The Upper Room devotional reflection for Monday, October 24, 2022, comes to us from Andrew Michael Ardoin of Louisiana.
1 When you have entered the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, 2 take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the LORD your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name 3 and say to the priest in office at the time, “I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come to the land the LORD swore to our ancestors to give us.” 4 The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the LORD your God. 5 Then you shall declare before the LORD your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. 6 But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor. 7 Then we cried out to the LORD, the God of our ancestors, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. 8 So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. 9 He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; 10 and now I bring the first fruits of the soil that you, LORD, have given me.” Place the basket before the LORD your God and bow down before him. 11 Then you and the Levites and the foreigners residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the LORD your God has given to you and your household.
WHAT GOD HAS DONE
For more than a year I have been preparing to shift to full-time ministry. I anticipated relying heavily on my savings for the first few years of ministry, but recent changes in the economy have introduced new levels of uncertainty: Will I be able to afford to quit my current job? Will God provide? I have considered reducing my tithe to the church in order to pay for my ministry. In the midst of my worry, my pastor read Deuteronomy 26 before our church’s offering, and I was struck by its perspective. Many Bible passages about tithing assure us that God will provide. In this passage, the giver declares what God has already done.
As I think about this change in perspective, I realize that God has done great things in my life. God is my Creator and Redeemer, so I can trust that God’s provision will extend into the future. God has called me into full-time ministry. Of this, I am certain. And because God called me, God will provide. When I center my thoughts on this truth, the economy no longer worries me. Of course, I have financial needs. But God has been and will be faithful. When I declare how the Almighty has already provided, my heart finds certainty in an uncertain time.
Psalm 37:25 states: “25 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” The psalmist encourages those who are righteous – i.e. seeking to live in reverent relationship with God – need not worry about being left destitute when they step out on faith to trust God. This lesson was driven home for me when I was in my second year of seminary.
I was in a field education (internship) assignment at a local church. While I had financial aid, resources were limited. One Sunday morning, as the senior pastor and I were leading worship, I felt God calling me to place the money I had into the collection plate. I said: “Lord, this is what I was counting on to get back to my apartment.” Again, God urged me to put the money in the collection plate. As the senior pastor stood to preach, she stated the message was about trusting God with a little and seeing how God will bless us with much. I resolved to trust God with my little and placed the money I had in the collection plate. As I walked to the EL (elevated train) Station, wondering how I was going to catch the train, I felt God urge me to look down. At my feet was a transit pass, I picked it up and headed to the gate. Not only did the pass have enough money on it to get me home, but there was enough to get me back and forth the rest of the week.
Andrew’s reflection reminds us that we can put our trust in God, knowing the God will provide for our needs. We find courage and strength in recounting God’s faithfulness to us in the past, which fuels our willingness to trust God in our present and for our future. We have come to the completion of our 2023 Stewardship Campaign. We are prayerful that God has led or will lead you to make a commitment to help us continue to be a blessing to others. That together, with faith-filled hearts, we will continue to see God’s favor poured out upon us.
Dear God, help us to remember how you have provided for us in the past and to trust you with the future. Bless our tithes so that they may bless others. Amen.
-- Andrew Michael Ardoin
Someone beginning full-time ministry.
Thought for the day:
I tithe because of what God has already done.