Chapter 1.
Begging to Be a Blessing

2 Corinthians 8:1-5

What do you want to do with your life? How do you want to live? What drives you? What is the focus, the priority of your life? Is the quest of each day to serve yourself, live for yourself, cater to your every whim and desire, or have you found a higher purpose for living? Do you want to be a blessing to the Lord and to other people? Is it your desire to touch the lives of people with your love, kindness, concern, and Christlikeness?

For the Christian, this is what true living is all about and really what matters. You can have an abundance of "things" and have nothing. You can accumulate great wealth, and that's fine and OK, there is nothing wrong with that, but if accumulating things is what you believe life is all about, then my friend, you will find a life characterized by woe and worry. You are in essence "flat busted broke." That's what the Lord believes. Notice His comments to the church at Sardis that had an abundance, but was broke.

Revelation 3:15-17—I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

On the other hand, you may not have much, but if your desire is to be a blessing to the Lord and to other people, and put that desire into action, then you my friend have treasures that cannot be calculated. You have something that cannot be taken away. You have found one of the vital reasons for living which is to be a channel of God's blessings.

We find in this eighth chapter some indispensable and powerful truths about being a channel of blessing to other people. We find that there were Christians in the Macedonian churches that had very little, yet, they were begging to be a blessing to other believers. It was an intense desire of their hearts, so much, that their attitudes have been recorded in the Scriptures to challenge us 2000 years later.

In this section, we will answer the question of how these folks were a blessing to other Christians and to the Lord. We will examine their circumstances and the attitudes of their hearts that led to their longing, their intense desire, their begging to be a blessing to other people they did not even know.

I. THEY HAD ABUNDANT JOY IN THEIR AFFLICTION—8:1-2A

The phrase, "Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit," means "we make known to you; we inform you." This phrase, "we do you to Wit," is used in Tyndale's translation, and means, "we cause you to know." Paul is sharing with the Corinthian believers the testimony and example of Christians in Macedonia that had an intense desire to be a blessing to others. He is using their example to be a challenge and example to the Corinthians to have the same desire. Why?

The apostle is about to cover the matter of raising funds for the Christians in the city of Jerusalem. The Corinthians were not in the dark about this issue, so the apostle reminds them of his earlier instructions and gives them further details. This issue was not only addressed with Corinth, but also with the other churches in Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Greece. This concern was brought up with the churches in Galatia (1 Corinthians 16:1) and Rome (Romans 15:25-26).

Why was Paul raising funds for the Jerusalem church? The answer was that this church was suffering extreme poverty for several reasons.

1. Pilgrims

The church was comprised of many pilgrims that were saved on the Day of Pentecost. Three thousand were saved on that day. Many of these Jews lived in Gentile lands and chose to remain in Jerusalem, so they could remain under the teaching of the apostles and fellowship with other believers. Most of these pilgrims could not afford to stay at length in the inns, nor would they want to stay in these inns that were many times characterized by corruption and vice. The folks that were saved on Pentecost ended up being rejected by their Jewish relatives and had to leave their homes. Their only option was to move in with Jewish Christians. Many of these folks were also poverty stricken.

2. Persecution

These new believers lost their jobs or businesses and were ostracized by their families and friends. Just as Jesus had predicted, they became the outcasts of Jewish society.

John 16:2—They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

Some Christians were put to death for their faith in Christ and Paul had a part in this before he was saved when he was known as Saul (Acts 8:1). Families were economically devastated when husbands or sons that financially supported the entire family, were severely injured, imprisoned, or put to death. I believe Paul was trying to do all that he could to care for these folks where he had a part in the economic devastation of their family.

3. Poor Economy

The Romans extracted all they could from their conquered territories, seizing their resources and imposing a heavy burden of taxation. The result was rampant poverty in Israel. Adding to the region's economic woes was a worldwide famine. The Jerusalem church gave a noble effort to see to the demands of its poor members. These believers sold their possession and property to support one another. This worked for some time.

Acts 2:44-45—And all that believed were together, and had all things common; [45] And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Acts 4:32—And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

As the church continued to grow, it became overwhelmed by all the needs and was not able to keep up. Paul recognized the needs of the Jerusalem believers and determined to take up a collection for this church from the churches of Asia Minor and Europe. He also sought by raising these funds, to strengthen the spiritual bond between those largely Gentile congregations and the Jewish church in Jerusalem. The apostle knew that the love offering would serve to ease the suspicion, bitterness, and hostility with which Jews and Gentiles generally regarded each other. The financial support would demonstrate the unity and oneness of Christians, the relationship we have as brothers and sisters in Christ, and that the Lord did break down the wall between Jews and Gentiles.

Paul needed the Corinthians to know how the Macedonian Christians were such a great blessing and how God's grace had transformed their lives. He used their example to challenge and be a model to the Corinthian church. He was trying to show this church at Corinth what God could do through them and how they could be a blessing to the Lord and others. Let me ask, "Are you not challenged by the faith and dedication of others?"

These churches in Macedonia were located in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. They suffered persecution and affliction, but remained faithful to Christ and did not lose the joy of the Lord. They had a craving to learn the Word of God, especially in Berea where they searched the Scriptures daily and received God's Word with readiness of mind. What a blessing they were to one another!

Philippians 1:29-30—For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; [30] Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

1 Thessalonians 1:6-7—And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.

2 Thessalonians 1:4—So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure.

In their afflictions, these Christians demonstrated abundant joy. The word "affliction" is from the Greek word thlipsis {thlip'-sis} which means "pressure, oppression, distress, tribulation." It was used to describe the pressing of grapes together to extract the juice. The literal idea is that these people were being crushed by life. Have you ever felt this way? The surrounding culture kept squeezing them harder and harder due to the Macedonians' devotion to Christ. They were under immense pressure! They were poor and pestered. The grinding poverty and the crushing tribulation made ordinary life very difficult, almost impossible by our standards.

In spite of their tribulation, they responded with abundant joy. The word "abundance" is from the word perisseia {per-is-si'-ah} which means "superabundance, an overflow." Paul used it to describe God's saving grace that He pours out on believers through Jesus Christ. (Rom. 5:17).

Romans 5:17—For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.

These folks had great joy in spite of difficult times. It's easy to be happy when your tummy is full and your bed is warm and cozy at night. It is the person of faith and spiritual maturity that rejoices even though his tummy growls like a lion and Jack Frost blows his breath on him through the night. These believers continued to rejoice, and in so doing, they were a huge blessing and encouragement to others who were going through trials and distress. They were reliant upon the Lord for their needs and lived out Philippians 4:13.

Philippians 4:13—I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.

These folks teach us to not let our problems get us down and sponge away our joy. We minister, we encourage, and we bless others when we rejoice in spite of the trials we are facing. Let me ask, "Are you begging to be a blessing? Is that what you definitely want to be to other people?" Rejoice! The Holy Spirit of God will enable you to do this. His joy strengthens us. Notice the second fruit of the Spirit of God.

Galatians 5:22—But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Nehemiah 8:10b—...for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Ben Patterson shared the following story in the April 13, 2004 edition of Leadership Journal. It was entitled "Resurrection and Pandemonium." He records the events that took place in the jungles of East Asia. Imagine the mystery and delight of not just hearing, but seeing the story of Jesus for the first time, almost as an eyewitness. That's what happened to a tribe in the jungles of East Asia when missionaries showed them The Jesus Film.

Not only had these people never heard of Jesus, they had never seen a motion picture. Then, on one unforgettable evening, they saw it all, the Gospel in their own language, visible and real. Imagine again how it felt to see this good man, Jesus Christ, who healed the sick and was adored by children, held without a trial, beaten and scourged without mercy to a bloody pulp by jeering soldiers and mobs.

As they watched this, the people came unglued. They stood up and began to shout at the cruel men on the screen, demanding that this outrage stop. When nothing happened, they attacked the missionary running the projector. Perhaps he was responsible for this injustice! The missionary was forced to stop the film and explain to these people that the story wasn't over yet. There was more to come. Consequently, they settled back onto the ground, holding their angry emotions in tenuous check.

Then came the Crucifixion, and again, the people could not hold back. They began to weep and wail with such loud grief that, once again, the film had to be stopped. The missionary again tried to calm them down, explaining that the story still wasn't over. There was more to come. So they composed themselves and sat down to see what happened next with intense attention. It was clear they were very upset about what they were seeing.

Then came the Resurrection, and pandemonium broke out this time, but for a different reason. The gathering had spontaneously erupted into a party. The noise now was of jubilation, and it was absolutely deafening. The people were dancing and slapping each other on the back. Christ is risen! Christ is risen! He's alive! He's alive!

Again the missionary had to shut off the projector; this time he didn't tell them to calm down and wait for what was next. All that was supposed to happen—in the story and in their lives—was happening. They rejoiced in the truth that the Lord Jesus Christ is a living Savior and trusted in Him! This is the reason the Macedonian Christians rejoiced in their trials. They had a living Savior living within them. Beloved, rejoice! He lives in you too, if you have put your faith in Him. You and I have a lot to be thankful for and shout about! He is risen! He is alive! Your joy will be a blessing to others and help you to face another day!

II. THEY HAD BENEVOLENCE IN THEIR BARRENNESS—8:2B

The Macedonian Christians were a great blessing to Paul and other believers because they were benevolent in spite of their barrenness. Two centuries before Paul came to Macedonia, gold mines in that province generously provided a measure of wealth for its population. However, during the first century of the Christian era, the economy had deteriorated, and the province was brought to the depths of economic ruin. Wars, barbarian invasions, Roman settlement, high taxes, slavery, persecution, and the restructuring of the province had contributed to a condition that rivaled the crash of the stock market in America in the early 1900's.

Not only was the countryside affected by poverty, but also the urban centers, including the Romanized cities of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. In stark contrast, the city of Corinth flourished financially due to the volume of trade generated by its two harbors, Cenchrea and Lechaeum. There was a distinct difference between Macedonia and Corinth in economic terms.

In spite of their financial weakness, the Macedonian believers were begging to be a blessing. They gave to others in spite of their own deep poverty. The picture that Paul is painting here of their financial condition is very dire. The word "deep" translates the phrase kata bathos which literally means "according to the depth." It forms our English word "bathysphere," a ship which is used to probe the depths of the ocean. The corresponding English expression would be "extremely deep; the pits, or rock-bottom."

What was rock bottom? It was their poverty. For most of us, it is a major stretch to relate to deep poverty in an ancient setting. We fancy ourselves poor if we have to think about it before going out to dinner. As to credit cards, the Macedonians always left home without them. They had no cars, no designer wardrobes, no vacations, no TVs. These folks were poverty stricken. This word "poverty" is from the Greek word ptocheia {po-ke-a} and describes those with almost nothing, forced to beg to survive. Paul used it in verse nine of this chapter to describe Christ's poverty when the Lord emptied Himself and took the form of a servant.

Philippians 2:7—But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

The Macedonian believers were benevolent in their barrenness because they were confident that the Lord would supply all of their needs. That is His promise to us.

Psalm 37:25—I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

Philippians 4:19—But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

The Macedonian Christians reveal an important truth about giving and Christian maturity. These believers teach us that giving is not a matter of how much one possesses, but is an expression of an unselfish and loving heart. They demonstrated to us that devout Christians do not wait until they have more money. They give despite their poverty, just like the poor widow we read about in Luke 21.

Luke 21:1-4—And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. [2] And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. [3] And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: [4] For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

These folks were benevolent in their barrenness because they were begging to be a blessing to others. They did not allow their situation to have a negative effect on their giving. They gave because they wanted to, not because they were intimidated into giving or worried about what others thought.

There is a humorous story of a preacher in a small town who was having trouble with his collections. The people were not giving to the Lord. So one Sunday he announced from the pulpit: "Before we pass the offering plate today, I would like to request that the person who stole the chickens from Brother Smith's henhouse please refrain from giving any money to the Lord. The Lord doesn't want money from a thief." The collection plate was passed around, and for the first time in many months, everybody put something in the plate. Amen!

The Macedonians gave willingly. In the midst of their trials, they put the demands of others, whom they had never met, ahead of their own needs. Though their poverty may have limited the amount they could give, it did not diminish their love. Dedicated Christians give no matter what the situation, because even the worst circumstances cannot hinder their devotion to Jesus Christ. When you look at your giving, the attitude you have about giving, how does it measure up to the standard of the Macedonian Christians?

Notice also that the Macedonian church had almost nothing, yet, they had great joy. Paul said they had an abundance of joy. This word "abundance" is a strong word. It is from the word perisseia {per-is-si'-ah} which means not only an abundance, but "superabundance." They had a superabundance of joy even though they were financially destitute. The Lord was looking after their lives and taking care of them. He was giving them the absolute assurance of His care and provision day by day and of eternal life when they departed from this world. They rejoiced in all that God was doing for them and was going to do for them. The great joy they experienced over-flowed into their generosity and giving to others. This is how joy affects people. It shifts the focus off of you onto others. Joy is something you want to share.

The joy of the Lord caused them to give with liberality, sincerity, or simplicity. This liberality is the opposite of duplicity, or being double-minded. Double-minded people find their ability to give is restrained or crippled, because their concern for themselves and temporal matters conflicts with their concern for others and the kingdom of God. The believers of Macedonia were rich in single-mindedness, and gave with no thought of themselves or this world. Their selfless generosity was a practical application of Paul's command in Philippians 2.

Philippians 2:3-4—Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [4] Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

These believers also rejoiced at laying up treasures in Heaven, knowing that the greater blessing is to the giver, not the receiver, and that God will give back in greater measure. If you have financial troubles, then give to the Lord.

Luke 6:38—Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

It was the day after Christmas and the man parked his car to pick up the morning paper. He noticed a dirty, poorly dressed boy, looking at his car. Seeing the boy eyeing the car, he reminded himself to be quick or he might be missing a hubcap when he returned. He came out of the store with his paper under his arm and just as he opened the door to the car, the boy asked, "Mister, how much would a new car like this cost?" Mr. Greene responded, "I really don't know. My brother gave me this car as a gift." The ragged little boy looked unbelievingly at the car and then, with a look of wonder in his eyes, said, "Boy, I wish I could be a brother like that." How about you? Do you desire to be a blessing to someone else? You can be, by being benevolent in your barrenness, just like the believers in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea.

III. THE SENTIMENT OF SACRIFICE & SELFLESSNESS—8:3

The Macedonians were begging to be a blessing. They demonstrated this attitude by their abundant joy in their affliction, by their benevolence in their barrenness, and by their sentiment of sacrifice and selflessness. They not only gave what they could afford, but they willingly, and sacrificially gave beyond what they could really afford. Their giving was beyond what could reasonably be expected of such a poor congregation. Life was very difficult for these folks. They faced extreme poverty and persecution. Yet, despite their desperate circumstances, they joyfully gave with no regard for themselves, compelled by the needs of the poor saints in Jerusalem.

The sacrifice they made was not coerced. It was strictly voluntary. They were selfless and sacrificial. Their giving was not measured inversely according to their own needs, but proportionately to the need of others. These folks found satisfaction by giving to others, whereas, other people find their satisfaction in accumulating things. When we look at the Bible, we find that God encourages selflessness and sacrifice in giving to Him or to others in need.

Romans 15:1—We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Galatians 6:2—Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:14—Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

James 1:27—Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

The story is told of a Scottish church that was attempting to raise money for a new building. One member of the church was a rich Scot who was known to be worth fifty thousand pounds. He was pretty stingy. A deacon came to see him and asked, "Brother, how much are you going to give for the new church?" The Scot replied, "Oh, I guess I'll be able to put in the widow's mite." The deacon called out in the next meeting, "Brethren, we have all the money we need. This brother is going to give fifty thousand pounds." The man was amazed. "I didn't say I would give fifty thousand pounds. I said I would give the widow's mite." The deacon replied, "Well, she gave her all, and I thought that is what you meant to give!"

It is interesting that God notes what you give but also what you keep for yourself. He did this with the widow that gave the mite and the Macedonian believers that gave beyond what could ever be expected of them.

IV. THEIR INTENSITY TO INVEST IN OTHERS—8:4

The Macedonian churches were begging to be a blessing. This is the idea of the phrase "praying us with much intreaty." The word "praying" is from the word deomai {deh'-om-ahee}. It means "to beg, to plead or implore, to long for or desire." They begged with much "intreaty." The word "intreaty" is from the Greek word paraklesis {par-ak'-lay-sis} which means "powerful, persuasive discourse, a stirring address, an admonition."

These Christians were pretty insistent about giving to the Jerusalem Christians. They were begging to be a blessing and to have the honor of giving their gift to Paul. Paul was not doing the begging here. The people that were making the sacrifice and investment were doing the begging. They were a blessing to Paul and others because they had an intense desire to invest in the lives of others. Such is the grace of giving. It is not dictated by ability. It has nothing to do with being well-off. It is willing and views giving as a privilege. It is joyously enthusiastic.

The Macedonian Christians were giving so much that Paul felt it was just beyond their means. However, they insisted, and took note the reason why they wanted to do this. They wanted to share in the fellowship of ministering to the saints. Some fellow believers were in need, and they wanted the privilege of having fellowship with them by giving to them. Please note how giving is said to be a way of fellowship with others.

These Christians had the proper concept of what "fellowship" is all about. Fellowship is much more than talking and having fun at an activity or at church. It is more than having lunch after church on Sunday. The word is derived from the Greek word koinonia {koy-nohn-ee'-ah} which not only means "fellowship" but also "partnership and participation." These Christians were partners with the Christians in Jerusalem and wanted to participate in their lives by investing in them with their sacrificial gifts.

Beloved, when we give to our church, to other Christians in need, or when we support our missionaries, we are having fellowship with them. We demonstrate that we are partners with our missionaries by participating in their lives with our prayers, and financial support. We give evidence that we want to be a blessing by investing in their families and ministries.

It is related of General Gordon, affectionately known as "Chinese Gordon," that when the English government sought to reward him for his magnificent service in China, he declined all money and titles, but accepted a gold medal on which his name and a record of his thirty-three engagements were inscribed. After his death, the medal could not be found. Finally it was learned that he had sent it to Manchester during a famine, with a request that it be melted and used to buy bread for the famished poor. In his diary that day he had written these words: "The last and only thing that I had in this world that I valued, I have given over to the Lord Jesus Christ." It was his desire to be a blessing.

Are you begging to be a blessing? Do you have an intense desire to invest in the lives of others? This is a great way to be an encouragement to people, whether it is a struggling widow, an injured or sick father trying to care for his family, a missionary, or a student in Bible college that is preparing for the ministry. A great way to be a blessing is to invest into the lives of others with your time, attention, or financial support. How can you do this? How do you develop a "Begging to be a Blessing" attitude? When it comes to giving or investing in other people's lives, it is vital that you have a proper, biblical perspective of what money is and is not.

How people view money is an effective barometer of their spirituality. Money is neither good nor bad in itself. People who are corrupt can put it to evil uses, while good people can put it to righteous uses. Though it is morally neutral, what people do with their money reflects their internal morality and what is the focus and priority of their life. Jesus put it this way, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Luke 12:34).

The Bible does not forbid the possession of money. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, Boaz, and Solomon were all wealthy men. As a matter of fact, it teaches that the Lord gives us the power and ability to make wealth.

Deuteronomy 8:18—But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

While the Bible does not forbid possessing money, it does forbid loving it.

1 Timothy 6:10—For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

To love money is to have an unhealthy affection for it and be driven to pursue it at any cost. Such a pursuit is the height of folly. Some folks destroy their health and families in their pursuit of money. When they set their eyes upon it, it's gone.

Proverbs 15:27—He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.

Proverbs 23:4-5—Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. [5] Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.

Solomon was one of the wealthiest men that ever lived, yet, he was wise enough to know that money cannot buy happiness or satisfy your heart.

Ecclesiastes 5:10—He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.

The list of Bible characters who destroyed their lives in pursuit of money is very familiar.

When people realize that money is a tool for blessing, then God can entrust them with greater funds as they use their possessions to assist others and further the cause of Jesus Christ. They actually become "channels of blessing." God used the Colgate family to further the cause of Christ by their investment in the lives of others and the Lord's work.

Samuel Colgate (1822-1897), was an American soap manufacturer and philanthropist. He expanded the business of his father, William Colgate, into one of the largest establishments of its kind in the world. His father was also noted for giving at least a tenth of his net yearly earnings to charities, and organizing both the American Bible Society and the American and Foreign Bible Society. Samuel Colgate was a benefactor and trustee of Madison University in Hamilton, N.Y., which was renamed in 1890 to Colgate University.

Being an influential, American manufacturer and philanthropist, Samuel Colgate said: The only spiritual light in the world comes through Jesus Christ and the inspired Book. Redemption and forgiveness of sin alone are through Christ. Without His presence and the teachings of the Bible we would be enshrouded in moral darkness and despair. The condition of those nations without Christ, contrasted with those nations where Christ is accepted, revealed so marked a difference that no arguments are needed. It is an object-lesson so plain that it can be seen and understood by all. May "the earth be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."

V. THE PRIORITY OF PRESENTING THEMSELVES TO THE LORD—5:5

Why did the Macedonian believers beg to be a blessing? What caused them to have abundant joy in affliction, benevolence in barrenness, a sentiment of sacrifice and selflessness, and an intensity to invest in others? The root of these attitudes is found here. They gave themselves to the Lord first, and then they gave themselves to others according to the will of God.

The word "first" is from the Greek word protos has the meaning here not of "first in time," but of "first in priority." The Macedonians' first priority was to give themselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, and giving financially to the church followed this decision. There is an implicit lesson here: It won't do any good to give our possessions to God unless we have given ourselves. The supreme act of dedication and worship is not giving money, attending church, or singing church hymns, but giving oneself to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 12:1—I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

It was around the year 200 A.D. The Roman emperor Septimus Severus was cracking down on traitors and he believed those Christians showed a dangerous lack of loyalty. They wouldn't offer incense to the Roman gods—even under threat of death. A woman named Perpetua stunned Roman society when she denied her father's plea that she renounce her faith in Jesus Christ. Young women, especially in noble families, were expected to obey their fathers, but Christianity established a new family, the church. Perpetua's loyalty to the Body of Christ and to her heavenly Father superseded any obligations to her natural family and her human father.

When the fatal day came, Perpetua and Felicitas left the prison for the Roman arena "joyfully as though they were on their way to Heaven," as the eyewitness account puts it. Before a raging crowd, the Christians were thrown to the wild beasts. A mad heifer charged the women and tossed them, but Perpetua rose and helped Felicitas to her feet. She was ready, even eager, to die for the Lord.

"You must all stand fast in the faith and love one another," she called to the other martyrs, "and do not be weakened by what we have gone through!" When the beasts failed to kill the women, soldiers came to finish them off, but the soldier who came to Perpetua was trembling so much, that she had to grip the tip of his sword, and guide its tip to her throat. By this act, she was indicating that she was giving her life willingly for the Lord. She had willingly given herself to Christ. This is what the Macedonian Christians did and is the reason why they were begging to be a blessing.

Giving to the Lord, without giving Him your heart can mess you up. Why? Some folks wrongly conclude that giving of their substance will make the Lord happy and pleased with them. Such giving develops a false sense of security and religious pride. Giving things instead of ourselves can easily become our religion, so that we never turn to Christ for salvation or obey His Word. God wants our heart. He wants our obedience to Him.

1 Samuel 15:22—And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

We should give ourselves willingly to the Lord because we belong to Him. Your life belongs to Jesus Christ if you are a Christian. The Bible is emphatically clear about this and provides several important insights about your life as a Christian. These insights deal with our past, our present, and our future. They explain why and how we should give ourselves to Christ.


Why and How we Should Give Ourselves to Christ

A. The Price of Your Life... the blood of Jesus Christ

A person gives himself to the Lord first by being saved. Salvation is the beginning. Because of what Christ has done for us in saving us, we are to serve Him.

1 Corinthians 7:23—Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

1 Peter 1:18-19—Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; [19] But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

2 Corinthians 5:14-15—For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: [15] And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.


B. The Person Within You.... the Holy Spirit

How do we give ourselves to the Lord? The Holy Spirit plays a vital role. The Holy Spirit indwells every Christian. If you are going to give yourself to the Lord, then it is essential that you yield to the Lord in your life. Don't fight against His Word and will.

1 Corinthians 6:19—What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

1 Corinthians 3:16-17—Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? [17] If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Ephesians 5:18—And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; When you give yourself to the Lord, you release the control of your life over to Him, just as you would if you gave something to someone else. The gift leaves your possession and control and is given to another.

2 Chronicles 30:8—Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the Lord your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.


C. The Priority of God's Control.... lest we lose our testimony for Christ.

We should give ourselves to the Lord in order to avoid damaging our Christian testimony for Christ. Yielding to the Holy Spirit's control will help you to have self control and His control of you. The Spirit of God empowers us to keep our flesh in check when we yield to Him and to make the right decisions.

Romans 6:13—Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

1 Corinthians 9:27—But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.


D. The Purpose of Our Life.... to glorify God.

If you are going to give yourself to the Lord, then you must make the purpose of your life to glorify Him. His will must become the priority of your life instead of your will. When your purpose is to please the Lord and serve Him, He will use you.

1 Corinthians 6:20—For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. We glorify God by fulfilling God's purpose for our lives. We glorify Him by worshiping Him, loving, obeying, and serving the Lord Jesus Christ. We glorify Him by becoming like Christ and bringing pleasure and joy to the Lord.

Philippians 1:20—According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

2 Corinthians 4:10—Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

At 5 p.m. on April 12, 1945, Vice President Harry Truman, wearied by his afternoon in the United States Senate, ducked into Sam Rayburn's private office in the Capitol. Someone mentioned to him that the White House had called. Harry picked up the phone and dialed the number, National 1414. Press Secretary Steve Early came on with a tense voice, asking Truman to come to the White House "quickly and quietly." He was to enter the main entrance on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Harry exited the room alone, then began racing through the ornate halls of the Capitol, his shoes pounding the marble. He jumped in his old Mercury and sped through the traffic. At 5:25, he pulled under the north portico. Two ushers took his hat and escorted him to the small elevator. Waiting for him upstairs was Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of the President. "Harry," she said, "the President is dead." Truman groped for words. "Is there anything I can do for you?" he asked at length.

Eleanor replied, "Is there anything we can do for you? You are the one in trouble now." That night, Truman took the oath of office as the President of the United States, his hand resting on an inexpensive Gideon Bible grabbed from the desk of the White House's head usher.

The following Monday, Truman addressed a joint session of Congress. His speech lasted but fifteen minutes. Most of it had been written by presidential speech-writers, but the conclusion of the speech he added himself. The Congress was hushed and the nation spellbound by their radios as he said: At this moment I have in my heart a prayer. As I have assumed my duties, I humbly pray Almighty God, in the words of King Solomon: "Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this Thy so great a people?" I ask only to be a good and faithful servant of my Lord and my people.

It is interesting to note that it was President Truman who made the difficult final decision to use the atomic bombs on Japan to speed up the end of the World War II. His use of the bombs was a way to stop what could have been a bloody fight on the mainland of Japan. Truman's goal was to stop the war quickly avoiding further losses of allied troops. Japan sued for peace on August 10th, and surrendered on September 2, 1945. The use of the atom bomb was also to send a message to the communists in the Soviet Union that the United States was not afraid to use the bomb if necessary.

Ending WW2 was extremely significant, but Truman's most significant act, in my opinion, took place in May of 1948. The state of Israel was reborn. For a hundred years before the establishment of the modern state of Israel, Christians worked alongside Jews in advancing Zionism, but nothing created more sympathy for the rebirth of the Jewish nation than reports emerging after World War II of the Holocaust. Still, President Harry Truman, aware of impending Arab-Israeli conflict, was reluctant to recognize Israel.

On May 12, 1948, several advisors gathered with President Truman to discuss the issue. Secretary of State George C. Marshall was against recognition, warning that the Jews faced war on every side. To Marshall's dismay, Clark Clifford, Truman's political advisor, urged the President to recognize Israel at once. Mr. Clifford made his case calmly and persuasively. He reminded the men of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, and of the survivors with nowhere to go.

A separate Jewish state was inevitable, Clifford said. And then he quoted Deuteronomy 1:8, "See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to your fathersto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacobto give to them and their descendants after them."

George Marshall became so angry he threatened to vote against Truman in the next election, bringing the meeting to an icy close. Two days later, however, the nation of Israel was reborn, the prophecy of Ezekiel 36 was fulfilled, and President Harry Truman became the first head of state in the world to afford the nation of Israel official recognition.

Later, when Israel's Chief Rabbi, Isaac Herzog, visited the White House, he told President Truman, "God put you in your mother's womb so that you would be the instrument to bring the rebirth of Israel after 2000 years." Upon hearing those words, tears flowed down the face of the President. God used a willing servant to accomplish His will. He gave him wisdom to make the right decision.

The price of your life, the person within you, the priority of God's control, and the purpose of your life, are reasons why and how you should give yourself to the Lord. The fifth reason is the powerful change that will take place in your life at the Rapture.

E. The Powerful Change that will take Place in us at the Rapture.

Why should we give ourselves to the Lord? The answer is because of what God has planned for us in the future. His care, His present and future blessings should inspire us to "want" to give our lives to Him.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52—Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17—For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: [17] Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.