Day 55

What You Give to God, He Multiplies

Wisdom Psalm 25:16-22
New Testament Mark 7:31-8:13
Old Testament Exodus 35:1-36:38

Introduction

Hattie May Wiatt, a six-year-old girl, lived near Grace Baptist Church in Philadelphia, USA. The Sunday school was very crowded. Russell H. Conwell, the minister, told her that one day they would have buildings big enough to allow everyone to attend. She said, ‘I hope you will. It is so crowded I am afraid to go there alone.’ He replied, ‘When we get the money we will construct one large enough to get all the children in.’

Two years later, in 1886, Hattie May died. After the funeral Hattie’s mother gave the minister a little bag they had found under their daughter’s pillow containing 57 cents in change that she had saved up. Alongside it was a note in her handwriting: ‘To help build bigger so that more children can go to Sunday school.’

The minister changed all the money into pennies and offered each one for sale. He received $250 – and 54 of the cents were given back. The $250 was itself changed into pennies and sold by the newly formed ‘Wiatt Mite Society’. In this way, her 57 cents kept on multiplying.

Twenty-six years later, in a talk entitled, ‘The history of the 57 cents’, the minister explained the results of her 57-cent donation: a church with a membership of over 5,600 people, a hospital where tens of thousands of people had been treated, 80,000 young people going through university, 2,000 people going out to preach the gospel – all this happened ‘because Hattie May Wiatt invested her 57 cents’.

The theme of multiplication runs throughout the Bible. What cannot be achieved by addition, God does by multiplication. You reap what you sow, only many times more. What you give to the Lord, he multiplies.

Wisdom

Psalm 25:16-22

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
  for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart
  and free me from my anguish.
18 Look on my affliction and my distress
  and take away all my sins.
19 See how numerous are my enemies
  and how fiercely they hate me!

20 Guard my life and rescue me;
  do not let me be put to shame,
  for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,
  because my hope, Lord, is in you.

22 Deliver Israel, O God,
  from all their troubles!

Commentary

Multiplication of blessings… and troubles

Jesus promised his followers a multiplication of blessings. But he also warned them that alongside the blessings there would be trouble. He said that whoever followed him would receive a hundredfold in this life – with persecutions (Mark 10:30).

David expresses how ‘the troubles of my heart have multiplied… See how my enemies have increased’ (Psalm 25:17,19). He speaks of loneliness, ‘affliction’, ‘anguish’ and ‘distress’.

Wherever God blesses, troubles and persecutions tend also to increase. Any kind of leadership will involve opposition. The greater the responsibility, the more your troubles will multiply and your critics increase.

David prays to the Lord for his help in guarding and rescuing him (v.20). When under attack, always try to act with integrity, uprightness and faith (v.21). Do the right thing regardless of what people say or think.

Prayer

Lord, as I face opposition, help me to do the right thing whatever the cost or consequences may be.

New Testament

Mark 7:31-8:13

Jesus Heals a Deaf and Mute Man

31 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.

33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

8During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 2 “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”

4 His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”

5 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied.

6 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. 7 They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. 8 The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 9 About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, 10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.

11 The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.

Commentary

Multiplication of resources

With seven loaves and a few small fish, Jesus fed the 4,000 and the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over – the extraordinary multiplication of God’s provision!

Interestingly though, Jesus doesn’t just do a miracle, he first involves the disciples. He calls them over to explain what he wants to do (8:1–3). He allows them to think their way towards a solution (v.4), perhaps hoping that they will remember the feeding of the 5,000 (6:30–44).

He then enlists their help, by asking them for the food that they have (8:5). It is only at that point that Jesus performs a miracle, multiplying the food that they have given him. Even then he gets the disciples to help with the distribution of the food (v.6). Jesus loves to involve you in his plans and work.

The disciples’ role seems fairly small in comparison to what Jesus is able to do. God is able to do a lot with a very small amount. Whatever you give to God, he multiplies.

Today’s passage starts with Jesus healing a man ‘who was deaf and could hardly talk’ (7:32). He prayed for him ‘with a deep sigh’ (v.34). Perhaps this is the kind of prayer that Paul is describing as ‘wordless groans’ (Romans 8:26). This represents the Holy Spirit struggling in prayer through us. Jesus ‘said to [the man], “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened”)’ (Mark 7:34). Jesus not only opens ears – he releases and opens up your whole being – your heart, mind, emotions, finances and every other part of your life.

Aware of the multiplication of opposition, Jesus commanded people ‘not to tell anyone’ (v.36). However, ‘overwhelmed with amazement’ (v.37), they ‘kept talking about it’ (v.36).

After the miracle of multiplication, Jesus sent the crowds away so that he could concentrate on a smaller group of his disciples (8:9–10). The needs of the crowd were enormous – for evangelism and healing. Nevertheless, Jesus prioritised time with a small group of leaders.

In spite of all the miracles, not everyone believed: ‘The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven’ (v.11). They wanted compelling outward proof of his authority.

They were spiritually blind and unable to recognise the signs God had given. They wanted to choose signs of their own – which Jesus refused to do. It is still true today that miracles do not always lead to faith – people often dismiss miracles, thinking there must be some other explanation.

Prayer

Lord, thank you that you are able to do a lot with a little and that whatever we give to you, you multiply. Lord, today I give you my life, my time, and all I have.

Old Testament

Exodus 35:1-36:38

Sabbath Regulations

35Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the Lord has commanded you to do: 2 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death. 3 Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day. ”

Materials for the Tabernacle

4 Moses said to the whole Israelite community, “This is what the Lord has commanded: 5 From what you have, take an offering for the Lord. Everyone who is willing is to bring to the Lord an offering of gold, silver and bronze; 6 blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; 7 ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; 8 olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; 9 and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.

10 “All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the Lord has commanded: 11 the tabernacle with its tent and its covering, clasps, frames, crossbars, posts and bases; 12 the ark with its poles and the atonement cover and the curtain that shields it; 13 the table with its poles and all its articles and the bread of the Presence; 14 the lampstand that is for light with its accessories, lamps and oil for the light; 15 the altar of incense with its poles, the anointing oil and the fragrant incense; the curtain for the doorway at the entrance to the tabernacle; 16 the altar of burnt offering with its bronze grating, its poles and all its utensils; the bronze basin with its stand; 17 the curtains of the courtyard with its posts and bases, and the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard; 18 the tent pegs for the tabernacle and for the courtyard, and their ropes; 19 the woven garments worn for ministering in the sanctuary—both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests.”

20 Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence, 21 and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved them came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the tent of meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. 22 All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the Lord. 23 Everyone who had blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen, or goat hair, ram skins dyed red or the other durable leather brought them. 24 Those presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought it as an offering to the Lord, and everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work brought it. 25 Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun—blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. 26 And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair. 27 The leaders brought onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. 28 They also brought spices and olive oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. 29 All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the Lord freewill offerings for all the work the Lord through Moses had commanded them to do.

Bezalel and Oholiab

30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills — 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. 34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers. 36 So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded.”

2 Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. 3 They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. 4 So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing 5 and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.”

6 Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, 7 because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.

The Tabernacle

8 All those who were skilled among the workers made the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim woven into them by expert hands. 9 All the curtains were the same size—twenty-eight cubits long and four cubits wide. 10 They joined five of the curtains together and did the same with the other five. 11 Then they made loops of blue material along the edge of the end curtain in one set, and the same was done with the end curtain in the other set. 12 They also made fifty loops on one curtain and fifty loops on the end curtain of the other set, with the loops opposite each other. 13 Then they made fifty gold clasps and used them to fasten the two sets of curtains together so that the tabernacle was a unit.

14 They made curtains of goat hair for the tent over the tabernacle—eleven altogether. 15 All eleven curtains were the same size—thirty cubits long and four cubits wide. 16 They joined five of the curtains into one set and the other six into another set. 17 Then they made fifty loops along the edge of the end curtain in one set and also along the edge of the end curtain in the other set. 18 They made fifty bronze clasps to fasten the tent together as a unit. 19 Then they made for the tent a covering of ram skins dyed red, and over that a covering of the other durable leather.

20 They made upright frames of acacia wood for the tabernacle. 21 Each frame was ten cubits long and a cubit and a half wide, 22 with two projections set parallel to each other. They made all the frames of the tabernacle in this way. 23 They made twenty frames for the south side of the tabernacle 24 and made forty silver bases to go under them—two bases for each frame, one under each projection. 25 For the other side, the north side of the tabernacle, they made twenty frames 26 and forty silver bases—two under each frame. 27 They made six frames for the far end, that is, the west end of the tabernacle, 28 and two frames were made for the corners of the tabernacle at the far end. 29 At these two corners the frames were double from the bottom all the way to the top and fitted into a single ring; both were made alike. 30 So there were eight frames and sixteen silver bases—two under each frame.

31 They also made crossbars of acacia wood: five for the frames on one side of the tabernacle, 32 five for those on the other side, and five for the frames on the west, at the far end of the tabernacle. 33 They made the center crossbar so that it extended from end to end at the middle of the frames. 34 They overlaid the frames with gold and made gold rings to hold the crossbars. They also overlaid the crossbars with gold.

35 They made the curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker. 36 They made four posts of acacia wood for it and overlaid them with gold. They made gold hooks for them and cast their four silver bases. 37 For the entrance to the tent they made a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen—the work of an embroiderer; 38 and they made five posts with hooks for them. They overlaid the tops of the posts and their bands with gold and made their five bases of bronze.

Commentary

Multiplication of volunteers

I have observed over the years the astonishing achievements that are possible when every member of even a small congregation gets involved in praying, serving and giving.

The people of God faced a massive task in the building of the tabernacle. They achieved it through a multiplication of involvement of volunteers. Moses assembled ‘the entire congregation’ (35:1, MSG). This is what is needed in every church today:

  1. Everyone praying

We saw in yesterday’s passage how ‘they all stood and worshipped’ (33:10). The Sabbath was not just a day of rest, it was a ‘holy day’ of ‘rest to the Lord’ (35:2). It was a day when people could devote more time to prayer and worship. The whole community prayed and worshipped.

  1. Everyone giving

They took up ‘an offering for the Lord’ (v.5a). Everyone was urged to give: ‘Everyone who is willing is to bring to the Lord an offering of gold, silver and bronze’ (v.5b).

The task was not achieved by one generous donor alone: ‘And everyone who was willing and whose heart moved them came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work… All who were willing, men and women alike’ (vv.21–22). Like Hattie May Wiatt, each one brought their ‘57 cents’.

If your community is to achieve everything that God is calling you to do, you will need everyone giving – not under compulsion but willingly (2 Corinthians 8 and 9).

As everyone got involved in giving, they had ‘more than enough’ (Exodus 36:5). ‘The people were ordered to stop bringing offerings! There was plenty of material for all the work to be done. Enough and more than enough’ (vv.6–7, MSG).

  1. Everyone serving

Everybody got involved in serving. The words ‘everyone’ and ‘all’ appear many times in this passage. It was entirely voluntary: ‘All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the Lord has commanded’ (35:10). For example, ‘everyone who had acacia wood… brought it’ (v.24); ‘Every skilled woman spun with her hands’ (v.25).

A key role was played by the artists, Bezalel and Oholiab. They were filled with the Spirit to make artistic designs and to teach others to do the same. Together they used their skills and ability to do the work: ‘Every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work’ (36:1).

All this was entirely voluntary. The people of God were ‘stirred up for God’ (35:21,26, AMP). The task was achieved by ‘everyone whose heart was roused, whose spirit was freely responsive’ (v.21, MSG). If we are to achieve what God is calling us to do as a community, we need this multiplication of volunteers.

Enthusiasm is infectious. Don’t waste your time hanging around people who try to belittle your dreams. Associate with people who inspire and challenge you, lift you higher and make you better. Walk with the visionaries, the believers, the doers and the courageous. Great people make you feel that you too can become great.

Stir one another up to pray, serve and give. You will be astonished by how God is able to multiply your 57 cents and do more than you could ever ask or even imagine.

Prayer

Lord, thank you for what is possible when everyone gets involved in praying, serving and giving. Thank you that you multiply more than we could ever ask or even imagine.

Pippa adds

Occasionally, when I am in a rush in the morning, I have to decide between having breakfast and reading my Bible. Generally, I decide on breakfast so I am very challenged by today’s New Testament passage, Mark 8:2. The people had been with Jesus for three days without having anything to eat. Their priority was right; it was (and still is) so much better to be with Jesus.

Verse of the Day

Psalm 25:20

‘Guard my life and rescue me; for I take refuge in you’
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References

The One Year® is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers. Used by permission.

Hattie May Wiatt illustration from Sermon by Russell H Conwell ‘The History of Fifty-Seven Cents’, Sunday morning, December 1, 1912.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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