A Month of Devotions for Practicing a Life of Stewardship

By Rev. Frank Wulf

Echo Park United Methodist Church


Welcome to this devotional guide on stewardship. It is our hope that you will use it daily during this time when we focus our attention on what it means to be stewards of God’s abundance.

It is our conviction that stewardship is at the heart of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. This conviction is rooted in a few fundamental beliefs drawn from teachings of the Bible:

  1. The earth does not belong to us but to God. (Psalm 24:1) We are merely stewards of the good things that God has created. (1 Peter 4:10)
  2. God has provided resources in abundance to satisfy the needs of the whole creation. (Genesis 1:29-30)
  3. God calls us to share from the abundance that we have received so that everyone will have enough. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
  4. There is a relationship of complementarity between what we share with others and what we receive for ourselves. (Luke 6:38)
  5. Generosity defines the life of a truly Christ-like community. (Acts 4:32-35)

We encourage you to use this guide throughout the month of October. Find a time during each day when you can spend 15-20 minutes reading the assigned scriptures, meditating on the role of stewardship in the communal life of God’s people, and praying for the Spirit to guide you in living out your calling to be faithful stewards of God’s grace.

O God, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. 

—St. Francis of Assisi —


Section 1: 

The Earth does not belong to us but to God. We are stewards of the good things that God has created.

DAY 1

READ: Genesis 1:1-2

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was barren, with no form of life; it was under a roaring ocean covered with darkness. But the Spirit of God was moving over the water.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from Genesis for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

According to your reading of this passage from Genesis, what existed prior to the creation of the heavens and the earth?

The creation story in Genesis 1 does not narrate a transition from nothing to something, but from chaos to order? Where have you experienced a transition from chaos to order in your life? How have you experienced God in this transition?

Ponder the image of God’s Spirit as it moves like a great wind over the chaos. What purpose does this movement of the Spirit serve in God’s emerging creation both then and now?

ACT:

How is God’s Spirit at work in the chaos of your life? What can and will you do over the next week to enable yourself to discern God’s creation in the midst of your chaos?

PRAY:

God who brings order out of chaos, help us to see your creative purposes in the midst of our daily lives. Help us to yield our hearts to the goodness of your perfect will . Amen.


DAY 2

READ: 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 (CEB-modified)

To you, God, belong greatness and power, honor, splendor, and majesty, because everything in heaven and on earth belongs to you. Yours, God, is the sovereignty, and you are honored as head of all. You are the source of wealth and honor, and you rule over all.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from 1 Chronicles for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

What do you think the poet means by claiming that greatness, power, honor, splendor and majesty belong to God? How are these attributes of God revealed in our world?

On what basis does the poet say that everything belongs to God? What is the relationship between God’s ownership of heaven and earth and our claim to own our possessions?

Consider the poet’s use of the word ‘source.’ What does it mean for us to call God the source of wealth and honor?

ACT:

Remind yourself over the next few days that everything ultimately belongs to God. How will this impact your use of the property you have in your possession?

PRAY:

Sovereign God over all the earth, we are but stewards of your many blessings. Give us humility and wisdom to use what you have given  us to build your kingdom and do your will! Amen.


 DAY 3

READ: Psalm 24:1-2 (CEB modified)

The earth is the God’s and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants too. Because God is the one who established it on the seas; God set it firmly on the waters.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the Psalm for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

What does it mean to say that the earth belongs to God?

Why is it important to remind ourselves from time to time about God’s ownership of the earth?

What impact might it make on how we live our daily lives if we truly believed that the earth belonged to God?

ACT:

How will you incorporate your reflections about God’s ownership of the earth into the choices that you make today about how you use the resources that have been placed at your disposal?

PRAY:

God who created all that is, we thank you for your generosity in sharing this earth with us. We thank you for our lives, our homes, our communities, and our resources. Help us to use what we have been given with humility and generosity, knowing that all things belong to you and that we are but stewards of your grace. Amen.


DAY 4

READ: Psalm 74:16-17 (CEB)

The day belongs to you! The night too! You established both the moon and the sun. You set all the boundaries of the earth in place. Summer and winter? You made them!

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the Psalm for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

The poet claims that God is not just sovereign over heaven and earth, but over time as well. How does God exercise authority over the minutes and hours of our days?

Genesis 1:14 claims that God created the heavenly lights to mark time. What value is there in believing that God establishes the boundaries between the seasons of our lives?

What practical difference would it make in your personal life if you viewed the minutes and hours of your day as gifts from God?

ACT:

During the next week, set aside 3-4 times per day to turn your attention to God. Sit quietly and meditate, read the scriptures, pray. What impact do these brief moments of devotion have on your behaviors, attitudes, feelings?

PRAY:

Eternal God, you create and order the times of our lives. Help us to use the hours and minutes that you have given us to grow in faith, to practice love and to give you glory! Amen.


DAY 5

READ: John 1:1-4 (CEB)

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from John for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

What is a word? How do we use words in our day-to-day lives? What functions do they serve for us in the context of our private and our social lives?

Considering your answers to the first question, what is THE WORD? What role does it play in the gospel writer’s theology?

What does the gospel writer mean by saying that the Word is life and that the life is the light for all people?

ACT:

Think about who you are as a part of the everything that has come into being through the Word. Take time over the next few days to consider how everything you encounter also came into being through the Word. How will this thought impact your relationships with the world around you?

PRAY:

May your Word shape our lives, O God. May it form our thoughts and guide our steps so that we may both live in this world as your faithful followers and love this world as those who have been transformed by your love. Amen.


DAY 6

READ: 1 Peter 4:10 (CEB)

And serve each other according to the gift each person has received, as good stewards of God’s diverse gifts.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from 1 Peter for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

What are the gifts that you bring to the community of God’s people?

What does it mean to be a steward of God’s gifts? How is being a steward different from being an owner of these gifts?

How have you felt called to use your gifts in service to others? In what ways might your exercise of these gifts help to strengthen the community of God’s people and further the church’s mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ?

ACT:

Identify two to three different ways that you will utilize the special gifts that you have been given to serve God’s people and to advance God’s mission during the week ahead.

PRAY:

God who gives us gifts, give us the perception that we need to see and to embrace the gifts that you have given to us. Give us understanding to know how we might best use these gifts to benefit your people and to build your community of love and grace in our world. Amen.


Section 2:

God has provided resources in abundance to satisfy the needs of the whole creation.

DAY 7

READ: Genesis 2:8-9a, 15  (CEB-modified)

The Sovereign God planted a garden in Eden in the east and put there the human that had been formed. In the fertile land, God grew every beautiful tree with edible fruit ! God took and settled the human in the garden of Eden to farm it and to take care of it.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from Genesis for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

How does Genesis describe God’s role in the creation of an environment for human beings? To what extent does this description parallel your own experience of God in the world?

Consider the sequence: 1) God plants a garden; 2) God settles humans in it; 3) God grows fruit trees in it; 4) God appoints humans to care for it. What does this sequence tell you about humanity’s ideal relationship with God and God’s creation.

What does this passage say about the role and value of work?

ACT:

Consider the various reasons why people work. Why do you work? What changes will you make in your work life this week to dedicate it more fully to the purpose of doing God’s will?

PRAY:

God, you created the world and entrusted it to us. As we enjoy the many things that you provide us, remind us that this world is yours. May we always use it for your good purposes.  Amen.


DAY 8

READ: Deuteronomy 8:7-9a, 10 (CEB-modified)

Your Sovereign God is bringing you to a wonderful land, a land with streams of water, springs, and wells that gush up in the valleys and on the hills; a land of wheat and barley, vines, fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without any shortage—you won’t lack a thing there. You will eat, you will be satisfied, and you will bless your Sovereign God in the wonderful land that God’s given you.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from Deuteronomy for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

Re-write the blessings described here in contemporary terms that are relevant to your own life.

In what sense can you affirm that God brings you to a wonderful place where you lack for nothing? Do you experience this place as present reality or a future hope?

What does it mean in general and for you personally to bless your Sovereign God?

ACT:

Take time to list the good things that you experience in your life. What will you do this week to bless God for them?

PRAY:

Generous God, help us to recognize the good gifts with which you have blessed us in the present, even as we wait faithfully for the future that you have promised. May we bless you and your people in all things.  Amen.


DAY 9

READ: Psalm 104:27-28 (CEB)

All your creations wait for you to give them their food on time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled completely full!

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the Psalm for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

In what sense do all of God’s creations wait for God to give them their food on time? What does it mean that God ‘gives’ them their food?

The psalm uses the phrases “when you give it…” and “when you open your hand…” Does the psalmist’s use of the word ‘when’ communicate doubt or certainty to you?  Why?

What would it mean to you to be completely full? What might it mean to someone who is living in poverty?

ACT:

Building on your own experiences of God’s abundance, identify 1 or 2 ways you will help others encounter God’s  ‘open hand’ today in the midst of what feels like emptiness.

PRAY:

God who provides, open our hearts to those who seem stuck in cycles of poverty and need. Help us to be compassionate, wise and respectful in our generosity, knowing that we are not the ultimate source of our abundance. You are! Amen.


DAY 10

READ: Ezekiel 47:1a, 12 (CEB-modified)

When the Human One brought me back to the temple’s entrance, I noticed that water was flowing toward the east from under the temple’s threshold. On both banks of the river will grow up all kinds of fruit-bearing trees. Their leaves won’t wither, and their fruitfulness won’t wane. They will produce fruit in every month, because their water comes from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for eating, their leaves for healing.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from Ezekiel for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

Consider the importance of rivers for desert economies like that of ancient Israel. What blessings do rivers bring?

What is the significance of the fact that the river flows out from the temple? What does the river’s origin imply about the nature of God’s abundance?

Compare this passage with the story in Genesis 2:8-14 of God’s planting and watering a garden in Eden. What is the prophet saying about God’s good intentions for the world?

ACT:

Where do you experience God’s restoration in your life? How will you be a conduit of God’s life and blessing for others?

PRAY:

Restoring God, let your Spirit flow through us like a river of living water, so that we might know your abundant life and love and share them with those to whom you send us. Amen.


DAY 11

READ: Matthew 6:25-26 (CEB-modified)

Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Creator feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are?

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from Matthew for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

What is worry? What impact does worry have on the quality of our lives and on the kinds of decisions we make?

What methods does God use to provide for the birds?  How realistic is it that God will provide for humans in a similar way? What provisions does God make to care for human beings?

Jesus implies that we can trust God to care for our needs. Do you believe this? Why or why not?

ACT:

For the next few days, keep running lists of your worries and your blessings. At the end of the week, compare the two lists. What does this exercise reveal about God’s care for your life?

PRAY:

God who provides for all the world, teach us to see the reality of your blessing in our lives. Free us from all worry and help us to know that you value and care for us at all times. Amen.


DAY 12

READ:    2 Corinthians 9:8 (CEB)

God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from 2 Corinthians for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

What does it mean to say that God has power to provide us with every kind of grace? How does God exercise power?

What kinds of grace are needed to do “every kind of good work?”

Paul does not address his readers individually, but as a group. How does this group-focus change our understanding of the promises articulated here?

ACT:

How will you help the church receive and embrace God’s power and grace, so that it might faithfully do the work of making disciples for the transformation of the world?

PRAY:

God of grace, you have promised to empower us for every kind of good work. Open our eyes to recognize the gifts that we have received from your hand. Open our hearts to use these gifts to build your kingdom and transform your world.  Amen.


Section 3:

God calls us to share from the abundance that we have received so that everyone will have enough.

DAY 13

READ: Deuteronomy 15:10-11 (CEB-modified)

No, give generously to needy persons. Don’t resent giving to them because it is this very thing that will lead to your Sovereign God’s blessing you in all you do and work at. Poor persons will never disappear from the earth. That’s why I’m giving you this command: you must open your hand generously to your fellow Israelites, to the needy among you, and to the poor who live with you in your land.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from Deuteronomy for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

To whom is this law in the fifteenth chapter of Deuteronomy addressed? What types of behaviors does it seek to legislate?

What does the lawgiver mean by saying, “Poor persons will never disappear from the earth?”

What two reasons are given as to why the Israelites should give generously to the poor?

ACT:

What two to three things can you do during the week ahead to  be generous with the poor? How might your acts of generosity help you receive the Sovereign God’s blessing?”

PRAY:

God who cares for both the wealthy and the poor, help all of us to see the abundance that you have bestowed upon us so that we might joyfully share what we have with those who have even less.  We look forward to that day when poverty will cease and all will truly have enough. Amen.


DAY 14

READ: Isaiah 58:6a, 7 (CEB)

Isn’t this the fast I choose: Isn’t it sharing your bread with the hungry and bringing the homeless poor into your house, covering the naked when you see them, and not hiding from your own family?

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from Isaiah for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

What are fasts and why do people participate in them? What spiritual, moral and physical benefits—if any—are thought to be gained from fasting?

What are the potential problems with people’s expectations and goals in traditional forms of fasting?

In what sense might we describe sharing bread with the hungry, bringing the homeless poor into our houses, and covering the naked as spiritual disciplines akin to fasting?

ACT:

Make a list of the various ways you engage in the kind of fast that God chooses. How will you reach out in the next few days to sisters and brothers who are experiencing some form of neediness that impedes their ability live fully and faithfully?

PRAY:

God of all the earth, you have taught us that faithfulness does not solely consist in personal acts of piety and devotion. The fast to which you have called is to care for those among us who live in poverty and need. Help us to share from our abundance with generosity. Amen. 


DAY 15

READ: John 6:8-9, 11 (CEB-modified)

One of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, “A youth here has five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that for a crowd like this?” Then Jesus took the bread. When he had given thanks, he distributed it to those who were sitting there. He did the same with the fish, each getting as much as they wanted.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from John for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

Ponder the nature of the miracle described by the gospel. What is the role of the youth in making this miracle possible?

In addition to Jesus’ miraculous creation of new bread and new fish, how else might the loaves and fishes have been multiplied?

When have you known unexpected abundance in the context of a community that pools and shares its resources?

ACT:

Give thought to how you might find share your resources with the wider community of God’s people in a way that encourages others to share as well.

PRAY:

God who turns scarcity into abundance, open our hearts to the possibility that you have given us what we need, if only we are willing to share what we have with one another. Amen.


DAY 16

READ: Acts 4:32, 34a (CEB)

The community of believers was one in heart and mind. None of them would say, “This is mine!” about any of their possessions, but held everything in common. There were no needy persons among them.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from Acts for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

The text speaks of a ‘community of believers.’ What is a community? How is it defined? How can it be recognized?

What does the text mean when it says that the community was ‘one in heart and mind?’ What motivated this oneness? How did this oneness manifest itself in their life together?

What would a community without ‘needy persons’ look like in real life?

ACT:

How might we, as a community of God’s people, living in the 21st century United States, exhibit oneness of heart and mind in such a way that the number of needy people among us decreases over time?

PRAY:

God, who provides us with all that we need, help us to recognize that real prosperity is not measured through the wealth of private individuals but through the wealth that is generously shared among all your people. Amen.


DAY 17

READ: 2 Corinthians 8:1-3 (CEB)

Brothers and sisters, we want to let you know about the grace of God that was given to the churches of Macedonia. While they were being tested by many problems, their extra amount of happiness and their extreme poverty resulted in a surplus of rich generosity. I assure you that they gave what they could afford and even more than they could afford, and they did it voluntarily.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from 2 Corinthians for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

What do you imagine is the nature of the grace of God that was given to the churches of Macedonia?

Unpack Paul’s claim that “their extra amount of happiness and their extreme poverty resulted in a surplus of rich generosity.” What might this statement mean in real life?

Why is it important that the Macedonians gave voluntarily?

ACT:

Where in the midst of our own experience of scarcity are we being called to give voluntarily what we can afford and even more than we can afford for the work of God’s kingdom?

PRAY:

God, who creates abundance in the midst of our scarcity, transform our hearts and minds so that we may find the will to share what little we have, trusting that you will provide all that we need through the community of your people. Amen.


DAY 18

READ: James 2:15-16 (CEB)

 Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. What if one of you said, “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!”? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs?

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from James for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

Who in our world is the equivalent of what James calls “a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough to eat?”

In what ways do we overtly and subtly communicate to those among us who are experiencing poverty that we don’t really care about the bodily deprivations that they are undergoing?

How can we, as a church, get better involved in helping those who are poor get the things they need to survive and thrive?

ACT:

List the ways that you and your church community are already involved in ministry with those who are poor. Is there more that you can do to be more welcoming and caring?

PRAY:

God who loves all of us, but especially those who are caught in cycles of seemingly endless poverty, help us to treat the  poor with dignity and compassion. May we share from the abundance with which you have blessed us, so all may have enough.  Amen.


Section 4:

There is a relationship of complementarity between what we share with others and what we receive for ourselves.

DAY 19

READ: Psalm 41:1-2 (CEB-modified)

Those who pay close attention to the poor are truly happy! God rescues them during troubling times. God protects them and keeps them alive; they are widely regarded throughout the land as happy people.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the Psalm for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

According to this Psalm, what is the reward that God promises those who pay close attention to the poor?

What do you think about the Psalm’s promise that those who pay close attention to the poor will be ‘truly happy?’ What would it mean for you to be truly happy?  In what sense might caring for the poor help bring you this happiness?

How might you find personal rescue and protection through a practice of working closely with the poor to better the circumstances of their lives?

ACT:

How will you pay close attention to the poor during the week ahead? What will you do? Whom will your actions impact? Think about how these actions might bring you real happiness.

PRAY:

God, who seeks the happiness of all creatures, help us to reach out with love, respect and care to your children who are experiencing poverty. In our relationships with them, may we find the kind of community that will bring us real joy. Amen.


DAY 20

READ: Proverbs 11:24-25 (CEB)

Sometimes you can become rich by being generous or poor by being greedy. Generosity will be rewarded: Give a cup of water, and you will receive a cup of water in return.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from Proverbs for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

What does it mean to be rich? In what ways do people experience wealth apart from having a lot of money and possessions? How can generosity make a person rich?

What does it mean to be poor? In what ways do people experience poverty apart from having a lack of money and possessions? How can greediness make a person poor?

How have you experienced being rewarded in return for an act of generosity?  In what practical sense might we say that people receive in return for what they give?

ACT:

Over the next few days, practice acts of intentional generosity with the people you encounter: family, friends, co-workers, strangers. Keep a journal of how you feel as you engage in these acts of generosity, as well as the kinds of responses you get in return?

PRAY:

God, who generously provides for the world, help us to learn the joy of sharing, so that we might open our hearts and our hands to those you send our way. Amen.


DAY 21

READ: Luke 6:35-36 (CEB-modified)

Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act, for God is kind to ungrateful and wicked people. Be compassionate just as your Creator is compassionate.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from Luke for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

What does love mean, and how do you show love to an enemy? What do you do if your love goes unreciprocated?

Jesus claims that those who lend expecting nothing in return will have a great reward. What kind of reward might that be? How might such a reward offset the loss created by an unpaid debt?

How have you experienced God’s compassion in your life? How might you imitate the divine compassion in your dealings with others?

ACT:

Do something generous for someone with whom you don’t have the best relationship. How does it make you feel to do this? How is your act of generosity received?

PRAY:

God, who shows kindness to all people, teach us the value of compassion. May we learn the rewards of giving generously without expectation of return.  Amen.


DAY 22

READ: Luke 6:38 (CEB)

Give, and it will be given to you. A good portion—packed down, firmly shaken, and overflowing—will fall into your lap. The portion you give will determine the portion you receive in return.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from Luke for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

How would you describe the relationship between giving and receiving? Do you always experience it to be reciprocal?

Experience tells us that gifts are reciprocated in a variety of different ways. What are some of the ways by which givers are rewarded for the gifts they give?

What does the text mean when it says: “The portion you give will determine the portion you receive in return?” Do you believe this is true? Why or why not?

ACT:

Make a list of some of the reasons you have for giving to people, organizations or causes. Why do you give? How do you determine what to give in any particular circumstance?

PRAY:

God, who calls us to live lives of generosity, forgive our lack of faith in you. There are times when we find it hard to trust, and in our lack of trust, we become tight-fisted. But, you are a God who has never let us down. Teach us to trust, so that in all things and at all times, we may follow your way of generosity. Amen.


DAY 23

READ: 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (CEB)

The one who supplies seed for planting and bread for eating will supply and multiply your seed and will increase your crop, which is righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous in every way. Such generosity produces thanksgiving to God through us.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from 2 Corinthians for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

Who is the one who supplies seed for planting and bread for eating? And, what does the text mean when it says that that one “will increase your crop, which is righteousness?” In what sense is righteousness increased?

What reason does the text give for believers being made rich in every way?

How does the generosity of believers produce thanksgiving to God? Why is that important?

ACT:

Identify one or two areas in your life where you have been made rich so that you can be generous. How has your generosity produced thanksgiving for God?

PRAY:

God of abundance, you give us all that we need to be generous givers to others.  Inspire us to offer you thanks for the many gifts that we have received from your hand. Help us to share with others so that they know that the gifts we give to them are gifts that came to us from you. Amen. 


DAY 24

READ: Galatians 6:7-8 (CEB)

Make no mistake, God is not mocked. A person will harvest what they plant. Those who plant only for their own benefit will harvest devastation from their selfishness, but those who plant for the benefit of the Spirit will harvest eternal life from the Spirit.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from Galatians for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

What does text mean when it says that people will harvest what they plant?

Why does planting only for one’s own benefit lead to devastation? What is it about selfishness that the author finds self-destructive?

What does it mean to plant for the benefit of the Spirit? What is the eternal life that believers receive as a result of planting for the benefit of the Spirit?

ACT:

What one or two things will you do today to plant for the benefit of the Spirit? In what sense do you expect to harvest eternal life through those activities?

PRAY:

God of eternity, you have called us to join you in building a world where love and generosity bring fullness of life to all your children. Remind us always that we were not created for selfishness, but for sharing. And, in that sharing, may we find the eternal life that you have promised. Amen.


Section 5:

Generosity defines the life of a truly Christ-like community.

DAY 25

READ: 1 Chronicles 29:9 (CEB-modified)

The people rejoiced at this response, because they had presented their offerings to God so willingly and wholeheartedly.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from 1 Chronicles for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

Chapter 29 of 1 Chronicles tells of the generous donations made by the people of Israel to build God’s temple in Jerusalem. How does this passage describe the mindset with which these offerings are made?

Why would the people’s generosity be cause for rejoicing?

Think about a time in your own life when you and others responded with similar exuberance and generosity. What inspired you to make your gift? How did it make you feel to be able to contribute?

ACT:

Consider how God is calling you to support the church at this time. To what extent are you able and ready to support the church joyfully, generously and exuberantly?

PRAY:

God, who provides for all that we need, remind us that all we have and all we are comes from you. Fill us with gratitude and inspire us with exuberance so that we may share ourselves and all that we have for the work of building your kindom and making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Amen. 


DAY 26

READ: Matthew 6:2-4 (CEB-modified)

When you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that you may give to the poor in secret. Your Creator who sees what you do in secret will reward you.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from Matthew for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

Jesus doesn’t tell people to give to the poor; he assumes they are already doing it. How realistic is this assessment, especially given the fact that so many of his hearers are poor themselves?

Why do you think Jesus stresses the importance of keeping our generosity with the poor secret?

In what ways does the Creator reward our secret acts of generosity?

ACT:

Consider ways you already engage in unseen acts of generosity with those who are less fortunate than yourself. What motivates you to do this? How are you rewarded for it?

PRAY:

God, who loves and deeply cares for the poor and the outcast, break through the hardness of our hearts. Teach us to love as you love. Inspire us to care as you care. May we share from the abundance that you have given us so that all your children may have what they need to live lives that are healthy and full. Amen.


DAY 27

READ: Luke 21:1-4 (CEB)

Looking up, Jesus saw rich people throwing their gifts into the collection box for the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow throw in two small copper coins worth a penny. He said, “I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than them all. All of them are giving out of their spare change. But she from her hopeless poverty has given everything she had to live on.”

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from Luke for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

How does Jesus determine the value of people’s gifts? Why does he value the widow’s gift more than those of the rich?

How do you react to the statement, “But she from her hopeless poverty has given everything she had to live on?”

If the poor widow is giving all that she has to the temple, how will she survive in the world? What roles are played by wisdom and by faith in her decision to give everything?

ACT:

What do you learn from your study of this passage about your own giving habits? What process should you follow in determining how much of your resources to contribute to the work of God through the church?

PRAY:

God, who honors the faith of a poor widow, help us to trust you fully even as we exercise wisdom in our decisions about giving. May we give to the work of your church knowing that we , like the widow, are held in your caring arms. Amen.


DAY 28

READ: 2 Corinthians 9:7 (CEB)

Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from 2 Corinthians for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

Why does the author leave the decision about how much to give to the church  with the person who is actually doing the giving?

What is a cheerful giver? Why is cheerfulness an important aspect of our giving to God through the church?

What is wrong with giving hesitantly or giving in response to outside pressure? Why does the attitude of the giver matter so long as the church receives what it needs to do its work?

ACT:

Think about your own giving to the church—those times when you have given cheerfully and those times when you have given hesitantly. What has made the difference between those two occasions for giving?

PRAY:

God, who calls the church into ministry with the world, we know that the church needs money to do its work. Teach us how best to support this work, so that we will make our gifts cheerfully and without hesitation. Amen.


DAY 29

READ: Galatians 5:13-14 (CEB)

You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from Galatians for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

If freedom is not about indulging our selfish impulses, then what is it about? What does it mean to be called to freedom in Christ?

How do we serve one another through love? What would a community founded on this as a mission statement look like? How would such a community behave differently than other communities?

What does it mean to say that all the law (Including biblical instructions about giving and tithing) are fulfilled in the commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself?”

ACT:

During this season of stewardship, how will we re-focus our use of resources so that they become tools for loving one another rather than means for indulging our selfish impulses?

PRAY:

God of freedom, teach us to use the freedom you have given us, not as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but as a chance to grow in authentic love for you, for our neighbors, and for ourselves. Amen.


DAY 30

READ: Galatians 6:9-10 (CEV)

Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up. So then, let’s work for the good of all whenever we have an opportunity, and especially for those in the household of faith.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from Galatians for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

Under what circumstances do we get tired of doing good? What are the causes of  ‘compassion- burnout?’ How do we, as followers of Jesus, avoid burnout in our lives and ministries?

What constitutes an opportunity for doing good? And, how do we prepare ourselves to do good whenever the opportunity arises?

Why does the apostle Paul emphasize doing good for those in the household of faith? What benefit accrues to the church and its mission if we give special care to one another?

ACT:

How will we work and share together in building up the household of God so that the church can be better resourced and prepared for carrying out its mission to God’s world?

PRAY:

God, who calls us to be in ministry with the world, teach us how to care for each other in the household of God, so that we might strengthen, resource and inspire each other to be more effective and faithful in the work you call us to do. Amen.


DAY 31

READ: 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (CEB)

Tell people who are rich at this time not to become egotistical and not to place their hope on their finances, which are uncertain. Instead, they need to hope in God, who richly provides everything for our enjoyment. Tell them to do good, to be rich in the good things they do, to be generous, and to share with others. When they do these things, they will save a treasure for themselves that is a good foundation for the future. That way they can take hold of what is truly life.

MEDITATE:

Sit quietly with the passage from 1 Timothy for a few minutes and let its words percolate into your mind and heart. What words, phrases, and ideas jump out at you as you read?

REFLECT:

Why does the author advise people not to place their hope on their finances? Where should they place it instead? Why?

How should those who have wealth use it in a way that will best provide for their future?

What does it mean to say that those who trust in God rather than riches will “take hold of what is truly life?”

ACT:

Where in your life are you placing too much hope in finances rather than God? How will you shift priorities to put faith in God first?

PRAY:

God, who calls us to that which is truly life, help us to place our trust in you rather than our material resources. We long for that which is truly life. So help us to live in you… fully, faithfully, confidently, and joyfully.  Amen.


All scripture quotations unless otherwise noted are taken from the Common English Bible, © 2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

All rights reserved. Permission is granted for reproduction and use by local congregations and religious bodies. The following credit line must be clearly included: “Reproduced with permission from Echo Park United Methodist Church.”

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