December: A month to give to others

Give hope to the poor! Support disaster relief and response programs as well as long-term development projects

Christmas is a season of giving. So, it's appropriate to emphasize giving to compassionate ministry programs in December. Here is a fun way to give something for ministry to the poor and disadvantaged every day of the month. Each Sunday, remind fellow worshipers to pray forvolunteers and staff of compassionate ministry organizations

Create a culture of generosity in your family and church.

Amount to giveReasons to give Amounts are in U.S. dollars and cents
_______ 1You are blessed if you own a Bible. One-third of the people in the world do not have access to one. Give $10 for each Bible in your home.
_______ 2Almost half the world's population -- three and a half billion people -- live on less than $2 a day. Are you part of the other half? If so, give $2 with a thankful heart.
_______ 3Did you buy something from a vending machine today? Give a fourth of that amount to Nazarene Compassionate Ministries.
_______ 4If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead, and a comfortable place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world. Give 50¢ for every bed in your home.
_______ 5Over 30% of the world's population, two billion plus people, cannot read. Give $10 for the blessing of reading.
_______ 6More than ten million children in Africa have been orphaned because of AIDS. Give $5 for each of your parents who are still alive.
_______ 7If you have money in the bank and cash or a credit card in your wallet, you are among the top eight percent of the world's wealthy people. Give a dollar from your wallet or all of your spare change so others can live.
_______ 8Jesus said, "I am the light." Give 10¢ for every lightbulb in your home.
_______ 924,000 people die every day from hunger-related causes. Give $250 if you ate today.
_______ 10Recently, hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes in floods in Mozambique. Give 25¢ for every year you have safely lived in your home.
_______ 11Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Almost 75% of Haiti's population have no access to safe water. Give 50¢ for each water faucet in your home. [ e-book on Haiti ]
_______ 12More than 418 million people have died of hunger and poor sanitation in the past 50 years. This is nearly three times the number of people who have died in all the wars of the past 120 years. Give $10 for the gift of life.
_______ 13Nazarene Compassionate Ministry regional and field personnel are at work around the world. Give $10 if it's been more than a month since you prayed for them.
_______ 14Imagine what it would be like if there was no bathroom in your home. Give 50¢ for every bathroom in your home.
_______ 15One-third of the developing world's population lives on less than $1 per day. Give $10 if you have a job.
_______ 16130 million children alive today will not receive an elementary education. Give $1; for each high school graduate and $2; for each college graduate in your family.
_______ 17Did you attend church this week without the threat of persecution, torture, or death? Thank God, and give $10 so that others might have the same privilege.
_______ 18Have you ever made a New Year's resolution to live more simply so you could give more to Kingdom causes? Give $10 if you made but failed to keep such a resolution.
_______ 19Recently, over 50,000 people lost everything in mudslides in Venezuela. Give $10 if you have never had to experience losing everything you own.
_______ 20For many in the developing world, walking is their only form of transportation. Give 25¢ for each person coming to visit you this Christmas season.
_______ 21Throughout Asia, an estimated 525 million undernourished people struggle to meet basic daily nutritional needs. Give 50¢ for every trip you've made to the grocery store this past week.
_______ 22For people in some countries with cold winters, it can take six months to save enough money to buy a coat. Give 50¢ for every coat in your house.
_______ 23Most people in the developing world have to work every day just to survive. Give 50¢ for every day you have off from work for this holiday season.
_______ 24Christmas is often a time of celebratory parties. Give 50¢ for each Christmas party to which you were invited this year (even if you did not attend them all).
_______ 25The poor find it difficult to give gifts to family and friends. Give 50¢ for each gift you have received this Christmas season.
_______ 26880 million people lack access to adequate health care services. Give 50¢ for each container of medicine in your medicine cabinet.
_______ 27Every day in the developing world 30, 500 children die from preventable diseases. Give 50¢ for every healthy child in your family.
_______ 28Warm carpets or area rugs are nice on cold winter days! Many people have only dirt floors in their homes. Give 25¢ for each carpeted room or large area rug in your home.
_______ 29Many people in the world do not own a telephone. Give 50¢ for each phone owned by your family.
_______ 30Many people must go barefoot. Give 25¢ for every pair of shoes you own.
_______ 31Few poverty-stricken people have money set aside in an emergency fund. If you have one, give $5. If you don't have one, give $10.

___________ Total to give this month to Compassionate Ministries

arrow pointing right   Looking for a way to raise money for Compassionate Ministries? Try using rice bowls from Plastic banks in the shape of bowls full of rice turn loose change and dollar bills into food for the hungry!

What does the Bible say?

In Matthew 26, Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you." Should that be taken to mean poverty is not something that should concern us? Does God say anything in His Written Word about ministry to the poor?

Caring for the poor verses in the Bible     Wesleyan heritage of serving the poor and marginalized

What does Jesus' "rich fool" parable and His follow-up teaching mean for us today?

First things first

Keeping the main thing the main thing

Luke 12:13-34

Commentary on Luke 12

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."

14 Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" 15 Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions."

16 And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'

18 "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I'll say to myself, 'You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.'"

20 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'

21 "This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God."

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 "Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

"Is there anything wrong with Christians enjoying the same standard of living as non-Christians?" The woman's question was sincere.

Both she and her husband came from a relatively low economic strata but they had worked hard and intelligently. Now they drove an expensive car and had a three-bedroom brick house in the country. As we talked, their children and ours were splashing around happily in their backyard swimming pool.

However, a passing remark by a Christian friend had recently begun to trouble her. Was it wrong for Christians to have what they now possessed?

When Jesus said -- as Luke records in chapter 12 -- "Sell all you have and give it to the poor," was He talking only to His disciples at that given point in their lives? Or did He mean for those words to reach across the centuries and become a no-questions-asked command to all affluent American Christians?

My friend and I talked for a long time about her questions. We talked about what Jesus had to say in Luke 12 where He deals with materialism. We reminded ourselves of how Jesus always went to the heart of the issue, of how He was concerned more about one's attitude toward things rather than the actual possessing of those things,

The devil tries to push us into making our daily pursuits for a living our primary goal while we shift Kingdom of God issues to secondary status. Jesus knew that when He said, "Don't be anxious about your tomorrows."

Later that day, the lady's husband picked up the subject of their fairly recent affluence, So we talked some about priorities and primary goals in life. Then, he said, "Until we started tithing, nothing was going right financially with us. This has all come to us since we started putting the Lord first."

There was at least part of their answer. Jesus said, "Seek first His kingdom."(Matthew 6:33) Then He went on to say things like: "Your Father knows what you need,"(Matthew 6:8) and "These things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)

This Texas family had been attempting to follow this command of Jesus. In straightening up their lives spiritually, they had also re-arranged their priorities so that their lives now gave evidence of trust in Cod.

I couldn't tell this family the exact standard of living at which they should living as Christians. I could tell them that the Lord doesn't want to send us on a guilt trip if our priorities are right. What He does call us to do is to put first things first.

I have known believers who complained so much about money that they seemed to be in this "anxious" condition Jesus warned against. It didn't seem to have penetrated their minds that God, who has given us the greater things (forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and sonship), may be expected to give us the smaller ones.

One of the enjoyable parts of a missionary's home assignment or home assignment is meeting American Christians who've discovered the joy of putting the Kingdom of God first in their lives, really first.

Many of them I've met have purposely chosen to spend less on themselves to give priority to the building of the Kingdom. They're actually giving such a percentage of their income to the church that it has affected their standard of living.

What a blessing it is to be with people like the Don Messers, the Carl Dueys, the Lloyd Silers or the Gene Phillips. They've all discovered a real sense of joy in trusting God with their future.

Anxious about tomorrow? Not them! They're seeking first the Kingdom of God, and He is seeing that their other needs are met.

Discussion questions

  1. What was the passing remark by the Christian friend that troubled the woman in the essay? Why do you think it bothered her?
  2. In Luke 12, what is Jesus' main message about materialism and possessions? How does this message apply to Christians today?
  3. Is it wrong for Christians to enjoy the same standard of living as non-Christians? Why or why not?
  4. How does putting the Kingdom of God first affect our priorities and goals in life? How does it affect our finances and possessions?
  5. What does it mean to be "rich toward God," as Jesus says in Luke 12:21? How can we cultivate this kind of richness in our own lives?

I wrote these devotional thoughts while Barbara and I were missionaries in Italy. They originally appeared in The Standard, a Faith Connections take-home curriculum piece for adult Sunday school classes produced by The Foundry.

    -- Howard Culbertson,

Takeaways from Luke 12:13-34

  • Warning Against Greed (vv. 13-21):
  • Trust in God's Provision (vv. 22-31):
  • Do Not Worry: Jesus instructs His followers not to be anxious about their lives, including what they will eat or wear. He points to the birds and the lilies as examples of God's provision.
  • Seek God's Kingdom: Instead of worrying about material needs, Jesus encourages seeking God's kingdom, with the assurance that God knows our needs and will provide for them.
  • Key Lesson: Trusting in God's care and focusing on spiritual priorities frees us from anxiety about material concerns.
  • Prioritizing the Kingdom of God (vv. 32-34):
  • Fear Not, Little Flock: Jesus reassures His followers that it is God's pleasure to give them the kingdom, suggesting a deep, comforting trust in God's generosity.
  • Treasure in Heaven: He advises selling possessions and giving to the needy, thereby storing up treasure in heaven. This reflects an eternal perspective, valuing heavenly rewards over earthly wealth.
  • Heart and Treasure: "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." This final statement highlights the connection between our values and our affections, encouraging a heart set on eternal, rather than temporal, treasures.
  • Jesus' words in Luke 12:13-34 call for a life of generosity, trust in God's provision, and prioritizing spiritual over material wealth. They challenge believers to examine their attitudes toward possessions and to live in a way that reflects their faith and trust in God.

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