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July 3, 2018

Elk Country Visitor's Center bull elk
Bull elk in Elk Country Visitor's Center

"Big Givers"

Message summary:  The Kingdom of God is primarily being advanced by scores of people who are much like the widow in today's text.

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

"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).

Our daily text records the only specific giver that Jesus ever commended. The big givers had come through the line. I imagine they crinkled their bills (although, of course, they didn’t have bills then!) or clattered their coins for maximum effect. I can see them looking toward Jesus as they dropped in their offering expecting an approving nod and big smile.

Man's way is to commend the big givers. Sadly if Jesus acted as many do today He would have been seeking to leverage His big givers. He would have been patting them on the back and chumming up to them.

Perhaps he had these kinds of givers in mind in another teaching.

"Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:1-4).

Poor widowBut Jesus said nothing until the poor widow came through. He went right to the heart of the matter in stating that "this poor widow has put in more than all the others".

How could that be? Surely the rich gave more. What does Jesus mean? Had He failed grade school math? Of course not. He explains Himself, but it runs counter to their reasoning and it does to ours as well. Most would not agree with Erich Fromm who wrote, "Not he who has much is rich, but he who gives much."

In man's reasoning "more" means the size of the check, not the degree of the sacrifice. God doesn't primarily look at the size of the offering but at the heart of the giver. Man tends to commend the famous athlete or celebrity who builds a playground or the wealthy businessman who gives a large gift to the project. In man's way they'll probably even have it named it after them or at least see their name on a plaque.

But the Kingdom of God is primarily being advanced by scores of people who are much like the widow. They probably won't get a building named after them or make the cover of a magazine. But they're the ones Jesus still commends. The main commendation we should all long for is to hear the words of our Master, "Well done, good and faithful servant".

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, help us to obey Your principles in the distribution of our income. May we give quietly and sacrificially with a generous spirit. Help us to use our resources soberly and distribute cheerfully that which You have entrusted to us. We seek Your commendation and not the recognition of others in advancing the kingdom of God. Amen.

Note: Studying the entirety of the Bible we see that the Word of God does not universally condemn wealth but rather places these cautions: "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed" (1 Timothy 6:17-19).


Some more photos from our weekend trip to northern Pennsylvania.

Bobcat in the Elk Country Visitor's Center 6/29/18
A bobcat at the Elk Country Visitor's Center. There's a lot of wildlife in the woods of northern Pennsylvania. The Elk Country Visitor's Center is new since we lived in that area it's an outstanding addition to the local tourism. Discovering Pennsylvania’s Elk Herd at the Elk Country Visitor Center

Jim Cheney, Uncovering PA 9/5/17
 We met Jim Cheney last fall when walking through Hershey Gardens. I recognized his shirt and told him I appreciated his website, Uncovering PA, which chronicles interesting places to visit in Pennsylvania with a focus on the lesser known and not well-promoted.

Table waterfall 7/1/18
We were told about a waterfall we had never heard of while  we lived in that area so we drove down a long forest road off the Quehanna Highway to find it. This is the warning we received about the road, "Cut into the hillside, Red Run Road is one of the most fear-inducing dirt roads I’ve come across in Pennsylvania. Not only is there a steep drop-off on one side of the road, but I doubt there is room for two cars to easily pass in many places. This is definitely a road that I would under no circumstances take when it was covered with snow and ice." (See Finding Table Falls in the Quehanna Wild Area). See here for a better photo, probably during spring runoff.

Table waterfall 7/1/18
The stream wasn't flowing really strong but still had the distinctive sound of falling water and we are glad we sought it out!

Tom and Marsha Neizmik 6/30/18
Tom and Marsha Neizmik have been friends since the early 80's. They were involved in various ministries in the church we served in that area and are still involved in numerous ministries. But of special note is that Tom and Marsha began serving at an extended care facility for a worship service when he was 20 and she was still a teen and they have faithfully served together for some 38 years!

Marsha and Brooksyne in creek 6/30/18
Tom and Marsha have a creek running along their property so Marsha and Brooksyne waded out to a rock and had a good laugh as they considered how they were going to get off without slipping and falling into the stream, as both have been in wheelchairs due to leg injuries in the past. (Like old times when the two served as workers with Children's Ministries they did many fun skits together and took girls to many outings and camp-outs.)

Elk in Neizmik backyard
We didn't see any live elk this time in Elk County, likely due to the extreme heat which tends to keep the herd deep in the woods. However Tom and Marsha regularly have them in their back yard as seen above!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

This last Sunday evening on our way back from our weekend trip we heard a very interesting edition of "Unshackled". It is not the typical program but rather it highlights the importance of our Christian heritage and the present age we live in. You'll be nodding your head and saying "amen" if you're given to verbally affirming.  Audio 

"Little Is Much When God Is In It"  Video   Gaither Vocal Band

Finally today:
Along Rt. 322 about 15 miles north of Harrisburg there is a stretch of highway with several "Adult" type places, although I think there are far more accurate terms to describe such dark places. Someone bought this huge billboard after you cross the Susquehanna River and approach this section. Hopefully it will cause some introspection. James 1:15 says, "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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