Deal or No Deal

Morning Devotions October 22           Ezra 1:1-11; 1 Cor 16:1-9

Back in South Africa we had a quiz show called “The Money or the Box”. Here is Australia there is a version of it called “Deal or No Deal”.  Both versions have a contestant having to choose between an offer of money or a box which contains some unknown reward. They are, I suppose, a test of our risk propensity – do we rather take what is known or do we risk for that which might be. And that brings us to the matter of faith ….

This mornings readings have to do with (a) rebuilding the Temple and the provision for its rebuilding, and (b) the collection for God’s people in Jerusalem who were suffering in terrible drought conditions. There is money involved and it appears to be freely given – why? I believe that this generosity stems from the underlying foundation of faith in the living God. The prophet Jeremiah had said that the people would be exiled in Babylon for 70 years but would then return to rebuild the Temple and the city of Jerusalem. Not many believed him at first, but as the exile dragged on, the people began to look to God for hope and found that hope in the promise of God spoken through Jeremiah 70 years earlier. And as the date came closer they no doubt began to to feel an even greater urgency. What a joy it must have been to have their heathen overlord announce that they could go back to rebuild the Temple.  So as the matters of their faith began to turn into reality, they gave generously towards the rebuilding project. Even the King returned the articles previously removed from the Temple.

Someone once said that the last thing about us to be converted is our wallet. There may well be some truth in that or it may just be that our generosity gains direction once our faith has direction. This is my view … if our faith begins to concretize into something that has clear direction we put everything into it. We are not, I believe, a stingy, selfish people in our original nature – it is sin which has made us that way. Renewed faith which bursts forth from clarity of a future direction allows God to wipe away the cobwebs of sin and sets us free to have the generous heart of God.   

The same thing happened with Paul’s collection for the people in Jerusalem. As their lives turned to God, so their generous hearts returned and they began to give to those who had need. It was almost an inevitability – a certain consequence of faith. Paul makes no big deal about it. He will collect it and take it to Jerusalem if required but actually he would rather get on with the business of faith building – He says, “A great door for effective work has opened to me.”

Faith turns the unknown into the known and brings certainty into our future!!!



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