Praying God’s Will; 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 4

Good morning, Friend.  I hope you had a good sabbath and are ready for what this week holds.

Last week was a long week for me because my hubby took the camp interns out of town for 3 days, and they went on a tour of several other camps.  This is so much fun because they get to explore God’s creativity in other places, network with other camps, look at the differences and similarities in how other camps are organized and facilitate ministry in their location, and so much more.  This has become an annual event, and they always come back with inspiration.  Plus, the fellowship among our own staff while they travel is great.  I miss him when he’s gone.

Meanwhile, the kids and I kept with our school schedule, and the kids also did a lot of playing outside in all the new snow.  We had so much Sunday night and Monday, preceded by rain and sleet, that all the schools shut down and many events were cancelled.  It was a winter-wonderland.

Have you been witnessing God move in your heart and your local Church Body?

Last Sunday one of our teens was preparing to leave for the Philippines and our elders and leaders prayed over her during the service.  Get a load of this little guy?  He so sweetly wanted to be a part.  Eventually he scooted over and held onto someone’s sweater.



This morning I received word about a brand new believer!  And the request that I be praying for her.  Praise God, He uses our prayers! 🙂

Well, have you taken time to read 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 3 and listen for God’s will?  This chapter ran me through the full spectrum of emotions, I think.  It even moved me to tears…. happy tears.

Like I always say, I’m not an expert.  This is just my “home-schooled” Bible study, but God is a great tour guide when we get into His Word.  My study companions were the NASV and the Amplified Version,, and the IVP Bible Background Commentary for the New Testament.

Shall we pray for wisdom before we dig in?

Gods will 1 Thessalonians

My Notes:

vs. 1 & 2–The Thessalonian church has been following the instructions the apostles gave them concerning Godly living, and Paul says they should do so even more.

vs. 3–It was God’s will that they (and we) be set apart/consecrated/sanctified for holy living, and abstain from sexual sin.

vs. 4 & 5–Their bodies were not to be used for lustful passion, but they should know how to be self controlled (in purity and honor).

vs. 6–No man was to “transgress and defraud his brother” in this matter (sexual sin).  Well, I had to ask what, exactly, did Paul mean by this?  The IVP Bible Background Commentary teaches that Paul was referring to committing adultery with another man’s wife.  Makes sense.  It’s a good reminder that sexual sin not only harms us, but the one we sin with, and others as well).

vs. 7– Again, God called them (and us) to be sanctified/pure/set apart to be holy, just as God is holy.

vs. 8–When we reject God’s will, we reject His Holy Spirit ( whose business it is to be doing the sanctifying in us!)

Now Paul changes gears.

vs. 9 & 10– Grow and excel more and more in loving other believers.

vs. 11– Their goal (and ours) should be to live a peaceful life, mind their own business, and work with their own hands.  My study bible says that Greeks looked down on manual labor, and those who weren’t rich often adopted a habit of begging.

vs. 12–Why do these things?  So they would behave properly toward outsiders  and not be in need… (Paul promotes manual labor again in Eph. 4:28 for the purpose that they will not be in need, but also so they would have extra to give to others in need.  There’s that concept of giving again.)

vs. 13– Paul wants the Thessalonian church to understand what happens when believers die so they will not grieve like those who have no hope (they come from a culture devoid of hope).

vs. 14 & 15– Those who are alive when Christ returns will have no advantage over those who died before.  God will bring those who have already died to Himself through the work Jesus did in his death and resurrection (He conquered sin and death!!).

vs. 16– What do we have to look forward to?  Jesus will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, the shout of the archangel and the blast of the trumpet of God.  Those who have already died will rise.  *Chills*

vs. 17–Then those who are living will be caught up with the resurrected dead to meet Jesus in the air, and we will ALL be with Him for eternity!  *Cheers!*

vs. 18– Comfort and encourage each other with these words (this hope!). *Happy Tears*


“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”  1 John 5:14-15

How can I use these observations to pray according to God’s will?

*vs. 1,2 3, & 7– Thank God for setting us apart and ask Him to continue to empower us to live holy lives for him, and specifically that the church will abstain from sexual sin.  Sexual sin was rampant in Paul’s day.  Prostitution was common.  All this time later, sex trafficking has exploded in our day.  Sometimes, even church attenders are confused about what is right and wrong as far as sexuality.   Unfortunately, there are other times that wrong choices are made, and instead of repentance, excuses are made.   It should not be this way.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  God doesn’t want us to cover up our sin.  He wants us to confess it so He can cover it.   “For His divine power has bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”            2 Peter 1:3

*vs. 4 & 5–Pray that God will teach us and empower us how to be self controlled in purity and honor.  And then consciously submit to God’s Spirit since self control is a fruit of the Spirit.

*vs. 9 & 10– Pray that we will consistently grow and excel, always, in loving other believers.  These people are our family and will be our neighbors (forever) when we get to heaven.  😉


*vs. 11 & 12– Pray that God will guide us, that we will live as peacemakers, and grant to each of us the desire and the way of working to provide for ourselves and our families so that we will not be a burden, but can even afford to be generous with others.

*vs. 13-18– Praise God for giving us a future hope through Jesus, and for telling how we can look forward to His return with great expectation.  He’s coming back for us, and we get to spend ETERNITY with Him!  Pray for the lost, by name if you can, that they may share with us in this hope.

How did God speak to you in this chapter?  I can’t wait to hear your insights.


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Praying God’s Will; 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 3

Gods will 1 Thessalonians

Have you had a refreshing weekend and are you ready for the blessings of a new week?  I hope so!  My hubby was off work this weekend (in camp ministry, weekends are often work days).  He has been working on the trim in the sun room so it is so much closer to being usable!

For the past month, our church elders have been giving their testimonies of how God has and is working in their lives.  The congregation has been encouraged to look deep and so last Sunday individuals took turns sharing.  It was a holy time, and I was suddenly struck by how our congregation was fulfilling 1 Thessalonians 1–talking about how God redeemed each life, and how God is working in our circumstances today; we were sounding forth our faith!

While I know that the congregation’s leaders had this planned even before we began this study of the Thessalonians, because of learning to pray God’s will in these chapters, I was able to recognize how God is working and give praise!  It was the highlight of my week!

Are you ready to look into chapter 3 with me?  I’m not a Bible Scholar or Theologian.  I’m a “home-schooled” student of God’s Word.  I used the ESV, NASV, Amplified Version and the study tools at in my study of this chapter.

Let’s pray for understanding!  I can’t wait to learn how God spoke to you through this chapter!


thess, ch 3

My Notes: (I really do study with a spiral notebook!)

vs.1 & 2– Therefore: because Paul and his Fellow apostles desired so strongly to see the Thessalonian church again. (This is a continuation of chapter 2)

Paul and Silas stayed in Athens so that Timothy could return to Thessalonica.

vs. 2 & 3– Purpose of Timothy’s visit:  1) To strengthen and encourage them in their faith 2) so that none of them would be disturbed (saino~disturbed, moved {the mind of one}, agitate, trouble, unsettle, be shaken) by “these afflictions” (that the apostles were encountering).  The whole chapter is really anchored in Paul’s concerns here.

vs.4– The apostles had tried to prepare them in advance, warning them that they (the apostles) would encounter persecution.  We know from from chapter 2 that the Thessalonian Church was also undergoing persecution from their countrymen.

vs. 5–Paul was concerned because Satan had prevented him from being with them (ch.2 verse 18), and would try to test them.  This reminds me of Jesus’s parable of the sower and the seed in Matthew 13.  Paul wanted to be sure that the gospel would not be choked out by worries and distractions, but that they would continue to grow in Christ and have spiritually fruitful lives.

vs. 6&7–Timothy returned to Paul with good news, which comforted and encouraged the apostles, despite their difficult circumstances.  What was this news: 1) The Thessalonian church was standing steadfast in their faith (unwavering in their trust in God), and 2) they missed the apostles as much as the apostles missed them! 🙂

vs.8–Their faithfulness made all the apostles had been through worth the cost.

vs.9– The apostles continued to give thanks for the Thessalonian church

vs.10– and continued to pray for them.  The opportunity to finish discipling them is Paul’s concern.

vs.11–Paul trusts God to bring them together again for this purpose,

vs.12&13– and then in the spirit of verses 2 & 3, Paul prays for them, that: 1) God will cause them to increase and overflow with love for one another and for all people, 2) so that HE may strengthen and establish their hearts to be without blame at the coming of Christ. 


Personal thoughts:

I am struck by Paul’s concern that the Thessaonians have the opportunity to be discipled so that they can grow to maturity in Christ, and not be discouraged.  It is just killing him that he can’t get back to them.

I love the example Paul sets for us.  He expresses his concern, but then when there is nothing further he can personally do, he ultimately places the burden for producing growth in the Thessalonian church precisely where it belongs–square on the shoulders of God.  Not only that, but he prays specifically for them, believing that God will answer his prayers in time.

In camp ministry, every year we see many young people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus and what He did for them on the cross.  It is amazing to be able to witness their salvation, but after camp is finished and they go home?  Then what?  It is an utmost priority to work and pray for opportunities to connect these young people to churches in their home towns so that they can be discipled, grow in love for all people, and become active members of the church body.

In our age, so many are trying to “do church” on their own because for whatever reason,  but Paul makes it clear that God created the Church Body to be a live, growing, interdependent entity.  We need God, but we also need one another–you need the Church AND the Church needs you.


“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”  1 John 5:14-15

How can I use these observations to pray according to God’s will?

* vs.4 & 5– Pray that we (the Church) will be prepared for the difficulties that God knows we will encounter, and that our faith will never be shaken by trials.

* vs.10–Pray that we will be concerned for younger ** Christians and have opportunity to disciple/mentor them, give thanks to God for them, and pray for them!  **(younger in the length of time they have walked with Jesus and/or younger in their level of maturity~sometimes older Christians need to be discipled by someone more mature, though not necessarily older in age.)

*vs.12–Pray that God will cause all of us to increase and overflow with love for one another and for all people (Jesus said the world will know us by our love!)

*vs.2, 3, & 12– Pray that God will continue to strengthen, encourage, comfort, and establish our faith and our hearts to be without blame at the coming of Christ.  He can return any day!  In what condition will he find our hearts?  Let us stand firm in faith.  Let us live for Him, one day at a time.

How did God speak to you in this chapter?  

I invite you to join me every Monday to pray God’s will.  If you would like to be notified when a new post is ready, please subscribe to follow Growing Grace-Full, and you will receive an email when each post is available! ♥

1 Thessalonians, Chapter 1

1 Thessalonians, Chapter 2


More Power in Prayer; God Never Makes a Mistake

God never makes a mista

Several years ago, one of our camp counselors become ill toward the end of youth camps.  Once Sarah started feeling unwell, things went downhill rather quickly.  When she explained to the camp nurse that she was experiencing blurred vision, she was taken to the local hospital where they ran a full gamut of tests.  Even so, they could not decide what was wrong.

Eventually her parents got her to a specialist in the cities (that’s Minnesota speak for the Twin Cities: Minneapolis/St.Paul and surrounding areas).  He found damage to the optic nerves that may or may not be permanent. What was certain was that if healing was possible, it would take time.  He sent her home with the diagnosis of “legally blind”.

All this didn’t stop her from serving.  I remember her sister bringing her up for a ladies’ retreat, and even though she was using a walking stick to get around, Sarah was running the big dishwasher while greeting women through the serving window.

God used her to touch a lot of hearts during this time, including a young camper who continued to correspond with Sarah after the summer.  The teen she was mentoring gave herself to Christ just shortly before losing her life in a traffic accident, and afterward God used Sarah to comfort the girl’s mother.

For many months we prayed for Sarah, asking the Lord that if would be His will, would He heal her?  During a weekend staff reunion in which the young adults studied the power of prayer, the camp staff and her peers laid hands on her and prayed for her healing during every session.  At the last session of the last day, she said she had come to terms with the idea that her healing was not going to happen at the retreat, and she was okay with that.  But when the closing prayer was said, she opened her eyes and the whole room heard her announce in surprise, “I can see.”

Sarah returned to camp as an intern.  We watched her enjoy a  blooming relationship with one of our local boys, another Camp JIM counselor, and last January my husband had the honor of marrying them.


When I asked Sarah about her story, she shared, “When I went back to my doctor, he found that the damage to my right eye was reversed (medically impossible that a nerve could regrow that quickly) and my left optic nerve was still so damaged that I shouldn’t be able to see anything!”  
 Sarah is a walking miracle, and anyone who knows her would tell you about how God used her story to spur us on to greater faith, and the ways we all delight to spread God’s fame because of his merciful kindness.  As Sarah says, “God gets all the glory!”

It’s easy, when our prayers are answered in the affirmative, to say we believe that God never makes a mistake.  But what about the times that healing does not occur?  When a loved one dies?  When the depression doesn’t lift?  When a child walks away from God?  When the loss is too great.

I cannot even begin to touch the hem of the hurts that you have lived.  Our paths are not the same.

And yet, the Bible tells us that there is one who understands each hurt, every need, every tear.  He knows the beginning from the end, and every moment of our lives in between.  He knows the what if’s, the endless possibilities and the non-negotiables.

His goal is that we reach spiritual maturity by drawing near to Him, and that our lives would become light houses that beckon others home.  In the process, we become vessels who minister to the Lord,

who encourage other believers,

vessels who declare the glory of God–not simply by what we say, but by what we live, because other people are watching, and we exemplify what we believe.

light house

Sometimes it’s the healing that brings about our perfection.

Sometimes it’s the suffering.

The question that begs our attention, when we realize that effectual prayers must be in line with God’s will, is: Are we committed to God’s will?

Do we believe God’s promise, that He works ALL THINGS together for good, for those who love Him?

There is a friend and neighbor of camp who is dying of ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  This insidious disease causes the death of neurons that control the voluntary muscles of the body, causing their eventual failure, but it doesn’t affect the victim’s ability to think and reason.  As their body stops working, they are all too aware of what is happening to them as helpless victims, trapped in their own bodies.  This friend, who I will call D, has lost his ability to walk, and he has to be on a breathing machine already.  Soon he will lose his ability to talk and swallow.  It is heartbreaking for all to watch, especially his family.

Friends from all over the country have been coming every few weeks to visit with D and pray over him, asking God if He will heal our friend.  They stay at camp when they come, and they have included our staff in their prayer vigils.   So far, while D’s disease has progressed more slowly than the doctors predicted, his condition has continued to worsen. 

Why doesn’t God heal D like He healed Sarah?

I don’t know.

Can He?

Absolutely.  D says he will walk over himself to tell us in the event that healing is God’s will.  🙂

But even if God doesn’t heal D, do you know what I see?

I see the Church Body gathering around D regularly to pray for and encourage him.  While they are there he asks them about what they are facing, listens to them, discusses with them, and yes–prays for them.  They are bearing one another’s burdens.

He is interceding a lot these days.  Are you a follower of Christ?  He is praying for you.

People come together to minister to D, but they leave with full, light hearts, realizing that they also have been ministered to.

As we pray for his healing, we are encouraged by the grace and strength God is providing for him to handle what is happening to him.

I see D’s trust; I see the peace he is experiencing, despite his circumstances.

I see God’s faithfulness.

And I am amazed.

What do I see?  I see God working.  In all His mercy, and unfailing, loving kindness, He is working in D and in all of us, and it is a beautiful thing.

Does God make mistakes?


Is it worth it, trusting God’s will?

Emphatic, Yes.

Effective prayer doesn’t always change our circumstances, but it always changes our hearts.

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”  1 Peter 4:19  ESV


HUGE thanks to Sarah, for giving me permission to share her story and for the use of her wedding picture.  All glory to God!

Other photo credit belongs to Pixabay.


Praying God’s Will; 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 2

Happy Monday, Friends!  I’m so glad you can join me again. 🙂  Have you been digging into 1 Thessalonians to see what God has to show us?

Gods will 1 Thessalonians

This chapter really includes a LOT of history.  The apostle Paul was one of those super smart people who sometimes talks in circles before getting to the crux of his message.  I had to read through this chapter several times, and you’ll notice that I have grouped some of the verses out of order to make more sense for my own study.

I am not a Bible Scholar or theologian.  I’m just a child of God who loves His Word, and I desire to understand His will.  In John 16:13, Jesus tells us the the Spirit of Truth (God’s Holy Spirit) guides us into all truth!  I do hope you’ll share with me what God revealed to you in your study–we can learn from each other!  Let’s pray for understanding.


My Notes:

vs. 2– Some background: Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy (apostles) came to the Thessalonians from Philippi.  They had suffered shameful treatment there, but were still bold to speak the gospel in Thessalonica (where they also experienced “oppression”–they were accused of civil treason {Acts 17:7})

vs.1–This was not in vain (because the Thessalonians ultimately embraced the gospel)

vs. 3– Paul seems to feel the need to support his qualifications and the integrity of their ministry to them.  He stated that their ministry 1) did not come from error, 2) did not come from impurity, 3) did not come from deceit.

vs. 5– While ministering to the Thessalonians, the apostles 1) didn’t smooth talk or flatter, 2) their ministry was not a front for personal profit (not greed driven), 3) did not seek personal glory from anyone


vs.4–The apostles were 1) approved by God, to share the gospel, 2) taught the gospel to please God (not men) as they answered to Him.  And,

vs.7–They were 1) gentle (kind) among the Thessalonians (cherishing them like a nursing mother cherishes her baby) and  2) very willing to give the gospel to them even if it cost them their lives to do so.  Why? Because the Thessalonians had become “very dear” (beloved) to them.

vs.9–The apostles worked to support themselves while they were among the Thessalonians.  (The Philippian church also sent support to them. {Philippians 4:16}  Paul later wrote to them and told them how much this meant to him.)  This supported Paul’s claim that he didn’t minister to them for personal gain.

vs.10–The apostles behaved blamelessly among them.

vs.11-12–They had exhorted (strongly encouraged/invited) them, imploring them “like a father would his children” to live worthy of God who “calls you into His own kingdom and glory”

vs.13–So then (as a result of this): the apostles constantly thank God that the Thessalonians responded to the gospel, accepting it as God’s own word, and they were saved! 🙂

vs.14,15–The Thessalonians became imitators of the churches in Judea who were persecuted by the Jews for following Christ.  The price?  The Thessalonians were also persecuted by their countrymen.

vs.16–The unbelieving Jews wanted to stop the gospel from being dispersed.  God’s judgement will come upon them.

vs. 17,18–Paul was grieved that he had been forced to leave the church in Thessalonica prematurely.  He wanted to visit them again, but had been prevented.  He said he was with them in spirit.  Interestingly, if Paul had not had to leave them, we would not have his letters to this church.  We have to believe this was all part of God’s plan to give His inspired Word to the WHOLE Church Body.  (Thanks to Miriam for pointing this out!)

vs.19, 20–Paul calls the Thessalonian Church his glory and joy~a crown of exultation.  They were his spiritual children.  He was proud of them and took great joy in their salvation.


Paul and his fellow apostles give us a tremendous example of the kind of attitude and motivation we should have in sharing the gospel with others, and also gives us clues to identify false prophets (vs. 3,5).  He shows us that even when we are not the ones “sent,” we can and should be part of supporting the sounding forth of the gospel in other places.  Lastly, in Paul’s example, I see that those we disciple need our continual prayers as well as our candid and sincere encouragement and admonishment to remain strong in the Lord, whatever the cost.

On a different note, in reading the ways in which the apostles regarded the Thessalonians as a mother and father would: tenderly cherishing and strongly encouraging and exhorting them, I am reminded of how I as a parent should be discipling my children on a daily basis.


“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”  1 John 5:14-15

How can I use these observations to pray according to God’s will?

* vs.2–Pray for my church leaders, for those on the mission field, the Church Body and for myself, that we will always be bold to share the gospel, even when oppression, persecution, or personal loss are a possibility.

*vs.1–Pray for those God has entrusted to go out and preach the gospel, that their labor will not be in vain.  Scripture says God’s word will not return void, but will accomplish what He pleases.  Isaiah 55:11

*God has qualified every believer to share the gospel.  Thank Him, and pray that we, and our church leaders, will never minister from a place of greed or a desire for personal glory.  Instead, give us integrity, truthfulness, and the motivation to please only God, who examines our hearts.

*vs. 6,11,12–Pray for our church leaders and teachers, that they will love people as a parent loves a child, deeply and tenderly, and admonish them/us to live worthy of God!  Are you a parent or grandparent, teacher or mentor, spouse or friend?  We need this prayer too!  “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

*vs. 9–Pray for the support and provision of those who serve in full time ministry, and thank Him! 🙂  (and then act if you are in a position to do so).  Fundraising for missionary support and for Christian non-profits is hard work (and scary for many).  It takes a great deal of time away from actual ministry.  I live in an area with many small, struggling churches who cannot adequately pay their pastors, so these men work full-time while preaching and fulfilling as many of the responsibilities of a full time pastor as possible.  As Paul shared, it is a hardship!  Church growth is slow when this happens, and pastors burn out before their time.  They can’t do it all!  They need support.

*vs. 10–Pray that we will walk blamelessly (living by the Spirit) and so not tarnish our testimony.

*vs.13-15, 19-20–we are reminded to continue to pray as we learned in chapter one, that the lost will accept the gospel as God’s word, in the Holy Spirit, in Power and FULL conviction.   Rejoice over those God is adding to His kingdom!

*vs. 17,18–Pray for the church in other areas.  Many of our brothers and sisters are suffering and in need.  We can be with them in Spirit (as well as supporting church work in their area), and ask God to teach them, strengthen them, and empower them according to His will.

When I had the privilege of discussing Thessalonians with my church sisters, those working in secular fields shared how even though they strive to walk blamelessly, they know they mess up, and sometimes experience concern that they may damage their testimony.  Yet time and time again, God continues to use them and allow them to be a light of influence in dark places.

Do you ever feel this way?  Praise God for grace.  He isn’t finished working in us yet!  My friend Lynn over at Through Ink & Image created a beautiful short video to illustrate this truth. 🙂  I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to go watch it!  It is worth your time!

Did you miss our study on 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 1?  You can find it HERE! 🙂

Tithing and Hilarious Giving

The first ten years of marriage, my husband and I gave to the church, but we didn’t tithe.

Tithing traces back to the Old Testament, when God commanded his people, the Israelites, to give ten percent of what He gave them back to Him.  This tithe provided for the tribe of the Levites who served as priests and did not have their own land or jobs with which to earn a living.  Their “job” was to serve God and the congregation of Israel.  Today our tithing should go to supporting the Church and those who have dedicated their lives to ministry: pastors, missionaries, etc…, and supply the funds needed to do the work God has assigned the church.

Giving is talked about in the New Testament.  In 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul teaches the church in Corinth that individuals should give as they have decided in their hearts, cheerfully, because God loves a cheerful giver.  (Paul was encouraging the Corinthians to give to take care of the poor in Jerusalem.)  Giving is extra.  It goes above and beyond a tithe.

Tithing and Hilarious Giving

{An interesting fact that will make you smile if you make it to the end of this post… this word that is used for a cheerful giver… it is the Greek word, hilaros, which not only means cheerful, joyous, prompt to do anything… it also means hilarious.  So imagine what hilarious giving would look like for a moment, and we’ll come back to this in a few minutes.  😀 }

Anyway, I guess you’d say that my husband and I had it backward in the early years.  We gave, often, but we never tithed 10%… this was something we had not committed to doing.

Then a woman who taught classes for Crown Ministries came to speak for my MOPS group.  She talked about the Crown Money Map which encourages people to budget so that they can live within their means, tithe, save, and pay off debt.  She shared some of the strategies her family used to accomplish this, and it was pretty impressive because they lived on a very modest income.

My husband and I are so blessed that the only debt we owe is our home mortgage.  God provided in amazing ways while hubby was in college, month to month, so that he graduated debt free.  This allowed us to enter into the ministry job force right away, without loan payments.  We were able to work at a smaller, growing camp on a minimal salary ($1,000 a month, back in the day).

If we use credit cards, we pay them off when the bill is due so that we don’t accrue interest.  We drive older vehicles that we paid for in cash.  My husband is the son of a mechanic, so he has done most of our fix-it work himself.  We’ve been blessed this way.  So when I heard this Crown Financial Teacher speak, it wasn’t debt that motivated me to do anything different, but it was the conviction that God wanted our family to honor Him.  When I talked with my husband, he agreed.

If you only look at the numbers, giving 10% off the top of my husband’s salary definitely gave me less money to work with each month.  But have you heard about the woman who only had $20 to live on every month?  She said,

“Twenty Dollars is impossible to live on, but $18 is easy.” 

When you dedicate yourself to giving God his share, he makes sure you have what you need to ensure you can give and still be taken care of.

“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 2 Corinthians 9:10-11

Several months ago God woke me up at 3 in the morning to tell me He wanted us to commit to giving back 10% of what is left at the end of the month.  We have been tithing 10% at the beginning of the month for many years now.  10% at the end of the month is extra… it’s giving.

I almost laughed, partly because I was punchy from being so tired, and partly because it’s a major event when we have anything left.  But I agreed.  “Okay, God, if that’s what you want.  You know there’s not usually anything left at the end of the month, but if you can stretch what we have so that there is, you can definitely have 10% of it.”

Kind of seemed like a small amount… 10% of whatever is left, but something interesting happened.  Budgeting and shopping, which I normally find stressful as all get out, suddenly became challenging in a good way.  The amazing ways God provided the things we needed, and the uncanny savings that popped up during shopping trips, they did not escape my notice.  As the month passed and I could see the potential for having a surplus, it became almost like an exciting game.  The idea of having something more to give back was making me giddy.

Dance to Give

And you know what?  We’ve had something left almost every single month since then.  When we have experienced an unexpected expense, God has provided an equally unexpected gift that allows us to tithe more, and still give.

When I tally the numbers at the end of the month and figure out how much we get to give, praying about where God wants us to give it, and writing out the check… I literally feel like dancing with joy, and suddenly the idea of hilarious giving is not so hilarious.  It’s wonderful.  It’s Jehovah-jireh, our God who provides.   🙂

God loves a cheerful giver.  He loves it when we scheme to save to give.  He loves it when we giggle with joy at writing that extra check, and when we dance to be able to put it where He wants it:

the benevolence fund,

that teenager’s upcoming missions trip,

YWAM team to Mexico (1)

Bethany's trip to Mexico

full time missions support,

scholarships for kids to attend camp,

cup camp 2015

gift cards for the family who is struggling…

Where would you give your gift?

God said He will enrich us in every way so that we can be generous in every way.  That includes enriching our desire to give.   I can’t tell you how many ways doing for others will bless you.  

Do you tithe from your income?

Have you witnessed God provide for you in amazing ways?

Would you ever consider giving, above and beyond your tithe, and see what God will do for you?  Why or why not?