We're only a week away from Thanksgiving! Can you believe it?This crazy year has challenged us in more ways than one and caused us to get into this mindset of scarcity. Odalis challenges us to fight this mentality and replace it with generosity.Find out how you can do so by watching this episode of Faith Moments.
Good morning. We are having some technical difficulties right at the buzzer of going live. I’m not sure any of you have had practice feeling this. Basically, think about that time where you’re doing a presentation in school, and the slide that you worked on just decides to stop working when you’re in front of people. So thanks for your patience. Maybe for everyone who’s here live, you can let me know how your morning has been, what you had for breakfast, how your coffee tasted this morning if you’re a coffee person. I respect you if you’re not a coffee person. I do. I have very close people to me who are not coffee people, and I love them just the same.
You know what? My slides are gone, too. Well, friends. We have a lot of things that went wrong this morning, and that’s okay because we’re here. If we haven’t met, my name is Odalis. I’m part of the pastoral team at Cornerstone. It is my privilege to be here, to share this time. I’m actually at a friend’s house. They’re out of town and have graciously let me use their apartment for this morning’s Faith Moments.
The purpose of our time here is to really listen for the Lord, to pursue Him in all that we do, and to just offer up our hearts to Him. I’m going to pray real quick, and then we’ll just jump in. If you’ve got a Bible nearby, please grab it, and we will dive in together. Jesus, thank you for this morning. Thank you for this time. I thank you for your kindness. I just ask for your presence to be with us, Lord. We want to listen for you here. We want to hear you here, and we want to offer our lives, our hearts to you. Lord, would you speak to us at this time? We welcome you in and we pray these things, Jesus, in your name. Amen.
This morning, my desire is for us to talk about generosity. Generosity is most of the time something we think about related to finances. I want to offer for us today as we’re approaching the holidays, a life with Jesus at the center of it. A life pursuing Jesus is one that reflects generosity in all areas of our lives. When we practice generosity, we find such freedom for every moment that we experience. Next week is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving always marks the start of the holidays.
Usually, for me, this week is sort of the quiet before the holiday storm in past years. This has always been the quiet week before the blur of the holidays. We have different services that we get to put together, which I just enjoy doing so much. We have holiday parties, meals with friends, and also gifts that we want to give to express our love to the people who are a part of our lives. That combination of things for me usually results in just a blur about a month where it’s “go, go, go.” There’s a lot, it’s great, and it’s fun.
Then, all of a sudden it’s over. Sometimes I feel like I missed it a little bit. This year is going to be different. We’ve been talking about it a lot; I think it’s hard not to talk about it. I can’t imagine there’s going to be the same holiday parties or even the same holiday movies that come out. Or that we huddle in our jackets over to the movie theater and settle into our seats, enjoy some popcorn and the warmth of the theater when it’s cold outside.
I was sitting, and as I was thinking about this, a part of me laughed just because I think if we can’t laugh a bit this year, then we’re going to have a harder time, and it’s already hard. It’s already hard. A part of me thought of this idea of generosity. I was reading a devotional. I think I’ve shared before, I’ve been doing devotionals from She Reads Truth this year. They had this one earlier on Proverbs, which I loved. I’ve talked about the Book of Proverbs before. It’s this collection of wisdom sayings in the Old Testament. They’re written from the perspective of a father to his son, but a parent to their child. It’s inclusive. It’s designed to invite, from this perspective of a life long-lived, of more lessons learned. It’s designed to invite the child into greater wisdom at an earlier age, wisdom, daily wisdom, practical wisdom. I’ve always loved the Book of Proverbs. So when I got this one in the mail, I was just super excited and I geeked out over it. I loved it. I took tons of notes and marked it up all over the place. That is not the point of what we’re talking about.
One of the days in the devotional was discussing generosity and gluttony. It’s this contrast. The Proverbs part of how the lessons that are taught are through the vehicle of contrast. The wise person does, behaves, says this. But the fool, the opposite, this contrast, so generosity and gluttony. There was a quote in it. Hey, thank you, Lord. My slides appeared. There was a quote in it that stood out to me that I wanted us to talk about. Let’s see if this is the right slide. Yes. Generosity is an exercise in self-control because it requires us to give when our instinct is to keep. It’s an exercise of self-control because it requires us to give when our instinct is to keep.
I really super underlined that. I thought about it the whole day. It’s made me pause and think about generosity in a different way, a bit. It’s more than just financial generosity. It absolutely certainly includes that, but let’s not have that be the limit to our concept of generosity. It’s across all the areas of our lives, all of the areas of abundance in our lives. I believe that each of us has several areas of abundance that God has given to us.
Think about the generosity of time, energy, emotional bandwidth, and being truly present for other people. That’s a type of generosity. Think about the generosity of kindness and heart, folks who are there for others with no expectation of return. It’s just, they show up. Think about the generosity of wisdom and insight. The Book of Proverbs is one of these. Sharing what we’ve learned for the benefit of others, not keeping that knowledge to ourselves. The generosity of space. Those who are just those hospitable people that when you walk into their house and you feel at home. Welcoming others. Although this is sorely missed in our year, this year until it’s more back in our norm. So the challenge here of generosity is to guard against falling into a mindset of scarcity. It’s easy to do this, and it might just be me.
I hope it’s not, but I just want to share my perspective, as it may benefit you. Maybe you’re feeling some of these same things, too. In a year full of so many unknowns. Full of so much difficulty. Full of so much, I’m exhausted. I’m having a hard time. In all of the many ways that we’ve experienced it this year, I think it’s easy to fall into this place of, ‘I don’t know what’s coming.’ I don’t know what’s going to be required of me. So I need to guard myself. I need to protect myself. I need to take care of myself. Those are good things. I certainly believe in healthy boundaries. I think it can be easy when we’re faced with so much unknown and difficulty. Just because of our own vulnerabilities, to come into this place where we’re not being as generous.
Yes, financially, again, but also all of the other areas of generosity. Those areas of abundance that we have in our lives. We have to steward ourselves, yes. We have to be good stewards of ourselves for ourselves, yes, but we’re also, with the things that have been given to us, invited into a life of giving. A life of being generous with all of the areas of abundance no matter the season we walk through.
One of the Proverbs, right along this subject, when it is in your power, don’t withhold good from the one to whom it belongs. Don’t withhold good. I believe that we all have the power to give. I think in all moments, we have it within our power to give good to those who are around us, to those we are invited to give to. When we identify a need that connects with an area of our abundance, again, whatever that abundance might be, to respond and to say, “God, I’m going to love you by loving this person in this act of generosity,” whatever it is.
As an example, my husband and I view good stewardship as a primary value for our family. Yes, absolutely good stewardship with our finances. To be wise in how we spend and generous in how we give. Also, wise in the things we’ve been given, in the physical space that we have to make it a welcoming and inclusive home. In the belongings we have, to take care of them, not be wasteful, and be measured in how we treat our things Also with our hearts and the talents, gifts, and abilities that He’s given us. To use them for the benefit of others, for the strengthening of others. It’s a huge value for us.
There are areas for all of us where we have abundance. I’m wondering what they are for you. What are some of your areas that God has given you a wide, wide space to maneuver? What are some of the areas He’s inviting you to be generous about? Some of you are incredible listeners. You have this ability to show up, be deeply empathetic, and meet people in exactly what they’re walking through. Use that for the benefit of others; give that good for those who are around you, when it’s in your power. Some of you are selfless helpers. You show up, get the job done, and you do it well. Honestly, I think you make the world go around sometimes. You just show up and help. You are grateful, glad, and pleased to do so. Show up. Be generous and helpful.
Others have an abundance of joy and peace. There is this contagiousness to how they are when they’re there. Don’t hide it under a basket. As scary and difficult as this year is, whatever your area of gifting is, this year, these holidays are the time to give it. There’s this principle in the scriptures that when we give, where it’s sort of this phrase, it’s more blessed to give than it is to receive. Not that there’s anything wrong with receiving at all, but really what it is, is this focal point on giving.
I’m remembering that in the upside-down kingdom of Jesus, those who bless are themselves blessed. Those who refresh others are themselves refreshed. It’s not a quid pro quo. It’s not a conditional this-for-that situation, but it’s the principle of giving; it’s the principle of who Jesus is, who He was when He walked the earth. He didn’t come to be served, but He came to serve. He lived a generous life.
I think that when we get focused on how little we have, how scared we are, how fearful we are, and this is not said to diminish those things, I don’t diminish them at all, but I think it can be really easy to get locked up in those places, and in these holidays, as difficult as they will be. Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong. I hope they’re easy and more fun than I expect them to be. But the invitation for us this year is not to focus on the difficulty; as much as we can, yes, to acknowledge what we’re missing out on, what’s changed, what we’ve lost, absolutely, but also to give in generous ways the things that God has given us. to be in step with how He walked, which was being others-focused in whatever ways that means for us.
So my invitation to us is to look at the ways that God has provided for you. Whatever those ways are, invite the Lord and ask Him. Listen for how He’s inviting you to live a holiday of abundance, a generous holiday this year. Maybe it’ll start next week, maybe it’ll take some time to kick in. My prayer for us is that God would speak His beautiful words of affirmation and encouragement. He is the God of encouragement and strength to us, and that He would fill you with the wisdom to live a life of generosity. It is my deep conviction that when we do live those lives when we find places of generosity. When we practice them, we will not experience that sense of lack, because generosity is where we find our freedom. May that be the case for you. May your holidays be abundant, joyful, and filled with the peace and love of God. As scary as it is, as unknown as it is, may you find your peace in Him.
God, we want to be responsive to you. We want to be open to you, and we want to experience more of you. So Lord, would you speak over us? Would you point out to us something we didn’t realize before about areas of abundance you’ve put in our lives, whatever that abundance shows up like. God, as you reveal those things to us, give us the boldness, the courage, and the strength to respond in living lives of generosity. Let us be marked with your heart for others in this holiday season, God.
We ask for you to quiet the voice of fear, the unknown, and the trepidation as we walk through this unknown together. God, we acknowledge the difficulty, but we remember that you are greater and stronger than all of these things. You are able, in all things you are able. So we count on who you are, Jesus. We thank you for who you are. Be with us during these holidays, Lord. We pray these things in your name. Amen.
Thank you for bearing with us on these technical difficulties here this morning. May you be blessed; may He speak so clearly to you. Drop in the comments later if you come back to this video, a way that He’s showed up for you and these holidays. Let us be encouraged together in that. God bless you. We’ll see you at the next Faith Moments.