Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The MOST AMAZING gift: What Chloe taught me about giving!

I met sweet little Chloe, a six year old girl, at one of my speaking engagements in Northern California last spring. I had just completed a series of Sabbath meetings on prayer at her church, and throughout my entire presentation she had paid attention taking in every detail and every picture.

Although no offering appeal was made, when my presentations were over, Chloe decided that she wanted to give me a special gift to help with my ministry and work. So with the approval of her mother, she brought me a jar of specially saved up pennies and small coins. "Here is something for you, Miss Melody," she told me eagerly as she handed me the jar of coins. "I want to give you this to help with your ministry." I couldn't believe her thoughtfulness as I knew those precious coins had taken awhile for her to save up and came from the deepest generosity of her heart. I hugged her tightly, and not long after we went outside to snap this picture together.

Later when I got back to the place where I was staying, I counted the coins. The sum amounted to $6.40. That's not much in the adult world, but believe me, this was one of the biggest gifts I've ever received financially because I knew the heart behind the gift. I was so touched that I brought the money home and put it in a special container. I couldn't bare to spend it, but began praying with thanksgiving over that sweet little offering, asking that God would bless it and multiply it many fold for His glory, just like He multiplied the widow's "TWO MITES" for His own glory.

Well, God has done just that. In the eight months since I received that gift, God has multiplied those coins many many times for me. Yes He has!!!

Just a little back-history: I haven't received a normal paycheck for almost four years. However, I've not once lacked, or failed to pay one of my bills. In fact, I continue to stand amazed at how God keeps providing for my daily needs and keeps giving me exactly what I need to live, pay my expenses and keep up with ministry and travels. What's even more amazing to me though is that He has not only generously continued to provide for my needs, but He even sent me the funds, just when I needed them this past year, to fly to TWO overseas weddings that I really couldn't bare to miss: One of those weddings was in Romania, and the other one was in New Zealand. Don't tell me God doesn't care about the desire of our heart!

However, above and beyond the financial blessings that I received from Chloe's offering being multiplied (God actually multiplied it OVER a thousand-times these last eight months since I received it) is the lesson that Chloe taught me that day. It really doesn't matter how small and seemingly insignificant our gift might appear as long as we give it with our full heart. If we give with our heart, no matter how meager the offering, God cannot resist. And His blessing will be upon it.

As we enter the Christmas Holiday season, how should we approach the concept of giving?

To be honest, I think my favorite part of the Holiday is having an extra excuse to GIVE. To me, there's no joy like creating a special gift for someone you care about, or taking painstaking effort to put together a special holiday package for those people in your life that you want to make happy, or for those in need. Cooking goodies, sweet treats, listening to Christmas carols, going Christmas caroling, and sitting by the fireplace reading stories…these things are blend together to make many precious memories.

However, the ONE who deserves the best gift of all is our Heavenly Father. But what can we give someone so great as He when we have so little? Do we even consider this in the Holiday rush of looking after loved ones?

I expect we've all had those times when we long to do something special and great for God, but we feel like we really don't have much to offer. We look around at what others are giving and think, "What I have to offer God is nothing in comparison with them! My talents, my resources... They are so little. How could they matter to God??" And so we timidly hold back. But you know, God's not looking for great resources or talents or magnificent gifts. He's looking for the heart behind the gift giving. THIS is what is most valuable in His eyes. And if our hearts are really seeking to give all to Him, then even if we only have "two mites" to give (like the poor widow from Mark 12:42, and like my little Chloe who gave her all with that jar of coins), it will be more valuable in the sight of heaven than ALL the pompous gifts of the world combined.

However, I believe that the best gift we can give is OURSELVES!!! That's the gift that matters most. Are we willing to give Him ourself this Holiday season?

Consider what Inspiration has to say about the widow who gave her ALL:

"It is the motive that gives character to our acts, stamping them with ignominy or with high moral worth. Not the great things which every eye sees and every tongue praises does God account most precious. The little duties cheerfully done, the little gifts which make no show, and which to human eyes may appear worthless, often stand highest in His sight. A heart of faith and love is dearer to God than the most costly gift. The poor widow gave her living to do the little that she did. She deprived herself of food in order to give those two mites to the cause she loved. And she did it in faith, believing that her heavenly Father would not overlook her great need. It was this unselfish spirit and childlike faith that won the Saviour’s commendation." – Desire of Ages, p. 615. 
Soooo….even if you feel like you don't have much to give the Lord this Holiday, don't hold back. Remember it's the heart and motive behind the giving that really counts most! And as History will testify, sometimes the GREATEST GIFTS come in small packages, like the gift of a baby born a couple thousand years ago in an obscure stable in Bethlehem.

One of my favorite verses says:

"It is more blessed to give than it is to receive." Acts 20:35

God gave us His ALL!! Now what will we give Him?

Happy Holidays and love from my heart to yours!

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