Friday, 21 May 2010

True Partnership is a Joint Faith Venture

True Partnership is a Joint Faith Venture

At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen (Philippians 4:18-20).

Paul had partners! They supported him in the ministry and with the spreading of the Gospel. They gave to him or his ministry-purpose on a regular basis; (although at times maybe not as regular as Paul would have liked!) Confirming this notion of “regular commitment in giving” is his writings in 1 Corinthians 16:2, where he says, "On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside..." (NKJ)

Any ministry worth their salt will tell you that it’s the regular income that they can literally “bank” on, not just good will gestures – no matter how nice they are! Many times has the earnest and regular giving of the few, provoked much praise from our lips!

God prospers us ultimately so that we can establish His kingdom here on the earth, and “actively” seek first His Kingdom; in turn this brings a “supernatural flow” into our lives to meet all of our own needs (and let’s face it, we are always going to have needs! So we must get this right; for the bigger picture and for our own!) Therefore as we pray for direction in our giving, and then couple it with corresponding action – we find that our own financial needs are taken care of, as promised in Matthew 6:33. Very few Christians truly understand the kind of partnership that Paul spoke of, that of “systematic and deliberate giving” to benefit the Kingdom of God.

I have always believed that if I put God’s house first then He will furnish mine! He has never failed me yet. But my faithfulness in this transaction is the lynch pin. Without my corresponding action by faith, then I cannot tap the promises of God towards my own well being. Faith is dead without works or should I say that faith that is not working is dead! Acting in obedience brings results; for anybody. And it does not take PHDs or rocket science either. Just faith working, faith moving; faith doing. This is the point behind giving. Not the amount given, rather the fact that your faith is mobilizing itself and is the only thing that God can respond to – nothing else!

Think about it: if God responded to pain, need or lack, then there would be no poor places like India for example. But Jesus said we would ‘always’ have the poor with us. Not because God sanctions being poor (no! the cross dealt with that fact) but more to the point is that Jesus knew, His heavenly Father could only responded to faith and that not everyone will operate by that same value system; rather choosing the value system of this world. And in that context there will always be poor people amongst us.

God only and I say it again, ONLY – responds to faith. And our giving must be done out of faith. In fact whatsoever is not of faith is SIN! That’s a sober fact. We have all done things outside of faith – that’s for certain! But I have always believed that those precious folk who have tithed faithfully for decades but have never seen any freedom in their finances contradict the Word of God. Why? Because it’s not their giving that God is responding to its their faith. Therefore no matter how admirable any giving is naturally speaking... if it’s not mixed with FIATH then how can God respond to it favourably when the ONLY thing that pleases Him or provokes his favour is faith? It stands to reason.

It also stands to reason – that’s why Satan works over time to keep people ignorant in their giving. He might not be able to stop them giving but he’d rather pervert their giving anyway. To make it look like Gods ways don’t work. And is the very reason why pastors must keep their congregations well informed about how to give by faith and not by emotion or flesh instincts. Pious or religious or other.

So having said that; even our sincerity is no match for faith and lots of people are sincere – but sadly – sincerely wrong! So God does not even respond to our “sincerity,” it’s our faith alone that flicks His switch and nothing else! For want of a better term! So once that is settled in our minds, we wouldn’t do anything without faith backing it up; especially giving. Because who wants to give into a black hole and not see a return? Unless you are pious or looking for punishment!

We must not forget that the whole “seed time and harvest” scenario is a full on “give and receive” deal. Think about it, even God gave Jesus expecting something in return. One son for many! So we must not be deluded into giving without expecting. Because if we fall into the trap of giving without having faith attached – we will forever be unfruitful and disenchanted with the things of God. Tempted even, to turn and blame others – including God perhaps - for our barrenness; when the blame would squarely be ours!

Scripture is clear, “Herein is my Father glorified that ye bear much fruit.” God never planned for us to be fruitless but utterly fruitful. Why? because ultimately this is what glorifies Him.

It confuses folk out there, when we say we have God and yet live like beggars? It doesn’t fit right with them. They think, “Is that how God treats His faithful ones?” Needless to say it inspires no one to sign up! Who wants a faith that doesn’t work? Why would a turkey vote for Christmas?! On the contrary God wants our faith to work mightily and He wants others to see it working, this is our witness that if they too hook up with God, all things are possible. Otherwise its just more of the same. Why believe in God at all? All unbelief is enhanced when the world watches powerless Christians for generations blowing a lot of hot air without achieving much! Yet what a reality check when the see true faith lived out!?

So our giving, regardless of its amount or regularity, must be by faith. Regularity was even an issue with Paul. Think about it, when people only get behind the Good News worldwide mission once a year (even if it’s done by faith) we are left on the mission field to struggle for the rest of the year, just like Paul experienced at times; (he also knew how to abase and abound!)

However the mission of God can not be limited to onetime, sporadic givers. Fanciful or knee-jerk reaction giving either! Think about it, God never stops giving. For instance His mercy is new every day. It’s not a year old and wearing thin. No! Every single day He is committed to us. And its that kind of constancy that keeps us going over and not under.

This is also why ministries do need faith-ful givers – partners – who take hold with them by faith and who do it not just do so on occasion; far and few between. Just putting it down to an annual experience in order to stop their conscience barking too loudly at them! As ministers we need those who give as the Lord directs on a daily basis, weekly, monthly and annually. Those who keep their finger on the pulse, who care about the needs of the kingdom and not just their own; these are the ones whom God is using to furnish this great end time revival. Others are much slower on the uptake!

Consider Proverbs 18:16 says, "A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men," understanding the true meaning behind this verse can change your life because it's not talking about skills, talents or abilities but actual gifts.

The Hebrew word that was translated "gift" in Proverbs 18:16, 19:6, and 21:14 literally means "present." It’s clear that this scripture is NOT referring to anointing or being highly favoured but of ‘presents’ given to another.

Something spiritual happens when you simply give gifts as the NIV puts it "...a gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great." Notice the emphasis is on the giver and not the receiver here... it emphasises that giving actually opens the way for the giver NOT the receiver. It’s essential to understand this... as Paul reiterates this point about your giving making way for you in chapter 4 of Philippians verse 17 where it says, “not that I seek after the gift, but I seek after the fruit that is overflowing to that is the very heart of God – He seeks not the gift more than the result of the gift. GOD IS NOT AFTER YOUR MONEY BUT AFTER YOUR FAITH!

Father I thank you for your commitment to me and my wellbeing. Thank you also that you plan to use me everyday of my life to help furbish your Kingdom. To use my prayers and diligence. You plan to use me to minister to and for your Kingdom and I WANT to be used. Use me today. Use my finances, use my willingness. Direct me and use me in Jesus name amen.

Today I declare Isaiah 1:19 that as I am willing and obedient I will eat the good of the land.


Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’

Copyright 2010 © Alan Pateman Ministries


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