Foreword:

Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching for a while, and I'm working through Revelation here. My YouTube videos are currently short studies in Matthew, and at present I'm posting videos on Revelation as well. Both appear on the blog, which is turning into a Vlog. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

We would take an offering...

It occurred to me, when I was reading the passage below, that this is very much like a situation I've seen before:

From Matthew 15:
32 Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, "I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way."
33 Then His disciples said to Him, "Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?"
34 Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" And they said, "Seven, and a few little fish."
35 So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.
36 And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude.
37 So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left.
38 Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.
39 And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala.

And now the "modern version:"
It's a retreat! We have a three day mini retreat, complete with miracles and preaching, from the Messiah Himself.  These are the kinds of events for which one PAYS, and then sometime in the middle, an offering is taken for the "needs of the ministry." Of course, there is nothing wrong with supporting ministers, so let me get that out of the way now.
The point is, though, that Jesus "had compassion on the crowds," and saw that they needed His help. So often it's the opposite.  "Help ME," the "minister" says.  "Give to MY ministry." If you give to my ministry, I'll be able to do more for all the people I help.
And of course, the folks who are giving the money must have the secret thought, "But what about me?" My family is breaking up, my job is gone, and I have so little...Oh, well, the ministry needs it." And so they go further "into the wilderness with nothing to eat," waiting for the "ministry" to help them. 
To quote James, "My brethren, these things ought not so to be."
Here are the ways that Jesus' ministry differed from what "ministers" often do today:
1.  He "had compassion on the crowds." He actually SAW their needs.  In this case, they were hungry.
2. He (unlike us) could work miracles--which is a good thing, because he had no money to buy food for anyone, let alone a crowd composed of 4,000 men, plus women and children.
3. Instead of ASKING the crowd, He GAVE to the crowd.
This is what defines ministry.  GIVING rather than asking.  You'll notice, of course, that the gift was just what they needed for right then, and not a winning lottery ticket for each--just enough, not too much, so that they could get back to where they needed to go when He left.
So, if you are IN the ministry (aren't we all, if we are Christians), let's examine what we do with people.  
Do we ASK from them, televangelist style? Or do we GIVE to them, Jesus-style?  I know that Jesus Himself thought that this defined ministry.  He says so:
Mark 10:45: "The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many."
So who are you?  A minister, or a taker?
And of course, I am asking myself the same question at this very moment. 
What God says to you, He says to me as well.  
I hope you have a good day, and think of ways to GIVE.