lord knowing that He has promised to provide our daily bread.  He didn’t promise to provide a new car or new I Phone!

As Devries says, “Cluttered vision is one of the primary hindrances to giving.”  We worry about our wants & desires, without considering what God wants.  When we think of Christ’s sacrifice, as Devries says, we should be motivated by gratitude.

I admit that I have a hard time receiving.  But I take great pleasure in giving.  Therein lies the point of what Devries, Pastor and Christ are saying-I should receive God’s Grace and give God’s grace to others.  I should be just as joyous receiving as I am giving.  By giving I am also receiving!  When I give money, time, labor etc. to Point of Grace or another person in need, I get great joy knowing what I have done has benefited someone or something else.  I also receive the joy of Christ knowing that His ultimate sacrifice makes my small sacrifice worthwhile and significant.

Do we do the unexpected and give first to the Lord?  I want to be outside the box.  I want to give first to the Lord-my time, money and passion.  I want to rid myself of the “cluttered vision” and experience the Joy that surrounds me in Christ and my fellow man.

Lord, please help me with my cluttered vision.  Please help me to both receive and give your Grace.  Please help me to experience the joy of sacrificial giving (& receiving) that is made possible by Christ’s sacrifice.  Thank you for setting the example so that I can do the unexpected and act outside the box.




The joy of giving comes from within - Why Give - Day 32

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Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us

for the privilege of sharing in this service for the saints.

2 Corinthians 8: 3-4

There is so much packed into this brief passage and in chapter 32 of “Why Give?”.

John Devries points out “”six important concepts that describe God’s glorifying giving. “

All of these concepts are evidence of God’s presence and leading; the work of the Holy Spirit in the Lord’s people.

It takes God to move a mountain and it takes God’s love and grace to fill us each up and soften our hearts, change our attitudes, release our wills to give what we are able, and beyond our own ability!

Point of Grace has always been a church of givers, reaching out to our community; to connect people to God. This past week with the “Gifts of Grace Thanksgiving Baskets”, is just one example of how much we each can do, and how much we all can do together!

It’s not just the staff and a few weary leaders making it all happen, it’s everyone getting involved on some level from praying, and donating, to shopping, organizing and finally to delivering.   God’s love and grace was delivered along with each basket to 37 families in our community!  Well done, Point of Grace Church!

Plus, there were five basketfuls of food left over that we were able to donate to the Storehouse!   So more families were blessed by this outpouring of grace!

I loved Pastor Delton’s message on Sunday that we each have a contribution to make!  From the oldest to the youngest, we all have valuable to God and we each have something to contribute in the lives of others, in the working of our church and in reaching out to the community and to the world around us.

This week as so much evil and anger is being talked about in the news, there was a story shared on Facebook, of a 12 year old boy, holding up a sign that says “Free Hugs”.  It was during a demonstration for free speech.   A police officer noticed the boy and his sign.  He called the boy to come over to him and saw that he was crying.   The officer talked to the boy for a bit and then asked if he could get a hug.   The picture of these two hugging has since gone viral.   This is a beautiful example of God’s grace giving.  Through one boy, on his own, offering hugs on a busy street filled with demonstrators. He made his contribution!  An officer moved with compassion, connected with this boy and made a contribution.  Together they told the world that love and peace, is what is needed now.

In the face of hatred and evil, love wins!  Caring about each other wins!  Helping one another wins!   God is love, so God wins!

What spoke to me the most in this passage is that it is a privilege to give.   I love giving gifts, I love how good I feel giving the gift, and that it will please the person I am giving the gift to.  But, being part of God’s giving grace, is not about me feeling good or about pleasing others (although they are some of the benefits of giving), it’s about being used by God to let his love and grace flow through me to reach others, so that they can also be used by God to let his love and grace flow through them, and so on.

The other concept that stuck out to me was that they “pleaded for the privilege to share in this service”.  They received Jesus into their hearts, and this was their response, even in the midst of great trials and persecution.  The Holy Spirit was at work in them, as they offered themselves to God, to do whatever he called them to

Today as you read this post, my husband, is traveling to India on a business trip, as well as the opportunity to visit a church, that is needing funds to help build a church building there.   He gets to go to one of the poorest areas of the world and will get to witness the joy that John Devries writes about.   At this church, is a family, who two years ago were struggling financially and the mother of the family,  was needing a C-section to deliver her baby and they could not afford the operation.   Through Bill, God’s grace flowed.  Through him, God spoke to others, who donated the funds needed for the operation.  Now, this family has a beautiful two year old son, who is healthy and strong.  God has a plan for that little boy’s life, who will in some way make his contribution and through whom God’s love will flow to others.

God gives us opportunities to make our contributions, he moves us from the inside to have compassion and to reach out and share what he has given to us.

He also inspires us to call out to others and to encourage them to also give what they can to help.  Each one giving and doing what he is able.  Then God takes their offerings and multiplies it with his love and the power of the Holy Spirit, to go beyond what we can do ourselves.  It all comes together in God’s river of love and grace to flow as we each pour in our contributions.

Dear Lord, I ask you to change my heart and mind to be like you, to give myself to you completely and joyfully.  Move in me to plead with you for the privilege of serving your love and grace to others.   Let your river flow through me!     Amen.


The joy of giving is in discovering infinite resources - Why Give - Day 31

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“Upside Down Thinking – Upside Down Giving”

2 Corinthians 8:3 “For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability."

Ephesians 3:20  (the Message) God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.

On p. 236 of Why Give, John Devries writes, “The ‘prosperity gospel’ has it all wrong.  God never promises us that we can live in abundance and then give enough.  He promises us that He will give us all that we need so that we can give in abundance.

The promise is not that we live in abundance but that we give in abundance.”

He goes on to say, “think of two triangles.  One rests upside down on its point and rises up to spread out.  The other is in the normal position, like a pyramid, with the point on the top.  Biblical giving is like the first triangle, with the point on the bottom and the lines going up, spreading out.  God will always give us enough to live on so that we can give in abundance.  He never promises us that we can live in abundance, only that we can give in abundance!

Our giving most often resembles the opposite – the spreading part of the triangle represents what we own and the tip what we give.”

Then his questions were amazing…. and very convicting for me.

1.  “Have you had unusual experiences in which God supplied unexpected funds for your giving?”

Ouch – I can say that time and time again I have experienced God GIVING me unexpected funds for something I have needed – but that was for ME – not for me to give.   Cuz' you know, it is all about me.

2.  “What would it be like to GIVE in abundance instead of LIVE in abundance?”

Again, Ouch!  I have only thought of myself -  “help me, live in abundance.  Give me abundance.” instead of “help me GIVE in abundance.”  I have NEVER prayed that way….  (again-ouch!)

  1. “Are you willing to try asking God for a specific amount of money, for a cause close to your heart, given during a month’s time, like the young man in this meditation?”  (See p 233 – 235)

Hmmm.  Am I brave enough – or trusting enough to try this?  After seeing this Triangle Example, am I brave enough?  Am I trusting enough?  Are you?

After I read this devotion, I went back to the Bible and read today’s passage but began with Verse 1. I read it with different eyes, thinking about this Triangle Analogy, and am inspired to change my upside down way of thinking and my upside down way of giving.

2 Corinthians 8 "I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches in Macedonia province.  Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors:  They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor."

"The pressure triggered something totally unexpected:  an outpouring of pure and generous gifts.  I was there and saw it for myself.  They gave offerings of whatever they could – far more than they could afford! – pleading for the privilege of helping out…  This was totally spontaneous and caught us completely off guard."

"They had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us.  The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives…  The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale.  Your heart’s been in the right place all along.  You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it.   Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t."

So, who's with me?  Can we change our upside down ways of thinking?  Can we change our upside down ways of giving?    


The joy of giving begins in sympathy for others - Why Give - Day 30

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Today’s reading is so challenging yet so right at the same time.  It’s a radical idea that hard times and persecutions are used by God to change are hearts and bring us into lives of deeper joy. “As trials descend on us and unexpected financial strain leaves us sleepless at night, we must be aware that God is drilling holes in the hardpan of our materialism to allow the joy, the life-giving Spirit, to gush out of us……… Not only do the trials make us see eternal values but give to us the sensitivity needed to allow God to use us as channels of His infinite resources in ministering to the needs of others.” Pg.230

When I think about it, some of the people in my life who have been through the toughest of challenges have also been the most sacrificially generous.  I know, because I have been the recipient of their generosity.  It wasn’t the actual magnitude of the gift that made it exceptional but rather the sacrificial nature and that it flowed out of people who did not appear to have much to give.

Dawn and I were married about 5 years when we went to seminary.  Dead broke is the best way to describe our financial situation.  I was a full time grad student and she was a new mom.  God used many people as rivers of grace into our lives – my Aunt Florence and Uncle George are at the top of the list.  On their own they recruited their adult children to commit to sending us monthly checks as financial support for us while I was studying to be in ministry.  My aunt and uncle were among the most generous and they had the least to give. You see, they were also a ministry couple – but he was called into areas of ministry that were never at the top of the economic food chain.   They began ministry in the 1950’s as missionaries in Hong Kong, then came stateside and began decades of ministry to the deaf.  My uncle completed his fulltime ministry career as a prison chaplain.  If you wanted to design a ministry career that was the “least” financially lucrative it would probably look something like that.  They didn’t get rich but they walked the path God laid out for them – they and their seven children (plus a foster child or two) being raised along the way.

So from this family who knew extreme poverty comes overwhelming generosity to our family as we head off to seminary.  They could sympathize with the challenges we were facing.  Their example of sacrificial generosity is forever embedded in my heart.  Their story reminds me of the Macedonian church Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 8.  I am moved as I reflect on all this to open my heart to deeper levels of generosity – even when I feel like I am in extreme poverty.  I also get to look at trials in new way.  God is always on the move – especially in tough times – growing me to greater levels of generosity for His purposes.

God is so cool!  He does things His own way!  Life is so exciting and never boring following Jesus!


The joy of giving comes from being like God - Why Give - Week 5 - Day 29

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Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians talks about the poorest of the New Testament churches being selected by God for a special treasure, the treasure of being able to give.  That reminded me of an experience that Gary and I shared a few years ago.  We have been volunteering for six or seven years now with the Texas Ramp project – a non-profit organization that provides wheelchair ramps for people who have the need but no means to provide it for themselves.  A few years ago, we had the privilege of building a very large, two story ramp for a family that lived in the country southeast of Austin.  The home was an old mobile home which sat on top of a hill.  The family had very, very little in the way of material wealth but we later found out that they were incredibly rich in love and generosity.

We demolished a couple of sets of rickety stairs and began the build – the largest we have ever done while working alongside one of the largest groups of volunteers that we have ever built with. It was hard work and we spent many hours in the sun and wind.  As we were finishing up late that afternoon, the little girl that needed the ramp came outside with her mother.  I don’t remember their names – it has been too many years.  But I certainly remember their story.  The little girl was born healthy and perfect.  While she was a tiny infant, a frustrated adult picked her up and shook her over and over.  This precious little infant went from perfect health to being a little girl who would grow up unable to walk, unable to speak, and unable to take care of herself.  She was placed in foster care and given to a woman who fell in love with her just as she was.  A woman who loved this little girl so much that she adopted her.  A woman who had cared for her for nine years, meeting all of her physical and emotional needs with tenderness, compassion and love.  A woman who needed the ramp because even though she carefully monitored her little girls diet and ensured that she remained at a healthy weight for her small stature was finding it increasingly difficult to carry her from the mobile home at the top of the hill to the long winding driveway where the school bus could pick her up each day.

This loving, compassionate lady is a Riverbed! She poured out love onto a little girl that will never really be able to reciprocate her love, a little girl that will remain in a body that will never heal and a little girl that will always require daily care giving for the most basic needs.  Gary and I helped give her family a ramp that day but we received so much more than we gave.  It was pure JOY to give back to this woman who humbled us by her example.  Our simple gift of being able to help build her ramp was so small in comparison to her unselfish gift of love and sacrifice.

Father, thank you for the incredible treasure of being able to give to others.  Help us to seek YOUR leading to those that we can bless through OUR giving.  Thank you for leading us to those who inspire us with THEIR giving. 



You don’t need much to start new rivers of giving - Why Give - Day25

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Day 25

You don’t need much to start new rivers of giving

Luke 10:4-7

Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.


Wow it’s here already, Thanksgiving!   Time to take a step back and take stock of just how amply blessed we are.  All around folks are gathering with family or friends, breaking bread together and enjoying a day off work.  Some have contributed food, time, or money so that those having a hard time can also have a brief reprieve and enjoy a good hot meal.  Some will serve others in kitchens and look into the eyes of those with nowhere to be on this holiday and be thankful they are not on the receiving side of the serving line.  There will be those that we are glad to see and those that we will miss dearly.  There will be those that will see their first Thanksgiving ever and those who will be seeing their last.

What an absolutely wonderful season to do a study on giving.  I am struck by how much we have and how much having so much means to us.  In this series the elephant in the room is actually a mustard seed.  Everything about this series is about how little we have to give in order to let GOD be GOD.  A handful of flour and oil becomes a meal for three for the duration of a famine.  A few loaves of bread and a couple of fish feed thousands.  Some loose change gathered up by challenged and curious youth turns into enough to build a church that ultimately becomes a high-rise.

Time and time again nothing is turned into much more than enough.  The key is simple, but not easy.  I remember my brother teaching me to swim.  “Go ahead he said, I got you,” right before he let me go and my nostrils filled with water.  In this world, faith and trust are hard to come by.  But that is exactly what GOD expects.  “Do not take a purse a bag or sandals…”

A dear friend recently gave me a Thanksgiving gift in the form of a poem.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the day than to pass it on as a gift to you all.

Jim L

Are Not These the Times of Praise?

Falling down before His throne

Weight of glory keeps us prone

Crucified our Lord was raised

Are not these the times of praise?


The storm is here, the pressure on

We wait for hope and light and dawn

Night is long with hopeful gaze

Are not these the times of praise?


The victory is sweet indeed

The day is won - successful deeds

Harvest in - a glass is raised

Are not these the times of praise?

A moment plain there’s no remark

Mundane the task and low the spark

We could give in to bland malaise

But are these not too times of praise?


Never fear the unknown years

Never languish in your tears

If breath is found let worship blaze

For these are all the times of praise


A systematic measurable increase in giving - Why Give - Day 24

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Acts 5:14

 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.

A statement in Day 24 jumped out at me; “We must never stifle disciple making by misleading people to think that they must first be trained in order to witness.”  I think back to the verses in the Bible that describe the end of Jesus’ life, the few years that he spent “training” his disciples.  Was their “training” at the local synagogue, the local higher learning facility, the local community college?  No, it was listening and living with Jesus, following him.  The disciples witnessed His love and compassion for people, as he lived among them.  He taught by example.  He didn’t build a temple (church) and say, “Come listen to me…”  He traveled to God’s people, He found them and lived and worked among them.

I grew up thinking that before I could really be good at something, I only needed to study, and read about that subject, and be taught by an expert.  There IS wisdom in those steps, but I can see now (“hindsight is 20/20 vision”) that this kind of training can be a crutch, a hindrance… actually delaying the real action that needs to take place for true education… using, practicing, to gain knowledge.

The companion to practicing is being accountable, after practicing, for example, sharing with someone about the hope I have in Jesus death and resurrection.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says that being accountable is “subject to giving an account; answerable; explainable”.  Accountability for a perfectionist like me is scary.  What if I offend someone… What if they laugh at me when I tell them I love Jesus… What if I don’t use the right words… What if I don’t have answers to their questions… What a sneaky tool for the evil one to use to keep me from the action of sharing the gift of Jesus’ sacrificial love with the people in my daily life.  Accountability shines a light on the practicing of my sharing, so that it can be smoothed, honed, corrected, and true skills form.  Jesus knows I will never be perfect, so why do I try?  He is bigger than any mistake I might make.  Again, that “p” word is from this world, and from the evil one.

I suspect that Jesus is waiting for me to use the training he has already given me during my fifty-odd years on this earth and just practice it already – to His glory!  He has blessed me with family and friends who will guide, encourage, and lovingly hold me (yikes!) accountable, so that more and more people will believe in the Lord!  J



Our giving must make giving disciples - Why Give - Day 23

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“And anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”   (Matthew 10:38-39)

This chapter gets at the heart of what Jesus is calling us each to do.   First, follow him and be his disciple, and then go and make more disciples!

John Devries, writes, “When we “accept” the gift of salvation we are, according to our Savior’s own words, engaging in the ultimate exchange of value by giving up our life in return for his giving up his life for us.”  Also

“We not only give up our life for him but for each other. “

John 13:34 “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Devries points out the “distorted modern Western church”,  and how it’s become a “welfare society of spiritual parasites”  because our relationship with God is being presented as a “one-way relationship with God”.

God gives to us,  we receive and are blessed and our life is good,  but today’s verse and John 13 tells us otherwise.

Our relationship with Jesus is suppose to be a two way, mutual relationship.   He loves us, we love him and by his love for us, we reach out and love others, and invite them into have their own relationship with God.

Another reason the modern church is distorted according to Devries, is we seem to give for our own benefit, and our own comfort.   The stats that he gives from The Encyclopedia of World Christianity are a real eye opener.   “97 cents of each dollar given to the church goes towards maintaining its own programs, not making new disciples”.  Really?

The first disciples gave up everything to follow Christ, and to continue his work to make more disciples.

Are we willing to do the same?  Are we willing to sacrifice some of our time, money, and resources to reach out to others who are searching for the truth or struggling with their faith.   Are we willing to go to a foreign land to share the gospel with the poorest of the world?   Are we willing to go across the street or down the road to help a neighbor in need?  Have we all gotten so comfortable in all our blessings that we don’t have time or even want to take the time to serve another to show the “love for one another” that we as Christians are suppose to be known for?

Devries writes in the last paragraph of the chapter, “Disciples are those who, in response to the love of Christ, are giving love to one another and to their neighbors.

So how much would your river increase if you measured your giving by the number of new rivers you had started?”

There is so much to think and pray about in this,  it is so much more than I ever realized.   To let our minds and hearts grow and expand, and to let our small ideas become God size ideas.   To be part of the flowing river of love through Jesus Christ is so amazing!

Our Lord God,

You are so great, and so good,  you show your love for us each day that we wake and each breath we take is a gift from you.   Help us Lord, to give our love back to you and together our overflowing love will reach out to those around us!



We give in an equal exchange relationship - Why Give? - Day 22

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“Love is mutual dependency and mutual giving…God made us to be dependent on him and on each other…We are to create communities characterized by the statement, “”I don’t know what I would have done without you””

As I read today’s devotion, these were the phrases that spoke to me.  During today’s message, Delton talked about risk, about challenge, about faith.  Point of Grace took a risk – we committed to providing Thanksgiving dinner for 35 families in our community.  Out of God’s abundance to us, we committed to giving back to families in our community.  We stepped out in faith, trusting that God will provide for these families through us, his Church.  As I reflect upon these last couple of weeks – I see mutual dependency and mutual giving.  We depend upon our Father and upon our brothers and sisters in Christ in order to provide a riverbed to these families.  This is a challenge – the time, talents and treasure of many, many different people will be needed to make this a “mutual giving” from our church to these families.

I have had the privilege of working with the caring and compassionate social workers at our three local high schools – they have helped us direct the flow of our riverbed to 27 families who are in need of a Thanksgiving meal and Christmas gifts.  I don’t know what we would have done without them!

When we asked for volunteers to create a Gifts of Grace team – 7 beautiful ladies stepped up and have been working closely with each other, with me and with others within Point of Grace.  I don’t know what we would have done without them!

Our Missional Community Leaders volunteered to coordinate the organization and filling of the baskets for our 35 families.  They reached out to the brothers and sisters in their groups and encouraged them to volunteer to support this outpouring of love and blessing to the community.  I don’t know what we would have done without them!

When we asked Point of Grace to pray over Gifts of Grace, to bring food, to donate funds, to shop, to fill baskets, to bake pies, to deliver the baskets of food to the families – they rose to the challenge.  I don’t know what we would have done without them!

Jesus, thank you for these beautiful brothers and sisters who show their love for you and others by being riverbeds of provision to 35 families in our community.  Thank you for our mutual love and dependency upon each other.  We give because YOU first gave to us! We love because YOU first loved us! Help us to be a community of people who rise to the challenge of loving the community all around us.  Help us to be a community of people that makes such a difference in our community that they won’t know what they would have done without us.  Help us to show such compassion to others that they have no doubt that YOU are the stream of living water that flows from us to them. 



Giving our all is all Christ desires - Why Give? - Day 21

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Welcome to the POG Blog!

Today is Sunday which means YOU get to start the discussion on today’s devotion and scripture!  What is it saying to you today?  How does it relate to your life right now?  Enjoy listening, reading, meditating, and sharing your thoughts with others today!

As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.  “I tell you the truth,” he said,“this poor widow has put in more than all the others.  All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”  (Luke 21:1-4)

We give God's power - Why Give? - Day 20

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Welcome to the POG Blog!

Today is Saturday which means YOU get to start the discussion on today’s devotion and scripture!  What is it saying to you today?  How does it relate to your life right now?  Enjoy listening, reading, meditating, and sharing your thoughts with others today!  

When [a crippled man] saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.  Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!”  So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”  Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. (Acts 3:3-7)

Our gifts allow God to multiply His - Why Give - Day 19

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Mark 6:41-44 (NIV)

41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.


On the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee is a small church called the Church of the Multiplication.  Its altar is built on top of the rock where tradition holds that Jesus blessed the bread and fishes and proceeded to feed 5,000 men plus women and children.  A real place for a real event!  Following are couple observations that came to mind as I re-read the miracle story and Devries’ Day 19 chapter.

First, of all his miracles, this one physically impacted the most people in Jesus’ time and place.  I wonder … did those that gathered to hear Jesus speak that day realize what was happening?  Certainly, the disciples were aware of the miracle, but what about “the 5,000”?  Did they know that Jesus started the multiplication with only a small amount of fish and bread?  Were they too far away from the action or maybe it was getting too dark?  Did they even care about how it happened or were they simply happy to get some food to eat after a long day?  My human inclination is to believe that everyone knew … to get the most positive impact possible for the ministry.  However, given that Jesus downplayed some of his other miracles; he may have made no special effort to “advertise” what was happened that day.

Who showed the greatest faith in this miracle story?  The disciples certainly didn’t.  They were fully prepared to send (actually, they wanted Jesus to deliver the news) the crowd away to find food on their own.  Devries’ applauds the child-like faith of the young boy to give up his own dinner for the simple reason that Jesus asked for it.  The young boy may not have realized what Jesus was about to do with his gift, but he gave willingly.  The boy’s sacrificial gift, to give his last to the Lord, is reminiscent of the widow’s sacrifice for Elijah and in the New Testament, the poor widow’s gift of two small coins to the temple treasury.

While in these examples they were generous even in their own personal scarcity.  Should we not be generous back to the Lord in our abundance?  We can be confident that the Lord can and will multiply the impact of our small gifts many times over.

Blessings, John H

Our giving causes God to open the door - Why Give - Day 18

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Joshua 3:9,11,14-16

Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God… See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you…

So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them.   Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing.

The things that stood out to me the most today were:

“Their leaders were asked to do one thing and only one thing:  Get their feet wet.”

“God sees things differently than we do, He is always eager to teach us new lessons.”

do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

“God doesn’t call us to do it, only to let Him do it through our giving and expect the unexpected.”

“In spite of their total lack of resources, the Israelites had one thing to give – obedience.  They obeyed.  They went forward.  They got their feet wet”

“God did not ask the Israelites to get across by their own resources or by helping themselves.  He asked them to trust Him to get them across and to show that trust by taking the first step into that turbulent water before the water was parted!

…when we give…we can “have faith that He in turn will provide for us in some unexpected way that reflects His means and not our effort!”

Well, I’m still processing all this…How about you?  Maybe we need to just “step out into the water!”

Blessings to you and yours,


"Could it be that a gift is too big for God?" - Why Give - Day 17

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"Could it be that a gift is too big for God?"

Today’s devotion is a wonderful challenge for me to change the way I think about giving. Key quotes that popped off the pages to me are:

“Is it possible to have too many resources?” “Can our gift block others’ view of God by calling attention only to our human wealth and generosity?”

"Do our gifts point to us... or to God?"

I just returned from a trip to Brazil.  I work part-time for Brazil Mission Society and was honored to get to go there and see the Orphanage and the children and staff who live and work there with my own eyes.  I have written articles about the children and this place.  I have all of their photos in a notebook.  But now, I would get to see them face-to-face.  We would live in the home with them – not in a hotel.  We would eat with them, play with them, go to school with them, laugh and cry with them.

I traveled with 4 other women, and we were loaded down with baggage filled with arts and crafts, clothing, medicine, toys, school supplies, gifts, etc.  Over and over again our leader wisely cautioned us to be careful in the way we distributed all of our “presents.”  We did not want to arrive and be “Santa Claus.”  We wanted to shower them with the Love of Jesus - not the love of The Five Americans.

All of the “impressive Portuguese” I had learned prior to the trip lasted about 3 seconds.  I had my smart-phone with me with an amazingly helpful English-Portuguese app.  That helped a lot.  But it got in the way.  I quickly realized that the kids were hanging around me to play with my phone – and my head was so buried in the App trying to communicate with them in Portuguese, that I wasn’t even looking at the children in front of me!  So, I left my phone in my room and did a lot more giggling and pantomiming and hugging and hand-holding and staring into the eyes of these beautiful children instead of relying on my self-made, impressive American gadget.  After reading today’s devotion, I see how my Phone-App got in the way of what God wanted to do.  Instead of the children being amazed by the love of God through an American Woman, they were being amazed by the American Woman’s fancy phone.

“Is it possible to have too many resources?”  Yes.

“Can our gift block others’ view of God by calling attention only to our human wealth and generosity?”  Yes.

They enjoyed my phone.  They thought I was cool.  But God didn’t have much room to work until the phone was put away.  Then the relationships with Amanda, Felipe, and Leo really became precious.  We played Thumb-wars, and High Five Games.  I sat for hours teaching Gabriel how to use his new Spirograph - he speaks no English and I speak no Portuguese.  But we bonded over a Spirograph. We will be life-long friends in Christ.  I "hammed" up being from Texas and taught them how to say their names in “Texan!”  Instead of wanting to sit by me to see my PHONE, they wanted to sit by ME and get to know ME.  Instead of sitting by me and watching my fingers type English phrases into the Translator, we sat together and used our fingers to stroke each others faces, and to draw pictures with new Crayons, and to hold the hymnal together during devotions.  Without a phone in the way, our hands were free to hug, and give back rubs, to tossle their hair – all the things that a MOTHER would be doing – if they had one.

Now there was time to simply be together.  And even though we could not communicate with our words,  we communicated by the power of the Holy Spirit, through singing, and praying, and just “being” ourselves.

“Can our gift block others’ view of God?"  Yes.  And it almost did.  But thank You God for urging me to put away the phone.  I pray that they felt this overwhelming love of God through me and my hands while we were together.

“God, please let me remember this lesson.  Help me to realize that I don’t need fancy prayers, fancy presents, elaborate gifts, or huge financial resources in my “river-bed-ness.”  Help me not to get in Your way of loving people.  Help me just be me and to not block the view of You.  Amen.”

-dawn  (“Aurora” in Portuguese!)

God protects a nation through a shepherd's gift - Why Give - Day 16

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48 As [Goliath] the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

1 Samuel 17:48-50

What an amazing display of faith! David was so saddened and embarrassed that his fellow Israelites (including the Israelite soldiers) didn’t believe that they could beat Goliath, that he, the small shepherd boy, stood up to put God’s greatness and love on display! I’m so inspired and encouraged by this!

I can relate to David here. I’m not very tall (ok, honestly, I’m just plain short!) and I often thought that meant I wouldn’t be a great advocate for God. I mean, His kingdom is so big! How could “little ol’ me” make a difference in such a vast kingdom? But I have seen how little acts of surrender and belief can change things in a big way. We don’t have to do it all… God isn’t asking us to do it all! He is asking us to give what we can of ourselves so He can be glorified in a big way.

I keep thinking about how Delton mentioned the staff workers in Brazil wanting commentaries to help him as a Pastor and people started lining up to help donate or purchase the books that young Pastor would need! That’s such a SMALL thing to do… but to the receiver of that gift, it’s huge! It’s all about having the faith that God can (and WILL) do great things with the little we give.

The following excerpts really stuck out to me during this devotional, so I just ask that you look at these a couple of times and really grasp how these sentences can impact your heart and life:

“David did not see the giant. All he saw was the size of his infinite God”

“He knew that if he gave himself to God, God would give through him to protect not only him but the entire nation. Our giving opens the windows of heaven, enabling God to supernaturally multiply our gifts.”

Friends, I hope this devotional brought a new light to something in your world today. Little things can be really big things in God’s eyes!

Papa, thank You so much for your love and your mercy. I am in awe of how you use the experiences from the Bible to really speak words of wisdom where we need them most. Even making someone so small realize that their size cannot hinder Your great plans! I love you so much, Jesus. Amen

I leave you with this…

“David did not view giving in a horizontal way, in mere terms of his own strength, but rather he saw his gift vertically as that which would open the door for his God to act. Is that how we see what we give?”